McLaughlin says Bush’s government didn’t finish what it started
Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin agreed Wednesday that many of the projects his Progressives-led administration is working on completing first came about during the former United Democratic Party government’s tenure. However, the premier also noted it is his government that would finish the job. “I am man enough to give [Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush] his due, but the difference is that the Progressives-led administration is actually getting things done,” Mr. McLaughlin said during the wrap up of the government’s 2014/15 budget debate. “We are not looking for back-door deals to push through work at our seaport and at the airports.
“All of our projects, from the two just mentioned to the landfill, will be done under the guidance of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “I have to agree with the member from North Side [Ezzard Miller] when he said that the [framework] is no more than common sense. It is unfortunate that the last administration did not appear to use any common sense in their management of these proposed projects.”
Opposition Leader Bush said last week that government members should be thanking his former administration for a number of economic development projects now under way, as well as for a projected $108 million operating surplus in the current year’s budget.
Mr. Bush’s comment came while he was giving the opposition party’s first response to the spending plan proposed for the government’s upcoming budget year that begins on July 1. “This is an overwhelming endorsement of [the former United Democratic Party] government’s work,” Mr. Bush said. “Let me thank the Premier [Alden McLaughlin] in continuing the policies of our administration almost verbatim.
“It can’t be denied, no matter how much you paint it red,” Mr. Bush said, referring to the color favored by the ruling Progressives political party.
Premier McLaughlin responded that these comments from the opposition leader might be taken as a backhanded compliment.
“His claim that all that we have done is to simply wrap up … all the projects his administration actually started, wrap them up in a big red bow or paint them red as he said and call them ours, and, of course, he supports these initiatives,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “To have the Leader of the Opposition find himself unable to actually criticize anything of consequence in the budget … is a huge compliment.”
Mr. Bush accused Premier McLaughlin of opposing most or all of the projects the former UDP government backed when Mr. McLaughlin was in opposition, including Health City Cayman Islands, Cayman Enterprise City and aspects of the ForCayman Investment Alliance agreement – all of which the current Progressives-led government now supports, with the exception of the closure of the George Town landfill and proposed opening of a new landfill in Midland Acres in the district of Bodden Town.
Mr. Bush also noted that government is enjoying the fruits of a series of new revenue measures the UDP implemented between 2010 and 2012 in the form of the operating surplus. In addition, Mr. Bush noted that the current Progressives-led government is seeking to divest or privatize a number of government services and functions, a plan he said he was “barked at” for proposing during the last UDP administration.