Moxam: Population growth will help economy

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Chamber of Commerce President Johann Moxam says in order for Cayman’s economy to thrive, its population must grow, even if that means increasing the numbers of work permit holders. 

Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Luncheon at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman on Thursday, Oct. 9, Mr. Moxam said the economy needed a private sector serving more customers. 

“It’s no coincidence that during the peak of our economy in 2006 to 2007, while population, GDP and GDP growth were all higher, unemployment was significantly lower, at less than 4 percent,” he said. 

He noted that the most recent labor force survey from the Economic and Statistics Office had shown the population of the Cayman Islands has decreased by about 1,000 people in the year ending October 2013. 

“While some in our society undoubtedly celebrate the loss of a thousand permit holders competing for jobs with Caymanians, there are two sides to every story,” he said. “The other side of the story is that 1,000 fewer residents means Cayman businesses have 1,000 fewer customers; Cayman landlords, 1,000 fewer tenants; restaurants, 1,000 fewer diners; the Cayman government, 1,000 fewer people spending money and paying fuel, stamp and import duties. That is real money, ladies and gentlemen, real money that is effectively really gone from our economy.” 

Mr. Moxam rhetorically asked if anyone thought the contraction of the population by 1,000 people had not negatively impacted Cayman’s economy and led to the loss of jobs by Caymanians.  

He said one way to improve the economy, was through growth of the financial services industry, but that new firms had to be welcomed. 

“Those that think the financial services sector is doing well enough or even making too much money simply do not understand how the Cayman economy works and its role on the global stage,” he said. “We must find a way to encourage more financial services firms to call Cayman home.” 

Growth in the financial services sector would support growth in related industries such as real estate, commerce and healthcare, he said. 

“This will require an honest discussion with our people to help them understand that this may result in more jobs for expatriates and population growth, but this will ultimately benefit the Caymanian people,” he said. “These private sector revenues become salaries for Caymanian employees. Revenue growth for businesses means more jobs, stable salaries, benefits, training and career opportunities.” 

Mr. Moxam said that the prosperity of the country does not increase by frustrating the private sector.  

“Companies making more money is part and parcel of economic growth,” he said. “You increase prosperity by nurturing [the private sector], by unleashing it as a nation’s best source of jobs, income and prosperity. Private sector growth is the rising tide that raises all ships.” 

Private sector’s role 

Mr. Moxam said the private sector also had to do its part in ensuring Caymanians had real opportunities in the workforce.  

“The private sector and some of [the Chamber of Commerce] members must take greater responsibility,” he said. “Businesses must do more to hire competent and qualified Caymanians and provide them with a fair career path and opportunities for advancement.” 

Mr. Moxam said Cayman must reward companies that make the decision to hire and retain Caymanians. He mentioned Cable & Wireless, now LIME, and CUC as examples of companies that had made the strategic decision to invest in Caymanians in years past. 

“Few local companies are making that type of investment today,” he said. 

However, Mr. Moxam recognized that in a competitive market, nationality does not trump knowledge and ability. 

“The reality is, being Caymanian in today’s competitive business environment is simply not enough,” he said. “As a country we must set higher standards across the board and honor our previous generations of men and women who made sacrifices and were renowned for their work ethic and attitude. This is our Caymanian heritage.” 

Caymanians must set and maintain high standards to earn their rightful place in today’s workforce, he said, noting that employers had to do their part as well. 

“For Caymanians to participate in the economic miracle, there must be real employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in tourism, real estate, healthcare, trades and construction, and the financial services sector,” he said. “Government policies must not facilitate or reward any form of discrimination, but we must also prepare ourselves to be today’s workers, tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and Cayman’s next generation of leaders.” 

Mr. Moxam said Cayman “must tear down the walls of division and work together to build a new Cayman that is diverse, yet respectful of Caymanian traditions, heritage and our way of life.” 

He said Cayman was a collection of different nationalities, cultures and languages.  

“We must accept this reality whilst ensuring that we teach each generation that being Caymanian is more than a convenient economic ticket or a passport or a token phrase. Being Caymanian means we are a people who work together for what is best for our islands. It does not matter if you are a multi-generational Caymanian, or a new Caymanian or a want-to-be Caymanian; your voice matters. It must matter.” 

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Mr. Moxam

8 COMMENTS

  1. I agree totally that the population needs to go up. You are definitely right. But I truly believe what caused the people to not stay is the cost of living. The price of anyones needs int his country is ridiculous.
    Maybe if we could offer a proper minimum wage , we could benefit all. ( increase employment for locals, crime reductions, increase in profits) ????

  2. Cayman needs to encourage targeted population growth that will ensure that the people that we invite into these islands bring the necessary investments to help expand and grow our economy but not compete for jobs in areas of our economy where Caymanians can do the work or where they are being made redundant.

    On this same date there is an article in the Compass talking about the fact that some Caymanians working for Cayman National Trust have been made redundant because the Trust business is in decline; while at the same time we have the Chamber of Commerce calling for more companies to enter the sector and compete for what is an ever decreasing share of the global financial services pie.

    There is no evidence to show that increasing the population while we are in the middle of a global and local economic decline will result in significantly more employment for Caymanians. In fact, what you will most likely find is that businesses will keep whatever additional profits might result from the increased spend while at the same time doing all they can to not hire any additional staff.

  3. How about starting by allowing people who are not multi millionaires yet can support themselves without working in Cayman to stay without treating them like deadbeats or thieves look to steal something from the Caymanian people.

  4. Chamber of Commerce President Johann Moxam says in order for Cayman’s economy to thrive, its population must grow, even if that means increasing the numbers of work permit holders.

    Mr. Moxam said Cayman must tear down the walls of division and work together to build a new Cayman that is diverse, yet respectful of Caymanian traditions, heritage and our way of life.

    If this is not the most contradictory, self-serving speech I have ever seen reported…then I’ve not read too many articles…or made any comments of my own.

    My two chosen quotes are only two that prove the con- tradictory and and appeasement-laden tone of Mr. Moxam’s comments, without the honesty of addressing the real problem.

    How can increasing the number of wp holders achieve population growth in any significant and long-term way when those same permit holders are subject to a 9-year roll over immigration law that forces them to leave the Cayman Islands after a significant number of years ?

    For the wp holder and the business owners that hire them, it is all about short-term financial gain, nothing more; they come at a cheaper price for the business owner’s payroll expenses and can be controlled in a much more profitable way for the business owner.

    For the wp holder, getting a permit to work in Cayman is like winning the lottery; profitable for sending money back home to build a life that they will have to return to one day.

    Facilitating population growth is not the same as increasing population size, except in Mr. Moxam’s views; population growth suggests permanency and generational ties and stability and commitment to a country and community.

    Cayman has been increasing and decreasing population size for years now, simply for the sake of short-term financial gains for the wealthy few, and those few include both Caymanians and foreigners who make up the CoC membership.

    If Mr. Moxam wishes to impress anyone of any intelligence and integrity, of his suggested solutions to what is an obvious problem for the Cayman Islands…

    He will have to do much better than anything suggested in this speech.

  5. I want everybody to think a little bit about this statement. About population growth required for economy growth. Just think – it is controversial at best. There are two apparent things – YES, it is better for local companies as they will get larger market and YES, it is better for local government as it gets more taxes and more money for gambling (just kidding) and for developing the island. But, if you grow GDP by increasing population size, you are unlikely to get any reasonable GDP per capital growth. And GDP per capita is what common people would feel as improvement.

    Yes, there are some things which only larger countries can have – like better healthcare system (doesn’t work in US) or military forces – but in this case it is question of increasing population ten or hundredfold. Do you want to see million people in Cayman Islands? It is manageable, but there will be no tropic paradise by that time. Any smaller increases in population (like two times) will very unlikely lead to any noticeable change in GDP per capita, so average person would not notice. But thing which will be noticeable are – deterioration of environment, increased congestion in the roads – and some other not so desirable factors.
    So just think about it a little bit. And then continue arguing for larger population.

    Also, please – I am not making any kind of statement in Local vs Expat debate – it is not about that. And government still has a very long way to go to make nice expats stay in Cayman Islands and bad expats go. Not it is mostly based on bank account metrics.

    If you not sure how economy growth can be achieved without increase in population – thing extensively, not expansively – how the SAME number of people can EARN more on the same island? There are answers. A little more difficult then just increasing the population size. But they do exist.

  6. To support Stanislav Zholnin’s comment.
    GDP takes into account all of the goods produced and services made available in a country over a specific period of time. GDP is a number that will ultimately indicate the overall economic health of the country.
    GDP per capita is a measure that results from GDP divided by the size of the nation’s overall population. So in essence, it is theoretically the amount of money that each individual gets in that particular country. The GDP per capita provides a much better determination of living standards as compared to GDP alone.
    National income is naturally proportional to its population so it is only fitting that with the increase of the number of people, there is also an increase in GDP. However, it does not entirely mean that with high GDP, a high standard of living also results.
    A country with high GDP but with an overwhelmingly large population will result in a low GDP per capita; thus indicating a not so favorable standard of living since each citizen would only get a very small amount when wealth is being evenly distributed. A high GDP per capita, on the other hand, simply means that a nation has a more efficient economy.

  7. Also, please – I am not making any kind of statement in Local vs Expat debate.

    Stanislav…

    Maybe you aren’t but Mr. Moxam most certainly is if you know anything at all about the situation from an entirely local perspective.

    The divergent interests of an officially divided and segregated population of local-born Caymanians and immigration-controlled expatriates is what hampers true population growth in the Cayman Islands…and that is the offical policy and laws of the Cayman Islands, as contradictory as it is.

    True population growth took place in the Cayman Islands in the last two or three generations, before economic wealth became the driving factor in Cayman.

    The generations that originated from Nicarugua, Honduras, Cuba and Jamaica and made Cayman their home before immigration laws prohibited or controlled integration into the indigenious Caymanian population was who drove true population growth in Cayman.

    My generation are the children and grandchildren of that generation.

    Mr. Moxam is trying to sell a policy for work-permit increases to facilitate the profits of his organization’s membership, couched in the terms of population growth.

    Nothing more than that.

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