It is the first week of May 2016. This is noteworthy because one year from now, it will be May 2017 — and there will be an election (that is, if one is not called even before then).
The clock is ticking on this Progressives-led administration. In the coming months, our elected government will be subject to intensified scrutiny as to what it has done — and what it hasn’t. The focus, unfortunately for officials, will probably fall upon the latter.
The Progressives ascended into office three years ago with two major capital projects on their agenda. It seems unlikely they will be commenced, much less completed, by the time of the next election.
First, consider the cruise dock. Following studies and debate, the Progressives Cabinet formally approved the decision to move forward with cruise berthing for downtown George Town in late October 2015. More than six months later, the Cayman Islands does not appear to be any nearer to actually realizing this goal.
Last week, the government put out advertisements seeking proposals for civil engineering designs for the proposed facility. In other words, the project is still on the “drawing board.”
Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said, “My ministry continues to have product discussions with cruise lines in relation to their involvement in the berthing facility and contact has been made with the [U.K.] Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
Translation: Grand Cayman’s cruise tendering industry remains safe and secure for the foreseeable future.
Similarly preserved is cruise visitors’ view of our island’s most shameful landmark, the George Town Landfill, a panoramic vista that is visible from the decks of every cruise ship that comes into harbor.
While the cruise ship business is volatile (on Monday the first U.S. cruise ship in nearly 40 years visited Havana and two other ports in Cuba), the dump is with us for the long haul.
The landfill project has lapsed into the bureaucratic equivalent of hibernation, perhaps a coma. We have heard almost nothing about it from government during this calendar year. Officials’ last word on the topic was, essentially, that they aren’t going to identify a site for a new landfill … punctuated with platitudes about recycling.
Remember that the Progressives campaigned in 2013 on a pledge — “No dump in Bodden Town” — and a promise — that they had already identified a remedy for the George Town landfill, which emboldened them to throw away the Dart Group’s $60 million proposal to fix it for good.
Three years later, all we have from the Progressives is a set of consultants’ documents estimating that a landfill solution will cost more than $100 million and take five years to implement — and that won’t even preclude the need to create a new landfill.
We won’t dwell extensively on every single thing the Progressives said they would do, promised to do, or started to do, but so far haven’t done. Nevertheless, here is an abridged list:
- Recommendations in “the EY report” on reorganizing, streamlining and downsizing the civil service (apart from the pathetic proposal to merge the offices of the Information Commissioner and the Complaints Commissioner into a single Ombudsman’s Office)
- The East-West Arterial highway
- The demolition of the Glass House and creation of a new public park
- Meaningful reform of Cayman’s government schools system
- Decisions on 610 permanent residence applications filed between October 2013 and February 2016 — ZERO of which have been approved.
Granted, the Progressives may view this final item as something to run a campaign on, rather than to run away from. But make no mistake, in light of recent judicial rulings, the backlog of stymied PR applications represents a significant legal liability for Cayman and our control over our immigration system.
With quadrennial elections, we have just entered the equivalent of the “fourth quarter” — not too late for the government to pull out a victory, but it has a lot of ground to make up in a very short time.