“But we single out one person, in particular, for special praise and recognition — Premier Alden McLaughlin.
“Premier McLaughlin is the captain of the HMS Cayman. At the risk of jeopardizing his political career, the premier has staked his legacy on the faithful execution of this report.
“This is Cayman’s moment of opportunity, and it is also Premier McLaughlin’s defining moment.
“Because his cause is just and his path may be politically difficult, he needs, and deserves, the support of his countrymen.
“He certainly will have ours.”
— Cayman Compass, “EY Report: A test of our will and courage,” Sept. 12, 2014
“I am not sure of [the Compass’s] agenda, but they are wrong in principle, they are wrong in policy and they are wrong in practice.”
— Premier Alden McLaughlin, Legislative Assembly speech, June 8, 2016
Last Wednesday, our Premier stood before the Legislative Assembly and unveiled a progress report on “Project Future,” one year and nine months after the unveiling of consultants’ recommendations.
As evidenced by the excerpts we have re-printed at the top of this editorial, at the time the EY Report was released, we placed ourselves squarely in the Premier’s corner and urged the entirety of the Cayman Islands to do the same.
Since then, Mr. McLaughlin has turned away from the practical goal of reforming the civil service, and instead has rhetorically turned against the Compass and the consultants from EY. (As if we had any power except to express our opinion — in support of the Premier and his government. As if EY had done anything except to offer up the firm’s time and resources, at practically pro bono rates, for the good of the country. As if it weren’t Premier McLaughlin’s idea in the first place!)
Also during that time, despite numerous speeches and the formation of multimember committees, the Progressives government — out of the scores of recommendations put forth by EY — has managed, over nearly two years, to enact exactly one: the transfer of the Cayman Islands London Office from the Home Affairs Ministry to the Cabinet Office, at a cost savings of, ahem, negligible.
Last week, the Premier said the Compass Editorial Board was wrong to declare that the EY Report appeared to be going nowhere, and as a refutation released a progress report, which is the subject of a Page One news story today. Let’s examine what the Progressives’ idea of “progress” really consists of:
- Outsourcing portions of the Health Services Authority and controlling bad debts — “not yet progressed”
- Selling excess Crown land, properties and buildings — “business case” being formed
- Reforming CINICO — “not yet progressed”
- Cost-sharing for civil service healthcare — “business case” being formed
- Merging Cayman Brac’s two elementary schools — put on hold
- Changes to Education Law to allow for academy-style schools — “not yet progressed”
- Sale, outsourcing or restructuring of Cayman Turtle Farm — “not yet progressed”
- Privatize Water Authority, Port Authority and Radio Cayman — not accepted
- Privatize landfill operations — still under review
- Privatize Cayman Airways — not mentioned in progress report
- Privatize postal service — strategic assessment to be conducted
- Merge offices of the complaints commissioner and information commissioner — planning stages
- Improvements to National Roads Authority operations — strategic assessment being finalized
- Increase civil service retirement age to 65 — bills to be voted on shortly
- Merge electricity, telecommunications, petroleum and water services regulators into a single utilities commission — legislation under consideration
- Merge Internal Audit Unit and Human Resources Unit — business case under way
- Restructure Tourism Attractions Board — strategic plan being formulated.
Regular readers of Compass editorials probably know that we are not often forced to admit that we were in error. However, when Premier McLaughlin accused us of being wrong about the EY Report, we can’t help but remember our support for him and his Progressives government when the report was released.
We weren’t wrong about the EY Report — but it appears we may have been wrong about the Premier.