Alden McLaughlin said Wednesday that he would seek one more term in elected office as leader of the Progressives political party and as premier if his party colleagues and/or like-minded independents receive majority support of the electorate next year.
“I will retire to my farm in the bush in East End, worn out, but contented.”
After that, the premier said, he would embark on a different career path.
“I will retire to my farm in the bush in East End, worn out, but contented,” Mr. McLaughlin told the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Luncheon at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
Mr. McLaughlin is term-limited as premier by the Cayman Islands Constitution Order (2009), which states that the same individual can hold the premier’s office for just two consecutive terms. The elected member may still serve as an MLA for the “off-term” and can then seek the premiership again, if he or she wishes.
Mr. McLaughlin said Wednesday that he would do no such thing, although he acknowledged that he felt the work of his Progressives-led coalition government could not all be completed in the current term of the legislature, which ends in late March ahead of the May 2017 general election.
“I acknowledge full well that there is more work to be done,” he said. “We will fight hard for the opportunity to return to office and build on the work of another term.”
Before hundreds of local business leaders gathered at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, the premier sought to make his case for the Progressives as a government that “gets things done” and which has been able to build bridges between government and the private sector.
He pointed to examples where he said this had occurred, including the renegotiation of the National Roads Authority agreement with the Dart group of companies and government’s work to support the Ironwood project in the eastern districts.
The premier also pointed to government’s successes in managing a four-year budget surplus of nearly $400 million, reducing the central government debt from $575 million to about $500 million and meeting all U.K.-imposed budget requirements to “return control” of public sector finances to the territorial government.
“To succeed as a government, we understand that there has to be give and take, that you must have the maturity to disagree on issues but still be able to continue to work together in the best interests of the country,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “There is no room for selfish, narrow-minded thinking when you are running a country.”
Mr. McLaughlin’s longtime political rival, opposition leader McKeeva Bush, said his Cayman Democratic Party was not planning on Mr. McLaughlin having another term in elected office, whether as premier or otherwise.
“We must make sure that, come May 2017, God willing, [it] is his last time,” Mr. Bush said. “Cayman cannot withstand four more years of [the Progressives’] self-serving, self-aggrandizing mismanagement.”
Mr. Bush said despite the Progressives’ claims of fewer unemployed Caymanians, the repossession of business properties and homes had increased during the current government’s term in office.
He said the territory’s businesses and workers “had suffered under the dirtiest, most discriminatory immigration policies,” and that teachers and schoolchildren had suffered even more due to conditions in public schools.
“With not even toilet paper in the bathrooms or copy paper, the education system is being patched up under Alden,” Mr. Bush said.
“Caymanians, expatriates and owners of businesses just cannot afford four more years of Alden and the [Progressives].”