Health, Environment and Culture Minister Dwayne Seymour spent more than three-quarters of his roughly two-hour contribution to the budget debate touting the recent accomplishments of his ministries, admitting in his remarks that “much of this work was initiated prior to my recent victory and appointment as minister.”
He did, however, spend about 25 minutes of his speech noting what he wants to accomplish over the next year and beyond, stating that work on his agenda includes shoring up the finances of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority, finalizing the deal to construct the integrated solid waste management system, and eradicating the invasive green iguana.
Noting that the HSA’s finances has been a topic of much debate over the last month – the authority has more than $90 million in uncollectable debt – Mr. Seymour said he will soon be meeting with the Health Services Authority board and management team to “determine how to move forward.”
The health authority will also undertake cost-cutting measures such as replacing its lighting fixtures with LED lights, and commissioning a study into modernizing the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems of HSA facilities, he said.
Other goals for the agency include accrediting its hospital labs and other services, he said.
Mr. Seymour said his ministries are also working on revising several pieces of legislation, including the Misuse of Drugs Law.
He said this law needs to be revised “to provide for prescription drugs monitoring – a matter of particular importance, as there is evidence that suggests the misuse and abuse of prescribed drugs.”
Additionally, Mr. Seymour said government is closing in on finalizing contracts to build the solid waste management facility.
A consortium of companies led by Dart Enterprises was chosen as the preferred bidder to build the system, in a 25-year deal that entails Dart being paid an annual fee to deal with waste from all three islands through the new system.
The fee is expected to cover the cost of construction of the suite of new facilities, as well as annual operating expenses.
Mr. Seymour said negotiations with Dart “are still ongoing,” but that the facilities are still scheduled to be fully operational by 2021.
Along with several other initiatives, Mr. Seymour also said that government will focus on finally ridding Cayman of the invasive green iguana. About $1.1 million has been budgeted for this, he said.
The minister said that people have not been happy with the $5-a-head bounty government has placed on the green iguana.
“But I’m happy we have found a species that’s doing a good job killing hundreds of them,” he added. “Namely, the dog.”