The Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly unanimously approved a two-year spending plan Wednesday that includes nearly $2 billion in anticipated revenues and just more than $1.8 billion in public sector expenditures during 2018 and 2019.
Although several opposition lawmakers abstained from voting for the proposal during an earlier stage of consideration, all present assembly members approved the budgets Wednesday in a final vote on the issue.
“There are some issues in this country that should be beyond politics,” Bodden Town West MLA Chris Saunders said.
The proposal is Cayman’s first two-year budget, and seeks to pay off roughly half of the British territory’s public debt within the next two years.
While paying off the debt, the spending plan calls for nearly $193 million in capital project investments over the next two years. That money includes $20 million toward the continued construction of the new John Gray High School building, and nearly $4 million for new police stations in George Town and West Bay.
The capital projects will also include $14.6 million paid toward the creation of a new waste management facility in George Town and $3 million for the development of a George Town cargo/cruise port.
Finance Minister Roy McTaggart said the plan does not call for any new taxes to be levied, however some $153 million will likely have to be borrowed in 2019 to pay off a portion of the debt. This amount would be the first long-term borrowing undertaken by the government since 2011.
Mr. McTaggart said the government is expected to end both 2018 and 2019 with operating surpluses, meaning revenues will be higher than expenses. The surpluses are expected to total some $140 million for the two years.
Cayman’s seamen, veterans and lower-earning civil service pensioners will see an increase in monthly ex gratia stipends from the government. Those amounts will increase to $650 per month in January 2018 and to $750 per month in January 2019.