Opposition leader Arden McLean has joined calls for the cruise port project to be put on hold until a petition calling for a referendum on the development has been verified.
McLean said government’s decision to press on with negotiations was a “sucker punch” for democracy. And he warned that signing a contract, with the threat of a referendum looming, could expose government to the risk of financial penalties if the public ultimately rejects cruise berthing.
McLean said, “I have added the voice of the Opposition to calls for the Government to immediately halt undertaking any further contractual obligations in relation to the Cruise Berthing Facility Project. It is the only responsible course of action to take,” he said.
He said both he and the premier had pushed for and supported the provision for people-initiated referendums to be triggered through a petition signed by 25% of the electorate.
The newly appointed leader of the Opposition added, “It is therefore deeply disappointing that instead of welcoming the participatory involvement of the electorate, the Government is further entrenching its position to press on. For the Government to so wilfully disregard the hard work and dedication of our fellow Caymanians is a sucker punch to the most basic principles of democracy and the spirit of good governance.”
He added that the Cayman Islands had already been forced to pay financial penalties over a previous cruise project deal that was later terminated.
“The Government’s continued actions also potentially expose … the public purse to financial penalties. We have already been down that road with the GLF fiasco and don’t need a repeat. The Caymanian people have already paid the price and seen firsthand what happens when decisions are rushed without the proper governance structure in place.”
Premier Alden McLaughlin has stated that government is taking legal advice on how to proceed and has been informed it need not be concerned about the petition until and unless it is verified by the Elections Office and submitted to Cabinet.