The Cayman Islands government has run more than 4,000 Radio Cayman adverts as part of its ‘Support our Tourism’ campaign promoting the cruise and cargo berthing development, according to a Freedom of Information response.
Though no money changed hands for the commercials, the FOI response indicates that the ‘set value’ for government entities for these types of ads is $20.
The Ministry of Tourism ran 4,376 such ads between 1 Jan. 2018 and 1 Sept. 2019, the response indicated. Based on the $20 valuation, that amounts to in-kind expenditure of $87,340.
The FOI response said, “There is no monetary exchange between the Ministry of Tourism with respect to the Support Our Tourism ads, which included the voice-over of Port Authority personnel, the Cayman Islands Small Business Association and other Government agencies.
“Consequently, the Ministry of Tourism is not involved. However, the set ‘value’ for any government entity is $20 each.”
Previous FOIs, forwarded to the media by a citizen’s campaign group, revealed just over $130,000 in government spending in paid advertising and public relations associated with the planned port development.
The government initially revealed that it had spent $55,000 in support of the project between the start of 2018 and 15 Oct. last year. A response to a later FOI request showed that an additional $15,280 was spent between 16 Oct. and the end of 2018, and $60,333.50 has been spent from the beginning of this year to 6 July.
‘In kind’ expenditure for pro-port ads run by government on Radio Cayman
In a statement to the Cayman Compass on Thursday, Cruise Port Referendum Cayman said the FOI result highlighted the importance of campaign-finance provisions, which it said should have been included in the Referendum Bill.
“The opportunity for fair and balanced public education on the proposed port facility is imperative, to allow citizens to make an informed decision, free from undue influence, in the face of a government who has already spent almost a quarter of a million dollars before the referendum campaign has even begun,” the CPR group stated.
Premier Alden McLaughlin touched on the issue in an interview with the Compass last week, saying government was entitled to spend public money to support the project.
He said government’s costs were clear and available through Freedom of Information requests but there was no transparency around what the campaigners were spending.
He said the nature of CPR’s campaign and the amount of advertising it had taken out suggested the group had also spent considerable funds.