The legislative committee tasked with creating plans to deal with traffic congestion and the production of standards for vehicle imports will miss its year-end deadline.

Prospect MLA and immigration councilor Austin Harris told legislators the joint select committee has held a number of meetings and was in the process of preparing to roll out its public consultations on its proposed recommendations.

“We have decided to delay the stakeholder engagement discussion on traffic congestion, on vehicle importation, until after the referendum has ended, which unfortunately will take us past December and into the new year,” Harris said. “We will not be able to present those recommendations at the end of the year as was the plan, I think, in May of this year,”
Harris provided the update during his contribution to the budget debate in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

He said the decision was taken to hold off on the consultations because government wanted to ensure fairness was the order of the day and the people’s wishes and the viewpoints of those who signed the port referendum petition are respected.

“Those plans have been delayed, not postponed, but delayed to allow for the referendum conversation and the debates on both sides to continue, lest otherwise we be criticised for seeking to talk about other subjects and seeking to distract from the referendum,” Harris added.

The committee was created following a unanimous decision in the LA to investigate and make recommendations for the standards, specifically looking at vehicle age limits, classification and fuel types.

It was set up subsequent to a motion brought by the Prospect MLA. Opposition Leader Arden McLean had filed a similar motion, but he withdrew his to allow Harris’ motion to proceed.

Harris said the committee’s work will continue even though its consultations will have to wait.

“That committee is doing a lot of positive work and I am anxious to get their recommendations in the public realm,” he added.

Workforce challenges

Speaking on the issue of employment, Harris said work is continuing on Caymanian unemployment as he noted that the long-awaited Fair Employment Opportunities Commission is expected to be established next year.

The aim of the commission, which was the brainchild of Premier Alden McLaughlin, is to investigate and remedy claims of discrimination against Caymanians seeking employment or facing challenges to career advancement.

Coupled with that is the review of the national minimum wage, Harris said.

The current minimum wage stands at $6 an hour.

He said much work has been done in the past two years to advance the conversation and the review of the minimum wage.

In 2020 and 2021, he said, government will seek to continue the effort by engaging with private sector partners.

“If we all want the same thing, which is to see Cayman succeed and see it succeed with Caymanians, then we need to take a look at wages … [W]e have nothing to fear from a possible increase to the national minimum wage, as we have seen growth continue and thousands of new jobs created despite the creation of a national minimum wage in the first place,” Harris said.

The budget debate continues Monday.

Vehicle imports 2018
Total vehicle imports : 4,806
New vehicles: 2,053
Second hand vehicles: 2,753
Minimum wage in the Cayman Islands
$6 per hour