Lawmakers will begin delving into government’s $1.5 billion budget line by line on Wednesday.
This as the fiscal package, got the greenlight in the Legislative Assembly Monday night to move to the next stage, Finance Committee.
The committee is set to begin at 9:30am in the LA.
Premier Alden McLaughlin wrapped up the debate Monday, defending the fiscal package for the 2020/2021 budget. At $1.5 billion the budget is largest to date for the Cayman Islands.
He refuted Opposition Leader Arden McLean’s claims that the budget was an election budget, or electioneering. McLean has also accused government of hoarding resources only to spend it before the polls.
“That certainly is not the case and is demonstrably untrue,” McLaughlin said.
The premier said since the government took office two-and-a-half years ago, it has been expending resources on behalf of the people.
The current spending plan is the last before the 2021 election.
The premier said that the prudent fiscal management of his previous government and the careful thought and planning of his current administration had put Cayman in a “very enviable” position.
This, he said, is the reason why government can give a 5% cost-of-living increase to civil servants and increases in payments to the poor and the vulnerable.
“It is a budget for opportunities as we bring to fruition development of WORC (Work Opportunities and Residency Cayman) and continue to drive forward improvements of our education system. It is a budget that tackles the issues faced by our people today and a budget that provides a platform that we can better meet the challenges of tomorrow,” McLaughlin argued.
Prior to the premier’s closing speech there was some confusion as George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan missed his turn to speak.
Bryan said he was thinking Finance Minister Roy McTaggart would have wrapped the debate on the budget.
However, House Speaker McKeeva Bush reminded him that McLaughlin had moved the motion and he had the right to close the debate.
Bryan appealed to Bush and fellow members to allow him to speak. However, it was too late as McLaughlin had already been called upon and begun his closing speech.
“I too have been shut out playing tactical games about who is going to speak last,” McLaughlin said, as he addressed the issue.
“The only comfort I can give the member is I have been through that and it is part of the learning process, but also there will be more than ample opportunity to examine the budget in Finance Committee,” the premier told the House.
At the end of his speech, McLaughlin called for a division of the House and all members present voted in favour of the budget.
The vote ended 15 in favour and three absent.
Bodden Town West MLA Chris Saunders did not speak in the debate.
Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was the lone government member who did not contribute ahead of the vote.
5% increase in cost of living for civil servants
$100 increase in ex gratia payments
14 concessions and waivers for seniors
$5000 payment threshold for government schoolteachers
Continuation of stamp duty concessions for first-time Caymanian homeowners
Renewal of Government Guaranteed Housing Assisted Mortgage programme
Funding for new prison