Government now has the green light to proceed with its record budget.
At just more than $1.5 billion, the 2020/2021 fiscal package is the largest ever for the Cayman Islands.
“[It] was a very momentous day in the history of the Cayman Islands and its economic growth as we pass the largest budget in the history of the country,” Finance Minister Roy McTaggart told the Cayman Compass in a brief interview following the passage of the budget.
Legislators gave their approval on the appropriations on Thursday evening, at the close of a three-week Finance Committee session in the Legislative Assembly.
“All in all, it was a bit of a marathon session in Finance Committee to get all of the appropriations approved, and I think the level of spending that we are able to implement in 2020 and 2021 is clearly reflective of the sterling performance of government revenues, which is reflective of the continued expansion and growth of the Cayman economy,” McTaggart said.
During committee stage there were a couple of adjustments made to the fiscal package, he said, adding the net effect of the changes was “quite modest”.
In his report to the House, on Thursday, the minister said the committee agreed to disbursements of $22.3 million from the Environmental Protection Fund for the Integrated Solid Waste Management System project (capping of the George Town landfill), the reclamation and remediation of Kaibo Public Beach, and the continuation of the iguana-culling programme.
It will cover the purchase of lands for conservation purposes as well.
The committee also increased funds allocated to Cayman Finance, which will receive $750,000 in both 2020 and 2021.
He said the committee also created a new payment of $150,000 in each year towards the Superior Auto apprenticeship programme.
McTaggart said he was pleased with the fiscal package, especially since it will get the John Gray High School project started in 2020.
He said there will also be significant spending for roads.
“You will see, as well, that we have increased the assistance government provides to the vulnerable in our society and I think it will be well received and they will be starting from January 1 in 2020. They will receive an additional $100 per month, taking their monthly support to $850 a month and that will increase again to $950 a month in 2021,” McTaggart said.
The minister added that through the budget government has committed to significant reductions in fees and in some cases elimination of duties for those over 65-years-old.
“Again, [another] very vulnerable segment of our population and demonstrates our commitment I believe to making sure that we provide for them and give them as much assistance that we can. So those will be rolled out in the coming months in 2020,” McTaggart said.