PACT releases its 100-day report

The members of Cayman's new Cabinet, pictured on 21 April when they were sworn into government. From left, Chris Saunders, Andre Ebanks, Kenneth Bryan, Bernie Bush, Sabrina Turner, Jay Ebanks and Juliana O'Connor-Connolly. - Photo: GIS

The PACT government has released its report on its first 100 days in office, highlighting among its achievements the phased border-reopening plan and the adoption of a code of conduct for ministers.

The report outlines the measures the government has taken since it was sworn in on 21 April.

In a statement accompanying the release of the report, Premier Wayne Panton acknowledged that more needs to be done, saying, “While we celebrate these achievements, we are by no means resting on them. There is still much work to be done and we are ready for the challenge.”

Top of the list in the report was work the government is undertaking on reopening the islands, which Panton described as “paramount” of the government’s goals and challenges.

“First and foremost is the safe reopening of our borders. To do this, we need every eligible resident in the Cayman Islands to be fully vaccinated. I thank and applaud those individuals who have already been fully vaccinated as well as the businesses that have come on board to ensure that their workers – especially those on the front lines – are vaccinated and protecting themselves from the full impact of COVID-19,” he said.

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Last month, Panton announced a phased plan for the reopening of the borders, which would allow tourists to return here.

Within its first 100 days, the government has, as promised early in its tenure, adopted a Ministerial Code of Conduct, which was approved by Cabinet on 27 July. A Parliamentarian Code of Conduct is also in the works, according to a statement issued by government last week.

The implementation of the parliamentary code of conduct formed part of the PACT deal following the 14 April general election, paving the way for the return of House Speaker McKeeva Bush, who was convicted in December 2020 of assaulting a female bar manager.

As part of its undertaking to demonstrate greater transparency, the government has also begun publishing summaries of decisions made in Cabinet meetings, the 100-day report noted.

It also outlines achievements in education, which include increasing funding for overseas undergraduate scholarships by 50%, and the distribution of 4,989 laptops to public school students.

The allocation of laptops by government began under the former administration, during lockdown, when schools were closed and students were forced to attend their lessons remotely from home. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who was the education minister under the Progressives administration, remains in that Cabinet role under the PACT government.

The 100-day report, under its healthcare section, lists the expansion of healthcare access to all clients of the Needs Assessment Unit under the CayHealth Programme, as one of the health-care achievements of the government. Previously, the programme was only available to a small number of clients of the Department of Children and Family Services who received healthcare benefits.

Under the report’s ‘People and Social Policy’ heading, the government also pointed to its plans to hold a census on 10 Oct. this year. The census had been due to be carried out last year, but was delayed by COVID.

As part of its accomplishments, the administration also noted the grant of government-guaranteed mortgages to 200 Caymanian families, and the reallocation of $2 million in funding to provide business stipends for micro and small businesses, as well as international credit rating agency Moody’s maintaining Cayman’s Aa3 rating for government bonds issued in foreign and local currency, and an Aaa rating as a country ceiling.

Under ‘Public Safety’, the government noted the National Security Council’s steps to curb gang violence following two multiple shootings within the space of a week, and training for Community Emergency Response Team volunteers to be better prepared for national hazards.

With Cayman’s premier being a former environment minister, the report also highlighted the fact that government had set up a ministry dealing specifically with sustainability and climate resiliency, with Panton as the minister in charge of that portfolio.

The report also noted, in the area of employment and labour, 10 Caymanians had been offered scholarships to attend Tools for Success-Employability Skills and Financial Peace University through the Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman department in partnership with Inspire Cayman; and four people were recommended to the Second Chances Programme for possible employment through the Portfolio of the Civil Service.

The Ministry of Youth, Sports, Culture and Heritage has established three top priorities, which are to identify and develop talent; enhance and empower youth; and ensure awareness and preservation of Cayman’s culture and heritage.

Infrastructure developments included purchasing private land on Cayman Brac for the creation of a public beach, and a public consultation programme on the remediation of the George Town landfill.

In the financial services sector, the government addressed the European Union’s tax good governance initiative, remaining strong and cooperative with international tax compliance; and participated in an international (ACAMS) symposium on anti-financial crime and countering financing of terrorism to examine the Cayman Islands’ anti-money laundering efforts, including working to be removed from the FATF grey list.

The report also listed achievements in tourism, which included working with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association on preparations and logistics to keep Caymanians first in the industry; and continuing repatriation flights by Cayman Airways to Miami, Jamaica and La Ceiba, as well as British Airways flights to London Heathrow.

The full report can be read here.

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