Governor says Cayman needs to look outward

| 23/01/2009

(CNS): With speakers from around the world and a rare public face off between the countries two political leaders against the backdrop of a global crisis Cayman Business Outlook drew a significant crowd this year. In opening the event the governor Stuart Jack told delegates that Cayman is an important player on the global financial stage and it must look at what it can offer the world in today’s climate.

The Governor said he was   a strong supporter of the conference because of the, “….invaluable opportunity to hear from leading experts and thereby broaden our own outlook, see what is happening to our own islands in a broader context.”

He noted that at last year’s conference Nouriel Roubini, predicted the current crisis and said that this year’s conference came at a time of perhaps unprecedented global economic turmoil.

“But the conference – and I hope all of you participants – is doing something noteworthy. You are daring to look ahead to recovery. The challenge for this conference is to try to identify what role the Cayman Islands has, not just in its own recovery, but in the global recovery.”

He said that some people may say that Cayman is too small to influence the machinations and decisions coming from the US, the EU, the G20.

“But this view is wrong. It ignores two important facts:  Fact number one – this economic crisis has its roots not only in the US but also in the international system and the solutions will also be found in the US and the international system. This brings me to fact number two. Cayman is a – not unimportant – part of the international system. On every count, it is a major financial centre. The economic challenge for the Cayman Islands in 2009 is to acknowledge both its global dependency and its individual characteristics in terms of the international economic crisis.”

He told the audience that by looking outwards at what is happening across the world and reminded everyone that Cayman started life because an abundant population of turtles attracted European sailors looking for food. “In short, because it was useful to the rest of the world,” he added.

Because Cayman has continued to anticipate the demands of the outside world the Governor said it has remained successful.

“Today, more than ever, we need to think about what we can offer the world. And we should start with our near neighbour, the most powerful country on earth, the United States,” he said. “

Speaking about the inauguration of Barack Obama the Governor said Cayman must understand the impact on the US economy of the global crisis as Much as Obama does.

“The two largest sectors of the Caymanian economy, financial services and tourism, are dependent on the US economy. So we too must understand the magnitude and the effects of the downturn in the US,” he added.


“Cayman is filled with some of the sharpest legal and financial minds on this planet. They helped build the current economic system. And now they must start work to identify and anticipate the new economic system. They must understand the new realities facing the world’s major financial institutions and the fears sweeping over ordinary people across the continents,” the Governor said adding that as the crisis isn’t going to just fade overnight, with a quiet return to the old days, there will be big changes.


“The Government here is having to make hard choices about public spending. It has had to freeze schools and other new projects; and impose cuts on recurrent expenditure.  And unlike larger economies, such as the UK, here in Cayman we do not have a tax base to justify greater public borrowing, we will need to keep in line with strict borrowing levels,” he said.


He also cited his own ‘boss’ Gordon Brown when he said that the UK Prime Minister had said there was a new progressive era breaking across the world. “I hope that the men and women here today can consider how the Cayman Islands can be part of this new progressive era,” the Governor stated.

“Cayman needs to continue to position itself as up among the most compliant and ethical financial centres,” he said. “The leadership of the country – politicians, public servants and businessmen – need to work closely together to chart a way through the current crisis. That means being flexible and quick-moving – to deal with problems and take opportunities as they arise. And there will be opportunities. It means thinking about the longer term, not just short term political or commercial gain.”


The Governor also questioned Cayman’s green credentials and said the country could not afford to ignore the growing demands from tourists and our own people for better environmental standards. Or fail to plan for climate change.


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