Clifford defends conservation bill

| 30/04/2009

(CNS): Minister for Tourism and Environment Charles Clifford has strongly defended the National Conservation Bill, which failed to make it to the Legislative Assembly during the last sitting because of both political and public opposition. Speaking at last night’s Chamber forum, Clifford said he very much regretted that the bill was not passed but there had been a propaganda campaign against the bill incorrectly leading people to  believe they would not be able to develop their land when that was just not the case.

Despite the fact that his political and ministerial colleague Minister Arden McLean openly stated at the first Chamber forum that he would not back the bill unless it is changed, Clifford defended the bill when asked a question about environmental issues and protection at the Chamber Candidate’s District Forum in Bodden Town.

“The National Conservation Law is a law that was not passed during this administration and it is something that I very much regret,” he said. “There has been a propaganda campaign against that legislation. People have said all sorts of things about people not being able to develop their land if we pass the conservation bill and that is simply not correct.” He explained that the only issues that deals with the enforced protection of land refers to crown land (government owned) which has a sub-section that indicates if government wants to protect land it has to d so with the owner’s consent. He also wanted government to try and acquire the land around the duck pond so it can be protected. Clifford said it was an important eco-system which was as connected to the North Sound which was in turn connected to the tourism product.

Answering the same question about environmental challenges, Dwayne Seymour, a UDP candidate for the district, said he was concerned about the blasting and quarrying in the area as there were now some seven quarries in the Bodden Town district and the earth and even people’s houses were literally shifting. He also stated that the derelict vehicles and garbage as well as illegal dumping were serious problems, which, following his participation in Saturday’s Earth Day Clean-Up, he saw with his own eyes.

Seymour said he too wanted to see the pond saved for future generations. However, referring to Clifford’s comments regarding the National Conservation Bill, he said that as Minister McLean had said that he wouldn’t support it, Seymour thought there must be something seriously wrong with it. “He is a part of the present government, so I would be hesitant and would have to review that further find out what is so bad in this document that he and his colleague can’t agree on.”

Theresa Lewis–Pitcairn one of two other independent candidates on the panel stated she had concerns that there was so much litter, garbage, derelict vehicles in some areas of the district as this was part of an overall undervaluing and neglect of some of the poorer communities and she agreed that the duck pond needed to be protected.

Gilbert McLean, a former UDP member who served in its previous administration as Health Minister who is now running as an independent, said he was also very concerned about the quarries. He noted a tremendous amount of heavy equipment was now in the area, as well as increasing garbage and the related pests. He said there was a number of pressing environmental issues that needed to be addressed.

During the debate the four candidates covered tourism, the Turtle Farm, law enforcement, the airport redevelopment, the economy, new revenue ideas and unaudited government finances among other district and national topics.

The issue of government finances and the need to raise revenue came upin a number of different questions. But the need for greater efficiencies in government as a way of reducing spending rather than raising money, which has been a persistent theme of agreement throughout the forums, was also agreed by the final Bodden Town panel.

Clifford pointed to the idea of zero based budgeting and said that over the years operating budgets were always based on the previous year spending but it was time to move away from that and look at what government departments really need to operate. He said that government would find it could easily produce the same level of services but at a reduced cost. He said there was no need to raise revenues of fees every time the finances were in deficit, but he said given Cayman’s situation there were not that many options for new revenue raising measures.

Lewis-Pitcairn noted there were no easy solutions and the problem was compounded by the failure of government to supply audited accounts but there were areas of potential new revenue. She said that we could not continue to milk tourism and the financial services sectors but could utilise the lever of the agreements we were making overseas regarding tax information exchange to bring new business to Cayman in return. She said there were a number of ways to both raise revenue and increase efficiencies.

Three of the candidates said they supported rollover and that it should extend to the civil service, but Seymour noted it wasn’t working properly and needed reviewing. Lewis-Pitcairn, however, said she had never been a supporter of the policy as she did not think it addressed the fundamental problem that even when educated, qualified and experienced, Caymanians were still being discriminated against.

“I was never somebody who supported the rollover as you can’t legislate for people’s behaviour,” she said, noting that Caymanians were not being promoted even when properly trained and she said that was why we continue to see designer ads in the paper for jobs while Caymanians were still unemployed. “It does not add up,” she noted. “We need to ensure that persons that sit on these boards are there to do a proper public service or are paid a wage to do it.” She also noted it was wrong that the policy applied to the private sector and not the public when we were all one working community.

When the subject moved to the current government’s achievements and disappointments in the last administration, Clifford listed a lot of achievements before running out of time to list any disappointments. Lewis-Pitcairn cited Alden McLaughlin’s courage in addressing education, and both McLean and Seymour said they could not find any achievements only disappointments.

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Category: Election 2009

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is not a reply to any comment here. I want to send a message to all of the candidates that is thick on the marl road; many, many, of us, the Voters are fed up with the slandering of certain candidates.  This must STOP!!! We want to hear about the issues and the solutions for our Islands. Any of  the Candidates that continue to slander one another WILL NOT GET OUR VOTES!!!!


  2. Green Hornet says:

    Excuse me. Somebody in cabinet didn’t like the law, so Chuckie backed down? When did everyone in cabinet ever agree on everyything? That’s the feeblest excuse I’ve ever heard. The majority of Caymanians want us to join the rest of the planet and take some responsibility forour environment — and that doesn’t mean picking up trash off the beach, it mean creating parks, wilderness areas and some planning regulations with teeth that cannot be purchased by the highest bidder.

    • Anonymous says:

      Green Hornet,

      To think that this, on the eve of an election, is a feeble excuse shows your naivete about politics. The least popular man in the party does not go up against probably the most popular man in the party. That is politicial suicide for him and probably for the party.

      The point is there is no basis for your earlier statement that he had no intention of introducing the law.   

  3. Green Hornet says:

    Well, well, well. Chuckie never had the slightest intention of passing the Conservation Law — any more than his predecessor in the UDP  (Big Mac himself) did.

    In fact, what Chuckie and his colleagues have done is virtually nothing. The PPM election  slogan about not stopping "progress" is at least honest. If you define "progress" as the continued ecological destruction of our islands, then it seems all our politicians are all in the same environmental basket. You’ve had 8 years to pass the law, and you worry about a few trouble makers who use the same rant as their property rights compadres in the US about "not being able to do whatever they want with their land"?

    While the rest of the planet has at least begun to try and realistically deal with environmental issues, we’re still living in an era of building more roads, filling in ourwetlands, trashing our mangroves, avoiding planning controls in environmentally sensitive areas, buying bigger and bigger cars, closing our eyes to the long-term impacts of climate change, not recycling…..the list is almost endless.

    Can we expect better from the next regime…whoever it is? I would hope so, but I haven’t seen any ecological leadership yet in any of the pre-election  promises. It will come back to haunt us, mark my words….and who will we blame then?

    • Anonymous says:

      "The PPM election  slogan about not stopping "progress" is at least honest. If you define "progress" as the continued ecological destruction of our islands, then it seems all our politicians are all in the same environmental basket. You’ve had 8 years to pass the law".

      The PPM Govt. has not been in power for 8 years. Mr. Clifford in particular has only been the minister responsible for the last 4 years. How can you say he did not have the slightest intention of passing the law, since he presented a bill which it is clear was opposed by one of his colleagues in Cabinet?

  4. Only For Caymanians says:

    Throw Clifford  OUT  then  Kurt  and   Alden,   And Clean the slate of (P)oor  (P)eople (M)istake   and then you can have a good Government……  While  we in the Great West Bay IS Cleanibg up the (U)nwanted  (D)ictating  (P)oliticians so that  by cleansing the Government   then we start a NEW Cayman Islands….

        C L E A N  all the nasty Politicians out of our   Great Cayman Islands.


    Only For Caymanians

  5. Anonymous says:

    Re Dwayne’s concerns, It should be emphasised that under the present laws all quarries that are not in a heavy industrial zone are operating illegally, and they are also operating illegally if they cause a nuisance to residential areas.

    It depends on residents to complain to the Planning Department, and the Enforcement Officer of that Department is supposed to come to the residents’ rescue.

    If this doesn’t happen… then residents should follow the example of the Mahogany Estate residents until it does happen.

    Residents should enquire of the Planning Department by what Licence or permission the offending quarry is operating, and take the situation from there.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Come on, Chuckie…..4 years….why now….obviously, Environment is not a priority for you…..And you HAVE grandkids, Any environment left for them?  Quit pointing fingers at others and making excuses.  If you have an ounce of decency and integrity left in you, I personally would step down, say I tried my best, and livet o fight another day…And this is from a woman who has watched you climb the ladder from traffic cop. But I think you lost your way, since the only place you dip your toe in the ocean now, is at the Westin and Ritz, and sometimes, Avalon.  Know when to fold em, baby.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Come on, Chuckie…..4 years….why now….obviously, Environment is not a priority for you.."

      Oh, please. Give credit where credit is due. Why try to find a negative angle? 

  7. Anonymous says:

    "Lewis-Pitcairn, however, said she had never been a supporter of the [rollover] policy as she did not think it addressed the fundamental problem that even when educated, qualified and experienced, Caymanians were still being discriminated against".

    Theresa must know that this was not the objective of the  rollover ‘policy’ which had to do with limiting the number of persons who are eligible for permanent rights in the country. How can you judge the success of a ‘policy’ against something that was never its objective? What does she propose instead  – that we go back to allowing expats to remain indefinitely and claim that their human rights are being violated, or that we grant everyone permanent rights?