Ezzard tells government to be bold over election date

| 27/06/2009

(CNS): The last minute scramble to establish a budget for government for the first quarter of the 2009/10 financial year has drawn into sharp focus the problem of the country’s election timetable once again. The member for North Side, Ezzard Miller, challenged government to go to the polls in November 2012 to address the problem. “I hope the government will be bold enough to have the next election in 2012,” he said, adding that the reason it was changed in the first place was to avoid the problem the House was facing one again.

Miller explained that he was particularly uncomfortable voting on a budget when no one knew where the money was coming from. In a short and succinct contribution to the House, Miller explained the fundamental problem:  “I am a lot more comfortable sending money when I know where it is coming from,” said Miller. “I hope the financial secretary will be able to give us some idea of what revenue there will be to cover these expenses. I have some concerns we are setting ourselves up and voting blindly. We may call these outputs but what we are talking about is expenditure.”

Answering the call to change the date, Rolston Anglin acknowledged there was a problem with the election calendar, and as the elected body the Legislative Assembly did need to consider what would be presented to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when it came time for the next election. He said the member for North Side was correct to point to November, but he said that a 2012 election was not very attractive, especially to the newly elected members who would only serve three and a half years. He also questioned whether the country would want to coincide with the US presidential election cycle, alluding to the probability, but without being explicit, that the government was more likely to favour November 2013. The same political problem arose during this past administration when the opposition was not willing to waiting till November of this year for the election and the previous government was unwilling to go to the polls in November 08.

Consequently, with the elections now in May as a direct result of the cancelled November 2004 election owing to Hurricane Ivan, the last two administrations have come to office with only a matter of five weeks remaining in the financial year, which now runs from 1 July to 30 June. This means there is no time to plan a policy statement and an appropriation schedule to match, which includes sources of revenue as well as operational expenditure. The new United Democratic Party government therefore faced the exact problemfaced by that of the previous administration in 2005, with no money and no time to plan. As a result, under the Public Management and Finance Law, the government is allowed to create a law for temporary appropriation of funds for up to four months without setting out a full budget with revenue anticipation.

When Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson placed the government’s stop gap budget before the House on Friday 26 June, MLAs raised their concerns that, given the expected decline in government revenue over the coming months, voting a budget without knowing the revenue was problematic. Miller pointed out that if the government was asking for more than $573 million for one third of the year without explanation, the House could be voting for an annual budget approaching $2 billion. While Jefferson said that the members should not assume that each output would be a third of the budget, he did not explain which would be annual amounts that had to be paid in the first part of the financial year and which line items would be expected expenditure for the first third.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The UDP Govt will do what the PPM feared to do.  The UDP suggested it back then as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      "The UDP Govt will do what the PPM feared to do.  The UDP suggested it back then as well".

      The UDP will do whatever it thinks is politically advantageous. As the Opposition it naturally wanted to shorten the PPM’s term. As the Government it will naturally not want to shorten its own term. However, Nov. 2012 may have the attraction of bringing on 3 additional MLAs sooner rather than later. The UDP plan for a by-election to bring these in is misconceived.     


  2. vexed client says:

    I agree with Ezzard. The country did just fine when th eterm was extended by 6 months because of Ivan. I agree with him that it should coinside with teh US elections in 2012 as I for one cannot take two years of campeigning and campeigh news. 

  3. A Concerned Caymanian says:

    I say that we change it back to 2012 and if the current goverment is performing well they should have nothing to fear.  I just means that the will have a few more members to add with the new constitution being fully in place.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t support Mr Miller in other areas but I sure do with this one.

    I posted this on 21May…  UDP was crying down the PPM to hold Elections in Nov ’08 so let’s see what they will do now that the ‘shoe is on the other foot.’

  5. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Miller is correct on all points.

    This mess up with election dates / financial year is another example of why the electorate needs to be involved in Governance, not just to elect the MLA’s then leave them alone to do what they will with our beautiful Islands.

    Under our Constitution elections can be called at any time by the Governor and / or the majority of the LA. 

    More stable democracies have fixed election dates – but that is not the British way of doing things, that would be organizing governance too much where us the governened knew when elections will be held. Look beyond our shores and read a bit of history to understand how the UK’s style of “on demand” election dates, totally controlled by the government in power, is used to control and manipulate the electorate in other OT’s and Commonwealth countries, it will happen here also.

    Yes, Mr. Miller you are correct, pure local bad politics and the mischievous FCO have allowed the good plan to separate the financial year from the maximum time between elections to coincide. 

    Now Mr. Miller please tell us, will you support:

    1.       A change to the Constitution for fixed election dates? 

    2.       A Constitutional provision to fix Government’s financial year to begin six (6) months after the fixed election year?

    Thank you.


  6. fuzzy says:

    Ezzard is right on the button and since the UDP is anxious to bring in the three additional MLAs called for in the new constitution this should fit right in.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Rolston Anglin… 

    What are you so scared of having the election in 3 1/2 years.   If your government does a good job we will revote you back in.   HOWEVER…if you all SUCK then the sooner we kick your asses out the better.   So do a good job and dont worry about 3 1/2 years.   UNLESS YOU SCARED OF COURSE.   Am I right or wrong?

  8. Hatty Tudor says:

    Election dates should be a decision for the Governor and the FCO.

  9. Chris Saunders says:

    It is clear that neither the government nor the opposition want to cut short or extend the legislative term by 6 months to allow elections in November.

    I suggest that the Government consider changing the financial year to December 31 to do away with this problem. Furthermore, we should all bear in mind the reason the election date was changed was a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan.

    We need to remain cognizant that we are living in a hurricane belt that runs 6 months out of the year from June to November. What is the use of trying to change the date back to November only to run the risk of changing the date back again in the event of being hit by another hurricane?