Mac: Asset sale only choice

| 24/02/2010

(CNS): The mounting opposition to government’s decision to sell public assets to balance this year’s budget brought McKeeva Bush back to the hustings this week to defend government policies, despite the fact that the election is over three years away. The premier said that selling assets was a better choice than laying off thousands of civil servants or introducing direct taxation. He said these were the only other choices the UK government would allow in order for the local government to borrow funds to pay off last year’s deficit, left by what he said was the PPM’s financial incompetence. Bush has also now stated that the government building will eventually be bought back, despite indications in the offering that it is a freehold sale. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

The sale of the new government office accommodation building on Elgin Avenue has been met with considerable opposition, not just from the People’s Progress Movement but the wider community. Bush has, however, defended the move and also questioned why, when the sale of the building was openly indicated in the 2009/10 budget document back in October, there was now a rising against it and suggested it was political exploitation by the opposition party, who felt to oppose the move then was risky as the UDP government was still popular.

Following the PPM’s gathering at South Sound on Monday evening, the front and back bench members, as well as UDP party representative, gathered outside the Courthouse on Tuesday evening. Following short presentations from other party members, Bush took to the podium to defend his policies and take the opportunity to point the finger squarely at the previous administration for the financial struggles faced by the country.

Focusing on the sale of the new office accommodation building, Bush stated that government would not sell the building unless they were able to find a financial package or structure that would enable the governmentto still own the property in the future. He indicated that this would mean government was effectively buying back the building during the time it is renting the accommodation from the new owner. The goal, he added, was that the civil service pension board would still purchase the property, but whoever did, eventually government would still own it.

However, the invitation document clearly states that government is looking for “expressions of interest from investors wishing to acquire the freehold interest in the new Government Office Administration Building”, and although the terms include government being the tenant, it does not indicate how the government intends to buy back the freehold.

Nevertheless, Bush vowed to find a way and admitted that he did not want to sell the building but was forced to do so because, when in office, the PPM government had broken the rules on good fiscal management, placing the Cayman government at the mercy of the UK government for permission to borrow. He said that the UK gave no indication that they would allow, as the PPM have suggested, the CI government to spread the deficit over a longer period. Bush also insisted that the cash government would gain from the sale of the building would be placed into reserves and not absorbed by operational costs, as suggested by the PPM.

“We have had to make tough decisions in order to keep government operational,” he said, adding that he was not prepared to lay off thousands of civil servants and see Caymanians lose their jobs or introduce taxation. But if the budget was to go “belly up” that would spell certain disaster for the country and hopes for future investment.

“Is that what Kurt Tibbetts wants me to do?” he asked. Bush suggested that if the PPM did not support the sale of the new office building he must be in favour of laying off Caymanians or direct taxation.

Bush vowed to do everything possible to avoid the introduction of direct taxation as he said it would dramatically change the landscape of the Cayman Islands. “This budget does not include taxation and I truly want to keep it that way,” Bush told the public who had come to hear his position.  “As sure as night follows day, once you put tax on one it will soon fall on the poor man who can’t even pay his electricity bill.”

The need to sell the building was pivotal to the current budget, he said, and if we did not then the only other choice for this budget would be reducing the civil service, which would see hundreds of Caymanians lose their jobs. “I will not lay off civil servants,” he added.

The premier admitted that new revenue resources would still have to be found in the future. He said he would be going to the UK next month to discuss the Miller Report (the independent review conducted as a condition of the permission to borrow from the UK), which has assessed potential new revenue sources for the islands, the content of which has not yet been revealed. CNS asked the premier what recommendations had been made in the report at the last press briefing but the premier said at the time that he was unable to discuss its content.

Bush also denied that his government had dismissed the idea of extending thecountry’s net-debt ratio and that the discussions with the UK over that strategy, which would give government access to more borrowing power over the next few years, were ongoing, but there was no certainty that the UK would ever agree. He said that the OT minister, Chris Bryant, would only have allowed the CI government to spread the deficit through borrowing if the country had introduced some form of property, income or payroll tax to balance the 2009/10 budget.

He said that the PPM’s opposition to the sale of assets and plans to march on the Glass House were disruptive and mere political opportunism as they had yet to offer any concrete solutions. “If they have a sound proposal bring it to us,” he invited.  “But it’s not solution they are after, it’s winning elections.”

Bush also spoke about immigration, crime and the planned march by the PPM. He lamented the opposition to his policies on the radio talk shows and what he called the ‘blogs’. He said that the blogs opposing government were written by the same person over and over again and that the public should not take any notice of them or the callers to the talk shows.

Category: Headline News

Comments (79)

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  1. anony says:

    Would wome computer tech or programmer please explain Mr. Bush’s statement "that the same person keeps writing comments. Which same person?

    There are hundreds of people voicing their opinions in these forums, Maybe Charles Glidden his Press Sec. should explain what he means by the same person. As far as I can tell there are persons (plural) making statements and comments in these forums.

    Do the people making comments in these forums need to be concerned that Mr. Bush is lucky enough to be privy to confidential information as to who is commenting in these forums, their email addresses, and their identity?

    We need to know. That means that eventhough CNS is claiming protection for its corum writers, that maybe we are not so safe at all.

    Big Mac has found a way to infiltrate these confidential systems.

    CNS: No one, including Mr Bush, has access to commenters’ identities. Since we do not require any personal information and store only the most recent two hours worth of IP address based information, which is then purged, the scenario in which the identity of commenters who do not include their names and email addresses could be retrieved at a later date is impossible. We only have your email address if you chose to leave it when you make a comment and this is at no time available to anyone outside CNS.

    • Anonymous says:

      If Mr. Bush had found a way to infiltrate the system he would know that his comment is false. I think it is mere wishful thinking and arrogance on his part . His die-hard supporters also believe that the criticisms only come from PPM supporters that are ‘sore losers’. Perhaps he also thinks that the  opinion poll that his performance has been disastrous is the same person with access to 700 IP addresses.  

      It seems that although Mr. Bush has reminded us many times of Mr. Tibbetts "not one the kindest of mornings…" response to him while in opposition that he is responding exactly in kind.  

      When a leader is immune to public sentiment to that degree in the matter of mere months what can we expect for the next 3+ years?

    • Say wha says:

      To poster 10:30

      Its called a blog my good friend; while I do not believe that one person would have the time to place 20 or 30 postings in a day, it is possible for a person to have multiple postings depending on how they feel about the issues..so i would not be hasty and judge public sentiments solely on a few negative posts..

  2. Anonymous says:

    Let us all stop this bickering and work to stabilise this ship which is going through troubled waters. There are no easy solutions. Like many of us– the common man, we have had to make some hard choices in our households and life to survive. The same holds good on a national levl which in this case means the Cayman Islands.

    Mr Clifford, please stop this negative approaches and join all people in finding a solution and not a creating a nuisance or public problem.  Trying to create polic al storm and opprotunity is not going to get you any where- the pople have already spoken up in the last elections about your motives and actions including removing officials documents in your attempt to be a Robin Hood You are lucky as any one in that situation might even have been arrested.

    As Caymanians, my request to all Politicians from all sides, try to mature into statesman to guide the common folk through thes trouble times in our history. Look at the past- like Sir Vassell. Capt Charles and the list goes on. For them the country came first, and hence the stature.

    The people on the street realise that there are no easy solutions or quick fixes. The recovery is going to be slow and we all have work for it and evn face hardship  together.

    As an elder myself, Mr Alden, another bill or a committee to tackle crime is not the anwer. It is another waste of time and distraction . Let us use our existing resources and the venues in our present constitution which you all pushed for. Say for example the National Security Council. We need to remain focussed and not go in different directions with our limmitted resources.

    A lot of our crime  is related to the economy . When most of the people were gainfully employed and felt positive about the future,we didnot have crime as an issue.

    Even if we have a cop on every corner or CCTV’s, it will not solve it but move it to other forms. If these attempts fail– are we to barricade ourselves behind grills on every window and behind closed doors all the time.

    I is a complex issue and hence this humble request to all that we need to work together.

    My critisism was made only constructively and definitely not to add to the negativism going on. My apologies if I have hurt feelings. It wasonly to lay the facts and speak for the betterment of these beautiful islands

    • Time to stand together says:

      I must agree with poster 08:32

      This is no time for us to show dissentions or unrest; this is the time for Caymanians to come together as a people. I know a lot of people are frustrated right now and they have every right to be because things are bad and thats the plain simple fact. But the truth is no matter which political party is in power right now it would not make any difference, we would still have to make some very hard choices as a Government, people or nation. It was only 9 months ago we decided to remove the then government because the majority of us felt that we needed a change. To carryout a public protest and bring a referendum now would do this country absolutely no good, it would give the international media much needed armunition to further destroy investors confidence in our financial industry. As frustrated as we all are we must give space to goodsense and reason an look at the bigger picture..do not be blinded by the ego of a desperate politician who cares only for himself and is motivated by his own personal ambitions…

  3. Save Cayman NOW! says:

    CUT the Civil Service, McKeeva, starting with the politicians salaries and perks, like savvy countries all over the world are now doing with a renewed sense of urgency, as this recession is far from over…

    Without counting the Authorities owned by government, there is 1 Civil Servant for every 14 residents, consuming ~55% of the entire Cayman Budget in perks and salaries.

    The next most bloated Civil Service location in the Caribbean is Puerto Rico with 1 Civil Servant for every 23 residents: thankfully many have been laid off recently, as funds run out to pay them…

    Here are some suggestions you should seriously examine:

    – To set a good example, cut the salaries of the all the non-ministers and opposition members who are actually only working part time by 40%, the ministers salaries by 15% and grant pensions according to time and position served: ie, a back bencher who served 2 terms would get 25% of full pension and a minister who served 3 terms would get around 50%…

    – Make Civil Servants pay their 1/2 contribution of pension and health contributions currently forked out by Cayman’ citizenry and save about $25  million…

    – Reduce their numbers to be more in line with other islands in the Caribbean, say no more than 1 Civil Servant for every 20 residents, or a ~25% reduction and save about $70 million…

    – Bring their salaries down a notch – say 10% on average with large salaries being penalized more than the lower ones – more in line with the realities of other sectors of the economy that have had to tighten their belts in this recession andave about $35 million…

    – Stop guaranteeing their pensions: there is great inequality in having the citizens of Cayman obligated to make up any shortfall for any reasons – including recession and mismanagement – in the Civil Servant pension funds, when their own funds are going down the drain…

    – Stop paying them to do nothing: there is no reason why they should be guaranteed a life-long salary if they no longer have a job to do. However, neither should they be dismissed at the whim of politicians  without good reasons…

    – Stop fearing the Civil Servants Union – where is your courage when you need it most? – forget about the next election AND, simply do your DUTY!…

    McKeeva, you must balance a budget by cutting expenses first, then if necessary, sell the profitable Authorities by leveraging their assets as public companies where government retains a majority interest – nobody wants to buy any of the losers on the government’s books – and then, only then, borrow if you still can…

    Btw, if some of these measures are not taken ASAP, they will be imposed by the force of circumstances, as the government will soon run out of assets to sell and willing lenders to bail out the Cayman Islands…

    Welcome to the Club Med!…

    Beats a romp in the snow, all costs paid by the taxpayers…

    • Squadron Leader 409 says:

      The elderly, sick, handicapped and poor are a far bigger drain on the Governments resources than the Civil Service. Perhaps we should start by getting rid of them?

      Now if we could look in to a serious restructure, stop the handouts and the pandering to the idle few, we might be on to something. Put a stop to the undeserved and unneccesary promtions, the creating of higher level postions to appease the few who feel most entitled and force those who want to keep their jobs to actually do what they are supposed to do, then we will be getting somewhere.

      The "perks" my friend are not all that. Give us a choice of health insurance providers and pension funds that might be worth something then many will happily pay their share. As it goes right now, neither one of them is really worth diddly squat.

      You want progress? Do away with CINICO, privatise the hospital and health services, force the leaches who clog up the emergency room to either pay what they owe or stay in their bed until their sniffles pass.

      The problems are societal. Certain expectations have been allowed to manifest themselves over the years. Too many expect something for nothing.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So MacKeeva when the PPM Financial Advisor from Cayman Brac, No. 1 asked you..What will you sell next? You hesitated and stuttered a little, what were you thinking? Hmmmmm….The Governors Residence? Boatswaine???? Cayman Airways?  The Hospital?  The Cayman People? the Hyatt?…What were you thinking???

  5. Sad Caymanian in exile says:

    Mac’s " Better Way Forward" has turned out to be the destruction of Cayman. Empty-headed Mac has no answers. He is the world’s only living dinosaur and Ellio is his brother. Ellio, shame on you! Where are your solutions? Every morning on the Rooster, you told Caymanians you had a solution for every problem. You had "a better way forward". Yes, a better way forward for yourself because the MLA salary is the biggest you have earned in your life. Yes, that is your better way forward. My family is suffering because of the UDP government’s incompetence.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How much of OUR GOVERNMENT’S MONEY did Mac pay to the TV channel for the broadcast of a very lame UDP propaganda program last night? Auditor General I hope that you take a look at that. We have had enough of this government’s waste.

    For whoever it is that scribbles Mac’s speaking notes, do a little research.

    There is also an interesting back story to the song lyric – I man born ya –  that Mac almost remembered the lyrics to. It seems that the lyrics were written against the background of rapidly increasing crime in Jamaica in the 1970’s – nice parallel. The man who bravely wrote : I man born ya ..I man on ya ..I nah leave yah,  apparently left the country where he was born months later for the US. Wouldn’t it be nice if Mac did the same.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have a question for MacKeeva, why do you go on Talk shows?  Why do you call in?  Why do you read the blogs?  Do you know that these icons are the outlets for the people, so that they cannot get vindicated by you?  They are frustrated and needs an outlet to voice their frustrations.They are the voices of the people, not YOU!  You cannot control the people like you do the whole UDP team, These are the forgotten Cayman people…remember them?

    • Dick Shaugneary says:

      I am not sure that this person knows what the words "icon" or "vindicate" mean.

  8. Joe Average says:

    CAR FOR SALE

    BRAND NEW

    My car is for sale.  But.

    I haven’t paid for it.

    So I don’t actually own it.

    But if you buy it and give me the money.

    I’ll drive it.

    And give you a little money each month.

    Then eventually it will be my car.

    Serious Inquiries Only.

     

  9. Anonymous says:

    Long ago we were taught to learn not just from our own experiences but from the experiences of other so that we might not make the same mistakes.  While prosperity was a given in the boom years the people of Cayman sat back and enjoyed it, barely expending the effort to earn what others in many parts of the world were breaking their backs that they might earn half as much.  The CI government employed their mother, daughter, son, son-in-law, auntie, cousin, cousin’s adopted daugher, the adopted daughter’s "sister", the adopted daughter’s children… and on and on it went until the civil service was overgrown and underused through nepotism, arrogance, ignorance and a misplaced sense of entitlement.

    Take a look at the Seychelles.  They functioned very much in the same way as Cayman did and their government was subsidising the residents and created a false ‘welfare state’ in a country where welfare was purported to not be needed or exist (what does Cayman’s Social Services do?!?!?).  The money brought into the Seychelles mainly through tourism was squandered on a people who were not taught to think or work for themselves in a way that would truely add value to themselves as a community or to their country as a whole.  Now what has happened?  The Seychelles government borrowed through bond issues (debt in other words being acquired) and then couldn’t afford to pay it back.  Oh how their people are suffering.

    Their story seems set to be repeated in Cayman and yet no one has taken note of it and learned their hard lesson without having the experience.

    Don’t get mad because places like New Zealand are gearing themselves up to take away your back office fund operations (supposedly, I personally can’t see it happening). They themselves (NZ) introduced a similar PR pathway for the wealthy whereby the applicant doesn’t even need to speak english!! Who I ask would benefit from that and who is it geared at?  Don’t worry about these places, they have brought on their own kind of problems and have a different kind of fish to fry.

    Wake up Cayman and pull your head out of Seven Mile’s white sand and see what is going on around you.  There are lessons that you can learn from the rest of the world, solutions there for your problems if you would only just think outside that sorry little box you’re closing yourself into.

    Pull yourselves together and DO something about the GOVERNMENT that is hell bent on destroying the only thing you as a people collectively possess…. YOUR COUNTRY!

    • Anonymous says:

      Seychelles was a socialist country, it’s problems are very different to Cayman, they have a trades Tax , GST , Import duties, witholding tax etc…

      The Seychelles population have the highest HDI (human Development Index in the african region). There problems stem from running a complete social welfare system while morphing from a full blown socialist economy into a Capitalist economy.

      In the Seychelles the Governement pays for kids to go to Australia and France to University, upon their return they work for Governement for period of time to repay investment.

      Medical is completely free, even for work permit holders, school is free, and they have a social security system…

      The Seychelles has had a hard time moving from a Socialist state into Captalism, however they have diversified and become competitive and have in the last 6 years had over a Billion dollars of investment head into Luxury Tourism Development with more on the way…

      Cayman should learn from other SIDS (Small Island Developing States) from around the world Caymans problems are not unique and if you take the time to study you will find a lot of countries have been here and succeeded.

    • You asked for it says:

      The Cayman Islands is in for a very belak future caused mainly because of the selfish and narrow minded views of those with the vote to stick to models that may have worked in the 90’s but will lead the territory to financial ruin.

      There is a desperate need to slash the civil service in half and to encourage economic growth and job creation by removing the burdens of the need for Caymanian participation in businesses.  But you voters will stick your head in the sand and the jobs will go, the crime will rise and the government will default.

      I have another passport and will use it when I leave when it gets too bad here.  I hope you have a spare passport too.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know who wrote this but I had to copy and paste here as well… great solutions ! Thanks for getting to the point !

    Here’s my solution: 

    1. Stop makimg civil servants the fall guy.

    2. If we are broke stop travelling all over the world with your entourage

    3. Julianna stay in your own house instead of Alexander Hotel in the Brac ( 2 rooms needed every night, one for her body guard)

    4. No housekeeper.  His wife should be able to clean the house and cook.  After all, he’s never home.

    5. All the bodyguards are policemen.  They have crimes to solve not carry packages.

    6. The clean up crews are making buckets of money yet they can’t buy their own lunch.  Cut out the lunches. 

    7.  It’s amazing how many things government has money for but use civil servants as an excuse.

    8.  The supervisors are making $20+ an hour to watch other people work plus they were working on holiday.  That’s double pay.

    9. Start cutting salaries from the top.  MLAs first. 

    10.  Matter of fact, they shouldn’t get paidat all since  Mac is controlling everything anyway.

    • Anonymous says:

      Make Civil servants the fall guy – The  flabby and unproductive civil service is employing more Civil Servants per Capita than almost any developed country in the world…Does this mean that we have a problem – ohhh yeaaa…

      Cayman has a top 20 highest GDP of all nations. I would love to see on an island by island basis what Civil servants here make compared to other Caribbean Nations, you will find salaries in the civil service here are higher than most developed countries…

      Also we cannot use the excuse that Cayman is expensive because we have to import everything, almost everywhere in the region has to import everything and pay higher taxes…

      6000 Civil servants 21 million a month… Dracula sucks less blodd from Caymans lifeblood…

       

       

       

       

       

  11. Anonymous says:

    Oh but dem UDP MLAs love the Chuckster……..all I could hear about all night was Charles Clifford and his march……..no sah 🙂

  12. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the civil service should consider taking a pay cut to keep their jobs.  Many of us in the private sector have had to take pay cuts or go without increases to keep our jobs.  Why should they be any different.  We are contributing to their salaries.  We are all having to cut back and tighten our belts, why should we have to pay more and more to ensure they keep all of their perks?

     

     

    • Uncivil Servant says:

      …and the last salary increment and/or performance based pay review was receieived by the staff of the Civil Service when exactly? About 12 years ago if my memory serves me correctly. It ain’t all shits and giggles here buddy. In fact, if it was all that great, I’m sure you would be jumping right onboard.

      Cut the middle management, starting in the Education Department. Put some of them back in the classrooms where they belong and the long term benefits will be reaped by all.

      • Adam Smith says:

        The obvious answer is to dramatically cut jobs and substantially raise salaries of the best staff who are left.  A 50% cull with a 25% rise would improve productivity and service massively.  Keep the best, cut the rest.

  13. Anonymous says:

    So, how many people were at this meeting? It was reported that roughly 300 were at the PPM meeting how come there’s no comment on how many  were at the UDP meeting?

    • Stand Firm says:

      Radio Cayman said around 200.

    • Stand Firm says:

      "I man born ya" then he forgot the rest of the song.

      What a pityful disgrace, but I hope he not trying to say he more Caymanian than Kurt because that will never be, but TYPICAL of his behaviour and what an embarrassment!

      • A Noni Mouse says:

        He conveniently forgot because Sweet Jamaica is about…. Jamaica… that man aint had an original thought yet….

    • Anonymous says:

      It was reported in the news that about 200 people attended, but by my estimation I think 200 is a little high. Oh but what the heck, let’s give them 200!

  14. Not a PPM Supporter! says:

    "He said that the blogs opposing government were written by the same person over and over again and that the public should not take any notice of them or the callers to the talk shows."

    Do we really need any more proof that we have a XXXX at the helm?  How many more idiotic public statements is this man going to make before the people realise?

    This whole charade is getting more pathetic by the moment.  Bush I’ve completely lost faith in you as a politician you  are an embarrassment to the country as you don’t seem to have even a basic grasp of politics, economics or diplomacy.  I am one of the objectors on the "blogs".  Believe me I don’t have the time to keep posting and posting and posting the same shyte – I don’t work for the overbloated ill-performing civil service so I have to pay my own way, my own pension and insurance contributions and I have to work hard each day and come up with results in order to obtain my monthly pay check.  XXXX happens, and yours is hitting the fan big time.  Take a look at the polls, many many people oppose you.  Stop wasting our money, stop spouting off your mouth, stop burying your head in the sand and playing the blame game.  Be a man, accept that you are either doing wrong or have no clue what you are doing and try to do something constructive for your country.

    Look at the suggestions being made here – the people seem to have more idea what to do than you do.  LISTEN!!

    • Anonymous says:

      You see that is his way so he thinks everyone does it.

      Doesn’t he feel the ground swell against him, so trust me, there are many people writing and making phone calls against him, not just one as he claims – time to wake up.

    • Lachlan MacTavish says:

       Over the years many politico’s have created the present situation where people must object anonymously due to retribution and bullying. Now the blogs and news media are manipulating the situation with inflated critism. I don’t think so. Bottom line is if we had a one man one vote system instead of district we would have a different elected government.

    • Anonymous says:

      What the bush should be telling the people is why it is so important that government assets must be sold! The sale of the new GAB just does not make any sense at all, & my belief is that there has to be some particular reason for it to be done! Is it true that a deal has already been done? Is it true that because of "shares’ in ‘a’ company two will be receiving $11 million & $4 million? Let the people know why! Money talks & we must be informed what is the real agenda! There is a lot of marl road talk right now, & it will be better if we are told the truth rather than speculate! But of curse we will be kept in the dark about the real reasons! 

  15. Anonymous says:

     

    At Last! A concrete, commonsense solution for McKeeva Bush’s Economic Policy Problem.
     
    Until now, the Honorable McKeeva Bush’s efforts to solve Cayman’s crisis of economy has been fruitless and will continue to be fruitless simply because his basic policies and political thought processes are flawed. One definition of insanity states that it is insane to repeat the same action over and over and expect a different result. I am not a member of either political party and do not mean to sound insulting in my description of what I have observed so far. I know that Mr. Bush means well and only wants the people of these islands to thrive, and live a comfortable life. His efforts to rescue the economy and save Cayman haven’t worked and can’t work. I will explain why shortly and offer a proven solution which he may or may not adopt.
     
    Lately the political heat has been turned up by both parties. Current items of contention involve the sale of Government assets such as the building on Elgin Avenue to obtain short term temporary financial gains. While all the time blaming the “other side” for this current mess whenever they can. The “other side” is planning a protest march at the Government building. It will undoubtedly show that most people are upset with the current predicament but will do nothing whatsoever in solving our economic woes. The blame game is nothing more than a political side show that detracts us from spending time finding valuable solutions to our problem. An economic problem affects all of Cayman, not just one political party. We all need to be involved in the solution.
     
    To have a solution, one must define the problem. The problem is as plain as the nose on your face. Here it is: Mr. Bush believes it is Governments responsibility to make sure that all Caymanians are employed. This is fine indeed. All governments should have policies that protect the local populations and provide labour laws and enforcement to insure that qualified individuals are not denied a fair chance for employment when competing with foreign nationals on local soil. The problem is that Mr. Bush took this good principle and artificially added to it by going beyond government’s role as an overseer of fairness in the workplace to actually creating jobs and becoming the employer for those who could not find work in the private sector. This is socialism. It is where the government becomes the largest employer in the land. It is a system that allows government total control over every aspect of a person’s life from their income to their freedom of speech. It is wrong and has been proven to fail in every county that has tried it. It often leads to dictatorships and enormous poverty. We seem to be heading that way now. Mr. Bush resists the idea of downsizing civil service for fear of hurting the small man who can barely afford his electric bill. But staying on this current path will lead to much greater suffering and hurt in the long run. The time to act is now. Each and every day in Cayman, about $500,000 of our hard earned money leaves Cayman in order to import more of the food we eat each day. Unless that money somehow comes back to Cayman we will eventually run out of money and then of course food. Let’s take a quick moment to trace a single dollar brought to our shores by a visiting tourist and see where it goes and what it does while it is here. The tourist checks in at the hotel and tips the cab driver with $1.00. The cab driver used that dollar in part to pay his barber for a haircut. The barber uses that dollar a part of a purchase for a new pair of socks. The store clerk uses the dollar to pay for duty on a new shipment of socks. Government uses that dollar to as part of a civil servants paycheck. The civil servant uses that dollar to buy food at the grocery store and finally the grocery store sends the dollar back to the USA to buy more food for its shelves.
    Now the dollar is gone. It did good while it was here. It helped a lot of people buy a lot of things they needed. Hopefully another tourist will bring another dollar here for us to use in the future. This is a simplified model of how the world works and it is true. The money civil servants need to live on does not come from the sale of Government buildings, it comes from people who bring the money to our shores. It is called capitalism.
    When government takes a larger than needed role in employing Caymanians, it is forced to levy higher and higher fees and duties in order to meet the costs involved such as pensions, health insurance and payroll.
     
    The solution:
     
    If you have read up to this point the solution is probably clear to you by now. I will show it for those who still don’t see it. Cutting down the size of government and resisting the temptation to employ people just to “help them out” is the first step. A smaller leaner government can operate at a reduced cost which results in lower duties, fees and other costs which get passed on to the consumer and ultimately the visitor who as you can see is vital to our future. Making Cayman more affordable by lowering prices as much as possible will attract visitors and make our cost of living once again affordable. New jobs will appear in the private sector as demand for goods and services increases. Employment will be full and government will be lean and efficient. It is capitalism and it can only take place if we let the free marketplace reign. Government interference and involvement is not only wrong it is a detriment. Government interference is the current way of doing things and has proven over and over again not to work. In the case of government, less is better. There will be growing pains and short term problems to deal with. There will be some suffering. We are rapidly reaching the pointof no return where the best of intentions won’t be enough to save us. The time to bite the bullet and make the change to free market capitalism is now.
     
    The world is still in a recession. Cayman is as much victim of the global recession as any other small country. Stop playing the blame game and get on with real workable commonsense solutions. You know what you have to Mr. Bush. Now man up and DO IT!
    Show the people your leadership rather than your abilities as a “wheeler dealer”.
     
    • Anonymous says:

      This is with a doubt the worst assessment I have read to date. At no point in your incoherent argument do you make any sense. I award you no points and may god have mercy on your soul.

    • anony says:

       

      12:35 you are insane. You attempt to project as being intelligent and smarter than the UDP and the PPm but you are not even a qualified individual to join up with the Independents. We need members that at least can think!

      It is clear that you are not a Caymanian either. Your recommendation for government to downsize the civil service because it is a personal burden on you, is nothing but a rock thrown at the civil Servants who are Caymanians, the majority.

      YET YOU HAVE NO SOLUTIONS NOR A PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT TO HIRE THESE CIVIL SERVANTS WHO WILL BE IN NEED OF A JOB SHOULD OUR GOVERNMENT STUPIDLY TAKES YOUR DUMB ADVICE!

      If you really had a brain why is it that the content of your extended 12 foot letter (above) does not have some real solutions to the problem like an alternative measure?

      You don’t seem to have one. Attacking our civil servants employment is not somthing that we take lightly, and I’m not a civil servant but hell will freeze over before the government  carry out mass lays off any  Cayman Islands Civil Servants. You see, you’re not smart at all, if you were, you’d realize that the civil Service is as strong as any Union  Automobile Car Manuacturing Union.

      They’re almost untouchable! They are the Largest  VOTING BLOCK  that determines who will be elected and who won’t!

       

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you sure you don’t want to run as head of government?  Refreshing change:)

    • Anonymous says:

      The PPM have finally publicly admitted that they significantly increased the size of the civil service during their tenure (If u doubt this get the transcripts from the Rooster show this morning);

      And now your answer to the problem is that the UDP cut the civil service.  If this suggestion takes hold  – I wonder who Mac will start laying off first?

      You got it – all the new PPM recruits.

      The decentralization of the recruitment process over the last couple years has certainly not helped to keep control of the growth of the civil service but more worrying is it has ensured that politics crept into the recruitment processs.   T

       

    • Anonymous says:

       Anonymous 12:35..

      After reading the many suggestion on this site, it is clear to me that people have not rationalise the effect of the problem and how inter-related this issue is with crime.

      As we have seen in recent history, there have been an increase in crime on the Island. Studies have proven that crime is most often fuelled by unemployment. People who have become disenfranchised due to their circumstances or misfortune. 

      In science as well as in life, every action has a reaction. High levels of unemployment to the portion of the population that are permanent ( being Caymanians) would create more crimes and anti-social behaviours. Therefore, creating or maintaining jobs solely for Caymanians would  be in the best interest to the Island. As the country can deport expats who are unemployed from the country (whether you deem that cruel or inhumane), Caymanians who are unemployed will only be a burden because they have no other place to go.  

      Therefore, selling off government buildings for short-term gain would be in benefit to the country. First off, it is beneficial because it would reduce maintenance cost for the government and most importantly it would increase efficiency. Do we really want civil servants to be anymore comfortable than they are now? Most of them are over-paid and they hardly get anything done. So having that building sold would be one of the best decisions made by Big Mac.

      That building was really a legacy that PPM wanted to leave behind and to be honest it serves nothing to the country. It cannot house all of government’s workers and the parking available does not provide for the employees or even the potential clients.

      It is the same building that placed the country or highly influenced the economic mess we are in now. I think the quicker we sell it off the better it will be for the Island. 

      As you might suspect, I am a sympathiser for Big Mac (and no I am not a West Bayer). And I find the people that write on this website to be a bit harsh towards him. Big Mac has been "manning up" from day one when he set foot in that office.

      A man to me is a person that will stand up for his decision whether people like it or not. And based on the onslaught of constant criticism, he has taken a lot of heat from the country. Unlike Kurt would would just deliberate and get nothing done.. Big Mac has been transparent, innovative by informing the country to make a collective decision, and has done the best he can do in a situation he inherited.

      Despite his authoritative and abrasive personality (no one is perfect), he has the best interest for Caymanians at heart. Whether people here want to accept it, at the end of the day Big Mac stands up for his ideals whether people like it or not. And that is the type of character we need in his position. 

      Everything comes with a cost, and I do honestly believe that he has considered and is still considering all possible avenues that is best for Caymanians and not just a minority few! 

       

       

  16. Anonymous says:

    Mac is clearly a wounded man….it was so obvious last night……and Elio was begging for the people to give them another chance !!!

    I think they see the writing on the wall.

    • Anonymous says:

      ON NO HE DIDN’T!!!!

      Did he just call us "hooligans" and "rabble rousers"?

      Cayman people, we must not accept this anymore. Just because people oppose him he says we are hooligans and rabble rousers.

      Please tell me he didn’t!

      • Shenayne says:

        oh yes he did, girlfriend

      • Anonymous says:

        Imagine the Pot calling the Kettle black!!!!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Yep, called us hooligans and threatened the Civil Service to stop shoo-shooing or else.  I wonder how many civil servants will march.  They deserve to have their opinions known.  Please take the duct tape off of the mouths of civil servants.

      • Anonymous says:

        I remember another famous Bush who said "You’re either with us or against us"…. and look what that lead to….  how many wars, how many innocent people dead, a recession and no peace in sight for the world.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Cut the ex-pat civil service employees, send them home, then raise pension and health care premiums for the rest. Should save a good chunk of change.

  18. Anonymous says:

    What frustrates me with the PPM and their solution to the budget problems relative to debt levels is their great idea is to go to the UK and have them change the law.

    The UK want Cayman to create a conventional tax system with income, property and or payroll tax. My concern is that if the PPM were in power would we see an income tax in the country. That isn’t probably fair but I can see a property tax or payroll tax.

    Good luck collecting such a tax with the same probability of getting garbage collection fees.

    The party that introduces a direct tax system within the country will never live it down.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’m still not hearing solutions… 

    This is not brain surgery, there are simple solutions to help reduce crime and stimulateour economy without spending. Here are a couple… 

    Yes, we have a very large civil service… yet I read in the news paper the other day that they were short staffed in immigration and the police department.   So transfer your over staffed departments of civil servants to these departments.  Now I know not everyone can or wants to be a policeman but there are plenty of other positions within the RCIP that do not involve actual police patrolling (ie back office, report writing, human resources, etc) this extra help could actually free up some time that the police could spend patrolling the streets.  

    Also, In the midst of the recession Cuba and Jamaica both had a booming tourism industry while ours declined. Why? That’s simple… COST. 

    Get with the hotels, put airline tickets and accomodations on sale and advertise.  It is time to LOWER our prices not raise them. 

    As for the position we find ourselves in it’s not due to just one government but ALL previous governments together (which you were part of) so stop the constant complaining/ blame game and get on with it. Frankly, it’s extremely embarrassing to the entire country!

    Yes, it’s time to think outside the box… not sell ourselves.

    If you would only listen to other suggestions… Everyone needs to put their egos and politics aside and work together, before it’s too late ! 

     

  20. Durrrr says:

    How much are the Government’s shares in Sagicor (formerly Cayman General Insurance) worth? Surely they should be the first asset to be sold?

  21. Anonymous says:

    How many people were at the Premier’s meeting?

    • Shock and Awe says:

      I wasn’t at the meeting.  Because I thought it would be more of the same b.s.

      Blaming, patchwork solutions, not facing reality about the civil service, selling the building and taking the money and renting it back, attacking bloggers, call-in shows.

      Should I have gone?  Did I miss something?

  22. Lobsta Hunta says:

    Corruption is in the air.

  23. Anonymous says:

    "300 people out of 57000 population dont seem like a very enthusiastic populace to me."

    "If the PPM thinks that the half percent of the population that turned out last night is going to get them back in power then the only ones they managed to fool was themselves"

    "What a bunch of clowns they are"

    Well my response to that "fool fool" statement is:

    200 people out of 57000 population dont seem like a very enthusiastic populace to me.

    If the UDP thinks that the LESS than half percent of the population that turned out last night is going to KEEP them in power, then the only ones they managed to fool was themselves.

    What a bunch of clowns they are.

    SPIT IN THE SKY IT FALL IN YOUR FACE!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Jeremy says:

    I am growing tired on the current and past panels suggesting SPENDING, SPENDING and no suggestions of ideas, there is no money! I am in the construction industry and when there is no work or revenue coming in there is minimal spending occurring.

     

    I have a few suggestions that will help generate revenue:

     

    Licensing:

    Raise the license fee an additional $100 per year, this will help increase revenue to government by a minimum of $2million based on 20,000 vehicles and the overall increase will not hurt the each licensee.

     

    Close down the existing licensing department facilities, this department is inefficient and too costly to operate at possibly $5 million per year, place this responsibility in the hands of the local insurance providers, they can issue insurance and the coupons the same time which will save the public time. The Vehicle inspections can be provided independently as it is currently. This will eliminate the overhead cost to operate and maintain, salaries, pension, and health insurance to Government.

     

    Cayman Airways

    This airline does not make money and never will when run by a government as they do not know how to run a business. This can be sold for maybe 20-25 million. I would suggest that an executive order be agreed that in time of need the airline would service the island such as after Ivan, which is did perfectly. Suggestion to contact Virgin Atlantic.

     

    Turtle Farm

    This is a failure, once again governments does not know how to operate a business. This facility could be sold for $50 million, the addition of a small water park, including a wave pool such as by the Black Pearl. I recently visited Atlantis in The Bahamas and this was a great place. This will allow visitors and ourselves to enjoy this facility and spend money. This facility should be opened up on the weekends for adults to enjoy such as Pleasure Island in Orlando, this is a beautiful facility and will give the local adult population something to do. A package or joint venture pass with the next door dolphin park could be arranged??

     

    Government Employees

    Currently the private sector employers have to pay 50% health insurance and 5% pension. This same principal should apply to government as the employees are NOT contributing any fee. This would help reduce the health insurance problems costs.

     

    Foreign Government Contracted Employees

    A lot of these employees who cannot be employed in the local private sector due to failure of permits or inadequate employees flock to government posts as a means to “hide”. Currently immigration does not have any control over any of these. I would suggest implementing a Foreign Government Contracted Employee Fee of $150 per month, this should be deducted monthly and not yearly! Example there are approximately 300 RCIP officers and 250 are foreign, this works out to $450,000 per year. There is an unseen cost as well, these employees currently get full pension, health insurance etc, this cost is exponential to the country. This should be applied to all departments and authorities. Currently there is not a disclosed number of foreign contracted employees.

     

    Frank Sound School

    The School located in Frank Sound could be sold or leased to a university. This would encourage educated individuals to the island such as St Matthews University, these are quiet individuals who contribute to the local economy on a large scale. There will need to be homes, businesses, etc built in that district and this will encourage the “moving east initiative” . Arden this is for you!

     

    PWD

    When the PWD/NRA are not working they can perform works such as cleaning the roads versus each employee sitting down getting paid 30,000-40,000 per year.

     

    Social Services

    These monthly payouts have to be reduced, Mac, all of these free status give handouts are costing us money, now you want to sell them for $1,000,000.00! The monthly allowance can be reduced by $100.00 or $50.00

     

    Customs

    Impose a mandatory fee of $100 to each returning residents, including work permit holders, etc. through the airport. There may be approximately 200 residents retuning each day, that is 20,000 based on 20 days. Currently Customs department handles a “duty fee” but how many residents are retuning and not paying any fee.

     

     

    All of the current panels are salaried employees, If I have no work I do not receive a paycheck. I hope these suggestions are considered by both parties and stop the childish arguing.

     

    Regards,

     

    Jeremy

    • Caymanian at Heart says:

      A lot of great ideas here, but they will no doubt result in many laid off Caymanians.  The Government can’t afford these assets yes, but how else do they keep all these people employed?  Any ideas there?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Mac sounds desperate.

    What happens if he does not sell these assets in time?

    • Anonymous says:

      The  request for investors to purchase government assets is all smoke and mirrors.

      My money says that Mac and his cronies already have the papers ready.

      It is just a matter of signing the deal.

  26. Shamrock says:

    The writing is on the wall, Cayman. We have done this to ourselves because we continue to return to the L.A. the same people or their latest extension cords. Same people equal, the same results.

    In May 2009, we had the opportunity to support some bright new political minds to office but what did we do? Elect the same old, same old. Now PPM, is planning a march, something in principle with which I agree. But if it boils down to them being returned to government, do we really think we will get different results? I am so tired of hearing the UDP blame the PPM for their current woes, and the PPM saying the UDP is messing up Cayman. We have suffered under these two parties for the past decade and can anyone seriously say that Cayman is better than it was 10 years ago? I think not!

    The next general elections is 3 years away, but it is never too early to start planning ahead for change, real change. I, for one, will not be giving a single ‘X’ to any of the current or former legislators. It would be akin to swallowing my own vomit. We need new blood in 2011, and the way I see it, the newcomers couldn’t do any worse than their forerunners.

    As for what needs to be done, in the interim, we need to take our heads out of the sand and get with the programme. I am not opposed to payroll tax as it is an equitable way for everyone to contribute to the government purse. Also, the civil service needs to be reduced. All other businesses expand and contract depending on the state of the economy, so why should the government be any different?

    All in all, Cayman needs a change in leadership and a change in direction. The old way is not gonna work anymore. Wake up, Cayman. Be the change the country needs.

    God Bless….

  27. Anonymous says:

    Good cover story picture as it depicts his state of mind – He is CONFUSED!!!!!!!

  28. Anonymous says:

    CNS:  "The premier said that selling assets was a better choice than laying off thousands of civil servants or introducing direct taxation."

    I agree with Bush 100%

    If we lay off civil servants that would mean more unemployment and an increase in crime. As well, attempting to reduce the size of government without creating jobs, would not be wise. And nobody wants direct taxation, businesses and our banking clients, will pull out!  So what more do the PPM want???

    Answer:  Bush hits the nail on its head!  He says, “If they have a sound proposal bring it to us… But it’s not solution they are after, it’s winning elections.”

    • Anonymous says:

      so we are being held to ransom by 800 underworkered, overpaid civil servants???? the civil service is like an anchor around caymans neck….

      how come it is ok for hundreds and thousands of people in the private sector to lose their jobs?

    • Anonymous says:

      If this country is so broke why is it that Mac is on the plane taking trips every other day? And why in the world  does the Government have to pay for a helper/ housekeeper/ baby sitter for him when he’s making over $9,000 a month? Mac, just pack it in. Just because you feel that you are well set with your millionaire friends and you don’t have to worry about your future here in Cayman and your family’s doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t.

      I believe that he should have conducted his little meetings before the opposition came out. He should have felt the need to speak with people before he put up the ‘for sale signs’. I only hope that there were no envelopes being handed out last night…

    • Anonymous says:

      so we just let the civil service cripple the economy overall?… guess how many jobs in the private sector will be lost then??

      cannot believe the government is not using this opportunity to reform the underworked, underachieving, overpaid, overstaffed civil service!

      i would love to see the uk come in and slash the civil service because we know no local politician has got the courage to do it

    • PPM=Rhetoric no solutions says:

      Amen brother

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean Civil Servants are thieves as there will be an increase  in crime if they are laid off 

    • Don't 4get Me! says:

      Yeah, that makes sense. Let’s bankrupt the islands to avoid having people realize they are a worthless drain on society. I said before that if the gov’t were run like a corporation we’d be better off.

      If I don’t perform at my job, I’ll lose it… if nothing else, that should be a motivating factor for most.  These people know they’re protected so they just don’t care.  Our gov’t leaders have no spine and they too don’t care.

      Wat happens in the long term when we have no assets left, yet remain in the same position? Sell the poor to other countries as slaves?  We have no assets, spending has increased as we’re now leasing premium space, no income. You can only make so many residency offers before interest is diminished.

      Cut spending and engage a sustainable source of income. That sustaiable source of income (which I believe is a real solution) is the elephant in the room so i’ll go no further on that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hahahaha, there are barely "thousands" in the Civil Service (around what, 3600 ignoring statutory authorities?). Mac, are you suggesting that you would have to fire at least 2 out of every 3 Civil Servants to balance the budget? Of course, your salary counts for about 12 regular Civil Servants, so maybe we should lay you off and save a net 11 jobs for other Caymanians. Take one for the team Mac! But keep the housekeeper/cook and driver employed, because clearly the office of Premier, which you so vehemently opposed the creation of, must have ALL the trappings now that you occupy it. What a terrible position to be forced into.

      And while you are spewing your fire and brimestone hyperbole, why not mention the FCO suggested that you balance the budget over a more reasonable period of time (e.g. 3-5 years) while demonstrating the development of a more sustainable revenue base. As I read it, and trust me, with my actual university degrees (must suck not to have a real one, eh Mac?) I understood them to mean that as long as Cayman gets on the right track, they’ll play along and be understanding that the extraordinary circumstances of a global economic recession might mean that Cayman doesn’t fully abide by the PMFL so long as we show good faith in attempting to return to it over the next few years by cutting expenditures and raising new revenue. But what do I know, I don’t have a high school diploma from an educational system that will graduate you regardless of whether you have passing grades, and my degree isn’t "Honourary." Oh, and I think the FCO also cautioned against selling public assets because they understand the concept of long-term costs relative to short-term gains. Then again, what do they know? A few hundred people thought you should be in Cabinet (in fact, barely more than 1 percent of the total island population since you used that for a measuring stick) and somehow you think that gives you a mandate to unilaterally govern?

  29. nonsense says:

    Couple of points:

    “As sure as night follows day, once you put tax on one it will soon fall on the poor man who can’t even pay his electricity bill.”

     — first that is a poorly worded statement

    — second it is ridiculous to assume that the poor will be taxed at all

     

    Lastly:

    Every report coming out states the Civil Service is a bloated drain on the financial resources yet:

    "The need to sell the building was pivotal to the current budget, he said, and if we did not then the only other choice for this budget would be reducing the civil service, which would see hundreds of Caymanians lose their jobs. “I will not lay off civil servants,” he added. "

     

    Cayman has no money to operate, cannot borrow, and has within the past year assumed significant debt (loan and bond deal)! Something has to give. 

    Why not sell off Little Cayman? That should be worth a couple hundred million!

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Sell off Little Cayman, what an a$$ you are! that island is safe, no crime, no traffic, no polution, no corruption, tons of tourist, the best fish and diving in the world. Thanks to people like Linton Tibbetts, Sammy McCoy, Gladys Howard, Peter Hillenbrand, Danny Hughes, The Ryan’s, The Hurstones etc. It’s priceless and not for sale! Based on your bright ideas you must be related to Mac.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sounds like the perfect Island to sell!!…Wonder is Richard Branson would like another island in the Caribbean??….this one is even tax-free.

    • Anonymous says:

      You really wouldnt get that much for it … but as for selling off all Cayman’s assets … please don’t give him anymore ideas