Mac cuts budget scrutiny

| 29/04/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News, Cayman finance(CNS): The premier has successfully changed the Public Management and Finance Law and removed the obligation for a two month review period before a budget is brought to the Legislative Assembly. In another midnight session parliamentarians debated changes to the PMFL which will enable the current administration to not only postpone bringing to the House the 2010/11 budget, which was due 1 May, but all future budgets as well. Government will now be able to present its budget and make their statement about proposed spending plans on any date before the 1 July, which is the start of the fiscal year.

Premier McKeeva Bush told members of the LA that this year’s budget had to be delayed as a result of both the UK election and work within the civil service to find the necessary cuts. However, the opposition raised their concerns that, while this year’s circumstances made the delay for the 2010/11 budget inevitable, it should not apply for every year thereafter without setting a deadline. Opposition members said it removed the opportunity for the LA and the country to scrutinize, debate and make recommendations to government before the budget was set in stone.
During his presentation on the amendment Bush explained that UK ministers must avoid certain decisions during an election campaign that could impact a new administration. “Ministers are required to observe discretion and avoid undertaking any decisions or policies of a continuing or long-term character,” Bush said. “The UK government’s agreement to a request for new borrowing falls into this category … This has implications for the timing of the delivery of any OT budget where additional borrowing is required. I would not expect approval for such borrowing to be possible before the week beginning 24 May 2010 at the earliest.”
He added the “exceptional circumstance” allowed government to delay this year’s budget and had given his government “valuable time to consider a wider range of options” which was threatening governments ability to meet the Principles of Responsible Financial Management.
The premier noted that previous budget speeches were delivered by the financial secretary, but since it would now be delivered by the minister of finance the focus would be broader, with concerns going beyond issues offinancial management to issues of leadership as well.
“This year the deadline of 1 May was going to be difficult to meet, primarily because of the difficulty associated with getting the civil service to agree with bringing personnel costs down to a total of CI$219 million for the 2010/11 financial year,” Bush said, adding that government needed flexibility to pursue its policy. “The ‘common good’ to which we all aspire must be conducted within a ‘common vision’ that is achievable in the most cost-effective way possible. This demands efficient management of our limited resources and effective leadership ofour common vision.”
He said government was justified, given the economic challenges, to push back budget preparations deeper into the fiscal year, giving it more flexibility and time for more data to make more informed decisions.  He also suggested that the UK had agreed with the delay and as a result, if that were true of this year “then it is also true for all subsequent years”, Bush said, adding that the amendment was an example of the need “for leadership as well as management of the budgetary process.”
The opposition and the independent member for North Side disagreed, however, not so much with the need to defer this year’s budget but those in the future and in particular with the lack of a specific date.
Ezzard Miller said he sympathized with the circumstances government was faced with but would still prefer to see a date set that would give ample opportunity for members to review government’s financial plans and asked them to set a date of 1 June. Miller also submitted several other proposed amendments to the PMFL, which were all rejected by government during committee stage.
The opposition was also opposed to leaving the budget presentation open ended and questioned why the law needed to be changed for future budgets. Former Cabinet minister Alden McLaughlin said he understood the government was “in a Jam” as a result of the “long and winding road” it had taken to reach the current predicament but the delay was “inexcusable” as government knew they would be facing a deficit and need to cut spending for many months. The situation for now was unavoidable but there was no reason to change the law for the future or leave it open ended, the former minister pointed out.
McLaughlin said that the reason why there was a date in the law two months before the end of the fiscal year was to give the Legislative Assembly and the public the opportunity to review, analyse and question government’s budget plans. By eliminating that two month period the government would be tempted to push preparations to the wire every year and bring budgets on the last day possible,leaving no time for scrutiny, he suggested.
“Because of the long and winding road, we are where we are and we understand that government is incapable of producing a budget,” said McLaughlin. “But this amendment will significantly erode one of the principles of democracy — that government is held accountable for its budget.”
Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts agreed with his PPM colleague and noted that he could understand the circumstances for 2010/11 but saw no argument at all for it to continue and be left open ended. “”Whatever the deadline it is human nature to push it to the limit,” Tibbetts said, adding there was not sufficient argument to change the law and leave it open ended.  “Let’s not make government less accountable or less transparent in the long term to tackle a problem in the short term,” Tibbetts suggested.
In defence of the premier’s amendment, Education Minister Rolston Anglin argued that no sensible government would bring a budget on the eve of the fiscal year end if they wanted to be voted back in. Since no government had ever changed a budget as a result of debate or analysis, what was the point in the scrutiny? he asked, and said that members wasted time around the LA as it was, so pushing back the deadline might focus attention. Anglin said the reform was about making the system stronger and more practical. Blaming the opposition for the situation anyway, he also said there was “very little fat” in the Cayman government’s budget that could be cut, forcing very difficult conversations with the civil service. “We have to allow time for the best possible outcome,” Anglin added.
In closing the debate the premier took aim in particular at McLaughlin and accused the previous government of “atrocities” while in office and said the opposition continued to give nothing of substance
“What are these people (the PPM) offering this country except to play with words?” Bush asked rhetorically, adding that he had to go to London and “virtually wash people’s feet” to get the money to run government because of the PPM.
He said the change in the law would give the government flexibility with future budgets. “We do not know what lies ahead,” Bush said. “I am not going to tie ourselves to a date for our budget process as we don’t know what will happen in the future.” Bush said that it would not be possible to bring the 2010/11 budget to the Legislative Assembly until sometime in June.
The amendment to the PMFL was passed along with a number of other amendments that establish the financial independence of the Office of the Information Commissioner, which will now submit its own annual report.  

Category: Headline News

Comments (32)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Sorry people, Mac will come out of this without any scratch!

    He just knows his thing!  Unlike PPM that brought the country down to a serious deficit. They didn’t jack!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Let’s look at this logically.  Mac and the UDP knew this budget was required from one year ago.  Ken Jefferson knew it too.  Budget and Management Office knew it as well.  In his cabinet, Mac has Rolston who is a CPA I believe, and they said from the get go that things were tight financially, so one would have thought that they would have focussed their energies on working out a four year plan from the outset to see what was possible and what wasn’t.  Yet at the appointed time, there is no budget to present.  All the political spin about saving Cayman and putting things right.  If this fiasco isn’t the ultimate in incompetence, then tell me what it is?   

  3. Anonymous says:

    Where Greece goes Cayman will follow.  Smart people get ready,  Dumb ones keep voting Caymanian.  Better a quick death than a longer more painfull one.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A country that will let the government of the day pass a new law a few days before it’s about to break the old one is a country in deep trouble.

  5. Joe Bananas says:

    Macs efforts to protect himself and his tribe means that he will now start to sacrifice the future of everyone else (including those who work to pay for the tribes lifestyle)  As all of us watch this unfold I can only hope that a lesson is learned for the future as the present belongs to the bushites.(you know like the Israelites?)  Good luck Cayman.  Your going to need it!

  6. Anonymous says:

    OPEN UNAH EYES!!

                 Why is it that the ONLY thing you can do on Sunday is Pray and DRINK RUM??

     

               Fourth generation caymanian here my people, things have NOT changed in decades on a Sunday there is only two things to do

    1. go to church @ 9am untill 1 pm

    2. After 1 pm walk next door to the bar.

     

    Are we really in a Resession? Then someone explain to me WHY ? we still only doing buisness five and half days a week?

    Open the hardware stores! Open the Major supermarkets !Open the Wine shops! On Sunday the Bars are Open!

    Is it more constructive to drink beer ? or buy some two by fours and build something?

    How can we get out the whole and there is NO vision??

    Wonder what would happen if CUC lock shop on Sunday?

    When you go in darkness Sunday wait until Moday!

    Never happen !!

    Money won’t  magically appear out of the burning bush!

    Wake up !!! seperate church from state. It’s ok for all Bar rooms to OPEN on Sunday but we can’t buy a sixteen penny nail or a gallon of milk from the store.

    Stop all the talk about christian values the facts just don’t ADD UP

     

  7. isandman says:

    Where is the deputy premier?…being trained by Capt. eugene?…not a word!…I guess those two have at least learned the  lesson "Don’t speak and thus remove all doubt of ignorance"…unlike Mac.

    And he blames "them bloggers" What a mess!

    • Caymanian says:

      In the name of Democracy, some people dehumanize their sisters and brothers so that it is easier to tear them down, without the hindrance of emotions. I do not seek to continue the negative attitude that many have chosen to promote. I only reject the accusation that the Honorable Deputy Premier has in any way neglected her duty. Mrs. Julianna O’Connor Connolly is as much a patriot, if not more, than any great patriot that the Cayman Islands have ever seen. She has dedicated her life to serving the people of her country. Any naysayers are ignorant of the truth by a consequence of separation from the day to day sacrifices she has made in her career or have seen her contributions and choose not to appreciate them. God bless the Cayman Islands. God bless her. May we throw away the ‘crabs in a barrel’ mentality and take up the Cayman Islands flag together, as we march forward in pursuit of prosperity, and a better way of life for our families. If we seek to hurt our neighbor, the circumstances that they have to live with as a result, will undoubtedly affect us because we all have to live together.

    • Play Fish Tea For Me says:

      Maybe she is off on an art history course.  Ch.6 of the main text – Picasso.

      I general find the long periods of silence and absence form public affairs often represent our uber-zealot deputy leader’s best contribution to politics.

  8. Scrooge McDuck says:

    I told my landlord that it will not be possible for me to pay my rent until maybe September sometime, and my dentist that I’d like to try out the new smile for a year or so, and I told Fosters I wouldn’t pay for my groceries until I ate all of them. They all refused!!!!!

    • Cayman Concern says:

       Can we change a law that actually makes sense???  How about DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME?  Really, let’s think about this…. why not?  If we as a Caribbean Island are selling "Sunshine!" why not get an extra hour a day for tourism?

      Those who know me know that I have harped on about this for years, but it is time – no pun intended – to make a law that could help us.(since laws are being changed left and right, to make a law that makes sense.)

      Besides the obvious tourism impact, just think about how the financial industry would benefit to have an extra hour communicating with the markets that matter to them: London and New York.  

      Least of all, I’d like to come home from work at 5:30PM and know that I have more than an hour until sunset with my family outside.  How about you?  

      Grassroots common sense anybody?  And please, do tell me the downside, I cannot find one.

       

    • BORN FREE says:

      What next will be changed when the situation does not bode well for Mckeeva Bush? If "Mac cuts budget scrutiny" to suit himself who can say where he will stop! This is very scarey, very dangerous & is the actions of a dictator! This has set a dangerous precedent & gives total authority to future governments to simply change anything they want to suit their plans, even it is bad for Cayman. This is shocking. Why haven’t we heard alarm from the other MLA’s? Why are they silent in these terribly dark days?  

  9. Anonymous says:

    Lordy Lordy……he’s catching flies again. Betta try swallow some a dem mosquitos……damn they bad now !

  10. anonymous says:

    A leopard never change his spots!  Its like McKeeva is trying to make the last 5 years, as "null" & "Void".  He is just resuming his dirty politricking from where he left off.  He is only being restrained by the new Constitutions and some off the loop holes that Alden attempted to close in case of his re-emergence.  He made sure to get rid of the AG and made sure to get the Governor on board with him, now he is rejuvinated.  We need a neutral watchdog and we need him fast FCO.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just you think for 1 minute ,what would have happen I the PPM had got back in power, will they have stopped building the schools,will they have added additional tax to our everday live.You know what England would have taken us over by now for over spending ,just like they did in Turks..

      So wake up. we @%$@ lucky Bush is trying something,just to keep them out.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bush hasn’t stopped the building of roads. Having lambasted the PPM for it, he’s just spent $1m on roads in Cayman Brac but he says we are broke. Of course he knows he has lemmings like you to believe and repeat whatever he says however much it belies the facts.    

  11. Anonymous says:

    Banana Republic – here we come!!!  Although our bananas are not all that plentiful…

  12. Ranston W. says:

    For all you that thought government could not have done it…

    Well… surprise!!!

    ;o)

    • Anonymous says:

      This reminds me of Venezuela.

      Venezuela is run by a dictator who changes any law that he does not like. He changes everything to suit himself, even down to their elections, & control of the press. We have seen this type of dictatorial rule in other places like Cuba, Russia, & Iran, to name just a few. They change the law to suit their needs & wants. In fact "they are the law."

      Communism, dicatorships, & tyrants.

      Now we see this type of actions happening in our little islands.
      Is there no one who can stop this dictator? He does as he wants. He changes the rule of law to suit his needs! Why do you think he is building an 8′ wall around his house? Think Cayman, think! He acts as he wants & his cronies simply allow him to. Why? Can’t anyone put a stop to this? What about the opposition? Do they agree with this? I know Ezzard Miller does not agree with it because I heard him say so on radio!

      Please Cayman, we must stand up to this dictatorial rule or we will definitely end up as the next Venezuela, Cuba, or Honduras! We cannot allow that to happen & the only way to stop this now is to put a stop to our dictator, by way of referendum. Demand his resignation! 

       

      • Beachboi says:

        I agree!!!  I dont know if a referendum is the way, but lets just spend the salaries of the 3 new LA members and have a re-election or something!!!  There has to be a way to get rid of this tyrant!!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        FYI, Venezuela is a democracy with free and fair elections.

      • Boddon says:

        Trust me, if you are comparing McKeeva to a Dictator in Cuba, Russia, or Iran, you are either a PPM or delusional

  13. Twyla Vargas says:

    Another good move, give everyone some time to spread bed.

  14. Anonymous says:

    UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!

     The Gall of this man.

    I will do as I please!

    But if it was the PPM that delayed the Budget report, no matter what the reason, we would not have heard the end of it from McKeeva.

  15. Anonymous says:

    When a law does not suit you, JUST CHANGE IT!

    That is the thinking and actions of McKeewa Bush and not just now, but from his early days.

    1am is too early to close while I am partying in the Brac, so lets go till 2.30am – sounds familiar?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Why is it that the only strategy the government seems capable of developing relates to eliminating financial accountability and transparency? First BL gets rid of the Auditor General. Then he brings about the end of the Legislative Assembly’s ability to scrutinise the budget.  What next?

  17. Anonymous says:

    These changes were not intended to deal with the current emergency. The Premier recognises that in a dictatorship there is no sense in allowing the Legislative Assembly either information or time which might lead to debate. I suspect that the next move will be to disband the Legislative Assembly all together and appoint the Premier dictator for life. I wonder how many extra servants he will claim that allows his to have at our expense.

  18. Joe Bananas says:

    Just one more step for Cayman to become the next Cuba.  Too bad the Caymanian people are so divided and diversified to come together and regain control of their country.  Now the future of Cayman is completly in the hands of another self serving egomaniac.  At least the "Bushits" will have it good for the next decade or so.  Any guesses as to when he starts to build his military?

    Hint:  The military will not be there to protect the people of Cayman.

  19. Anonymous says:

    There are no consequences for these fat cats.  Mac should pass another law fining MLAs that fail to show up for their scheduled budgetary meetings.  If you’re sick, you’ll need a doctor’s note, just like any other job, or pay the $10,000 fine, your call.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Out of curiousity, wasn’t the world supposed to come to an end if the civil service did not make their cuts? What’s the status of that right now? Seems as if bills are still being paid despite the earlier predictions of armageddon.

  21. Anonymous says:

    clowns… the lot of them

  22. Anonymous says:

    If its so easy to change/adopt legislation why are areas such as environmental protection, human rights, employment rights and other such ‘social’ laws ignored.  Regardless of the financial position the country is in, we still need to protect our most valuable resources, the people and the country itself!