Travers makes another call for immigration change

| 10/05/2011

(CNS): Although no longer officially leading the charge for the country’s financial services sector, Anthony Travers is still going out to bat for the future prosperity of the industry. The Stock Exchange chair has again made an appeal to the Cayman Islands government to “dramatically change its immigration policies” to provide security for finance industry professionals. Speaking at the recent GAIM conference in Grand Cayman, Travers said the changes to local immigration law should form part of a four point plan to bolster the sector alongside the battle to counter attacks from the onshore world and high tax supporters against offshore finance centres.

Travers said implementing changes to immigration policy would provide long term security of tenure for financial professionals and provide employment for locals.

The chair of the stock exchange and former chair of Cayman Finance, who spent the last two years taking on the Cayman Islands global critics on the media stages, said that the country and the industrymust continue to refute “the nonsensical suggestions of the truth deniers concerning tax evasion and tax haven status or indeed money laundering,” he said. "What we do in Cayman is lawful and proper and we must continue to say so.”

He told the hedge fund industry audience that it was important to resist the suggestion from the G20 jurisdictions that Cayman introduce direct taxation. “It can hardly be said that their economies are a ringing endorsement of the concept,” he said, adding that maintaining appropriate regulation was also important.

Travers questioned the motives of leading American and British politicians in their attacks on the Cayman Islands and other offshore jurisdictions. Taking a swipe again at people he has referred to in the past as the “Tax Taliban”, Travers said these individuals were wedded to the notion that one high global rate of taxation is a solution to world poverty. These individuals, bloggers and tiny outfits, he said, were usually funded by charities such as Oxfam and Christian Aid as well as British trade unions.

“These people all share the common belief in large government, a large public sector, high levels of social welfare spending and therefore very high taxation. These groups are in fact the philosophical opposite of the Tea Party. We can call them members of the Kool Aid Party,” Travers said, giving them a new handle.

However, the well organized and powerful public relations campaigns driven by onshore treasury, supranational and domestic regulatory bodies were, he said, more troubling as these were driven by populist politicians, some of whom were anxious to suggest that the solution to mismanaged domestic fiscal and monetary policy lies in some mystical offshore pot of gold.

“These blame-deflecting politicians and regulators are anxious to obfuscate the failures of their domestic regulatory systems in the G20 jurisdictions by suggesting that in some way it is the tax or regulatory system of the offshore financial centre that is at fault,” the stock chair told the conference.

“This is the reason why we see hedge funds rather than Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae now described as the root cause of the recent financial crisis in the same way that the Enron collapse was supposed to have its cause in the Cayman islands and not Delaware, and the missing Bonlat monies were supposed to have disappeared in the Cayman Islands rather than in Parmalat's head office in Italy.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Finance

Comments (38)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Lets See Dick and Dora Run says:

    I'm one Caymanian that welcome taxation. I never thought I would have reached this position but here's what brought me to this position.

    We all know, Cayman is the pot of gold and honey.  A land where only the majority of the foreigner work permit holders earn a much greater income that most Caymanians whilst doing the same job and having the same qualification.

    These people are reaping the utmost best of this country,  There wealth is invested in there homeland elsewhere.  They do not pay any fees to the Cayman Islands other than to buy food and gasoline. Yet, their wealth has never been so great – all because of the value of the CI dollar and the Cayman Islands.

    Therefore if I have to agree to pay 5% of my measely salary to the govt for the benefit of my Islands in return for 5% of your BIG salary, YES doggone-it, this will be the only way you foreigners will ever give anything to this country!!

    I say, bring it on!!  Lets see how many of you will sitck-around.  "Lets See Dick and Dora Run" will have a whoooole different meaning!!!

  2. Slowpoke says:

     

    Good old Tony, being bombastic, divisive and self-serving, all in one go.  Here are some examples:

    Once again, you are insisting that anyone supporting taxation is part of the “tax Taliban” and wants “high global rate of taxation”.  Sorry Tony, I just want some good schools, roads, health coverage and protection for the less fortunate…  Yes, that does require some taxes.

    When you make these kinds of statements, you will get accolades from the Ayn Rand / Tea Party lovers, while drawing the ire of the Whodatis supporters.  It is so black and white that there is no room for compromise.

    Choosing to focus only on the FS professionals proves that you want to promote the OxBridge FS fellows, while discounting all other professions contributing to the development of Cayman.

    The real issue is that we need to stop “amending” the immigration law.  Throw it out and let us go through the very painful process of writing a new law, which is in accord with the current and future reality of the world, while meeting the needs of Cayman.

    • Dagny says:

      The speech was delivered to a conference of hedge fund professionals, which explains the focus on financial services as opposed to other industries developing in Cayman.  Financial services is Travers' area of expertise.  If representatives from other industries have a contribution to make on how to develop this economy, I think we would all very much like to hear it.

      If you think that this suggestion is just based on 'Rand-esque' philosophy, please re-read the MIller-Shaw report from 2010.  It clearly shows that government revenue is not a problem – not even in the financial crisis.  Tax collection (okay – call it duty/licencing fees) is not a problem and it is one of the most efficient tax collection systems in the world.   It costs the CIG very little to collect it and it is collected uniformly.  The issue is, and continues to be, that of expenditure.  It is all clearly outlined in the MIller-Shaw report.

      New schools are not going to produce educated kids.  The millions of dollars spent on bricks and mortar has not done anything to increase the level of education being delivered to the children of this country.  Throwing money at issues such as this does not often solve the problem.  The American education system is a perfect example.

      • Slowpoke says:

        I did read theM-S report – an infomercial for Reagenesque economic theory, which in my opinion is fundamentally flawed.

        Secondly, I said nothing about bricks and mortar.  I just said that we need to fund education as a priority.  As a matter of fact, I think that while effective education is vital, no matter how good the system is, other factors such as ability and interest will remain.  Not everybody in South Korea or Finland is a rocket scientist or brainsurgeon.   

  3. Anonymous says:

    OK, I get it, but I think we need to clarify also that times have changed and with the technology that is now available a lot of things can be outsorced to cheaper locations (and companies have obviously taken advantage of that).

    10 years ago a company would likely provide all services from Cayman, including all of their operational and back-office work. Now, a lot of company outsorced that work to other jurisdictions, simply because it is cheaper to do so. For example, billing was likely to be done by a service provider (say Trust company) locally. Now it is done in places like India (for example) because of cheap salaries and cheap general overhead there. The same goes for accounting services and numerous tasks and other services. This has nothing to do with immigration regulations, it is simply because those companies are constantly looking ways to reduce their overhead.

    Think about it – 30 years or so ago things were actually manufactured in the USA (for example). Nowadays, are the clothes that you buy in the USA actually still manufactured in the USA? Think not!

    Emerging markets, is something the whole world has to face, not just Cayman, so changing immigration rules is not going to fix it.

    Instead of throwing all eggs in one basket diversify! The proposed techno park, medical tourism etc may be all some good starts, but you can not provide favorable immigration rules for one sector. That is just wrong!

  4. Anonymous says:

     

    Caymanians do not need to worry, because only the serious professionals will stay longer. The "playboys" get bored easy and go soon. But hard workers will make Cayman their second homeland. They will help Cayman be a better place, day after day, because no one, in sound mind, will desire an awful future for their kids, or himself. I've seen this happening in other countries, and it will be no different here.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians would not get jobs in the FS because the expatriates always  look after their own, by ensuring they get the jobs and promotions.  In some instances the Caymanian is the teacher and the student is given the higher position (promotion).  Think about that.  Are we that stupid? 

  6. Dagny says:

    Travers is absolutely right.  Immigration change is vitally important to the future prosperity of Cayman.  Whodatis has argued above that Travers wants to rid Caymanians of their 'birthright', but I don't believe Travers is suggesting at all that the changes are going to mean the demise of Caymanians.  I have heard him say many times before that there is a delicate balance that needs to be struck on this issue, but that it needs to be addressed.  We cannot wait and pretend that the issue does not exist any longer.

    Cayman needs to attract more financial services organisations and other companies.  We need this because the OECD has not forgotten about that one last little point on their list of expectations for Cayman – that of substantial presence.  They want to see that a significant amount of the mind and management of a comapany's operation takes place here.  This is where the jobs for Caymanians are going to come from – good jobs in investment management firms and the like that are satisfying, challenging and well-paying.  To attract these kinds of business operations here, Cayman needs to provide certainty that the leadership and supporting employees will be welcomed here and able to work without a term limit.  By saying this, it does not mean that Caymanians will not get jobs.  Those who are bright, ambitious, hard working and committedwill excel as they have always done (and there are thousands of good examples of people who have been enormously successful in their fields).

    This is the future of Cayman – this is what is needed to build a sustainable economy for future generations.  As much as some would like to think, this is not 'the island that time forgot' and god help us if gets to that point.  I don't know much about making wompers or weaving thatch.  The globalised world is the new reality and if Cayman is to prosper andsustain the standard of living that we have all become well-accostomed to, we had better be prepared for making an open-armed change.

    • Anonymous says:

      what to hell is a 'birthright' anyhow?

      • Whodatis says:

        I believe it is that little thing that has the western world as a collective in an uproar.

        For example – the little fact that the 2009 MEP UK / European elections produced a record shattering number of nationalistic / patriotic / racist / far-right (take your pick) elected individuals to the European Parliament.

        Another example may be the catalyst behind recent controversial speeches made by prominent world leaders in order to appease the concerns (relating to the very thing we are trying to define) of their electorare – David Cameron / Angela Merkel.

        It may even be the thing that today millions of Americans are convinced is lacking in the life story of their democratically elected President.

        I trust this helps.

        * I really wish people would either open their eyes to reality in all parts of the world OR quit playing the role of a dumba$$ on this website.

        ** Lastly, please note that nowhere in my original post was that term actually used.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yawn! After letting all financial professionals come and go as they please, the cost of conducting business will still be a turn-off to a lot of companies. CUC bill, rent/lease of office space, ridiculous cost of importing and implementing and maintaining computer systems, phone systems etc. – all of that will need to be paid.

    That's why a lot of folks moved their middle office to India, Mauritius etc.

    How many Key-employee statuses have been given out? It would be interesting to know how many of those KEY people are still with the same company etc. I have found that a lot of those KEY people have moved on and weren't so KEY after all!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hit the nail on the head. Cayman is already losing substantial amounts of business to those jurisdictions which are more accomodating. I have no doubt that if they allowed more finance professionals in, there would be a direct increase in the number of Caymanians employed alongside them.  

  9. Whodatis says:

    Dear Mr. Travers,

    I challenge you to merely suggest the notion of "immigration change" of the sort for which you call to the masses of the British, French, German or Italian people.

    You, my friend, would probably have to go into hiding thereafter.

    Your argument is not logical or coherent. Your reasoning is dishonest and you know it.

    My Granddaddy may have fell for that one – however, not I.

    Nevertheless you are well poised to play the professional role that you do and for that I am appreciative and respectful. However, the other facets of your philosophy in regards to the future of Cayman, leads me to question your actual level of concern in regards to my people.

    For that simple reason I have decided it wise to keep a close eye on developments pertaining to these issues. I trust other Caymanians are doing the same.

    My fellow Caymanians – a global perspective is crucial if Caymanians are to have any sort of a future as an identifiable group. Be not afraid to call a spade a spade – regardless of what any juxtaposed detractor (not necessarily referring to Mr. Travers at this point) may think or say.

    * At the end of the day MONEY TALKS.

    Post the job openings. Hire the expat. Pay the expat. Thereafter, depending on an infinite amount of possible paths, said expat shall end up wherever he ends up.

    Not only is there money to be earned by expat workers in the Cayman Islands – additionally we offer amazing weather, fine dining, great living conditions, some of the most beautiful surroundings on earth, daily experiences that a Brit, Canadian, German or Swiss national could only dream of, easy access to major travel hubs … and oh yes – no (direct) taxes. (Are we aware of the changes and proposals to income tax brackets and rates globally? Such issues only make us even more attractive to outsiders!)

    Of course we cannot today expect for every job to be filled by a Caymanian – however, to simply give away citizenship / residency to every Tom, Dick and Harry is beyond absurdity … obscene even – especially at this stage in the game.

    *Life is long folks. We will all have great-great-grandchildren and more one day, and not a single one of us will be there to witness them. There is absolutely no rush or urgency for a drastic change to our immigration policy regardless of what middle aged and elderly folks may think. The only urgency is that of skilled and educated individuals looking for a way out of the economic / socioeconomic hellhole that is almost every European / Western nation today.*

    There are NO guarantees to be had here. Try that in the UK, USA or Germany today … the NERVE!

    It is called the real world folks – and hundreds of millions of (expatriate) people are forced to endure it every living day in your / their homelands … it simply never occurred to the majority exactly what this entails.

    • Anonymous says:

      thanks whodatis! when will foreigners stop talking nonsense and treating us with such disrespect!!!

      please Mr Travers and any who seek to keep amending our laws for the benefit of all except native Caymanians (unless they're willing to shut up, sell out or be silent)…….this type of foolishness will not be sold to other people 

      • Whodatis says:

        Re: "When will foreigners stop talking nonsense and treating us with such disrespect!!!"

        Only when we let them know that we are on to their games and trickery and not a day before.

        No group but Caymanians will secure the future of Caymanians.

        Thank you for the support. Much appreciated.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it's great here in my US hellhole, Mr. Who Dat. Cayman's nice too, but only .0000001% of us would want to live there. Most people haven't heard of it or think it's in the Bahamas.

      • Anonymous says:

        That speaks only to ignorance of the world around you for which so many of your people are noted. The Cayman Islands is far more significant as an offshore financial centre than the Bahamas ever was and most definitely more than it is today.

        Here's a quote from an article written by a U.S. educator back n 2007:

        "Myriad polls and surveys leave no doubt that Americans are among the most geographically illiterate of all developed societies".

        P.S. Neither would I want to live in the U.S.

        • Anonymous says:

          It doesn't matter if the US is geographically ignorant, Cayman is geographically unimportant. If it wasn't for Grisham, the only recognition it would have in the US would be among NY lawyers whose clients need offshore buckets to keep money in.

          • Anonymous says:

            I've already established the point that we are not unimportant. It is amusing that you are so proud of your countrymen's ignorance.  

    • Anonymous says:

      as to your 'real world'… dream on

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you, whodatis. Well put. Some people need only hear that Mr. Travers said and fall all over themselves to agree. Enough of the B.S.

      • Whodatis says:

        Thank you for the support. Much appreciated.

        Clearly the numbers are stacked against us however, I for one will never cease to highlight the real issues surrounding this matter.

        There is far too much of a smoke and mirror game at play here and an individual such as myself (and the like-minded) are not supposed to identify it much less speak on it.

        Ha! I wish them luck with that.

        * "Nah today Bo-bo!"

        We need to not limit it to crime and apply that slogan to every facet of the Caymanian experience today.

        :o)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Tony is going to be disappointed it Mac doesn't secure that Knighthood for him.

  11. O'Really says:


    “These people all share the common belief in large government, a large public sector, high levels of social welfare spending and therefore very high taxation."

    In other words they have much in common with successive governments here.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Handing out permanent residency to all and sundry because they financial sector professionals is not the key to employment for Caymanians or prosperity for these Islands. Obama's economic policies have proved that trickle down economics does not work.  Instead, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. These ideas also do not take into account the social unrest that would inevitably ensue.

    • Reality calling says:

      …but the financial sector employees are the ones bringing money, business and jobs to Cayman so that locals can get jobs, learn the ropes and move into better positions along the way.   Cayman is a very small plaec, and chasing off the FS people means that there is no business being done to feed ANYONE.  Surely you realize that by now!?!

      • Anonymous says:

        No direct relationship has been shown between creation of jobs for Caymanians and giving away Caymanian status or permanent residency to expats. That is a myth that needs to be exploded.

        • Reality calling says:

          Have you looked around the island lately?  I see proof everywhere I look.  Expats are told that they are not welcome in the long term, so they make other plans and go away.  Both money and business dry up and you get what you have now.  Of course I agree that international events are another downward force on the economy, but it is also true that the closing of local businesses is costing jobs.

          Think of it another way: if you didn't need foreign money and business, why isn't Cayman doing better now without the expats who have left.  Answer me that please (I am asking politely sincerely).

    • UDP&PPM AFU says:

      It should read:  The proffessional, hard working, and experianced get richer and bring in more jobs and money with them and the inexperianced, non performing, and lazy get jobs in the Civil service and take , take ,all the money made from the proffessionals and now they want their jobs too.  Sorry to be the one to tell you but no private business can afford to pay anyone to not do reports, not keep records, and not follow laws. 

      I see your also thinking about the inevitable loss of jobs for all the CIG (workforce?)  When they are out of money and can't afford payroll, bills, and assorted 1/2 finished projects but can still afford extravagent first class trips, 5 star hotels, Slush funds, SUVs, Security, Pension,
      Christmas lights, Utilities, etc., etc..  Yes there will be social unrest when the unemployable stop being payed.  At least for them.

      • Anonymous says:

        In other words the only people that are poor are those who are too lazy to get rich. I don't think I need to comment on the stupidity of that comment.

    • Anonymous says:

      ummm I think it was Reagan that dreamed up the trickle down story

  13. Anonymous says:

    What about security of tenure for cheap Chinese labour? They are going to need a lot more than seven years to repay their airfares etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      Like the shanty town in Antigua where the chinese labour still lives after building the new cricket ground in 2006! It is built so badly that I suspect that the squatter camps will still be there when the stadium crumbles down.