Facebook group queries Nation Building Fund

| 28/08/2012

Cayman_Islands_Flag (225x300).jpg(CNS): The founders of Cayman United, the social media activist group which emerged from the campaign against the expat tax, have written to government querying the premier’s Nation Building Fund. Joining the chorus of opposition to the controversial fund, which this year amounts to some $4.5 million, the group has questioned why the money has not been distributed among other appropriations dealing with the same issues that appear to have been cut. One of the primary goals of the group is to keep government accountable to the people and, starting as they mean to go on, they are demanding answers from their elected leaders on the budget.

In an effort to inspire other members of the public to seek further information and determine for themselves whether or not the proposed spending plan is in the best interest of Cayman, Cayman United intends to continue scrutinizing this year’s budget, which was finally approved by the UK on Friday evening.

In a letter to the premier, sent by email on Friday, the group said it had identified 26 line items in the appropriations bill for the 2012/13 budget aside from the Nation Building Fund that they felt would fall into the category of nation building, as described by the premier.

“These include initiatives such as national disaster preparedness and response, scholarships and other educational assistance programmes, youth and sports programmes and preservation of national heritage, arts and culture,” the group wrote.

“These twenty-six initiatives fall under the responsibilities of five separate government departments. With the exception of the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment, all of these departments have been asked to reduce their nation building activities. 

Considering the summation of cuts and reductions across these twenty-six initiatives, the five affected departments have been asked to reduce their nation building activities by more than $500,000.”

The group pointed out that this was in sharp contrast to the 50% increase to $4.5 million from $3 million of the transfer payment number 52, which is the promotion of nation building, also known as the Nation Building Fund. 

With the 26 items all well-defined programmes and initiatives that can be described as nation building, Cayman United asked the government why it believes the ideal of nation building is best achieved through the Office of The Premier and an ambiguously titled fund. 

“Would it not perhaps be more productive to proportionately distribute $4.5 million across the various initiatives which strive for this same ideal?” the group asks in their correspondence to McKeeva Bush, who has vigorously defended this particular controversial line item.

Critics on the opposition benches and the wider community at large have referred to the fund as a "slush fund" and it is understood that the auditor general will be examining the fund when he takes a close look at government’s transfer payments.

Bush spent some time defending the allocation during his closing remarks in last week’s budget debate, claiming that helping churches with youth projects or building hurricane shelters that can also be used as community centres was far more cost effective than having government build a separate shelter, which would be closed up when not in use.

He said the money given to young people who could not get scholarships through the Education Council or money spent on training initiatives was cheaper than the cost to government if those young men ended up in jail.

The premier maintained during his debate that the reasons why it should be under his office was because he had always been “a social thinker” and because he was the minister of finance.

“They can dig all they want but I am not cutting these church-based programmes,” Bush told the Legislative Assembly last week.

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Comments (48)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Facebok regime should start asking questions about all government "slush funds", you would be quite surprised(or maybe just disgust in the pit of your stomach) to find preferential treatment/funding among buddies in leadership roles in several organizations. XXXX

    • Private Sector Worker says:

      I don't think I'd be surprised at all.  But what surprises me is how they can continue to get away with it and it makes me what the point is in having anti-corruption laws and practices which appear, on the face of it, to be completely ineffectual.

      • Anonymous says:

        Transparency and documentation is key, but you wont find many writing detailed notes, if any notes at all, at thier  policy meetings…where they are finding new ways of cheating.

  2. Anonymous says:

    [He said the money given to young people who could not get scholarships through the Education Council or money spent on training initiatives was cheaper than the cost to government if those young men ended up in jail]

    There is a process to securing a scholarship. If you do not qualify during that process, then there was something missing on your part as the applicant. by given the unsuccessful applicant funds from the NBF, it enables them to be insufficent professionally. This thought-process does not do any good for anyone, as it teaches you to expect rewarded for sub-standard performace.

    • SSM345 says:

      09:35, our "Leader" has been teaching himself for over 25yrs, and look where that got him and this country…

  3. Lorna E. Bush says:

    Will the day ever come that "Mr/Ms. Anonymous" shows his/her face or at least has the courage to show his/her real name.  Your comments may carry a lot more weight with your name signed to it.  Where is all the victimization that we continue to hear about? Please give a few examples so we will know who/what to steer clear of.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ms. Bush, it doesnt matter who the person is. The fact still reminds, there is the issue that needs to be address. In your comment, you have avoided the issue. stick to the issue and not who wrote it. maybe your comments may carry alot more weight, if you actually focus on the topic at hand.

    • thinking out loud says:

      I'd ask Brian Tomlinson about that Lorna……to name just one.

      It's easy to sign your name when you're supporting and agreeing with  the current administration. Not so easy if you are a government worker or a government client or a work permit holder or an employer who holds work permits if you are outspoken against the ruling party.

      Anonymity is never ideal but it's better than enforced silence, which is all many people had before CNS came along. Opposing government actions and policy is not a crime in a democracy, it's allowed and there have been plenty of occasions during the last three years where it is far from unreasonable for people to criticise the administration and particularly the premier.

      If you don't like to be criticised you should not stick your head above the crowd and say vote for me because i have all the solutions. When it turns out that you don't you have to take it on the chin. 

    • Anonymous says:

      That is the whole point. It is there, several "contracts" not renewed, heard about one this morning for someone openly being a member of the face book group who had no issue for the other 6 years he was here..it is there, hence the anonymous comments. [Government] "victimizes" anyone who disagrees with them, or dares to print independent view points, including this esteemed organ. And when you got someone like that in charge, much the same as happens with Putin, Chavez, Lukaschenko, Assad or similar..strange stuff starts happening if you openly state your case.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, if you are palsy walsy with the current government you will not have experienced any victimisation and can well afford to publicise your name without fear of repercussion. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask Mitzi Tomlinson , countless others who have been thrown off boards and govt. contracts as a start.

    • Anonymous says:

      You miss the point Miss Lorna…it is BECAUSE OF VICTIMISATION THAT PEOPLE CANNOT SIGN THEIR NAMES..!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cayman United, here is a quest to dig into. The NBF is a Goverment payout. The information of who receives what amounts is and should be public. Not that it would make a difference, but I think if it can be proven that most of the funds and people on social services are from the group of the 3000+ status Grants either directly or family that was added to the list. It should be all the members of the UDP or the Goverment that approved this to Re-Pay the country that has been spent to maintain this group. This could come across as harsh, but if this is the case, this could be a massive coruption case, as it simply is the same thing as giving the status to make sure they can vote. Each time I see the numbers rise on the social services payout list, I have to wonder who is actualy getting this payout and is it being monitored. There is somthing very coincidentail about alot of the persons on this social service benifit. The women all seem to have nice bright coloful nails and weekly hairdo. and in some cases that I am aware, they have children and most of the time are not living with them, while they use the money to maintain there "Man".So if the NBF is to be used to assist the "little old woman" and the "single mother" and the "older captains" and "the list goes on", why do we need to bother with the other goverment funds such as Legal aid, Social services, and what ever else funds that is used to pay for different "services for lazy/un-employed" persons.? Alot are un-employed by choice, for example a so called qualified electrician said to me once, that he would prefer to stay at his mama home and collect benifits than to go work for the "white man" for 10$ per hour. because he was used to making 15$ to 20$ per hour or collecting at least 40$ per point. when asked if he had updated his studies or added to it, his tone was, he does not need to do that, this is cayman and he suposed to get any electricain job. Another young lady when told that the supermarkets and other business are looking for cashiers and such. No proven qualifications, just profesed experienced, and will refuse to work resonable jobs just because they can be maintained by goverment. The MLAs all have encountered persons that they have influence an employer to hire, only to be embarassed by the actions, but at the same time will also make "that call" to hook them up on the social service funds or the NBFs. Lets go for 10,000. persons on Social Service benifits and the NBF by year end..We can do it Cayman, still have a few months left for this year, 10,000 on social services is about 75% of the voting population. , What a shame.

  5. bear baiter says:

    Wake Up! This 4.5 M is NOT a slush fund! (It's a flat out vote buying fund, plain & simple – no two ways about it!!!)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I hope this new group can encourage intelligent and thoughtful Caymanians to step up to the crease, to bat carefully and solidly for Cayman and its people, without self interest.

    Maybe the group should even look at supporting or funding such peoples campaigns as indepent candidate MLA's in next years election, to give them a better chance against the Nation building funded corrupt alternates?

  7. SKEPTICAL says:

    I watched some of the The Panel programme on CITN this evening. Bush happened to be talking about the donations to churches with his explanation that among other things it would enable them to create Hurricane Shelters for their respective communities – would he please publish a list of which churches received funds, the specific amount each received, because I know of several churches in high population density areas that didn’t get a CENT. Even if the idea had any credibility, who is following up and monitoring how the lucky churches have utilised the money they received. It will be interesting to hear what the Auditor General discovers when he audits mr bush’s Nation Building Slush Fund, and hopefully that will be very soon.

    • SSM345 says:

      Simply look to his church and those associated with other UDP memebers in west bay, there is your list.

    • Anonymous says:

      What the  Premier seeemed to miss the point on ….It's NOT his money, it belongs to the people who therefore have a right to know exactly how he is spending it…Duh..

    • noname says:

      Yea like thats gonna happen.  Records, reciepts, list of names are exactly what Bush is NOT known for.  And the reasons are obvious.  Other than all the work involved, he would not like it to be common knowledge just where and who was handed puplic money and why.  Don't ask unless you want to lose your job, status and or work permit.

  8. Anonymous says:

    At last the "silent majority" have formed a group to represent common sense in governments spending.

    I wish you every success because you represent all right thinking citizens.

  9. marius voiculescu says:

    Bravo to the founders of Cayman United, for their efforts to keep government accountable.  Though they are but smalls steps, they are in the right direction.  Marius Voiculescu

  10. Slowpoke says:

    My kid is off to university and in light of Government's financial issues, we decided not to apply for a scholarship, so that the money could go to more needy individuals.  Now this?  How stupid am I?  (No need to reply.)

    • Anonymous says:

      not stupid – honourable, honest and a person who cares about your country and its people.  We needpeople like you to run for election because you obviously are not one of those with your hand out to grab like so many more. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    I am not cutting these “vote-buying and hook ups for my friends”… I mean “church-based” programmes !

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wow thoughtful solutions!

    It will never fly!

    Unfortunately …

  13. Anonymous says:

    The Premier has been a representative for West Bay for more than 25 years.  If West Bay does not have a hurricane shelter he can only blame himself.  I guess they preferred washing machines, fridges, stoves etc more  than a hurricane shelter. His nation building fund should be spread accross the other ministeries for them to be able to carry out the necessary nation building activities that they have done over the years. They are all to blinded by him that they cannot even see that he is robbing their ministries to fluff up his.  The FCO should have taken that out of the budget. He should have no further control over the finances of this country.  As a matter of  fact the 3.2 % salary that he is taking again from the Civil Servants should be replaced with the Nation Building Fund.  Every one including the Premier and his out-laws knows that he will use it to buy votes.  I am much afraid it won't help him come May 2013  RIP UDP!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Amen!!! Cut the Nation Building Fund because it only helps the wealthy udp supporters and there childrens.I'm glad the auditor general will do an audit on the fund.He will find that must of the scholarships was given to UDP supporters.Stop this madness.

    • Anonymous says:

      The group who are opposing against the nation building fund does not smell think or speak like a Caymanian.  I am listening to some of them on the radio and I have to say I do not buy what they are selling.  If you listen to them carefully they are paving a road.   There are so many other things to discuss except the nation building fund.  But just because a hand full of want to be some nationality claiming cayman as their home will like to tell the people of cayman that they have the answers.  The Cayman Nation Building Fund is to assist CAYMANIANS !! STUDENTS, ELDERLY AND OTHER AREAS.  Where on that you do not understand, and still anoying the People of Cayman about wanting to know what it is being spent on.   Come off of it fellas.  Find something more important to talk about instead of those few dollars that will help the people of Cayman.  It shows where your heart and mind is.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are missing the point. the governemnet SHOULD help the students, elederley etc and there many ways in which they do just that.  But it has to be properly and fairly allocated and properly accounted for. The "nation building fund' is all unofficial, behind closed doors.

        As we saw lat year a huge chunk of money went to McKeeva's own neighborhood church.  This reeks of corruption and vote-buying.  I can only imagine how the so-called christians at that church justified it to themselves when they accepted it.  They should be ashamed. 

      • Anonymous says:

        The problem is that it is operated as the personal piggy bank of the premier. You go and beg, and he doles out the bucks so  you owe him. You have programs for these things and that is where the money should go. It should not go to a premier's power fund.

      • Anonymous says:

        I wish 4.5 million was "few" dollars.  Plus there are programs through regular channels that cover everything he is dong with this slush fund.  If they are not working it is his job to fix them.  Not to run around with a sack full of our money playing Santa Clause for votes.

      • Anonymous says:

        Shows what you know! They are Caymanian.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m Caymanian and I don’t approve of the Nation Building Fund or 9,000 people on social services. There is a hand few of Caymanians who are unable to better cut their garmet according to their cloth! Just like Government, Caymanians need to cut back their wasteful spending.

        • Kath says:

          CNS – Has a detailed article on the number of people being supported by social services been posted? I would be very interested to see exactly what the needs base of each and every person is. Why are they being giving government funds? What is Employment services doing as it relates to those who are unemployed?

          This 9,000 figure is 100% shocking and sickening to say the least.

      • Anonymous says:

        You mean those elderly people who has five or more very sucessful children who expect government to support their parents, or those children who don't have the qualifications to get a regular scholarship or those people on social services who don't have money to buy lunch for their children but drives rental cars all the time and make frequent trips to Miami?

        It's time for some of these people to get off of social services that don't need it but call politicians to make the social workers give them assistance.

      • Anonymous says:

        I cry for Caymanians the dye has been cast and they don't even know it.  In less than a year they will not be able to open their mouths. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Could you wallow in any more hysterical self-pity? 

        • Anonymous says:

          Well, lets be honest, if it stops another load of self pitying, isolationist, xenophobic, 17th Century idealism, uneducated, uninformed and just plain stupid rhetoric that keeps coming out of the mouths of some 'Caymanians', then good, silence is golden.

          Perhaps the rest of the more enlighted Cayman peoples can join with their friends from overseas and improve their society and governance for all.

          I wonder how many of those who criticise the 'foreigners' or the UK Government are actually registered to vote. With a third of the total local population unregistered, I doubt whether many of these foolish people have the intelligence to realise that in a democratic country NO VOTE means NO SAY.

          • Anonymous says:

            Native Caymanians have always voted in this country long before you came here or even knew about us.  We are also educated enough to know when to vote and when to refrain from doing so without the help of "The facebook group".  This country and our politics were a beacon to the world  until we got ourselves entrenched in party politics and allowed outsiders to influence our politics and politicians.  Long before facebook as a matter of fact before the internet Caymanians were voting.  Sorry to disappoint you but don't expect the Arab Springs here, Caymanians are a lot smarter and our government is as free as any that you will find in the 1st world.  I will paraphrase your quote 

            "Well, lets be honest, if it stops another load of self pitying, isolationist, xenophobic, 17th Century idealism, uneducated, uninformed and just plain stupid rhetoric that keeps coming out of the mouths of some 'Expats', then good,  I pray that you remain silent which is golden.
            Perhaps the rest of the more enlighted Expats  will join with their friends from overseas and improve their own society and governance in their country before trying to do so in Cayman. 
            I wonder how many of those who criticise the 'foreigners' or the UK Government are actually registered to vote. With a third of the total local population unregistered, I doubt whether many of these foolish people have the intelligence to realise that in a democratic country NO VOTE means NO SAY.   

            Let me ask you about the third of the total local population that are unregistered, what local population? fyiNative Caymanians only make up a third of the population .  I ask that you take your own advise and remain slient which in your case would be golden.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for showing all of us where your heart and mind is.  I would suggest reading the papers once in while to find out where the Nation building fund is being spent instead of listening to Bush tell you.  XXXX  And you are so gullible.  Wait!  Maybe not.  Which church do you pray at?

      • Kath says:

        To: Anonymous 14:30  08/28/2012

        A couple of points that you made indicate that you didn't understand the content of the post:

        1) The article clearly outlines that the government has made cuts to the budget in areas related to youth and sports programmes, cultural programmes, disaster preparedness etc.  At the same time, the governement has INCREASED the budget for the "Nation Building Fund" (NBF). The NBF was inexplicably created to serve the exact same purpose as the departments that are now being pushed to make cuts. Do you see how this makes ZERO fiscal sense? Do you see how this raises a massive red flag on the Premeir's true motivation for creating this fund? Maybe this sheds some light on the Cayman United inquiry.

        2) The purpose of Cayman United: they are a grassroots movement focused on uniting all citizens and residents of Cayman. They encourage people to stop being empty vessels taking in everything poured down from government and to question and educate themselves on what is happening in this country. This investigation into the NBS is only ONE of the things this group has undertaken. Spokespersons have REPEATEDLY stated that they do not have all the answers or solutions. They have actively encouraged contribution and debate from ALL people in the country and they have done so without being crass or disrespectful. I do not agree with everything they have proposed and I note that they are not experts but, I see the value in what they have created and applaud them for being brave enough to do so.

        Also, you posit that those behind the group are not Caymanian. This is untrue and I encourage you to do more research. You will learn that Cayman United in comprised of Caymanians and expats. 

        A disturbing truth that has revealed itself  (or made it more glaringly apparent to those who already saw it)- there are some people in Cayman who have some innate distrust for those who  are educated and express themselves clearly and rationaly. I know stating this will not gain me any friends or, in this context, "thumbs up" but, it is something that really does exist.

        I bring this up because I listened to certain people calling into a radio programme yesterday who slammed members of Cayman United. Their criticisms lay in their claims that they didn't like how the members of Cayman United expressed themselves and that they did not respect the older people of this country. They underpinned their remarks by stating that these young foreign people with their foreign education think they know everything and that they don't value Cayman and the history of the country.

        Why does these views really exist? What have the Cayman United  people said or done that gives people these beliefs?  I feel that this issue is not faced head on. When it is discussed, it is it not discussed intelligently, always mired down by hateful remarks. It would be refreshing to see the leaders of this country actively and openly discuss this issue from both sides. Fair and balanced.

        • SSM345 says:

          Fair and balanced is a foreign mode of thinking that Mac does not understand, that would involve being objective.

      • Kung Fu Iguana says:

        What does a Caymanian smell like?

      • Hard truth says:

        No one is against the “idea” of a nation building fund and certainly not against the folks you mention. What we are very concerned about is that this money will be dished out by Premier, at HIS command, without a transparent and identifiable process to identify the truly needy.

        What we have instead is the Premier, by himself, deciding who will get some free government money. It surely is illegal. As there are no criteria nor independent board that will assess the needs of applicants, and no oversight even from Rolstan,Julie,Mark or Mike, all this is unfortunately is a slush fund for vote buying. You can cloak this with all the churches and poor Caymanians who can’t get scholarships through the education ministry as you want….it is $4.5m use of YOUR money randomly. YOU will be paying this every time you go to Fosters and the bread and milk went up in price. No free money anywhere.

        Unfortunately it is as simple as that. Good idea but deployed in a highly non-transparent manner. A political SLUSH FUND.

        A Caymanian with eyes.