Alden sets out busy year

| 07/10/2013

(CNS): The premier outlined a busy agenda for his government during 2013/14 when he spoke for more than an hour and a half Monday, as he delivered a policy statement following the governor’s throne speech and ahead of the finance minister’s budget address. As the Legislative Assembly budget meeting opened, Alden McLaughlin listed a catalogue of policy development and legislative amendments the PPM administration hopes to tackle before this financial year is over. Promising sound financial management and responsive social policies, he said there were no silver bullets for the challenges the country faced but confidence in Cayman was being restored after its reputation had been sullied at home and abroad.

In a policy statement entitled 'Getting Back on Course', the premier began by saying that the voters had given the People’s Progressive Movement a mandate to restore the lustre of Cayman’s tarnished reputation.

“A reputation that had been sullied both at home and abroad by charges of corruption, abuse of office, mismanagement of the economy, a soured relationship with the United Kingdom and all manner of unsavoury practices and unseemly behaviour,” he said.
With a  good reputation being the flip side of the confidence coin, restoring that confidence was the first step for the new government, which he said had made “considerable headway”, with the “suspicion and scepticism of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office replaced with trust and respect.”

McLaughlin said foreign investors now had “certainty that transparent, legal processes will protect their investments", while local business owners had been "buoyed by the consultative process” that his government is engaging in.

“We know that the restoration of confidence is not a one shot deal and we shall continue to consult regularly with stakeholders in business and civil society and maintain our promise to be open, transparent and accountable,” he said. McLaughlin noted that there were “no silver bullets or 'one size fits all' cures,” before detailing the goals of the government’s first year in office. He said achieving the goals would involve a targeted approach through specific educational and training programmes.

“Investment in a modern infrastructure will be within our means and will yield maximum returns for the country. Expenditure on government and by government will give value for money,” he said, and although government would facilitate the environment, growth and employment would be driven by the private sector. McLaughlin stated that the planned immigration reforms would be the core of future economic expansion that would protect Caymanians while acknowledging the need for a reliable labour force.

With unemployment among locals a key issue, the premier said the revamp of the National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA) would make it easier for Caymanians looking for work as businesses will work directly with the NWDA to find Caymanians to fill their vacancies before they make an application for a work permit.

“We have heard the cries of our people in their search for jobs and we are doing much to ensure jobs for Caymanians in the near and far future,” he said, adding that the combination of increased economic activity, immigration reform, new NWDA initiatives and vocational training will put Caymanians back to work, as he emphasised how it will now be an offence for employers not to acknowledge Caymanian applicants.

McLaughlin also mentioned a suite of programmes to get Caymanians into work from the employment ministry and the identification ofover 200 unemployed Caymanians who want to work in hospitality industry that government will be helping to place in jobs beginning this month.

Crime was another area of concern, in particular the recent increase in gun-related crime. McLaughlin spoke about recent police successes, with the round-up of robbery suspects and seizing drug canoes. He said Cayman had to be open for business but closed to criminals as he announced more would be done to try and help vulnerable business to protect themselves, either through legislation or duty concessions. Critical attention was being given to the Crime Reduction Strategy, he said but noted that there are numerous programmes aimed at fighting crime. However, to really make a dent in crime a coordinated effort was required to ensure accountability and effectiveness of these programmes.

In a long speech the premier listed a considerable amount of planned legislation, from the enactment of disability legislation to the national conservation law, which he said would be brought to the LA before the year is out. He revealed that the government intended to adopt the draft climate policy, produced in 2011 by a multi-disciplinary public and private sector initiative led by the Department of Environment, and to begin urgent work on an implementation plan.

McLaughlin announced changes to social policies at the Department of Child and Family Services which would see clinical issues separated from welfare issues, and amendments to the Poor Person’s Relief Law, as well as the development of accompanying Regulations.

They were reviewing and re-writing the Cabinet code of practice to manage government and bring it in line with the constitution, but in the meantime the current guidelines, established in 1995, would be made public for the first time. Government has already published the proposed Standards in Public Life bill, after four years in waiting, on the government gazette.

McLaughlin revealed some planned enhancements on the Sister Islands, including what is likely to prove a controversial plan to develop a runway on Little Cayman. The airport on Cayman Brac will also be enhanced and Cayman Airways will be opening an office on the island. He announced that the costly hurricane shelter on the Bluff, which was nicknamed Hurricane Hilton, will be converted into a new high school.

With a heavy emphasis on reducing government spending to balance the books, McLaughlin also pointed to the importance of e-government, which was an election campaign promise. He said government would utilize technology to cut costs and red tape. He pointed to the high saturation of computer at 74%, internet use at 65% and cell phone owners at 98.5%, with many now using smart phones. Government has plans to maximise information technology to provide better services.

From the boosting of local food production and sports tourism development to exploring how Cayman can become a centre for medical research and the challenges of tackling the George Town dump, the premier listed a myriad of diversepolicy aims and new legislation that his government is hoping to tackle.

McLaughlin said that the budget, which was presented by finance Minister Marco Archer, underpinned the broad plans and would provide the “oxygen to stoke the economic fires” as he thanked everyone involved.

Pointing to the importance of inclusivity in his government, McLaughlin thanked the Speaker, Juliana O’Connor Connolly, for crossing the floor and joining the PPM in the wake of the election, as well  the three Coalition for Cayman members and his own Progressives team for providing Cayman with what he was said was the best government possible. 

“The result is an administration of immense depth and ability and which I am most honoured to lead,” the premier added.

See the premier’s policy statement below.

Category: Politics

Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Awesome news about the conservation law and the draft climate policy. It's about time a government showed real concern and action towards the environment.

  2. Anonymous says:

    "McLaughlin also mentioned a suite of programmes to get Caymanians into work from the employment ministry and the identification of over 200 unemployed Caymanians who want to work in hospitality industry that government will be helping to place in jobs beginning this month."

    I am looking forward to seeing what this new government has to offer in this regard. It is great to see the provisions in the Immigration Reform Bill which will help give Caymanians a chance. These tow things working in tandem has been long overdue! Thank you Mr. Premier!

    • Jonas Dwyer says:

      This 200 people unemployment initiative sounds good. Does this come with an agreement that th hotel industry is going to up the US 3 . 50 an hour gain. I'd it does not, then we will back to square one, cause  ya can't live on that wage. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    PPM will not last 4 years . They have no plans at all. They are rehashing UDP policies and making it sound their own. Kurt is running the show & he is all about not doing anything to upset the present system. As long as he gets his drinks after sunset ,in his favourite bar ,he's happy. Alden is happy to play to the chamber members and travel and give speeches. Marco seems alright. He was at my house before elections – one sunday afternoon- we spoke for a long time. The guy is cool- has a future. I voted for him. Al suckoo go out and do your thing -this lot will make you a one -term guy.The problem with PPM is Alden and Kurt and the others know it. I voted for Kurt too – big mistake.

    • Anonymous says:

      Had the UDP stayed in power, CAYMAN would not have lasted another 4 years of plunder and personal excess at the expense of the public purse.

    • Anonymous says:

      PPM will not last 4 years because we need them for the next twenty.You voted for Alden and Kurt, which was likely one of your larger achievements in life, and now you're telling us you made a big mistake? Well exactly whose fault is THAT my friend??? You need to see a doctor for your senility issues. Oh and please, please refrain from your pitiful attempts to shadow our leadership. the people you voted for, by expounding on whatever they may or may not choose to do with their personal lives. Drinks after sunset is better by far than having someone use up your credit card in casinos on trips that you had to pay for, isn't it. Thanks for the votes anyway. 

    • Anonymous says:

      So you had that view of Kurt all along but still voted for him? Somehow this does not ring true.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great news on the National Conservation Law!

     

    This Government is proving that they will to make the right decision for the country – despite the political pressures from a minority to do otherwise. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    A few comments that caught my eye and confused the hell out of me,,

    The Plan favors an initial aggressive reduction in public sector operating expenditure, significant increases to Government’s cash reserves, no new long-term borrowings, continued repayment of existing loans and zero inflationary revenue measures.

    *********Ok, so how will the public sector expenditure be reduced and where is the new revenue coming from ?

    We have no plans to introduce any measures that would further burden the cost of living; as a matter of fact we are looking for ways to give our people, residents, visitors and businesses some relief when it comes to their pocketbooks.

    *********Uh, How? There's no mention of How, just more unsubstantiated promises..

    I have to be honest with you. The lack of jobs for Caymanians was not created by this Government. Like many other issues facing this country, we inherited this problem.

    *********Here we go again with the blame game it's not us it was them, They are all in the same LA, what did he do as leader of the opposition for the last four year but fight against every single thing and offer no alternatives

    We are also working with the private sector, including Health City and Cayman Enterprise City, both of which have made commitments to hire Caymanians. Employment opportunities for Caymanian artisans and construction workers will improve with the start of construction on DART’s new hotel property on the West Bay Road and a new hotel in East End being proposed to service Health City. A proposed new golf course development in Frank Sound will also provide opportunities for employment.

    *********How can you take credit and show support for any of these projects when you were against each one in its infancy. And as for Cayman Airways, how can anyone consider opening a reservation office on the Brac, when they  are losing so much money on the one in GT, which by the way needs to be expanded. Oh and what happened to your campaign promises about getting West Bay road reopened, what a crock.

     I couldn’t even read any more of this BullS^%#T, it all sounds like a prepared speech written by a politician with no answers and no idea what to do next. Just another speech full of Campaign promises and finger pointing no different than the last group of kids running the country.

  6. Anonymous says:

    pure waffle…..there is not one concrete proposal that will improve the economy….

  7. Anonymous says:

    One Man One Vote. 

    A campaign promise.  Make it a reality now.  The longer you put it off the more the doubt lingers.

  8. Papa Doyle says:

    Rounding up robbery suspects catching drug canoes duty concessions a fictional crime reduction strategy What is Alden smoking??? putting suspects on remand and bail so they can take a little break from their crime spree by resting up and eating Govt food. Catching drug canoes 185LBS (Guiness Book of world records smallest load ever) and 6 more mouths to feed the other canoe broke down after it dropped its load otherwise it would not have been seized. Duty concessions in 100 million surplus prediction i want to see how that is going to work?  Crime reduction strategy a figment of some people,s imagination every time they come up with this $%^# crime increases 10 fold or gets worse the truth of the mattter is the CRS was written and produced by our so called elites without the input of those who are most impacted or victims of crime.But it strokes the ego of our inept leadership in government who get all warm and tinglely thinking about it. Only persons who directly benefits is the grand Pupa of the RCIPS Parade who gets another blank cheque to import more cronies and unemployed or past their time mates reffered to conveinently and affectionately known as "specialist" Never in the history of these islands have we had so many educated fools in one government( not you Marco) Once again Mr Premier please get a real advisor and not from the UK or Jamaica!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear Alden's ppm is proving to be short on ideas as all the initiatives listed are those originated by Big Mac Bush's time as Premier

    • Anonymous says:

      I thought these were private sector initiatives? I don't think Mckeeva was actually responsible for any of it. It doesn't matter to me when they were initiated so long as they bear fruit.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Too bad we had to get "Big Mac Bush" out of the way so they could become a reality, whether or not they were his 'initiatives', which I very seriously doubt.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Don't forget your promise for single member constituencies Alden.

  11. LT says:

    Free air miles for Premier, Julianna and PPM crew.

    The projects mentioned sound like the same ones McKeeva Bush relied on as examples of economic diversification under the UDP.

    The more things change in cayman politics the more they stay the same.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr. Premier.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Bush certainly sullied the credibility of Cayman abroad. But it will be nothing compared to the punitive immigration policies and expat bashing that's so obvious at the moment. Combine an armed robbery every day plus gun related murders and Cayman is on a very slippery slope.

    Sadly for this beautiful island and its people, Cayman is being made to look backward and uninviting to wealth creators.

    Please don't go down that road.