Chamber calls for red carpet

| 29/01/2009

(CNS): The economic global recession will require the public sector rolling out the red carpet for business, Chamber President Eddie Thompson has said. Calling on government to re-evaluate its business systems and improve the processing times at customs, immigration, planning, Registrar of Companies and all boards that interact with customers, he said that during the current climate business needed to be valued.

“During these times of economic hardship, it will be essential for us to appreciate the role that business plays in our society and for the public sector to roll out a red carpet service for businesses,” he said.

Speaking at the Chamber’s annual Legislative Luncheon, Thompson gave the Chamber’s wish list to government on how the country could get through what was expected to be a long and tough recession. “Greater emphasis should be placed on attracting more real economic activity by financial firms in Cayman itself. This will build substance and counter the argument that Cayman entities are without substance. It means executives in physical offices in Cayman making substantive decisions and performing substantive tasks,” he said.

He called for the immigration regime to be understandable and not opaque, welcoming and not burdensome and a deterrent. At the same time however, he called for government to ensure Caymanian’s were given priority over work permit holders. “During these extraordinary times all efforts must be made to keep as many businesses open as possible, to keep Caymanians employed, providing job security for Caymanians over permit holders,” he said.

He also joined the growing chorus for a Ministry and Department of Finance and a new approach to managing the financial services industry. He said much greater efforts were needed to develop an International Relations Programme to promote Cayman overseas and get the message out about our regulatory regime and business environment.

“The government, Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, and the private sector, should develop a coordinated programme to host, attend, and speak at, relevant international conferences, and to write academic papers that expresses the Cayman Islands’ position to the world.”

He also said that a concerted effort was required to attract inward investment. He said the Chamber was continuing to work with the Investment Bureau to try and achieve the goal of a one stop shop for foreign investors to avoid the maze of bureaucracy and facilitate efficiency of interdepartmental systems and better communication.

“There is a need to establish a policy framework to attract foreign direct investment and put in place the systems to support this policy to attract a higher level of investors for our tourism, financial services and development sectors. A small business development strategy is also needed in order to ensure that Caymanians are benefiting from the investment that is being attracted to our shores,” he said.

Thompson suggested that government support local businesses more and review its procurement policy and reduce overseas purchases.

When it came to the business of tourism, Thompson said the country needed a Tourism Authority that would manage all facets of the tourism industry. “The establishment of the authority is long overdue and should be acted upon as a matter of priority in 2009. A full time Director of Cruise Tourism is recommended and should be hired to facilitate the development of the industry, and more money should be earmarked for the sector,” he added.

Thompson also said the Chamber was anxiously awaiting the completion of the Environmental Impact Assessment regarding the proposed port development, and noted that it should include other economic diversification strategies for long term development, such as a marina, permanent docking facilities for luxury yachts and other agencies in the region. He also said that, should the EIA assessment allow for the development of the port, the nation needed to pause and determine whether such a development will benefit a few merchants, or our collective countrymen, in both the immediate and the long term.

“Additionally, with the port redevelopment of such an immense proportion it would seem that all forms of public private partnerships should be explored and not just one bidder to be negotiated with; the country would be remiss not to do so.”.

He also said that 2009 would be a tough year in which the choices would shape Cayman’s future. “The Chamber is committed to offering assistance and I have established several committees addressing such subjects as foreign direct investment, small business, international trade, the environment, leadership development and economic development to provide our elected leaders with information that can assist them with making key decisions.”

Thompson explained that the mission of the Chamber is to support, promote and protect business and community. “We must all work together to address the challenges. Get involved in the work of the Chamber and learn the positions that are being taken by the candidates in this year’s election. Don’t sit on the sidelines,” he said.


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  1. Desmond Ebanks says:

    Mr. Thompson makes and echoes some vitally important points in these challenging times.

    Applicants to the Planning Dept. could assist the planning process enornously by becoming informed regarding requirements ahead of the application. 

    In turn, the elimination of numerous resubmittals will increase the efficiency of the Planning Dept. in a manner hithertofore unseen.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree the customer service and attitude of officers at APO Customs is scary. Something needs to be done in that department!!!

  3. SuZanne Miller says:

    …Please don’t forget how important CUSTOMER SERVICE is at the same time as increasing processing times. I know personally that at present this is extremely lacking – SPECIFICALLY with APO Customs!!!!