LoGB announces national talking shop on economy

| 29/01/2009

(CNS): Government intends to convene a national consultation on the economy, the leader of government business has said. He told members of the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that, while government had been meeting with stakeholders on a regular basis and had formed an advisory group, given the seriousness of the global crisis a national consultative exercise was called for.

Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Luncheon, LoGB Kurt Tibbetts did not give details of this proposed talking shop or when it would happen but said the current situation called for action and that it would be an opportunity for stakeholders to influence the future shape of economic policy. He also defended what his government had done so far for the sector.

 “We have over the course of the past years, and in particular over the past six months, been meeting regularly with key stakeholders regarding the economy and the impact of the global situation.  We have established the economic monitoring and advisory group which has met a number of times to assess and advise government on the situation. In addition, the financial services council meets regularly to consider matters relating tothe financial services sector,” he said.

 But, he added, given the seriousness of the global recession and its projected length, a much broader initiative was required. “The planned consultation will provide an opportunity for the private sector and other relevant stakeholders to sit with government policy-makers and discuss how we should use this opportunity to reform and reposition our economy to make it better and stronger for the future.”

In the face of criticisms coming from a number of quarters that government has not done enough to prepare Cayman to weather the economic storm, Tibbetts said that this consultation would provide the basis for designing a blueprint to take the economy into the future.

“It is of vital importance that we have this dialogue on the economy, in the same way that we have had a successful national dialogue on modernizing our constitution,” he added. The LoGB said that along with a modern constitution, Cayman needed a new look economy. “That is the next assignment of major importance for our country. In the same way that we have shown leadership in pushing for a new constitution, this government will show leadership in reforming and repositioning our economy for a brighter, better future.”

With calls coming from the Chamber and other leading business figures for a minister of finance that would take responsibility for promoting, safeguarding and regulating Cayman’s most important industry, Tibbetts confirmed that the new constitution had made provision for that role.

However, even if the constitution is agreed and passed in the planned referendum in May, the new minister would not be in post until after the 2013 election. In response to how the government was managing the interests of the sector at present, Tibbetts said that while there is no department of financial services, a core cadre of five senior staff and four support staff under the Portfolio of Finance & Economics had specific responsibilities for the industry. He said that policy, legislation, administration, advice to cabinet, promotion and public relations, were undertaken by this staff, led by the deputy financial secretary for financial services, a post that was established in 2004.  

“It may be that consequent to certain constitutional changes, if secured, a so-called ‘department of financial services’ may emerge; however, the absence of a banner with that name is not the absence of the functions and activity,” Tibbetts noted in defence of critics who have said the current administration has neglected the financial services industry.

He said government also had an effective lobbying and media relations programme in place and  could mobilize for Cayman’s defence in London, Washington, Brussels and anywhere needed through the local staff in the public relations unit along with the global partners, Fleishman Hillard.

“A small but nevertheless important example of our capacity is that we now have our financial services factsheets and backgrounders available in German and French for those media markets,” Tibbetts added. He also said that various visits were on the cards over the coming weeks to deal with some of the international issues regarding the sector.

“The Minister for International Financial Services policy (Alden McLaughlin)  meets with the UK financial services minister, Lord Myners, in early February; The DFS (financial services) goes to Brussels early February for a series of meetings and briefings; and I will be leading a delegation to DC in early March.”

He said the Financial Services Council had provided input and recommendations on how to meet challenges facing the sector in consultation with a broad cross-section of the industry and he welcomed the call for everyone, including government, to review their missions and methods to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Government intends to convene a national consultation on the economy, the leader of government business has said. He told members of the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that, while government had been meeting with stakeholders on a regular basis and had formed an advisory group….

    – Can you tell us who is in this advisory group. It has been mentioned time and time again and we are not aware of any new boards being formed. If so the names of the board members should be published for all to see. Please can we now have the list. Thanks