Manifestos same but different

| 19/05/2009

(CNS): As Cayman goes to the polls tomorrow (20 May) the side shows — of accusations and counter accusations, qualifications and even disqualifications — of this election campaign should prove less important than what is contained in the political manifestos. However, a comparative read of both of the political parties’ manifestoes does not reveal any massive political differences between the two, with both parties promising similar policies in the key areas.

Although both of the political parties produced manifestos late into the campaign, the contents are meant to be the most effective way for them to sell themselves to the voter and reveal their intentions if either the United Democratic Party or the People’s Progressive Movement returns enough candidates to form the next government. With the economy, employment, education and environment taking centre stage in this election, the PPM and the UDP are both making broad promises on all of these issues but there are as many similarities when it comes to policy and intent as there differences, making it a difficult decision for the voter genuinely interested in politics as oppose to personalities.

According to the PPM manifesto, if re-elected it promises to lead a “national effort” to shore up the twin pillars of the local economy: financial services and tourism. The party says it will not raise taxes but take measures to cushion people and businesses from the global crisis, encourage Caymanian entrepreneurship through the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau, and give Caymanians a greater stake in the economy. It will also press on with its government capital projects to help stimulate the domestic construction market and spin off industries.

The UDP has also promised to shore up financial services and tourism but has also said it will simulate the local economy through more private sector development and inward investment. The UDP manifesto says that if the Caymanian people return a UDP government it will conduct an impact assessment of the medium-to-long term implications of the global crisis on the financial services industry to find out what the sector needs.  It says it will also review spending to ensure that the tourism dollars are spent primarily to generate business, improve the guest experience and maintain or elevate service standards. The UDP also says it will develop an aggressive plan to identify and attract new industry to diversify the economy. It states, “We will take action to support small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship among Caymanians.”

Meanwhile, to tackle unemployment the UDP has promised to talk to the financial services sector to find out how to get jobs that have been lost back to Cayman. The manifesto also promises that the UDP will meet with all major employers to discuss lay-off arrangements and establish an aggressive job placement programme in partnership with the business community to relocate laid off Caymanians to other jobs and the introduction of a Human Resources Agency to better balance work permits and unemployed Caymanians, but it has not stated it will overturn the rollover policy.

The PPM also promises to do similar things, saying it will also introduce new labour regulations as well. Although it failed to implement the Labour Law, which was passed during the UDP’s previous administration, it says this term if it is returned it will establish a national minimum wage across all industries, to ensure that mandatory severance pay of one week’s pay for each completed year of service shall be without a maximum, and establish a single tier, independent Labour Tribunal. The PPM says it will also seek to improve the balance of work permits and unemployed with the promised changes to the Immigration Law, which were announced earlier this year. The PPM has also promised, in conjunction with the business community, a review of the “rollover policy” to ensure that it is operating effectively and achieving its objective, but it will not overturn rollover.

Having invested a significant amount of time and resources in completely restructuring Cayman’s education system, from the way it is governed to the National Curriculum, the PPM’s manifesto has a significant chapter on its continued ambitions for overhauling education from top to bottom. The party is promising to follow through with that work should the electorate return them to office tomorrow.

“Educators have indicated that improvements in standards, conditions and the learning environment in which they teach students are as important as increases in remuneration,” the manifesto reads, and goes on to state it will continue the plan that has seen 94% of education professionals engaged in professional development, intensify efforts to increase the recruitment of Caymanian teachers, address overcrowding as the new schools come on line, introduce the post sixteen education and early education plans, convert George Hicks into a vocational college and focus on results now that the Education Law has been passed and policies put in place and implemented. The party also promises to focus on improving literacy standards and special or additional needs education, as well as promoting a culture of life-long learning for all.

Meanwhile, the UDP is also promising to establish an accredited Technical and Vocational Training Institute and a review of teachers’ salaries and working conditions. Although national standards have been introduce already under the new Education Law, the UDP’s manifesto states that it will establish National Standards for primary school leavers and high school graduation, but it does not say how this will differ from the policies already in place. It promises a review of the existing curriculum (which its MLAs just voted for along with the government in March of this year) and the party promises a restructure of the education scholarship programme to ensure that all deserving students benefit from tertiary education here and abroad, it says. It does not say, however, if it plans to increase or reduce the current spending on scholarships, which is currently at  $8.3 million annually, or make reductions back to the figure of $2.9 million, which was spent annually under the last UDP government.

TheUDP also promises a National Training Initiative (NTI), which it says would be a tool to centralize all efforts towards long-term human capital development. “A highly collaborative approach with all stakeholders and economic sectors in the Islands,” the manifesto reads. The UDP is also promising to create a Centre of Excellence for the Treatment and Support for people with Autism.

When it comes to the environment the two parties are making various promises but there is no commitment to the National Conservation Bill in the UDP manifesto, and while the PPM claims it as its first objective if re-elected, it is worth noting that this law has been promised by the minister in question for more than two years.

The PPM goes on to promise cross-ministry collaboration to implement a National Recycling Programme, the development of a National Energy Policy, changes to Planning Laws and Regulations, and facilitate the Climate Change Adaptation strategies, while simultaneously continuing to reduce our carbon footprint. The PPM also says it will approve a new National Development Plan and the National Sustainable Development Policy.  If returned to office the party also promises to implement the Darwin Initiative funded action plans for species and habitats and significantly expand the Blue Iguana conservation programme utilizing the Crown property in East End that was recently vested, as well as a commitment to public education of environmental issues.

The UDP says it will also launch an aggressive campaign to encourage consumers to conserve energy and adopt measures to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels. The manifesto promises the development of low carbon technologies. The party also promises a long-term strategy to handle Municipal Solid Waste as a priority. “This landfill must be addressed in a manner that will yield the maximum benefit,” the manifesto states. “The UDP will seek to deploy sustainable technology that will allow for the waste to the disposed in a manner that will result in minimum environmental damage. The strategy will also include a Waste to Energy component to allow for the generation of electricity.”

The PPM manifesto also says that a tremendous amount of effort and thought has already gone into developing a Waste Management Strategy for the Cayman Islands. “Additional elements of this strategy will be implemented over the next term,” it reads adding that the reorganization of the George Town land fill will include the Waste to Energy Facility and recycling initiatives.

In the end however, despite their promises and similarities, whether it‘s to be a “better way forward” or “don’t stop the progress” or a rejection of both is down to the 15,000 plus people who have the right to cast their vote tomorrow in the country’s General Election.

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Category: Election 2009

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Theresa website was up this morning.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Theresa and Justin still have their websites up. What difference does it make? Will these sorts of rules even be enforced strictly?

    CNS: I just checked and Theresa’s site is not up

  3. Anonymous says:

    Incorrect.  The PPM did not shutdown their website until almost mid-night, the end of May 19th and the beginning of Election Day, May 20th which is in proper compliance with the elections law, not "presumably".   Duh?  Oh, you need more time, poor thing you’re out of time, duh!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m not comfortable with the UDP’s Jamaican connection and affiliation. McKeeva is bragging about how he got training in JAM before starting the UDP . After what I saw this weekend with the outrageous behavior with the motorcades (especially by the UDP members) we should be very very very very afraid of where this party system is taking us.

    This is our once chance to break these parties up Cayman- show them that despite all the elaborate funds and showcases we know that the smoke and screen is not going to be the reality for us.

    The 2 parties have little ideological differences because that’s NOT what the party system in Cayman is based on  – their manifestos only confirm what we already know – it’s about which leader people "like".

    It’s high time we stopped swapping party leaders as we have for the past 25 years.

    • Agree with not comfortable.. says:

      I agree with you here! Watched the rally (on tv) that UDP had the other night next to Grand Harbour…it spoke volumes to me when one of the speakers gave the Jamaicans in attendance a ‘shout-out’ sounded from the response as if though the majority of people there were Jamaican.


  5. Anonymous says:

    How sad!

    A group of us went out for dinner tonight and started talking politics (not intending to). We quickly agreed on all the candidates we would NOT vote for, but had difficulty coming up with the four (GT & WB) or three (BT) we would actually vote FOR. The day before the election, no clear party distinctions, vague affiliated/independent intentions, no clear ideological differences, attacks but no specific solutions…  So,  we remain undecided with a few hours to go, probably not using all our votes…

    How sad!


  6. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again…make fun of the incumbent candidates from West Bay. One thing about them- they don’t forget the people that elected them. They remember those that are down on their luck and the elderly. They know the West Bay people year round & not just at election time. So go ahead – make fun of the West Bayers – they seem to be a lot smarter than what many give them credit for.

  7. Knal N. Domp says:

    The PPM shut down their website (and manifesto) supposedly in compliance with the Election Regulations, forgetting that today is Tuesday 19 May, not Wednesday 20 May… (duh)

    So, go figure. Wanna know where to put the XXXs?

  8. annonomous says:

    Mac and his 3 stooges will give us all jobs at the turtle farm if he wins. That’s all we have to look forward too. If you vote for Mac, he will stab you in the back and that’s a fact. If your a rich foreigner or the Seaga Mafia you are ok. %