FCO rep denies UK hypocrisy

| 20/11/2009

(CNS): Just because the United Kingdom is dealing with its own debt problems and government scandals over MP expenses does not mean Britain should not try and strive for good governance and financial management in its territories, says the Foreign Office Director for Overseas Territories. Colin Roberts told the Cayman media this week that he did not feel there was any issue of hypocrisy in Britain’s dealings with Cayman and that the UK wanted Cayman to do well and prosper. "Where there has been a failure or problem with public finance in the UK that does not mean we should not try to make things better in the overseas territories,” he said at a round table meeting with the local press during his short visit to Cayman.

Roberts said the charge, with which he was familiar, that the UK did not have the moral authority to impose standards on Cayman was unfounded, as he said the goal was to see things were done better in the territories as well as in the UK and to work together to improve things. “A huge amount of work is going on in the UK to address the deficit,” he said, adding that it was not logical to say the UK should ignore the public finance problems in Cayman because of its own debt.

In Friday’s Daily Telegraph it was reported that the UK debt in October 2009 was 88 times what it was in October 2008 and that Britain’s deficit will remain higher than what it described as “any other major country”, including Iceland and Ireland, unless the government takes far more drastic action to repair it.

However, Roberts did not see the financial circumstances of his own government in any way hindering how the UK directed its territories. He also said that standards of good governance applied to everyone and they were not arbitrary standards made up by the UK just for Cayman, but were standards which the UK was also working to achieve.

Contrary to what people were currently thinking, the UK, Roberts stated, was not trying to undermine the success of the Cayman Islands at all but quite the contrary, as it wanted Cayman to be successful. He said the perspective as seen from London was that the two countries and the people had shared objectives that Cayman should be secure, prosperous and well-governed. He recognised that a number of people here doubted the second objective, but their doubt was misplaced.

“Why on earth would we not want the Cayman Islands to be prosperous?” Roberts asked. He pointed out that if Cayman’s economy was not successful that, as an overseas territory, Cayman would become dependent on the UK tax payer — a scenario which the UK was intent on avoiding by encouraging better financial management.

Suggestions about diversifying the local economy were all about ensuring that Cayman remained economically successful as well as secure, and that it would be able to weather any future global financial storms, regulation changes or attacks on thefinancial sector, he observed.  “We don’t know where the next external shock will come from,” the OT director said, adding that managing finances was an important part of Cayman’s future security.

He noted that Foot’s report had revealed that, contrary to certain prevailing beliefs, Cayman and London were not in direct competition and that the City had nothing to gain by Cayman’s demise. If Cayman was to cease being a financial player, its business would not go to the UK, and he acknowledged that Cayman played an important role in channelling money and business to the UK’s own financial sector. Contrary to the UK prime minister’s own political views, however, Roberts expressed his belief that, based on the Foot report, the sums lost to all the OFCS from the UK exchequer were nothing like the figures which had been suggested by the NGOs and other pressure groups campaigning against so-called tax havens.

Recognising that there was some turbulence in the relationship between the UK and the Cayman Islands, the FCO rep said that was one of the reasons for his visit as it was important to talk about how things could be improved and how the UK wanted to work in partnership with Cayman. “I am here to listen and to see how we can establish a dialogue on the way forward,” he said adding that the UK was still going to be more closely involved in issues of good governance and public finance management.

Discussing the spectre of the Turks and Caicos Islands, which politicians and the wider public in Cayman have suggested the UK is using a veiled threat to get Cayman to toe the line, Roberts said it was a very different situation. He explained that not only had there been significant mismanagement of public funds in that jurisdiction, but there were issues of political corruption that had nothing to do with the global crisis but which caused the UK major concern.

The meeting with the local press concluded a number of engagements that Roberts had attended during his stay, which included the premier, other government representative and members of the private sector. He confirmed that, while he was returning to the UK, he would be following up discussion with Cayman’s premier when Bush next visits London. Roberts also made it clear that the UK would be watching Cayman’s financial progress over the next few months to observe how well it stayed within the projections made for the 2009/10 budget.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    These Patrons of the FCO may be sincere in their hearts for our economic welfare, but do they realize that their top leader, Gordon Brown can at any time advise the heads of the FCO to deliberately keep us down! If this happens or have already happened, well then, do you seriously think these patrons will follow their conscience on behalf of Cayman’s inhabitants? Most naturally, they will leader Brown with a “God Save the Queen!”

    We Caymanians are not dumb! Either the FCO get their act together and learn to govern us well with solid Representation, or we choose our own determination. I personally think it will be a lost to the United Kingdom, if this banking center, completely, dissociates itself from them. There will be many angry heads in the “House.” I pray we don’t have to divorce her, but if she’s abusive, we have no choice.

  2. Anonymous says:

    A better title for this story would be “the kettle calling the pot black.”

  3. S.S. says:

    This comment is directed to: Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/21/2009 – 09:18

    Please take into consideration that the UK has many more issues to deal with other then Cayman and more expenses that Cayman can only dream about.

    Cayman did just fine after Hurricane Ivan and in fact if it wasn’t for the UK, Cayman wouldn’t have become so self reliant and self motivated. We did better for ourselves after Ivan and proved that we could continue to strive on our own!

    Stop pointing the fingure at what the UK hasn’t done for Cayman and show some appreciation to them for not allowing us to hang on a string for complete dependence on the UK.

    • Anonymous says:

      lol… stop pointing the finger at the Devil???

      Are you crazy!

      We mean nothing to them – absolutly nothing!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Look people, we first have to get past our own hypocrisy before anything will change in these Islands.

    The reality is that we have so called leaders who are, on the one hand telling us that they are looking after the rights/needs of Caymanians but on the other hand appear to be throwing the flood gates open to every foreign person who may want to come here to set up shop, especially those with a couple of hundred thousand dollars in pocket change. Of course, we don’t have enough Caymanians now to supply labour needs so it means they can bring more foreigners for the jobs they create but yet Caymanians are being told that jobs are being created for us! Go figure.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Britain has run up masive debt spending money wantonly on providing unviersal health, far better education than we have here and help to save the world’s banking system on which Cayman is massively dependent.  Oh yes, we have been saved by Britain’s spending. 

    • Anonymous says:

      You sound like a coward! Scared of making your first baby steps!

      Britain has as well USED Islanders for her own aims! Look at the Chagos Islanders – See http://chagossupport.org.uk/.

      Look at how she has treated these people! Until this day, these people live in poverty and cannot return to their homes. The UK’s FCO has turned their largest Island (Diego Garcia) into a military base for her ends. The U.S. uses the bases for attacking Iraq and Afghanistan. The people never asked for this – Yet this is the kind of people we are dealing with!

      You have the audacity to tellme about NICE THINGS about Britain.

      Wake up! Read your history books. She has drained and harmed many economies. See what she has done to our neighbor, Turks and Cacaos in the name of Corruption!

      “Oh yes, we have been saved by Britain’s spending”
      You sound like an ignorant of what we accomplised by ourselves, my friend!


      Wake up and be a lion!

      • O'Really says:

        Maybe you need to read the recent obituary on Jack Rose. There are a number of interesting posts by Caymanians on the beginnings of the financial industry with 4 names prominent, Vassel Johnson ( Jamaican ), Bill Walker ( Scottish ), Jack Rose ( English ) and Jim MacDonald ( Canadian I believe ). How does this support your penultimate statement? Maybe your facts aren’t facts but wishes!

        And you can stop banging on about the Chagos Islands. Yes it was, and to some extent still is, a disgrace for the UK and the USA, for whose benefit the population was removed. But let’s not pretend that you care about these people. Your repeated use of them to support your allegations that the UK is out to get Cayman is simply exploitation of their unfortunate fate.

        I have read some of the transcripts of the T&C corruption investigation and it is nothing like Chagos. If you endorse what happened in T&C simply to have a go at the UK you have lost the plot.

        I know a good orthopaedic surgeon who can remove that large chip from your shoulder if you’re interested.

  6. Anonymous says:

     Do you think that Jack and this chap just don’t get  they have zero credibility on these issues or are they just very bad actors?Do they not understand that they should be asking us for advice on how to save the City of London. Do they not understand that  at standing room seminars all over London advice is being given to financial industry participants about how to leave the UK and that that exodus is a direct result of the Socialist  tax and spend policies that have run up a $2.3 trillion (on balance sheet accounting) UK debt .And their solution is that this is the way forwards for the Cayman Islands ? By what degree of distortion can this suggestion be put forward with a straight face. All credit to the man for trying .But he has not one shred of credibility and should not waste too much more of his time nor ours.  

  7. Twyla Vargas says:

    SHOULD WE UNDERSTAND this as saying do not do as I do, but do as I say?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Blah blah blah.

    What about balentine the former AG that is a consultant to the FCO

    What about operation tempura

    What about allowing Kirk Tibbetts to run up this big deficit

    What about writing letters to the Govt and releasing the same to the press before the Government got it.

    What about only arresting Caymanian Police and let the UK ones go free

    What about not giving us a dollar to help us after HURRICANE IVAN


    more to come next week

  9. Animosity says:

    Looking at the picture I would say Jack is very pleased to have someone trying to patch things up after he has been such a disaster,