Miller offers alternatives

| 20/06/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): Echoing the leader of the opposition’s objections to a fuel duty increase, the independent member of the Legislative Assembly for North Side said there were other options government could pursue to raise money and eliminate more spending in this year’s budget. Ezzard Miller told the House on Friday during his contribution to the budget debate that government should change the customs tariffs, increase vehicle and driving license fees and cut more in operational expenses. He said he was almost prepared to support the fuel increase, but as Cayman Brac was exempt when his constituents had to travel so far to work meant he could not support such an inflationary increase. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

In a speech that touched on a wide variety of issues, from MLAs claiming their pensions while still serving as members of the House to foreign nationals running tour operations in his constituency without proper licenses, Miller said he did not think the government had made any real cuts in the budget. The MLA for North Side also said government was expecting revenue to increase after it had predicted a decline in GDP, which did not make sense.
After close examination of the budget, he said it appeared operating expenses had gone up by $5 million, and civil service costshad not gone down by the $7 million as expected as a result of the 3.2% cut but appeared to have increased. Government had also predicted to earn $19 million more in revenue, which he told his parliamentary colleagues was “rather ambitious” as demand for goods was expected to be negative, according to other indicators.
Miller also raised questions about the medical director of health, the negative interviewing of Caymanians, and the lack of police in his constituency despite constantly asking for support. He said crime was a serious problem but Cayman had good laws that just needed to be enforced. Miller suggested clamping down on local real estate scams where people were leaving out sellers’ details in paperwork to avoid paying stamp duty on property transfers. Criticising the real estate sector in general, he said it was time to introduce a local realtor’s qualification at UCCI and a moratorium on work permits in the business to create opportunities for Caymanians.
Among the variety of topics he touched on, he voiced his concern that despite reassurances from government to him after tabling a motion, there was nothing in the budget documents to say the Public Management and Finance Law was being reviewed during this session of the LA. The North Side representative noted that as government was compliant with only two of the principles of responsible financial management it was clear the law had to be changed.
Offering alternatives to the fuel duty increase, Miller said that government could raise most of the $10 million expected to be generated by the 25 cents on fuel by increasing the various categories of vehicle licensing, which was a one off payment and easier for people to cope with. He also said there was room for an increase in the driving license fee as it had been several years since it was changed.
However, Miller’s focus was on the custom’s tariffs, as he said everyone would benefit from a flat rate of around 15% rather than so many different rates and so many indiscriminate things being duty free. He said there was no longer any justification for it and a flat rate would cut collection costs for government and preparation time for businesses. He pointed out that it could take several hours to work out the duty rates they needed to be paid on a forty-foot container of mixed goods.
Talking about “good governance”, Miller said it had been used to describe “a multitude of sins” but he said it was time for people to work together, especially in the Legislative Assembly where, he said, the rise of adversarial politics had been detrimental. “The recent history of adversarial politics needs to stop we all need to be able to contribute,” Miller observed. “Every single member of this House has something to offer in running the country; we need to be involved.”
As he wound up his diverse contribution, he warned that he would also be presenting some amendments to the budget during the Finance Committee hearings, which he hoped the government would consider. 
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  1. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard seems like the only member of government who REALLY wants good for the country and is willing to put the country’s needs before his own. Ezzard for Premier!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard’s idea of the flat rate import duty makes no sense if he is trying to minimize the impact to the poorer people.

    Many of the food items we now have, bread, milk, baby food, chicken, salt beef, fish, onions, potatoes,coffee, tea, cocoa, macaroni, spaghetti, lard, margarine, sugar, cereal, baking powder, salt, lamp oil, insulin, leather shoes, books, portable radios, musical instruments, etc are all now duty free. They would jump in price if 15% was added to them.

    As you can see this would definitely have a bigger impact on the poorer persons than the 25 cent per gallon gas tax.

    While Ezzard does occasionally come up with some common sense solutions this one is pure politics or bad research.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes it duty free but it’s not refected in the cost merchants make up for the duties they pay on others items with the duty free items so I agree 15% across the board and $1000 allowance for residents coming in by air. 

  3. vocal local says:

    Thanks Ezzard for offering other ideas here. I agree,  annual vehicle licensing fees should be based on the value ofthe vehicle, similar to it’s duty cost. A Porsche 911 valued at over $100,000 or a Bently valued at 250,000 or more should incur a higher licensing than a suzuki swift valued at $15-17,000. Surely we can all agree on that!

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      We need to cut cost, not increase it.

      • vocal local says:

        Agreed!…for the middle class and poor. Not for those who can afford massive homes and a fleet off $75,000 (and higher) cars.

  4. Anonymous says:

    When are w, the Caymanian people, going to demand more of all of our elected officials, than suggestions of band-aids for our gaping wounds? Come on people, let’s get together and not necessarily love everybody.

    We need serious suggestions and debate for a complete and longer-term healing of the major wounds in our country.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard’s back. Finally.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How about taxing cigarettes and cigars?

    How about taking over thewheel clamping industry and turn it over to a new government traffic control division?

    This should raise some!

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      Re: Government take over a wheel clamping business

      Really, are the Cayman Islands now a socialist jurisdiction?

  7. wesbaya says:

    That’s right, Ezzard. Spilte Brackas! and got the nerve to talk about everything about Grand Cayman. Yes, I am married to one but, gotta call it like I see it.