Fees go too far, says PPM

| 13/07/2010

(CNS): Although the opposition supports most of the amendments to the planning law, the increase in fees is a step too far, the PPM has said and has asked the government to reconsider. Alden McLaughlin said that this is the second set of fee increases directly affecting the construction sector in the last few months and one more in a long line of fees, which have become too much to bear for all local businesses. The George Town opposition MLA said that he could not reconcile the premier’s claim to be in support of small business with his actions. Government policy, far from helping the economy, was making things worse as businesses collapsed under the weight of endless fee increases, he said. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Speaking on behalf of the PPM opposition benches on Monday afternoon, McLaughlin pointed out that the Development and Planning Amendment Bill had many positive elements and asked government to move ahead with it (omitting clauses 12 and 15, which refer to the regulations being passed in Cabinet and Cabinet’s ability to waive the law) without the fee increases.
The PPM member pointed out that the modernisation of the law and the reduction in bureaucracy, along with the other amendments, were positive and could stimulate development but the fees would undermine it.
McLaughlin said the constant increasing of fees by the government was to pay for operational spending, which it had not cut in the budget but was in fact spending $5 million more in 2010/11 than 2009/10.
He told his legislative colleagues that the government did not seem to have learned itslesson from previous mistakes. McLaughlin said last year’s fee increases had produced the opposite of what was intended — instead of government earning some $94 million as it had predicted, the economy had contracted even further.
“We have had many representations from people about the course this government has taken in relation to the economy,” McLaughlin stated. “It is difficult to reconcile the rhetoric about stimulating the economy and removing hurdles with the actions of government.”
He said people were saying they could not take any more increases that “add to a terrible catalogue of fees that are putting people out of business”, and “how much was too much.”
During the budget presentation McLaughlin pointed out that the premier had said he would not be increasing any more fees, but here the government was again bringing more increases to the House that would undermine any hope of stimulating the economy. “What is government trying to do?” he asked. “Does it really have a plan for recovery or is it blundering from one decision in crisis to another?”
The PPM member said he was well aware that when he finished his debate and sat down he would face the barrage of criticism that he was entirely responsible for the economic troubles but he said people were tired of that. He pointed out that the previous administration’s record was there for all to see. What people wanted to know now was what the current government was going to do make life better. “So far the people wait in vain,” the former minister added.
Although the opposition member said the premier had made valid points during his presentation of the bill that developers should be made to contribute more for the impact they have on local infrastructure, timing was everything and this was not the right time.
McLaughlin echoed the sentiments raised by the independent member for North Side and his opposition colleagues that these significant fee increases, though they were aimed at the major developers, would still impact the smaller local developer and construction businesses.
“I ask the government not to make the same mistake for the umpteenth time,” McLaughlin said of the planning fees, as he begged the government to reconsider the increases and offered to support the bill if he did.
During the debate the premier called on the Speaker a number of times as he accused McLaughlin of attempting to debate the budget and of not being relevant to the matter of the debate.
In his reply to close the debate before the bill was taken to the committee stage for further amendments, McKeeva Bush said that the fee changes had avoided targeting smaller businesses and the phased payment would ease the burden for all developers. He said the bill was long overdue and was a positive move for the industry and the country.
Bush told the Legislative Assembly that the opposition member was right about the little man hurting at present but he was also right about the mess his administration had left the country. Bush added that the root cause of the problem was the money they had wasted and the negligence of the previous administration, which had failed to encourage more development. “It would have been a lot easier now if the last government had done what it was supposed to do,” Bush stated.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Headline News

About the Author ()

Comments (19)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Halifax says:

    Fees go too far?

    Then why no tax???  Why not implement a "sustainable revenue" measure that is not so complicated to follow like these many fees, fines, and duties on diverse things?  We can still protect our major industries, such as, banking and tourism. And much of the monies from tax could be used to help people and improve our healthcare system.

    Just a thought!

  2. Anonymous says:

    there is no oppsition here in Cayman Mac is allowed to do what he wants Charles and the PPM are not going to fight back Cayman just give up and let him do what he pleases we are writing on CNS in vain nothing is being done about Mac all PPM do is have an article saying they oppose

    • Tracy from Swamp says:

      You know I am really inclined to believe this.  So let us watch and see them put there money where there mouth is.

    • Twyla Vargas says:

      Truth and fact is that Cayman is fed up with the party system ruining the Island, and there are only a small handfull fromeach side whose spirit is willing, but the mouth is weak to say anything.  A bill  could be passing to send us all straight to Hell and some chairwarmers will say yea !!!  knowing fully well we are heading down Hell Fire.   The Premier is only one man, and one vote, but those Yea’ers  who  in their hearts dont have the guts to say nay on one single thing; those are the ones  I am woried about. 

        All others,  Just watch and see how long they can keep up the pretense after not getting in the Hot seat of LA.  They dont care, and dont have a word to say, and those who have not made it to LA hybernate until its four years later.  Are  we blind or what..

      On one hand the truth and fact is that UDP is going ahead with their plans whether we like it or not, and some of them do not have the backbone/guts to stand up and not vote on someting they feel is bad for this country.   "My word!!!."

      Now on the other hand we have the Opposition, opposing, but where is the opposing leading to.  Are we getting anywhere beside just saying we oppose?    So if not, where does that leave us again.  As the writer suggest,  Caymans Opposition is not getting any where and might as well sit and keep silent.  Whether readers want to believe it or not,  Cayaman is hurting real bad.  Telling us that this construction, this hospital, that dock, and this Port will bring Cayman back is not convincing to me unless I see Caymanians on their way to these jobs every morning.   I am tired of hearing promises, and I do not believe that the opposition is  stopping progress as some may want us to believe.  Of course I am aware that they do not have the majority vote…………but where are the UDP promises, who told the people of Cayman that they would make it right.   "Scared"?   Iisten up, I am a Caymanian, I have nothing for anyone to take, and I refuse to be manipulated by anyone, I live here, I go to the same supermarket, the same gas stations,the same church and can visit the LA and look into the eyes of everyone.  To say I am disapointed would be a lie.  I expected just what is happening.   Now let us see where we go from here.  

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bush, you talking Balogna (Balloon-ie) if you can’t spell.  No one wasted more money than the UDP in its previous term and we still paying for it.  Reminder – Wasn’t therea certain house bought for more than it was valued by the Government’s Land Valuators and you said it was okay cause it was FCCA money?  Aren’t you still paying millions for the miscalculations on the Turtle Farm or Boatswain Beach project as you now call it? 

    However, we know where PPM spent government’s money.  On the new schools, a government admin building and on roads to increase business productivity by enabling people to get to work on time, saving on fuel and improving the quality of life by reducing the frustation of waiting in traffic.  If any was wasted by them, it was wasted trying to keep your grandiose Boatswain Beach afloat.

    THe long and short of the matter is that their Financial Secretary gave them bad projections and the same one (who is also your Financial Secretary) gave you bad projections too.  If it was simply that PPM overspent, it wouldn’t be that hard for you to correct now, would it?  But the same sword that cut them, is cutting you; the sword of recession.  

    You were the man who promised Cayman you were going to be the deliverer, but what have you done other than blame the PPM?  You may be convinced that such rhetoric is saving your butt, but you’d better snap out of it cause everyone’s eyes are opening and they are seeing reality rather clearly.  Look at the blogs on CNS and tell us what you think?

    Two years and ten months to go!!!!  West Bay may be fool enough to hold onto you, but your colleagues in the other districts will be looking new occupations at the DER when it this term is up.  That’s for sure. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    You know before the last election I said that what I wanted from the new Government was to go in an just pay the bills. This would work towards the cost of living going down in this country and ease some of the pressure felt by all. The unfortunate side to things is thats not what gets you elected. If all the UDP does is fix the finances then the people of this country will more than likely vote them out.

    The last time the UDP messed up the country voted them in a convincing way and brought the PPM to power. After their four years we didnt like them and remove them only to except what four years prior was so terrible.

    The countries problem is who do we replace them with?

    If we say that is person X then we need to realize that the person needs to come with a team otherwise he/she will have no power or say.

    Another thing that we need to look at is how does this country generate revenue. We need new ways otherwise the politicians will have little to no choice but to raise taxes.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Until the size of government is reduced feeding the overgrown recurrent expenses will continue.

    But does anyone mention cutting the number of civil service  employees.

    Absolutely not.

    Politicians are afraid of losing the block of civil service voters and losing out in the next round of elections.

    They say that cutting jobs in the government will only force people onto the role od social services.

    What an insult to the civil service workers to say that they are not good enough to work in the private sector….outrageous.

    Cancel work permits to put cut civil servants to work.

    Is this mentioned by the opposition or the independent from the north side? No why not? Because they want to stay in the LA and care more about the pay than the good of the country.

  6. Lachlan MacTavish says:

     Great letter….you got an "up" from me. Blame game and fees, you have it right.

  7. Dennis Smith says:

    Any fee or duty that increases the cost of a real estate transaction, development cost or construction cost reduces the value of property.

    Businesses only start a project if they can make a profit. They add up all of the costs of a project and look at the market to see if it will make a profit greater than the risk involved. If not they only have two options reduce the cost or abandon the project. (Hopefully they will not abandon the project, we need the jobs and more new owners or tenants to spend more money in our other business, which also pay duty and fees).

    Since Government fees, duties and expenses are nearly fixed costs the only thing that can be pushed down is the cost of property. With property values already dropping the land owner now needs to reduce its price even more to get it sold. This will eventually effect property valuation as well. So at the end of the day it is never the "rich" developer that pays this fee, it is the land owner who sees the value of his property drop yet again. We would need a huge foreign demand for property or a massive stimulus to our economy for that to improve. Unfortunately there are not free Taxes, its just a case of who pays. All taxes reduce prosperity and  economic growth, even the "hidden" ones. This time it is all those "rich" people who own land who are paying not the developers. Heck they might just leave anyway, whats keeping them here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent informative post. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  8. Caymanian at Heart says:

    Well said Twlya and I commend you for your honesty and bravery.

    When I speak with Caymanians the majority of them are appalled at their leaders and seem to better ideas how to solve the countries issues than those elected to power.  It’s a real shame that your leaders don’t hear you or even acknowledge your concerns.

    I hope the voters continue to speak out and ask the important questions, this is supposed to be democracy right?

    I know as an expat I am losing faith in the stability of the Cayman Islands and it’s not because I think Caymanians aren’t capable of taking it in the direction it needs to go – it’s because of those who hold the power.  It’s sad that a country whose back bone is supposed to be Christianity is now governed by greed and selfishness.  Hopefully more people like Twyla will speak up and get involved in Government.  Little man don’t let the big man bully you!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Amen Ms. Twyla, i’m glad i’m not the only one can see that we are heading for distruction and theres no one in the LA that gives a good dam what happen to us the people of this counrty but you no what it is time for the people of these Islands to stand up and let these so call elected members know who has control of this we can put them in and surely hell we can take them out  please remember that  every single one of una up there. Una feel that una got power as the saying goes you can carry the bucket to the well so many times but one day the bottom will drop out well. Well that bottom is so near. Poor People is Fed Up

  10. Anonymous says:

    Can we please get 15 new members for Parliment?

  11. Twyla Vargas says:
    Bush told the Legislative Assembly that the opposition member was right about the "little man hurting at present"  but he was also right about the mess his administration had left the country. Bush added that the root cause of the problem was the money they had wasted and the negligence of the previous administration which had failed to encourage more development. “It would have been a lot easier now if the last government had done what it was supposed to do,” Bush stated.
    I am going to be very frank about voicing my my thoughts on the above passage to say.   "I just dont like it".  My name is signed, so there is no question of who is writing this comment, and dont care how much I support Mr Bush in many things I have to draw a line in the sand on this one..  
    To admit having knowledge that the little man is hurting,  (i.e. your people) and do nothing about it except blame the previous Government is not what we want to hear.  I may not have a University degree, (and it is a good thing that I dont)  But I  am sick and tired of hearing what the previous government did.  darn it, every body on this planet is aware of this,  but do we have to continuously be strapped across or back for it.
    All goverments  had their share of doing what PPM did.    That is the reason why UDP was voted out, then the PPM voted out.  Every Government do the same thing.  I have live here long enough to see the same thing happen for over 40 years.  Tell me who are the persons getting used, oppressed and abused?   The people of Cayman….that is who,. I feel like a slave my own country, with absolutely no rights whatsoever, except, the thoughts of "Peel the sugar cane or die alive in  a Pedro Bluff cave" 
    Anyone who wants to thumbs down my comment can go right ahead, I dont care one rat beind, because I am not going to be afraid to speak the way I feel.  "The little man is hurting!!!:" cant you people understand?,  People in my district sleeping outside using toilet facilites at the public beach, taking showers at the public beach, because they cannot afford to pay electricity or water bills. People cannot afford to buy food, and all you people in the LA doing, is taxing us and playing the blame game with each other?. For Christ sake una stop and think that una have  children and grand children which will have to grow up in fear because of the things taking place on this Island.  If you are in LA all day and sleeping all night you do not know what is hapening to the people of this Island.  No one has to pay attention to my comments, but I am very sure things will get worse.  and  one day we will hope that money and power could save us from the wrath of God.
    • Anonymous says:

      Twyla, this is the first time I have read one of your posts and agree 1000%! You are right on the mark. Well spoken. Now you are being objective.  

    • Anonymous says:

      I do not know who you voted for (I might suspect Bush from reading your second paragraph) but that is beside the point as this is a general statement.

      Why do people keep voting the same fools into office every 4 years? 

      It’s in the people’s hands to elect their leaders (I use that case very loosely in case of Bush and even Tibbits for that matter) and as the majority voted in Bush we have to live with it. 

      XXXXXX voters can’t say they thought he was an educated man, ready, willing and able to bring Cayman through this rough patch.  He is who is he and the voters voted him in.  

      Why not try voting in some independents next time (I can’t vote and have no allegiance to anyone…) and try something new.  Also, for starters vote someone in who has a proper education as one would think this is critical when trying to run an offshore centre as is Cayman. 

      • Anonymous says:

         Sometimes voting for the unknown is alot worst.(know the saying: pick the least worst out of a bad littler). Not to mention that some of those "independent" parties were really part of udp or ppm.They are the same people who are being added to the MLA’s boards all over the place.

        The MLAs have proven that they are willing to sell out their own country for money. What’s worst is; Many of the new blood that are interested in politics have already pledge to run for the party system. e.g yudp and yppm.  It is sad to see the very same people who were voted in to help this country grow, are the same one’s who are really there for their own benefit. 


        Good post Mrs. Vargas.  good post.

    • TennisAce says:

       Fantastic comment and it is about time.  Enough of the blame game.  Someone needs to fix this country and fix it now.   Clearly there are those who are not feeling it like the rest of us.   I now have to park one of the cars in the house (the 2 were really  necessary) and now I walk home from work in the evenings as my son has to use the car to go to school in the evenings. 

      Something has got to give because right now only those of us who are working are giving.   

      Time to start taking tough action.   As the song says, action, not a bag a mouth

    • Anonymous says:

      Miss Twyla I have not agreed with everything you have written previously, but this time I have to say that you are absolutely right and I don’t think that there is a person on the planet who could have said it better. Thank you Miss Twyla.

      I sincerely hope that the MLAs will not only read what you have written, but will reflect on the people who elected them who are now feeling pain while paying their big salaries and fringe benefits. While the MLAs are in the LA eating all that catered food that the poor people pay for, I hope that they keep in mind that every day more and more of the people that they represent have no food to put on their children’s plates.