Gritty discussion lined up on Cayman’s ‘outlook’

| 14/01/2011

(CNS): Pay cuts, job losses, crime, education, leadership in government and immigration are some of the thorny subjects that will be up for discussion at this year’s Cayman Business Outlook conference. Organisers hope their panel discussion will be provocative enough to encourage some really meaningful dialogue among the community. “Things Tough! So Don’t Cut My Pay, Tax Me Less & Give Me More Free Services … And Do Something About Crime … Education … and Jobs. And What About Those Expats?” is expected to generate a considerable amount of interest when it brings together a group of well known members of the community who, organizers hope, will be willing to express their views on the current “angst in the community”.

The panel is made up of Theo Bullmore, Tom McCallum, Roy Bodden, Burns Connolly, Sherri Bodden-Cowan (above at last year’s event) and Canover Watson (as the list currently stands) – and will be hosted by Austin Harris of Rooster 101. Panelists will receive questions that have been previously compiled by the organisers and the public is invited to send in their questions.

A popular part of the conference, the discussion will take place in the afternoon of 20 January at The Ritz-Carlton. Anwer Sunderji, Chairman of Fidelity Group (the company that is the driving force behind it) explained the provocative title.

“There is a good deal of angst in Cayman right now driven by populist anger and frustration, but said anonymously. We believe we need a more considered approach to issues facing the country right now via thoughtful and sensible discussion such as this,” he added.

Looking at how other countries have dealt with their own economic crises, Brett Hill, Fidelity Cayman CEO, said that while the UK government has implemented some serious cost cutting measures to counteract its growing debt problem, Cayman’s biggest market, the United States, has not, and this means the Cayman Islands should not rely on a recovery in the US any time soon to kick start its own economy.

“The US cannot count on getting itself out of its almost US$14 trillion debt problem any time soon. Radical cuts are going to have to be made there, as they have been in the UK, to deal with their record borrowing,” he commented. “Furthermore, the Cayman Islands is going to have to take a radical position and people are going to have to acceptthat they will have to make sacrifices in order for the jurisdiction to prosper again.”

The UK’s coalition government has, according to Sunderji, demonstrated leadership in these troubled times, implementing a series of drastic cuts in the public sector that, while they maybe painful to the UK public right now, should provide the country with a far stronger economy in the future.

“Simply continuing to borrow and ‘muddling through’ is not dealing with the real issue,” Sunderji said. “And likewise waiting for the US economy to pick up will be futile because the economic indicators point to a protracted slow recovery.”

Hill says the “sting in the tail” to the discussion will be the thrashing out of immigration issues. “If any other country in the world lost 15 to 20% of its people (as Cayman has) it would be catastrophic,” he said. “We hope that the discussion will encourage some sensible discourse about how Caymanians and expats can work together and that an understanding develops about the symbiotic relationship between the two.”

If you have any questions that you would like to hear aired in the panel discussion email:

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  1. Anonymous says:
    What ought to be the response of the collective conscience of Cayman to the financial struggles faced by  the rapidly growing number of Caymanians.  Mr. Johnson’s simple answer has been to blame it on the politicians and the government.  Others have blamed it on ‘panties flying off’ and unplanned parenthood.  Yet others have responded by stating that individual in these situations made poor choices and should ‘stop looking to other people’.
    The fact remains that this is a COMMUNITY PROBLEM as, whatever the cause,  the majority of individuals in our prisons are from financially stressed background. Children growing up in financially stressed homes with parents who are exhausted from working 2 or 3 jobs are more vulnerable to succumb to the many vices being peddled to them  including which includes; drugs, gang participation and crime in general. Given that it ruins our community, the explosion in crime in Cayman is a community problem. 
    The community conscience ought to respond with some individual measures which show that we take responsibility for our community as well as our individual families. We could do this by mentoring a child, by supporting after-school programs, by sponsoring  the education of our employees’ children, and even by extending a few words of compassion and  praise to individuals who we may know to be struggling. Generally the collective conscience ought to respond in a manner which shows some degree of understanding and  recognition for the interconnectedness which underpins Cayman’s social stability.
  2. Anonymous says:

    The absence of compassion for parents stressed with financial pressure is justified on the basis that these financially stressed parent were irresponsible for having children they couldn’t afford in the first place. How about the many of responsible parents who suffers from some reversal of fortune, such a loss of a job by one parent, a disabilitating illness by another or even a divorce. Does these unfortunate life events make these parents less responsible? These parents clearly intended to cut their ‘garment to fit their cloth’ but life events played havoc with their best intentions. Come on Cayman! Show some compassion for our many parents who are struggling daily under tremendous financial pressure.

  3. East Ender for change!!!!! says:

    Please I am asking everyone on the panel read the below compass opinion piece by Mr. Desmond Kinch from Jan 12, 2011 so everyone can get a real sense of what we are faced with in the Cayman Islands – can anyone say direct UK rule? This the best letter to editor I have read in quite a while.–It-s-time-for-Gov-t-to-fulfil-its-promises/



  4. Anonymous says:
    Please Mr Johnson do let us know what is wrong with being up early and preparing our children for school?  Your comment. ‘Good to see you up so early, no doubt preparing your children for school.’ suggest some disdain that someone would be actually doing this.  Isn’t this the type of responsible parental behaviour we should encourage in our society? I suppose you were able to afford helpers and nannys to provide this primary care to your children.  Does your ability to afford child-care make you a more responsible or better parent?  Indeed, this comment appears to confirm the poster’s position; that individuals with the panel’s  level of  disposable wealth cannot not begin to understand the daily struggles of the large percentage of our population trying to get by on CI$2000 per month.
  5. Anonymous says:

    Shame on you Mr Johnson!!  How shallow of you to glibly suggest that a parent who was trying to fee and cloth his/her three children while earning CI$2000 was ‘irresponsible in having them in the first place.’   On what basis can you justify a conclusion that individuals who earn more money are better or more responsible parents?  I am certainly aware of many very wealthy individuals who are not in the least bit interested in caring for their children and thus completely irresponsible parents.  Did you happen to notice that this individual was a) earning b) feeding c) clothing and d)altogether setting a good example as a fine human being and parent. Clearly this parent is under tremendous financial stress and your answer is to simple get another job!  Did you happen to notice that the panel was discussing unemployment issues? Very badly done Mr Johnson!  Very very badly done!! 

    • Brutus says:

      Shameless anonymous. Not a good post. You really should address Mr Johnson’ points rather than ranting. First and foremost he addressed three points raised by a Mr Anonymous, whilst you only addressed one of them. He did not address the content of the CNS article although I am sure he has his own views. I do share his views contained in his second post which by all accounts you failed to have read. In my humble opinion people should cut their cloth particularly in these hard economic times. Too many people rely on handouts. Moreover bloggers are quick to criticize constructive replies without offering solutions, and remain firmly anonymous. At least Mr Johnson and a handful of others are willing to put their name to an article.For that I respect them as well as the many interesting points that they raise

    • Anonymous says:

      What hogwash!

      Children cost money to raise.  Having children that you can’t afford to raise to a reasonable standard IS irresponsible.  Note that this is different from being a loving parent – you can love a child while watching them starve because you can’t afford to feed them, and if you are doing that you were irresponsible in making that child in the first place.

      As to the rich who don’t care for their offspring, this is a different issue again – you need enough money to support a child before you should have one, or you can expect poverty to follow for you and your child or children.  Just like not having enough money doesn’t mean that you don’t love your child (as you watch it starve), having enough money doesn’t mean you’re not an asshole.  Don’t confuse the baseline financial requirement with any of the other personal characteristics of various parents -in either case being able to afford the child’s care is required, so your observation about bad rich parents means nothing to this debate.

      If you do decide to have 3 children while earning what in Cayman is borderline poverty wages, then accept the consequences of your decision and live being poor.  Don’t complain to others about how your life turned out, since you made it that way.  A single person can maybe just get by on $2000 per month, but having 3 kids when you only have that kind of earning power is clearly a bad financial decision.

      This parent is not "entitled" to get the $10,000 – $15,000 per month that they probably want to raise their 3 kids in comfort.  Everyone needs to STOP LOOKING TO OTHER PEOPLE as being responsible for their situations.  You made your choices and you are living with the consequences.  How is that anyone else’s fault?

      Shame on you for blaming others. Shame!

  6. Anon says:

    Mr. Hill’s comment must be mis quoted. If the actions of  the U.K. Government and the U.S. Government as he mentions, are meant to create an up turn in their economies, then it will likely be the U.S. that prospers first, not the UK (anytime soon). I trust that this forum will provide some thoughtful provocative debate.  

  7. Anonymous says:

    they should have a conference asking why our ‘governor’ does not ensure good governance on theses islands

  8. Anonymous says:

    Somebody call McKeeva quickly! It seems as if this Cayman Business Outlook conference has failed to notice that he put these islands "back on track" on December 16th 2010 after 90 days of hard work. Any suggestion of gloom and doom will immediately eliminate the panelist from being invited to jet over to the Bahamas on the next journey of the Pillar Gulfstream G-IV.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What an absolute joke-the make up of the panel to dicsuss ‘Things tough’ what would any of those panel members know about things being tough, when have any of them earned CI$2000 per month and had to clothe and feed three children? I see there is a former partner of a major accounting firm on the panel, I hope he can shed some light on the practice of importing accountants from the Southern Hemisphere because they would accept lower salaries than accountants from North America which then has the consequence of depressing salaries for Caymanian accountants. If you want to have a real discussion bring in a few intelligent people that are not the lackeys of Big Business.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Mr Anonymous 6.50. Good to see you up so early, no doubt preparing your children for school. Did it ever occur to you that if you cannot afford to feed and cloth your children you were irresponsible in having them in the first place. Have you thought of taking on more than one job in order to feed and cloth them.

      As regards the importing cheap labour that is nothing new but frequently not applied to professionals. It is an interesting concept to import expensive labour in order to drive prices up and make the cost of living even higher.Methinks you have it wrong here.

      Finally you are insulting the panel members. Do you not think that some of these people started at the bottom in their career path and worked their way up. Take a look around. Local or expat. There are very many successful business people in the Cayman Islands that started with just nothing.

      • Bill says:

        I agree completely.  As teenagers their panties fly off at the wink of the nearest gangster, then when they have 3 kids from 3 useless deadbeats who they can’t feed, suddenly it’s somehow our fault. 

        And for the men (boys), keep it in your pants or in a bag until you can afford to feed the consequenses of those 30 seconds of pleasure.

        Hard work got me up the ladder from pretty much the bottom, so I have little use for whiners who can’t plan ahead or work a little harder.

        Oh, and if the answer back is that the economy is busted, then maybe running off the professional expats who were bringing in the money to the jurisdiction wasn’t such a good idea.  They never bothered me none.

        • Anonymous says:

          Is it the servers from Bali or the security guards from India that are the money dripping expats you are referring to?

          • Anonymous says:

            Can you read?  Do you perhaps need remedial education classes?  

            Go back to the post and look again – the operative term you apparently weren’t taught is "professional".  Go look it up.  Ask one of your literate acquaintances for help as required.

            PS – I usually consider excessive sarcasm to be rude, but in your case I’ll try to communicate on your level.

            May God preserve the Cayman Islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ahhhh the good Mr Johnson’s answer to the effects of globalisation ie the hollowing out of the middle class, work three jobs and don’t have kids! If this is the mindset of our leaders this place is in serious trouble, and when the chickens come home to roost-this has already started, let’s hope the blame gets placed where it belongs.

        • Chris Johnson says:

          Globalization has been around a long time my friend and where would Cayman have been without it? In fact in Cayman the middle class have simply prospered. Much is blamed on the world wide recession but in Cayman more of the blame should rest firmly on the shoulders of the politicians who for decades relied upon the golden goose without ever thinking it might get eggbound. They simply overspent without ever thinking there could be a downturn in business. They should have cut their cloth accordingly as should all, not matter what class. Opportunities exist here in Cayman and will continue to exist. They just need to be exploited.

          By the way my previous post just said why not take more than one job, which many people do, for a period anyway. Neither did I say have no kids.  Like Government people need cut ther cloth accordingly.


          • John says:

            Globalizatio has been around indeed and the prior posts speaks to its effects within the Cayman Islands and particularly the midle class.  What about the poor class Mr. Johnson, what happened to them did all the foreign and local lords of capitalism on island failed to see their being left behind?  Instead it was and is all about fulling your own pocket and sending some (not all they bulild houses here too) home, in case the natives get too restless.

            Globalization indeed gredd and rape and pillaging and the poor man today is rebelling through robberies because no one took time to examine the consequences of carrying everyone with the wave of globalizatio in the CAyman Islands.


            • Chris Johnson says:

              Since the 60s Cayman was blessed with a new banking community that none could foresee, a rapid growth in tourism and contruction that involved all segments of the community. The poor and middle class became wealthier and Cayman prospered. You tell me what took place.

    • Harsh but True says:

      Why did you have a family you could not afford?  Take responsibility for your own life, rather than point figures of petty racism.

  10. McCarron McLaughlin says:

    I trust Ms. Bodden-Cowan will take the time to explain to the panel & public about the “accreditation system” in immigration that her and McKeeva drafted up that still doesn’t hold employers accountable for their bad business practices which are widespread.

    There are numerous companies I could mention in this forum that continue with bad practices and hide behind lack of action from the elected government, but I will leave it there, some good cases and points for all to see are the perpetrators of delinquent pension payments. Should these companies be allowed to operate in contravention of the laws of the Cayman Islands? No, but elected government continues to turn a blind eye.

    This accreditation system was introduce over a year ago, but because of a continual lack of proper resources in Immigration to ENFORCE the immigration laws,  it will never serve it’s real purpose, which is to detect the bad apples in our business community and show them their rightful exit out of business until they come back in line.

    Many of the businesses that seek work permits, business licenses, key employees, etc would be refused if this system which was touted so heavily a year ago was functioning properly. I would further venture to say if the government would properly enforce this and other laws 50% of the businesses on the Island wouldn’t receive another work permit less a business license due to non-compliance.

    It was Mrs. Bodden-Cowan and UDP that dreamed up this accreditation system and still today no tangible results, it really leave me to wonder if this system was drawn up for a “Few” e.g. financial industry to further marginalize Caymanians, it makes me wonder what thecreators of this flaw accreditation system stand for.

    I have one simple solution to start solving our immigration problems and it is to hire staff to ENFORCE the laws we have on the books before dreaming up new laws that no one can reasonably expect the existing staff in Immigration to enforce, it time that the DER and Immigration department merged services and focus more on Enforcing the laws we have now, collecting sixty plus million per year in revenue in Immigration isn’t helping us Caymanians.


    • Anonymous - no choice there... says:

      Seriously, McCarron McLaughlin, Caymanian people do not have any use for the sixty plus million per year in revenue from immigration fees?

      Maybe it is being used to build roads, provide health services for Caymanians who I’m told are not to prone to pay their hospital bills and build schools, pay teachers… maybe there should be more money coming in to pay better teachers and raise the standards of education in this country.

      Maybe the hard-working old school Caymanians can find the time and energy to educate their children in the value of work ethics, in delayed gratification and in having integrity when taking on a job – and thereby keeping it! The likes of Naul Bodden, Don Seymour, AL Thompson’s and a large number of high-level Caymanian professionals both in the financial sector and those running their own successful small businesses are where they are now due to perseverance, hard work and exceptional work ethics, not due to Immigration policies.

      The sense of entitlement in the youth is sad, and if it continues to be fed by politicians and short-minded individuals ready to stir the pot, then I fear for the future of Cayman… Those twenty-somethings that cannot give proper change, never mind basic spelling or articulating themselves with full sentences are going to be running this country one day?

      Scary thought…


      • McCarron McLaughlin says:

        Hi Anonymous 14:48,

        You really went off track there for a while, did you fall off a cliff and bumped your little head – if we had laws that were more geared towards helping locals, we Caymanians wouldn’t be thrown under the bus and left out in the cold so much.

        It’s the lack of opportunities and "evil businesses" that are sucking the life out of our country, this is what is causing Caymanian to depend more on Government, but tell me where do you draw a balance. Are suppose to take it up the a!! all the time?

        My friend it’s not a sense of entitlement, we need more opportunities in our OWN country, where else in the world you can go and see the locals being shut out asis happening here now, where else can you go see such blatant disregard for the locals maybe the government wouldn’t have to depend so much on this revenue from Immigration if more locals were given opportunities.

        More opportunities for locals equals better balance for everyone, less crime and better social harmony.