The extremes of political cynicism

| 30/07/2012

The premier's latest bombshell announcement (merely one in a long line of many) of his intention to impose a payroll (income) tax on expatriate workers has quite predictably drawn the consternation and ire of so many in this community over the past few days. I would venture to guess that the anger and disillusionment is not because people do not understand that these are austere times and further belt-tightening will continue to be the order of the day.

After all, we do not live in a bubble, and we all know that countries far better funded and equipped than the Cayman Islands now find themselves on their knees financially, or else are going cap in hand for a bailout, wherever that may be found.

I would also suspect that the indignation is hardly because the expatriate community sees itself as exempt from "fees". After all, as one example, it is grappling with the burdensome doubling of work permit fees that was levied some three budget cycles ago to raise revenue.

What is particularly galling about this latest announcement from the premier is the apparent callousness with which this proposed income tax has been considered and thrown out to the public.

According to the premier's statement this past Wednesday, "Government had a choice. We could have introduced income tax, property tax, Value Added Tax (VAT) or something softer such as the community enhancement fee … Government has opted to introduce a community enhancement fee that is linked to the remuneration level received by work-permit holders in the Cayman Islands."

Well, first of all, to refer to a tax on people's income as a "community enhancement fee" is nothing but a cynical ploy. It is a tax, plain and simple, and no one, particularly those who will be directly affected by it, is fooled by the premier's nomenclature. It is what it is — income tax.

Politicians do what they have to do to secure their voting blocs and to guarantee their return to power in the next election. So they avoid those things that would upset that particular agenda. Or they actively court the people important to their pursuit of power.

The expatriate community has no vote. Therefore it merits none of these considerations. It doesn't even merit consultation, discussion or prior notice of a drastic measure that will directly affect its business. We now know from organisations such as Cayman Finance, that they were learning of the proposed tax the same time as the rest of us. This is clearly not a government concerned about discussion and consultation with some of the prime economic stakeholders — people and organisations who directly contribute to the main revenue streams of this country.

Just exactly how this proposed tax will "enhance the community" is anybody's guess, especially when by the very nature of the announcement, it is doing anything but. What's really happening is that this so-called community enhancement fee is already serving to further divide the community. There goes even the very pretence of social harmony.

Some expatriates, commenting elsewhere on this website and in other fora, have indicated that they are withdrawing plans for further investment in the community, such as buying property, as a result of Wednesday's announcement. There goes new investment and business growth, at least to some degree.

The international media has already picked up this story andit's becoming a source of ridicule for the Cayman Islands. There goes reputation and standing and a concomitant erosion of the ability to attract investors and employees.

It remains to be seen whether this tax will in fact be implemented. And if it is, whether it will generate the expected revenues to fill a gap in the budget — because that's all it is designed to do. Or whether the bloated bureaucracy and increased costs necessary for its implementation will be worth it in the long run.

To the premier and his government, the new tax is "something softer" than any of the other revenue measures they supposedly contemplated. That's because they are not accountable to the people on whom they are laying this burden.  The selective and punitive nature of this tax is not just economic fallacy. It is political cynicism at its most egregious.

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Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well there is one thing for sure, people are showing their true colours now. Mr Joey should be ashamed of himself with the vile he is spewing on the internet. How anyone could even consider him as a leader after this I will never know. You get what you vote for Cayman – remember that when the time comes!

  2. Angel of truth says:

    First of all its you greedy business people and some Caymanian people who put them there,you may say that it is the cayman people that put them there but who had the money to give them to run there campagnes? all we did was vote,and secondly you are right this tax will not help, and you may not know that we all know that this fee is for vote buying, so a lot of us still will not vote for them, the cause of our problems is governments from way back untill today,and a lot of businesses that influenced our officals to help them not us,and some expats also our own Caymanians who locked out Caymanians,and last of cource is us the people.

    If you same people had taken the time to put your energy into helping enhance not only your businesses but also the community that invited you,insted of paying off polititions for your own selfish greedy reasons, and then you start bringing in cheap labor to under cut our salaries,this would not have gotten so far, but you felt untouchable, now you need the same people that you discriminated against,to be on your side when it is convient,now do you know how to  get the Cayman people to trust you again like we did the expats that came here in the 70"s and 80"s, we see what has happend over the years,take your heads out of the sand,we dont hate you we want the truth and to be respected.

    Anyway we don"t want no one taxed, but please be truthfull in your debates on jobs,education and this entitlement foolishness, we want to work just like you,do not belittle us,we want you here but we want to be treated equal in our country.

    we are with you on this tax issue because we know that it will not benifit anyone but a few and it is not right , but please do not need us now and when this passes you return to as it was before, because this kind of thing has just started, so lets all work and stick togeather and dont expect to be over us but bewith us and you would be surprise to see how we all will not have to run from this country, we must all enjoy some sort of prosperity, it is not for you alone,and do not talk to us about golbalisation it is just a convient word to be used when it is convient to do so,so lets all fight this thing togeather, now and always, not now and then go back to the old game of disrespecting us.


  3. Anonymous says:

    The Premier is playing a monopoly game with our country.  He is way out of his league and causing havoc on these islands.  I really do not expect any better from him in light of all  the rubbish he has done but I certainly expected better from Mark Scotland, Rolston Anglin and Mike Adam.  How can these intelligent men sit back and allow the Premier to pull stunts like this? Don't t they care about the homeland?   Now I am not so niave to think that  there has not been much animosity between some permit holders and Caymanians- some justifiable and some not but to polarise these two large groups of people against each other is reckless.  I do not want to pay iincome tax just as I am sure the work permit holders do not want to.  I believe if the Premier and his Government had not spent so much on nation- building as the Y called it, had not spent so much on all the "extras" that they had afforded themselves, had not wasted so much paying off expenses due to breaking contracts etc. they would not have to impose taxes in the Cayman Islands.  "No Taxes" is the only selling point we really have, other countries have great beaches, great food, great people,  great experiences as we do, but they can hardly say that they are "TAX FREE" He is killing the goose that laid the golden egg!   WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO GET THROUGH TO HIM? 

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don't think anyone could possibly sum this up any better. Said exactly as it is!

    A caymanian of many generations….and a Civil Servant.

    Shame on you premier and the rest of UDP for such politricks and divisivness.

  5. Cayman star says:

    "The expatriate community has no vote"  It almost brings tears to me eyes. But whilst Caymanains have had no "vote" in teh workplace and have been repetedly fired and replace by expats, how come they want us now to come out in record numbers to support their cause?  I am staying home while it rains. Good Luck . tables do turn

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman Star, tables soon turn back on you, because we expats will be gone and you will be left to pay the taxes yourself, including handouts to the 8,000 of you who refuse to seek an honest living like barmaids, waiters, waitresses, cooks, dishwashers, janitors, garbage collectors, nannies, household helpers, etc. etc.  Need I go on?  So you willbe left to feed the monster welfare service you got going on here.  Ta Ta, and we won't let the door knob hit us on our behinds on our way out.

    • noname says:

      Please help Cayman and stay home.

    • SSM345 says:

      Typical response from a select few on this island. Do us all a favour and stay inside. We need expats to run this island, can you not figure that out? Do you think that if the expats left the businesses would still eb here for all of you to snatch up the vacant jobs? HAHAHAHA. You are thicker than I don't know what.

      I am a Caymanian, who got up off his arse, applied for jobs for 2+yrs and now has a dam good one. Its called perseverance.

      When you and the others finally see the light and recognise that you need to stop applying for jobs out of your league, bite the bullet and get a job (anykind), pull your weight, show up to work, act pleasantly and courteously and basically get over the attitude that Caymanians deserve this and that, you MIGHT find yourselve in my position.

      Until then stay at home, I am glad there are expats who I work with because God only knows if my colleagues had your attitude my company would have fallen by the wayside a long time ago.

      A Proud Caymanian.

  6. JTB says:

    Great article

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is the beginning of the end of The Cayman islands as we know it.

    I have always thought with the amount of financial knowledge on the island, the Premiere could have an advisory panel made from that sector, that he could listen to and trade ideas with.

    After all, Caymanians & Expats, we all live here and have the best interest of the country at heart.

    Most of us do at least.