Archive for November 12th, 2012

92% vote for Mac’s departure

| 12/11/2012 | 73 Comments

mac 3 (236x300).jpg(CNS): Following more than a week of political turmoil that saw Premier McKeeva Bush taking the Cayman Island to the brink regarding its relationship with the UK government before making a sudden U-turn on policy, 92% of people voting in an on-line vote on CNS said they want him to resign. In a non-scientific straw poll this week, which received more than 1,000 votes, 944 people said he should step down while only 80 voted for him to remain in office. The poor approval rating comes some six months away from the General Election and indicates that, among CNS readers at least, the premier has a lot of work to do if he still wants to lead the next government.

The results come following a tumultuous week for the premier, which began when a letter from the FCO’s overseas territories minister, Mark Simmonds, to the premier was circulated to the press on Friday 2 November. The correspondence made it abundantly clear that Bush needed to halt talks with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) over the cruise berthing facilities in George Town and that the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR) that the premier signed in November 2011 must be passed into local legislation via the Public Management and Finance Law (PMFL) in its entirety with no changes or amendments.

The premier’s office then produce a letter that Bush claimed to have sent to Simmonds before the UK minister had sent his letter, which set a defiant tone indicating that, despite the UK pressure, Bush was going his own way on the port and he would be adding a clause to the FFR and changing some details.

On Monday, the premier remained defiant as the Legislative Assembly re-opened after more than two months. He delivered a speech on the floor of the chamber stating that he was sure that, if Simmonds was a reasonable man, he would accept the changes the premier had made to the FFR, and that once he had all the facts regarding the port plans, the UK minister would also be happy to allow the UDP government to continue with the CHEC talks.

However, in a complete about face on Tuesday evening, the premier made a televised announcement that he was abandoning the year-long talks with CHEC and that he would be implementing the FFR without any changes into the PMFL.

Many believed that the premier’s attempts to defy the British government over good governance pushed Cayman close to direct rule. However, it is not yet clear what Simmonds said to Bush on Tuesday 7 November during an international call that caused the premier to capitulate so suddenly when only the day before he had insisted he was sticking to his policies and would not be pushed around by the UK. 

Following some consider to be poor management of the situation, Bush’s already poor approval rating in the country has slipped even further.

During the last CNS poll on Bush’s position as premier, in the wake of the revelations that he was the subject of three different police investigations, 11% of those that voted were still behind him. However, in this latest on-line count the premier has lost further ground, with only 8% believing that he should keep his job.

The premier remains the subject of the three RCIPS probes and is now facing the beginning of what is expected to be a hard election campaign with few of his previous election commitments achieved. Not one of the development projects which the UDP government heralded as the solution to the country’s economic woes have materialised.

Little, if any, advancement towards the cruise berthing facilities can be made before the election as the project is now going through an open and competitive tender. With the Dart deal still in negotiations and questions over whether that agreement will be impacted by the FFR, even if government was able to sign the deal before the year-end, it is unlikely that the ForCayman Investment Alliance would have time to have any noticeable impact on the local economy.

While the medical project planned by Dr Devi Shetty has now broken ground in East End, the plans have yet to be submitted to the planning department, which means it is unlikely that the actual construction of the first phase will have made much headway before the election.

Although Cayman Enterprise City (CEC) is enjoying numerous concessions and circumventing the normal fees to government for its tenants, which are now in existing offices, there is little sign of the promised enterprise park getting underway. The location of the proposed zone has still not been revealed and, as yet, no plans have been submitted to the planning department.

The premier has on numerous occasions claimed that his government has addressed the state of public finances and the problems with missing government accounts. However, a recent report from the auditor general has demonstrated that this is not the case. The accounts submitted for 2010/11 and 2011/12 will be disclaimed as the auditor stated that there is simply not enough information to produce any kind of meaningful account of how government spent tax-payers money.

With the election set for May, the premier and his UDP team are facing a hard battle to turn around public opinion and convince the electorate that the premier should be given a second term.

See CNS poll here.

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