Would-be MLAs dodge thorny question of tax or cuts

| 21/03/2013

(CNS): The panellists at the UCCI forum on Wednesday were confronted with the question of whether they would cut spending or raise taxes if they were elected to government in May and most of them managed to dodge answering the question directly. The most fundamental issue when it comes to politics is a politician's view the 'tax or cut' debate but the six panellists evaded the essence of the question by talking about growing and diversifying the economy, outside investments, privatization of public services and future projects. With the exception of Winston Connolly, who said he wold cut social services, there was little indication of how any of them would address the sticky issue of public finances.

The former UDP George Town party chairman, Stefan Baraud, who is running for office in the capital as an independent, pointed to his former leader’s mantra of diversifying the economy and inward investment. He also talked about privatization of government companies, such as the turtle farm. But he did not point to any new taxes or cuts that he would support if he was involved in the next budget process.

Meanwhile, Tara Rivers, who is campaigning on the C4C platform in West Bay, repeated the latest political sound bite that “Cayman doesn’t have a revenue problem but a spending one”. She pointed to the half-billion dollars government collects in taxes and fees annually. Rivers said expenditure had to be cut and pointed to improving procurement as a way of doing that, but she did not say what services had to be cut to balance the books as she did not want to see civil servant jobs cut.

Winston Connolly, her C4C colleague in George Town, echoed Rivers' comments and said it was the system that needed to be fixed. However, as well as removing corruption, he said social services and benefits for indigents was an area he would cut when he was elected.

Running in the capital for the second time on the UDP ticket, Jonathan Piercy said politicians had to look at both sides and couldn’t just talk about cuts, especially cutting civil service jobs. He said the tax base needed to expand but he did not say how and instead pointed to economic diversification and public-private sector projects.

Mark Scotland, who was part of the UDP administration and one of the five former members that brought the government down in December but remains in the minority interim Cabinet, said he heard all the time how government must cut spending but he said that was not going to happen without a massive reduction of the civil service. Scotland said that even cutting benefits or social services was nowhere near enough since the transfer payments represented not much more than around 5% of the government’s operational budget.

He said government spending was high because of the world class services the community demands, from roads and education to healthcare. He acknowledged that Cayman collects a good amount of revenue but it spends it on civil servants, and to cut spending meant bodies had to be cut. “And that is very difficult,” he said, evading the question of whether he would make those massive cuts or seek to raise fees and taxes instead.

The PPM hopeful for George Town, Kenny Bryan, said the PPM was fully committed to the redevelopment of both the airport and the long awaited cruise berthing to generate jobs and bring in more revenue. But he, too, evaded any direct reference to new taxes and said his party would focus on the expenditure side of government’s budget when it is returned to office.

He also spoke about diversification of the economy and said government needed to exploit medical and sports tourism, which he acknowledged had already started. He admitted deep cuts would need to be made in public sector spending but pointed to the sale or closure of the Turtle Farm, questioning whether Cayman could afford to promote the farming of the species any longer rather than job cuts. He also pointed to a need to deal with Cayman Airways and take the politics out of that and other government companies.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Winston is right.  The problem is that "poor people" have been depending for far too long on government while not making any real effort to retool themselves, either by education, or by skills, or kick their bloody drug habit and straighten out their lives, so every month they are at Social Services door. Social Services should only be for the elderly, or those with a mental or physical disability. Past politicians have turned this country into a welfare state looking votes. And then they have the audacity to claim they helped the people. Just back in the 50s and 60s, when you couldn't get a loan from a bank, what did we Caymanians do? We grew some cassava, some potatoes, went fishing and went to sea. There was no social services. You either worked or starved.  You were responsible for your own welfare.

    Well done Winston. You are the only man with the guts to face our true position and honestly say what has to be done. You are the kind of politician we need. Are there 17 others in this election who are willing to be like Winston?

  2. Realist says:

    What do you really expect, of course they are not going to answer the question. If they did no one in the civil service or persons collecting social services would vote for them.

    I say we increase fees to the largest land owner in cayman not reduce his fees, you really think by giving him tax cuts he is not going to develope, lol

    For real now there are several ways to make cuts, reduce the salaries of in coming civil servants, reduce melas salaries (it’s only a part time job anyway), the big one and this really pisses me off, every time I pass that new gov building at night all the bloody lights areon, turn them off…. And in fact all gov dept s me to be made to turn off their lights. Is a small thing but but believe me there will be some serious money saved at the end of the year, oh and yes turn off the ac after 6pm and turn it back on at 6am.. Again simple but if every gov dept was to do this they would save millions a year. All official trips overseas all persons must fly economy, if theynwish to fly 1st or business, they pay the difference, oh and they should only be allowed to stay in motel 6, well ok holiday inns. Again millions saved over the years.

    Again these politians a not going to rock the boat, but what we can do is suggest to Mr. Mandson and his right hand people is how to make cuts, forget the MLA idiots.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Most of the candidates have been living in an ivory tower and are clueless as to what poverty is. Hope they are not expecting votes from the poor? and of the 18,000 voters, about half of them are the poor, the elderly, the unemployed. Hope they are connecting to those voters or they will be left behind on May 22nd. Jobs, reduction in taxation, immigration and minimum wages, should be the talk of the town.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Polticians and diapers have one thing in common. That is why both should be changed regularly, and for the same reason.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Immigration is not even half the problem as it is the "USELESS" employment services that are pro-businesses and have no real solutions to providing employment nor the database needed for immigration boards to make proper rulings.

    The long standing and dormant members of the Employment Services need to be retired and have new and fresh blood run things properly.  Start by the head the cut the rest of the body up, throw away the fat and leave only lean meet there for a proper meal. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    I would like to ask EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM what is their stance on OMOV.

    As an elector, I am wishing they had gone ahead and implemented it for Elections '13. It  would have made my day that much easier, and fair. I also believe, the independents would stand a chance if the OMOV was implemented.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The double edged sword….to cut spending or to raise taxes would lessen the economic activity in the country.The degree to which the activity would be lessened in my mind can partially be controlled by the particular cuts made or taxes enacted.

    No one (new or elected candidates) seem to want to tackle the real problems in government.  It is no surprise they are dodging.  Governmant can no longer be the employer of last resort nor can it be a socialist state and offer hand outs to everyone or offer high salaries to elected officials who would not or did not earn these amounts in the private sector.

    I own my own business, work hard and pay a hell of alot of duties in this country. Overall economic activity in Cayman is at an all time low. I am not referring to activity in Banks, Trust Companies, Corporate Services or the legal profession. I am referring to activity in the true local economy comprised of small businesses engaged in selling goods or services to local customers who by the way are mainly foreigners given that our own Caymanians prefer to shop abroad and not support local cayman businesses.

    I had to tighten my belt years in advance to remain competitive and more importantly "OPEN FOR BUSINESS". Why should I get to ride the waves of economic uncertainty / revenues and still pay increased fees while no one wants to tighten the belt of the same government that I pay for and that SHOULD be representing me.


  8. Anonymous says:


    Winston Connolly, her C4C colleague in George Town, echoed Rivers' – “..he said social services and benefits for indigents was an area he would cut when he was elected.”

    Very disappointed by this statement, with all the big breaks the large corporations like Dart has received for 3 decades, its hard to believe the one department in government that is understaffed and manages to pull through for allot of the domestic cases involving child & domestic abuse and providing care for victims, it is clear Mr. Connolly & Ms. River’s has no understanding of the department or the “benefits” indigents are receiving, some of which are elder Caymanians who have no relatives to depend on in their last years of life. For someone that showed so much promise as a candidate I wanted to vote for, this statement is very disturbing. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Again, someone’s attempt to spin doctoring at it’s finest. Complete rubbish! Ms. Rivers mentioned cutting the wasteful spending in relation to Govt’s procurement process. Listen to the audio, bozo, and the truth shall set you free.

  9. Last of the Sea Urchin says:

    None of them have a clue on how to turn this ship around without taxing the people again! Yet they want my vote? I need people in the house who have concrete manifestos and not hopefuls and more hand outs from Dart.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Cut the salaries and benefits of the elected politicians by 10% immediately and 1% per year annually for the next 5 years.


    Cut civil service salaries by 0.25% or 0.5 % per year until the budget is balanced and the debt is paid down. The cuts will stop when financial stability arrives, it might be an incentive to the civil service to start performing.


    Unfortunately, this proposal will not get votes. Democracy, you gotta love it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    i was very impressed with what kenneth bryan had to say about many of the topics. He understand government more than i imagined, keep it up young man you are looking strong

  12. Anonymous says:

    Jonathan was the most impressive by far. C4C = zero experience. PPM = Caymans’s bankruptcy.

  13. Anonymous says:

    its not the social services that need to go its the paper pushers in the great big GAB!



  14. Anonymous says:

    well done c4c….. at last we know where you stand on something….

    as for the ppm….they have not offered one concrete policy proposal in 4 years and still can't do it with an election a matter of weeks away…

    as for the upd…. they have acheived nothing for 4 years except stumble from one budget crisis to another…

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 1449 from how the report  is written you could interchange the players and they still say the same nothing. Amazing that you said the PPM said nothing and yet right above it mentions that the PPm talked about expansion 0f the airport and the developement of the cruise port as a way of more jobs. And  I believe another source of revenue.

      You continue to cut the CS you will get cuts in service including collection of fees. The cs needs to decrease through transferring some  services to the private sector and continued streamlining operations.

      And in the end win for the PPM. And welcome aboard to the party thats not a party. Good con.

  15. Anonymous says:

    We've already been taxed to the eyeballs.  What we need is all audits bringing up to date and cuts, not just in the CS, but more particularly spending and once you've sorted out your act and got all  (if you ever will) please CUT some of these exhorbitant taxes and let business and the people breathe again.  Stop punishing us all for your own inefficiencies.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 1328 I agree with what you say in principle. The problem is that the fees that CS collects it has to use to run itself. When cuts are made the extra funds are used to fund other pet projects for the MLAs.

    • Cayman GT says:

      And stop rubber stamping all work permit renewals to collect the permit fees!
      This is a stupid course of action dear Business Staffing Boards who kiss the behinds of ALL large companies! Immigration Enforcement at the middle management level will solve the 12% unemployment rate that is choking our people.

      I’m an expat with status and can see the change over 20 years.

      Until all able and willing (home owning, mortgage holding, roots in Cayman for long term!) people are back to work, we will have economic problems.

      Big Macs dumb idea of increasing work permit fees and rubber stamping work permits for revenue is only feeding social services for those who used to be employed and Mac created a dependent nanny-state to serve himself.

      CHANGE starts at Immigration Enforcement! Ask any recruitment firm on the island and they will tell you that there are plenty of university educated Caymanians out of work- until the 12% are working again, the vicious cycle of government spending to prop them up will continue.

      The key to cuts? Fix unemployment and move able civil servants (who apply for jobs) into the private sector.
      Easy- burn the rubber stamps.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree with you completely. Finally someone broke the egg. None of the candidates have spoken about the thousand pound gorilla in the room. 

        They must talk about the issues ladies and gentlemen. If we don't fix this situation we have no where to go. Our children and grandchildren demand that we say something while we are still here on this earth. Civil service pay must go down or lose a job. Social service needs to go down also or get value for money. In other words ,"work for your pay". Audits need to go across the board I can assure you that if one did it more are taking . 

        This corruption in this island is rampant. It has to stop. People need jobs and so will our grand kids. 

        So candidates "tell it like it is".


  16. Anonymous says:

    Not a one povided a solid or real solution. Probably because if any one of them gets into office, their REAL strategy will be to form  committees formed with a few foriegners who will do all the problems solving for them. 

  17. Anonymous says:

    Vauge, useless and perfunctory, they sounded more like they thought they were being interviewed to get into a rich country club.

    We need facts, details, and examples. They seemed young and aware that we live in the information age where you will be fact checked, but thier sophistic manners seemed a bit dodgy  by barely providing any facts to be checked.


  18. Anonymous says:

    Winston is the only fearless one in the group.


    Before these other people put themselves forward as candidates they were all saying and screaming that Govt needed to cut expenditures, in particular the civil service numbers, now it appears as though cat got their tongue – pure wotlessness!


    And Mark, before you got elected in 2009 you were saying the same thing that Govt spending was too too high, yet, you have been there for almost 4 years now and guess what.., the spending has only INCREASED during your time in office – again, pure wotlessness!!


    Mind you now Mark, PPM wasnt there for the last 4 years, so how do you explain all of the waste and spending with nothing to show for it:


    $1Million travel bill for McKeeva alone

    $1/2Million Loss on Cohen deal

    $3Million GLF lawsuit

    $1/2Million spent on illegal Brac paving

    No berthing facility yet

    No Spotts dock upgrade yet


    Enlighten us.


    • Anonymous says:


      Winston, has to be fearless if he is brave enough to cut SOCIAL SERVICES that provide for allot of the community, some of which are Caymanians that lost jobs in the initial impact from the recession, who provide counseling and support to domestic victims and also tend to allot of the elderly Caymanians who were not fortunate to have had pension in their days when they were working and can only survive from the $40 Food Vouchers from Fosters Food Fair TWICE a month they receive from SOCIAL SERVICES. Taking candy from a baby…. fearless!!! Way to go C4C!!! 

  19. Anonymous says:

    Well glad to see the PPM rag and spin doctoring mouthpiece is in full effect!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Nobody on the panel wanted a cut in salary!!

    Why don't they cut their salary enough to pay for the extra three members that will be elected in May?

    If we can't afford 15 members how can we afford 18 members

    They get paid more than the prime minister of UK and the president of the USA and do less work

    Not exactly value for money


    • Anonymous says:

      The president of the U.S. is paid $400,000 in salary. When you include false statements in your comments it undermines your argument.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes but doesnt he have to pay tax? 50% bracket maybe for such a high earner. $200,000USD is $160,000CI. a little less than the premier was taking home. Is the President taking his pension yet? Pretty sure he quit his other job and does not have any companies to run on the side. Guess he is too busy.  I suppose the President has a bunch of perks to add to that. Free car and driver, cook, travel, utilities for the White House, free dry cleaning, free books… 

    • Anonymous says:

      Not true.  Tara spoke at length that MLAs had to lead by example if asking CS to take a pay cut.  She talked about accountability and leadership by example.  Very refreshing to hear.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Well, Mr Conolly,  What are you going to do for the poor people, the elderly, the disabled  who can't work.

    Are you going to insure that persons that are unable to secure employment for one reason or another and depend on Social Services are employed before they are cut off.

    If not, then what you will then see is a serious rise in crime because poor people are going to find a way to provide for their families!


    • Cayman GT says:

      Fix the 12% middle class unemployment and you fix the social services spending
      I would take care of grandma if I had a paycheque!

    • Anonymous says:

      The problem is that "poor people" have been depending for far too long on government while not making any real effort to retool themselves, either by education, or by skills, or kick their bloody drug habit and straighten out their lives, so every month they are at Social Services door.  Winston is right.  Social Services should only be for the elderly, or those with a mental or physical disability.  Past politicians have turned this country into a welfare state looking votes.  And then they have the audacity to claim they helped the people.  Just back in the 50s and 60s, when you couldn't get a loan from a bank, what did we Caymanians do?  We grew some cassava, some potatoes, went fishing and went to sea.  There was no social services.  You either worked or starved. 

      Well done Winston.  You are the only man with the guts to face our true position and honestly say what has to be done.  You are the kind of politician we need.  Are there 17 others who are willing to be like Winston? 


    • Worried says:

      Many of the candidates do not know who the poor people of Cayman are, Mr Connolly  mentioned the forgotten once, but I think he and most of the others forgot who the forgotten are.

      Kenneth bryan had a lot of passion about young people and I liked that. With that answer about gangs in Cayman, I believe he could help many of those young men out there who are lost. You got my vote kenneth

  22. Anonymous says:

    hahaaahhh…… all clueless!

  23. Anonymous says:

    So everyone of them evaded the question. Sounds like more of the same. I thought this cash 4 cayman was endorsing candidates that would at least answer questions when asked.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear, this is all beginning to look pretty dire what with the property tax article in yesterday's Compass. It appears that the cost of living may spike massively by the end of the year.

  25. Anonymous says:

    How am I suppose to voteif i do not know what you are planning to do!? no solutions..I'm not voting seriously!

  26. Anonymous says:

    “It’s the waste stupid”

    Understaffed critical departments providing poor service.
    Bloated non critical, ineffective, unnessesary departments providing poor service.
    Redundant critical and non critical departments providing poor service.

    I see Mr Shaw is having a talk next week. Hopefully the six panel members and the rest of the candidates show up and take some notes.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I'm not voting for anyone that thinks the solution lies on the revenue side of the budget. If they stopped 10% of the waste, incompetence and corruption our economic problems would be solved.