Travel raises contention ahead of premier’s next trip

| 20/09/2013

(CNS): Having recently returned from a trip to Gibraltar, Jersey and the UK, the country’s premier is taking another overseas trip this weekend, this time to Miami to represent the Cayman Islands at the 2013 KPMG Island Infrastructure Summit. Alden McLaughlin will be a panellist at a discussion on Monday regarding infrastructure projects in the islands but is expected to fly back to Cayman later that day to continue budget preparations. Travel became a contentious issue during the previous administration, with criticisms over the number of trips then premier McKeeva Bush and other UDP ministers took when in office. Now the opposition leader, Bush has described the new government as “hypocritical”.

He pointed out that he was berated for travelling and criticised heavily by the opposition and others who have “turned 360 degrees” now that they are in government.

“When I was premier, I had many many subject matters that at the time I had to travel to conduct business for,” he said. “Today, there are four ministers doing what 'me one' had to do … not to mention the duties and responsibilities as the premier of the country,” he said, as he pointed to the role of financial services now held by Wayne Panton, planning now held by Kurt Tibbetts, tourism held by Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, and finance held by Marco Archer.

He said covering those subject matters required his attendance at meeting, forums and negotiations, from Washington to Europe, in efforts to preserve relationships, bring new business to the island and get Cayman in good standing with the G20 and the OECD, keep the credit rating, and protect the financial services sector.

“I was criticised severely by the PPM and the now premier, Alden McLaughlin. It’s more than hypocritical, to say the least, the extent that they went to berate and complain and point fingers, making mountains out of mole hills. Today, with just four months in office, he and his team is already 'on the road' quite a bit,” Bush added

Less critical of the actual travel, however, he gave the premier the benefit of the doubt, adding that he could be doing what he said he would during the campaign, which was to hit the ground running.

“I wish him luck and I hope and pray he is successful in hitting the ground running, and  not running the people into the ground!” Bush added, saying he was keen to put politics aside because if the country is to succeed, the premier and ministers must travel to be at meetings and negotiate on our behalf.

“In so doing, they will need protocol and transport services no matter how long it takes for a meeting to begin and end. They should, as the premier of the Cayman Islands, have personal security and they must be able to travel in a situation where they can read or study their papers, discuss the matter with their colleagues and be ready physically and mentally able,” he said, explaining that meetings would sometimes come after a three to ten hour flight.

These comments by the opposition leader come just days after the announcement that the RCIPS Financial Crimes Unit has opened another investigation into the former premier, this time over the alleged misuse of limousine services in the US, accusations that Bush has denied.

Defending the travel, he said that the country’s leaders needed to do it and needed protocol support and to think otherwise was putting down the government, the country and all the people.

“The premier must travel and have the necessary convenience and services to try and be successful for the country. He is the premier of the Cayman Islands, one of the largest financial and international business centres of the world,” Bush added.

Nevertheless, the issue of travel has already dogged thisadministration after just four months, despite the introduction of a stricter travel policy, which will see politicians and civil servants flying economy-plus rather than business class, and delegations cut to the wire. On this trip McLaughlin is taking only one member of staff from his office, Kenneth Bryan, his political assistant.

CNS submitted questions to the premier regarding some of the questions that have been raised about his and his government’s travel following the significant controversy over Education Minister Tara Rivers’ extended trip to the CPA in South Africa, and we are awaiting a response.

With the exception of the situation concerning Rivers, however, since taking office the new government has been transparent about who is travelling where and why and has also proactively revealed the costs to the public purse. 

On this trip, the premier will only be away for two days and stay just one night in a hotel. According to a release from his office, the conference will explore how island economies can use alternative financing models, such as public private partnerships, to work with the private sector to deliver innovation and efficiencies in asset management, and achieve accelerated infrastructure development that drives economic growth. In light of the plans for the cruise port, the conference has some direct relevance for the CIG

McLaughlin will be on a panel Monday with Bermuda Premier Craig Cannonier; Ryan Pinder, the minister of financial services, trade and industry in The Bahamas; and Dennis Richardson, Sint Maarten’s justice minister.

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  1. anonymous says:

    Blogger at 23:31 Were you complaining when McKeeva took Richard Parchment on all those Trips and do you remember Ellio? I think as Kenneth Bryan is Mr. Alden's personal assistant and media person, he deserves a chance too to gain valuable experience and exposure to help build his political career. Stop bashing the young man and encourage him to persue his goals.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So true Mac. But typical hypocrisy of a present government. It only fits for their feet. What unna all need to do is freakin Skype! If it good enough for the most powerful men in the world. Then I think it should be fine for this barely seen dot on the map country to take meetings and conferences that way. Unless it is a critical head of state affair, then stay unna ass home and work gaddamit! And start with this crime problem we got. Which makes me wonder? Maybe that is why they can’t make use of current technology. Someone probably stole that too!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth Bryan should not attend. He does not add the value required to justify this trip.

  4. Knot S Smart says:

    And my quiz for today is:

    How many times have the PPM travelled since May?

    How many charges do the Po Po have against Mac?

    Does anyone remember how many sisters Foolio has?

    and Oh yes – what purpose will Kenneth Bryan serve as a travelling companion?


  5. Anonymous says:

    Why is McKeeva still at large, let alone in the LA and being reported in the press? Their are iguanas on this island with more political credibility than he has. I know he is (somehow) the leader of the opposition but can't we just ignore him until he goes away?

  6. Papa Doyle says:

    You heard the man try leave or dear leader alone and do not interrupt his Miami shopping trip Remember Mckeeva did it so that makes it OK! We all know what these are but the PPM spin nurses got to legitimize it some how by saying the country is benefitting in some way.They are not wrong unless our dear leader and his entourage goes through the something to declare line at HM Customs and not use the nothing to declare I am a minister line. I wont hold my breath on that one though. Just pray and hope the tickets and expenses for the minister and entourage and their family did cost too much? Life and time of and elected official in Cayman such hard work?

  7. Anonymously says:

    The leader had to make this trip and he did it without fan fare.  Cayman FS needs help and attention and the current leader is able to run the country properly, please let him.

  8. Anon says:

    I don't have a problem with Alden attending.  However, I do not think Kenneth Bryan should be going as well.   In my opinion, Alden's should be traveling with a advisor not an assistant.  Furthermore, I don't believe Kenneth has any political experience or relevant skills to be part of the delegation. Maybe in 10 years or so but not now.

    • Anonymous says:

      If kenneth intends to be a future leader in the country then think the travels will be good experience for him.  For too long we elect person with no political experience.   At least, if and when he runs the next time round, I can have more confidence in his abilities to lead because of his experience.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Everyday we cry about how the private sector do not give Caymanians a chance because they have no experience and how unfair it is because we have build experience some where.  Now the leader is giving a Caymanian some political experience to become a good representative one day and you are trying to fight the Premier down.  Honestly, We can be our own worst enemy sometimes.  

  9. Anonymous says:

    I'm no fan of Alden, believe me, but there's a world of difference between traveling to a conference and traveling to a casino.

  10. Limo Seen says:

    As long as he doesn't hop a ride upthe HOV lane to Seminole then it's all good.

  11. Anonymous says:

    No comparison at all. No entourages, no first class travel, full transparency, clear agenda, no casino vacations. It is important for the Premier to represent Cayman at such event which maybring in foreign investment. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    I sure hope the Premier makes the most of his opportunity at the Infrastructure summit to promote Cayman's openness to inward investment and by highlighting the Agreement between Government, the National Roads Authority and Dart Realty as an excellent example of public-private partnerships that produce much needed infrastructure (like roads and parks) in addition to bolstering the tourism product (new Kimpton resort).

    • R. U. Kidden says:

      Dart Realty….  excellent example?  Man you should stop smokin' that stuff

    • Anonymous says:

      Says Mr. Dart. I hope not. We don't want any more deals like those.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Dear McKeeva,

    I truly believe that the present Premier is WORKING when he travels on the country's business instead of spending time in the gambling halls.


    AND when you say "I wish him luck and hope and pray that he is successful in hitting the ground running instead of running the people into the ground", as a church-goer do you not think that your praying for someone's success and in the very same sentence that you insinuate that he is running people into the ground is coarse, flippant not to mention IRREVRENT?  Grow up.



  14. Anonymous says:

    Turns out there is no government worth a vote in Cayman.  Its simply a case of 'Its my turn now'

  15. Anonymous says:

    Different as day and night my friend.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Funny that Mac would criticize their travel. I would think it would vindicate him, to a certain extent, as justification for the amount of travel he did. But, when you are that defensive and insecure, your mouth works faster than the brain. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you know where brains are for sale?  Someone is in need of one, to replace the mud up there.

  17. And says:

    What the hell is Kenneth going for? Did I miss something or didnt he lose the election? For God Sake Alden, try so do better.


  18. Anonymous says:

    Good gracious, our tiny island government travels more than president Obama.

    • Anonymous says:

      Considering the importance of his position, most of the time people travel TO the President regarding important issues. Further, for a better comparison of "White House" travels, one would have to also consider the trips taken by te entirety of the Cabinet. Quit with the poor comparisons and at least use some perspective. 

    • Anonymous says:

      People go to him.

  19. 4Cayman says:

    So sad when there are so many social issues that are currently affecting this country and its people, yet politicians feel its their obligation to waste tax payers money on crazy trips abroad that has no tangible effect to the people and the islands.

    Please address crime that seems to be escalating, high cost of living, retirement age, property insurance costs, high costs of health care, dart and Shetty's concessions, the dump, the conservation law, development of trade schools, illegal drugs and guns, unemployment, the inept social service, lack of teachers in the classrooms and the list goes on. 

    Why not let's fix these issues that affect everyone on these islands before each of you go gallivanting around the world?

    Your people are hurting and thus far since you have been elected, nothing really has changed from the previous administration other than Joey Ebanks has gone quiet. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Haven't you heard? They took away Joey's 5 IPhones when he was arrested.  He used to blog for hours from various IP addresses throughout the Island and the world on his travels…!

  20. Anonymous says:

    More air mile points for Premier Alden. He has to try and catch up with McKeeva Ms Julie and Tara.

    $ame $hit different government.

  21. Rinky Dink Government says:

    Just another trip boy & girls no money to feed meals on wheels or the elderly but Alden and his entourage must travel all you PPMer's out deh Bigga Up ya premier. Putting Mac to shame in his first 100 days of travelling all you out there who voted for them and cant feed you children Tek wood i told you so

  22. Anonymous says:

    Alden McLauglin the educated, recycled Mac

    • Jonas Dwyer says:

      Travel is necessary and the Public, I.e. caymaniAns and others need to understand that it is the cost of doing as we say back home sush ona mouth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, please!  Let's get real.  Every trip so far has been disclosed and reported in the press — and all have been shown to be necessary.

      If the Premier was not traveling to represent Cayman at international conferences attended by other world leaders I would be worried.  Our voice needs to be out there.  It enables us to function in an increasingly global world.

      the difference between our present Premier and the last has been well identified in this article — transparency.  We know when our current Premier leaves and for what purpose.

      in the past we only knew that the Premier was not here by the marl road or some other non official media.  Failure to communicate breeds suspicion and causes people to come to their own conclusion.  I am sure there were some good reasons for travel by the previous Premier — we just weren't told. And it just seemed that he was away more than he was here — that is the feeling we got.

      Premier McLaughlin, please feel free to do your job.  I like what I am seeing; I trust you to represent us well, and I feel good that Cayman can be so well represented internationally.