LOGB & Financial Services
Leader of Government Business (Premier Designate) and Minister of Financial Services, the Hon. McKeeva Bush, held his first meeting with industry leaders at the Ritz Carlton Thursday, 28 May, to ascertain urgent issues impacting Cayman's financial services.
Mr. Bush emphasised that Government would be taking a holistic approach to foster the long term future of the industry, taking into account marketing, legislation, lobbying, immigration and education requirements. However, the purpose of the meeting was to tackle immediate concerns. "Tell me what you need to be done immediately," he told the meeting.
"We will not keep you in the dark on matters relating to the industry," Mr Bush said. "We need your support and in order to achieve that, we certainly need to keep you abreast of what is going on."
Sharing the head table with Mr Bush were Chief Secretary the Hon. George McCarthy, OBE,JP, Financial Secretary the Hon. Kenneth Jefferson, JP, Ministry Chief Officer Carson Ebanks, MBE, JP, and Mr Paul Byles, managing director of Focus Corporate Services and Consulting and the meeting's organiser. Mr Bush revealed that Mr Byles would assist him as policy advisor on financial services industry matters.
Also in attendance were Ministers the Hon. Rolston Anglin and the Hon. Juliana O'Connor Connolly, JP, as well as backbench MLA and Deputy Speaker Mr Cline Glidden Jr.
Mr Bush revealed that government would revive the Private Sector Consultative Committee with industry-wide representation to work with Government on financial services issues. The committee would meet once a quarter but more frequently when necessary, he added.
Also, a smaller Financial Services Council, comprising eight to ten persons, would meet once a month, provide updates to the rest of the industry and serve as a liaison between government and the industry, he said.
Arrangements were underway to take a delegation to London in early June to meet key UK Treasury officials with a view to signing a tax information agreement with the UK. While on the visit, the delegation also plans to visit Paris to sign a similar agreement with the French, Mr. Bush revealed. "At the end of the day, we want to bring back business to our country," he stressed.
He said a Financial Services Secretariat, with research and policy analysts and a dedicated legal draftsperson, would support his ministry. The unit would also tackle marketing and business development aspects of the industry.
The Secretariat would chiefly use existing resources but might need to hire personnel to function as a single entity performing consolidated functions. Mr Byles would help get the revamped unit up and running, he added.
Lauding the private sector for setting up the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association (CIFSA) and committing its own resources to meet the present challenges impacting the industry, Minister Bush said he would like to work closely with the association to ensure that the public and private sector were united in their approach. A meeting with CIFSA would be organised shortly to cement ways of working together, he indicated.
He highlighted a plan to help Cayman become a full-service international financial centre. To achieve this, international businesses will be encouraged to establish physical offices and headquarters in the Cayman Islands, he outlined.
Dealing with immigration, Mr Bush said the current approach to work permits will be reviewed in order to implement one that is more aligned to the needs of the financial services industry. Skill shortages in certain areas were common knowledge.
Government would continue to encourage industry to train and educate Caymanians. "In the meantime, we must be more flexible with the human resources needs of the financial services industry while protecting Caymanians," he stressed.
Mr Bush also revealed plans for starting a financial services training programme at the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI). This initiative would offer education for interested Caymanians in a wide range of topics within financial services. It aims also to benefit those without formal university education by helping them improve their productivity, he told the meeting.
Expressing satisfaction at the turnout and the quality of discussions at the meeting, Mr Bush said, "I am confident that, with a positive and sustained approach that includes public and private sector input, we can make a difference. What we want is for Cayman to not just maintain and consolidate its position but gain new financial ground."
For further information contact: Bina Mani