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Cayman Islands Government

Bush Answers Opposition

Premier the Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP

The following is a statement from Premier the Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP in response to the PPM's "Position Paper On Government Finances: The Way Forward":

We could not address the problems of the country in a detailed written document outside of our manifesto during the campaign as the PPM hid the truth from the country regarding the state of public finances and total expenditure. All matters that reached 'the light of day' were thoroughly discussed and we developed plans to address them, however these were very few items.

The fact that we sat down with the FCO who wanted us to put in income tax and property tax and the fact that we said no to that; and that we said we wanted the opportunity to address the problems left by the PPM in an already worsening world wide economic downturn; and no business started in the country to bring in revenue, meant that we had to take time to develop plans and to bring business in which the PPM failed to do.

The sad and hard cold facts are that my government is now in a salvage operation mode designed to take the country out of the grips of wasteful PPM expenditure. We had no alternative but to raise additional revenue by increasing various fees rather than by income tax or property tax. It is obvious from the latest financial information that those measures are starting to work. I have said that when we turn the economy around we will look at reducing fees. We have reiterated this fact many times, including the day we put the fees in place.

All along, the PPM knew what our plan was, as did the FCO. That was to repair the two basic pillars of the economy, finance and tourism. We had to address certain vexing issues surrounding immigration which were negatively impacting our competitive position in the Financial Services arena. Let us not forget that we worked hard in the first few months after the General Elections to get us off the OECD grey list, which PPM mismanagement caused the country to get onto in the first place!

We have said publicly that we are cutting expenditure. I made the first move by saying that legislators' salaries must be cut. The civil service is now working on the methodology on how to effect personnel cost reductions. The Government has provided a target amount of expenditure that they must live within.

The FCO clearly understands where we are going. They might not have agreed with us in the beginning, but for us to have agreed with them would have meant income and property tax. I was adamant that that would not be done.

What the PPM needed to tell the country was their specific plan to get us out of the mess that they created.

They cannot expect the public to believe that after four years at the helm they are not in a position to speak based on fact! They are playing games and politicizing this most serious national issue!

What they should have said is what to do regarding finding the money to finish the new schools and the new government administration office building that they started; what to do about the additional $340 million in loans that they left behind; what to do about the significant increase in civil servants that they caused; what to do about getting the financial industry back on track (which was neglected under their watch); and what to do about getting the tourism industry back on track (which declined under their watch).

The PPM know the mess that they made and that's why the people voted them out.

We have a credible plan. Things are moving in the right direction. It might be slowly, but I will get the country out of this situation. I am asking the people to be patient as we will not get out of this mess in a day! It will take years of hard work but my Government is committed to rescuing our beloved Cayman Islands from the perilous state left by the PPM. There is a Better Way Forward!