Anthony Travers, former Chairman of the Board of Cayman Finance and current Chairman of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange made this poignant statement:
â€śThe confidence placed by investors in the tax free status of the Cayman Islands is based, not simply on legislative structure,Â but on a belief that the core philosophy of the Cayman Islandsâ€™ people would always find direct taxation repugnant.â€ť
Travers even called the governmentâ€™s calculations â€śback of the envelopeâ€ť. Â He also agrees with every other commentator on Mr. Bushâ€™s proposed tax on work permits that the cost of implementing the system of collecting the â€śCommunity Enhancement Feeâ€ť is going to be high â€“ â€śmay exceed $20Mâ€ť.
He wonders whether this is the start of the â€śslippery slope downwardsâ€ť?
He sums up by mentioning the success of the Cayman Islands was built on the fiscal prudence of Sir Vassal Johnson and â€świthout similarly principled fiscal conservatism, the pernicious and destructive toxin of direct taxation, in all its forms, will prove to be unstoppable.â€ť
I applauded out loud when I read that. He is so right.
Independent North Side MLA, and past government minister, Ezzard Miller, said direct taxation would â€śkill the goose that has been laying the golden eggs for Caymanâ€ť. He found the premierâ€™s Community Enhancement Fee a â€śstrange choice of words, almost laughableâ€ť and, like him, I would still be laughing but for the seriousness of the proposal.
He said, â€śthis new income based tax is so unfair, discriminatory, and unlikely to generate much revenue beyond the cost of collecting it.â€ť
I must applaud Miller, too, for the statesmanlike language he used in his address on the radio and so different to Mr. Bushâ€™s style that seeks confrontation with almost every word.
And I was so pleased he came up with alternative proposals to find the necessary revenues to balance the Budget. Â Â Whilst I cannot agree with all of them, they are all workable and all an improvement over taxation. Â I loved his comment on the proposed selling of the RCIPS helicopter:
â€śHow can you possibly rationalise the selling of the police helicopter, without consultation with law enforcement, to save $1.5 million while retaining your $4 million Nation Building Fund to influence votes. Â I believe most Caymanians would prefer to use one third of your Nation Building Fund to fight crime rather than give it to churches to build edifices unto themselves at great cost to our local social environment.â€ť
He called on Bush to cut the civil service and â€śfind the hitherto lacking political will and to stop blaming the Governor for the increase â€śin the cost of the civil service and claim you have no authority to reduce it. Â Wrong Mr. Premier. Â You have all the authority to do something.â€ť
He even put out an olive branch offering to work with the government.
And near the end he echoed Tony Traversâ€™ words, â€śMost economists will tell you, on both hands, that increasing taxes does not always increase revenue.â€ť
Gentlemen, I can only hope and pray Mr. Bush reads, listens, and changes his mind. The International press really is poking fun at us.