October 1, 2023

Letter to Editor: Government needs credible ‘medium-term’ plan

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460x290-gov-planningBy: John McLean and Truman Bodden 11 March, 2014

A medium-term strategic plan similar to the comprehensive 10-year “Vision 2008” plan covering all government portfolios, departments and statutory authorities is needed again so that the public can know where the Cayman Islands are headed in the next 10 years.

Public participation in Vision 2008 involved more than 2,000 persons through a polling process, followed by a retreat, district meetings, the Vision website and individual submissions. Then, a 30-member planning team established 16 broad strategies and finally hundreds of members of the round table groups spent thousands of hours over four months researching and developing detailed action plans to achieve the strategies of the plan.

This was followed by the planning team over two months establishing criteria to facilitate the setting of priorities in implementation. It took a total of one year to complete.

Unfortunately the political party governments after 2001, which followed our last government, were more interested in their short-term sketchy parties’ political manifestos, which are normally produced to win elections, rather than a people’s medium-term plan to protect the people and their money.

Where are the Cayman Islands headed without medium-term plans? The main government financial plan is the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility with the U.K., which is sadly in effect as a result of the last two party governments breaking the principles of fiscal responsibility in the Public Management and Finance Law by running the government into serious debt. They increased the $110 million debt in November 2000 to about $700 million in about eight short years. Prior to the year 2000, governments had surpluses (deficits if any, were rare) whereas surpluses are rare after 2000 until the FFR required it.

The PMFL‘s principles had been policy prior to that law and had probably never been broken in the previous 40 years or more. The sanction under the PMFL is that the U.K. can rightly put controls on government finances to protect the public and bring the Cayman government back to fiscal responsibility under the law.

We believe that the minister of finance is doing all he can to correct Cayman’s serious financial problems he inherited and which the last two previous governments largely created ($81 million of deficit for the year ending June 30, 2009). However to reduce a near $700 million debt and millions in liabilities for civil service pensions and health benefits (which the public and future generations must pay!) by $10 million a year will take 70 years and five generations to repay at that rate.

We also believe that MLA Roy McTaggart’s stand to get consolidated audited accounts for the past 10 years and accountability to the public for billions of dollars spent is commendable.

On a different note, why did the PPM ministers and MLAs allow a serious split in the coalition between themselves on the “one man, one vote“ issue, causing a vote of six against and six for the resolution? The Speaker rightly cast her vote against the motion to preserve the “status quo” as is traditional and the motion failed.

With a little simple planning there was no need for a split in the coalition government, as they could have put amendments to the opposition’s motion to make it acceptable to the PPM MLAs’ coalition. Alternatively, PPM could have put their own motion on their position on “one man, one vote” and passed it and all PPM and coalition MLAs could together vote against the opposition’s motion.

What happened to the PPM party Whip? Why did not a minister move a short adjournment to find their members to vote?

Caymanians, this is a serious matter. For this government to better solve Cayman’s financial, crime, social and other problems (and keep the PPM government coalition together as a team), then they need to start by producing credible, comprehensive medium-term plans acceptable to the public to chart where Cayman is going in the next few years.


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