December 7, 2021

Cayman Islands: JMC members tackle OT, UK concerns

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baroness-anelay-and-robert-buckland cayman-signs-child-safeguarding-mou premier-mclaughlin-and-premier-smithLONDON, England – Baroness Anelay reassured Overseas Territories leaders on Wednesday that the United Kingdom remains committed to the OTs and the issues they face in the areas of security, good governance and named as priorities economic development, human rights and child safeguarding.

She opened and chaired at Lancaster House in London the second day of plenary sessions, which also comprised an update on the implementation on the Exchange of Notes and Technical Protocol relating to Beneficial Ownership; Anti-corruption; the implications for OTs of the European Union exit, or Brexit as it is known; UK and OT engagement on EU negotiations; international trade; and future partnerships between the United Kingdom and the Overseas Territories.

The Baroness said the UK has already worked with several Overseas Territories in infrastructure development and was interested to know how Her Majesty’s Government could offer more help through training and grants.

“We know that robust planning will allow all the OTs to have successful infrastructure projects,” she said.

Cayman Islands Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said a challenge for his country has been the rapid growth of the population and ensuring infrastructure keeps up with demands.

“Success comes at a price and with its share of challenges,” he said.

“One of those challenges is to ensure that the more than 2 million people who visit the Cayman Islands annually either by cruise ship or by air have a unique and pleasurable experience when arriving or departing our ports.

“We’ve been trying for 20 years to get a proper cruise berthing facility,” he said. “We have come a long way down the road, but there are still major challenges.”

Redevelopment of the Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman is a standalone self-financing project and well on its way to completion by 2018, but the Premier said the cruise berthing facility, and improved cargo port, along with a solid waste management system will require private sector involvement.

It is expected a Request for Proposals for a new solid waste management facility will go out by the end of this year and a contract awarded during the early part of next year.

“It’s not so much that we need grants from the UK, but rather the need is to help us develop the technical expertise needed for developing and managing large infrastructure projects,” he said.

While the requirements of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility does in some instances delay projects, the help it provides in providing scrutiny and analysis for long term sustainability has been welcomed by the Progressives-led Administration, he said.

On the issues of human rights and child safeguarding, the Baroness said that governments know that in order to meet their obligations on these issues proper processes must be put in place that can stand up to legal challenges.

As an OT leader, Mr. McLaughlin spoke on the issue of child safeguarding and how the Cayman Islands deals with the issue.

In 2012 the Cayman Islands Government enacted the Children Law to strengthen child safeguarding capacities. The Law embodies, at a domestic level, the principles and provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Hence, it ensures that children are effectively protected in law from ill-treatment, harm and abuse; a duty that is of paramount importance now and for future generations,” he said. “An important provision in the Law is mandatory reporting, which establishes a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to non-reporting of suspicions of child abuse and ill-treatment to the authorities.”

Earlier this year the Government established a Child Safeguarding Board, a multi-disciplinary forum with the sole purpose of improving the safeguarding of children in the Cayman Islands through effective information sharing and coordinated policy and procedural development.

“As you can see, the Cayman Islands continues to make strides in enhancing our knowledge and expertise in the area of child safeguarding and work closely with counterparts, especially on the international arena, to ensure that we adhere to best practices,” said Mr. McLaughlin.

During the day leaders of the OTs signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote more effective collaboration between the Territories for the safeguarding of children. This fulfilled the commitment made at the last JMC in 2015 in this regard.

On the issue of anti-corruption, Mr. McLaughlin said he is not sure why the Cayman Islands has never been given a clear indication of why the UN Convention Against Corruption has never been extended to the Cayman Islands despite the country’s willingness to sign on to the Convention. He requested again that the UK look into this. A commitment was given by the FCO that this would be considered.

Financial Services, Commerce and Environment Minister Hon. Wayne Panton explained Cayman’s position relating to the implementation of the Exchange of Notes and Technical Protocol provisions regarding Beneficial Ownership saying that there remains a need for clarity from the UK on some technical issues including security and protocols, amongst other things, which have an impact on completion of the system design and finalisation of required legislative framework. All of this must be done in time to achieve industry compliance in order to meet the proposed commencement date of June 2017.

“It would be helpful if we can make quick progress on getting this clarity,” he said.

UK Solicitor General Robert Buckland assured the OT leaders that the required clarity would be provided shortly.

On the issue of international trade, OT leaders reiterated their shared commitment to ensuring that the Territories reach their full potential as open, dynamic and sustainable economies delivering growth, prosperity and employment for their citizens without hindrance from other nations. This includes protecting trade between the OTs and the EU, particularly around avoiding restrictive trade tariffs as the UK leaves the EU. Also discussed was assistance by the UK to provide some territories easier trade access to other international markets such as China. For several territories the sale of seafood and meat products to the UK and European and other markets is an important part of their economies.

It was agreed that the UK and the OTs have a unique constitutional and historical relationship built on a shared history, common values and a spirit of collaboration and partnership. They agreed the constitutional relationship between the two is the right one and that both should continue to work to promote the best interests of the OTs and the UK.

The session ended with the signing of the JMC 2016 Communique.

OT leaders will hold a special JMC Brexit early in 2017 prior to the UK invoking Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty to begin the work separating the United Kingdom from the European Union, which is anticipated to be in March 2017.

OT leaders agreed that this JMC meeting had been one of the most fruitful and well organised and that the UK seemed to be genuinely engaged. They also thanked the Baroness for her attentiveness.

“It really was a pleasure for me to be here with you for the whole of the JMC,” said Baroness Anelay as the plenary wound up. “I didn’t want to miss a bit of it.”

OT leaders meet with the Baroness on Thursday for bilateral meetings.

Thursday evening Premier McLaughlin will host the annual Friends of Cayman Dinner.

A reception for Caymanian students studying in the UK is scheduled for Saturday evening.

 

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