Chamber President disturbed at Cayman Premier’s address regarding dump
The following is a full copy of a letter from Johann Moxam President of Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce sent to all Chamber Members regarding comments made by Cayman premier Alden McLaughlin in his at the Fidelity CEO Conference at The Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman on Thursday (20).
20th February 2014
Dear Chamber Members,
I am writing to address and to clarify the public comments made by the Premier the Hon. Alden McLaughlin Jr. during the “State of the Nation” address at the Fidelity CEO Conference at The Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman this morning. The Premier was providing the audience with an update about the decision by Minister the Hon. Osbourne Bodden to establish a 16-member committee to further assess options and to collect additional data over a two year period before deciding on the direction to take to address the George Town landfill and solid waste management.
During his address, the Premier disclosed that I had submitted a response as part of group in 2010 to a Request for Proposal (RFP) to provide a comprehensive waste management solution for the Cayman Islands at the preferred current location. This fact is correct, however, I find it disturbing and irresponsible for the Premier to use this public forum to share confidential information as per the terms of the RFP about my personal business interests. His comments lead me to believe that he was attempting to imply that I was using this high office to further my business interests and personal agenda.
I assure you that this is not the case and that the Chamber Council and I decided to release the position statement questioning the decision by Minister Bodden to delay the process further since the past three Governments have conducted similar exercises without addressing the critical state of the George Town Landfill and its impact on the health, economic, environmental and the public welfare of Caymanians and residents. The recent outbreaks of fires at the George Town Landfill underscores the urgency of addressing this environmental disaster as a national priority.
Does responding to a Government RFP in 2010 mean I cannot or should not represent your concerns and views in 2014? Does responding to a Government RFP as a private citizen and although having absolutely no conflict whatsoever mean that I, on behalf of the Chamber Council in my capacity as President and its membership, should cower and not hold Minister Bodden and this government lead by Premier the Hon. Alden McLaughlin Jr. accountable for addressing this serious environmental health, economic development and public welfare matter within a realistic time frame?
The Chamber Council and I are aware of the requirements that have been imposed on the Cayman Islands by the United Kingdom Government with regards to the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR). It is our view, however, that there is sufficient information that has been gathered over 20 years that the Ministry can utilise to present a business case to the United Kingdom for consideration. We support the FFR process but we do not believe it should be used as the excuse for delaying action to find a solution to address the George Town Landfill and implementing a solid waste disposal policy which includes recycling.
Remember that the FFR came to pass due to the irresponsible spending practices, lack of international best practices and procurement processes and fiscal mismanagement by previous governments from 2005 coupled with the worsening global economic crisis and the contingent liabilities concerns of the United Kingdom.
The George Town Landfill and indeed the Cayman Brac landfill, are disgraceful examples of our Islands’ lack of leadership, planning and urgency to deal with a very real public health and environmental issue. Cayman cannot afford the multiple excuses, egos, and political rhetoric…none of that will fix this burning issue.
It would be irresponsible for the Chamber to turn a blind eye to the Government’s plans to procrastinate on addressing much less solving this problem. Wasting time and money through another bureaucratic committee is not the answer to tell us what we already know: that the dump needs to be addressed now – not two or possibly four years from now.
I challenge the Premier and Minister Bodden to demonstrate mature leadership, properly focus on national priorities and tell the country how they are going to fix this problem and refrain from releasing confidential information that is intended to cast negative and false aspersions as to why the Chamber decided to address this national issue. The Chamber Council has been addressing the membership’s concerns about environmental issues, including the need to introduce a robust and effective and integrated solid waste management solution since the 1980s.
In closing, the mission of the Chamber of Commerce is to support, promote and protect the interests of the membership and the public welfare of the Cayman Islands. Under my watch, we will continue to speak out respectfully, but forcefully on any issue that you believe is of national importance. Thank you for your attention.