UK - CI relations improving
(CNS): As the country’s premier meets with the UK overseas territories’ minister today in London to discuss Cayman’s public finances he does so against a backdrop of much improved relations between the two countries. The governor, Duncan Taylor, described the situation between the UK and CI as a very “tetchy relationship” when he arrived in January 2010 but said last week that the current relationship is now a very cordial one. The governor said it had been one of his priorities on arrival to improve the communication between his office and the locally elected members of government when he took up his post and was now pleased with the working relationship he enjoyed with his Cabinet colleagues.
“I am very happy with the relationship I have here at the moment with the local government,” Taylor revealed at a recent press briefing. “We have a good working atmosphere within Cabinet. We don’t always agree on everything – as that would be impossible – but we are quite good at discussing differences and how we can approach things and I am very happy with that part of my job.”
He acknowledged that while governors in other overseas territories were still having problems with their working relations, things had improved all round in Cayman when it came to the communication between here and London.
When he first came, he said, the rhetoric regarding relations was “very tetchy” but now things were in a very positive place and the British government was working well with the Cayman Islands. Taylor said he believed the new minister, Henry Bellingham, had brought a very positive note into the relationship and that previous meetings between McKeeva Bush and the FCO minister had gone very well.
Bush is due to meet with Bellingham again today at the FCO, where he will be discussing the three year plan, which was submitted to the UK in order to gain approval from the British government to push the country’s borrowing beyond the limits of Cayman’s own financial management laws.
The UK approved some CI$155 million in further borrowing but recent revelations by the premier that the country may be facing a surplus this year instead of an anticipated deficit means government may no longer need to extend its debt -- a message likely to further sweeten the relationship between the two countries.
In a statement to the nation last week, Bush said that unaudited figures suggest at the fiscal year half way mark that government may achieve a surplus of $17m instead of an expected $14m deficit by the end of the 2010/11 budget year. He said the turnaround in public finances was no accident but was a “direct result of a conscious effort” across government and the wider public sector to restrain expenditures.
The continued reduction in government spending is bound to win approval from the UK Conservative government, which is currently making unprecedented cuts its own public sector.
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