FB group reshapes for future
(CNS): The founders of the Facebook group that formed last month to unite both Caymanians and expats against the government’s plans to introduce a direct tax on work permit holders have reshaped their grassroots movement into a new group called Cayman United. The goal of the new social media movement is to promote wider interest in the community in what government is doing and for people living in Cayman to demand more transparency and accountability from their political representatives. Eden Hurlston told CNS that this is just the beginning of a movement using new technology that will pressure government into doing a better job.
The local entertainer said the group was pleased that government had adopted some of the measures recommended by the original group’s members.
“We feel really good that the discourse in which we were all engaged through the medium of modern technology allowed us to pool thoughts and ideas very quickly and contributed to solving the problems faced by government over the budget and ultimately helped to remove the planned discriminatory tax,” Hurlston told CNS. “The use of this kind of technology to consult with the public and to engage in discussions about important issues is something government needs to utilize itself going forward in an effort to address many more public policy issues.”
Hurlston said the group was well aware that the issue of balancing the government’s books was far from over and it looked as though the hole in government finances was still not properly filled. Many people left Thursday evening’s meeting with far more questions than answers, the group spokesperson stated. Disappointed that the premier refused to open the floor at the Mary Miller Hall last week, Hurlston said that Cayman United would keep the debate going and would continue pressing government for answers.
“To be honest, few of us left on Thursday with a clear idea of where we truly are when it comes to government spending and government revenue, it doesn’t really feel like it is anything like resolved yet,” the West Bayer added. “It still feels like a fiscal crisis and Cayman United is making a call for clearer economic models in the public domain on how the budget projections will work.”
He pointed to many questions about the delayed 2012/13 budget, including questions about the massive amount of unfunded liability that government has with the civil service pension.
“Does this budget include that? What about the costs that the economy has incurred because of the damage done by the announcement and then u-turn on the expat tax? Despite the premier talking at us for more than two hours, we got an incomplete story.”
The Facebook group members present at the meeting were, however grateful that the premier was a little more restrained in his attacks and tendency to blame everyone. “We must give credit where credit is due but there was still far too much political soap boxing and we didn't get the information that the people need,” Hurlston said, pointing out that the detail on the replacement measures was scant.
Going forward, the new website will be focused on the goal of trying to get understandable information about government policy and encourage action from the wider community. Hurlston said there was a need for far more public scrutiny of what the politicians were doing with public money and the policies being formed. He said the group was working on shaping the new page to make that possible.
From encouraging people to register to vote, to examining the possible future candidates at the next election and using it as a platform for demanding more from elected representatives, Hurlston warned all the elected members that this was a sea change and the old ways were no longer acceptable.
“We want change; we don’t want the same old, same old and we simply will not accept it,” he added. ”From now on we are keeping an eye on government, demanding transparency and accountability. We are not kindergartners; we need to know what is going on and we need to understand what our politicians are planning, after all they work for us,” he added.
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