Bush blames woes on PPM
(CNS): The premier spent well over three hours on his feet berating the opposition on Thursday morning as he closed the Legislative Assembly debate on the motion for government’s stop-gap emergency budget. McKeeva Bush pointed the finger at the auditor general, whom he described as “a hit-man”, the governor and the FCO as well for preventing him from getting things moving but above all he blamed the PPM, and the party leader in particular, for his difficulties with this year’s budget. During his response to yesterday’s debate Bush revealed that government expected to collect $75 million in revenue over the two month interim budget period.
This coupled with the $25 million overdraft is expected to cover government’s bills from now until the end of August. Government’s stop-gap emergency budget, which was approved by the UK, called for $102 million in spending and a $25 million overdraft facility.
The UDP government gained approval from the Legislative Assembly for the short term spending plan with the government benches voting yes. The opposition benches, including the independent member, abstained from the vote, indicating their disapproval but recognising the need for government to pay its bills.
In his response to Wednesday’s debate on the motion the premier revealed that his government was now engaged in a serious cost cutting exercise and he would bring the full budget for the 2012/13 fiscal year in a few weeks. He pointed to increases in liquor licensing fees and a possible 5 cent glass bottle tax on alcohol imports as new revenue raising measures likely to appear in the new budget to pay for the hospitality school.
Bush also announced plans for a new private sector development that was being posed by an unnamed investor that he said would create a new mixed-use town with shops, restaurants, a cinema, a hotel and condos, straddling the districts of East End and North Side. He gave very few details but said the investment was worth around $300 million and the mystery developer required no special concessions.
Despite the issues associated with the port and the FCO’s difficulties approving the project until it is in line with international best procurement practice, Bush insisted he was continuing with his discussions with China Harbour and the Chinese firm was the best partner. He revealed that McAlpine, DECCO (Dart’s construction company) and Hurlstone Construction would all be working with CHEC on the project. (See more on this in separate CNS article).
Much of the premier’s speech was focused, however, on the shortcomings of the previous administration and its failure to manage the country’s finance. Although he was reading from a formal address, much of the speech was not from the script and saw Bush impassioned and animated as he yelled across the floor at the opposition benches, and took aim at CNS and the auditor general.
Bush said the mismanagement of the previous administration, which demitted office three years and one month ago, was the reason why he could not deliver a budget. It was they, he said, who had handed the power to the UK to approve the government’s budgets and control what he did. Instead of offering solutions, the premier said the opposition was “gleeful” about his inability to bring a full budget presentation before the year end.
As he railed against the regulation that he claimed was stopping him from getting anything done, he accused the opposition of enjoying the problems this bureaucracy was causing. “They are using that to be gleeful and sitting down eating carrots and drinking milk,” the premier said.
He pointed to the pressure the FCO was placing on him to follow international best practice and said the British were being “unrealistic” when they expected a small jurisdiction like Cayman to follow “some UN ideals” or World Bank standards.
Bush was particularly scathing about the auditor general, implying he was in some form of alliance against his government with the media, especially CNS, and the opposition as well, which he said was all “palsywalsy" with the auditor general and “brown nosing” with the governor and the FCO. Bush described Alastair Swarbrick and his audit office as “nothing but a hit-man” and revealed that he was suing the public auditor but did not reveal on what basis he was doing so.
Despite the major problems the UDP government now faces in trying to reduce operational expenses by a significant amount, Bush claimed that his government had made a turnaround in public finances. He then went on to say that the current budget crisis could be a major turning point as people would begin to understand that government can’t keep “spending and spending and borrowing and borrowing”.
Budget crisis aside, he told the Legislative Assembly that the country was “poised for better times” provide that the PPM and the North Side member didn’t get in power. “They think I’m weakened but I’m not,” he said at the end of his three hour plus address.
A much shorter scripted version of the speech delivered by the premier in the LA is posted below.
|Premier's Reply To Budget Motion Debate 28 June 2012.pdf||91.22 KB|
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