Opposition leader ‘horrified’
(CNS): The opposition leader said Wednesday that after three and a half years of this administration he thought he could no longer be surprised at the audacity of the premier but McKeeva Bush had managed to do it again with the budget crisis. PPM Leader Alden McLaughlin said he was horrified by what had gone on and the message that this sent to the business community at home and abroad. From the unprecedented step of proposing to introduce income tax to the levels of incompetence, the government had destroyed what confidence was left in the economy and the only hope left for Cayman was for the UDP to go, McLaughlin said.
On Wednesday evening in the Legislative Assembly, in his reply to the premier’s budget presentation, the leader of the opposition pointed to the empty rhetoric of McKeeva Bush’s three hour address on Monday evening and said it reminded him of the soliloquy by Macbeth in Shakespeare's play in which he says, "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” McLaughlin said there was nothing in the budget for anyone in Cayman except Dart and the recipients of the Nation Building Fund.
McLaughlin drew the House’s attention to the comment that Bush made about the “quiet restoration of confidence in Cayman” as a result of the stewardship of the UDP government.
“What is this of which he speaks?” the opposition leader asked rhetorically. “No one I have talked to, regardless of their walk of life, has any confidence … no one has confidence in this government, quiet or otherwise ... I don’t know where the premier has been living but it can’t be here in Cayman,” he added. “On what possible bases can he assert that there is any confidence?” he asked again before listing a catalogue of issues associated with the UDP administration, and in particular the premier.
McLaughlin wondered if the premier believed it was the announcement that Bush was the subject of the first police investigation regarding financial irregularities that had stirred the confidence, or the announcements of the second and then third police investigations that had done it. He asked if it was the series of “pretend budgets” the premier had produced since coming to office and the inability to produce one this year, despite the fact that the 30th June comes around at the same time each year, which was the cause of this confidence. Continuing on the theme, he asked if perhaps it was the “genius idea to introduce a form of income tax” that had restored the confidence in the economy.
McLaughlin also took aim at the way the premier had handled the relationship with the UK and the embarrassment of the budget crisis.
“There is a crisis of confidence of enormous proportions,” McLaughlin said, claiming that was the primary problem. The way government was going about managing the economy was the issue which had undermined confidence and there was no chance of it returning until after the general election next year.
“I have never known a period of such low confidence in Cayman as now,” the opposition leader added. “Nothing ever in recorded history comes close to the circumstances the country now faces.”
McLaughlin said the UDP had failed completely to improve the economy and had only succeeded in making the cost of businesses higher. He noted that after three years Bush could no longer blame the previous administration as the premier had fought and won an election stating that he was the man for the job to handle the economic crisis. “If the PPM made mistakes, you said you were the man for the job and could fix the problems,” McLaughlin said, “but the government has run out of time.”
He said there was not one new proposal or initiative to get the economy going in Bush’s speech on Monday, despite its length. The opposition leader accused the premier of relying on the same list of hoped-for projects that he had been depending on for the last three years, none of which had materialised, not least because of the behaviour and interference of the premier.
The situation regarding the George Town port was offered by the PPM leader as an example of what had been a key pillar in the UDP‘s goals for recovery, but had warranted less than seven sentences in a budget speech that lasted for three hours.
McLaughlin focused heavily on the need for a strategic plan to address the size of the civil service and the fundamental underlying problem facing government, which had been mounting for years. Despite the pressure and need to do so, Bush had simply ignored this critical issue, McLaughlin said, adding that throughout this administration the government had offered only band-aid solutions to a serious problem of the growing public sector, which was now a priority for any future government.
Check back to CNS for more on the budget debate later.
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