Mac stripped of finance job
(CNS): The conditions imposed on the Cayman government’s 2012/13 budget by the UK have essentially removed most of the functions of the finance minister from the premier, the opposition leader has said. Speaking in the wake of news that the FCO had given conditional approval to the current administration’s final budget, Alden McLaughlin said that the four stringent conditions, in particular the establishment of a ‘budget board’ headed by the deputy governor, would mean that the role of the finance minister established by the Cayman Islands 2009 constitution has been handed back to the official rather than the elected arm of government.
Among the four conditions laid out by the Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham was the creation of a board or committee that will manage and oversee future budgets, with the deputy governor, not the finance minister, at the helm.
Bellingham also required that the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR) agreement signed between himself and Premier McKeeva Bush last November be passed into law before the end of September; that the FCO’s economic advisor who established the framework for this budget (and who Bush complained about, claiming that he moved the goal posts throughout the process) be allowed to review the state of public finances every quarter; and that there be no supplementary budget.
The conditions will remain in place for the next three years when the Cayman government, according to the latest financial three year plan, should be back in line with the five principles of sound fiscal management as set out by the Public Management and Finance Law.
These changes have pushed the office of the Ministry of Finance to one side, McLaughlin said.
“It was inevitable, given what has transpired over the last four budget cycles,” the PPM leader added. “The UK gave the premier every opportunity to make a start on improving the fiscal situation but with every passing year things simply got worse.”
He said the government’s persistent failure to take any steps to address the fundamental issues and the decision to “keep presenting pretend budgets” have resulted in the present circumstances.
“It is going to be very difficult for any future minister as the UK have clawed back more power over the budget than they had with the old constitution. There was plenty of warning, but the warnings were ignored,” McLaughlin added. “The sad thing is that Cayman’s fiscal challenges were not insurmountable; they still aren’t but the problem is they can’t simply be ignored as they were by this government.”
The opposition leader said the impact of this move by the UK would see expenditure being reigned in over the last nine months of this administration. Not entirely convinced that the revenue raising measures in the budget are necessarily credible, McLaughlin said it was going to be a challenge for public servants to deliver government policy and without the possibility of a supplementary budget if the earnings don’t go according to plan.
The opposition leader said he believed that the enactment of the FFR agreement into law would make it “virtually impossible” for the premier to get some of the projects he has heralded as Cayman’s future economic saviours off the ground. The proposed cruise berthing facility in George Town in its current format would not be able to go forward, he said, adding that he believed it may force changes to the ForCayman Investment Alliance as well.
following recipt of the conditional nod, Bush congratulated himself for beginning the budget process without agreement.
Speaking at a limited press conference from which CNS was barred Friday, the premier said he was justified in having started without the agreement as he complained about the independent and opposition members’ criticisms of the decision. In the face of the stringent conditions, Bush blamed the opposition but admitted that the loss of economic sovereignty would put the country back on a sound economic footing.
The comments posted do not necessarily reflect the views of CNS or any individual staff member. All comments are posted subject to approval by CNS. Read more
- A circle of wizards perhaps?
1 hour 2 min ago
- You missed the entire point
1 hour 5 min ago
- How is 30% not a whipping?
1 hour 7 min ago
- Country and Westin bar. Now
1 hour 21 min ago
- I am sure your Maths is out,
1 hour 31 min ago
- I like Bernie and I think his
1 hour 35 min ago
- What a sick mind. Do you also
1 hour 36 min ago
- What choice did we have. PPM
1 hour 38 min ago
- You know that there are only
1 hour 43 min ago
- The University College of the
1 hour 45 min ago