Premier announces plan for a plan

| 01/10/2015 | 71 Comments
Cayman News Service

Premier Alden McLaughlin at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon

(CNS): The government plans to introduce a ‘National Development Plan’ to “sustain economic prosperity, prevent further degradation of our environment, plan physical development and ensure physical infrastructural needs are continually met,” the premier announced during his speech at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Lunch Wednesday. Alden McLaughlin said work would begin on this in the coming months as part of Project Future and the reform of the public sector. He gave no further details of the national plan but implied it was part of the reform programme.

Speaking to an audience made up largely of the business community eager to see the civil service reduced, more than a year after receiving the controversial report by Ernst and Young and its recommendations for cutting and privatizing the public sector, he said that government had almost finished its review and that the government would be adopting a large part of it. Describing the report as a useful starting point, he said some recommendations were already part of government’s plans while others were ruled out as an early stage.

“We have found a number of recommendations are not compatible with the direction we are seeking to take but the majority of the EY report, we believe, should be taken forward either directly or in a suitably modified form,” McLaughlin stated. “We have made good progress on the development of both the single utilities’ commission and a new Office of the Ombudsman; we are progressing the proposal to increase the retirement age of civil servants; and only a few weeks ago Cabinet agreed to take to market the first area of land identified as surplus.”

He said the national plan and the adoption of the EY recommendations represented an ambitious and comprehensive package of reform that would be taken forward under the Project Future banner and the full details would be announced in the next few weeks.

In a speech that was in part a review of the two and a half years since taking office, he made a number of announcements, including the plan to press on with the cruise port development in spite of the controversy and the lack of public support.

The Chamber’s survey concluded there was little support among its members for the project and in his own introductory speech Barry Bodden, the current Chamber president, emphasised the divide in the business community for and against the project. The government’s own public consultation had also demonstrated that the broader public is not in favour and both the environmental impact assessment as well as a recent seabed survey have documented the devastating impact on the environment.

But justifying the government’s intention to press on, McLaughlin said that the updated business case, which has not been made public, was “favourable”.

Although Cabinet had not yet given its formal approval, he said government was pressing on to the next stage. Admitting that that the environmental impact assessment has indicated that there would be damage to reef structures, the scientists concluded that Seven Mile Beach will not be harmed, and as that was the major concern, he appeared to take comfort from possible mitigation of risks, even though the experts have all stated that the mitigating measures will not prevent serious destruction of the harbour’s entire marine eco-systems.

“The economic benefits reports have also provided good insight and are helpful to government,” he said, as he justified the project. He described the public representation, including meetings with people on both sides, as helpful but made it clear he was ignoring the significant opposition to the project when he said government had “considered the matter carefully and has agreed on the merits of building a cruise port and an enhanced cargo port and to allow the project to proceed to the next stage”.

This, he said, would involve discussions between the Foreign Commonwealth Office, government and cruise companies over the design of the piers and the structure of the project’s financing.

“The cruise companies must have skin in the game as they are needed to guarantee the necessary volume of cruise passengers over the financing period,” he said. So far, government has not engage the cruise lines over this particular project and there have been no commitments from the FCCA members.

“There will not be dredges in George Town Harbour tomorrow or next week or next month even,” he said, as he indicated government would “proceed carefully and seek to do whatever it takes to ensure the minimum environmental impact”.

He said the current design may also be reviewed to reduce the impact of dredging but he made it clear that environmental concerns and the unique qualities of George Town Harbour were not of sufficient importance to halt the process towards berthing facilities.

“The project will not only help to safeguard our important cruise business into the future, but it will also enlarge our cargo port. Both will protect existing jobs as well as bring many new jobs during the project phase leading to many hundreds of more jobs well into the future,” McLaughlin claimed.

“I have heard what those who worry about the environmental impact have said but one thing is certain in my mind, economic benefits aside, if we continue to anchor cruise ships in the George Town Harbour as we have done these past 40 years, in a decade or two there will be very little coral left for anyone to enjoy. We are being called upon by the proponents and opponents of a cruise port to decide on protecting the environment or protecting the economy.”

The decision was not whether we want cruise berthing but whether “we want to remain in the cruise business”, he warned, as he suggested the cruise lines would stop coming if Cayman does not develop piers.

“We have spent 40 years building an important cruise tourism economic driver and we are duty bound to ensure that we do not sit still and allow it to move to Cuba or other destinations in the region,” McLaughlin said. “It cannot be ignored that of the 22 countries in the Caribbean and Central America at which cruise ships call, the only one that does not have or is not in the process of building cruise piers is the Cayman Islands. As is always the case, there will be some sacrifice to ensure future success.”

There was a lot less said, however, about the plans to address the landfill, though the premier said government was “proceeding carefully”. He noted that Cabinet recently approved the National Solid Waste Management Policy and the next step was an overall strategy that would lead to a final solution and identify the options available.

“The release of the strategy is imminent with plans to get it to the public by late October or early November. The process may seem slow, but it is sure, and will bring about the correct outcomes,” he said.

In the meantime, government is moving forward with an expanded recycling programme to collect waste papers, plastics, metals and glass and keep them out of the landfill.

“A request for proposals will go out in October for the private sector to collect and process recyclables at the beginning of next year,” he said, adding that new programme was underway to process yard waste by composting and mulching at the George Town landfill which will be used for gardening and farming.

Full Chamber Legislative Luncheon Address by Premier 30 Sept 2015

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Category: Government Finance, Politics

Comments (71)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The economic viability of the dock project will almost certainly be determined by the willingness of private sector money to fund it. We know the Cayman Islands government does not have the ability to borrow to this level or even to secure UK approval to do so. And, if the promoters are looking for one of the cruise lines to stump up, like RCL in Falmouth, that will inevitably include a condition of complete control over the retail upland to the exclusion of local merchants. As a long time supporter of our major local duty free merchants, whose shops are by far the best in the Caribbean (with the exception of St. Barts which caters to a whole different world), I am increasingly concerned that the dock project may not work out in the way they are hoping.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow. A lot of thumb downers who don’t like the duty free shops I guess.

    • B. Hurlstone says:

      What you say is correct, Anonymous 11:22. It makes me wonder who the “Dislike” checkers are. They are either people who expect to get richer, people hired by those people who expect to get richer, or people that just don’t think for themselves. Very few visitors are interested in seeing large docks……. they want to see the island, and we are NOT READY for such a large influx of tourists.

  2. CYNICAL says:

    Just a final thought – is the ” architect’s impression ” drawn to scale, and particularly in relation to the size of the cruise ships shown moored on the piers.

  3. CYNICAL says:

    A thought for Government and the supporters of the dock, relating to the practicality of the structure. All we have seen so far is the typical ” architect’s impression ” of the finished dock with some cruise ships neatly parked alongside the finger piers. Anybody thought how they actually got there? You are talking about ships displacing 100,000 + tons, 10+ storeys high, and maybe close to 1000 feet long. Have you any idea of the ” windage ” on something like that in even a moderate breeze. Ships that big can be difficult to control unless they have sufficient steerage way – remember the ” Rhapsody ” – on the rocks. Despite all of their modern bow/stern thrusters, and GPS navigational aids, manoeuvering even our current cruise ships into the proposed slips could be a test of any Captain. Cruise lines might be wary of risking damage to their ships. Finally, what is the maximum number of cruise ships that could moor on the finger piers – would it actually equal the number that that can currently anchor, and tender in their passengers.

  4. SKEPTICAL says:

    As far as cruise lines choosing Cuba as an alternative destination, the horse is not only out of the stable, it is down the street and around the corner, and the stable door is still swinging open.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We can stop guessing, the experts have clearly stated the coral restoration will work.

    “Baird Consulting, who conducted the EIA and CSA who undertook the Benthic Habitat Survey have both assessed coral relocation as being a viable mitigation option. Baird are internationally recognized experts in coastal and marine science while CSA began doing coral reattachment during the infancy of this technique and have been instrumental in refining coral reattachment procedures as a means of accelerating habitat recovery.”

    • B. Hurlstone says:

      Who said they are international experts? Who hired them and who is paying them? I doubt they would have gotten the job without assuring the hirer that the report would be what he, or (they) wanted. Why are you afraid to use your own name, mister Anonymous 8:46?

  6. Anonymous says:

    What about the “Stunned Silence” reported yesterday as this was the same speech and address by the Premier. There actually was respectful silence for all speeches as a matter of courtesy to all speakers. Stunned Silence refers to everyone talking or involved in verbal exchange when comments by one may leave others speechless.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well since the Chambers members voted a strong majority against this project – I can imagine there weren’t many cheers or applauses! Strange approach to making this announcement. It wasn’t done appropriately and according to protocol in my opinion. The up to date Business Case has not even been finished. What a waste of so much money just to pretend like they cared about business reports and the environment.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually I heard Chamber was pretty split after re opening the survey. almost 50/50 but a few more in support of the development than against.

  7. Anonymous says:

    First they need have a meeting to plan a meeting!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t they wait until they have evidence that the cruise liners will no longer come to Cayman, before they decide to build? They may find that cruise liners still come even with Cuba being the new tourist attraction. If that happens they would have wrecked the reef for nothing and there’s no turning back.
    Caymanians are proud of their country and often remind others how important it is to keep their heritage, but as soon as money is flashed around the government are quick to kill off their precious coral. It’s just terrible! It should have been made a UNESCO heritage site, then they wouldn’t be able to do it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Gotta say everyone I talked to at the Chamber lunch was impressed. PPM is showing they can get things done. We were worried that they were lost in the weeds, but alas they are on the move! Keep it up Hon. Premier and PPM will be in for another 4 years.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I would like some clarification. How can he say “sustain economic prosperity, prevent further degradation of our environment,” after saying that they are moving forward with the new docks. He is being contradictory.!!

    All the reports indicate that the environment will be degraded.

  11. Anonymous says:

    April fools day! First the george town port and now the civil service reduction. The final nail in the coffin for the Premier Aladinn.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Alden is on a huge roll , approves CBF project , Plan for a Plan , one man-one vote ….Him stepping high!

  13. Tony Abbott and Costello says:

    Such a grand visionary. What next? Nominating Prince Phillip for a Cayman Hero Award?

  14. Kman Salt says:

    Doesn’t matter who you vote for. Either way you get minor variations of the VERY SAME GUYS!

  15. Anonymous says:

    And they will no doubt start by paying consultants to prepare a report on the plan for the plan, then spend 18 months reviewing it before deciding it’s not what they wanted to hear and introducing a new plan for the plan for a plan all the while thumping the lecturn and telling us how hard they are working for our future. And there is nothing we can do that will ever make them shut their mouths and actually do something.

  16. ThIs WrItInG Is VeRy IrRiTaTiNg says:

    Let me see if I have this correct. During the same speech he announces the plan for a National Development Plan to sustain economic growth and protect the environment and then proceeds to announce that his government is moving forward with a cruise ship dock with questionable economics and massive environmental destruction while nearly ignoring the growing landfill issue. You can’t make this stuff up.

  17. Anonymous says:

    My feeling is that we should have conducted an environmental study in conjunction with the dock EIA to show how detrimental it would be to have 20 tender boats going back and for with the cruise ships continuously running their main engines to stay in position for the next 20-40 years and that would paint a great picture of what will happen to the coral.

    Only problem is that by the end of that there will be no George Town to even worry about

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously your crystal ball tells you what the future will be for Cayman or perhaps you are a consultant in the pay of the CIG.
      But I doubt it, most likely you pontificate pretending you know what will happen when you really do not have a clue.

      It is unfortunate that the leadership in Cayman is unable to feed the historical strengths of the tourism product instead are trying to compete in areas that are not the strength of the country’s product.

      The cruise ship visitor will never supply the country’s needs in revenue and the coral will be degraded. Only a handful of rich local businessmen will make out on this deal. Pretending the average Caymanian will cash in on the cruise ship pier is a dream and when it turns into a nightmare just blame the foreigners.

  18. MAH says:

    Clearly the Premier has lost all notion of common sense, so disappointing.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The 5 “P’s”- Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Unless in Cayman, in which case it becomes “Piss Poor Performance Permanently Perpetuated by Politicians”.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Our finance industry hangs on by a thread with increase regulation and scrutiny by the US.

    Cuba opening up poses a much great threat to stay over than our cruise industry.

    We just saw that MSC plans to home port in Cuba and include Cayman on that itinerary. What happens when the US really starts heading in?

    Oasis class cruise ships were designed specifically for the Caribbean. They have the open promenade through the middle of the ships for warm climate. These are not made with Asia or any other markets in mind, they are Caribbean ships.

    Guess what that means? When these larger ships launch they replace smaller ones that can be utilized for new and growing areas like Asia.

    Like it or not, we are at a cross roads. We can continue with cruise or not. Some seem to think we should just discard cruise. But think about it a little harder for a minute, does it make sense to throw away an industry that is already working and employs thousands of people?

    What would we replace that $160m with? Everyone seems to think that the two tourism industries are not linked.

    43% of cruisers come back to one of the destinations as a stayover guest.

    DOT Cayman has already proven that 5% a year of cruisers come back to Cayman (at 2M people that is 100k future stayover tourists).

    That is even forgetting about the fact that if you lose jobs without cruise or with a drop in cruise it will trickle over into every aspect of life in Cayman.

    • Ronnie says:

      Guess what if the beaches and coral are all gone, tell me what will the tourist come to Cayman for? Shopping because things are very cheap? The busted turtle farm? The over crowded sting ray city? Camana Bay?
      The government has just cut their noses off to spite their face!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Wow!! How ingenious!! Only 38 years after the 1972 National Development Plan, devised as a result of Sir John Cumber’s vision, was thrashed by the 1976-84 Government!

    Had the 1972 Plan survived we would have seen sustainable and well-planned development thereby avoiding the unbridled “mushroom” development of the 1980’s and its resulting issues, including mass importation of labour.

    I wonder how PPM’s proposed “Plan” can address these issues after that horse has long bolted?? Pure lip service!!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Thank God we finally have an educated, responsible government with our best interests at heart. Proceed with the dock in the interests of the majority and in the face of opposition from the ignorant and the greedy and the envyous, Mr Premier.

    • A Caymanian says:

      Educated? How so? Responsible government? Responsible to whom? Not the Caymanian people! With our best interests at heart? Not MY best interests! Oh! You’re talking bout the high rollers who will reap millions of dollars building the dock and the merchants who believe they will ll become super tycoons. The Premier is wrong in his belief that this will be great for everyone. It will be the start of a slide to mediocrity that we can’t stop for the “majority” you mention and the same for the rest of us ignorant and envious that you sneer at. George Town and the rest of Grand Cayman are not ready for multi-thousands of visitors. Where would we put them?

      • Anonymous says:

        Not sure where you’ve been but we’ve been having multi-thousands of visitors for 40 years now.

      • Anonymous says:

        Excuse me sir but the people of this country had a reason for appointing Alden McLaughlin and not you as our (yes educated, yes responsible) Premier. Please stop trying to tell him he is wrong in your own uneducated, irresponsible ignorance.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The man with the plan has missed the bus, lost the plot, and has serious delusions about Cayman being a preferred destination for cruise passengers. Has this man ever been to Cuba, and if so did he ever see any natural attractions? Inevitably with Cuba embargo about to be lifted they will have a brand spanking new cruise facility before we ever open one. Compete with Cuba? What a laugh. Cayman is a worm about to be swallowed by it’s own political apathy, and by Cuba.
    I would love to be under the influence of whatever he’s taking as his plans seem to be out of some 70’s science fiction, B movie.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup you right!! The piers will be like the schools- a whole lot of the peoples money spent and not being put to use! Pure and utter madness!

      • Anonymous says:

        Proof is needed. How many reports have been done on the schools versus how many reports that have been done on the cruise ship proposals. I think the schools will win hands down.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rubbish-Cuba is a different, lower end market. Cayman more upmarket. Cuba will take a long time before it attracts higher spenders regularly

      • Cass says:

        11:21 Cuba has much more to offer. You should visit to educate yourself. Crime is also a non-issue there…oh and they are the biggest Caribbean islands so, numbers can be accommodated easily, unlike us!

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes numbers can be accommodated, but accommodation and food quality currently crap. Trying to compare apples and iguanas. Cuba is mass market. Cayman is not apart from the cruise ships

          • Anonymous says:

            food quality and pretty much everything else will go down once more “day trippers” come in….restaurants in town already barely try and do you think they use local labor..please…. those tips are going strait back to Jamaica and the Philippines ….cayman wake up….everyone is using “OUR” islands…. the joke is on us…..that why so many wealthy people come invest here bc money talks and the beauty of our islands walk…. its pathetic… then our people blame the people on island…the “white” expats..the people that actually shop in our stores and give back to the community….wake up…..stop allowing our country to be used!!

        • Anonymous says:

          Cuba is a beautiful place and will have some fine developments but in between it will be bottom of the barrel like PR and DR

        • Anonymous says:

          “Crime is also a non-issue there”…you my friend know nothing about Cuba. The only reason there is very little crime at the moment is because it is a Police state. As soon as Cuba is released from the iron grip of the Castro brothers, there will be an astronomical spike in crime from the 12 million “have nots” that have barely survived up to now.They will be left wondering what happened to all of the socialist promises they were indoctrinated with all of their lives. Do you really think Cuban fathers are proud of what their daughters have to do to help feed their families? Watch for Cuba to become another “All inclusive” resort destination with fencing to keep the populace out and the tourists safe.

        • Anonymous says:

          If you think there is no crime in Cuba, then you don’t know Cuba. You obviously had a great time spending your US dollars and seeing exactly what Fidel and Raul wanted you to see. Oh and while you were there, did you happen to purchase a T-shirt with the mass-murderer Che on the front?

    • Anonymous says:

      Please leave mckeewa alone.

    • Dagny's Den says:

      Cuba’s opening creates a significant opportunity for Cayman – Americans will flock there because they have been denied access for decades and they are curious. With a cruise port in Cayman that will accept the Oasis class ships that are scheduled to go to Cuba, we can take advantage of our handy geographic proximity and capitalise on an eager market.

      What is project will do is force merchants and operators to up their games – providing more creative products, nicer amenities and higher quality service. The Oasis class ships are carrying the passengers who have the dispensable income.

  24. Planning Consultant says:

    Hey Alden just ask Moses and Gerry what the plan should be to aid their interests like you did with the proposed dock. Then you can announce it as the PPM’s plan to formalize a plan for the country under your ‘leadership’

    • Divers Down says:

      Well his choices are that he can either listen to Caymanians and make the decision to help the island’s economy or he can listen to the drummed up DEMA online supporters form the US and forget about locals.

  25. Anonymous says:

    “Premier announces plan for a plan” hahaha behave CNS. You’re taking the piss! hahaha

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