Opposition leaders calls for office and cash

| 31/07/2017 | 26 Comments

(CNS): In an effort to professionalise the opposition and prepare his team to be the government in waiting, Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller said he wants government to set aside a small amount of public cash to fund an opposition office where his team can meet constituents and visiting dignitaries on national matters outside their day-to-day constituency issues. Miller said he was “astounded to find” that there are no formal expectations set out anywhere that deal with the role and function of the opposition and said he has had to draft his own document.

Having already established shadow roles for most of the opposition members, he said they would need to deal with the broader population on national issues outside of their roles of representing their specific districts.

Speaking to CNS about the need to set out clearly the functions of the opposition, Miller said the opposition leader is a constitutionally authorised job, which also provides for a deputy opposition leader and clearly sets out the opposition as the third element of the legislature alongside the Cabinet and the government.

While the opposition functions mostly through debate, questions to ministers, the presentation of amendments to government legislation and motions of their own, it also has an obligation to uphold the Constitution. Miller explained that the job is not about opposition for opposition’s sake, but it should be a “critical, responsible and constructive voice that can analyze government policy and legislation and offer potential alternatives”. But in times of national disaster or misfortune it should stand with and support government, he said.

The opposition leader said that more had to be done to formalise the opposition benches and for the people to see more clearly what they can do and how they can advocate for the people when government comes up with unpopular policies or laws. Miller also spoke about providing the new members on the opposition benches with the opportunities to learn about government and to clearly set out their obligations.

The North Side Independent member is leading a group of opposition independents, two of whom did not stand on the same platform as Miller and his eastern alliance group of Anthony Eden, Arden McLean and Alva Suckoo. While it is expected that there are going to be policy differences between them all, Miller has already set out an agenda of the national policy issues which they are all largely aligned.

He said that during this government’s term his team will be seeking to ensure that all government policy and legislation puts the interests of Caymanians first, and that no one group, company or one person can control elements of the local economy; Caymanians must be consulted about all policies impacting them and given priority when it comes to employment. He also said the opposition wanted to see the budget returned to an annual cycle and see that corruption is rooted out at all levels of government.

Touching on specific policies, he said the opposition members are keen to see government address the mortgage crisis by making changes to the registered land law and creating bespoke mortgage legislation. He said education had to be a priority, including an increase in scholarship amounts and the devolution of school management to the heads and community school boards. He called for an HR agency and a moratorium on certain work permits and wants the development of a strategy to put Caymanians at the top of the financial services and tourism sectors.

There should be more police resources and investment in crime fighting technology, a revision of the country’s development plan, a new legal practitioners bill focused on standards and not economic priorities, and a new courthouse, he said.

Miller also called for more financial support for the elderly across the community and the expansion of care for the people dealing with mental health problems. He also wants a review of the National Conservation Law.

Government has announced its intention of addressing much of Miller’s opposition agenda, including more investment in security, an overhaul of the work permit system and a greater focus on the social and economic challenges facing Caymanians. But it is unlikely that once government finds its feet in this new coalition and calls its first parliamentary meeting that there won’t be friction across the legislative chamber, not least concerning the budget.

Government will be expected to deliver its Strategic Policy Statement in its first sitting which will set the stage for a two-year budget that the new finance minister, Roy McTaggart, will be expected to deliver before the year-end.

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Category: Policy, Politics

Comments (26)

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  1. YTB says:

    I’d like to encourage bloggers to please check your text for typos or grammatical errors and make the corrections before pressing the “Post Comment” button. We often hear that Caymanians are uneducated and can’t speak or write proper. Prove them wrong! Thanks!

    • Anonymous says:

      “Properly” not “proper”. It is an adverb in the sentence you wrote. Do not get up on your high horse until you can sort out your own written English, buddy. And, for a free style tip, leave the contractions for quoted direct speech.

    • Anonymous says:

      You also need to look up the meaning of blogger.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Use one of the empty offices in the Govt Admin Bldg. We are broke and don’t need politicians squandering tax money.

  3. YTB says:

    As a Caymanian, I am appalled by the blatant disrespect for our government and in particular for Mr. Miller. He is one politician I can truly say has the country’s best interest at heart. He will fight for Caymanians and does not flinch when having to challenge an individual when they are not looking out for Caymanians. He always take time out to speak with his constituents, including the wider community.

    I agree 100% with Mr. Miller. The Opposition should have an office (of course within reason) and the tab should be picked up by government. After all, it is “the people” of the Cayman Islands that they are working for as well. What Mr. Miller is asking for is certainly not farfetched nor unreasonable and the government should work with the Opposition to draft/review/approve legislation for current and future MLA’s accordingly.

    To Mr. Miller and the team of Oppositions – just remember that your job is as important as those on the government seats – you were voted in by those depending on positive changes for Caymanians and our country on a whole – we need each of you to be our voice and to fight for us! Thank you for your selfless efforts, dedication and tenacity! It is very appreciated!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely not! The offices that are supposed to allow senior teachers to manage the student population at John Gray High School are in a terrible state (mobile classes from 2005 with carcinogens and mold therein).
    Any bill that allows for expenditure on offices should consider that the G.A.B. was built with schools being bypassed at that time. Our children are spending time in offices like these for administrative reasons and illness, awaiting their parental pick-up. It seems such a long way away (September 2020) before the student population is moved to new premises!

  5. north sider says:

    Ok ezzard you all get money for a office in your community now which you always have closed. were is the money for the office of north side now going??? Maybe you all should chip in out of the funding you get now and create the national office. as you don’t care about the people of north side. Lodge men fly together to help one another that’s how you won. Just N Time helped you

  6. Marie says:

    In order to put our kids first you Government need to invest some money in a better educacion the same building in North side can be a college for you own kids give them a opportunity to go college, if not they have to find $6.00 an hr job.while the white people come and get the best opportunity.because you kids are no capable to do the job.Some parents can make that dream for the kids.For a small comunity they need to do better.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Increase in scholarship amounts? He current amount more than covers thw cost of a University education in the UK. Stop all scholarships to Mickey Mouse US institutions and we’ll be just fine.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Every opposition here asks the government for an office and is told ‘no’. Mac got around that by calling his WB office the opposition leader’s office. Now that Ezzard is in the role, with his constituency office in North Side, I’m honestly not all that surprised by this request. In larger countries his post would have a designated suite somewhere in the parliamentary estate fit for receiving visits, holding meetings etc. In the Cayman context we wouldn’t be talking anything too luxurious or spacious. Just somewhere for the opposition to base and perform its democratic functions. Not unreasonable, just not the highest priority.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard is correct. For years our Opposition has been seen and has itself acted simply as a “hinderance” to the Government, when in fact the Opposition is a valid entity and should, in fact, function as a “shadow” Government. It’s focus on issues should be no less than the Government and it exists to ensure that the Government does well for the country and to hold it accountable.

    Ezzard understands the true function of a good Opposition and he seems to be leading it in that direction.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Finally an Opposition Leader that has some idea about what opposition suppose to be instead of just bickering and trying to gain political mileage for the next election.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ezard Miller our next premier.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What exactly is the “mortgage crisis”? Persons borrowing more than they should with no regard for possible future income reduction?

  13. Anonymous says:

    You’ve been in the opposition for how many years, and only now you want money and pretend to do something? Seems Ezzard needs to pretend to work now that he sees his seat in NS is gone next election.

  14. Anonymous says:

    201 votes. Sit down, Numpty.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Don’t need to spend any more money on MLA’s.

  16. Caymanian Tax payer says:

    Waste of money, we have a government building with large conference rooms, use these premises for meetings Lizard!

  17. Anonymous says:

    More this and more that…never any discussion of trimming back something else to pay for it and certainly none of the Cabinet or backbench MLAs are willing to take a personal haircut on their personal compensation, or self-ascribed Honorable for life titles – nor do they dare speak of altering the party-centric hegemony that retains useless cronies at the trough. Funny that.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Is this guy for real? Miller said he was “astounded to find” that there are no formal expectations set out anywhere that deal with the role and function of the opposition and said he has had to draft his own document….. For a guy who has been an integral part of government as we know it for almost 2 decades, he’s typically clueless and should be ashamed to be saying ‘he is astounded by the lack of’. Maybe instead of showboating for the past several terms, you could have noticed this, like 10 years ago. Joker.. as usual !!

  19. Anonymous says:

    More waste of public money!

    When will all this rubbish end?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Just do it.

    Sounds good.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Why an office? Why not rent out a room or an office somewhere when needed? Enough fingers in the trough already…

  22. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like something Dr. Steve could finance.


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