Cayman must have a referendum on the cruise port

| 22/08/2018 | 182 Comments

Cayman Islands cruise port, Cayman News ServiceJohann Moxam writes: The proposed project and the potential consequences have the ability to negatively impact the future of the Cayman Islands. It will be the largest and most expensive capital works project in Cayman’s history. As a result the environmental, financial and socio-economic concerns must be addressed as a matter of national importance. Transparency, objectivity and a logic approach by our leaders and the pro-port lobbyists and the large numbers of concerned citizens and residents is necessary because we all want a successful country.

The lack of transparency by the government fuels more speculation by the day and leads to questions like:

1. Why are they unwilling to engage the public?

2. What are the estimated total costs of the project?

3. Is the CIG providing a guaranty for the project?

4. Where is the updated EIA and business case as a result of the new design, size, costs associated by moving into deeper waters?

Unfortunately, due to a lack of relevant and substantive communication/consultation with the public, which is best described as a lack of transparency by CIG, there are legitimate concerns that the public will be left picking up the final tab if this project goes the distance. Please note, I agree that we need to improve the experience for passengers that come to Cayman but must proceed with caution in order not to burden current and future generations to essentially aid a select few.

A project of this magnitude, which will likely be closer to CI$300-400m in final costs, must not be driven or decided upon by the pro-port lobbyist and the politicians they control. This type of decision requires a referendum.

I encourage the voting public and residents to stand up, speak out and continue to publicly ask questions and hold all MLAs accountable. Ultimately, all Caymanians, residents and businesses, including corporate Cayman, must unite against this type of political tyranny in order to guard against the potential fiscal and environmental mismanagement.

In the spirit of candid dialogue, we should be able to call this charade of transparency what it really is and understand that this entire process and project is nothing more than an example of “Government Sponsored Corporate Welfare” to benefit a few select business interests for certain families, political financiers, friends and acolytes who expect the public purse to finance and prop up their commercial interests.

Those businesses or groups on Harbour Drive that are desperate for the project to proceed and who are the main drivers of the project should “put skin in the game” and invest their own funds or assist with financing the bond/loan that could potentially push the government over the financial cliff and potentially plunge our country into significant long-term financial hardship. Poor and expensive decisions like this one will accelerate the implementation of a direct form of taxation in the Cayman Islands.

History clearly shows us that the perceived success of most of those businesses and groups desperately pushing for the cruise berthing project, no matter the costs to the public, is largely because of the cronyism, nepotism and attitudes of entitlement which drives the duty free retail sector and how decisions have been historically made over several decades.

If they have failed to adapt or appreciate the facts that cruise ships are now selling the same products onboard their floating hotels, the public should not have to subsidize those businesses or commercial interests.

Given the size and scale and magnitude of the project, our leaders must demonstrate the highest levels of transparency and good governance. The public deserves all relevant information in order to make an informed decision. It appears, given their blind support and their close connections and working relationship with government, that the pro-port lobbyists know more than the general public about the project, such as full project details and the financing formula, terms and projections.

Therefore, those business owners should lead by example and demonstrate their confidence in the project by sharing all the relevant information with the public and demanding the government do the same, instead of expecting a type of government bail out from the public purse.

This issue is too important for the future of our country to play the usual ‘politricks’. A referendum will clearly demonstrate the will of the people at a time when Cayman has record numbers in both cruise passenger arrivals and air arrivals.

Unfortunately, the attitude and behavior being displayed by the Unity government, particularly the Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell, the Unity Cabinet members, caucus and Ministry of Tourism officials, regarding the promised public consultation and information sharing phase. Details that have emerged suggests that there may exist significant issues that may potentially embarrass this government.

If so, the question to be asked is: why are they committed to moving forward at any costs? In fact, their collective actions are reminiscent of the conduct of the previous UDP administration during its negotiations with CHEC in 2011-12, which the PPM opposition members fought against, alleging a lack of transparency, possible corruption and failing to meet the appropriate standards of good governance.

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Category: development, Local News, Viewpoint

Comments (182)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It is too late. Qualified bidders will now seek damages from CIG for costs incurred if the process is changed or stopped. This could run into millions.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There was an election, one of the main/top items on the adgenda was the dock. They won.

    1. Why are they unwilling to engage the public?
    – Define engage the public. To hold a useless referendum whose whole purpose is to derail the project?

    2. What are the estimated total costs of the project?
    – How does a referendum whose whole purpose is to derail the project affect this?

    3. Is the CIG providing a guaranty for the project?
    – How does a referendum whose whole purpose is to derail the project affect this?

    4. Where is the updated EIA and business case as a result of the new design, size, costs associated by moving into deeper waters?
    – How does a referendum whose whole purpose is to derail the project affect this?

    • The Constitutional Critic says:

      This would make sense

      -Except the PPM ran 15 Candidates and only got 7 elected ( simple math shows they lost more races than they won)

      -The PPM spent the most money on the election out of any party, had incumbency and name recognition advantage going into 2017

      – Yet The PPM ended up net losing two seats including 3 sitting ministers

      * In any other country a loss that great with incumbency, the most money and being the ruling party would generally mean that the party leader would step down (of course this is Cayman)*

      The PPM have no mandate, they essentially lost the election then managed to cobble together the only people hungrier for power than the PPM the CDP (aka Mckeeva and Mckeeva’s ego) into the unholy alliance we have today

      -Austin Harris ran against the port and decried the lack of transparency
      -John John was an independent and was too busy talking about impossible policies like a moratorium on Work Permits to talk about the port
      – the CDP spent the last 4 years talking about how the PPMs plan was horrible

      So out of the 13 Government members only 8-9 of them could actually vote for the port without being blatant hypocrites of course this will never be brought to a vote because they can just sign the contract behind closed doors

      When the opposition’s motion for the referendum is discussed we will see which way Austin Harris and the CDP backbenchers vote as John John and Tara are bound by collective responsibility and the PPM backbenchers are only mindless drones waiting for their turn to have “Hon.” in front of their name

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m willing to bet that if CIG added in a “buy-out” of the tender business into the Port deal you would see save Cayman page and website disappear overnight. That’s where the money for that group comes from.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is that everything in Cayman that needs to be done people kicks against it, the first real Airport Bldg., the cargo dock etc, etc, people kicked against it, but after it is done they say oh that is lovely, what happened to Cayman common sense ? Cayman is the only place without a Dock, we need it, so go ahead and build it. Can any one name one place that a dock was built that destroyed the beach.

      • Anonymous says:

        1. It’s not mainly against the idea itself but the affect on the environment and how the project is being handled.

        2. Lack of common sense is what is driving these projects and it’s the common sense of the people who see there are potentially disastrous repercussions from these projects. Like the destruction of historic dive sites like the Balboa, Devils Grotto, Eden Rock, Pageant Beach Reef and Fish Pot Reef to name a few.

        3. We have a dock, it’s that big concrete thingy sticking out of the harbour where the cargo boats come and tied up to.

        4. It’s not the beach we are talking about it’s the underwater environment, you know the one that takes decades to grow back IF it grows back at all.

        5. The only beach this would affect is that 60ft x 15ft of sand in Hog Sty Bay which people don’t really use anymore.

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