Government secrecy and deception is a slippery slope

| 05/01/2019 | 66 Comments

Cayman News ServiceJohann Moxam writes: The Ministry of Tourism’s refusal to release the FOI requested information on the cruise berthing project speaks volumes. Does anybody remember the public meeting hosted by the ministry on 26 Sept 2018 at the Family Life Center? The participation of the cruise lines’ representatives at the public meeting and the failure by CIG officials to disclose their participation in their version of “high level procurement exercise” was duplicitous and exposed for the farce it was.

That single orchestrated act confirmed the CIG is willing to withhold information, to deceive the public and misrepresent the facts. It was, and is, an insult to voters and citizens of this country who operate with any level of objectivity and common sense.

Countries and governments that abide by the principles of good governance and transparency would not so boldly ignore them. If McKeeva Bush or any of his UDP government had done this, the sitting members of the Progressive party and the independent members on the government bench would have been in an uproar. They and the public would have demanded full investigations and for charges to be laid by the authorities under several laws, including the Anti-Corruption Law.

As a country, we go down a slippery slope when we abandon standards and fail to consistently apply laws, rules and regulations across the board for all parties, persons, public officials and government administrations.

The deliberate actions of the government, specifically at the ministry and Cabinet who invited, arranged or otherwise facilitated representatives from Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines on the platform to address the country (who are members of the Verdant Isle Group bid group for the CBF) potentially exposed CIG to legal actions from other bidders, given that the bids were submitted. These actions compromised the integrity of the process which CIG now seems desperate to protect.

What is worse, the CIG procurement office’s team and the Minister of Tourism where fully aware that those cruise line representatives were part of a final bid group. Three Cabinet members sat in the front row, along with countless senior ministry officials in attendance. How is it possible that those in government, members of the platform and organisers of the event are not held to account for making a mockery of the process?

It is imperative that the public and tax payers demand accountability and transparency from our government at every level.

This is the single largest and most complex and expensive capital works project undertaken in our history, and yet as a country we are told we have no right and no need to know basic facts, such as the total costs of the turnkey project, payment terms and conditions, commitments made by CIG or passenger commitments made by the cruise lines in the financing agreement.

What volume of passengers is this government committing the country to accommodate? Is it 2 million? 2.5 million? Or 3 million? What else will we have to pay for in terms of ancillary infrastructure and how will the required ancillary infrastructure be funded?

Early indications are that when the petition for a referendum reaches the 25% registered voter threshold, this government is prepared to ignore the constitutional rights and voices of the people and instead arrogantly move forward with the project.

This government is racing ahead, chasing every promised dollar, without a clear vision, without implementation plan, without due care and concern for the people or without care for the environment. The majority of Caymanians and the majority of our current residents do not benefit from the cyclical economic booms or the promised next wave of economic growth. In fact, each month more and more local families are slipping into poverty, having to choose between putting food on the table or paying their electricity bill.

The same government touting all the supposed economic benefits and jobs is the one that fails to provide effective vocational training, reskilling of adults and has within it two former ministers of education who over the past decade failed to prepare thousands of students coming out of the public school system to enter the workforce.

On 26 September the cruise lines told the public that even if Grand Cayman didn’t build the berthing facilities, they would still come. Then the pro-port lobby and government launched their pro port campaign, rife with misleading statements and lies. Next they announced a financing deal with the cruise lines but we, the public, are not owed an explanation or any information on this massive liability the country is taking on.

The cruise berthing project was always government sponsored corporate welfare for a handful of businesses, the owners of which are influential political supporters of the current government. The taxi drivers and watersports operators are merely useful pawns in this game of politricks.

If the sitting government and civil servants can proceed like this on something as big, visible and expensive as the cruise berthing project, what else is going on behind closed doors with other capital projects and procurement programmes?

This comment was posted in response to Tourism ministry refuses FOI on cruise line deal

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Category: development, Local News, Viewpoint

Comments (66)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    remember now, the Government is full of members of the ‘ring club’. they are not going against each other for anything in the world.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What is Cayman famous for? The 7-mile beach It’s not 7 miles long. We were famous for our friendliness. We had Caymanians working in the tourism industry. Well, is that you? Is that you’re family members? If stayover tourism is doing so well is that because of Caymanians? Where? How many hotels employ Caymanians? How many Dive companies? Bars or restaurants?
    We need a dock, you all agree. You all can’t make up your minds where. You claim by pushing it further out to see it was “better for the environment,” but it also brought the price up. You all have seen on youtube the proof that the reefs are dying “all over the world.” You have seen the destruction of the reefs you all claim that magic is not dying here. However, you understood the proof.
    Can you estimate a house or a car but change the design and think that the price is staying the same? Really? We already know around 300 million will be the ballpark figure. The cruise lines have backed the project by putting their money in the bank. The more you delay, the more it will go up. Just like any other project, but you all know that. You also know that all Government projects always cost more and take longer. Clifton Hunter School, further back CAL. We have never made a profit on CAL. Where is the referendum? The government has given 20 million on a yearly basis to keep it going. Is it the freebie for individual families and friends FOI that? LOL, please. Stop complaining about every infrastructure project that comes up for the betterment for these islands. I liked it when they first protested the first dock in GT, and Mr. Berkeley Bush said go home I was elected to do this job and it will be done.
    Barker’s beach is another piece of foolishness. You all know if you don’t invest in a water glass and take a skiff through any canal front home and see that turtle grass and life comes back to all dredged and drained areas in Cayman. Including Starfish point.
    If you all want to protest about something this year? Protest about how are we going to pay for another useless high school and where is the money coming from to build it?

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  3. MM says:

    Port designed for 2 ships; we average 4 a day. China is building docking for their battle ships and our Gov fool as fly.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Theoretically, in calm seas, we’d get maybe 4 of the current 4000-5000 ships (with tug support and harbour-pilots not budgeted), instead of the 8 we sometimes get now. A net reduction of up to half of cruise arrivals on fair-weather days. What we do or don’t do, doesn’t change that there is still only one 6000 pass ship plying our waters for the winter season every second Thursday for the foreseeable. RCL right now are so desperate to fill their boats, that current TV ads are offering inducements of free airfare and booze – perhaps hoping they’ll make up the difference on meal plans, shore excursions, and casino. In any case, no amount of spending on a dock will compel these budget-conscious package-deal consumers to start shopping for the audacious watches, crystal, and jewelry sets of yesteryear. DoT have admitted they don’t keep stats on the origin of our high-end market, understand how they arrived, or even why they come. There are no entry or exit surveys done at all.

      • Anonymous says:

        Airbnb, VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owners) and the like, are the way to go now.
        I am getting my house Vacation Rental ready because I keep hearing how lucrative a business it is. Cruising with families is far more expensive than renting a house or condo, anywhere on the islands.

  4. The Constitutional Critic says:

    Spot on as usual Johann

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Let’s be really honest…these are hardly the first acts of democratic subversion: this Cabinet actively prevents the official Opposition from fulfilling their legislative function. We pay 19+ people, full-time salaries and pensions for four years to shadow the Cabinet and ensure good governance. Yet, this is a Cabinet that still can’t produce full books, or hold department and ministerial heads accountable for massive costly failures. Thieves and incompetents are paid off and retired in quiet redacted settlements we’ll never see. Back room deal-making and closed door Cabinet meetings without any debate or consultation are the cornerstone of their autocratic process. Land-brokering and big cap infrastructure are their main focus. They refuse to enact the baseline Standards in Public Life Law to disclose their finances and conflicts, as would be required of any public company executive or politician in the western world. Enactment of this long-deferred Law was mandated in section 117 of our Constitution (2009). In 2019, you have to look pretty far and wide to find any similar regimes still pretending to be democracies. Even places like Nigeria have some standards.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Big cities are over run by day visitors – the locals are out numbered and being trampled – their way of life is threatened. Places like Bahamas, Venice and Croatia are scrabbling to find a solution quickly. Please don’t let this happen to us – we far too small.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Alden, Mac and all y’all, have fun because this is your LAST term in gov.

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  8. Ironside says:

    For shame to my Government. Let’s not go down the path the leads to unstable public reactions and talk about riots and demonstrations. The atmosphere is ripe for it, just look at France. Best honest and forthright, damn the outcome. But I can dream, can’t I…?

    But I feel this is a necessary quote nonetheless:

    “You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken – unspeakable! – fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse – a
    little tiny mouse! – of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.” – Sir Winston Churchill

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  9. Anonymous says:

    and in other news, barkers beach bar likely to get approved in the coming weeks and building heights of 15 storeys or maybe higher soon to be granted….all while we’re chasing the port story…..dart sure likes to play in the dark

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  10. Anonymous says:

    This government cares only about furthering the wealth of a select circle. This government cares not for the democratic right of the ‘little man’ who may hinder their attempts to further said wealth. This government cares not for future generations either judging by the way they are selling everything off, piece by piece, to the highest bidder. They want the money and they want it now.

    The corruption, greed and cronyism is astounding and unacceptable.

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  11. The Voice never heard says:

    They say that repetition helps people in remembering facts. While Mr. Moxam is 199% correct in his utterings, are his thoughts really sinking in in the ears and minds of his audience. It maybe that the campaign against the piers and Government’s non transparent action(s) on so many fronts needs to be taken on the road. A high number of Caymanians respond demonstrably better to the sight and sound of of the spoken word rather than by articles in newspapers.

    Since the Opposition has now committed itself to the Referendum , it would therefore seem most appropriate for Mr. Moxam, the Opposition and the Referendum leadership and all right thinking Caymanians ( no matter your origin) to take a last stand in an island wide campaign, area by area district by district. This not only will bring the issues front and center to the People ,but will offer the ability to garner more signatures and provide a gauge on the people’s willigness to call for an early election to stop the unbridled nonsense going on in this country.

    What do you proponents of change have to lose, are you truly Patriots or just fond of ever.lasting ever green critique while the country you say you love goes down a slimy path?

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    • Anonymous says:

      9:52 are you losing hope?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree; street presence will make our blind, greedy, government understand that we the people have power. Set a date and have an islandwide demonstration starting at the LA and ending at the port & airport. Let our visitors know how shady our government really is.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    If you like pure emotional speculative nonsense, this article is for you.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    And they say we don’t ive in a Dictatorship? We have been for so long now it is no longer funny.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Elected Dictators are the worst kind
      because people get comfortable as long as the election is held as scheduled and they get to pretend they still have a say

      People don’t realize democracies need to be maintained, they tend toward authoritarianism, and need to be well managed and guarded from all who would attempt to disfigure them

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Johann, 100% right!

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  15. Anonymous says:

    I dont agree and stop blaming civil servants for implementing governments policy

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  16. Anonymous says:

    On point as always Johann. We really need you to run in the next election. The Cayman Islands is depending on people like you.

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    • Anonymous says:

      7:50 you will never see that, life on the talk shows, and media is simple.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman doesn’t elect the people with the right policies or the right ideas

      We elect family, friends, and people and groups who we think will do things we can personally benefit from
      It has to change

      This country is too politically apathetic and immature (politically) for the success of any person like Johann
      Not to mention he wouldnt be able to get anything done on his own

      We need to start electing groups of like-minded people who can shake up this theocratic duopoly and provide desperately needed change on these islands

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  17. Anonymous says:

    And yet I bet at least one person will respond to the FACTS in this fanstastic article with a ridiculous ‘build the dock comment’. As a Caymanian, I am thoroughly frustrated with how this absolute farce continues and convinced that we have a group of pro dock people here who are either simply on the take or have been labotomized!!!

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Preach brother. 100 percent agree.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    There is enough superficial evidence of corrupt non-disclosure to initiate an investigation from the US-end on basis of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, to which principals of Carnival and Royal Caribbean will have to satisfy Department of Justice investigators. There is a clear political corruption headline risk, segwaying perfectly with Blacklistings and other Hollywood-perpetuated anti-“tax Haven” zeitgeist underway. We already know who will be cast in the role of corrupt villinous regime. The worst part is that it is likely just as bad as suspected and our voters have done nothing to correct the situation…

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Tell us Mr. Premier if China Harbour is the chosen developer should construction go ahead? We deserve to know now. This is our country, not yours alone!

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  21. Anonymous says:

    People we need to push the FCO to look into this fiasco like they did last time. I know someone who has been emailing them everyday about this.

    Here are the email addresses being used:

    fcocorrespondence@fco.gov.uk
    OTDEnquiries@fco.gov.uk

    He needs help, I will do this as well and I need a few others to email the FCO everyday about this. Write a letter and send the same letter every day to them. Show them that the people of the Cayman Islands, those people they have a duty to, need their help once again.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, bombard their inboxes.. Force them to take notice.. Let them know that we, those whose offices are part of the governing body that deals the territories are asking for their help.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Betting his emails are automatically directed to the spam folders.

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  22. JUST SAY NO! says:

    The only project that Caymanians should be throwing their support behind is improving public education. YOUR money will be used to build those piers. Meanwhile, YOUR children are being pushed out of the public school system completely unprepared to compete! Those pro-pier ads on the radio say that more cruise passengers will create jobs. But what KIND of jobs??
    Why build cruise ship piers with public funds, just so under educated Caymanians can compete for low paying retail jobs and drive taxis and shuttle buses?? Caymanians won’t be able to compete for those jobs anyway, because retailers will just hire foreigners that will work for less wages! Why not use that money to improve public education, create more scholarships and grants, and prepare our people for high paying CAREERS?? That is the ONLY WAY to build REAL long term prosperity!

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  23. Anonymous says:

    This dock is probably going to be the biggest mistake Cayman will ever make (and that’s saying something considering the daily bad decisions this government makes). This port will cause massive environmental damage as well as cost the people at least $300 million (no plan or figures that show we will ever make the money back).

    I’m just sickened, disheartened and angry that Alden could even say he has a mandate to build this port. I’m whole heartedly against this port but I still feel this should go up for a vote. If the Caymanian people really want this port, they will voice their support for it in a referendum. I will still think it’s a terrible and stupid idea, but at least the people made the choice and not Kirkconnel and Alden.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Great points Johan. These are basic questions that govt refuse to answer we should all be very afraid how it is all being done

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  25. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope the Governor and FCO reads it.

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  26. CAYMANIANS, WAKE UP says:

    CAYMANIANS, WAKE UP! Your government is spending PUBLIC FUNDS to run advertisements that are incredibly misleading. Why are the ads on the radio stating that “It is a myth that Cayman does not need cruise tourism”?? Those that are calling for a referendum have NEVER said that cruise tourism is not important!! Your government is intentionally trying to mislead you into thinking that those people calling for a referendum do not support cruise tourism. This is incredibly disingenuous on the part of the government. If they would do that, intentionally trying to mislead the people, then why should they be trusted??

    Of course the Cayman Islands needs cruise tourism. No one has ever disputed that. The question is whether the Cayman Islands needs to build expensive cruise berthing piers for the new mega-cruise ships. The existing cruise ships will continue to come here anyway!

    Make no mistake, ANY dredging in the harbour will ruin the dive sites on the west side. ANY dredging in the harbour will wash up on Seven Mile Beach. ANY dredging in the harbour will effect the wave action on the west side and could result in horrible and permanent beach erosion! Sign the petition Caymanians, and at least you will have a say in what happens to YOUR Country!!

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  27. Anonymous says:

    John speaking truth to power again.

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    • ENOUGH IS ENOUGH says:

      Exactly!
      The most important point being THE FACT THAT EVEN IF THE PORT IS NOT BUILT THE CRUISE LINES WILL STILL COME. Do not let the lies that our tourism will suffer if we do not built the new port to attract these mega ships fool you. I cannot even imagine what thousands more tourists per day walking blindly up and down through George Town (spending far less money than we are made to believe) will look like.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Johann just doesn’t understand procurement rules.

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      • Caveat Emptor says:

        Apparently neither does the Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, CO Stran Bodden Max Jones, Peter Range from the procurement dept. plus the Unity govt based on their collective actions. That public meeting and events seemed to prove it.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Government is using the procurement law in s crude attempt to cover up corruption.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Apparently the government doesn’t either and the 2 cruise reps who are part of companies BIDDING came to a meeting on the side of the government proves this.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I think Mr. Moxam called out the double standards of the ppm style procurement rules very well in the article.

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    • Anonymous says:

      people, the government will be the government.
      Friday as i listened to radio cayman I was shock to hear Dart top critic,the one that claim
      the west Bay road tunnel was the end of cayman, giving Dart works praise!
      I will still have my ears check.

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  28. Jon Blaze says:

    Pure ???? talk di tings. Wake up people

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  29. Anonymous says:

    Moxam hit the nail on the head!

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  30. Anonymous says:

    Well said Johann. You leadership and consistency in raising real questions is what we need from more people in our community.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The fundamental absurdity of this is the diversion of focus. ‘Bigger ships and more cruise numbers’. Please take a moment and google ‘what is Grand Cayman famous for, Grand Cayman top attraction’. Overall Seven Mile Beach whilst not always top at different websites is consistent enough to be considered the top attraction as will observed by potential visitors researching ‘Our Beloved Isle Cayman’. Guess what, SMB is no longer realistically available as a destination for a cruise ship visitor. These idiot politicians want to bring more ships here but the top attraction is off limits, think about the absurdity of that. If these blinkered fools in power were to be honest they would also reveal that the cruise lines greatest concern is exactly this, their guests do not have available the ability for their guests to visit one of the top beaches we are known for as has before been voted ‘Top Beach in the World. The reality of what CIG is looking to do here would be no different than SNCF spending in order of $200m to increase capacity from Charles de Gaulle airport to the Eiffel Tower and then promptly put a a two mile perimeter fence around it, – incredible, fundamentals and priorities and the complete lack of observance of them..

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    • Anonymous says:

      This looks for once in the modern era Caymanian people will unite to challenge the status quo for the benefit of this environmentally fragile island and the social and economical negative impact this project will have on succeeding generations of Caymanians! And it’s not the concern of not getting this project to materialise that is concerning the old established political socio/ economic order as much as seeing Caymanians unite against it. Which could set a precedent that we are finally overcoming socio-economic and political manipulation as a people who has been marginalized for too long!

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’m afraid Caymanians will not listen until it’s too damn late. Then they will holler and whine, when nothing can be done and we are all stuck with the consequences of these elected idiots.

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  31. say it like it is says:

    What about the dismissal of the Head of Cinico, not a word of explanation given.

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    • #FACTS says:

      The Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009

      People-initiated referendums

      70.—(1) Without prejudice to section 69, a law enacted by the Legislature shall make provision to hold a referendum amongst persons registered as electors in accordance with section 90 on a matter or matters of national importance that do not contravene any part of the Bill of Rights or
      any other part of this Constitution.

      (2) Before a referendum under this section may be held—
      (a) there shall be presented to the Cabinet a petition signed by not less than 25 per cent of persons registered as electors in accordance with section 90;
      (b) the Cabinet shall settle the wording of a referendum question or questions within a reasonable time period as prescribed by law; and
      (c) the Cabinet shall make a determination on the date the referendum shall be held in a manner prescribed by law.

      (3) Subject to this Constitution, a referendum under this section shall be binding on the Government and the Legislature if assented to by more than 50 per cent of persons registered as electors in accordance with section 90.
      .
      .
      #Petition #Referendum #Cayman #Constitution

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    • Anonymous says:

      YES! Someone needs to follow that trail… where did all that money go??? People know….

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