Premier outlines record public spending

| 08/11/2019 | 25 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin delivers the 2020-2021 Budget Policy Statement

(CNS): The premier outlined the details of the biggest ever budget the Cayman Island has ever seen in both spending and earnings on Friday. Government is expecting to collect well over CI$800 million in both 2020 and 2021, which is more than US$2 billion over the two year period. Both years will see a significant increases in spending on public services, another civil service cost of living increase and hikes in benefits for veterans and indigents, and much more.

In his two-hour long statement in the Legislative Assembly, Premier Alden McLaughlin outlined the huge list of things on which the government will expend the public’s cash over the next 24 months, before Finance Minster Roy McTaggart drilled down into the figures and forecasts.

In McLaughlin’s last budget as premier and one that is 18 months away from a general election, he painted a picture of a robust economy and what he claimed was a country doing unbelievably well as a result of his government’s hard work. He then set out a brief outline of the programmes, projects, policies and people who will benefit from the heavy budget expenditure.

Entitling his budget statement “Delivering Today’s Priorities; Meeting Tomorrow’s Challenges”, McLaughlin said the theme was about the need to deal with present concerns while planning for the future. “It is about continuing to build a strong Cayman by meeting today’s needs and building for tomorrow,” he told his legislative colleagues.

But, no doubt with an eye on the 2021 election, the premier said his last budget was also about finishing what his government had started and fulfilling election promises. This budget, he said, provided the resources to deliver on the commitments.

From a significant investment in traffic to cutting or waiving more than a dozen different fees for pensioners, the premier said the budget would support the most vulnerable in the community and would at the same time invest in research and analysis to tackle some of Cayman’s biggest long-term challenges.

He said government was going to address the problem for young working Caymanians who cannot afford to buy a home because of unsustainable property prices through both long- and short-term solutions and would also examine how to overhaul the growing healthcare challenge to both people and government, which is picking up an ever-growing tab because of failings in the private system.

McLaughlin announced spending on education, border and internal security, building a centre for the new coast guard, increasing payments to veterans and indigents, funding more work to prevent child and domestic abuse, creating a centre for kids in foster care and funding an anti-gang strategy. He said that the mental health facility would be delivered in this budget cycle and he was confident the waste-mangement project would finally move ahead.

As he outlined new investment in a host of areas, from financial services to the end of unemployment, the one area of neglect was the environment. In his two-hour, 67-page presentation, there was no mention at all of climate change, the direct threat to Cayman from sea level rise, a move toward greening our economy or even when the marine park enhancements would be rolled out.

McLaughlin, however, spent a considerable amount of time emphasising how robust the local economy was, which was enabling the record levels of spending. He said the budget adheres to the strict fiscal principles and is in full compliance with the law.

“This budget delivers our spending priorities but still ensures a healthy operating surplus. Fees and duties are once again held steady and previous reductions are maintained. The ambitious capital investment programme we have set out is being paid for from revenue without any need to borrow,” he said.

Despite the bumper spending in the budget, he said that this, like all other budgets, had required government to make choices.

“There are always things that we would have liked to be able to fund but for which we could just not find the money. There are investments that would yield benefits to Cayman that are just not affordable at this time,” he said, but added that it did give a much-needed boost to older people and the vulnerable in the community.

“It is a budget for families. It is a budget that will bring relief to commuters. It is a budget for opportunities as we bring to fruition the development of WORC and continue to drive forwards the improvements of our education system. It is a budget to tackle the issues faced by our people today and a budget that provides a platform from which we can better meet the challenges of tomorrow. It is a budget that makes good on the promises this Unity Government made to our people,” he said, as he asked the parliament for support.

The premier’s speech was followed by the delivery of the actual budget and the figures by Roy McTaggart in the Budget Address (see related story) including the expectations for the end of 2019. Both the statement and the address will now be debated by members, starting next Wednesday, before the Finance Committee is convened, where this record-breaking spending plan will be scrutinised in detail.

See the full speech in the CNS Library


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Category: Government Finance, Politics

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How much he alone spent in Monaco?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Going out with a bang I see.

  3. Fed up to the back teeth says:

    Hey when are we the peasants and rascals who pay your salaries getting our share? Haven’t had a raise in about 8 years now. So basically my salary goes down every year coz the cost of living goes up. Cost of business too high. Cost of food – way to high. Cost of everything way too high. I don’t know how people with young children survive. We gave up meat. We don’t buy cookies ice cream etc. etc. and the grocery bill is at least $200 a week. If you want to do something about childhood obesity – make good food cheaper. Sorry I forgot, you obviously don’t want to help your own people. I am sick tired and very dissilusioned with life here in Cayman. The people are suffering. Its time to get off your high well fed spoilt entitled backsides and help.

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  4. The silent majority! says:

    Less focus on high end teacher’s salaries and more investment in actual school infrastructure and resources. To wit:-
    1. A primary school with some 440 students (Savannah Prmary)should ALWAYS have a qualified nurse on site; coupled with proper nursing station;
    2. Should be same for all schools of similar size;
    3. To allow for proper after-school programs and children safety; Government needs to provide sufficient after-school bus transport from center to homes;
    4. Why isn’t a Doctor on duty at the BT medical clinic on a Tuesday? ?..

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry sound like your on the “entitlement” bandwagon.
      Crap salaries recruit crap teachers meaning crap education.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    It would be nice if he lowered the duty on basic essentials. If he needs an offset, make the developers pay more than 0 on construction materials.

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    • Anonymous says:

      And exactly how much money was allocated to move the DUMP? Looks to me like nothing. Great rhetoric though. Just fooling us again.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. How about removing the duty entirely for perisable groceries? Would be great if we could lower the price of fruit, veggies and milk.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So much corruption, wasting the peoples money on ludicrous projects.

    Alden is a failure to the CIG and the Community that live in Cayman.

    I hope we learn from our mistakes on future political parties.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is history replaying again. Remember when he spent all that money last time he lost to the UDP? I can see we’re going down that same road.

  7. gee says:

    pay scales should look like this in gov

    top gets 1%
    middle 5%
    lower 10%

    to even it all out

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  8. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Nothing for addiction control, counseling and rehab – root source of almost all our theft and violent crime.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Giving Alden money is like pouring water down a drain…

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Just another, throw something at the peasants to make them feel good budget.. I am amazed though how people continue to believe this crock..

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Alden, promises are comfort to a fool..Why do these politicians believe that putting out these rosy statements ahead of an election is going to get them re-elected..

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Let’s make something clear. Raising the teachers base salary to $5,000 will not “attract top talent” to the teaching profession. What it will do is ensure that everyone in a 300 mile radius will be clawing to get a position her in our schools. Not for love of teaching Cayman’s children, but for exchange rate of money.

    Try holding people accountable, instead of throwing money at the problem Juju!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Yes, spending which includes a $10+ million school and another in the pipeline, gross over-spending on airport expansion Phase 1, repaving the roundabout behind Ritz 3 times and eventually “re-designing” and rebuilding it, spending MY money to campaign for its own port argument, against MY wishes, etc., etc., etc.!

    Spending on education??!!! After Julianna shafted the teachers by reneging on her promise of a pay raise?! Primary schools still failing inspections and teachers still have to buy their own supplies for schoolchildren?! Get real Alden!

    Perhaps “Government wastage” would be a more appropriate headline!!

    Cayman, wake up and put these delusional “leaders” out to pasture for good!!!

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