PACT preparing new policy on duty waivers

| 30/05/2022 | 117 Comments
Cayman News Service
Neon lights at FIN

(CNS) The Cayman Islands Government is working on a new policy that is likely to upend the traditional approach to duty waivers and other concessions. Premier Wayne Panton told CNS that past administrations had given up revenue in exchange for jobs or to boost economic activity. But Cayman’s priorities have changed, he said, and PACT will be seeking ways to incentivize people towards sustainable, environmentally-friendly development or redevelopment, or to not develop at all.

Since coming into office, PACT has not offered waivers or concessions to any large developers. The premier said he wants to take a new approach that will encourage people to be greener, more sustainable and to do the right thing when building a home or embarking on a major project, which may include being given economic incentives not to touch pristine habitat.

Duty reductions or waivers will in future be given to developers for such actions as limiting any clearing they do, using only native plant species at a development site, and using green technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of a project.

Over the years governments have given away millions of dollars in duty fees and waivers, almost exclusively to large developers, to secure the investment and the jobs. But this policy received significant criticism when CNS embarked on a very long and challenging freedom of information request in 2020 to assess how much public money the government had given up to luxury condo developments that appeared to offer no benefit to local people.

Duty waivers had been given to FIN in South Sound, the beleaguered redevelopment of Treasure Island, and the slow-moving developments of Beach Bay and Pageant Beach. Even the Cayman Islands’ wealthiest developer, Dart, has received concessions over and above those in the controversial NRA deal.

The auditor general has been pressing the government for more than five years to roll out a clear and unambiguous concessions policy that will also provide for monitoring. While the finance ministry had written a draft policy during the previous administration, the PPM-led government stalled its implementation.

However, it is now clear that the new policy will be a very different animal. Panton told CNS that previous giveaways were not properly monitored, nor were they based on the right priorities. He said they were reviewing the policy “to create a sustainable development incentives framework” to encourage people to do the right thing.

“We have done a lot of things that we have never tracked. They sound, on the face of it, attractive in some respects, but if we don’t track them, what does it matter? They promise hundreds of jobs, but do we really need hundreds of jobs or do we need other things?”

He said the government wants to give concessions to developers who are taking a more sustainable approach, and he wants to tie this in with the anticipated climate change policy, which will be complete before the end of this year. The current climate risk assessment exercise is expected to outline what is needed to build resiliency, and it will be this, rather than trying to attract construction, that will fuel future concessions on duty or other fees.

Panton said he wanted to use fees and waivers as an incentive to create resilience and to begin confining development to already man-modified areas and redeveloping existing buildings to be more sustainable. The goal will be to only reward those who make energy-efficient buildings, use endemic plants and preserve habitats, and develop on man-modified rather than untouched land.

“Resiliency only works if it is joined up and everyone is resilient,” the premier told CNS.

Speaking at a Public Accounts Committee meeting last week about the problems relating to current concessions, Customs and Border Control Director Charles Clifford said that many given to major developers were ambiguous. He explained that in the past he has had to request clarification on the concessions policy as it is not always clear which items are to receive the duty waivers and for how long.

When it came to applying the policy, Clifford said that “we do the best that we can with the information we have available to us”.

Senior Assistant Financial Secretary Michael Nixon told PAC that concession agreements where the developer was required to provide jobs for local people were even more difficult to monitor and ensure compliance. He said that more often than not, the developers were not legally obligated to provide work for Caymanians but were merely asked to try.

“I have not seen concessions where they must employ [locals]. What I have seen is wording to the effect that they make every effort to employ Caymanians and that they report the breakdown of the labour… working on their jobs,” he said.

Nixon said it was this type of issue that they hoped would be addressed in the new concessions policy when it is rolled out. There would then be a formal structure to the concessions and their application, with the details captured in the agreements.

Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson told PAC that after some six years of delays in rolling out a concessions policy under the two PPM-led administrations, the PACT Government is now reviewing the draft policy. He said a committee had been formed that includes Premier Panton, Finance Minister Chris Saunders, Social Development Minister André Ebanks, Parliamentary Secretary Kathy Ebanks-Wilks and PACT Chief of Strategy Pilar Bush.


Share your vote!


How do you feel after reading this?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: development, Local News, Policy, Politics

Comments (117)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Look at the photo of that ugly, atrocious, pretentious eyesore of a building. Whoever passed the plans for this “thing” to be developed in what used to be the beautiful area of South Sound should be placed in stocks in Hero’s Square and pelted with rotten fruit for a week. Money talks and crap like this get built so a few wealthy individuals can buy and flip for a huge profit.

    13
    2
    • Anonymous says:

      We do nothing to contribute to global warming but are being penalized twice for the damage caused by developed countries,1 severe storms such as Ivan which cost us millions and 2 now with legislation that would prohibit development. The rich countries caused the problems and we suffering the consequences.

    • Richie says:

      I don’t know if Michael Ryan has made a profit on Fin. I doubt if the tasteless blue lights have helped. Get Ryan to pay back the money owed to the government.Only then let him move on to the next project.

  2. No profit no pay says:

    When is a waiver a grant? Ask Michael Ryan.

    14
  3. Anonymous says:

    FIN is just horrendous

    28
    1
  4. Anonymous says:

    The price of materials s about to cause the construction industry to fall flat on its face. With the exception of Dart projects, there will be little to no building taking place in the next 3-5 years.

    With that of course comes the loss of revenue to CIG, let’s hope they have prepared accordingly.

    16
    6
  5. Chris Johnson says:

    I just cannot believe the Government gave money to the old Treasure Isle which has now entered receivership or liquidation for the fifth time over 40 years. Once again creditors are owed millions of dollars including the Government itself because of outstanding pension contributions where they failed to take early action.
    The Government needs to take some form of security, and I do not include flimsy guarantees, when doling out our money.
    The Ritz Carlton was a classic where other creditors totaling over $200m remain unpaid to this day.
    Before implementing any new measures may I suggest the Government runs them pass the public as well as our esteemed Auditor General

    64
    1
    • Orrie Merren says:

      Very good point to emphasize, inter alia, public consultation, Chris. Not enough public consultation on many issues by CIG.

      51
      2
      • Chris Johnson says:

        Agreed and a lot of people would help with fresh ideas.

        43
        1
        • Orrie Merren says:

          Absolutely correct, Chris. Different perspectives provide a variety of factors important for consideration.

          All viewpoints are relevant to consider, whether or not we agree with one another, because it helps fine-tune and focus issues.

          Public consultation is also a hallmark of a transparent democratic society that actively seeks to upholds the rule of law.

          When CIG appears reluctant to engage in public consultation, persons often ask:

          “What is Government hiding from us? And why don’t they want our input?”

          34
          • Anonymous says:

            It’s very simple, Orrie… They don’t want the people to know they are taking our money.

      • Anonymous says:

        Orrie, did you intend to put that “m” in the second line?

        • Orrie Merren says:

          No, I meant to say “many” (not “any”), but that was funny and subtle how you asked that question.

    • Anonymous says:

      Via an FOI the CIG gave Davenport Development $600,000k in duty waivers. Ridiculous if you ask me, because Davenport is laughing all the way to the bank.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is clever. Promote green, receive incentives.

    The only thing I would add is that going green is not cheap and CI Government should acknowledge this. The concession should be enough to induce developers to go green…

    12
  7. Anonymous says:

    CIG should give DART back their $10mln and repossess title to 220 acre Dragon Bay for non-compliance with the spirit and conditions of the NRA deal. In the real world, when a counterparty screws you over, you don’t advance them to lone preferred bidder status. PACT needs to unwind the fait a complait toxic relationship, or file for divorce. CIG are the administrators of this territory, and need to behave like it. We can’t have two rules.

    24
    3
  8. Anonymous says:

    Why concessions in ANY case? Dart and other developers are going to develop in Cayman with or without handouts. . .it’s what they do! And, developers should not be given handouts to build in a sustainable fashion, they should build that way in ANY case, and if they don’t their development plans should be stifled until they do! The government should collect all taxes and duties from the ex-pat developers and use the funds to develop for Caymanians.

    35
    • Anonymous says:

      You do realise that pretty much all of the developers are Caymanian or have Caymanian partners?

      2
      4
      • Anonymous says:

        Okay, then let me rephrase the last sentence: “. . .and use the funds to help less fortunate Caymanians”.

  9. JTB says:

    Don’t listen to what Government says, watch what they do.

    #CPA #RubberStamp

    22
  10. anonymous says:

    Talk is cheap. Lets look at 2015 when there was virtually no projects and CIG needed money to meet their payroll so they encouraged a number of large projects and gave a few concessions. All this green talk is great, however without development, where will the money come from? Panton was part of the PPM giving these developer concessions. Behind the scenes he can’t get agreement for anything because there are 2 groups – team Panton who uses the environment to appease voters and the other team who understand the money needs to come from somewhere to run this country and for them to appease their voters with real stuff, like paving roads, giving stipends, etc. Lets here about progress on the dump, mental health care facility, laws that protect and enhance the FS industry, and the list is long! Instead we hear how some bloke from the UK is writing a green policy for a country he visited for a hot minute, how half of the CIG enjoyed their recent vacation in the UK on taxpayers money, trips to Monaco (although that was kept pretty quiet) and the Jubilee. Talk is cheap – lets see some action that benefits the people and not just the members of PACT government.

    17
    3
    • Anonymous says:

      The block from the UK is only writing a 12-page green policy. It better be spectacular and something that we could not do ourselves. Waste not, want not.

      • Anonymous says:

        The UK should buy back mangrove to compensate for their carbon emissons their unnecessary trip to Cayman. Cayman has Caymanians expert and trained in this knowledge. Why aren’t they providing jobs to these Caymanians? Oh yeh they just want a paid jolly to Cayman

        3
        1
        • Anonymous says:

          Perhaps because these “experts” have done nothing at all to stop the raping of our natural resources for decades and are clearly out of their depth on these issues.

          1
          1
  11. Anonymous says:

    Customs could let us, just live and collect our things, with this wild inflation and cost of living. Can the local people get a reduced cost of food and necessary items to happen?

    25
    2
  12. Anonymous says:

    So the concessions only for the rich and wealthy developers?

    Government recently announcing banning single-use plastic by third quarter of this year. So how about, removing customs duties for alternatives to single-use plastic, so it can become affordable?

    And don’t forget the very innovative edible cutlery brought in by a very young Caymanian through her business, Eco Eats. That is so commendable that she has introduced Cayman to edible cutlery. Give her all the support – she has brought in some delicious and nutritious alternatives to single-use plastic cutlery.

    30
    3
  13. Anonymous says:

    Prepare to fix the damn dump!

    16
    2
  14. Anonymous says:

    We should be planting more vegetation or we are doomed to get unbelievable hot.

    25
    3
  15. Anonymous says:

    Can we build a resilient, green, sustainable 50 story iconic masterpiece to make the speaker happy?

    25
    20
  16. Anonymous says:

    What they need to be reviewing are the non-profit “churches”.

    65
    11
  17. Anonymous says:

    People getting excited but this man has a way with long words that don’t actually say anything, “preparing”, “reviewing”, “re-incentivize”., “sustainable” etc. Commit to a date for goodness sake.

    49
    10
  18. Anonymous says:

    Yeah right. Another PACT / Panton soundbite. Watch the usual suspects still get the green light for everything.
    More lip service to appease woters.

    44
    7
  19. Anonymous says:

    Excellent. And also, superb choice of illustrative photo – the famously vulgar monstrosity which epitomized the worst excesses of the former developer-cuddling government.

    57
    2
  20. FOLLOW THE $$$$ says:

    PPM are pirates just like UDP that gave away concessions like candies to a select few special friends, associates and party donors.

    49
    9
  21. Anonymous says:

    NCB are screwed now! PPM failed them by not forming the government so next lodge meeting should be fun.

    43
    8
  22. Anonymous says:

    Duty waivers shouldn’t be to encourage construction of residential development.

    That said, I don’t think we need to create something that completely bans this as a possibility. Times are good right now but if we get into a multi-year recession there may one day be a need again to incentivize development. But certainly not in the last 7 or 8 years.

    Duty waivers are fine for certain purposes – for example for charities trying to raise money for local causes, for medical equipment or supplies or for things like, oh, I don’t know, FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.

    I wish Mr. Panton would come back down to earth – think practically about things that can help residents. Grandiose plans about sustainability are great, but you’re missing the low-hanging fruit.

    Encourage people to switch to solar power. Get old gas guzzling vehicles off the road by encouraging local emission standards.

    Clean up the dump. Lower duties on fresh food. Provide incentives for local farmers.

    These are achievable goals that you should be focusing on.

    51
    3
    • watcher says:

      Concessions and duty waivers should NEVER be granted to encourage foreign development; they should be trying to court US, not the other way around. We are already overdeveloped. Do we need more condos, more hotels? N.O.

      Concessions have allowed foreign developers to build in such a way as to unfairly compete with existing Caymanian-owned businesses. This must stop.

      We are already looking more like South Beach than a self-sustaining island paradise. Build, build, build because it “boosts the economy”. But does it really? Or do big developments favor Caymanian-owned construction companies which use cheap foreign labour?

      We had better wake up soon, of we will have thrown away that which was unique and special about these islands.

      27
      1
    • Anonymous says:

      ‘Fruits and Vegetables.’ You got me with that…very funny. Study your history of what Cayman has been able to produce to be self-sustaining. Never, and never will be.

      5
      11
      • Anonymous says:

        30 @ 9:41 – So much you know! Johnny-come-lately? There was a time, up until the early-mid 1960s, when Cayman Island’s population was under 10,000 and the islands were essentially self-sufficient in food items – local ground provision and seafoods were the staples for everyone. Almost everyone grew their own food in “grounds”, or caught their own seafood. Imported foods were relatively unknown and only perhaps “luxuries” afforded by a minority of our population, perhaps one or two times a year!

        You may be right that we never will again but we certainly used to sustain ourselves!

        My issue is that – no Government since the 1970s has seeming thought along your lines – we never can again.
        If the will is there it CAN be done!

        But I know someone who just offered the PACT Govt 72 acres of primo farm land UNDER the appraised value and they declined to act.

        6
        2
      • Anonymous says:

        Could be if we didn’t have so many clueless politicians and people like you.

  23. Caymanian on guard. says:

    Excellent !.

    29
    2
  24. Anonymous says:

    lets see what people have to say about PACT now.. lmao
    seeing that they are actually doing somethhing for the island unlike PPM greed

    36
    25
    • Anonymous says:

      Talk is cheap – lets see if this every sees the light of day in any formal policy or legislation.

      12
      2
      • Anonymous says:

        PPM moved all our money, land and rights in silence. At least pact is trying to talk. lol I know cayman isnt use to that and will jump straight to negatives but lmao broaden your minds and see this is already way more than ppm did FOR US.

        2
        1
    • Anonymous says:

      What exactly have they done except talk about future plans?

      8
      1
      • Anonymous says:

        ……………. did you read the article? lmao at least they are trying lmao more than what you can say for the group thats been in for like 8 years before. lol People begged and screamed for them to say something like this and they never did, they proved time and time again tthat they do not care.
        NOW THOUGH pact is actually saying something at least and youre already being negative? lmao good looks!

        fact of the matter is… they are talking right now SURE but they have a lot of things to reverse or just try and fix or TALK ABOUT that ppm/money lead.

        Grow up they are talking and trying more in the bit that they have been in Vs PPM for 20389 years

        4
        1
  25. Anonymous says:

    I’ll save them the time and effort. Here is what the new policy needs to say.

    WE DON’T GIVE DUTY WAIVERS.

    Waivers are a means to encourage development. What Cayman needs right now is less development, not more.

    Developers, if your project won’t stand on its own merit without government handouts go elsewhere. Your project is flawed.

    Cue the thumbs down from the greedy realtors.

    113
    4
  26. Anonymous says:

    Give local farmers duty-free concessions on equipment and supplies, reductions or waivers on WP fees for their workers and direct them to pass-on their savings to consumers!

    That will likely provide more “stimulus” to local trade and business activity than giving waivers to millionaire developers, who build and hire no Caymanians during construction or thereafter!!

    58
    11
    • Anonymous says:

      Local farmers will never make a sizable dent in what the local economy needs; that is dependent of imports, always has been. It sounds like you may be wanting a ‘waiver’ for yourself??? Hmnnn.. Very self centered.

      4
      5
      • Anonymous says:

        Another clueless clown who knows nothing about agro-innovation and agtech. With government help we could so easily be much more self-sufficient, resilient, and less reliant on imports. Food security is real but Cayman too apathetic, lazy, complacent and clueless to do anything about it.

    • mango picker says:

      2.37pm Remember a lot of these “farmers” are politicians and senior civil servants running hobby farms financed by all these generous Gov’t “concessions”.

      17
      3
  27. Anonymous says:

    soon come waffle from no-plan-pact

    20
    25
    • Anonymous says:

      @@;35Pm I’ll take a PACT waffle over a PPM rubber stamp anyday!

      21
      13
    • Anonymous says:

      ladies and gentlemen, here we see PACT infact making a plan but then a brainless commenter who probably didnt read the article saying “no plan pact” because thats what people have been shouting since they took office lmao as if they could change the island in a week lmao

  28. Anonymous says:

    Let’s see the breakdown of what concessions Dart has received over and above those contained in the NRA Agreement.

    This should be good.

    64
    1
  29. Anonymous says:

    Senior Assistant Financial Secretary Michael Nixon actually works??!! Seems like every time I walk into Cost-U-Less or A.L. Thompsons (especially) during the working day, he’s there!

    Ah yes, the benefits of being married to the deputy head of the the Civil Service!

    50
    14
  30. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah

    All smoke in mirrors

    Nothing will be done as long as Mac is lurking

    48
    6
  31. Anonymous says:

    You clowns need to shut up as we need the developers and they need all the concessions they can get. Look at all Mr Dart has done for Cayman. Sir Alden will soon be back in power and then we will have a great economy again!

    13
    98
    • Anonymous says:

      Weak troll, don’t you have end of year exams to be studying for? Fourth grade is going to be difficult for you.

      56
      9
    • Anonymous says:

      Sir or not Alden and the PPM are no longer relevant or wanted.. He needs to stay on his farm and hit happy hour at South Coast and Country on alternating nights..

      14
      2
      • Anonymous says:

        True. Alden is done. PPM is done. Cayman does not want PPM or Alden ever to get hold of real power ever again.

        9
        2
      • Anonymous says:

        Understood. Where is Moses? Seems that Alden and Moses have been missing in action, right?

        At least we know Alden is either at South Coast or Country Western but does not have a constituency office yet, right?

        11
        2
    • Anonymous says:

      @2:24pm By the look of all of the downward thumbs, I don’t think we have to worry about Alden coming back. I don’t even think people will bother with Roy next election.

      They did 12 years and gave so many concessions including to people like Michael Ryan who still owes government millions of dollars to build an ugly private a condominium and destroy the ironshore in West Bay.

      To this day, I cannot figure other than for the love of money, why the PPM sold us out like they did.

      15
      1
      • Anonymous says:

        You don’t need to worry at all. Roy will be retiring and taking Barbara with him. Alden may try to take back the party leadership or let Joey run with it. Either way, the party itself is likely finished.

        17

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.