Saunders challenges ‘sustainability’ of PACT

| 27/04/2023 | 34 Comments
Chris Saunders in parliament, Cayman News Service
Chris Saunders in parliament, 26 April

(CNS): In his first address to parliament from the opposition benches since being fired from the PACT Cabinet, Chris Saunders (BTW) challenged the sustainability of some of the Cayman Islands Government’s fiscal and political plans. Sustainability has been billed as a major component of this government, but the now estranged independent MP said revenue derived from selling Cayman’s land and jobs was unsustainable.

The former finance minister said that in 2022 the government had an operating surplus of over CI$47 million. However, this had given him some cause for concern because a close look at the figures showed that most of it came from better-than-expected revenue from both work permits and stamp duty.

“When you break down how it came about, CI$45 million of that CI$47 million… was basically selling Caymanain jobs and selling Caymanian land, and that in itself is something that is unsustainable,” he said, noting that government did not hit its original customs duty target in 2022, which indicated that inflation had begun to impact consumption as people have less money to spend.

However, import duty was an important factor in the Cayman Islands’ tax base, he said, and the country was going to have to engage in a difficult conversation about future-proofing the economy and about where government derives its revenue.

Saunders said he was also concerned about the predictions for 2026 set out in the Strategic Policy Statement because just one major event could push the CIG into non-compliance with the Public Management and Finance Law. He further noted that over the SPS period, the government would no longer be able to finance capital and equity from its surpluses each year but would have to use savings, which was also unsustainable.

Cayman’s banking system was also facing some risks, Saunders said. He pointed out that the local banks had a combined loan portfolio of $2.4 billion, which, given the size of recent interest rate hikes and the domestic banks’ mismatch between loans and deposits, was unsustainable, and Cayman needed to create a capital market.

The rising cost of living, food insecurity, fuel prices and the growing population are all unsustainable, he said, as is a growing dependency gap between the working population and those in retirement, which without work permit holders would be the worst in the world at more than 50%.

The inadequate private sector pension system and the current healthcare situation were also unsustainable and in need of significant reform. While Saunders said the CIG must bring down public spending, he is proposing free healthcare for children and the over 68s because, he said, the government could not afford to keep picking up the healthcare tab for those who are under-insured or have no cover at all.

He said the current situation where the private health insurance firms gain all the profits while the public purse faces all the losses was also unsustainable. Saunders said that was why he had been driving the expansion of CINICO, though he recently told CNS that those efforts had been met with significant backlash from the private insurance providers, who were also influencing his former Cabinet colleagues.

The SPS is not the budget and is as much a political as a fiscal document. As such, the premier would have been a major driving force behind it. Nevertheless, Saunders, who was finance minister until last month, would have had some input into the figures, but since he split with PACT, he has indicated that he had concerns about the levels of government spending as well as future revenue.

However, he was more generous about the predictions made by the public sector technocrats and praised the hard work of those in the finance ministry.

See Saunders’ address on CIGTV below:

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Category: Government Finance, Politics

Comments (34)

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  1. Things that make you go Hmmmmm.... says:

    Pure hypocrisy. Isnt it ironic that both revenue streams Saunders is lamenting over, work permits and customs duties were under the remit of the minister of finance Mr Saunders? He was also in charge of stamp duty waivers on property purchases too as well as other concessions granted. Now he that he is no longer in power the sky is falling????

  2. lil Bobo in East End says:

    Classic Saunders, really worrying that he was in charge of anything financial.

    As others have pointed out the Caymanian workforce here is not large enough to do all of the work. Leave that alone as there are real issues with Caymanians being passed over etc etc

    But how much of the Stamp Duty was on land? Not much. This windfall is generated by constructed homes and condos. These get sold over and over with Stamp paid every time. I think Chris knows this but is being tricky with it…

    Anyway, he is not to be trusted based on how the banks he has managed have performed.

    • Anonymous says:

      It isn’t just Saunders you need to worry about. His relatives and supporters he’s appointed to boards are just as ignorant, and loud mouth by being connected to him.

    • Anonymous says:

      He has too much brass in his face.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Saunders is a Cry Baby!

    • Anonymous says:

      I am trying to understand why so much was going awry and we are just hearing about it now. Stories have been leaked from their cabinet meetings but how come I/we never heard any of the tales he is now telling . Hard to know what is fact and what is fiction!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Time for an election.

    • Anonymous says:


      Why do we need an election…For Chris?? Maybe a by-election in BTW because I wasted my vote..Wondering now if I shouldn’t have just thrown away my vote on Vincent..

      Chris you have failed BTW.. I certainly won’t be voting for you again

  5. Anonymous says:

    The headline is right this PACT government is NOT sustainable. After watching what happened last night with the MAC motion – utter disrespect toward the Premier by all but 2 of his government. As he sat there and took it. Followed by him blaming the Civil Service.
    Quite unbelievable and that group is anything BUT PACT United. It’s more like UDP United.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Chris raises some valid concerns however he was also part of the problem. This makes it difficult for people to determine the sincerity of his words.
    He is correct that should the revenue sources from land sales etc. shift it could jeopardize the budget.
    PACT members campaigned on over development but they have put in an express lane for development.
    There are consequences for quick fixes to fill government’s coffers with revenue and not plan for the future.
    We sound like a broken record but until there are term limits that prohibit them for serving beyond 2 terms, these budgets are just about their re-election efforts.
    The career politicians are the worst stain as they continue to operate in a good old boy fashion where deals are cut based on who you know and who can benefit. It would appear that McKeeva has mentored Jay Ebanks on this as well as Kenneth and maybe Chris.
    The people continue to vote this caliber in as they get handouts and don’t care about good governance.
    Nothing lasts forever. If the voters don’t care and don’t see that these clowns are putting our very financial market at jeopardy then shame on them and god help our grandchildren.

  7. Anonymous says:

    With his political career in free fall, he might spare a thought for his own sustainability. Just sayin.

  8. Anonymous says:

    zero creditablity.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Trouble in PACT land, I predict the Government collapse is imminent

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly as predicted.
      Saunders will criticize everything government does, and he’s going to be helped by Kenneth, Jay, Mac and DuhWayne, until they can oust Panton.
      Be afraid Cayman, he’s turning us into Jamaica.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is the agenda. Make no bones about it Saunders is still very much in control. Watch the space.

    • Anonymous says:


      Alden has been praying and hoping for a collapse of the government since inception. I assume you are of the same ilk as him and the PPM. Wishing and predicting the collapse of your country’s duly elected government instead of congratulating them reeks of Trumpism and the Maga party and (notice I said Maga party not Republican party) power and control is the end game. PPM never was for the people of this country and those fools that follow Alden as if he was Trump only have to turn on the TV or go on any social media platform to see the division this movement has caused in the USA.

  10. Anonymous says:

    A load of rubbish. He just left the government. Was he a part of the sale of jobs? Big stupse.

  11. Jason says:

    Rubbish! This was our minister and he doesn’t know that our economy runs because we export services to overseas clients and provide services to tourists. The former requires an abundance of highly-skilled professionals which our local population can’t support and the latter requires a diverse workforce to service tourists coming from overseas. Besides, if we put every suitable Caymanian in work we still wouldn’t have enough Caymanians to fill the available jobs. The local employment rate is practically zero, so what jobs are being “sold”? As for stamp duty – it’s the right of every Caymanian to sell their land. If we were only allowed to sell to other Caymanians we wouldn’t have a real estate market. This garbage Chris is spewing is the worst sort of politics – to stir up hate and division among people for political gain. Desperate and sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      ohhh now you got good ideas! You just had those areas for 2 years! Expose wa wuk yah done!

      Watchin dis space.

  12. Anonymous says:

    There is a fundamental flaw in understadning what “health care” is. Not just in Cayman, but in general.

    Health care is erroneously equated with health insurance, with an ability to pay for medical services.

    Health Care is Caring for Health so one remains healthy. Nobody ever talks about prevention other than eat right and exercise (and check your cholesterol, sugar and BP). Too many factors affect ones health besides food and physical activities.

    In Cayman in particular, environmental pollution of air, water, flora, fauna, sea, soil etc. is catastrophic, if one bothered to measure. This creates more illnesses and deaths than a proverbial hamburger or lack of physical activities.

    Nobody ever talks about real prevention and the entire focus is on the ability to pay for medical services (health insurance). This is as unsustainable as it could be.

    Growing environmental pollution => more people get sick => more medical services needed => more money needed to pay for it => bankruptcy. This will continue in perpetuity.

    Cleaning up environmental pollution in Cayman will take more than money. It will require people in CIG who understand the problem, have a vision and a strategy to achieve that vision.

    Meantime mangroves are disappearing, public access to green and clean unaltered natural environment is impossible (it doesn’t exist), more development, more hospitals, more doctors, more waste, including hazardous, infects and radioactive. And still nobody is talking about Radiation safety and incinerator(s) pollution control in accordance with 21st century standards.

    And of course there is The Dump!

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ll bet dioxin levels in Cayman, especially in 5 miles radius of The Dump are very, if not extremely, high. Accumulation of other toxic chemicals is probably off the chart as well.
      🛑Dioxin Key Facts
      •Dioxins are called persistent organic pollutants (POPs), meaning they take a long time to break down once they are in the environment.
      •Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones.
      •Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment, and they accumulate in food chains, concentrating mainly in the fatty tissue of animals.

      💁🏼I am flabbergasted why NOBODY talks about environmental pollution in Cayman. General statements are made but nobody pays attention.

      Why no privates citizen or groups conduct an independent PROPER testing/analysis of the levels of harmful toxins in the environment?
      Quality testing for hazardous chemicals in the environment (indoor and outdoor) is an extremely complex process that starts with the proper collection of samples that is affected by many factors.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Name the specific jobs sold.

    • Anonymous says:

      Start with a look at ANY offshore recruiter’s website.

      Thats an industry that has gotten a free pass for far too long.

      I can remember being a 19 year old Caymanian on a temporary contract. The recruiter charged me out at $25/hour and I got paid $12/hour. The recruiter literally took over half of my money, and for what?

      And unless my details are completely dated, it used to be that if a candidate got past six months employment the recruiter got 3 months’ salary of the person recruited.

      You want to talk about a bloodsucking tick on Caymanian employment, look no further than the recruiters.

      Put a tax on those recruitment contracts. Stop selling Caymanians as god damn slaves.

      • Anonymous says:

        You don’t have to look farther than local manpower recruiters that deal specifically with workers for Dart and other large developers. The sleazy Caymanians that own these shady operations have a hotline to WORC, receive permits carte blanch and operate like personnel pimps.

        • Anonymous says:

          Key point – owned by Caymanians. We are doing it to ourselves, there is no one else to blame. We elect them.

          • Anonymous says:

            Owned by Caymanians on paper but who really owns these firms in reality just like many of these “Caymanian owned” organizations.

            • Anonymous says:

              Not only employment agencies but real estate business iare also something that needs some real oversight. anotner cartel

      • Anonymous says:

        They recruit expats on same terms. I got $10 ph, agency charged employer $35 ph + 10% of my annual salary if I got hired. That was almost 20 years ago.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mine was.
      All with the help of a government lawyer who wrongly advised that application did not have to be disclosed to immigration.
      The actions of some employers have been criminal.
      No prosecutions though.
      Why is that?


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