Sir Alden challenges the reality of UPM budget

| 14/12/2023 | 53 Comments
House Speaker Sir Alden McLaughlin, Cayman News Service
House Speaker Sir Alden McLaughlin (from social media)

(CNS): The new speaker of the House, Sir Alden McLaughlin, challenged the reality of the government’s budget Wednesday when he took his seat in the chamber as a member of Finance Committee. He suggested the United People’s Movement had “fixed the numbers” to match what they had needed, but it was not a real budget.

As MPs questioned ministers on the Cayman Islands’ largest-ever spending plan, first drawn up when Wayne Panton was at the helm and had tried to rein in costs, then taken over by the current premier, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, it became clear that the budget had changed in the last few weeks.

It also appears there is some intent to spend even more than the amounts reflected in the documents.

As Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan explained the budget allocations for his portfolio, he told members asking questions about the difference in spending levels on marketing from this year to next and to 2025 that the reductions had been directed by Panton, who had asked ministers to reduce their spending requests. However, he said that more money would be found if it was needed.

Bryan also said that an allocation for Cayman Airways’ operational costs for international flights could be increased at a later date as, again, the budget might not be sufficient because of the direction to cut expenditure.

McLaughlin said that he supported the needs of Cayman Airways but queried what the tourism minister had said. “I interpret what the minister just said as saying listen, this budget isn’t real; we’ve just fixed the numbers as best we can because this is what we’re stuck with,” he told his colleagues.

“The financial secretary was at pains at the start of Finance Committee to assure us that he saw no real risk of any deficit. But my experience over the years, particularly those terrible years starting in 2008 with the global recession, causes me to immediately start to worry about how many of the other budgets are a stab in the dark, a hope and a prayer that things are going to work out.

“I hope that’s not really the case because if it is, I really fear what’s going to happen over the course of the next couple of years,” he added.

Expressing his appreciation that the current premier had just inherited a situation that was, in many ways, “foisted upon” her, he said he was nevertheless “really worried about how realistic these numbers are to achieve what is set out in the budget documents”.

McLaughlin said that some comfort could be taken from the fact that, speaking from experience, the vast majority of projects that are set to be started by the current government would not get done during the two-year cycle because of the system. But he continued to express his concerns directly to the premier, who was sitting as the Finance Committee chairperson, that the budget may not be real across the board, as he sought reassurances that they were.

O’Connor-Connolly sought to reassure McLaughlin by stating that “two negatives sometimes make a positive in politics” and that supplementary appropriations could be made, if proven necessary, up to 5%. She said that the budget was “an annual estimate”, but there had been “no fidgeting with the budget on my part”.

The premier noted that no one ever gets the budget they want and said she had confidence that the tourism minister had proven he was able to do wonders with whatever budget he had.

During the course of the budget debate and from the start of Finance Committee on Wednesday, there have been indirect hints and ambiguous remarks made by several members that the budget Panton had been pressing for was far tighter than the one that made it before parliament.

While it’s not clear what has gone up and what has gone down, the former premier, currently at home with broken ribs and unable to defend himself, has served as a useful scapegoat for those on the new government front bench, whether for budgeting too much or too little.


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Comments (53)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Magic budget?! Wave a wand PremJuJu and one for Mystic Kenny!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    You lost me at, “Sir”.

  3. Resident says:

    I am not a PPM, UDP, PACT or UPM supporter or particularly like Alden as person for that matter but give him credit where it is due and what he is saying is worth review.
    I believe that UPM or whatever they are called just plugged numbers to complete something that resembles a budget but pay attention if there are not numerous supplementary requests in 2024 which would mean that this budget was unrealistic from the beginning.
    You can fool some of the people some of the time but not all the people all the time.

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    • Anonymous says:

      They fools the people,all the time, they votes for them. Cayman are full of stupid foolish voters

  4. Anonymous says:

    You could have stopped the headline at Sir Alden challenges the reality of UPM.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    This is historical, The Cayman Islands being governed by 3 party politics 🥳

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Sir Alen’s sentiments. Before PPM haters chime in I hope you can chime in from a frame of reference. I listened to alot of the budget address and am also concerned especially when the Premier said on many occassions additional requests can be dealt with on the new year at caucus meetings.
    That tells me that the budget is not accurate and that they intend to allocate additional funding.
    This is a disservice to the people and we run the risk of violating the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility if there are overruns.
    Some of core governments financial results for 2022 are still not tabled so that the public knows how the money was spent and if budgets were violated.
    The fact that they drew down the remaining credit line of $400 million should tell all that they were way over budget.
    They are borrowing more money again so the debt to this country will be in excess of half a billion dollars.
    All PPM can do is point out their failings but the damage is done.
    The next administration will have a heck of mess to clean up and manage a terrible debt load to repay.
    The turkeys and cakes are being handed out again. Grow some balls people and reject handouts and reject these clowns at the next election!

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    • Ezra says:

      9:37 are you a ppm lackey o wa? You got to be bro/Sis when you talk bout “ the budget is not accurate”. Where and in what school of Finance were you and da Kc got ya finance education from? I am not going to expand because your statement tells it all. For that matter that wigless Kc needs to start being the politician many believed he would be truthful, honest and unpretentious and really a lover of this country. If the budget in his opinion is going to be as deleterious as he is postulating isn’t it his duty then to make more clamor and protest on and off the floor of Parliament to avert a crisis to our homeland. Clearly he doesn’t care and hopes and perhaps even prays that the UPM really fails and his time to reign again will come again.

      Caymanian people you said NO to power hungry PPM after two terms of well you know what they did, you all didn’t get a thing out of it and they started the population explosion which is seemingly yet to mature .

      Don’t let them fool you again. Have some mercy on yourselves and reject the PPM once again at the next elections or as the old saying goes “ Dog yamn ya Supper.”

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    • Anonymous says:

      Was it Sir Alden that raised his and the other PM’s wages by 16 % ?, during the Covid lock down. While other countries official’s were cutting their wages. Are that worrying about
      Cayman and its
      people ? ?

  7. Anonymous says:

    “Two negatives sometimes make a positive”.
    Instead of fiscal planning, we can just operate on Juliana’s wishful thinking.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Which school of finance did Ju Ju go to again? Oh right.

      Its frightening.

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    • Anonymous says:

      i have 2 speeding tickets.
      i will will use the juju defence in court

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      • Anonymous says:

        It works. I was stopped for doing 35mph in a 25mph zone, but I explained to the officer that I was coming from East End where I was doing 40mph in the 50mph zone, and 35mph in the 40mph zone, so he still owed me 5!

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        • Anonymous says:

          I got stopped for doing 50 miles an hour, but I told the policeman that was impossible. I had only be out driving for half and hour.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Alden and Roy are going to have to wrestle for the title of first loser.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    They can come up with some real genius remarks; what math are they using to say, “two negatives sometimes make a positive”.
    This bunch of lackeys do not have a clue and only care to get there own pet projects going and the hell to the tax payer. What will be the next comments from the Einstein Seymour?

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Brace brace brace

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  11. Anonymous says:

    How can he do this as speaker?

    CNS: It was in Finance Committee, where, as an MP, he is a member. It is chaired by the finance minister.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Technically, sure. But he’s meant to be neutral. This shows why it made no sense for him to be speaker. The country would be much better off with him in the opposition.

      Electoral reform now.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Electoral reform will not change this. – This is one reason why no one takes the people calling for electoral reform seriously. You can’t justify what you’re calling for with the effect you’re putatively trying to achieve.

        • Anonymous says:

          Huh?

          If we had more MPs the government would have some viable choices for speaker and wouldn’t have to resort to appointing someone from the “opposition”.

          Don’t start complaining about cost. Being an MP should be a part-time job like jury service. We don’t need 19 full time MPs, we need 29, 17 of whom are part time.

          Or claiming that we don’t need more MPs for a country the size of a town. The key word is “country”. Just because we’re smaller doesn’t mean we have fewer problems or that they’re less work to solve than larger countries.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Actually you are wrong, as a member of finance committee he is representing his constituency and can question and express his opinion. Not unusual at all! The session is chaired by the Min of Finance so no need for him to be neutral when he is not in the chair! Being speaker is not a form of political censorship!

      • Anonymous says:

        Him being an MP within the Finance Committee and his position as Speaker are separate. He is not breaching anything by speaking at the committee meeting.

      • Sir Humphrey says:

        In the whole of the British Commonwealth system the Speaker is always neutral.

        Sir Alden needs to learn more about the system he is in.

        Makes me wonder how he ever got knighted.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I really don’t care, just thank God SOMEBODY is saying it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you Alden for speaking up in the face of idiotic spending by these uneducated unemployables.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I don’t like Alden much but he is 100%

    Letting JOCC off the hook to blame it all one Wayne is flat out wrong. She seized power to spend more and now she’s doing that. Kenny is crazy.

    Let’s look at how you fared this year with your budget and then make next years accordingly. We don’t need record spending.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Some spending is required and advisable. Outline business cases are supposed to define necessity in the context of establishing priorities. The school in the Brac does not qualify, and should probably be an ACC investigation. Clearly there is a conflict of interest between the Premier rubber stamping a colossal capital project, for her home district, the absence of due process. Does the SIPL Committee still exist?

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Strange how democracy works on this island. The speaker, expected to be neutral in every other jurisdiction with our choice of democracy. Not here though.

    He should be wearing wig for one reason and one reason only. Tradition. Following tradition shows that he follows the principles of what it stands for. Him not wearing the wig shows explicitly that he doesn’t agree with how it works and that it needs changing.

    Not a big deal in itself. Things change.

    But we are not getting consulted on the garrison politics that are coming.

    The wig is just the start of “unlimited terms”. “Constitution is just a piece of paper”.

    This is how it starts. One inch at a time.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He’s not Speaker in Finance Committee…

      CMR has some wig-hysteria as well. Honestly, it’s such a colonial mindset.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The wig discussion was SOOOO funny! But what is funnier is how every article you all have to mention CMR. Like really? WOW!

    • Anonymous says:

      That wig is a hang over form the racist colonial days, kudos to him for ditching it!.

      PS he is still an elected representative and has every right to question in finance committee which is run by the Minister of Finance.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps if you took five minutes to educate yourself on this tradition you would not have posted such ignorant remarks. As for colonialism, perhaps you should consider that the speaker gladly accepted the title of ‘sir’ when he could have declined.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Our stable democracy is also a consequence of “Colonial” rule, so is our Judiciary, civil service, Police , common law , and all that other stuff that allows us all the freedoms that you take for granted.

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        • Anonymous says:

          The hog that squeals loudest when a rock is tossed in the pen…

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          • Anonymous says:

            If that is supposed to be some sort of aphorism, you need to go back to school and learn to present a cogent argument instead of colloquial nonsense.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I am so glad that he ditched that funny looking wig, Sandra can have it as a souvenir. She is always ranting and raving about something or other.

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        • Anonymous says:

          While we are at it, let us ditch the tradition of a Christmas tree? Bit funny to bring a tree into the house is it not? Why not just dismantle heritage completely?

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Reality is you are all overpaid and have not earn a single cent unnaah have and whilst Caymanians try to scratch out a living you sit there spinning political bullshit!

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  15. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Airways flights to Barbados it is understood operate with 30 something passengers. It would seem that the truth is finally coming out on this route when the Minister says that some increases in budget will be required. Show us the letter of guarantee Minister that the Government of Barbados signed for your full transparency.

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    • Anonymous says:

      @6:37 and the Barbados government is not paying for our planes, wear and tear to fly 30 passengers.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I wonder what was the real reason for the Barbados route..?
      As a business decision it cannot make sense, as a Kenny Ego thing, possibly , but still I think there is more to it than that.
      The Clever Barbados prime minister saw she could play our overpaid narcissist for the fool that he is.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    For the same reasons that toddlers do not have sufficient agency to make their own financial decisions, this government should not be allowed to be in charge of the national budget. There is a strong argument that this collective does not have sufficient intellect, qualifications or common sense to be in charge of such important aspects of government that affect the lives and future of so many people.

    At what point does the UK step in?

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    • Anonymous says:

      You’re just wrong about this. The problem is that jobs like making a budget get done better or worse by different governments. The bureaucrats are there and sufficiently powerful in most countries to keep things steady and always functioning. But in Cayman they take orders because ‘they nah elected’ and are reminded of it every day, and if Cabinet/their Minister is fighting or not giving them clear instructions, nothing gets done. Civil servants can’t be fired except for anything they’ve done in bad faith so if the government they serve is incompetent all they have to do is clock in and out and pretend to work.

      If the budget is this bad, then the GAB is too.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If history is any indicator, the UK steps in at the point where government invites Chinese contractors here and tenders a deal which allows them posession for nearly a decade.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    What a bunch of cowards they all are, including Julianna and Kenneth, for taking cheap shots at Panton while he is not only away from Parliament, but away because he is recovering from a serious accident, and is not able to defend himself in the house.

    But dont worry, Karma is coming for all of them!

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Based on the sources, there’s ample reason to worry.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    “Two negatives sometimes make a positive in politics””

    JuJunomics

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Sell Cayman Airways
    Sell The Turtle Farm

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sad part is that selling these entities off to Dart is most likely the only way CIG and the public might see any benefit from them. And there wouldn’t be any enormous annual subsidy to pay.

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      • Anonymous says:

        100%.

        Let the private sector take over and give the government options on 50.1% of the shares so they can re-nationalize if ever needed.

        Anyone who’s ever been to the post office knows that government should be running as little as possible. Certainly not an airline or a theme park/petting zoo/meat market.

        Time to overhaul the PSML.

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