What Cayman needs but won’t get from the PPM Alliance

| 12/04/2021 | 32 Comments

Donovan Ebanks writes: After four years of pure PPM and then four more years of the PPM-led Government of National Unity, we should all know what to expect from the rebranded version, the PPM Alliance. While the new flavour is ‘McKeeva-free’, no one should be surprised if he’s an add-on after the election, as Alden McLaughlin embarks on his ‘rule-at-any-cost’ offensive to form a government.

Of great concern should be the things that we desperately need but the PPM has shown we will not get from them. Here are a few:

Concessions and waivers

We need:

A forensic audit, under the control of the auditor general, of all of the concessions granted over the past 10 years showing what we gave up, to whom and projecting what remains to be given up in future years;

Revocation of the provisions in the Development and Planning Law, Immigration Law and any other law which allow the Cabinet to grant concessions and waivers;

A clear and public policy for the issuing of grants to attract, assist or incentivize specific categories of investments in different areas of the islands;

A budgetary provision appropriated by the Parliament from which grants are paid;

A quarterly reporting by the Cabinet to the Parliament and the public of any grants made, to whom, in what amount and under what provision of the grants policy; and

Reporting in each budget submission by the Cabinet to the Parliament of the revenues forgone by earlier concessions and waivers coming due during the budget period based on the forensic audit.

We wont get it from the PPM Alliance.

Non-disclosure Agreements

We need an amendment to the Public Management and Finance Law prescribing that any payment to any entity — individual or corporation — is subject to public disclosure, period.

There is far too much reason to suspect that that non-disclosure agreements are being used to shield the inadequate or inappropriate performance of persons or offices that in turn bear no consequences. The matter of Doctors Express and more recently CTMH Doctors Hospital are the next two cases where a non-disclosure provision will likely be included in any settlement.

We won’t get it from the PPM Alliance.

Reduction in Fuel Prices

CUC reported publicly 10 years ago and stated publicly before the Public Accounts Committee in July last year that it costs 20-25c per gallon to get fuel from the US gulf coast to CUC’s plant on North Sound Rd. But neither OfReg nor the Cabinet (the Premier is responsible for OfReg) can figure out how much profit Rubis and Sol are making and that we are getting fleeced.

Equally outrageous is the fact that neither OfReg nor the PPM have accepted that Caymanians can own gas stations. In December 2019, the Cabinet sought the rezoning of property on Batabano Rd in West Bay to allow Rubis to apply to the CPA for permission to build another gas station there. The property was rezoned and naturally Rubis got the approval from the CPA. Sol also has approval to build a gas station off the Esterley Tibbetts Highway north of Cost-U-Less, it seems based on the tanks sitting on the site.

Rubis, Sol and the PPM are content for Caymanian entrepreneurs to be tenants of Rubis and Sol, paying exorbitant rents of the order of $25,000 per month to be able to operate a gas station and having to recoup that cost from consumers.

Fuel prices will not come down until the wholesalers, Rubis and Sol, are required to get out of the retail business and gas stations are owned by Caymanians who are free to purchase from whichever wholesaler gives them the best price – just like building contractors are free to purchase from ALT, COX or Kirkconnell.

It won’t happen with the PPM Alliance.

Development Plan

After more than 20 years, we all know that no government led by Alden or McKeeva Bush will produce a new development plan prescribing land use and essential infrastructure development.

It is patently clear that the PPM has developed an addiction to growth, regardless of how much pain and suffering it causes ordinary Caymanians. They remain fully committed to helping developers do whatever they want, wherever they want and as soon as they want – simple.

The recent increase in the allowable building heights for areas around George Town is a classic example. They merely want to keep milking the cow and relying on the overpowered CPA to allow developers to do what they want.

We need a new development plan developed under the oversight of representatives of democratically elected district councils to ensure it reflects the aspirations and concerns of the people.

We also need leaders who will acknowledge the destruction of the Seven Mile Beach by inappropriate development and that will insist on the re-establishment of a natural vegetation strip to protect the sand. Investors manage their risks but we do not manage our assets. Have you seen Moses, Joey or Alden on Seven Mile Beach even looking at the situation?

The good Lord knows we won’t get it from the PPM Alliance.

Traffic Congestion

Traffic is a function of where individuals live or reside vs where they work, where their children attend school, where they seek goods, services, recreation, etc. In other words, how we develop and use our land.

The PPM is totally oblivious to this.

According to the latest statistics from the the Economics and Statistics Office, from 2013 to 2019 there have been increases in vehicle imports of 18% per year (used cars increased by 25%per year!) and in population of 3.8% per year. Monaco, where Alden and his entourage like to jet off to and hang out with their Dart buddies, has been growing its population at less than 1% per year for the past 20 years.

No one can build roads fast enough to keep up with our growth rates. And there will not be another Esterley Tibbetts Highway or another Linford Pierson Highway. Nor will those roads be widened beyond six lanes because development is already being allowed within 20 feet of them.

The only sure way to address our traffic woes is the better distribution of our development — the things that attract drivers for work, school, goods, services and entertainment. Developments in the Eastern Districts should be incentivized; development between Red Bay and Camana Bay should be regulated.

Property owners have a right to develop but government has a responsibility to regulate development in the interest of the public. We need a government that has vision, leads by example and incentivizes the private sector to follow.

No one — no one — starved to death when the government of Mr Norman, Mr Benson, Linford and Ezzard put a moratorium on hotel development on Seven Mile Beach back in the early ‘80s.

Our current political leadership has shown that they have absolutely no clue or vision. If they did, they would have used the relocation of one of the largest hardware outlets, COX Lumber, from congested Eastern Ave to Bodden Town East as a poster case to promote more businesses to do the same.

What is even more amazing is that the government has over 10 acres of land a quarter of a mile away on the Bodden Town Bypass which has been filled and ready for development for over 10 years, but they can’t find any use for it.

Meanwhile, the Central Police Station in George Town continues to fall apart, and the government continues to rent space in Elizabethan Square to accommodate the police. The George Town site should become a district police station for George Town and all of the other police administration and specialist functions should be moved out to Bodden Town.

Similarly, the government has been renting space in Citrus Grove on Goring Ave for 15 years or more for 911 or Department of Public Safety, as it’s called. This does not need to be in George Town; it could be moved to Bodden Town also. There are other government entities that could be moved out of George Town.

We won’t get it from the PPM Alliance.

Referendum Law

It is clear after almost 12 years of Alden and McKeeva led governments that neither is committed to empowering the people to freely exercise the referendum provisions of the Constitution.

We need a referendum law that provides the framework and requirements for the people to initiate a referendum. We also need an amendment to the Constitution to provide for an independent individual or body to determine the wording of any referendum. The Cabinet will always be conflicted and unsuitable for this role.

After Alden’s bid to discourage people from voting in the then-proposed cruise port referendum, it is clear that we need to also amend the threshold for a people-initiated referendum to be binding from more than 50% of registered voters to more than 50% of votes cast.

We won’t get it from the PPM Alliance.

Access to Information

While the PPM enacted the Freedom of Information Law 14 years ago, they have never embraced the concept of the law.

In 2015, Alden told legislators in Finance Committee that “dealing with FoI (requests) quite frankly and realistically from a country standpoint, is an unproductive use of time”. That’s what he thinks of providing us with information that by law we are entitled to obtain.

In the same vein, the PPM in 2018 amended the FOI law to exempt advice to ministers from disclosure. Public access to such advice is a fundamental element of any FOI regime; it places the onus on ministers to ensure that they seek proper advice before taking decisions because we are entitled to know eventually what and whose advice they relied on.

It is embarrassing that Turks and Caicos, which doesn’t even have legislation like us, shows the respect for their people by publishing each week a summary of the matters that their Cabinet dealt with. Not our rulers.

The PPM has been slowly drawing the curtains to ensure that we don’t know what they are doing and at whose bequest. We need better access to the deliberations of our Cabinet.

We won’t get it from the PPM Alliance.

Housing

Caymanians went to sea, worked hard, sent their money home and used it to build their homes and in many cases launch their after-sea careers. Today, Cayman has become the ‘ship’ that foreign workers come to to do for themselves what Caymanians had to ply the oceans to do.

Caymanians are unable to provide for themselves ‘in Cayman’ as they could 50 years ago when they were seamen.

We do not need ‘affordable housing’; we need to be able to ‘afford housing’. There is a huge difference.

It won’t happen with the PPM Alliance.

In summary, we didn’t need a $200M cruise berthing facility like the PPM said. We don’t need a 50 or 100 storey tower; we could do with far less than 10 storey buildings in George Town and West Bay Rd. We don’t need all of the high-rise multi-family development you see taking place in Grand Harbour right now.

What we need are persons who see themselves as representatives of the people, not rulers of the people; persons who put the interest of Cayman and Caymanians at the centre of their decisions, not the interest of some wealthy person seeking to make more wealth.

We won’t get what we need from the PPM Alliance.

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Comments (32)

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  1. Looking forward to change. says:

    Now that the elections have been won and the new Gov on the table to be formed.i would like to see Mr. Solomon included in the line-up for Gov’t Position. I really appeiciated his responses on the questions asked. He was very informative. I am very sorry that GTW did not elect him. Very sad day indeed. But i am also happy for the change. Now let the games begin.

  2. Positivvity says:

    Mr Ebanks sorry you did not throw in you candidatcy. You are an honest and upright man. I am hoping that if they have a new Govt they could hire you as a consultant. Even though you are now outside looking on the inside , as a true son of the soil you still keep abreast of the Govt affairs. Thank you sir , and I concur with you hoping there will be changes.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s a pity Marco Archer didn’t run. When he was Minister of Finance he was all for transparency and often advocated for the public disclosure of revenue concessions and waivers but the ppm fought him to protect their friends. But I know for a fact that he presented a draft policy to the ppm to govern the granting of waivers and concessions but they did not want that either. I know because I saw the document.

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  4. nauticalone345 says:

    I agree with every point Donnie. Well said! Vote wisely please!

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Donnie, this is a terrific analysis of so much that is wrong and has been wrong in Cayman for many years. Its major weakness, in my view, is your obsessive dislike of Alden in particular and the PPM/Alliance in general. Nowhere do you suggest an answer to the problems you identify. As we go to the polls on Wednesday, who am I to vote for? A dim witted religious bigot who makes fun of gays and doesn’t know his ass from his elbow? Or a bad tempered but bright guy whose first instinct on losing his temper was to castigate his chief civil servant, foreign born, previously married to a Caymanian businessman and mother to his children, of being fu**ing driftwood? How about you in Savannah? The choice between an unknown lady, an apparently bright but unexciting young man (son of the former MLA) whose views may or may not be 21st century or 19th century like his father’s, or a passionless pleaser of the elderly district church voters? Two districts, mediocre choices and it’s repeated all over Cayman. How are we ever going to resolve the myriad of issues you so ably set out when our brightest Caymanians are NOT going into politics and when some of them do, they get nowhere because they are not “Christian” enough or they “don’t mix with the people” enough. It’s not all Alden’s fault, Donnie. It’s much much bigger than that.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well said, 9:07. There are a few new younger brighter candidates though it remains to be seen how many get elected. But without genuine political parties with competing ideologies and policies, our politics seems very ad hoc, directionless and still personality based (as it has been for years).

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    • Anonymous says:

      9:07p, when your posting comments, don’t make it so obvious that you didn’t read the post that you’re commenting on. Your sentence “Nowhere do you suggest an answer to the problems you identify.” gives you away.
      Mr Donnie’s has stated with every issue what we need to do to address these problems!

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    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agree with everything Donnie has written…It is time to wake up Cayman

  6. Anonymous says:

    Respect you greatly Mr Ebanks but what I would really like to know is where is the alternative to the PPM Party you were going to provide us with? The great Cayman Islands People’s Party that you are Chairman of…where is it? You had ample opportunity since announcing its formation to give us candidates whom I assume would provide all of the things you listed above and claim that the PPM will not give us. Where is your alternative Sir…just saying 😏

    https://caymannewsservice.com/2020/11/cipp-begins-work-on-membership/

    https://caymannewsservice.com/2019/11/miller-launches-people-party/

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    • Anonymous says:

      Table for 19…. Party of 1

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not for one person to fix at all or suggest the solution. What’s needed is for more to call these things out and hold people accountable. It’s sad that these points can still be mentioned today and so much are not done.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Well said Donnie 👏👏

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  8. Anonymous says:

    I agree with every word. I pray the voters find their spines and vote them all out and stop thinking those little handouts are going make their life better in the long run.
    Sheredan

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Refreshing truth, stark as it is.

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  10. Get Real Caymanian. says:

    Vote them all out. Caymanians get real, we need new kids on the block. Look on the calibre of candidates running this time and choose the best. We have so many brilliant , talented and articulate Caymanians vying for seats, make sure when you vote , you with your conscience. Candidates like Andre Ebanks, Justin Ebanks, Johan Moxam , Malcolm Eden, Kathy Wilks and Elio Solomon deserves your votes. They would make an exceptionally good alliance time. Give them a chance and let them prove themselves. Release yourselves from bondage and stagnation. When Thursday morning comes let us all feel afresh. These guys all have your back do the right thing.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    As Mike Tyson famously said
    “Everybody has a plan, until they’re punched in the face”
    The punch in the face in this case is the realization, once elected. That talk is cheap, but to actually do anything takes the support of other members, which as a bunch of independents, will have their own agendas.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    WOW, well done Donovan. Well worth the read.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Come on, Prospect! Choose wisely; we already had a loud and bossy representative. This time we need someone with a proven track record…

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  14. Anonymous says:

    What many people need to understand is that these issues have been around since 2013 — 2013, people! And these group of people did not make any REAL changes. They tweaked this and that, but they kept granting hundreds of work permits; they kept granting millions in concessions; they kept granting planning permission that took away our beaches and decimated our mangroves. I want real, meaningful, change! I want WORC to have employment fairs that see Caymanians hired in their more than 500 available jobs. I want developments that allow people to pay $400 a month for land for two years before they ask for a mortgage. I want REAL change. And nothing will change, unless we change the PPM.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    It certainly won’t happen with your one man band.

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    • Anonymous Citizen says:

      At no where does he suggest that one person would resolve all these issues. But if the persons if office, and have been in office for years haven’t addressed them, how can we expect them to now? A lot of these points are there because they are allowed to be. I don’t think the solution stems from one person, as it’s not one person that caused it.

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  16. ExPat says:

    Thank you for your observations.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Very, very valid points made by Mr. Ebanks.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    We literally have to start tackling corruption and white collar crime in order to get off the sanctions lists. Cayman needs to demonstrate that it is taking this seriously, via arrests, charges, and prison sentences, not by choosing another 4 years of continued status quo, redacted backroom deals, and usb/sim card crypto backsheesh. Good to see someone understands this.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Well written and well stated Donnie. Every word is true.

    Time to drain the swamp!

    Time for new faces and voices!

    The time is now!!!!!

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Truer words have never been spoken..

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Ain’t this the truth! Well people get what they vote for so if they want it to continue just vote as they did last election.

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  22. Bigfire says:

    Vote smart

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, good luck.

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