Premier McKeeva Bush said Thursday evening that the government’s budget process has “gone as far as we can go” and that Cayman was now awaiting a response on it from the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“The FCO know the broad parameters of the budget,” Mr. Bush said during a broadcast address.
Governor Duncan Taylor said Wednesday that the UK foreign office, while it has received some financial plans from Mr. Bush’s government, did not receive a detailed budget plan and was still awaiting those documents.
Mr. Bush said Thursday that the UK “would not be satisfied with anything but a broadened revenue base that was to them ‘sustainable’.”
“To meet that demand we proposed the community enhancement fee,” Mr. Bush said. “[The foreign office] know of the revenue projection of that proposal. The FCO economist went back to London with that knowledge.”
Mr. Bush said that the Cayman Islands private sector has “demanded” that the civil service be cut. However, he put the responsibility for that task directly on Governor Taylor.
“The governor of this territory is responsible for the civil service, not the premier,” the premier said. “I do not hire – nor fire – nor do we sign any contract for any employed civil servant. The governor himself is better able to explain why the civil service levels are so high.”
The premier said his government has made significant reductions in areas for which they have responsibility.
“[The civil service] will now pay part of the cost of their health benefits,” Mr. Bush said. “Any new civil servant hired in the future will have to contribute to pension and health benefits. These are things the premier can participate in, so expenditure has been cut, but I cannot cut the civil service numbers.”
Premier Bush said that if such a recommendation to reduce salaries or pay is made, he can then be the judge of that recommendation as minister of finance.
Mr. Bush also blasted Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin for “misleading” the public and suggesting that the proposed 10% payroll tax and other taxes and fees could be extended to Caymanians.
“I rejected [value added tax], income and property tax and payroll taxes across the board in 2009 – I still do,” he said. “[Mr. McLaughlin’s] suggestion is nothing but him trying to gain points from this situation; this financial mess with the [UK foreign office] in control, that he created.”
Mr. Bush said he had no intention to hit Caymanians “harder than they are being hit already”.
“[Caymanians are not included [in the 10 per cent payroll tax proposal] for all the reasons I have stated many times.”