One person, one vote
In May, the Legislative Assembly cleared the way for the 18 July referendum on single-member constituencies and one person, one vote.
The question voters will consider is “Do you support an electoral system of single-member constituencies with each elector being entitled to cast only one vote?”
In mid-June, Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott confirmed that the critical number of votes needed for the referendum to be binding is 7,582.
The most current list of voters has 15,161 names, and the number 7,582 is equivalent to 50.01 per cent of the total number of registered voters. If 7,582 voters or more cast ballots in favour of the referendum question, then the government is bound to radically alter the way Cayman Islands legislators are elected to their posts. Likewise, if 7,582 voters or more cast ballots against the referendum question, then the government is bound to retain the current multiple-member constituencies.
If neither answer draws the critical number of votes, then the referendum results will be considered advisory, and it will be up to government to choose how legislators are picked in the future.
While Premier McKeeva Bush is opposed to the referendum question, he did declare 18 July to be a public holiday to encourage people to show up to the polls.
Cayman’s Term Limit Review Committee recommended that the immigration rollover period be extended from seven to 10 years. Mr. Bush tabled the committee’s report in the Legislative Assembly in mid-June.
In addition to the rollover extension, the committee recommended abolishing the key employee designation, and giving all foreigners the right to apply for permanent residency between their seventh and eighth years or residency.
Those who do not gain permanent residency would have to leave Cayman after 10 years and stay away for at least one year before returning.
The committee recommended that foreign government employees be subject to the same rights and restrictions as non-government foreign employees. Currently, civil servants are hired under contracts, not work permits, and are not subject to term limits.
Right after the committee’s report was released, Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said he was pleased with the recommendations, which align with proposals he had made on immigration reform in 2011.
Several new laws that would significantly impact businesses have been proposed or are being enacted.
In late May, Assistant Collector of Customs Langlie Powery spoke at a Chamber of Commerce BE INFORMED session about the new Customs Tariff Law, which was passed in early April. Mr. Powery said the new harmonised customs tariff system will be rolled out 1 July. The new system aligns Cayman’s codes for identifying imported and exported products with codes used across the globe.
Also in late May, officials announced the National Pensions Bill 2012, which would fundamentally change the regulatory structure of private sector pension plans and raise the retirement age to 65 years.
Under the legislation, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority would take over as regulator of private pension plans, and the Department of Labour and Pensions would introduce a fixed penalty system for noncompliant companies.
Additionally, the bill replaces the term ‘retirement’ with ‘pension entitlement’ to clarify that age 65 is when a person can start receiving pension benefits, not when that person is expected to retire.
The current retirement age is 60.
In mid-May, the attorney general’s office released a draft of the Legal Aid and Pro Bono Legal Services Bill, 2012, which mandates that every attorney must provide at least 25 hours of pro bono legal services each year or pay an annual fee of $2,500. The Cayman Islands Criminal Defence Bar Association blasted the proposal as “unworkable” and asked for a “radical reconsideration”.