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Cayman Islands Budget Falls Short An Estimated $7.8m

Caymannetnews

01 December 2000


This story is reproduced by kind permission of Caymannetnews at http://www.caymannetnews.com

Leader of Government Business, Hon. Kurt Tibbetts and Senior Government Information Officer, Pat Ebanks assure the media of an improved relationship at a press conference on Monday, 27th November.

Leader of Government Business, Hon. Kurt Tibbetts says that this year's budgetary shortfall is projected at $7.8 million.

He made the announcement at a press conference on Monday, 27th November, at which he also confirmed that there will be a meeting of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Assembly on Monday, 4th December. This session will be open to the media, the Minister said.

As the Minister for Planning, Communications and Works, Mr. Tibbetts gave the assurance that there will be no curtailment of capital projects which were started by the previous adminstration, but that "there will be swift, corrective measures to be put in place.

"These will be allowed to run for the first year," he said, with a view of not attempting to start any more major projects during this period. "Cash flow will be kept under close scrutiny," he promised.

He said that the controlling officers and the Permanent Secretaries in each portfolio have already been briefed "to look for savings ... while not lessening services" provided by Government.

He said that one of the strains government is still facing is the advance of some $17m for overseas medical services, some of which "may be unrecoverable."

While pledging to implement another form of accounting, other than the present "cash-based" system which does not provide the reporting required to better manage its finances, he said that the amounts owed by many could be treated in government's accounts as receivables.

He cited one area of concern as the cost of hiring, training and work to be carried out by the significant increase in staff required to meet the obligations of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority. This is expected to be doubled, or even tripled, Mr. Tibbetts said.

Minister Tibbetts said that Government will be looking to the financial industry for its input in helping to identify areas in which the Cayman Islands can attract additional revenue.

"We need a wider revenue base, and we will be looking to the private financial sector to bring us its recommendations. We will not simply be adding more taxes," he said.

"Better untilization of Government's existing resources and its people" is how he addressed an idea whereby the $10-million Pedro's Castle development could have included a 10-room hotel and restaurant. "Through efficiency we will be able to save a lot in delivering the tourism product and other areas," he said.

Pointing to Cayman Airways, the Minister revealed that he had a meeting planned with the management of the airline on Wednesday, 29th November and that he requested a true picture of the National Flag Carrier's position, "not one that was glossed over."

He noted that his Government will be focusing on the vocational training of Caymanians prior to and after high school, to enable them to find well paying jobs in the workplace.

The Minister's presentation followed an informal session with the press, which addressed the media's relationship with the new Government, its elected members and the role of Government Information Services (GIS).

Addressing the Government's ability to respond to press inquiries, Mr. Tibbetts was supported by Chief Information Officer, Pat Ebanks, who confirmed that the staff of GIS is now working on maintaining a schedule whereby information requried by the media must be delivered with a 24-hour period.

Mr. Tibbetts confirmed that a Freedom of Information Act was passed in the Legislative Assembly in 1998, but was not enforced under the "climate of the previous Government." He said that this will not be the case with this administration

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