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Taking and taking more

In Arab mythology, a story is told of a woman who fell in love with a genie. This genie demanded to be fed chicken every day. As a pet-loving woman, she duly fed the genie chicken. But soon it demanded livestock, then her children, her husband and finally the genie fed on her.

When the UK government insisted on the implementation of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR) many people welcomed the new law, because it was a way of containing government expenditure and could easily have passed as a good law. But on closer examination, one would have seen the thinly veiled expectation of the Structural Adjustment Plan (SAP) of the World Bank in the 1990s.

Whereas such initiatives have all failed in the countries in which they were implemented, they required governments to cut borrowing, freeze hiring of the local civil service and ensure there was competitive bidding of tenders, under the rubric of international best practices. In other cases, such conditions required privatisation and the reduction of government activity in the economy. As such fire service, garbage collection, social and recreational facilities and other amenities were given to private entities that would push them forward.

In spite of the good intentions of these measures most failed. One significant factor, which was oftentimes not recognized, is that private sector enterprises survive, based on the ability to make profits. Therefore, if for example, people chose to drop their garbage at a common dump, then a private company cannot be profitable in getting into such an agreement. After the 1990s, the SAPS had fallen flat on their face.

Despite being wrong, the multi-national agencies refused to accept liability for the mistakes their efforts had caused many governments around the world.

When the Cayman Islands was required to sign the FFR last year, the United Democratic Party government’s oft-repeated blame was that this was necessary because of past expenditure by the People’s Progressive Movement.

The former premier was boxed into a corner and he ended up signing the FFR agreement. Soon after he was deposed from office and continues to be under police investigation, up to this time without formal charges.

Recently the Foreign and Commonwealth office made a formal request to supervise the elections here in May. In this, there surely is a fire behind the smoke, because we have to ask ourselves why now and on what basis did they come to the conclusion that supervision of the electoral process is necessary.

Although the FCO did it in BVI and Turks and Caicos, we all know that the latter case was such that it was important to have these elections supervised, as the UK government had been administering the territory any way,

In seeking to have the FCO supervise the local elections, it is a case where the UK is taking and taking. A more proactive way would have been to allow the overseas territories to have a say in British elections. Since they are a constituency, they should have someone looking after their interests in the House of Commons. This way they would be free send observers who could perhaps learn from the processes in the country.

Until we know for sure why the UK is requesting observer status at the upcoming elections, we are left to conclude that this is simply another case of taking and taking.

In this regard, we are yet to see the reciprocity that should define the relationship between the UK and its territories, who are expected to give and give and get nothing in return.

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  • want2come2cayman

    “After the 1990s, the SAPS had fallen flat on their face.”? I do not think so. Privatisation is the key to solving Cayman’s problems. Just two examples: Why should a tiny jurisdiction have a state-owned airline? Much less a loss-making one? Private entrepreneurs would likely offer a better, more efficient service at lower prices. Or garbage collection. Whether privatisation is successful depends on HOW it is done. One solution would be an advance garbage disposal fee, factored into the selling price, and reimbursing people by the pound for bringing their garbage to the disposal site (hopefully an incinerator). The problem is neither SAPs or privatisations, but lack of open-mindedness, ideological barriers and backward thinking.

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