Premier Alden McLaughlin said inequality in Cayman is not an abstract concept to those in government.
Speaking at this year’s Fidelity CEO conference, he acknowledged that societies have grappled with the issue for centuries, but he says government intervention can help right the balance of power between the haves and the have-nots.
“There are times when it’s right for government to intervene to tackle inequality,” said Mr. Mclaughlin in his Tuesday address. He said Cayman’s minimum wage, taking effect March 1st, will benefit some of the island’s most economically vulnerable.
“This is not about government acting as a trade union, but it is recognising that sometimes the existing imbalance in economic power needs to be tilted back a little,” said the Premier.
He said beyond the $6 an hour minimum wage, raising the retirement age from 60 to 65, another change in the trade and business law, will help level the playing field further.
“It’s another area of inequality for people who are willing, able, and need to work beyond the age of sixty,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
He told the assembled audience that government action has lessened the headache of high gas prices, something that affects almost everybody, though he admitted the island’s consumers are still not getting a fair shake.
“More needs to be done before we are happy that the oil companies are treating our people fairly,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “We are taking the necessary steps.”
The Premier also tackled inequalities outside the economic sphere, saying it’s time for debate on some of the country’s most difficult social issues.
“Beyond the debate, we must have the political and moral courage to acknowledge that discrimination in any form is wrong and take the necessary measures to address it,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
Some on the other side of that issue feel the courage is in taking a stand for what they believe.
The Premier reiterated his government’s commitment to creating conditions for growth in the economy.
He contrasted the 1.9% average annual growth in GDP over his government’s tenure to the previous administration’s record. He said we are better off now.