Premier Alden McLaughlin laid out three and a half years of his administration’s accomplishments at Wednesday’s (19 October) Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon. Among them: cuts to fuel and import duty rates, and four straight budgets without new fees or other tax hikes.
Chamber president Paul Pearson told Cayman 27 while that’s technically true, he said his members still complain of getting nickel and dimed to death.
“No new fees and taxes, four budgets in a row,” said Premier Alden McLaughlin, as he outlined his administration’s business friendly credentials. “There has never been another administration that has gone a full term without increasing fees and taxes, but has instead reduced them, but we have done so.”
He said the country is better off today than it was four years ago. He shared credit with his team.
“Our policies and key decisions have improved the economy and created an environment for businesses to thrive,” said the Premier.
Chamber President Paul Pearson said his membership generally appreciates government’s effort, but said Mr. Mclaughlin’s “no new fees or taxes” claim is misleading.
“There have been no direct fees, however when you go to get a certificate of good standing, and it’s a $50 fee but you can expedite it for $150 fee and if you need it tomorrow, that’s an increased fee,” explained Mr. Pearson.
He said the impact is more acute for smaller businesses.
“Certain departments have certainly increased fees and it is hurting the small and medium enterprises in particular,” he said. “A hundred dollars here and a hundred dollars there, people like Davenport Development can, you know, swallow it, while a two person team can’t swallow that.”
The Premier says his administration’s record on business should speak for itself next May.
“Elections do matter, for better or worse,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
Mr. McLaughlin said some disparities between fees for small and large businesses are on his radar. For instance, an 800-employee hotel pays the same work permit fee for a chef as does a mom and pop kitchen with just a few employees.
He said that’s something government is taking a look at.