Cayman’s new H. E. Governor Martyn Roper laid out his priorities for his new post on Thursday (1 November) and addressed topics from Brexit to LGBT rights.
It came as he spent the morning of his fourth day in office talking to the media about some of the biggest issues facing the country.
Mr. Roper began by noting that his tenure comes at a time of increased tension between Cayman and the UK. He said his goal was to nurture and strengthen that relationship.
He listed his top priorities as; Promoting peace and security, supporting the financial and tourism sectors, championing trade and investment, upholding rights and ensuring the islands are disaster-ready.
He also addressed some of the thornier issues on the table.
Up first was beneficial ownership, something Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin has railed against, calling it “constitutional overreach”.
Mr. Roper addressed those tensions, stressing the importance of all countries being on the same page when it comes to a beneficial register: from OTs like Cayman, to Crown Dependencies, as well as, other sovereign nations.
“In terms of looking at the timescales for when that happens, it’s very important others move at the same speed,” Mr. Roper said, adding: “we want that to happen before a territory like the Cayman Islands has to introduce a beneficial register.”
Relations with Britain in terms of the push for constitutional change were up next. Mr. Roper said the UK was willing to listen.
“The Foreign Office in London has said it’s willing to listen and is open to receiving ideas,” Mr. Roper told the assembled media, elaborating: “the Foreign Office has also said it thinks the current balance of responsibilities in the constitution is about right and the 2012 White Paper sets out a clear and fair balance and responsibilities.”
But Mr. Roper also stressed: “we are open to discussion and open to ideas.”
The Governor reiterated the importance of equality for all, which he stated first in his address to the Legislative Assembly on Monday (29 October).
But he said it was not right to interfere, while the challenge brought by Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden to Cayman’s same-sex marriage ban remains an active lawsuit.
“I think at the moment it’s a matter for the courts,” Mr. Roper explained.
“I think what’s important from my perspective, is rule of law. We have to comply with the law. We need to wait and see what the outcome of that case is,” he repeated.
Lastly, he tackled Brexit: he said it was not a case of out of sight, out of mind for Cayman.
“The Governor and the Governor’s Office have a key role in understanding what is happening in the Brexit negotiations so we can assist the local government in understanding the implications of that,” he stated.
Mr. Roper also reiterated hopes his tenure lasts longer than the minimum 6-9 months initially mandated.