The Legislative Assembly reconvened for the first meeting of the 2018/2019 session at the Aston Rutty Civic Centre on Cayman Brac.
Cayman 27 joined lawmakers on the ground in Cayman Brac.
The morning kicked off with all the pomp and circumstance one might expect for a state opening.
Before getting to the nation’s business, lawmakers, schoolchildren, and Cayman Brackers looked on as acting governor Franz Manderson inspected the guard of honour.
Once seated inside, House Speaker McKeeva Bush, in his opening statement, took pause to reflect on the myriad accomplishments made on Cayman Brac since it hosted its first LA session fifty years ago.
“In this 50 year period, we have seen a public water system put into place, a road network second to none, an airport upgraded and renamed to the honour of one of our most deserving representatives, the late Captain Charles Kirkconnell,” said Speaker Bush.
Premier Alden McLaughlin headlined the morning session with his 75 minute state of the nation address, which touched on a range of familiar topics such as education, infrastructure, and tourism. He also announced new initiatives, including raising the duty allowance for personal imports from $350 to $500 going into effect this November.
“I believe the vast majority of Caymanians and residents will welcome this increase in the duty allowance and will abide the rules requiring them to declare any goods imported over that limit. However, if there is abuse of the system, and it is determined that an increase in fines is also necessary to combat abuse, then mr speaker, we will certainly take that into consideration,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
Mr. Mclaughlin said the increase in the import allowance could potentially cost government one million dollars a year. An affordable amount to forego, he said, due to his government’s stewardship of the country’s finances.
Saying it is time for cayman to step out of the UK’s shadow, Premier McLaughlin also announced a new ministry geared at promoting and protecting cayman’s economic interests.
“I am today announcing the establishment of a new ministry of international trade and investment. The ministry’s role will be to enhance the reputation of the cayman islands, to advance the economic and political interest of the government, the people, and the business community, and to make our economy easier to deal with,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
Mr. Mclaughlin said the new ministry is expected to become operational in early 2019, and he will add this new ministry to his portfolio of responsibility.
The premier also weighed in on the controversial cruise berthing project, defending government’s transparency efforts. Without mentioning the referendum effort by name, he made the case that this administration, like his last, has a mandate on the port.
“I am satisfied that the electorate has had ample opportunity over successive elections, including at the polls last year, to have their say on the question on having enhanced port facilities, cruise and cargo,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
He said government’s position is that the port project is in the vital interest of the country’s future.
Mr. Mclaughlin made another big announcement that should appeal to civil servants: A 5% cost of living increase, backdated to the first of July.