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Election Center 19 Mar, 2021 Follow News

Candidate for Bodden Town West, Chris Saunders

Candidate for Bodden Town West, Vincent Frederick

The candidates for Bodden Town West outlined their plans for the area and gave views on a raft of national issues when they appeared in the Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum series.

MP Chris Saunders is fending off a challenge from Vincent Frederick.

Specific to the Bodden Town West constituency, Mr Saunders wants more work on flooding control, street lighting and CCTV systems, traffic control and more community parks.

Mr Frederick prioritised commercial activity for the area including addressing the stalled planned Beach Bay development.

For the incumbent, top national issues in addition to the pandemic and reopening the borders are; the cost of living, universal healthcare and a social safety net warrant urgent action.

“We can no longer live in a country where most people are either one heart attack or one medical emergency away from being bankrupt,” Mr Saunder stated.

Mr Frederick focused on the plight of young people over jobs and social ills.

“This is not something that happened overnight. This is something that systematically happened since we started importing foreign labour into the country. The Caymanian aspect has felled(sic) away and we pay more attention to the foreign aspect of developing the islands for those types of people.”

Asked for their strategies on affordable housing, Mr Frederick called it "a national crisis" created by prohibitive mortgages and the high cost of land.

“I have a new idea where we can lease crown land for Caymanians to own at one dollar a year for 99 years.”

Mr Saunders proposed utilising the pension fund and a local bond market, blaming “a combination of bad policies by the government and not having the proper tools in place” such as a zero per cent stamp duty.

Regarding the perceived imbalance between the private and public school system, Mr Saunders was quick to challenge that saying: “What I’ve found is that many employers are actually using that as an excuse not to hire Caymanians.”

Mr Frederick said the system is failing and urged more parental involvement in their children’s education.

They agreed that the cost of living is too high with Mr Frederick calling for price control, a Consumer Protection Plan and tighter regulation of fuel prices.

Incumbent Chris Saunders generally concurred and compared import duties on luxury and items and basic necessities. “We’ve got our priorities misplaced.”

He also cited the private sector as being partly responsible for the delay in implementing consumer protection legislation.

Both felt that the minimum wage should be increased.

Blocking access to public beaches also saw the political opponents agreeing with Chris Saunders pushing for the law to be enforced and Vincent Frederick calling for higher penalties.

There was also agreement that the advice of medical experts and the vaccination campaign should be the driving factors over when to reopen the borders…

But views differed on cruise tourism with Mr Saunders focusing on land-based tourism while Mr Frederick took an opposing view: “There's nothing wrong with the system. It just needs to be better controlled.”

On the financial services sector, Mr Saunders said, “We are not telling our story the right way” and Mr Frederick urged that government should be more proactive.

Cayman’s traffic woes were seen by Mr Saunders as resulting from “too many cars are on the roads at the same time”. Staggering the work schedule and all having students sharing school buses were offered as solutions as well as placing satellite government offices and businesses outside George Town.

His opponent favoured a reliable public transportation system.

Strong views were expressed on the need to reform the health insurance system with Mr Frederick calling it “useless” and “too expensive”.

Mr Saunders reminded that he had tabled legislation for free healthcare for children which was passed but not implemented by the government.

He said regretted omitting a similar proposal for seniors as the government claimed that was already under consideration - although it has not been introduced.

“Government is spending over $100 million a year in health care costs. The solution is we need to expand CINICO and start spreading the risk across every single demographic.”

Both candidates agreed that prison reform is an urgent necessity from the physical infrastructure and overcrowding, to sentencing and prisoner rehabilitation policies.

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