“It is my view that for the Cayman Islands to rebound as a stronger, more resilient economy, and as a better place to live on the other side of this pandemic, it will require stronger cooperation and collaboration between private sector and Government.”
That’s the tone set by Hon. Minister for Commerce, Infrastructure and Planning, Joey Hew, himself a former president of the Chamber of Commerce, in a presentation to last Economic Forum organised by the business organisation.
Central to this, Mr Hew said, is the Strategic Economic Advisory Council (SEAC) that he commissioned and which draws largely on the expertise from within the private sector.
According to the Commerce Minister, out of the “hundreds of recommendations and ideas”, the SEAC has finalised the top twenty-four recommendations which he will present to Cabinet.
“I am preparing to update the Cabinet, and will meet with the relevant Ministers on the recommendations that fall under their purview. It is anticipated that the Ministers will establish an implementation task force to review and implement the recommendations that align with the overall objectives of that ministry,” he stated.
DIVERSIFY TO SURVIVE
“The Government recognises now more than ever that alongside maintaining our strength in financial services, we must diversify Cayman’s economy,” he acknowledged.
“On a small Caribbean island with few natural resources, service and knowledge-based industries will be central to that diversification. We already have, of course, some of the best professional service firms in the world, able to support the development of business in Cayman.”
Among the industries being closely looked in addition to the existing main pillars of the economy are the technology sector and green energy.
With the National Energy Policy having a target of 70% renewable energy by 2037, Mr Hew said the government will encourage green energy through the increased use of solar panels and other forms of renewable energy across all three Islands, including at Government facilities.
The renewable mix will include power from the new waste-to-energy plant ending an unsustainable reliance on the landfill.
Mr Hew said “the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the values of online, digital options for commerce, and the imperative of ensuring that our economy adapts to that modality”
He noted however that transition to a digital economy will require robust broadband infrastructure as well as strategies to encourage businesses to make the necessary investment for this transition. That will require landing a modern submarine cable in Cayman, which the minister said was being explored.
Mr Hew said this submarine cable will be the foundation to make Cayman Islands a data and information centre hub, placing the territory at the cutting edge of modern business communications.
Saying he was “very excited about about the prospect of a second information technology revolution”, Mr Hew pointed to the E-Government Services Unit which is developing a national identification system as an example.
The system which is anticipated to come on stream by the second quarter of next year will start issuing e-ID’s which will be the primary government-issued form of photo ID.
The technology will also enable easier access to government services will tie in with the private sector by validating customer identity through the ‘know-your-customer’ process.
Mr Hew further disclosed that one of the key recommendations from the SEAC is to “develop a regulated Certified Customer Due Diligence ID System that will become a new innovative sector of our economy.”
He sees this as resulting in the creation of an ‘Identity Industry’ which could one day “be larger than Cayman's funds industry is today.”
THE FUNDS INDUSTRY
Meanwhile regarding the funds industry, Hon. Minister for Financial Services, Tara Rivers, gave an update on trends within the sector in Cayman and opportunities for growth and expansion being looked at.
One area is the virtual assets service providers (VASPs) regime.
She also disclosed that the government was looking into creating a new regime governing corporate restructuring.
“The Ministry is making great strides in finalising commercial enhancements to the Companies Law. These enhancements, which will introduce a new Restructuring Officer regime, have been met with strong support and agreement from industry, the judiciary and CIMA, acting in their respective roles,” Min. Rivers stated.
Amendments to the relevant laws are expected by the end of the year.
ENGAGING WITH THE US
With much of much of Cayman’s global financial sector interactions linked to the United States, Min. Rivers said, “Irrespective of who is elected in the US we will still have to engage and ensure that the people that surround them that they have a better understanding and knowledge about Cayman and not just rely on either historical vignettes or historical anecdotal information.”
Minister Rivers stressed that it was important “that they know what’s current and they know how as a jurisdiction that we actually add value to many of their economic activity.
She cited examples of US states needing to fund major infrastructural projects and raising that capital through the Cayman Islands financial sector creating jobs in their own economy.
“That type of engagement will absolutely have to continue and increase, obviously depending on what the outcome of the election is.”
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