Candidate for Cayman Brac East, Elvis McKeever, had the platform to himself to espouse his views on a range of issues when he appeared solo via video link in the Chamber of Commerce’s continuing Candidates Forum series.
The sitting MP for the constituency and Minister of MEYSAL, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, declined to participate due to a conflicting appointment, according to the organisers.
Businessman and musician Mr McKeever who has a background in construction real estate, farming, fishing and music, says he is running because the constituency been ignored saying that the incumbent has “neglected her people”
“When you get in a position for too long you get too comfortable.”
On the broader national issues, he was critical of the current insurance system accusing the companies of “coming here and handpicking the healthy people and leaving out the indigenous Caymanian.” He felt the National Assistance Office was inadequate for the support needed by the elderly especially for the provision of health insurance.
“We have to tell these people you must insure these people at a reasonable price or you don’t do business in the Cayman Islands, plain and simple.”
Mr McKeever wants to see a marina built for the Cayman Brac East to function as a safe haven and tourism development. He also strongly advocates a housing programme - with solar panels - “to get people to come back to the district” referring to his own business investment in the area.
Asked for his strategies to lower the cost of living Mr McKeever questioned the current import duties structure as a main contributing factor.
“The system has to be completely overhauled,” he said pointing to high import duties on basic consumer items while luxury imports are duty-free. He also targeted fuel prices as needing to be reviewed and called for the utilities regulator OfReg to be dismantled “for having no backbone”.
Mr McKeever who strongly favours casino gambling feels the same about a national lottery on the basis that the revenue could fund community and other programmes. He also observed that many Caymanians were already playing the lottery in the United States.
The Cayman Brac East challenger wants the education system revamped to put more emphasis on vocational trades and says that vulnerable young people are being sidelined without any proper support systems for them.
When the issue of reopening the borders came up Mr McKeever agreed with a cautious approach.
“We have to move with caution but we have to open. It’s a must,” he said.
He also felt that focus should now be on stay-over tourism and commended Premier Alden McLaughlin on the government’s management of the pandemic.
He is against uncontrolled development of Cayman Brac saying that the natural environment, including fishing, should be protected from overexploitation.
And referring to his maritime experience, he dismissed the idea of cruise calls to Cayman Brac as being impractical on both nautical and commercial grounds.
When the issue of the decriminalisation of decriminalisation of marijuana was brought up, Mr McKeever who has been in the vanguard of the campaign to legalise cannabis - and has run afoul of the law for it was unquivocal in his stance.
“I want full legalisation, and the small farmers are going to be the ones with the license, not the big corporations,” he stated.
Regarding affordable housing, he felt many Caymanians are being denied access to mortgages because of their pay structure in the tourist industry and demanded that the next government should look into it.
On the wider issue of economic development and population growth, Mr McKeever was adamant that Caymanians should be given preferential access to jobs.
“The immigration law has been watered down to protect the business interest,” he stated.
Speaking on the repeated threats to the financial services sector, he accused the global regulators of constantly “moving the goalposts”.
Asked for his views on same-sex civil partnerships Mr KcKeever said there were more pressing societal issues such as lack of parental guidance and misguided young people which need to be addressed.
"Leave the gay people alone," he admonished.
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