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Cayman Conversation 04 May, 2023 Follow News

Governor Jane Owen

Governor Owen and Premier Panton

Captivated by the warmth of the Cayman Islands, from the weather to the people, new Governor, Her Excellency Mrs Jane Owen, is anticipating settling into a routine balancing the serious issues of office with getting to know the Cayman community socially.

In an interview on Cayman Conversations hosted by Caymanian Times publisher Ralph Lewis, Governor Owen reflected on touching down in Cayman and her first impressions formed.

“Even before I landed, when I was flying over seeing how clean the sea is and how beautiful the landscapes are. But what’s really struck me has been the friendliness and the openness and therefore the beauty of the communities here. So I felt really welcomed which has been, which has made a big difference.”

Along with dipping her toes in the azure Cayman waters, the Governor who comes to Cayman with an impressive background of international diplomatic posting for the UK, is keen to get stuck into work.

But doing so, she said will be a method of first listening and learning before determining her official priorities in which with maintaining good relations between the jurisdiction and the UK will be top of the list.

“I think my first priority is to listen to everybody that I’m meeting. So rather than come up with a whole list of ready-made priorities, I feel the overriding priority is to make sure that our relationship between the United Kingdom and Cayman continues to thrive and be successful and brings benefits to both sides. There are many priorities that I can look at but I really want to hear from the people; from your parliamentarians, your government, all members of society, and business in the economy, to hear what they say. That’s the building blocks of a successful future.”

The start of Governor Owen’s tenure in Cayman comes as the British Parliament is embarking on another inquiry into relations with the Overseas Territories.

It’s a vital process that the Governor says she would want to see Cayman make a strong input from its standpoint as well as the broader issue of improving the ties between the OTs and the mother country.

The inquiry, which runs until September, is being conducted by the British Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

“I think they’re asking good questions and the top question is ‘Are these relationships fit for the 21st century?’ So I think it’s very positive. It’s forward-looking,” Governor Owen said.

“They are calling on government departments in the United Kingdom across Whitehall and they’re asking what are what are these government departments doing to build the relationships, to provide the support, to have engagement because it has to be a two-way conversation I think, to get a successful relationship.”

She noted that all of these relationships are open and free and that it is for each country to decide how they want to manage their relationship with the United Kingdom.

The Governor told Ralph Lewis on Cayman Conversations that she will play an active role in ensuring that Cayman’s voice is heard in this process.

“I’m hoping to work with government and across many other parts of society to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to make their input in this inquiry.”

Cayman’s place in the relationship between the UK and its Overseas Territories has been underlined and noted in the UK Parliament for its role in applying tough economic sanctions on Russia for its unprovoked war on Ukraine.

This has been applied through the freezing of Russian assets held in the jurisdiction’s world-renowned offshore financial centre.

“I think that the implementation and the enforcement of sanctions in this context is really, really important,” the Governor said.

“The Russian attack on Ukraine was very shocking for several reasons. First of all, it was completely unprovoked. Secondly, it was a violent attack on a sovereign nation…And certainly, it has resulted in a terrible human catastrophe for everybody who is fighting there. So sanctions really are one of the weapons if you like, we have to reduce and fight back and prevent further loss of life.”

She described Cayman’s role as being “incredibly important and actually has delivered significant freezing of assets which I’ve been really encouraged to see.”

“It’s extremely welcome to be able to point to the around $9 billion that Cayman has already frozen in these assets.”

Although immigration does not fall directly within her purview, Governor Owen is mindful of Cayman’s cosmopolitan society and broadly sees it as an asset in a properly managed immigration policy.

“I’ve been looking at what Cayman has been doing. I think it’s important that the immigration policy here...is fair and processing is fast.”

According to the new Governor, “I think it’s good that that has been speeded up because people want to know the results and that it is also humane in terms of how we treat people who are here. So I’ve taken quite a close interest in that.”

On the makeup of the Cayman population Governor Owen made this observation: “I can see that Cayman society is very open, and that has actually been a huge driver of your economy. I think to have skills and talent coming in from all over the world. That is something we have done in the United Kingdom as well.”

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