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Hot topics on Opposition’s agenda

Cayman Conversation 05 Jun, 2024 Follow News

Hon Roy McTaggart

Caymanian Times publisher Ralph Lewis spoke with Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart about the top issues worrying his Progressives party as Parliament is convened on 24th June.

Mr McTaggart said he was relieved that Parliament was reconvening.

“Thus far for the calendar year, we’ve only spent two and a half to three days in Parliament, so the Opposition has not been able to get any of its business done because of the infrequency with which Parliament has been meeting, so I am very glad that we are going back in June,” he confirmed.

The Opposition Leader said they were bringing a fairly large number of parliamentary questions to Parliament for government to answer, however he acknowledged they were always constrained by whether they wanted to answer the questions. If such questions are not answered in Parliament, government is supposed to respond with a written answer within two weeks of Parliament ending.

“Quite often that just does not always happen,” he said. “A number of questions just don’t get aired so we have to bring them up again.”

When they did receive answers, the Leader of the Opposition said they made those questions public so people could see what they had asked and what the government was saying and then form their own opinions. But, this meant the Opposition did not get the chance to ask supplementary questions which, he said, could quite often be the most important part of the question-and-answer session in the House.

Issues which he said they had been constantly asking government about that seemed to be going nowhere included the minimum wage report, which, he said, seemed to be languishing even though government had had the report for nine -10 months.

“I understand they just cannot agree what to do with it, whether to implement, whether to amend and implement,” he said. “When that happens, literally nothing gets done, so we are going to try and light a little bit of a fire to try and get some answers and prompt some movement.”

Mr McTaggart said he received questions almost daily from people who were looking forward to getting an increase in minimum wage.

“These are people working in jobs where the pay is minimum wage,” he confirmed.

The mental health facility was also languishing.

“When we left office, the facility was well underway in terms of construction. That construction is now finished but it’s just languishing… there’s no real effort to get the facility opened even though it is fully staffed,” he confirmed. “It’s so important to get the project done because there is a huge need for it.”

The ReGen contract was another issue “going nowhere” as far as Mr McTaggart was concerned. The government would not be signing an agreement before the elections so it would then be another year before anything could be concluded, he worried. In the meantime, the landfill continued to fill and Cayman may have to look at some alternatives, such as look at another site for a landfill.

“God forbid, we get to that point because it’s not what the country wants; it’s not what the country needs; it’s not the right solution,” he stated.

Mr McTaggart worried that if this project did not move forward soon, the land set aside for taking in the ash from the new facility would be used up with general refuse and a new site would have to be found.

“It’s the single largest issue we have in terms of environmental issues, “he said.  “If we could get it dealt with it would be a huge relief to everyone.”

The danger from fires still existed, he added. He also worried about the huge figures mentioned in payment for the project: from one and a half to two billion, which, he said, the Opposition did not understand.

“We don’t know how they get there and I think the public wants to know about it,” he said.

The Opposition would also be raising the subject of the defunct Cayman Airways route to Barbados. They want to know what happened even though government had said they had a guaranty from a Barbados entity. They feared there would be costs and he wanted to know how much they would be.

“Those things can turn into a financial disaster,” he stated.

Mr McTaggart felt the government was still having difficulties in getting a consensus among themselves and that was why projects were not coming to completion.

Mr McTaggart was also concerned with the level of spending that this government had approved.

While government had detailed first quarter accounts that showed large sums being collected, especially from the financial services industry, he said all sorts of projects were in the pipeline that the government had committed to.

“The question is, can it all be accomplished before the election?” he said.

Mr McTaggart said the Progressives were focusing on April 2025 when Cayman would be holding its elections. They were making plans to put the resources in place to contest the elections and they were looking forward to the elections.

He said he would like to contest at least 15 seats to give them a comfortable majority.

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