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Leader of the Opposition's 2023 New Year Message

Government 05 Jan, 2023 Follow News

Opposition Leader Hon Roy McTaggart

The Hon Roy McTaggart

My fellow Caymanians and Residents.

I hope that you and your families have enjoyed Christmas and the festive period as I have.

In my message last New Year, I spoke of how important hope is to all of us.

I recognised then that for many on our Islands, 2022 would be a year of continued anxiety. I must reflect today that many will view 2023 with a similar concern.

The issue we faced this time last year was the ongoing uncertainties caused by the Covid pandemic.

The issues we face now, as 2023 begins, are increasing crime and economic uncertainties, despite re-opening the economy.

The increased spate of armed robberies has created fear in the hearts of small businesses and regular citizens. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has committed to doing more to deal with the escalation. But the RCIPS also need your help to prevent these crimes and to arrest and jail the individuals responsible. If you have information that can help keep our communities safe, call the confidential tip line at 949-7777. You can also visit caymancrimestoppers.com and leave a tip there to help the police.

Sadly, Caymanian families have also seen cost-of-living skyrocket over the last 12 months. And the sluggish local economy means many will be fearful for their jobs or their businesses. Some families will face losing their homes this year. An increasing worry if mortgage repayments and home insurance go up much higher.

My colleagues and I, in the Opposition, understand the anxiety that many families will be experiencing.

It is because we understand these difficulties that we have spent the last year pushing the Government to take the necessary action to help our people through these challenging times.

And I am pleased to say that, at least some of the time, the Government has been willing to listen.

We in the Progressives Opposition raised the issue of the cost-of-living crisis in Parliament and insisted the Premier make a statement on it. We were gratified that, in response, the Government began to put new measures in place to support those in need.

We, in the Opposition, argued that support measures needed to be extended for longer and broadened to help more families and to support small businesses still impacted by the pandemic and increasing costs. Again, I am grateful that the Government was willing to listen to our ideas.

But more needs to be done. The Government needs to go further to help families and businesses through the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, even if inflationary pressures begin to ease in the months ahead.

And the Government needs to end its complacency over the economic future of our Islands and put in place the measures we have been advocating to drive future economic growth.

So, throughout 2023, the Progressives Opposition will continue to challenge the Government to do more and move faster. They need to make up for their lost time in 2021 and 2022.

This New Year message publicly allows me to renew the commitment we, in the Progressives, made to continue to serve our country through our time in Opposition.

In 2022, the Progressives commemorated the 20th anniversary of our founding.

Many of you will have attended the various events we staged last year to celebrate that landmark anniversary. And more events are being planned for 2023.

The success of our anniversary events reflects two key features of our party. The Progressives are rooted in the communities of our Islands. As a political party, we are here to serve those communities.

That feeling of public service binds our Progressives Parliamentarians together. That sense of obligation to our country and to our people keeps us fighting to get the best results for Cayman, even in Opposition.

In our time in Government, we worked hard to deliver improvements for our country and people. We modernized the nation's creaking infrastructure, created thousands of new jobs for Caymanians, and delivered improvements in public services, including education. Significantly too, we restored public finances, including building financial reserves that helped maintain us through the pandemic and still help us today.

In Opposition, we continue to work hard to secure the best possible results we can.

Our leadership role might have changed, but our dedication to the Cayman Islands and its people, our sense of public service, is unwavering. As our party Motto indicates – we do what we do "For Love of Country".

Last year we celebrated the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, only to be saddened scant weeks later by the news of Her Majesty's death.

That was a time of grief for us here in Cayman, just as much as it was in the United Kingdom. But it was also a time to recognize the importance of continuity and certainty as His Majesty King Charles III ascended to the throne.

In Cayman, we will see that notion of continuity during change play out in the coming year as we see a changeover of Governor.

Governor Roper will leave our Islands after four and a half years in the post. I thank him for his open and positive approach and for his dedication throughout his tenure, but none more so than through the testing times of the Covid pandemic.

I know firsthand that his willingness to work constructively with the elected Progressives-led Government was crucial in helping us to navigate those tough months.

In April, we will see Ms Jane Owen appointed as our Governor. I pledge to her the continued support of myself and my colleagues in the Opposition, and I wish her both success and happiness in her role.

She brings with her a wealth of experience and knowledge. In particular, her work in Switzerland and Liechtenstein will mean that she will have a familiarity with the workings of the financial services industry that will no doubt be valuable here in Cayman.

The idea of continuity through periods of change is vital in binding us together. It reminds us of our shared values and maintains our sense of community and mutual obligation.

As we face the challenges ahead, we must not lose that sense of togetherness, for it is what our country is built upon.

One of the unfortunate things about Westminster-style politics is that it casts elected politicians as 'Government' and 'Opposition.' It creates a necessarily adversarial relationship but is also potentially destructive if we let it.

We must not let that happen.

As an opposition, we have disagreements with this Government. They are failing to deliver the action our country needs at the pace necessary to overcome the challenges we face.

As I have said, we will continue to push them to do more and to move faster.

But we will also continue to support the Government when they get things right. And we will continue to respect the Premier and his Ministers as we respect their roles.

Just as that mutual respect should guide our politics, so it should guide us in our everyday lives.

In recent years, we have seen signs that the togetherness, which has been Cayman's hallmark for decades, has begun to erode.

In the press and on the airwaves, some in our community have become quick to criticize one part or another of our community for problems that we all face.

We must not fall into that trap of division. It gets us nowhere and only prevents us from working together to solve the challenges we are facing now. Be it rising crime, economic hardship, or the climate emergency.

The solutions to those problems can only be found if we all pull together, whatever our status or background and, yes, whatever our politics.

This New Year, I hope we can rediscover the strength of unity that has bound us together in the past. That strength of unity and togetherness has seen us grow from small island anonymity to an economic powerhouse. It has brought prosperity and achievement. It has overcome adversity. It can do so again.

I am grateful to you for listening to this message. I wish you every success and happiness for the year ahead.

May God bless you and your family and protect our beloved Cayman Islands.

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