With prices going up across the board and even more price hikes on the horizon, the Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart has written to the Premier Wayne Panton and given a video address as to what the Opposition wants done to help ease the burden on the public.
McTaggart took the opportunity to outline the Opposition’s worries and their thoughts on how the economic impact might be mitigated during the recent sitting of Parliament. In the video, he accused the government of inactivity on the issue.
“I was most concerned that the Premier and the government, after six months without holding a meeting of Parliament, had gone almost two full days, Wednesday and Thursday, without saying a word about the current cost of living crisis facing the country until I asked the question on Thursday evening as we were about to adjourn,” he stated. “A cost-of-living crisis that is having a severe impact on Caymanians and all who live here.”
Citing the ESO’s recent announcement that people had been paying 11% more for goods and services in the first quarter of 2022 and that that was going to increase further, Mr McTaggart said people were struggling to cope with the reduced purchasing power of their dollars.
“Some who are being hit the hardest by rising prices are our pensioners, who are on fixed incomes with little or no ability to earn additional income,” he pointed out. “They are hurting especially hard, and some may have to choose whether to buy necessary medicine or to buy food because they can't afford both.”
In response to his questions in Parliament, the Opposition Leader said he hoped for some constructive ideas as to how the government intended to ease things.
“But instead, the Premier offered up a half-hearted attempt to list solutions that rambled on…There were future plans mentioned, but only two that may come soon enough to truly help our people,” he said. “I was pleased to hear that many in the Civil Service will receive a 4.5% COLA to help them through the tough times. But most people in Cayman are not civil servants. I was also pleased to hear the Government mention plans to assist some people with electricity costs. We will wait to see the details and understand how much help it will provide for those who receive it.”
However, the Opposition called for more to be done, including:
extending the pension holiday for another six months
discussing with CUC the possibility of minimising increases in electricity costs
advising the Government-owned Water Authority not to increase water rates for at least six months
speaking with Cayman Water and trying to persuade them to do likewise
reducing the import duty on gasoline and diesel for six months and ensuring the savings are passed on by gas stations
increasing the stipend to seamen, veterans and those entirely dependent on financial assistance from government
and continuing the Covid tourism stipends.
Mr McTaggart said the Opposition addressed the concern of the Caymanian people straight on with the Government.
“Given the government's flurry of activity on social media since then in an effort to convince the public that they are acting, I know that the Premier now understands that the people and the Opposition are watching. So, he and the government will now have to work to bring some temporary relief from the current cost of living crisis by whatever means they can. I pray the government will act swiftly and decisively,” he said.