By Staff Writer
The PACT (People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent) independents coalition government has published a report on its first 100 days in office.
A self-assessment of the proverbial ‘grace-period for first-time governments, the PACT report card does not give a performance grade but highlights achievements in its term in office so far with an outlook of where it is headed - and plans to take Cayman.
In introductory comments, Hon. Premier Wayne Panton said it was a pleasure “highlighting some of the work the PACT Government has undertaken and accomplished for the benefit of our people and our country.”
“I appreciate the support, confidence, trust, and encouragement that the people of the Cayman Islands have in this Government,” he stated, adding that “this has undoubtedly fuelled our efforts over the past 100 days.”
The Premier acknowledged that important work remains to be done. He said, “While we celebrate these achievements, we are by no means resting on them. There is still much work to be done and we are ready for the challenge.”
According to an official statement published on the government’s website, the PACT administration’s early achievements are listed in the report under several broad areas including reopening borders, education, healthcare, people and social policy, good governance, safety, environment and sustainability, employment and labour, sports and culture, infrastructure, financial services, and tourism
It says the sections largely mirror the broad policy outcome areas listed in the Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) brought to Parliament earlier this month.
Premier Panton emphasised the Islands’ reopening to visitors as paramount on the Government’s list of upcoming goals and challenges.
He said, “First and foremost is the safe reopening of our borders. To do this, we need every eligible resident in the Cayman Islands to be fully vaccinated. I thank and applaud those individuals who have already been fully vaccinated as well as the businesses that have come on board to ensure that their workers — especially those on the front lines — are vaccinated and protecting themselves from the full impact of COVID-19.”
The development of a five-phase plan for safely reopening borders is listed under achievements in healthcare, as is expanding healthcare access to all clients of the Needs Assessment Unit.
The report highlighted the vaccination drive initiated by the new government in May as attracting 1,138 people with 734 getting their first shot, and 404 receiving the second.
Under the education portfolio, distributing 4,989 laptops to public school students and increasing funding for overseas undergraduate scholarships by 50% was highlighted.
The PACT’s “People & Social Policy” agenda saw the launch of the delayed national census, the grant of government-guaranteed mortgages to 200 Caymanian families, and the reallocation of $2 million in funding to provide business stipends for micro and small businesses.
The adoption of a Ministerial Code of Conduct is listed as a major governance achievement along with the new move to publish summaries of Cabinet decisions among several actions aimed at greater transparency in government - one of the PACT’s principles.
The report also points to the international credit rating agency Moody’s maintaining Cayman’s Aa3 rating for Government’s bonds issued in foreign and local currency, and an Aaa rating as a country ceiling.
In financial services, the Government reported that it addressed the European Union’s tax good governance initiative, remaining strong and cooperative with international tax compliance; and participated in an international (ACAMS) symposium on anti-financial crime and CFT to examine the Cayman Islands’ AML framework, including present efforts to be removed from the FATF Grey List.
With Premier Panton personally taking on the mantle of sustainable development as a core administration policy, the environment received greater attention and protection by the formation of the Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency.
The Cayman Islands National Weather Service was boosted by the installation of its first tower in a series of automatic weather observation stations.
With a heavy focus on employment and labour, 10 Caymanians were offered scholarships to attend Tools for Success-Employability Skills and Financial Peace University through WORC in partnership with Inspire Cayman; and four people were recommended to the Second Chances Programme for possible employment opportunities through the Portfolio of the Civil Service.
Achievements in tourism included working with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association on preparations and logistics to keep Caymanians first in the industry; and continuing repatriation flights by Cayman Airways to Miami, Jamaica and La Ceiba, as well as British Airways flights to London Heathrow.
Activities to maintain and improve public safety included the National Security Council’s steps to curb gang violence, and training for Community Emergency Response Teams volunteers to be better prepared for national hazards.
During the period under review, the PACT government also reported that the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Culture and Heritage established its three top priorities, which are to identify and develop talent; enhance and empower youth; and ensure awareness and preservation of Cayman’s culture and heritage.
Infrastructure developments included purchasing private land on Cayman Brac for the creation of a public beach, and a public consultation programme on the remediation of the George Town landfill.
The PACT coalition administration is comprised of ministers who in the main contested the April election as independents.
Premier Panton, in emphasising ‘the shared guiding principles’ of his Cabinet Ministers, said: “As a team we continue to grow from strength to strength with our focus on our vision and guiding principles of being a PACT government that is People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent.”
The press release which accompanied the report said while it reviews the past 100 days, Premier looked toward the future as he concluded his message.
“We will, together, march on to help better the lives of all who live and work here, and safely reopen our borders as we continue to keep our Islands safe from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Together we have made the past 100 days meaningful and productive and have set a solid foundation for the remainder of our term. Our unwavering commitment is to place our people at the centre of everything we do,” Mr Panton stated.
The wide-ranging overview which highlights decisions taken by the new administration in the past 100 days alongside policies and programmes that came into being during the period, however, omits several key issues inherited by the PACT government which it has either implemented or suspended for review.
These include increases and adjustments to the budget and parliamentary salaries under the new management structure for the Parliament and the suspension and review of the farm stipend.
Although changes to the key tourism stipend are included in the main report, they are not highlighted in the accompanying press statement. The planned reduction of the stipend from $1,500 to $750 in November and December to then be assessed on a case by cases basis as is also not mentioned.
During the period the government also extended the national pension holiday to the end of the year. The Health Insurance Premiums Payment Assistance Programme has also been kept in place beyond June for a further three months until September 30th.
While the 100 days update and the summary of Cabinet decisions are welcome and progressive developments, it could not be immediately determined if or when the government will hold a press briefing on its achievements to date and other pressing matters, including its backup plan if the 80 per cent vaccination target is not attained in line with the published reopening schedule.
The incentivised vaccination campaign has arguably been one of the community relations highlights of the PACT government’s first 100 days.
It is understood that a renewed effort is being planned to a bid to hit the target from the perspectives of both community health and economic revival.
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