POSITIONING CAYMAN FOR FUTURE GROWTH
Top regional economist Marla Dukharan says Cayman is better placed compared to other regional countries to chart a successful course for economic revitalisation as the territory emerges from the COVID-19 crisis.
She credits this to what she describes as Cayman’s ‘change mindset’ which she self better positions the territory to more readily respond to and embrace changing economic trends and opportunities.
Looking at Cayman’s long term prospects the Trinidadian economist drew attention to the territory’s high GDP and wondered if enough thought was being put into what she referred to as “inter-generational equity” - in other words investing for future generations.
“Are we leaving wealth for future generations?” she asked.
Ms Dukharan reported that at the beginning of the pandemic the Cayman Islands government had accumulated a surplus of CI$ 680 million which she said sets the jurisdiction apart from other countries in the region.
However, citing the Turks and Caicos Islands as an example, she wondered “what if these funds were employed in a manner that would be geared to drive sustainable progress?”
With Cayman’s surplus presently being used to stabilise the government’s expenses especially during the pandemic,Ms Dukharan she proposed putting a portion of the surplus into a fund with a longer term outlook, similar to the Turks and Caicos National Wealth Fund.
It was established in 2017 with US$8.0 million across the 2018/2019 financial year.
Compared to the Cayman Islands Ms Dukharan remarked “that is small but it’s a starting point.”
“I think that the Cayman islands could have something like this simply because it starts to change the mindset of saving, not just for a rainy day but for future generations “to ensure that they have the same, if not a higher standard of living.”
She also singled out the digital and green economy as areas having growth potential for Cayman.
However, Ms Dukharan who was at the time participating in the Chamber of Commerce’s Economic forum, pointed to current disparities within the economy.
She cited the accommodation and food sector which provide the most employment but offers the second-lowest paying sector for Caymanian workers.
While she welcomed moves to ‘retrain and retool’ workers to better equip them for the new economy emerging from the pandemic, Ms Dukharan queried, “instead of importing as much labour as we have, how do we make sure that Caymanian workers are first and foremost?”
Ms Dukharan is of the view that Cayman needs to “accelerate the shift” especially towards academic qualifications.
Presenting research to underline her points, she argued that preparing workers for quality jobs provides a path for upwards socio-economic mobility and career progression.