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Premier: Cayman’s growth among the best

Front Pages 16 Feb, 2023 Follow News

Premier Wayne Panton

Cayman Islands Premier, the Honourable Wayne Panton addresses an audience comprised of the Islands’ business community at the Chamber of Commerce AGM on 9th February, 2023.

Cayman Islands Premier, the Honourable Wayne Panton outlined the successes of the Islands’ post pandemic economic recovery and outlined how Cayman’s growth is among the best in the region during a recent speech.

Addressing a room filled with Cayman’s business community at the recent Chamber of Commerce Annual General meeting no February 9th, the Premier said that when he took office, the Cayman Islands were at a pivotal point in the crisis brought on by the ravages of the pandemic and its effects on local businesses.

“When we took office, the country was quite literally closed,” he explained, adding that, Businesses - both small and large - were struggling to keep the lights on.”

Mr. Panton said, with people losing their jobs and difficult times casting a bleak forecast on the Islands’ economic prospects, he and his government had to act fast, and noted that though those time seem like a world away after the reopening of the Islands’ borders and economy, the impacts still live with us today.

He explained that he was proud of the resilience of the business community and how people from all walks of life “rolled up their sleeves” and pulled together “…to get our “…beloved Cayman Islands working again.”

The Premiere said he was pleased to be able to report that today the economy is strong and getting stronger.

He outlined some of the highlights of the Islands’ recovery:

“Hotels are full again, shops and restaurants are bustling, and jobs are available up and down the economic ladder,” he said.

The successful reopening of Cayman has meant that there will be a surplus in  government revenue this year.

Some of the measures being taken to continue to aid the economic recovery include extending the reduction in business fees for small and micro businesses, which has proven to be a booster shot for commerce.

From June 2021 to June 2022, small businesses benefited from CI$166,294 in fee discounts and micro businesses benefited from CI$1,471,300 in fee discounts, respectively.

The Premiers said there have also been great strides made in meeting the ever-changing global financial regulatory regime.

“We’ve improved technical compliance and are largely compliant with the 40 FATF recommendations, we have also made strong progress toward completing the FATF’s 3-point plan, issued in February of 2021,” he remarked.

The Cayman Islands is also developing a consolidated Beneficial Ownership Act in Parliament and examining the European Union’s Court of Justice November 2022 judgement regarding beneficial ownership registers to understand its impact.

According to Mr. Panton, there is a need to “stay ahead of the curve for regulatory developments and positively contribute to the global discussion around major financial talking points…” 

For the period ending on January 31st, 2023, new business applications in the Cayman Islands were up by 351 and there were 1,164 renewals, according to the Premier, who added that as of 31st December, the total number of business licenses and certificates stood at 13,309.

As the cost of living increases and the war in Ukraine rages on, the Premier said he would be challenging his government to do everything in its power to assist the Caymanian people in facing the challenges of rising prices.

To do this, the government is formulating a comprehensive ‘Cayman Sustainability Agenda’, which will include and adjustment to the minimum wage, a substantial new investment affordable housing -with 100 homes planned - and support for educational initiatives relating to the Community College to prepare Caymanians for higher paying jobs.

The Cayman Sustainability Agenda will mean that critical road infrastructure and housing arrangements will encourage car sharing, biking and a new clean, reliable public transportation system.

In the past four years alone, there have been roughly 13,000 cars imported in the Cayman Islands, contributing to growing congestion issues.

Energy efficiency is also a priority for the government and plans are being formulated for the Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency to assist eligible Caymanians to retrofit their homes in this regard.

Due to Cayman’s geographical location, there will always be a cost of living challenge, the Premier noted, adding that this would not be solved over night but that the government was working to make things a little bit easier.

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