By Staff Writer
With a potential constitutional crisis averted and buoyed by a clear 12-7 parliamentary majority, the legislative programme, economic agenda and portfolio assignments of the new Cayman Islands government led by Hon. Premier Wayne Panton is now awaited.
Having taken over the reins of power in a nail-biting series of a last-minute flurry of political bartering, Premier Panton sits at the helm of a post-election coalition that will set the agenda for Cayman for the next four years.
Although they campaigned on separate independent platforms, with some 'team' sub-groupings, there was enough commonality of purpose and political compromise to overcome hitherto polarising differences.
That was not lost on Hon. Premier Panton when he made his inaugural address at formal swearing-in ceremony of his new PACT (People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent) cabinet. The 19 MPs took their oath of office shortly before inside the Parliament.
“This represents the collective will of the Caymanian people, and everyone that was sworn in today has the constitutional and moral responsibility to make sure that the will of the people is reflected and respected in our policies and priorities over the next four years,” he asserted.
Despite the divergent policy agendas amongst the coalition of independents during the campaign, Mr Panton emphasised that the focus of his PACT administration will reflect a common commitment for Cayman.
“More importantly than the largest share of the votes, is the knowledge that despite our policy differences, we are united in our desire to make a positive difference to the communities we serve.”
Reflecting on the campaign and process of forming the government, the new Premier of the Cayman Islands continued:
“Over the past several months, many of the Independent candidates have been discussing our vision for a better socially and economically fairer Cayman. There are matters that can be addressed while protecting and promoting a strong and more diverse economy.”
Viewing Cayman in the context of the issues highlighted by individual opposition independent candidates during the campaign, Premier Panton pointed out that; “We are not the only country dealing with socially corrosive issues like income inequality and wealth disparity, but we must work to find together the solution to these problems.
“As independently minded as we all are, we share a common purpose, to uplift and make better the lives of every Caymanian and those who call the Cayman Islands home.”
Mr Panton underscored his PACT government’s priority for Cayman:
“We chose to focus on the 95% that we have in common, not the 5%, in respect of which we differ.”
To a crescendo of applause, Premier Panton declared: “We chose to focus on what united us, as opposed to what divided us. And the result today is that we have a government that is led by independents, a government that reflects the political will and wishes of our people.”
He said, “It's a government that shows that despite the fact that we come from diverse backgrounds like every Caymanian today and those that came before, we have the capacity to set aside our differences and work together to create a political community that will create a better Cayman and a better country.”
Indicative policy takeaways
Hon. Premier Panton concluded his inaugural address with policy indications on the environment, (one day before Earth Day, education, and crucially, the reopening of the economy; all dominant issues during the campaign.
“Our job is to ensure that from cradle to grave we instil and provide the necessary pathway for lifelong learning education remains the only route out of poverty. And the cure for the many injustices committed in the name of ignorance.”
"Our stance on the environment and limited regard for living more sustainably must be adjusted. Our need to over-consume and dependency on imported products must be reviewed. Our carbon footprint is too high. Our need to quicken the pace towards clean renewable energy is essential. As is our need to ensure that climate resiliency measures are considered and implemented in everything we do – this is the existential threat to our way of life. The loss of irreplaceable mangroves or the extinction of our marine life is a price too high to pay.”
Border reopening, COVID pandemic and healthcare
“The fact that we are one of the few countries that has not had to go back into any form of lockdown speaks to our resilience, discipline and patience as a people. When our borders reopen, they will only be reopened when it is safe to do so, we cannot revert to the stress of being one medical emergency away from destitution, or poverty.
Access to good health care is a human right and cannot be just for the privileged few."
In conclusion, Premier Panton focused on two principles of his PACT coalition (People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent), accountability and transparency:
“Restoring our faith in the democratic process must also be a priority. There must be openness in the way government business is done. That is the hallmark of good governance.”
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