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PROGRESSIVES CLAIM PACT IS FAILING TO DELIVER

Local News 01 May, 2023 Follow News

Roy McTaggart

By Staff Writer

This year’s annual Strategic Policy Statement (SPA ) of the ruling PACT (People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent) government has been subjected to a critical analysis by the opposition Progressives party which claims it’s a rehash of unfulfilled promises.

“As the Premier spoke, I was sure we heard these same promises two years ago. Yet few of them got done,” said Progressives leader Roy McTaggart.

“The key question for me is, has the Premier, at last, found a way to achieve where he has so far been unable to over these past two years?”

RIFTS

In his point-by-point analysis, Mr McTaggart concluded that the PACT government was unable to deliver on its promises because it was bogged down by internal rifts.

The former Minister of Finance Chris Saunders is out of the PACT Cabinet as of last month on still debated circumstances; whether he was sacked as Hon. Premier Wanye Panton says, or whether he resigned as Mr Saunders claims.  

“So, Madam Speaker, please forgive me if I have questions about whether this SPS, delivered by the Premier, truly represents the view of the entire Government.” PPM leader McTaggart said in his response to the government’s 2024-2026 SPS.

He alleged that “the PACT Government has been plagued by internal disunity and factional division.”

“If this Government has not bought into the Premier’s SPS, and if he cannot lead a united team to deliver on the promises of the SPS, then this is a policy statement based on wishful thinking rather than a coherent strategy.”

REGEN

According to the Progressives (People’s Progressives Party-PPM), much of what the PACT administration is taking credit for was in fact started by his party when they were in power, and he criticised the government for failing in its attempts to implement them.

He singled the Regen waste-to-energy project, which former finance Saunders had said was the reason for his falling out with the PACT leader.

“And there is no more significant example than Project ReGen, Madam Speaker. We had expected that a Premier and a Government as keen on sustainability as this one claims to be might have embraced the project. Instead, we have witnessed two years of endless prevarication…We are running out of time,” Mr McTaggart said.

He said that under PACT, the Regen project will cost the country more.

“Instead of the agreed cost we had negotiated, the Premier has recently talked about a total cost of $1.5bn, more than double the expected costs when the Project Agreement was signed by us in 2021…I look forward to the Premier’s explanation and having him show the reason for how the cost of the project has increased to this point, a mere two years after it was agreed.”

CABINET CONTRAFLOW ON EAST-WEST ARTERIAL RD

Mr McTaggart also cited what he saw as further signs of splits in the PACT government, in this case over the major East-West Arterial road extension. “I will focus on one example: the PACT Government’s tumultuous relationship with the East-West Arterial Road project. This type of development would be so plainly contradictory to this Government’s and the Premier’s declared policy objectives that the Ministers must have been aware of it,” he stated.

“The Premier has commented several times that he supports the road being built. He has also said that the Environmental Assessment would be done by the end of this year. After which, the planning and technical work would begin in earnest. But talking is one thing, and really taking action is another. And in the view of many Caymanians, Premier, like others in the PACT, need much improvement in the action department.”

SOME CREDIT, BUT...

However, PPM Progressives leader McTaggart did credit the PACT government on some points achieved from the previous SPS. However, he maintained that those would have been done anyway by civil servants…or left by the previous Progressives government.

“I could see that progress had been made on some of the Government’s targets…All Ministers have now had two years in office, and by now, the country should be seeing the results of the political leadership they have been bringing.  Sadly, in many cases, the results are not encouraging.”

However, a range of matters the PPM leader said the PACT government has been found wanting, including the cost of living, further delay of a National Development Plan, affordable housing, and what he said was the under-employment of Caymanians.

“Why is it that the size of the Caymanian workforce has shrunk by some 550 people in six months? Are people really leaving the workforce, or is something else going  So, I ask the question what is really going on in our economy?”

Mr McTaggart concluded that despite what amounted to an economic windfall and historically low unemployment, “this level of underemployment represents Caymanians and others being forced to take whatever hours they can get to work in order to buy groceries and pay for their utilities and pay for all the common things we need to live.

He said: “Government recently reported about the billion-dollar government revenues, but they have not said how the government will help relieve some of the economic stress that the Premier acknowledges is being felt by households and businesses.”


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