There is no question that government finances have stabilised and the economy of the Cayman Islands has grown under the steady guiding hand of Mr Roy McTaggart the man responsible for the stewardship of government finances over the past four years.
As the saying goes, “no matter how you slice it and dice it”, the mere and clear fact is that the expertise, years of experience and calm demeanour of Mr McTaggart has been an asset, not just to his party and government, but more importantly to the Cayman Islands.
Amidst the heated rhetoric and emotions surrounding the outcome of the election, and with all drama of the flipping and switching, Mr McTaggart has remained an oasis of calm.
It’s a reflection of his skilful and careful management of the economy.
In the midst of a deadly global pandemic, a key issue (perhaps THE KEY ISSUE) of the election campaign has been that Cayman is developing too fast.
Yes, the economy has taken a hit, but many countries in the Caribbean, Latin America, even the US, Canada, the UK and Europe marvel at the stability of the current economy of Cayman and how it has withstood the pandemic.
And while there are areas for improvement to ensure that all Caymanians fully benefit - a point made by Mr McTaggart himself - the fact is that under Roy McTaggart’s steady hand on the tiller of government finances, the good ship Cayman is weathering yet another storm.
Navigating the economic course out of the pandemic - in addition to the public health challenges - doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing.
The course ahead will get turbulent at times.
That’s why especially at this critical juncture for Cayman, a tried, tested, proven, experienced, trusted and respected hand on the tiller is an absolute necessity.
So, who really is Roy McTaggart, the man, the professional and the politician?
We could easily refer you to his George Town East constituents.
VOTES OF CONFIDENCE
In his first run for public office in 2013 they entrusted him with the second-highest number of votes in the George Town constituency - second only to Kurt Tibbets.
During that period in government, Mr McTaggart served as Councillor to the Ministry of Health and served as interim Minister at times from 2013 to 2017
In 2017, when the single member constituency system was introduced, voter confidence in Mr McTaggart soared.
Not only did he obtain 45.5 per cent of the votes, that was more than twice the number of votes of his two closest challengers.
He took over the reins of arguable the most important portfolio in government Ministry and Finance and Economic Development
In this year’s election, voters in George Town East further extended their confidence in Roy McTaggart when they gave him an overwhelming two-thirds of all the votes cast.
His tally of the votes totalled 64 per cent, means that he got almost twice the number of votes of his four challengers combined.
That is an undeniable appreciation and acknowledgement of his service to his community and country based on his track record as Finance Minister.
In the Chamber of Commerce’s Candidates’ forum Mr McTaggart’s professional background was summarised as follows:
“Mr McTaggart joined KPMG in the Cayman Islands in 1985, transferred to their Orlando office in 1986, and returned to the Cayman Islands in 1988. He was admitted to the partnership in 1991, became joint Managing Partner in 2003 and appointed Managing Partner in 2007. He was Managing Director of KMPG in the British Virgin Islands from 2007-2012.
“Hon. Minister Roy McTaggart is a former chairman of the Board of Cayman Airways, a member of the Commission for Standards in Public Life and is chairman of the Young Caymanian Leadership Foundation. He was also a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange.”
A QUIET, CARING CAYMANIAN CALM OF SHARP INTELLECT
Roy McTaggart’s journey to the heights of business and politics started in Crewe Road, George Town via Jamaica where he was born and where he returned to for his early schooling.
His early life followed the pattern of many Caymanians coming out of the colonial period when Cayman was a dependency of Jamaica.
“I grew up on Crewe Road,” he tells us. “Just where Cayman Animal Hospital is, that was my family’s home. I went to prep school here in Cayman and I did go to Jamaica for five years from 1968 to 1973, then I came back home and finished up my high school education in 1979.”
He then went on to successfully pursue his Bachelor’s in Accounting at the University of Central Florida, a profession he reminds that many Caymanians are now proudly excelling in the jurisdiction’s economically-vital financial sector.
That makes 62-year-old Roy McTaggart somewhat of a trailblazer in that respect.
He said there was always an abiding interest in politics as he was exposed to that environment with the well-known businessman William “Uncle Bill” McTaggart, his father.
Furthermore, his great-grand-uncle and namesake, the late Dr Roy McTaggart, was a political giant of his time and honoured with the National Hero award in 2016.
However, returning to Cayman after graduating in 1982 Mr McTaggart chose to put his political ambitions on hold while he focused on starting his career and family.
“I always felt that I would get involved,” he said, recalling that “in 1996 I was quite heavily courted to contest the election in George Town but I just didn’t think the time was right for me.”
After working in the government’s Treasury Department for a year, he entered the private sector with a role in the accounting firm Arthur Young and moved to KPMG in 1985 where he spent a long and distinguished career spanning 27 years.
He was made a Partner in 1991, Joint Managing Partner in 2003, and Managing Partner in 2007 until his retirement in 2012. During that time he was also KPMG’s Managing Director in the sister Overseas Territory, the British Virgin Islands from 2007- 2012.
It was trajectory which he said helped him “develop those qualities of leadership and management skills” in a large business environment which he has been able to successfully transfer to the political area and government.
Following his retirement in 2012, Mr McTaggart then turned his attaention to politics getting elected in his first run in 2013.
ANSWERING THE POLITICAL CALL
Speaking about his decision then to step into the ring, Mr McTaggart recalls that “the government at the time was barely functioning. It was a very traumatic and anxious period for Cayman.”
“I took the decision to retire and enter the political arena.”
“So it’s that environment where I decided to put my hat into the ring, believing that I would be able to make a difference, to provide leadership and stability to the country.”
But he is quick to point that he never saw his entry into politics as a second career.
“I got involved and I didn’t intend that this would be a second career for me,” he says.
But with his usual calm practicality, he adds: “Coming into it now for the third term, I felt that with Alden (outgoing Premier Alden McLaughlin) not able to go on as Premier (due to constitutional term limits), I did get a lot of pressure to step up and take leadership of the party and hopefully becoming Premier of the country.”
RESPECT AND CONFIDENCE
That was an acknowledgement without any resentment or rancour that negotiations to form the next governing coalition are still ongoing.
It’s that calm practicality and honesty driven by service and a sense of responsibility and that is Roy McTaggart’s trademark.
That’s the quality and calibre of his leadership. Calm amongst a very manufactured swirling chaos. Distraction and confusion are the last things that Cayman needs now.
“I think right now that the country is divided. I think that following the elections there needs to be a period of healing and getting life back to normal for everyone,” he urges while appealing for cool heads to prevail.
A calm, capable and assured hand on the tiller, continuing to chart and direct a path out of this economic slowdown and the impact of the pandemic is what’s required most of all.
“I know I have the respect and confidence of the people, the business community, and internationally, especially by the international financial services industry,” Mr McTaggart states.
CALM AMIDST THE CHAOS
It is clear that now is not the time for the chaos of personality politics that will only result in economic harm, social uncertainty and Cayman’s reputation as a progressive and successful small country to be sullied.
This is a time for serious, mature, experienced and accomplished leadership and economic management. It is not the time for political musical chairs.
As it stands in Cayman’s democratic system, the voters ELECT the MPs and the MPs SELECT who they form the government with.
That was a crucial question that was addressed throughout the Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum
Simply put, too much is at stake far beyond personal political ambitions. and self-serving political distractions.
Roy McTaggart says it best with the evidence of his track record of managing the government finances and the economy as Minister of Finance and Economic Management.
“I believe everything I’ve done in life so far has prepared me for this moment.
“I am looking forward to getting into this role with great anticipation for what I think my leadership can be and should be in providing leadership for the Cayman Islands, bettering the lives of our people, and giving people opportunities to succeed in whatever it is that they are doing.”
“If we don’t have opportunities we don’t have hope and then there’s nothing but despair and that is a recipe for disaster.”
“I think there’s a bright future for Cayman and at the moment, I am the right person to lead this country and I’ll do everything that I can to make it work.”
LEADER, PROGRESSIVES AND INDEPENDENTS ALLIANCE
MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT, 2017 to 2021
( Listen to Roy McTaggart's Leadership Pledge)