MP for Bodden Town East, Dwayne Seymour, had the floor to himself in the Chamber of Commerce’s Candidates Forum on Tuesday evening. His challenger Osbourne Bodden declined the invitation to participate.
“I’m here because the people want me to represent them,” Mr Seymour stated making his pitch for re-election. “Every time I’ve been elected I’ve done something outstanding in the district that hadn’t been done before by any other candidate.”
He said a mini hospital or the constituency is a key project that he has been working on along with plans for a craft market, hurricane shelters, parks and roads.
Being the Minister of Health has put Mr Seymour at the centre of the government’s efforts to manage the pandemic.
“Why change a government when they actually did a great job in saving lives, one that is marvelled at around the world?” he asked while giving credit to residents for following the regulations.
Health insurance has also been at the forefront of Mr Seymour’s portfolio and is also one of the top issues in the campaign.
“Healthcare is a big concern for everyone and it needs more discussion, but we need to find very quickly for seniors and retirees a plan that government may have to subsidize but it's too expensive right now for seniors.”
During his one-on-one with the Chamber, the Bodden Town East representative indicated that a May target for opening the borders was being contemplated by the government but that said that was conditional on the vaccination campaign.
Even then he said, the quarantine requirement should remain.
“Even if we open up in May, I would still want to see some kind of quarantine done, at least for three days.”
Addressing the issue of the minimum wage, he offered this perspective: “I definitely believe that people should make more than $6 an hour but we need to investigate and evaluate the economy to see what are the effects on the persons who have to pay, which is big concern. We need to reskill and retool our people to try to make higher wages so everything can move in tandem.”
The governments WORCS employment agency again came under scrutiny with Mr Seymour expressing the view the system was performing below expectation.
“I don't think that the system is working the way it was intended to give persons more opportunity and make sure to ensure fairness. We need to try to devise another plan.”
At the other end of the scale, he also feels the current pension system needs to be overhauled.
Regarding population and development, Mr Seymour suggested taking some ideas from the previous Vision 2000 Plan.
“I keep asking all the time people come trying to get taxes relaxed on their projects, how are Caymanians going to benefit from this?”
“We're paying the price right now where we are building, building, building and you can’t build yourself out of a traffic problem.”
Mr Seymour, who also holds the housing portfolio highlighted that said the government had purchased the most land in a single term.
“I want to purchase 100 or more acres of land and build 100 homes in the next four years.”
He said affordable homes must cater to different needs and should be available to young people in particular.
Speaking on the wider concerns of young people, he touched on the mental health impact of the pandemic and also employment.
“This COVID has really affected our children and we really need to do something."
And on their employment prospects, offered this suggestion:
“This is not this is about just being local anymore, so we need to tell the tell our children this is a global market, you need to compete. Stay a little bit overseas after university if you can get a job, whether it's in the US or UK then market yourself and then come back.”
When asked about the financial services sector and the external scrutiny it’s been subjected to, Mr Seymour said the government is continuing its strong defence of the economically important sector.
“We need to constantly pound the pavement. That's why we're putting offices in the US, Canada and Indonesia, ensure that we're out there let people know what we're about.”
The Government has sought feedback on the Digital Identity bill which is to be debated in parliament. Do you support the introduction of this Bill?