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THE WRANGLE FOR WEST BAY WEST

Election Center 30 Mar, 2021 Follow News

THE WRANGLE FOR WEST BAY WEST

Another no-show on the Chamber of Commerce's Candidate Forums meant the sole candidate owned the whole show, and West Bay West challenger Mario Ebanks set out to make the most of the free unchallenged time in his bid to wrest the seat from McKeeva Bush.

“One of my reasons for running is that the track record of my opponent is such that I don't know how many times he expects to breach the public trust and to get re-elected."

In addition to his goal of unseating the incumbent, Mr Ebanks said his plans for West Bay West include setting up a district council, a purpose-built hurricane shelter and civic centre, and programmes for the youth and families.

Nationally, the former business executive and first Caymanian president of the Chamber of Commerce said he would pursue what he called a Vision 2050 development plan for the jurisdiction.

Mr Ebanks who is also a former director of Labour and Pensions, detailed his plan for overhauling those systems.

“I believe that pension reform requires looking at the regulations, the investment regulations, in particular, are woefully inadequate,” he stated.

His plan entails collaboration across pensions, WORC, the Health Insurance Commission and the Department of Trade with an emphasis on enforcement.

The government’s decision to allow early pensions withdrawal as a financial buffer from the pandemic is also a concern.

“We just recently took $450 million out of pensions in this country. That's a short term gain but I think it'd be long term pain,” he opined.

Specific to the WORC agency, the focus of much attention during this series, the West Bay West challenger said he would sort it out in two years.

“We are going to reform that. The current system is just a name change, but we need to have proper resources, laws and policies…. If I'm elected within two years we're going to have an authority working, and we're going to have a combined system that is fit for purpose and helping our people.”

He also proposed a Labour Commissioner or a Judge to replace the current labour tribunal system.

The West Bay West contender was cautious about reopening the economy, saying it is best determined on expert medical advice. However, he would increase the tourism stipend to CI$2,000 per month.

“We have a great plan for lockdown. You have to have a plan to exit lockdown, and I'm not hearing anything. That plan is secretive if anything is happening.”

Promoting his Vision 2050 development plan, Mr Ebanks said it was intrinsically tied to his outlook for sustainable development with the environment at the heart of his agenda.

While warning about sacrificing the environment, including mangroves, in pursuit of development, the West Bay West candidate said he wasn’t convinced that the government truly had abandoned its plans for the controversial cruise port.

“I believe if they are reelected, they are going to push through the cruise port in Hog Sty Bay,” he stated.

Addressing the cost of living, “I don't have the silver bullet, I don't have the answer to everything,” Mr Ebanks admitted, committing to setting a task force to examine the issue.

However, he pointed to several areas that warrant attention among them the minimum wage.

“How can you on $6 per hour? In our society, you can't do it at a minimum wage. We're gonna look at increasing that and working at that right away.”

He also proposed reviewing the customs tariffs on essential items, and revived the idea of more direct imports from Latin America rather than coming via Miami where they incur additional costs.

He also advocates government purchasing more land for affordable housing.

Tackling Cayman’s transportation system, Mr Ebanks suggested "carpooling, public transportation, staggered working hours, flex time, restriction on the importation of vehicles”... including limiting the number of cars per household with a progressive import duty on each additional vehicle.

He puts families at the centre of addressing issues affecting the youth via a Family and Communities Empowerment law alongside education and job opportunities.

Looking at policing for West Bay West and nationwide he favours greater community outreach and more resources for the RCIPS.

Mr Ebanks who is a former vice-chairman of the Progressives proposes a 20-year term limit for MPs.

Now running as an independent candidate he said he is capable of assuming any ministerial position as part of a coalition, including that of Premier.


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