Premier berates TV show at investment summit

| 11/02/2016 | 7 Comments
CNS Business

Premier Alden McLaughlin speaking on BBC documentary “Britain’s Trillion Pound Island”

(CNS): The controversies surrounding the recently broadcast BBC documentary about the Cayman Islands was at the heart of a speech delivered by the country’s leader at last week’s Alternative Investment Summit. With Cayman central to the success of alternative investment, Premier Alden McLaughlin said it was a shame “that there are those who wish to shut us down”, as he criticised “Britain’s Trillion Pound Island” by journalist Jacques Peretti.

Having agreed to be interviewed for the programme, McLaughlin made a few sarcastic jibes at the finished product.

“In a triumph of investigative journalism, Mr Peretti revealed that there are some rich people living on the island. Lots of them have boats.  Some of them have expensive cars. Who knew? We thank him for that insight,” McLaughlin told the audience, as he opened the summit last week.

“Apparently, much of the wealth here is fuelled by the financial services industry because a lot of other rich people chose to put their assets here. The Pulitzer is in the bag,” he said, as he continued to belittle the show.

Governor struggles to explain offshore sector

Defended investors who choose to put their money in Cayman, McLaughlin said that instead of asking if Britain should shut down the jurisdiction, the filmmaker should have been asking why the industry is “so successful and why people make the perfectly legitimate choice to invest here”.

He said the Cayman Islands “possess some of the most innovative and creative individuals and businesses” that “enjoy the support of a government determined to help them succeed”.

“Rather than burden success with excessive taxation, this is a government that has used its success in restoring stability in its own finances to cut duties for the benefit of businesses and households alike,” the premier told those gathered at the summit.

Peretti’s documentary also showed the other side of Cayman and McLaughlin commended him for highlighting the poverty that exists in parts of the local community as well as wealthy people living a life of luxury.

“I, for one, need no reminder that times are still tough for some on our islands. I know that because I see it every day, and each day I use that to drive myself and my government to do more,” he said.

However, he took issue with Peretti’s contention that poverty for some was the price Cayman pays for having a thriving financial services industry and that government was conniving with business in a willingness to pay that price. McLaughlin said that was not only wrong but “wilfully” missed the point.

“This government believes that economic growth benefits everyone. We believe that a strong and thriving financial services sector in Cayman drives economic growth and therefore it deserves our support,” he said. “In contrast with other jurisdictions, we believe in regulatory frameworks that provide necessary safeguards, yes, but that also support business rather than hampering innovation and growth.”

McLaughlin said that Cayman remained at the forefront of regulatory changes and in many instances ahead of G20 countries in drafting legislation and helping lead the way in anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism legislation. “And we are still world leaders in developing useful financial services products that enable the transaction of global business,” he said.

He said tackling poverty would not be through handouts but creating employment.

“Growth delivered by the private sector is the most important determinant of employment but we, as government, also have a direct role to play in helping Caymanians overcome important barriers to their getting jobs,” he said, as he urged the high net worth individuals and business owners at the conference to help with public-private sector partnerships to create jobs and employ locals.

But while he did not think much of the documentary, he said, it should not be dismissed as trivial nonsense.

“We must recognise it for what it is — part of a concerted campaign to undermine the financial services industry in these islands,” he warned. “It is a campaign taken up by politicians in the UK, the EU and the USA, eager to deflect from their own failings. Why deal with long-standing structural problems in your own economy when you can simply cry foul at someone else’s economic achievements? Instead of looking at the need to reform your own over-taxed and bureaucratically regulated systems, why not try to wreck the success of another jurisdiction.”

Given the uncertain times, the premier claimed to offer some certainty to the audience when he said his government remained “absolutely committed to supporting the success of the financial services industry” and the right for those present to do business in a jurisdiction that does not “penalise success with excessive taxation and over-regulation”.

McLaughlin said that this was not just hollow words from a politician. “Our willingness to back your success has been widely recognised. We remain the principal offshore jurisdiction for hedge funds and mutual funds,” he said. “Helping us maintain our status as a successful fund domicile is the presence of sophisticated and professional service providers whose knowledge of the nuances of the fund industry is vast and vastly appreciated.”

The premier said the success of investors drives economic growth and brings revenues to government, which allow it to act in the interests of the wider community. Cayman will be stronger, he said, the more those in the alternative investments sector are able to innovate, create wealth and drive growth.

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Category: Finance, Financial Services

Comments (7)

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  1. MM says:

    One of the primary things shown in the documentary and probably what has Alden the most upset; is that this is a small country, with a tiny population and yet we have our own natives living in 3rd world standards and battling through an inefficient education system.

    Dare I remind the public that our currently failing “education modernization” module was implemented by Mr. McLaughlin.

    Alden always seems to have the time to review things that do not apply to the overall welfare of those who voted him in to a position that allows him to pay his bills, live in mold-free housing, eat regularly and provide an adequate lifestyle to his family.

    Our country is taxing the lower classes and providing stamp duty concessions to the wealthy.

    A Caymanian family who manages to rake together enough income and down-payment to purchase a home over KYD$350,000 must pay the same 7.5% stamp duty as a multi-millionaire who is buying a seven mile beachfront property from their savings account! Is this not keeping the middle class and wealthy class within the same “tax bracket”? Is this fair governance and taxation practice?

    And guess what, as locals many of us have not even made this connection before! We go about our daily lives thinking we are doing ourselves a favor by ignoring the water dripping from our roof. I also believe that our politicians have placed themselves on such a pedestal that the common constituent no longer feels they have the right to approach them.

    Spending KYD$1.7 million to create the successor to the NWDA is like doing the same thing over and expecting a different result. The employment problem for Caymanians is that many require updated skills and some job-hunting workshops – the market has evolved and we must too.

    Our Government’s responsibility is not necessarily to play staffing agency, unless it is willing to involve the work permit board and Immigration department.

    In order to be successful at placing Caymanians in jobs that they can do, but that may be held by an expat, the government must be ready to make some tough decisions that may offend. There should be certain positions (like reception, front desk clerks, administrative assistants, etc) that are Caymanian-only jobs; then Government can review the resumes they have been provided; pull the work permit files under these categories and give notice to the employer and the employee; station the Caymanian and have the WP holder train them and provide the said WP Holder with a sufficient amount of time to find alternative work or relocate.

    If the government is not using a method like this or similar, Alden’s waste of money creation will only do what the NWDA has done, compile an exhaustive list of unemployed Caymanians that there is absolutely not enough work for because at this point positions will have to be created by doing the above. Sad but true; and the government made it get to this point because the legislation has been there for years to avoid this problem getting to where it is.

  2. Soldier Crab says:

    Are the commentators so far saying that it is wrong to be rich?
    If so remove the mote from your own eyes first………..

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bet the cat don’t have his tongue now…why didn’t you tell him all of this during the interview instead of coming up with nonsense!

  4. Anonymous says:

    The banking industry should be arguing the merits of banking in tax shelters like Cayman . Why aren’t they ?

  5. Nelly says:

    Leave the sarcasm out as it gets back to the people who will decided Cayman’s fate, the electorates of the US and UK. Rich people only put their assets in Cayman to avoid paying their fair share of taxes to help the poor and the ill. Very Christian. Jesus would approve.

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