November 15th, 2023
On Tuesday, 14 November, the Parliament met to debate a Motion on a Lack of Confidence in the Government that was filed by myself and Deputy Opposition Leader, Joey Hew.
We in the Opposition understood there was a chance that the Motion would not pass in Parliament. However, we were obligated to bring the Motion given the parliamentary crisis that the Government had caused for itself with a hung parliament and the Country’s 2024/2025 Budget still in limbo. The constant infighting within PACT was also causing the country actual harm.
It was clear on Tuesday from those who debated that the PACT was not only unviable in Parliament, with the Government and Opposition having nine seats each, but that PACT could not continue under the leadership of Premier Panton.
Something had to change to bring about a stable and effective government.
I said in Parliament there were two paths to putting such a new government in place. One path was for some in the PACT Government to work with us in a new Progressives-led Government. Given the vast experience on our side, this was the best solution.
The other path was for the PACT to re-form itself under new leadership with a new Premier who could pull the group together and resolve some deep-seated divisions within the PACT Government that have been clearly on display. A new solid leader could allow a more coherent and cohesive PACT Government to emerge, to create a sensible programme for Government, and quickly pull together a new budget.
Overnight on Tuesday and throughout the day on Wednesday, I learned that the PACT members had heeded my advice to reform.
On Wednesday night, the Government announced that The Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was sworn in as Premier and The Hon Andre Ebanks as Deputy Premier. The reformed PACT group includes former PACT members. As we know, the new group has rebranded as the United People’s Movement (UPM).
I am satisfied that the Opposition has achieved our main objective – to bring about change and force the former PACT to acknowledge that new leadership and direction were needed by them.
I take this moment to congratulate the new Premier and Deputy Premier. I look forward to working with them in the coming months.
As I said in Parliament on Tuesday, the Progressives Opposition will respect a new Premier’s right to lead the Government and get a budget passed.
However, while the Opposition is willing to give a new Government under the Premier some leeway, there is little time to waste in tackling our Country’s challenges and helping our people.
We will hold the new Premier and her colleagues accountable just like we have the previous Premier. We will not hesitate to be critical if performance does not improve.
Holding the Government to account has always been, and remains, the Opposition’s job.
In the coming Budget, we will support the new Premier and Government in those areas the Opposition agree are priorities. As I said yesterday, there is a clear set of priorities that we could agree upon. I have set those priorities out very clearly over recent months.
Three of those priorities tackle the most pressing challenges facing the Cayman Islands. Those are:
1. To overcome the ongoing impacts of the cost-of-living crisis.
2. To reduce crime and the fear of crime
3. To enable better, more affordable access to housing
The other three priorities are areas where action in the next two years covered by the coming Budget is necessary to meet immediate challenges and better prepare the Cayman Islands for the future. Those are:
1. To restore Cayman’s economy to a path of steady, sustainable growth.
2. To accelerate action to mitigate climate change and to adapt to its impacts.
3. To respond positively to the challenges of an ageing society.
The Progressives are willing to support a new Budget that includes those priorities.
The Country now needs stability, and our people deserve an effective, cohesive government. We pray that this reformed UPM Government will provide that stability.
We, in the Progressives Opposition, will be watching.
May God continue to bless our beloved Cayman Islands.