Published On: Thu, Nov 8th, 2012

Cayman Islands premier backs down in dispute with Britain

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – In a press statement late on Tuesday, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush yielded to British demands in relation to a financial management agreement known as the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR), also abandoning an agreement with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) for the construction of new cruise ship berthing facilities in George Town.

Bush had told the territory’s parliament on Monday that he planned to press ahead with legislation enacting the FFR in terms different from those previously agreed with Britain.

However, on Tuesday, Bush said that the FFR Bill will now be taken to the Legislative Assembly as originally prescribed by Britain.

“God help us all if it proves to have the negative consequences that some experts have warned are likely,” he said.

Newly-appointed British Overseas Territories Minister Mark Simmonds had last week told Bush not to proceed with his plan to bring a unilaterally revised version of the FFR to the Legislative Assembly this week.

“This is not acceptable,” Simmonds said.

“Should you go through with this course of action, I will have no choice but to conclude that you are disregarding good governance and continue to be in breach of a series of commitments you have made,” he added, raising fears locally that Britain may thereby be forced to impose direct rule as was done in relation to the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2009.

In his letter on Friday, Simmonds also said he would not allow Bush to proceed with the procurement of the new cruise ship terminal “unless the proper procedures have been followed”.

“Should you push ahead regardless, I will have no choice but to ask the secretary of state to instruct the governor to reject the proposals,” Simmonds said in his letter.

On Tuesday, Bush said that his government has been left with no choice but to abandon the present contract negotiations, which were on the verge of being completed.

“We are told by the UK that it is the specific type of process that matters, not the outcome; and it is not acceptable to use any other process, even one that can be shown to be as good as the one they prescribe,” he said.

“I trust that having to abandon these negotiations will not harm future relations with Chinese companies,” Bush added.

By Caribbean News Now contributor

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