Cayman Islands rivals form coalition government

It took more than a weekend of negotiations, and included a couple of false starts, but it appears the Cayman Islands at last has a government, with longtime political rivals Alden McLaughlin and McKeeva Bush having at last agreed to form a coalition to run the country.

A formal swearing-in ceremony will take place on Wednesday, according to a statement on the Cayman Islands government’s website, by the islands’ governor, Helen Kilpatrick.

The announcement  came on Monday, three days after an earlier attempt by the two political figures to form a coalition failed.

As with the agreement hammered out on Friday and then abandoned, Alden McLaughlin would, under the latest and apparently final formula, remain premier, with his rival, CDP Leader McKeeva Bush, becoming speaker of the house.  McLaughlin’s longtime second-in-command, Cayman Brac West/Little Cayman MLA Moses Kirkconnell, would remain deputy premier.

Kilpatrick said in her statement that she had met with elected representatives  including McLaughlin, Bush and  Kirkconnell, and that “Mr McLaughlin provided me with evidence that he had sufficient support to form a ‘Government of National Unity’.”

The result is of interest to the cross-border financial services industry because, as reported here last week, major changes to the Cayman Islands’ pensions legislation could, some say, spark an exodus of expatriate workers. Bush, who now will have a role in government instead of being in opposition, had criticised elements of the legislation ahead of the election, warning that it could damage the Cayman Islands financial services industry.

Although the government defended the changes – which were unanimously passed in the Cayman Islands’ Legislative Assembly in May 2016, and came into force on 1 January – on grounds that they would bring the country’s pensions regime in line with pension regulations in the rest of the developed world, they were criticised by key island organisations as well as employers, according to local media reports.

The National Pensions (Amendment) Law 2016 effectively close a loophole that has, until now, allowed expatriate workers early access to their savings within two years of leaving the island, press reports said.

But now, anyone moving overseas from December 2017 onward will only be able to access their money when they reach retirement age.

To read an explanation of the changes to the Cayman Islands’ Pensions Law that has concerned some expats living in the islands, on the Cayman government’s website, click here.

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