Recent reforms by the Cayman Islands government to its pensions laws, which had been defended on grounds that they would bring the country’s pensions regime in line with pension regulations in the rest of the developed world, could be affected by the outcome of a general election held on Wednesday, Cayman islands sources say.
Late on Friday night, Cayman news media reported that there were no clear leaders among the parties bidding for power, and that as a result, a coalition government would be formed. At first it appeared the existing premier, Alden McLaughlin would retain his seat, and be joined by opposition party leader (and former premier himself) McKeeva Bush as speaker, but later reports said Bush would return to the premiership.
Still later reports on Sunday, indicated that the situation was still far from settled, and Bush might not be returning to office after all.
During the election Bush had criticised those elements of the National Pensions (Amendment) Law 2016 that many expatriates, as reported, are reported to find off-putting, because they effectively close a loophole that until now has allowed foreign workers early access to the pension savings they had built up while in Cayman, within two years of leaving the island.
Under the Pensions Law reforms, which took effect on 1 January but aren’t yet fully in force, anyone moving overseas from December 2017 onward will only be able to access their money when they reach retirement age.
Last Wednesday’s election was the first since a 2012 referendum established a new “one man one vote” system.
The island’s People’s Progressive Movement remained the largest party, winning seven of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly’s 19 seats; but independent candidates emerged as the largest group, with nine seats.
Cabinet positions have not been confirmed, and a government statement indicated that the full details of the shape of the new government would be revealed on Monday. Late on Friday, the Cayman Compass news website reported that the situation was still not settled, and “the possibility remains that the Progressives (or any other group of elected lawmakers) could seek to make an alternative agreement before the governor appoints the new premier as formally supported by the majority of the Legislative Assembly”.
McKeeva Bush was premier of the Cayman Islands from 2009 to 2012, but was forced to leave following a vote of no confidence.
To read an explanation of the changes to the Cayman Islands’ Pensions Law that has concerned some expats living in the islands, click here.
[This story was updated on Sunday, 28 May]