It has been less than a month since the national elections in the Cayman Islands produced a majority government for the United Democratic Party and the return of the Hon. W. McKeeva Bush OBE, JP as Leader of Government Business/Premier Designate and new Minister for Financial Services.
During this short time span the new government has already demonstrated their strong commitment to supporting the financial services industry in Cayman.
Within days of the election the LOGB/Premier Designate met with top industry officials and newly elected Ministers to share ideas and discuss strategies to protect and grow the industry.
On 15 June 2009 the LOGB/Premier Designate was in London to sign a landmark Double Taxation Agreement with the UK. This agreement, the first of its kind in Cayman history, is one of several Tax Treaties that the CIG is negotiating in order to meet requirements for removing the Cayman Islands from the OECD’s grey list and included on their white list of conforming financial centres.
“Our removal from the grey list is very important to the future of our financial services industry” says Mr Bush. “Some Cayman firms are losing business, from both existing and potential new clients, because of our current grey list status.
“Indeed Mr Bush appointed a new negotiation team to carry out and complete the various tax information exchange agreements with other countries.
As a result the Cayman Islands has completed technical negotiations with Canada and New Zealand and have made significant progress towards the completion of further agreements with Australia, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
In addition The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority recently announced that it had gained admission to the International Organization of Securities Commissions as a ‘Full’ Member. Membership in IOSCO involves a rigorous screening and jurisdictional assessment process. The Cayman Islands proved itself deserving of full membership by demonstrating the quality of our regulatory environment and oversight, as well as our strong history of co-operation with foreign governments on information sharing and assistance with their investigations.
The Cayman Islands Financial Services Association has welcomed the proactive and decisive steps being taken by the recently elected Leader of Government Business. CIFSA called these achievements “important milestones in the ongoing process of building an understanding and respect of the high professional and ethical standards of our jurisdiction in the minds of international lawmakers.”
Over the coming months the Cayman Islands Government has several initiatives ready to support the industry. Together all these actions will serve to further communicate the quality, professionalism, and transparency of Cayman’s financial services industry to the world, and contrast that against the backdrop of non-compliant jurisdictions that fail to uphold those same international standards.
The LOGB/Premier Designate and the UDP administration are exploring ways to encourage more businesses to open physical offices in the Cayman Islands in order to become a full-service international financial centre. This will ensure that our islands benefit, not only from license fees, but also from the hiring of Caymanians, renting of offices and purchases of local goods and services. The UDP promised ‘A Better Way Forward’ for the Cayman Islands and certainly in relation to operating a successful financial services industry, and the newly elected Government seems determined to fulfill that promise.