(CMR) Premier Hon. Wayne Panton said the PACT administration has been working on several initiatives that will be rolled out this summer to help people manage cost-of-living increases. Some of these initiatives are expected to be announced today in Parliament.
“The PACT administration is determined to create fair opportunities for all Caymanians to live their best lives. We are continuing to deliver practical solutions to help ease the burden of these cost increases, increases that originate outside the Cayman Islands,” he said.
Mr. Panton made the announcement following questions from Opposition leader Roy McTaggart's regarding his government's plans to provide meaningful relief to Caymanians experiencing the cost-of-living crisis.
“My colleagues and I are committed to being People-Driven. We saw the cost of living rise long before the election. The pandemic laid bare the inequalities, the hardships too many Caymanians had been facing long before COVID-19. The pandemic made the situation worse. We knew these issues all too well from time spent with our constituents,” Mr. Panton said.
He said the government is committed to making every effort to effect positive change for Caymanian families. He said since being elected, his administration has taken proactive measures to assist families.
However, he admitted, “Much of the increases to the cost-of-living are due to factors beyond the government's control. A lot of it is imported, e.g., the cost of imported fossil fuel to generate electricity, the cost of imported gasoline for our cars, and the cost of imported food. Then in 2022, the war in Ukraine happened. But we did not wait. We acted immediately.”
Mr. Panton highlighted some of the things his government has done so far that lowered costs to assist lower- and middle-income bracket families, senior citizens, and post-secondary students.
He pointed out the Free School Lunches for all primary and secondary students in all public schools saving Caymanian families hundreds of dollars each month.
He said the government also removed the import duty on certain food items and essential family items such as feminine hygiene products and baby products.
Mr. Panton also referred to the continued Displaced Tourism Worker Stipend, financial support to employees who had to quarantine on unpaid leave, and financial aid to small and medium-sized businesses to help protect business assets until the economy recovers.
He also highlighted the Insurance Premium Payment Assistance Programme, the reduced or waived fees for senior citizens, Private School Grants, the increased A Level scholarship funding to cover full tuition for two years, increased undergraduate and graduate scholarship amounts, and the $1,500 stipend for scholarship recipients for traveling expenses to acquire a student visa.
The premier also reiterated his government's commitment to building 100 affordable homes for Caymanians.