(CMR) Cayman's population has seen staggering growth over the past decade, one which has brought positive rewards but one which has also seen the country without the proper systems and infrastructure in place, Premier Wayne Panton said.
Mr. Panton was discussing aspects of the 2021 Census report during a press conference on Thursday. He pointed out that Cayman's population grew by 29 percent in the last decade.
Looking at the rapid growth in Cayman's population, Mr. Pantom said in 1993, the population was an estimated 37,000. The population grew by 70 percent in 20 years to just over 63,000 in 2017.
He said much of the growth over the years is a result of open immigration policies, which have brought many benefits to the country but also setbacks.
According to the report, there were 71,432 residents of the Cayman Islands counted in the 2021 Census. This figure includes 327 persons who lived in institutions (prisons, dorms, retirement homes, etc.), denoted as the institutional population.
“Because much of that growth was ad-hoc and unplanned, it has left us without certain proper systems and structures to optimize our growth with infrastructure,” Premier Panton stated, adding that there was a lack of a proper development plan to ensure a sustainable future.
Mr. Panton said the country now has to decide on the appropriate growth rate and policies.
“Moving forward, we need as a government, as a country, to have more careful managed growth– growth that is paced to allow us to leverage the opportunities of growth while addressing the negative consequences which may occur over a period of decades,” he added.
Except for the Sister Islands, all districts recorded double-digit growth rates in the 2021 Census relative to the 2010 Census. In the districts of Bodden Town, West Bay, and East End, the intercensal growth was higher than the national average of 29.2 percent. Compared to previous censuses, George Town, Bodden Town, North Side, and the Sister Islands' growth was slower than in 2010.
In contrast, East End growth rate increased sharply, with West Bay marginally higher. Relative to 2010, the 2021 Census growth rates of George Town were 24.3 percent, West Bay 36.6 percent, Bodden Town 40.8 percent, North Side 28.6 percent, East End 31.2 percent, and the Sister Islands declined by 1.7 percent.