(CMR) Members of Parliament approved $96.4 million in additional funds for the Government 2021 budget when House proceedings resumed Wednesday, 21 July 2021.
After scrutinizing the supplementary budget details and subsequently voting in Finance Committee on Monday, MPs returned to the House Wednesday and voted the final approval, enabling the Government to access funds required for planned and ongoing programs and projects.
Notable among the highest individual amount approved was the sum of $27.5 million earmarked to extend tourism stipend payments until 31 December 2021. This is one among a number of additional fund allocations required to deal with the ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional funding was required for COVID-19 expenditure and to service the revenue shortfall caused by the pandemic and the resulting closure of the Cayman Islands borders. The main sums are $10 million for the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, $7 million to Cayman Airways Limited, $2.8 million for the Office of the Commissioner of Police, and $2 million for the Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre Limited.
Other major fund allocations approved include:
-$17.6 million for tertiary health care services unavailable at the Health Services Authority for indigents, seamen, and veterans who are referred for treatment locally and overseas;
-$8.8 million to fund the remaining commitments for the long-term residential mental health facility;
-$4 million for additional expenditure required for upgrades to existing roads and $2 million to fund key infrastructure projects under major road works expansion;
-$2.2 million in grants for farming and agriculture activities, including to farmers, backyard gardeners, agricultural organizations, and committees for small and medium projects which support the agricultural industry, improve the sector’s infrastructure, and enhance food security;
-$1.05 million for the Sister Islands to continue home repairs for indigent persons, notably senior citizens, as well as for providing gainful employment to unemployed Caymanians through the beaches and community clean-up program;
-$1 million to fund the development and operations of the Cayman Islands Regiment; and
-$968,643 for education services for special needs students, specifically for hiring two new teachers and four assistant teachers at the Lighthouse School, as well as for scholarships for the growing special education needs.
In a split vote, members agreed to reduce the initial $2 million supplementary expenditure sought by $2 million, which was earmarked for international engagement and opening Cayman Islands offices overseas, including in Brussels and Hong Kong. Eleven Members voted for the reduction, with six voting against it.
Consequently, funding for local micro and small businesses by way of grants has been enhanced by $2 million to provide additional support.
Supplementary amounts in the area of social development include $900,000 for permanent financial assistance; $685,000 for temporary financial assistance; $600,000 for ex-gratia benefit payments to seamen and ex-servicemen; and $50,000 for the care of the indigent and disabled, elderly persons in the Pines.