Let’s face it: Even if we answered all your questions about the government of the Cayman Islands, you would not likely remember all of it. Here, then, is our top-10 list of the most important things you should know about our government.
The Cayman Islands government is rooted in traditional British-style parliamentary democracy with a 15-member law-making Legislative Assembly elected by the voters of each of the 7 districts. The ruling party names the tight circle of elected officials who form the Governor’s eight-member cabinet.
The governor is appointed by the Queen of England. She (Mrs Helen Kilpatrick, CB first woman ever named) must approve -- and may veto -- any legislation and is directly responsible, through London, for foreign affairs, defense and national security.
Hon Alden McLaughlin, MBE, JP, MLA
Took office 29 May 2013
Named by the Premier, usually -- although not necessarily -- from among the ranks of ruling-party Legislative Assembly members, each of the eight-person team generally handles several portfolios, which usually change from election to election.
Cayman has a traditional two-party system, although of relatively recent vintage. Prior to the United Democratic Party, currently in power, and the People's Progressive Movement, the PPM, voted out of power in May 2008, the Cayman Islands government was run by more informal "teams", such as the National Team and the Unity Team.
Elections are held every four years and used to fall in November. However, Hurricane Ivan hit the Cayman Islands only weeks before the 2004 elections, forcing postponement until the following May. The 2008 polls registered approval for a new constitution for the Cayman Islands, including a Bill of Rights, something the islands had never had previously.
Only citizens of the Cayman Islands may vote -- or run for office -- and voters must register in order to exercise that right. Cayman's approximately 52,000 residents are split roughly 50:50 between foreigners and Caymanians. Votes are cast only for candidates within the elector's district, meaning there are no national candidates.
The immigration laws seek to balance recruitment of overseas labour and employment of Caymanians. Foreigners may remain for seven years before they are "rolled over", and must stay away for one year before they can return and start again -- unless they gain "key employee" status.
In short, Cayman has none: no income, property, sales, inheritance, salary, capital gains or other levies. The government raises revenues in a variety of other ways, however, creating a system of "indirect" and universal taxation. Duties are charged on most imported goods -- and largely everything is imported -- while fees and licencing cover most services.
Seven major banks offer retail banking services: Butterfield Bank, Cayman National Bank, HSBC, Fidelity Bank, First Caribbean International Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, and Scotiabank & Trust. Hours are from 9am to 4pm daily, with some banks offering Saturday morning hours. All major credit cards are welcomed and the US dollar circulates freely.