Tuesday 12th April, 2005 Posted: 15:31 CIT (20:31 GMT)
With the slogan ‘Vote 2, 7 and 8 and then close the gate,’ UDP candidates Mark Scotland, Gilbert McLean and Roy Bodden stated their intentions if elected on 11 May, and outlined their government’s past achievements, a public meeting Saturday evening.
A number of residents gathered at the gate of Northward residents Shirley and Ann Ebanks to support and hear what the three candidates had to say.
Mr Scotland said he would make the “eradication of crime and violence” one of his top priorities.
He also praised his UDP colleagues for their action and results–oriented leadership style, pointing out that most of the financial industry was up and running within two weeks after the hurricane.
He noted inroads are being made in education with such projects as the newly–built Prospect Primary School along with ground–breakings for schools in Frank Sound and West Bay.
He added the Community College was upgraded to the University College of the Cayman Islands, which now offered a higher standard of education to the public.
Mr. Scotland also spoke of accomplishments in healthcare and health insurance and the new Heath Care Reform initiative.
He also said the website www.boddentown2005.ky was up and running for those wanting to contact any of the candidates.
“Education is perhaps the single most important topic in this country,” said Education Minister Roy Bodden.
He said Caymanians did not have to leave home now to get a good education with the University College now in place. He noted 1,1803 students were able to go to university courtesy of the UDP Government.
“Smaller classes introduced into the schools have also improved behaviour and greater learning,” he said.
“We have a solid plan for education. It will do well under the UDP Government. It is a plan which will take all the learners – young, old and middle age – forward into the society of the Cayman Islands.”
Mr. Bodden also spoke briefly of the amendment to the employment law which would soon be made.
“We want this place to be so that where we work we can feel we are as valuable as anyone else. We want a society where we, the Cayman people, are in control of our own destiny.”
Mr. Bodden also spoke of the introduction of computers into the primary schools, and of the 75 youngsters involved in the Cadets who were being groomed to take leadership in the community.
“We are moving forward in great strides, he said.”
Speaking on the Health Services Authority, Minister Gilbert McLean said, “The hospital administration is weak but we are tying to do something about it.
“Despite the issues at the hospital, the hospital is functioning in a manner with a good deliverance of health care to the public.”
He said there were major issues there before he took over the ministry.
“Fees were not charged for over 10 years and lots of money was owed to the hospital. That is what I inherited.
“There is a problem of the hospital collecting money from the insurance companies; this creates a problem for Government,” he said.
If these fees are not paid Mr. McLean said he would have to write the insurance companies and if fees were not paid at a certain time then he would have to instruct that the insurance cards not be accepted at the hospital. “This would only hurt you the people who pay for insurance coverage,” he said.
Mr. McLean spoke of his approach to Cabinet with the request of putting more money into the authority to help stabilise it.
Mr. McLean said the Health Authority did not belong to him. He was just the Minister of Health responsible for the Ministry at this time.
“I am not there on a daily basis if something goes wrong there. We have people who are in charge of that part of it.”
Mr. McLean spoke briefly on the level of security that has been increased at the hospital because of recent shootings and the Government’s continued support to the police. “Crime is not something this Government will tolerate,” he said.
Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush also attended the meeting and spoke briefly in support of the three UDP candidates.