Although he became a formally educated economist more by chance than design, Paul Byles has been trained to analyse situations. In a conversation over lunch at Tiki Beach, Byles offered his thoughts on some of the issues of the day in the Cayman Islands through the filter of his analytical skills.
Paul Byles was born in 1966 in Kingston, Jamaica. His mother and his father separated when he was young, with his father emigrating to New York and starting a new family. After his father left, Byles’ mother started coming to Grand Cayman for work while he lived with his grandparents on his father’s side. One day when he was 8-years-old, the telephone rang and it was his mother on the line.
“It’s interesting… you get these phone calls throughout your life, at least in my life, there were important moments,” he said. “I had that phone call from her… and she said, ‘son… do you want to live in Cayman’? As an 8-year-old, what do you say? I just wanted to be with my mommy, so I said OK, and I hung the phone up and everybody told me that I had to start packing stuff. And then I came and that was it.
As would be expected on an afternoon in the high tourist season, Tiki Beach was hopping with visitors – at the tables, on the beach, everywhere. There was Caribbean music playing in the background and it was another beautiful day in the Cayman Islands.
Restaurant General Manager Ottmar Weber came over to greet us and even sat down with us to chat for few minutes. With a history in fine dining in Cayman that goes back more than 40 years, it’s strange to see Weber at a beach restaurant. He tells us he was basically called out of retirement and asked to manage Tiki Beach as a favour.
Tiki Beach is an upscale beach bar that is right on the beach and just a stone’s throw away from the ocean. The lunch menu is rather basic, really designed to appeal to a tourist’s tastes, but with a definite Caribbean flair.
For starters, I ordered the Crispy Caribe Crunchy Calamari with Spicy Sauce while Byles opted for the Tiki Veggie Delight Rolls with Sweet Chilli Sauce.
For the main course, Byles ordered the Fisherman’s Catch of the Day – mahi mahi – and I went with the West Indian Fish Burger with pineapple and scotch bonnet mayo, served with a tossed green salad. The ‘burger’ was really two fillets of mahi mahi on a roll – simple and tasty.
It was a shame we were dressed in long-sleeved shirts, slacks and dress shoes; the appropriate attire for this venue was shorts, T-shirts and sandals.
After spending two years at George Town Primary School, Byles went to the Cayman Islands High School where he finished his basic schooling and was put on a career path in the Financial Services Industry.
He scored the second highest in his class in a numeracy test that identified him as a potential candidate for the financial services industry and before he knew it, he was working at Barclay’s Bank as a teller.
While working in the banking industry in his late teens and early 20s, Byles started attending night classes at the International College of the Cayman Islands, working toward an associate degree. After he attained that degree, Byles applied to and was accepted at Pace University in New York, where he hoped to get a Bachelor’s degree in finance. The whole idea of attaining the associate degree first was so he wouldn’t have to spend four years in university in New York.
“But when I went – and this is a story that I don’t even think I told my mother – when I got to the bursar to pay, they said… ‘This is what you pay now and this is what you pay for the next three years afterwards’. I said, ‘What are you talking about? I’m only here for two years because I got an associate’s degree at ICCI and I gave my credits and I thought you accepted my credits’. They said, ‘No… the way we operate, we don’t take the full percentage of all the credits, so you’re going to have to spend a little bit more time here’. I said, ‘But that’s not going to work. I came to do a Bachelor’s degree in finance and I came for two years because I only have money for two years’. I was standing there and my luggage was still on the floor and the girl was basically saying to me, ‘Well, I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say’. I had the draft in my hand that my mother had helped me with.”
It was at this point that the kindness of a stranger in a strange land played a key role in Byle’s career path.
“A guy was across the way on a computer, he heard the conversation and he turned around and he said, ‘You know, if you did a degree in economics, they might accept a bit more of your electives, so you might want to consider that. There’s a gentleman, his name is Professor Shacky, he’s upstairs on the third floor if you want to go see him’. I said,‘OK, can you watch these bags for me, I’m going to go up to see him’. I took my transcript and went up to see Professor Shacky. He was a very relaxed kind of guy with a big pipe, and he was smoking it and he goes, ‘Ah, Cayman Islands, yeah, I’d love to be there.’ He goes, ‘So you want to do economics?’ I said, ‘Yeah, economics… let’s do it.’ And he goes, ‘I think what we can do is we can take some more of your [electives] – we can take all your business courses, all your finance courses are good, but some of these optional courses you took, like the class you took in culture and jazz… ah, I think we can take a few of those as well’. I said, ‘That’s great, that’s excellent, so I’m doing a degree in economics then’. And I went downstairs and said, ‘OK, sign me up for economics. That’s what I’m doing’. It’s kind of a cheesy story because it was because of economics why I chose economics, but it’s the actual truth. It was just some guy, some no-name on a computer turned around… and said ‘you should consider economics, they’ll probably take more of your electives’. So I did economics and ever since then, all I’ve ever studied is economics.”
After attaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics at Pace, Byles returned home and tried to get a job as an economist with the Cayman Islands Government.
“I decided then that this was an amazing thing and you could really impact the world and the community and so on,” he said. “It was a whole different thing than the previous… years [spent working] in banking.”
After interviewing with the government and being told the interviews went very well, the government put a freeze on all hiring.
“I was sitting there, I had a student loan and I was waiting for what I thought was an ideal job and I waited for the first month, waited for the second month… and I decided that this was just not going to work. With students loan payments to make, Byles decided he couldn’t wait for his ideal job any longer. Because he had experience in the financial industry, he looked there and got a job with Coutts & Co., where he worked as a trust administrator.
“I can’t say I enjoyed it a lot because I found it a little bit tedious; a little bit dry. I’m not the lawyer type, so it really didn’t work for me,” he said. “But later on I would come to really appreciate what I did because that experience in trusts helped me a lot going forward.”
While working at Coutts, Byles decided to continue his education.
“I decided I’d have to do economics at the place that I thought was one of the best places to do economics anywhere in the world, at the time anyway and probably still is and that was the London School of Economics,” he said, adding that he was worried about being accepted in the school because he was only a B student at Pace and LSE’s master’s programme was very difficult to get into. To give himself a better chance, Byles attended night classes at ICCI again, this time in the master’s degree programme, where he excelled, getting straight A’s.
“I used that transcript and I said to LSE, ‘I have a degree in economics, but I also have a straight-A transcript in management at a local college, I want to be enrolled in the programme to study economics at the master’s level’.”
LSE accepted Byles and in the summer of 1994. He and his girlfriend at the time, Lynne Archbold – who he’d met at ICCI in his second stint there – moved to London and started studying economics on a level far more advanced than what he had done in New York.
“My first few months there were a shocker.”
Byles, who earlier this year delivered the keynote speech at an ICCI graduation ceremony, said he told a story about his first day at LSE during that address.
“In my first lecture, the professor said, ‘Today we are going to solve a problem with economics. And the problem is, we are going to determine whether or not the government of country X is going to build a bridge’,” he said. “And he then went on with a series of equations. I didn’t understand any of it. And he went on for about seven to 10 minutes and then he finished and said, ‘Viola! Gamma rated at zero’. And this was the big conclusion. I didn’t get it. And I turned to my friend, who was from Switzerland… and I said, Dominic, what just happened? What is he talking about? He said, ‘Paul, they’re going to build a bridge!”
It was a much different approach to economics than he had been taught at Pace University.
“I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, but then I realised two things: One, I realised that I was in trouble because I was one of only one or two students in there that hadn’t done calculus and the whole language was maths; and two, I started to realise… that the importance of going through all those equations, wasn’t so much the maths, it was to really drill into your head the different relationships. It was also to get you to think about it, to ask the questions like I asked – why is this up, why is this down, why is this small, why is this big – it made you think. And this was the message at the ICCI graduation – that we don’t think enough.”
Too often, Byles maintains, people get so caught up in the system and with what they know and are trained in that they can’t be bothered to think analytically about things.
“So you see the news, you see somebody proposing a new tax or somebody proposing to make a change and you can’t be bothered to go through all of that – you don’t think,” he said. “And it happens to all of us and the best of us.”
Byles said the most important thing he learned at LSE was how to think analytically about things and to question things.
“It wasn’t any of the information,” he said. “Information, you can get that anywhere – you can read it in a book and get information. It’s the ability to analyse things. And that turned out to be one of the key [ways] of how I define myself – That I like to analyse things.”
After he attained his master’s degree, Byles decided to continue on with his education.
“I wanted to do research at a very advanced level, so I enrolled in a research PhD programme,” he said. “Then half-way through the programme, I got a phone call saying there’s a great opportunity to be head of policy at the [Cayman Islands] Monetary Authority,” he said, noting that he accepted the position and returned to Cayman with Lynne in 1999. Shortly after they returned to Cayman, the couple married.
CIMA was still in its infancy when Byles started there and he got involved in several of the regulator’s key early initiatives and in writing a lot of the initial policies, a good portion of which still exist today.
“For example, the anti-money laundering guidelines for the Cayman Islands – I wrote those,” he said. “I was the draftsman for those, the very first version of that from a blank sheet of paper – did the research, worked with industry and based on industry input and everybody else at CIMA – but I was the guy who did the drafting and spearheaded the whole project. I got that done and a bunch of other things, too. It was an awesome experience.”
While at CIMA, Byles was able, for the first time, to use his writing skills in a professional capacity. But going as far back as at Pace University in New York, Byles had discovered he had a liking for writing all sorts of things.
“I can’t say whether I am good at it, that’s something for other people to say, but I certainly like doing it,” he said, noting that when he was at Pace, he wrote a letter of complaint that got published and it gained a lot of attention with other students.
“So I saw the power of [writing],” he said.
During his time at CIMA, Byles started publishing Cayman Financial Review, a twice-annual magazine about issues concerning Cayman’s financial services industry.
“I was on the beach… with my wife; we were just there chilling out and I said, ‘You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to start a financial magazine’. And she looked at me and she goes ‘What? Why?’ I said, ‘Because, there are a lot of issues in the industry and we can write about those issues. Cayman is getting an unfair rap… and I can tell a different story. And the industry, I think they would like that as well’. So I just started a magazine.”
Byles admits he didn’t know anything about publishing at the time and he had to learn everything as he went along.
“[Lynne] had a marketing company, so that helped me a lot,” he said. “But I was the publisher in the family. That was the thing, I had the bug; I wanted to write.”
Deloitte and publishing
After three years of employment at CIMA, Byles moved back to the private sector in 2002, this time to Deloitte heading up a new department that offered regulatory and economic consulting. There he did a lot of work for the government, preparing the first set of procedures for the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau among other things.
“What was nice about Deloitte, was not only did I continue to get involved in public policy type stuff as a consultant, but I then learned the trade, the true trade, of the approach to consulting on a professional level – quality control, procedures, what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, what you say what you don’t say in a consulting report, how to write it… I learned all of that from my connections with the Deloitte international guys who I worked with out of Washington and other places,” he said.
Byles continued publishing Cayman Financial Review while he was at Deloitte and got the idea of starting a weekly business newspaper.
“Again, I told [Lynne] in the kitchen one night, ‘Hey, I have an idea; I’m going to start a weekly business newspaper’. She kind of said, ‘OK, why?’ I said, ‘I think it would be very interesting – business issues and analytical stuff’.”
With that, Byles left Deloitte in 2004 and launched The Cayman Observer newspaper.
Byles said his major focus for The Cayman Observer was the opinion pieces.
“I felt you could have some really nice viewpoints, because I’m really into this thing about getting the debates out there,” he said. “I spent at lot of my time, I wrote a lot of the viewpoints – sometimes – and we got a lot of great comments about them, whether they were written by me or others, people really liked them.”
Byles said the style he wanted for The Observer was similar to that of The Economist, where both sides of an issue were discussed, but where a definite opinion stance was ultimately reached.
“I think the model basically worked, it just financially didn’t work because we spent all the time on editorial and very little time on sales,” he said, adding that he ultimately sold the titles.
Byles said he always considered publishing as more of a hobby and that even while he was publishing, he still continued his consultancy work. After he sold his publication titles, he established Focus Corporate Services, a financial services firm that offered company management and consulting for several years. Last year he became the director and CEO of First Regents Bank & Trust and First Regents Consulting.
“So now I have a few big clients, I still run the bank, I’m still a director of the bank and that’s kind of the mix of things I do,” he said.
When the United Democratic Party won the government in the 2009 elections, it engaged Byles.
“I did quite a few studies actually as a consultant,” he said. “I guess the big thing I did is I served as an advisor to the Ministry of Finance and there was a lot of work there. When the government got into office, it had a lot of financial things that it needed to sort out and it needed some help. I was there to help. That in itself was a pretty major undertaking, just to be there with the finance people and helping to assess things. I did a couple of ad hoc studies, did a couple of finance-related studies, like the [Trade & Business study]. I set up the new secretariat for financial services, I gave the framework for all of that and set the whole thing up. A little known fact, maybe, or not so little known, is I basically was the draft person for the three-year plan that was given to the UK.”
But after a little more than a year of consulting for the government, Byles said he backed away.
“At some point… because I had other clients, one client was starting to take up too much… and it’s not a very good thing to have too much a concentration in just one area,” he said. “The second thing was, I found that… I was starting to get politicised a bit.”
Byles said it wasn’t because he didn’t want to do that work that he stopped working for the government.
“It’s not good to [be politicised]… because you’re a professional and then the minute you start to do work for some politician, then you get into this affiliation thing, which is very strong in a strong community like this. So basically, I just voluntarily withdrew from the entire thing. After a year and a couple of months, I just withdrew completely because I wanted to… maintain objectivity. And even though it was a business opportunity for me, that wasn’t important. What was important to me was that…my brand – Paul Byles – remained what I wanted it to be. So I’ll prefer to not make money and have my brand any day, because it’s so important. It’s who you are and who you’re kids look up to; it’s what you’re all about.”
Early on in his time of working as a consultant for the Ministry of Finance, the government – as part of a deal it struck with the UK to be allowed to borrow more money to balance its budget deficit – commissioned a report from an independent commission of James C. Miller and David Shaw.
“My view on the report now is that it didn’t fully address the terms of reference – what it was supposed to do,” he said. “The idea was to look at what might be sustainable revenues.”
The Miller-Shaw report did answer some important question, in particular whether the government needed to only look at revenues.
“It answered that question and said expenditures were a big part of [the budget deficit] and we have to reduce our expenditures,” he said. “So I think the report was valuable from that point of view. But in terms of providing proactive solutions on how to restructure the revenue base, instead of asking where the burden of taxation was really going, and what could be done differently and why, coming up with new ideas to raise revenues with minimal harm, looking at the series of tariffs that currently exist and deciding…some of these are too high, some of these are too low, some of these are outdated and shouldn’t even be applied anymore… I don’t think it did fully what it was supposed to do.”
Byles believes that another study is needed that focuses on revenues.
“I said to the government back then and I’ve said afterwards that you need to commission a report… similar to the one that was done in the Turks and Caicos, where they looked specifically at how the current revenue base could be adjusted – what’s wrong with it, what needed to be changed to make it more effective, what needed to be changed to make it have less of a burden on certain individuals or less of a burden on businesses.”
Byles said Cayman has never done a study quite like that.
“It’s fine to go and look at expenditures because that is important, but you have to look at whether the existing set of revenues that you have – the revenue framework – is it right.”
Some have suggested Cayman needs to impose direct taxation, but Byles thinks it’s a fallacy to believe direct taxation would solve the country’s financial problems.
“If you look at countries that have direct tax systems, they’re in all sorts of trouble. So there’s nothing to suggest that a direct taxation system is more sustainable than one that’s indirect.”
On the other hand, Byles said there is a reason to maintain Cayman’s indirect taxation framework.
“I think the indirect [taxation framework] is useful [in Cayman] because it’s the foundation for the Financial Services Industry,” he said. “It’s useful for that, and that is such an important part of the economy that it would be senseless to actually remove that foundation.”
However, even with indirect taxation, Byles believes there are issues in Cayman with certain sectors,particularly the Financial Service Industry, having to bear a higher burden than others. He thinks the financial services sector is already being pushed to its limit now and that Cayman is already in danger of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Byles was not in favour of the community enhancement fee – often referred to as the ‘Expat Tax’ – that the UDP government proposed last July.
Although that payroll tax would have only targeted work permit holders, Byles thinks that had the tax on work permit holders been passed, Financial Services Industry companies would have had to either had to absorb the cost or face losing staff.
“Some of the professional firms made it very clear from the outset that there was no way, because of the competitive issue… there was no way that they were going to put that burden on the potential employee, because they weren’t going to be able to recruit them,” he said. “So they were saying quietly, we are basically going to have to absorb that ourselves and that means we’re taking a big hit.”
Another part of the problem with the expat tax would have been that it was aimed at the most transient segment of the population.
“This was one [comment] I did say to some of the technocrats in the UK in my time when I was there,” he said. “I asked what is it that is sustainable about a tax when it is targeted at a transient/mobile sector?” he said. “What is it about it that makes it more stable than what we’re doing now? Clearly, it’s not more stable and you can’t compare us with a place like Bermuda where they have far less work permits.”
Byles said Cayman has a disproportionately large number of foreign workers.
“Disproportionate means that if you compare it to most countries in the world, you will never find a ratio anywhere close to this – possibly in Dubai – and nobody is going to stand up and say that 52 per cent or 55 per cent of their labour force is actually foreign. This is extraordinary and therefore to have a tax targeted at those people combined with the current policy of the rollover and people coming in and out and people not being sure about things, it was just senseless. I actually said those words to one of the [UK] technocrats and his response was, ‘OK, those are the kinds of issues we need to hear about’.”
Beyond all of that, Byles thinks imposing any form of payroll tax would have served as a signal to investors that Cayman’s tax regime was not as stable as the country has been saying it is for the past 40 years.
“And that would not have been a good thing,” he said. “They would have started wondering, what’s next? Are corporate taxes coming next? Is a capital gains tax coming next? What is it that’s coming next? So, it would have been a very bad signal I think. In fact, it probably did us a little bit of harm just by the fact that we announced it – it made people nervous.”
Byles thinks Cayman’s budget problems have been in the making for a while as the size of the public service sector has grown.
“I’ve said before that we need to look at a more medium-term strategy to reduce the recurrent costs in the civil service and by that specifically, what I meant was to find the areas for attrition and so on, but also to find places and departments you could privatise,” he said. “For me, privatisation has two impacts that are important. The first one is the obvious one – you take the burden off the government, particularly and especially when that department is making a loss. So now you’ve removed a loss from the accounts. But also what it does is, and this is more a social issue, but it’s a key issue, is that it softens the politicisation of the civil service.”
Byles said the fact that the civil service is politicised, that the government makes certain decisions with regard to the civil service as a way to influence votes, it is beyond question.
“It is a political force. It’s not a labour union, but it’s a very political force and there’s no sense in pretending it’s not,” he said. “So by having it more fragmented or having the private sector do some of the things, you have several hundred less employees that are politicised… If we could have some of the big departments privatised, it would have a financial impact as well as a positive, sort of secondary political benefit, I think.”
Finding out what exactly what Cayman’s tax money is used on is something Byles would like to see.
“I would like to see a very serious look at the burden of taxation in this country,” he said. “I started to do a little mini analysis on my own, which I didn’t complete, but I have a suspicion about what the result I was going into when I started putting the information together about three months ago.”
Byles said his study was showing that Cayman spends a large portion of its budget on ‘social protection’.
“I think social protection for us is probably very large and we just don’t realise it,” he said. “In the UK for example, it’s about a third of their budget. It includes everything; social services, some extra health care to indigents… funds paid to the unemployed, all these different things.”
In Cayman, the full scope of social protection is hidden so that people don’t see the whole picture, Byles said.
“Here it’s masked because if you think about it, when I say social protection you’re immediately going to think probably of one thing. You’re going to say, ‘Oh the Social Services Department gives these checks out to people who need assistance’. And then you might mention one or two other things, but you may struggle to actually come up with the full gamut of things that are under social protection.”
For instance, Byles said various health care assistance provided to people through CINICO would qualify as social protection as well.
“But there’s a version of social protection that’s insidious,” he said. “It’s very quiet, it’s very powerful and it exists… and people know it exists; that is the civil service acting as the employer of last resort. It doesn’t mean that people in the civil service don’t deserve a good job. No, what it means though in addition to those who are competent and get jobs, there are those that just get jobs. And that, if we’re looking at a bird’s eye picture, that is actually social protection.”
Having the civil service giving jobs to people just because they need one basically mimics unemployment payments in other countries, Byles said.
“You’re giving jobs to people who you think need jobs,” he said. “It doesn’t mean they’re doing much, but they’re getting paid. And what you’re doing as a politician, you’re probably trying to help them, at least you tell yourself you’re trying to help this kid or this young lady who is a single mother, you’re trying to help her with a job. So you give her a job in a big department where she sits around and she doesn’t do a lot. And there’s no pretending in this society this doesn’t happen.”
With this segment of the civil service added to the social protection figure, it would represent a large part of Cayman’s budget, Byles believes.
“I wouldn’t be in any shock if it’s as great as the UK, which is a third, or if it’s as much as 40 per cent that’s social protection,” he said. “It could be a very large number, so I think we have to get to the bottom of that.”
The solution, Byles believes, is preparing Cayman’s young people to be able to get jobs in the private sector.
“That is not like a one-week solution; that is an education and training long-term solution that people have talked about for ages,” he said. “How do you get to the stage where the kids that leave high school can read and write properly, where most of them can and not just 30 per cent of them. We have to do that.”
Byles said that some years ago, he was asked to develop a financial services course for the University College of the Cayman Islands. He asked various people in the financial services industry what skills were needed that were lacking from the graduating students they were interviewing.
“Here I was thinking they would talk about banking or they would say they need some more insurance knowledge or some more hedge fund information,” he said. “No, they said they need to read and write. I asked, ‘Are you serious?’ They said, ‘Yeah. The main thing is they need to be able to read and write properly.’ I said, ‘That’s what you want in this course that I’m about to establish?’ They’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s what we’re looking for’.”
Byles said he taught the course for a year and then established a financial service diploma programme, which ran for two years. Some of the students were Caymanians who had actually worked in the financial services industry for many years.
“What I discovered in that course was… they have a job, it’s a great job, they know exactly what to do, they have a job description, but they’re not that good at reading and writing,” he said.
“So we need to deal with that and that’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to happen over the long term, but we do need to deal with it because that’s what’s impacting the opportunities for Caymanians that they should have really in the private sector, not in the public sector. But it’s a long term issue.”
Investing in youth
Byles thinks that the Cayman government hasn’t invested enough into its young people and that too often, many of them are not given the opportunities to succeed.
“I would say what [the government does] is they write them off,” he said. “They say that either you’re in financial services or you’re a mechanic. Oh, and by the way, most of you are going to be mechanics, so let’s start a trade school. And that’s the end of their analysis. I think it’s pure nonsense.”
In February, Byles went to Cayman Brac to talk to high school students.
“I personally wanted to go to speak to students to tell them about the financial industry,” he said. “I wanted to give them a flavour of it to say ‘Hey, this is interesting. It’s kind of exciting. Why don’t you check it out?’ And I wanted to talk to students who might have been written off at age 14 to be mechanics and masons and carpenters. I didn’t care about their grades. I didn’t care if they were so inclined academically. I wanted to give them a little bit of inspiration because maybe they might say, you know what, that sounds kind of cool. I’m actually going to pay attention to maths and English if what Mr. Paul is saying is that could get me a bank job. Maybe you could spark something, you never know. So don’t write them off at 11, 12, 13 years old; don’t write them off.”
Byles said that it made no sense not to speak to young students about Cayman’s Financial Services Industry when it was such a major part of the economy.
“Some [politicians] have said, ‘Well, no that’s not going to work, you can’t go into the schools and talk about financial services because most of these kids are not going to be lawyers or accountants’. And that’s exactly part of the problem. It’s true, most of them are not lawyers and accountants, but there are actually careers in the financial services that have absolutely nothing to do with law and accounting. And that’s what I said in Cayman Brac last week.
“Don’t just think about ‘I have to go to law school and that’s just for special people’ – forget that. You can be a marketing person, a manager, an administrator – you can be anything and work in the financial industry’. You have to motivate them. We haven’t invested. That’s the big thing.”
Although he didn’t come out and say it directly, it was clear that Byles took criticism for doing the economic/financial consultancy work for the UDP administration from those opposed to that government.
Cayman’s party affiliations are causing people to choose sides on a number of different levels, Byles lamented.
“Even people who say we should forget about affiliations, a lot of them don’t actually mean it,” he said. “They end up not talking to certain people or not inviting them or involving them in their groups because they perceive that they were with this one or they were with that side. It’s very silly for a small community.”
Byles said the party system is a challenge for Cayman because the country is not politically mature yet.
“It’s going take us another two or three political terms to get mature about these parties because right now [they] have split the community in a major way; split families, people pointing at this or that and saying you’re x,y,z, you’re a UDP and you’re a this and you’re a that… and it’s just silly,” he said. “And because the place is so small and the party system is so new, it’s going to take us several terms for people to realise, wait a minute, let’s just focus on the individuals and what they are saying and what their policies are and let’s just forget about these colours and all of this nonsense. I wish they would because it hasn’t been productive at all.”
Byles said people are categorised based simply on their perceived affiliations.
“That’s definitely the way it goes here, but it’s not good,” he said. “It’s a certain level of ignorance that we need to change. We need to change it really desperately. We need to lift our people more. The way we do things, the way we resolve things publicly and so on, we’ve got to change that.”
But Byles said he’s actually hopeful for the future.
“I have three sons and I’m pretty hopeful that the younger generation is not going to be like that,” he said. “I’ve got a feeling they won’t be like that.”