POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS


Government
The Cayman Islands are a British overseas territory, listed by the UN Special Committee of 24 as one of the last non-self governing territories. A 15-seat Legislative Assembly is elected by the people every four years to handle domestic affairs. Of the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), five are chosen to serve as government ministers in a Cabinet headed by the Governor. The head of government is the Premier.

A Governor is appointed by the British Government to represent the monarch. Governors can exercise complete executive authority if they wish through blanket powers reserved to them in the constitution. They must give Royal Assent to all legislation, which allows them the power to strike down any law the legislature may see fit for the country. In modern times, the Governor usually allows the country to be run by the Cabinet, and the civil service to be run by the Deputy Governor, who is the Acting Governor when the Governor is not able to discharge his usual duties for one reason or another. The current Governor of the Cayman Islands is Duncan Taylor and the current Deputy Governor is The Honourable Donovan Ebanks.

The Cabinet is composed of two official members and five elected members, called ministers; one of whom is designated Premier.

The official members are the Deputy Governor and the Attorney General. They are appointed by the governor in accordance with Her Majesty's instructions, and although they have seats in the Legislative Assembly, under the 2009 Constitution, they do not vote.

The five ministers are voted into office by the 15 elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands. One of the ministers, the leader of the majority political party, is appointed premier by the governor.

After consulting the premier, the governor allocates a portfolio of responsibilities to each Cabinet member. Under the principle of collective responsibility, all ministers are obliged to support in the Assembly any measures approved by Cabinet.

Almost 80 departments, sections and units carry out the business of government, joined by a number of statutory boards and authorities set up for specific purposes, such as the Port Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Immigration Board, the Water Authority, the University College Board of Governors, the National Pensions Board, and the Health Insurance Commission.

The defence of the Cayman Islands is the responsibility of the United Kingdom. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service provides police services in the country. The Cayman Islands Cadet Corps was formed in March 2001.

Since 2000, there have been two official major political parties: United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People's Progressive Movement (PPM). While there has been a shift to political parties, many contending for an office still run as independents.

Taxation
There is no direct taxation imposed on residents and Cayman Islands companies. The government receives the majority of its income from indirect taxation. Duty at is levied against most imported goods, which is typically in the range of 22% to 25%. Some items are exempted like baby formula, books, cameras and certain items at a reduced rate of 5%. Duty on automobiles depends the value can be 29.5% $20,000.00 KYD CIF up to 42% over $30,000.00 KYD CIF for expensive models. Financial institutions that operate in the islands are charged flat licensing fees by the government, in addition to work permit fees on foreign labour. A 10% government tax is placed on all tourist accommodations in addition to US$25.00 departure tax each tourist pays upon leaving the island.

Foreign relations
Foreign policy is controlled by the United Kingdom, as the islands remain an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. Although in its early days, the Cayman Islands' most important relationships were with Britain and Jamaica, in recent years, as a result of economic dependence, a relationship with the United States has developed.

Though the Cayman Islands are involved in no major international disputes, they have come under some criticism due to the use of their territory for narcotics trafficking and money laundering. In an attempt to address this, the government entered into the Narcotics Agreement of 1984 and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty of 1986 with the United States, in order to reduce the use of their facilities associated with these activities. In more recent years, they have stepped up the fight against money laundering, by limiting banking secrecy, introducing requirements for customer identification and record keeping, and requiring banks to cooperate with foreign investigators.

Due to their status as an overseas territory of the UK, the Cayman Islands have no representation either in the United Nations or in most other international organizations. However, the Cayman Islands still participates in some international organizations, being an associate member of Caricom and UNESCO, and a member of a sub-bureau of Interpol.

The defence and internal security of the Cayman Islands is the responsibility of the United Kingdom.