Interim budget over $573 million

| 27/06/2009

(CNS):  The new United Democratic Party government presented a stop-gap budget to the Legislative Assembly on Friday morning of almost $574 million to cover its operations, loans, expenses and borrowings for the next four months until the full annual budget appropriation for 2009/10 can be calculated and settled. The figure includes around $178 million for day-to-day government operations for the next quarter, which, if transferred to a full annual budget, would represent an even greater operating expense than the 2008/09 budget.

Despite the political wrangling over the current financial situation at the end of this year, government still needs to get immediate authorisation to keep it afloat for the first quarter of the next financial year.

With no Finance Committee session called to examine the temporary appropriations, both the opposition MLAs and the one independent representative for North Side raised their concerns about the government’s request for $573.6 million to tide it over and again brought into question the mistiming of elections with the financial year which prevented a full Finance Committee hearing.

Financial Secretary and Third Official Member, Kenneth Jefferson, said that the appropriation should not be interpreted as an exact third of the 2009/10 budget as many of the specific items were amounts that would cover the entire year’s expected expenditure and that it would be misleading to multiply everything by three.

Ignoring the huge question about finances at year-end 2009, he focused on the new appropriation and explained that because the election had taken place once again almost at the end of the financial year (a throw back from the situation created by Hurricane Ivan and the change of election from November 2004 to May 2005), there would be no time for a full Finance Committee examination of the appropriations needed. Jefferson told the House that the temporary financial request was based on last year’s budget figures.

Following the presentation of the motion Jefferson faced significant criticism about his recent major re-adjustments regarding the current financial year from the opposition but still offered no response.

Opposition member Alden McLaughlin said that given the figure requested it appeared to be “business as usual”, and despite the claims by government that the country was in financial dire straits they had still requested operational expenditure which, if times by three, would represent an even bigger annual budget than that passed for 2008/09.

He said that this required some form of explanation, as on the one hand the government was declaring the country had no money but on the other was asking for expenses that far exceeded expected revenue. Pointing out that the government starts the new financial year with a clean slate and does not carry over the old deficit, McLaughlin noted that the new government, after all its criticism of the previous administration, was doing nothing to account for the expected lower revenue for the forthcoming year.

“Unless money falls like manna from heaven, there will be an even greater deficit for this new financial year,” McLaughlin said as he called for a sitting of Finance Committee to examine what he said was missing from the motion before the House – an explanation. He said there was a need for government to tell the people where they expected revenue to come from and where they intended to spend the appropriations.

With the leader of government business absent from the House, it fell to Rolston Anglin, the deputy leader, to defend the government’s position.He agreed that in an ideal world Finance Committee should examine the request, but with only two working days before the year-end there was no choice and that the country would not be facing the current fiscal problems if the previous government had not been fiscally irresponsible and created an overblown civil service. He said the government would indeed be looking to tightening belts, but in the interim it was necessary to secure funding.

The debate was adjourned until Monday morning.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    You know what is going to be the most frustrating thing about this is that the truth will never come out. Just as it has been the case with everything else (police investigation etc.). It is a constant he said/she said, the country is suffering and we are not making one single step forward, but 100 steps back. All the amounts to is a few weeks of headlines in the paper, some people getting upset, some mudslinging, and then everything will go silent again and the ones who are really at fault for this will walk away with no consequences to their actions. It is sickening. The whole bunch of politicans out there (no matter of UDP or PPM), you are all sickening and we are the ones who have to suffer for your stupidity!

  2. Anonymous says:

    To put these numbers in perspective the $574 million the govt is asking for to run the country for 4 months is only 20% less than the entire 2008/2009 budget.

    How can this be?

    The FS Office needs owes this country a FULL explanation.

    How do we know that the projection of 574M is even correct?


  3. Anonymous says:

    The PPM is pathetic, the UDP still in the very early stages of cleaning your mess and you all are still trying to pass the blame as usual.

    This will take months to clean up, cost overrruns, complete unaccountability etc.

    You have no credibility.

    • Anonymous says:

      "The PPM is pathetic, the UDP still in the very early stages of cleaning your mess and you all are still trying to pass the blame as usual".

      The UDP is creating its own mess, and we will have less to show for it.

      What I don’t understand is if it was wrong for the previous govt. to borrow and spend on infrastructure (which employ hundreds of Caymanians) how can it be right to borrow and spend on a ‘stimulus package’? If we are ‘broke’ where is that money coming from? It doesn’t take a genius figure out that the public is being misled with political rhetoric by the UDP.

      The UDP achieve complete accountability?! What a hoot!   

  4. Lachlan MacTavish says:

    The debt and the budget will swamp our boat. Our country has always lagged 6-8 month’s behind the rest of the world. IMHO even tougher times are ahead. Very aggressive budget cuts, privatization and reinvention are the keys to stabilization.

    • Chris Saunders says:

      Sometime last year I saw an ad for a Senior CFO position in the Government. If you have to advertise for a Senior CFO… tells me that there is either a CFO out there that is not doing his or her job or that someone has lost the plot with regards to the meaning of the word "Chief".

      I am not sure what is really going on but clearly I guess the next logical step now is to start seeing ads for the following positions:

      Senior Chief Officer

      Senior Chief Immigration Officer

      Senior Chief Fire Officer

      Senior Chief Education Officer

      Additionally, a few weeks ago I saw another ad for a Deputy Senior CFO… is clear that the Senior CFO that was previously hired needs help. Again, I guess the next logical step is to start seeing ads for the following positions also:

      Deputy Senior Chief Officer

      Deputy Senior Chief Immigration Officer

      Deputy Senior Chief Fire Officer

      Deputy Senior Chief Education Officer

      Then again…maybe its just me

      • Anonymous says:

        Did it ever occur to you that the senior CFO liaises with all of the other CFO’s within goverment to establish the finaces of the Public Sector and isrepsonsible for much more than a ministry like most CFO’s and in his/her absence a Deputy is also needed!!!  Take time and read the JD of a regular CFo and then read the Senior CFO of Government.

        • Anonymous says:

          What a coincidence. I am glad someone raised this point. For a minute I thought it was only me. Please note that there are others in the civil service that is saying the same thing. I would like to tell you that I was surprised with the ad was first circulated but I would be lying.

          Trust me, now that there is a new government you are going to be surprised at some of the other titles inside this place and the departments/ministres they are located. It is going to be shocking. I hope they start by fixing the many incompetent HR people they hired over the past 4 years in some of these ministries. They failed in the private sector and as usual we get the rejects.

  5. fuzzy says:

    Looks like UDP is blaming the "overblown civil service" for their large budget.I guess their next move will be to lay off some civil servants, since cutting out overtime apparently hasn’t helped.

    • kman@heart says:

      Anyone who has followed Cayman politics since the late 1980’s will obviously reconize the famous "McKeeva tactic" of setting himself & his colleagues up to borrow & spend as much as they want by portraying the government as being in such a terrible financial position that he has no alternative but to borrow & spend, & then he can blame the previous government. Has there ever been a time that he has been elected that he has not done this? NEVER! As he & the udp were elected Mr. Bush immediately let the public "know" that the previous government had left the country broke (as I said, his common tactic), & LOW & BEHOLD not 2 weeks later (while Mac is on vacation for 4 weeks) the headline in the Compass blasts out loud "Government is looking for CI$544 million"!! Now we read here on this site about their massive borrowing yesterday! According to the UDP it was wrong of the PPM Government to borrow, but now that they are in power it is OK to borrow CI$544 million

      People wake up, the country is not as bad as McKeeva Bush & his "yes persons" are telling us, this is simply an excuse to be able to carry out HIS plan & be able to blame the previous government & say "we had no alternative but to do so"!! If the UDP started to line their pockets as they were elected by borrowing CI$544 million the public would raise hell, but by first pretending the country was left in terrible finacial trouble by the PPM & they have no choice but to borrow, they feel that we the people will accept it. PEOPLE, WAKE UP, we have gone back 2 decades by going back 4 years (by voting in a discarded 2005 UDP), & IT IS ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE! First, he coppied the U.S. by approving a CI$40 million "stimilus package" to help out his friends, supporters, colleagues & cronies; & SECOND, he is over borrowing CI$500 million to satisfy their personal needs! THINGS NOT GOOD CAYMAN!  

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yeehaw!!! Here we go down that slippery four year slope with Mac and the UDP……hold on!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is the "better way forward"? This is the brilliant, innovative, "hit-the-ground-running" plan from the UDP? Let’s just keep on spending as usual – A two year old could have come up with that one!!

    And let’s not forget the FS (failure to reconcile his own projections from one month to the next) and the AG (failure to challenge a clear constitutional breach).  Are these positions not accountable to anyone??

    These are scary times folks, the LA has become GT’s latest pre-school!