Chamber says listen to Miller

| 20/03/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce(CNS): The president of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce has called on the government to implement the recommendations of the Miller Commission report and not to pick and choose for the sake of popularity. Stuart Bostock said that his organisation would do whatever it could to help government transition civil servants from the public to the private sector but the Chamber endorsed the majority of the report. The Chamber boss said that while the country was going through challenging times there was an opportunity to make progress if the community worked together and he called for an end to rhetoric and divisions.

Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce Career and Training Expo, Bostock said that the Chamber endorsed the Miller/Shaw Report but was keen to see government take action on the recommendations.

“Many reports have been commissioned in the past that have not have seen the light of day, but this is the time to listen carefully to the expert advice,” he said. “This is not the time to cherry pick those suggestions that would make us popular; it is time to take a holistic and open approach to solutions that will save our country.  We are not in this current economic predicament ‘suddenly’ nor are we an isolated incident.  This is not one government’s fault, this is not about blame, this is an opportunity to make significant progress in our country’s future development.”

While the answer to the situation might be simple and obvious, Bostock warned that the solution was extremely challenging and certainly not popular due to its far reaching impact.

He added that the forecast modelling contained in the report was significant, pointing to one course of action. “Austere cuts will be made and it is likely that some of our family members, friends and colleagues will be let go from the civil service in a move to reduce government expenditure,” the Chamber boss told a small audience.

He noted that the private sector has already gone through its own cuts, reforms and transitions which the civil service had not had to face.

Promising to help government transition staff between public service and the private sector, Bostock said the Chamber members were not magicians but could offer practical assistance in professional and developmental training.

“We can provide networking and introductory opportunities such as this Jobs Expo; and we can offer our support for those who wish to go into a business of their own.”

He noted the importance of education and training during the period of change but that it could also help attract new investment. These are trying times for us all but the Chamber continues to champion the benefits of education, training, and career advancement; and this has never been more important than it is today… An educated workforce is a powerful lure to investing companies who may not be hiring today but are basing decisions on the future and looking for the right person tomorrow,” Bostock added.

He welcomed the reform within the Employment Relations Department and in particular the new initiatives, including the National Employment Passport Scheme.

“The Chamber fully endorses this programme and its goal of improving employment prospects and opportunities for our youth through education, training and job placement support. We are pleased to have been listed as a training resource and look forward to sharing in this common objective,” Bostock said.

Given the difficulties faced by the community, Bostock also called for unity and said that while debate is healthy – division is not. “We greatly encourage the people of the Cayman Islands to put aside any empty rhetoric and look to the possible solutions presented to us through our own political leaders and the commissioned Miller/Shaw Report.”

He asked people to stop the local vs. foreign banter which he said had infected the country and public forums which are communicated all over the world.

“Integration has played one of the most important parts of this country’s history, perhaps even more so in recent decades, and one thing is certain, it is critical to the success of our future. As a born Caymanian and a businessman across many industries, trust me when I say that Caymanians and expatriate workers of all levels are interconnected and reliant on one another.  I say with conviction, we cannot have the success of one without the other,” Bostock said.   

Category: Business

Comments (25)

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  1. D. Miller says:

    The Civil Service is, I am sure, encouraged to learn that the Chamber of Commerce will do whatever they can to help civil servants transition into jobs in the private sector. Considering that the Chamber is calling for these same civil servants to loose their jobs during a ‘recession’ I am sure that those civil servants who the chamber wants fired would be heartened to hear the details of how Mr. Bostock plans to find jobs for them. Perhaps some of the Chamber’s private employee members who have lost their jobs recently could be drafted in to explain how the Chamber helped them find new employment when they were fired, as the Chamber is encouraging the Government to do with their employees. Please, Mr. Bostock, detail what you will do to help out of work civil servants or end the rhetoric.

    The Chamber may like to note that the private sector has had to go through its own cuts, reforms and transitions because of a loss of business. The civil service has not had to face this. Despite the economic downturn the workload of the civil service has not decreased. For some Departments it has actually increased. To compare the Civil Service to the private sector in terms of how workloads react to external factors is to compare the reaction of lions and zebras to hunger pangs.

    Mr. Bostock is correct in his recognition that fixing the financial crisis the government now finds itself in will be very painful for many people and cannot be laid at the feet of any one group; neither the blame nor the pain. It will take a holistic approach to solve and just as the problem did not appear ‘suddenly’; neither can it be solved ‘immediately’. The Miller/Shaw Report at least recognised that much. While the solution may involve restructuring and so reducing parts of the civil service such a programme must be undertaken with a restructured civil service as its goal, not merely with the intent of making random cuts until a dollar figure is arrived at. Cuts that will eventually be rescinded when the government realises that it cannot achieve its stated objectives without the people it has let go; it’s why they hired them in the first place. Sensible restructuring will take time, especially for the Government and the public to decide what services they are willing to pay for and what they would accept the Government no longer providing. Unsustainable reductions is what will happen if cuts are made ‘at this time’ as the Chamber is calling for.

    One can only hope that Mr. Bostock’s solutions to re-jobing these fired civil servants are more concrete than ‘networking opportunities’ and more far reaching than a jobs fair to which they were inviting government departments to pay to set up booths at to advertise careers in the civil service. Public Service jobs which the Chamber now suggests, through their uncritical support for the Miller/Shaw Report, should be paid less or eliminated all together.

    Public service and private industry at all levels are interconnected and reliant on one another. It can be said with conviction that we cannot have the success of one without the other. It must be very dishearteningto the public service when one of their partners is calling for them to be fired or at least have their pay and benefits slashed. With ‘representation’ like this it is no wonder that private sector employees are so bitter and disheartened with their employment situation.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Stuart. Our fathers’ integrated expatriates into the Caymanian business community. Ought those expatriates not be doing more to integrate Caymanians?

  3. BLOGGAMOUS says:

    Funny how the Chamber is saying that the government must not pick and choose from the miller report but does not endorse the report in its entirety.  The article stated that they endorsed "the majority" of the report…Hmmmm, is that not a form of picking and choosing?  Another reason why one cannot take the chamber at face value, similar to the muck up with their position with the pension holiday.  Today, "yes, pension holiday is needed" tomorrow " how terrible, it will destroy the funds"!  Flip, flop, they are almost as inept  and inconsistent as the UDP.

  4. wait for it says:

    Cayman will never get better if something is not actually done instead of talked about.  So until the leaders have been changed or their methods of operation change it will remain the same spend what we don’t have and get less and less to spend until the enivitable end.  Action is what is needed now not more opinions. But you and I both know that will not happen here.

    What will happen is that Cayman will continue downsizeing its revenue base and spending what ever it can get its hands on until those in power and their friends have sucked everything they can out of the island.

    Only then will Cayman begin to recover.

    • Anonymous says:

      I confess that I have not been following this very closely, but did I not read that the Miller report proposes privatising educational institutions such as UCCI and the premier centre for the health and medical wellbeing of the Islands’ people — the HSA?

      Careful!  Not so fast, I hope.  Obama has just passed legislation to strengthen delivery of health to his people, and we want to weaken it?  Same for education.

      These are not areas that you want to privatise, as privatising is all about not only breaking even, but making a profit.  Do you know what that means?  Cost of health care and of education at both centres will not only rise, but may quadruple, and access will be vastly reduced for the population.

      So hold on a moment.  Let’s cool with the Reganomics already. (I understand that there is a connection — no wonder!).

      Just my two cents. 

      We are so good at rushing in to "solve" problems, which we have to "dis-solve" later on.  Please….

  5. Anonymous says:

    "empty  rhetoric"

     

    That’s all the politicians have.

    If you take that away what will they be left with ?

     

    We have man-childs running this Island…

  6. Anonymous For Cause says:

    The Miller Commission in its investigations and subsequent report relied heavily on information provided by Kenneth Jefferson.  Which means that it is about reliable as the forecasts provided to the PPM Government in 2008 and to the UDP Government in 2009.  We all know now where reliance on those forecasts have gotten us and the country. 

    The report is but one viewpoint and thats being kind.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Who does the Chamber of Commerce represent? It is business and what does business want to avoid above all things, taxes of any sort. Therefore it is no wonder that they are supporting the Miller Report.

    • Dred says:

      You see people like you are ALL UP for taxes but you fail to take into consideration those who are scraping by. You don’t care about the single mother trying to feed her children on an already meager salary.

      If they ever do go that way I hope they triple yours so the rest of us can live a normal life.

      When you start giving your money out to the poor come back and tell us about how you love taxes.

      Thanks and have a good day.

  8. Dred says:

    I have had the pleasure to have known Mr Bostock prior to him becoming a leader in our times and while during those times I was dare I say not so impressed with his future I am today rather impressed with what he has become. To that I say Kudos to you Mr. B. If you teachers at the College could see you now.

    Now on to his speech.

    Let’s say this I agree whole heartedly with all he had to say. HOWEVER and this is a BIG HOWEVER. However the fundamental problem we have is that in the minds of our politicians there MUST be someone to blame and that person must be told this into oblivion until someone else can get relected again.

    While all this is going on there will be what you see in front of us today. This back and forth is unfortunate and seems to create an air of confusion but in reality its more of our leaders RE-ACTING instead of ACTING. It certainly did not take the Miller report to REALLY tell us that CIG was too big but it’s good that it did.

    The long and short is this. CS has contracts which are binding and SO you can not cut their salaries without their permission and they simply will never agree and seemingly at any length either. So the only choicewe really have if we are to follow the Miller report is to cut jobs. Here is my approach to this.

    1) Examine all departments and determine the positions and persons that will be cut. Profile them and make a detail record of their attributes and qualities the way the labor department would profile them.

    2) Have the Immigration department profile all upcoming work permits set for renewal (over the next 4 to 6 months) and all current work permits and find jobs which match more or less in salary and skillset.

    3) Make contact with these companies and set up a transition program with them.

    Here is the transition program….

    Stage 1 – Employees due to transition are now on split time where the CIG pays their salary but half of their time is working with CIG and half is training with new employer. CIG picks up the tab. This happens for 3 months.

    Stage 2 – Employees are then awarded a probabtion hearing at the new company where the new boss okays the employee as passing probation and then takes over their employment.

    Stage 3 – Employees are paid off and let go to new employer.

    What I feel this does is 2 things.

    1) Since we are pressing an employer to take this staff member on we basically give them training time with that employee on the CIG $ to get to know them. This allows them to feel comfortable that they have the skills to do the job at no cost to the new employer. Basically free labor to them. Almost nothing to loose.

    2) The department they are leaving starts to have to deal with the increased work load and have 3 months to get a handle on it.

    I feel this is the most professional way to do this.

    Where to start…

    1) Centralise all functions which were decentralised a few years back.

    2) Review all departments with staff counts over say 50 staff members with a focus on the largest departments. This inclused authorities.

    I will finish with this. We are in trying times and we will all have to face the music sooner or later. Many of private sector have been facing their own personal demons but it’s not over as yet. It tends to get worse before it gets better.

    Politicians – YOU HAVE FAILED US AND FOR MANY MANY YEARS NOW!!!

    You spend far too much time pointing fingers at past administrations and far too little time finding solutions. WRONG WRONG WRONG. We do not pay you to try to get re-elected we pay you to make our country a better place to live. That involves many things and none of them involve you making decisions because it may get you votes. It involves tough decisions that sometimes may not make everyone happy.

    We pay you to listen to us and hear what we are saying and examining what we say to see if it helps you because sometimes WE (that’s you and me) do not know everything and MAYBE we the people can give you ideas also.

    So stop the crap. Shake hands, kiss make up and get on with the affairs of the country. You are all grown men and womens and it’s truely time you start acting like it.

    CS does not want the pay cuts so we have to cut jobs. So let’s start seeing where the cuts come. Start doing stuff now.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Listen to FCO not Miller and his report why?

    i)  The UK has our best interest at heart, these islands are BDTC and belongs to the UK in as much as we believe we can go it alone and the UK does not do anything for us by way of direct monetary contributions to the islands, think about the many benefit that we have gotten simply by being BDTC and also think about the many we have missed by not asking for directions from the UK when we found ourselves in trouble but was too proud to admit that we had made a mistake.  Count your many blessing of being a BDTC and name them one by one. 

    ii) Since 1503 to date , I am not aware of any payments made to the UKfor services rendered (this is the sign of a good mother).  I am sure we had to pay Miller for his report.  I would not have paid for a report that lacks objectivity like the Miller report i.e. it addresses only on side of the equation where is the other side? yes, we have the the decrease in revenues side now where is the revenue side?  soon come I guess next report.

    I agree this country must unite first by stopping the party politics foolishness of one party vs the other and to do this effectively I suggest getting rid of party politics once and for all and if this cannot be done let us then come together and work as a united front for the good of this country.

    Education and training is this the new political football of 2010? that round ball has been around since the 1970s and about to turn square.  Stop making suggestions take action now! 40 years same talk do we really expect to get the desired results with just talk, if in the affirmative, contine the take it should last until 2510 with identical results "NONE".

    Local vs foreign banter which has infected the country and public forums which are communicated all over the world, all I would add to this is that most of the "Cayman Islands" and the world watches CNN and BBC read other forms of communications from the world over and believe me the Cayman Islands is the last frontier and most civil when it come to local vs foreign banter.  I don’t and will not advocate any kind of bashing foreign or local.  No foreign investor with good intentions towards these islands are deterred by a few ignorant statements.  For the most part Native Caymanians are very welcoming and have always been accommodating to everyone that is why you are able to find over 100 different nationalities living on an island this size and there is 26,000 work permits and 3,000 unemployed Caymanians and there is not civil unrest.  Ths is what I see as extremely passive and loving people, please Mr. Chairman give the Natives credit "the local vs foreign banter" statements makes us sound like bigots.

    National Employment Passport Scheme, how about a National Minimum Wage!!!!

    • Dred says:

      Aaah uuuummm. Okay. NO!!

      Let’s make this exactly correct. UK has almost always had UK at heart. Their interest in us now is because we like the rest of the world are struggling and while in the past we have done wonderful on our own and was never considered a liability we now are or atleast on the books we are.

      The Miller report brings to light facts we all need to be aware of. Our civil service is an issue and it has been for years. We have allowed it to grow unchecked.

      We need to make changes and we need to make them now.

      This is not about Foreign Vs Local it’s about simple maths.

      When I listen to you you make me woozy. You should be in their marketing department. Yes we have had some benefits from being part of their group but we have also had to swallow some stuff from them also via being white papered that we might have wanted to decide on for ourselves.

      I am not an advocate for Independence and might never be but I would also not make it out to be a fairyland we are living in either. When we were hit by Ivan they skinned up their noses at us even though the damages were extremely severe but we recovered and we moved on. Now we have been hit again and in time we will recover basically without them again.

      Most of the battles we have fought in our life time were done by us and us alone so while I respect jolly old England I amd more a man who loves his country first and foremost.

      At present the UK has alterior motives for "helping us". They want us to start taxes because that road is a painful road that leads to nowhere. Simple put the more you have the more you spend. We would simply be broke at a higher level in a few years and we will have to levy more taxes and soon our economy which is built around being tax free will disappear.

      We should fight any word that include taxes in them. We need to solve this by what we know is wrong and that is our CS needs to shrink to where its manageable. I am not saying throw people out on the street. I am saying move CS employees into private sector.

      • Pending says:

        On your point regarding Ivan and the UK turning their noses up and refusing to help us… you are way off the point.

        I clearly recall the UK and a host of other nations from around the globe coming to us with open arms, seeking to help all they could, but you know what happened, and there are numerous articles to refresh your memory….

        They were all turned away by our government who didn’t want the rest of the world to see that we were virtually destroyed as a country, so that the tourists could keep on coming and the fiancial service sector didn’t run. Our govenment wanted to paint a picture that everything was peachy and that we could get back on our own feet without any outside help.

        Don’t get me wrong, we did it, and it took alot of hard work and perseverance, but to say that no help was offered is wrong.

        Now that we are up the creek with no paddle in terms of debt, again the UK is here to help, and we will just have to see if our government listens to them or again try’s to sort the mess out on their own….

  10. Anonymous says:

    CNS, you nearly gave me a heartattack after reading the heading to this article.  It should be made very clear that the ‘Miller’ the Chamber is backing is James Miller III and not Ezzard Miller, ha.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Stuart, on the local v. foreign banter point, what is the position of the chamber where an expatriate employer lies to immigration, refuses to pay health insurance and pension to their foreign or local employees, calls their managers shop attendants to defraud the government of work permit fees, enters into a fronting arrangement, and employs other expats without permits?

    Should the plane door hit that person on the arse or not? It is a simple yes or no.

    If you answer yes and expel from the chamber (whilst supporting government prosecution of) such unscrupulous idiots that are ruining it for the rest of us, then I am with you all the way.

    If you answer no then I am moving to the Brac, building a fortress on top of the bluff and investing in pit bulls and guns (no, I won’t require your security services, thank you.).

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      If what you are saying in factual, why don’t you report this to the authorities? Wouldn’t you be doing your country a service?

      • Anonymous says:

        I have!

        Numerous times.

        Response: Sorry, before we can take action on any complaint as to the commision of a criminal offence (even one we can readily verify ourselves) you must make the report (often against your own employer) in writing, sign it, and give us consent to show it to your boss. 

         

        In other words, go do unmentionable things to yourself.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, but the bulk of employers who don’t pay pension or health and make employees pay for their work permits are Caymanian. I know that for a fact.

      • Anonymous says:

        So expelthem and push for their prosecution.

         

        So what is it Chamber? Yes or no?

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Chamber’s advice would be worth considering if the content of the Miller-Shaw Report were sound. However, there is fundamentally flawed information contained therein. As an example, the Report published incorrect information regarding a particular public authority, the leaders of  which were never consulted by the Report’s authors, who instead apparently went with information provided by the Financial Secretary.

  13. Anonymous says:

     Divide and Conquer 

  14. Anonymous says:

    Before everyone goes off half-cocked supporting the Miller Report, perhaps someone should take a closer look at some of the assumptions and claims in the Report and verify that they are, in fact, correct. Otherwise when the truth is out they could be supporting a Report that is full of inaccuracies and totally discredited.

  15. Anonymous says:

    another day, another report or organisation calling for the same thing…. reduce the civil service…. it is crippling the nation

  16. sue says:

    Thought Stuart said some great things in this article    sue

  17. Roadblogger says:

    "and look to the possible solutions presented to us through our own political leaders"

    Mr.Bostock. We have been looking to our political leaders for possible solutions. 

    Here’s what the public has heard while listening:

    "We will sell the new Government Office building."

    "We will not sell the new Government Office building."

    "There will be a pay cut of between ten and fifteen percent in the Civil Service."

    "There will not be a pay cut of between ten and fifteen percent in the Civil Service."

    "The Civil Service will be required to pay a portion of their health insurance."

    "The Civil Service will not be required to pay a portion of their health insurance."

    "There will be a pension holiday."

    "There will not be a pension holiday."

    And finally:

    "We can’t do anything, because there’s too many roadblocks."

     

    And the commissioned Miller/Shaw Report?  They said the same thing you are saying.

    So we’d love to work together.  Because this affects all of us. But, BECAUSE we listened to our political leaders we have no idea which direction they’re going in.  Have you ever heard the expression:

    Don’t follow me…  I’m lost?

    What you’re seeing is not negativity it’s confusion.