Cost cuts equal service cuts

| 09/04/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): Public sector workers should not become the scapegoats for the economic problems associated with the Cayman Islands budget, the Civil Service Association has said as it warned that cuts to resources will mean cuts in service. Civil servants have been handed the responsibility of deciding where massive expenditure reductions should be made for the 2010/11 budget, but the association has pointed out that it is the remit of the elected arm of government to make decisions about spending based on policy. In a public statement issued to all civil servants and the wider public, the management council said members face the dichotomy of being asked to make cuts on one hand and a demand for more public services on the other – something it says is impossible.

In the wake of an onslaught of criticism in recent weeks, the civil service has pointed out that it should not be the body making the decision on where cuts can be made when its members are being asked to provide more and more services every year by the elected arm of government.
 
Hitting back at its critics, CICSA raised a number of concerns about the findings in the Miller Report and the areas that it believes were neglected in the assessment of Cayman’s financial situation. In the public statement, the association said the authors had given little consideration to the negative impact the salary and headcount cuts it recommends would have on services, staff and the wider economy.
 
“Improving the state of public finances cannot be done by slashing expenses without consideration of the impacts,” the CICSA said. “We are concerned at the effects of significant layoffs, especially as the effects of such redundancies are not being planned in relation to the provision of government’s services to all citizens – which would inevitably be cut.”
 
Aside form the impact on the ability of the public sector to continue to deliver services, the association asks what consideration has been given to the members of staff who will be fired.
 
“The private sector will not be able to absorb into their firms the amounts which they are calling to be culled from the public service ranks,” CICSA said in the statement. “The private sector has and continues to cut back on personnel … this increased private sector unemployment has resulted in a swelling of the social service role.”
 
Redundancies among civil servants are expected to impact he government’s social assistance programme, which would undermine savings made elsewhere, the association argued. It also raised concerns that Miller had failed to fulfill many of the terms of reference given to the authors before they embarked on their assessment.
 
“The Report talked about problems but gave little to no practical suggestions as to how to overcome the challenges,” the CICSA said, adding that it was practical solutions that were called for when the Commission was asked to “make recommendations … for improving the current revenue base … for the Cayman Islands.”
 
CICSA suggested that the authors had approached the review from a specific political standpoint, which determined where they would go even before they began.
 
“Despite the eminence of the report’s authors and their consultants, it is clear that their pre-existing political and economic views coloured the report and its recommendations. A more unbiased report may have hewed closer to its terms of reference rather than trying to justify a predetermined conclusion,” CICSA said.
 
The association did, however, agree with Miller in one respect. It said his assessment of the public sector reform initiatives resulting in staff increases and decentralization of services was correct and that it had led to an increase in management positions as well as the double-billing caused by government agencies paying each other internally for services rendered, while also being paid by Cabinet for providing the same service to the government.
 
Facing pressures from the elected arm of government and criticism from the private sector, the association pointed out the essential role public sector workers have played in building the country’s financial and tourism industries, which in turn have built a vibrant world-class economy.
 
“Even though we are now a more sophisticated society, dependence on the state has reached an all-time high,” CICSA Management said. “There are ever-increasing demands for more infrastructure, such as schools, roads, health and social services as well as for essential services.”
 
Private sector operations depended on the public sector for a range of things, from staff to regulation, CICSA said. Pressure to increase the number and quality of services has not eased despite the needs for cuts to the service providers, something which the management council said was unachievable. However,the association said its members had been doing their best to make it possible.
 
“Throughout this financial year civil servants across government have been pursuing and implementing cost-savings measures, amounting to over $9 million in value so far and we are currently analyzing many new internal and external recommendations to affect even more savings,” CICSA added.
 
Well aware of the challenges facing the country,the management council pointed out that the civil service was and remained committed to being part of a solution that accommodates the needs of workers, their families and the economy of the country.
 

Category: Headline News

Comments (27)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, but I have seen and heard far too many comments from civil servants who say ‘I only make five thousand dollars a month’.

    You can not use the words ONLY and FIVE THOUSAND A MONTH in the same sentence and it just goes to show you how unrealistic these people have become.

    To be sure, many are hard working, decent and honest people. But relative to the local economy they are exceptionally over paid.

    Just for prospective, assuming a 40 hour work week… $5,000 a month is $29 an hour, plus pension, plus medical, plus vacation pay.

    Think about that. The wait staff on this island make between $7-12 an hour with tips and overtime. Housekeepers and nannies make $200-$450 a week or between $5 and $11 an hour.

    You can hire all kinds of professional contractors: Electricians, plumbers, carpenters, painters, tilers for between $15-20 an hour and these people are all making a decent living. They have vehicles to pay for and tools to buy.

    Ask most of the people working at CNB, or any other bank, or Fosters, or Kirk, or AL Thompson…

    If you said to most people on this island … you were ONLY making $5,000 a month… you’re liable to get slapped in the face… and yet there are many postings on this board from civil servants defending their jobs and salaries with exactly those kinds of statements.

     

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe every civil servant is lazy or unnecessary. I know some civil servants who are dedicated and have a genuine care as to how our country is run. That being said, I think there are too many civil servants with too high of a salary. As a young caymanian I really don’t understand their mentality. We are in a state of disarray. Take a pay cut and be thankful you are still employed! Go to a  first world country, start paying direct taxes and compete for positions with thousands of other applicants. Then come back to Cayman, kiss the ground and be thankful. There are opportunities here that alot of people would not be so fortunate to have anywhere else. Let’s get our economy back on track. Take a pay cut. You can even have a stipulation that allows for renegotiation ofcontracts in a year or two. If you must, cut some jobs; first in, first out.  

  3. Danger Mouse says:

    It is obvious that the Civil Servants have no intention of reducing their size.  I am happy to take the risk of poorer services – they are already shoddy. 

    Cut all the salaries by 10% and cut the staff by 10% – if that is no enough it is a good start.  If civil servants don’t like it they can move jobs.

    They are here to serve us.  We do not want to pay the cost of the service they offer at the moment.  What they think about it is irrelevant to me.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Revenue – Reinstate book Fee

    Thousands of children are attending govt. schools absolutely FREE!  Reinstate the $50.00 per annum book fee (Primary and I think it was about $150.00 for high) and bring some money back into the Education system.  Govt. schools are full and overflowing.. some of the larger schools are running 27-30 students per class and parents dont have to pay a dime.  Caymanians and status holders alike are removing their children from private schools because of the economic crisis and placing them into the govt. schools.   Private schools charge a fee for late pick ups but govt. school children can sit there until 5:00 pm waiting on parents and a teacher has to wait with them, parents arrive and there is not even a thank you.  Then at the end of day they want to cut teachers’ salaries????    See a problem here?????????

    What is $50.00 for the year???? Reinstate this fee -increase that if necessary and start bringing in some money.

  5. Beachboi says:

    It is simple, simple, simple!!!!!  Cut Boatswain’s Beach and Cayman Airway’s out of the picture.  No more millions in subsidies!!    $75,000 to paint a non recognizable coat of arms on CAL’s "TAILS"?????  

     Next CUT agency / ministry / departmental funding by "x" percentage and tell them that they have to make do with whatever the figure is.  This is basically the same as asking them to figure out how to make cuts, but they will be forced to one way or the other.  Either everyone’s salaries will be cut or jobs will be cut. Simple!  No mess!  This will allow the politicians to save face since they will not personally have to face the blame for the cuts.  After all this is what they, the majority anyway, are trying to avoid.

    • Dred says:

      I would cut back on CAL but would NEVER EVER get rid of it.

      Let me remind you of a time not so long ago when we were finding ourselves up Sh!t creek without a paddle and every airline packed up and left us BUT CAL.

      CAL needs to be run like a business. It’s still too much under the CIG skirt tail. Someone told me about the possibility of merging CAL and CAA under one authority and it made me think. You see CAA makes money and if they were all part of the same team maybe CAA can help CAL with some of the leasons they themselves learnt.

      I would NEVER EVER suggest getting rid of CAL. That is part of a list of assets you should never consider giving up. Never give up your ports or national airline. He who controls them can choke a country.

    • Too simple says:

      Too simple.  The problem with BB is that it can’t be "cut" because of the financing arrangements.  Cayman Airways is important when a hurricane approaches.  But ironically the best thing we can do is make Cayman Airways cut their fares to Miami – these fares artificially increase the fares of other carriers because of air treaty laws.  Lower fares into Cayman would mean more tourists.

      • Anonymous says:

        So we pay CAl millions of dollars every year just to make sure it’s there when a hurricane comes along? Some business plan!

        What do other Caribbean countries-faced with the same hurricane issue – do?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Come on Cayman, let’s us not be so disrespectful to our civil servants.  Don’t forget they operate in a structure of low morale. Everyday they see the those who merit promotions are overlooked while nepotism and favoritism rule the day.  (Remember the 3 talented Caymanian ladies who are sitting at home earning the pay of chief officers)  Yet we are dependent on these individuals to teach our children, police our community, run our hospital, collect our refuse, maintain our roads, register our companies, land, ships, aircrafts etc. Surely we can all muster some grain of support for the sorry state of affairs they find themselves in by no fault of their own.  Personally speaking, I’m very grateful for the noble (and often thankless) work that our many loyal civil servants perform. 

     
    • Wasted money says:

      No point in being so sentimental.  Cuts are needed.  Now. Not later.  Deep cuts.  Not pathetic minor shuffles.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sorry to say they should step into private industry where 10% to 20% of the staff have already been dismissed and everyone else is looking at pay cuts or reduced benefits to keep the company, the hand that feeds them, moving forward.

      The CICSA, by their position, have revealed the inadequacy of their performance. Anyone can hold a position when times are good. A rising tide raises all boats. It takes someone with real understanding and capability to accept that the situation is different now, and here is an opportunity. You can look to reduce expenses, improve morale, and deliver more for less. Those that can will do so, those that cannot will complain. If you had to make a living in private industry you might understand that, but you would probably already have been one of the 10%-20% that were already let go.

       

  7. islandman says:

    Offer Early Retirement and write new contracts!

  8. Anonymous says:

    The last thing the civil service should do is threaten.  Mr. Ebanks is aware of when there were civil servants who would take on extra work in their department to ease the stress of having to pay more, but the reason behind all the overspending now stems from when HR was disbanded and each ministry had their own Chief Officer.  Before that time all and any infractions were reported to the Personnel Department and dealt with by that department.  When everyone’s sister or cousin or in-law was placed in the osition of Chief Officers, then the unscrupulous did what they wanted to and got away with the situation.  The Government needs to go back to the old system where everything went through the Public Service Commission and then on to the PS Personnel.  We had it lucky then and we did not even realize.  That’s why the generalm concensus is that we are all foo-foos.

    • Anonymous says:

      "When everyone’s sister or cousin or in-law was placed in the position of Chief Officers…"

      This demonstrates you clearly have no idea of what you are talking about. Chief Officers were mainly what used to be called Permanent Secretaries -five ministries plus PS Personnel =6. Added to this have been the Courts Administrator, Complaints Commissioner, Auditor General, Solicitor General, FOI Commissioner and Cabinet Secretary. Would you like to tell us which of those fit your description I quoted above? No? I thought not. Please write about only what you know.

      Speaking of which, Permanent Secretaries were NOT -repeat-NOT ever appointed by the Public Service Commission. Neither were the Auditor General, Complaints Commissioner, Solicitor General or Cabinet Secretary. They were all appointed by the Governor "acting in his discretion" ie he didn’t have to ask a damn soul for advice, he appointed who he pleased.

      Finally, I can only presume from your comments about the Personnel Department that you never had any dealings with that grossly inefficient department whose staff decided things based on their own (often different from each other) interpretation of the rules and who you were.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are quite right anon Sat 6:36 but you missed out as Chief Officers the Chief Officers of Finance (formerly Deputy Financial Secretary) and Internal External Affairs (formerlyDeputy Chief Secretary).

        But your central point remains true: none of them is a "sister/cousin/in-law" appointment. In fact, it is significant to note thatof all the positions you list every single one but three were appointed by competitive process(advertising/shortlisting/interview).

        What is really sad is that the post you were commenting on purports to come from a civil servant. The level of ignorance displayed about the very workforce that he/she is a member of speaks volumes about the quality of some of the staff in the civil service and also dreadfully misleads readers of CNS who, through no fault of their own, are not knowledgeable about civil service procedures/ structures/appointment processes etc.and click on thumbs up when they read this poster’s inaccurate nonsense.

  9. Shock and Awe says:

    Why are we not surprised this was going to be spun?  Reading between the lines I’m seeing "It was the massive civil service that helped Cayman get where it is today.

    ?

    Ok.  But our wages numbers and benefits are not the problem!!  It was that inaccurate Report.  So is that our fault?  No!!! Because it didn’t say what we were going to do if we didn’t work for the Government. Who’s fault is that?? Not ours!!!!  It’s theirs!!!!

    And, squinting I see

    Don’t be stupid there is no choice.  We can’t cut back on staff.  Because we’ll slow to a crawl and your services will be cut. Or we’ll make sure they are.  And if we do cut back on staff you won’t save any money.  Because they are going to go to Social Services.  Ha Ha."

    Is that what they meant to say?

  10. Anonymous says:

    CICSA – there is no money to continue to pay ALL Civil Servants in the manner it has been done for the last few years and to continue to provide the same benefits. NO MONEY!

    Do you get it? It is really not that hard to understand.

    Worldwide thousands of people have lost their jobs and benefits because of the current economic conditions in most countries.

    Get rid of some of the dead weight. We can not afford it any longer!

     

  11. Anonymous says:

    what nonsense again from the civil service…. my head hurts….

    somebody start firing these people asap! it is the only way they will learn

     

    • Anonymous says:

      obviously you don’t have children in public schools; neither do you go to the public hospital nor do you need police services

  12. Joe Mamma says:

    This is what happens when you hire for with prejudice. If you hired for ability and experiance first you would not need two or three persons to do a one person job. The answer to the problem is to get rid of those who can not do a job up to the modern worlds standards and replace them with people who can. This way you only pay one person for a one person job and not three.  And by all means try hard to find a Caymanian first but don’t stop there.

    Now the next question is why this can not happen here.  One word Corruption.  The Civil service system is SO corupt that it can not fix itself.   This system is not based on getting the most work done for the money but getting the most money spent on the most persons for the job.

  13. James D. says:

    Let’s be realistic about the civil service in the Cayman Islands. (I will be generalizing). The civil service of our country has become the social welfare system for the ones that can not, or choose not to, work in the open market. Government needs to look at creating a system that reviews and creates performance exspectations for each and every employee. Is it actually possible to be fired from a government job? Take a look at the way a proper business is run in good and in bad times. I think that most of them have forgotten who is paying their salaries. Customer service is non existent, urgency is a word long forgotten and pride for their work has long gone out of the window. The worst about it all is that we depend on them to be able to run our businesses by having to deal with all the different arms of the government and by their lack of performance our capability to perform is hindered as well. Why is it that businesses that have a monopoly never worry about losing their customers?

  14. Dred says:

    This is to be totally expected. CICSA wants to fight this by throwing threats out. They know full well that what is being asked of them is to trim the staff without impacting services by becoming more efficient. CICSA is "trying" to say that they are already "efficient" when in fact they are highly inefficient.

    What befuddles me is they actually believe the are. Now certain sectors have become more efficient with dealing with clients like Immigration and now the licensing department but they still have yet to become more efficient staffing wise.

    What is needed is the co-operation of an external government who is running at a much better rate of staff to population. Then if they would allow a review of their operation to see how they are attaining the level of services they provide against the manpower then maybe we can start to see certain things more clearly. It could be better computer system and/or more effective procedures.

    Something is wrong. MY belief is we can computerise certain functions and lessen the need for staff. Maybe cutting some red tape and therefore shortening some processes might also help.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The wider question when it comes to cuts in service is, will anyone notice?

  16. kingstonia says:

    PRIVATE SECTOR to PUBLIC SECTOR:

    "Why don’t you make cuts on one hand, lazy… and create more public services on the other hand." 

    :p)

  17. Anonymous says:

     “The private sector will not be able to absorb into their firms the amounts which they are calling to be culled from the public service ranks,” CICSA said in the statement. “The private sector has and continues to cut back on personnel … this increased private sector unemployment has resulted in a swelling of the social service role.”

     

    There we have it – CICSA is implying that the civil service is a social security net. Tthe rest of us knew that already (just look at PWD) but if thats the official view (and they aren’t going to change from it) this discussion should end now as not a single civil servant will be fired.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is exactly the response everyone should expect from any bureaucracy – threaten to cut services if its income is threatened.

    So no one should be surprised.

    Is the  CICSA looking at itself and making suggestions to downsize or increasing its own efficiency?

    Oh, no.

    That would be the standard response by any private company when faced with limited or declining revenues. So why not the civil service?

    This country can no longer afford to pay for a civil service which is much larger than necessary.

    Our response to the CICSA should be to threaten to privatize any service that the CICSA threatens to cut.

    After all, it is we the taxpayers who are paying them.

    Are we not their bosses?

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      rollover should help.  If CS are not working, then that includes the expats – why pay expats to do nothing