Finance minister should resign

| 03/07/2012

_DSC7922-web.jpg(CNS): The parliament’s only independent member has called for the premier to resign his portfolio as minister of finance as a result of his consistent failures in the post. Ezzard Miller said that the most important job of a finance minister is to produce a budget every year in accordance with the law. He said that the incumbent minister’s tardy budgets in the previous two years coupled with the complete failure to bring a  budget at all this year left him no other choice but to resign. The North Side MLA said that when someone consistently fails in their most important job they should be relieved of that job, and he asked McKeeva Bush to give the finance ministry to another member of his Cabinet.

“The failure two years ago to produce the budget on time which necessitated an amendment to the law, the failure a year ago to present a budget within the new time frame, bringing it at the last minute so it was rushed and the discussion curtailed with no detailed answers from anybody … And the most miserable failure of all is to not be able to produce a budget at all this year,” Miller told the Legislative Assembly Wednesday during the parliamentary debate on the premier’s stop-gap emergency two-month spending plan.

“When people so consistently fail at their most important job they should be relieved of their responsibilities,” Miller said, as he called on the premier to give the job to someone else and see if they could do it better.

“The one job the minister of finance has every year is to produce a budget in accordance with the public management and finance law. “It’s his most important job for the year,” Miller said. “This is not something new … every minister of finance and his staff knows that the most important job for the year is producing the budget.”

The independent member said that the problem started when the legislators had amended the Public Management and Finance Law to give government two more months to prepare a budget, as he described Wednesday’s presentation by the premier as history repeating itself as Bush was essentially asking for yet another two months to prepare a budget. 

“I can think of no conversation that the minister of finance can have now with his ministers or chief officers and chief finance officers that could not have taken place in March or April of this year,” Miller added, as he berated the premier for the budget crisis. “This is a very sad, sad, sad day for these beloved islands,” he said as he pointed out that never in the history of this country had such a failure on the part of government occurred and he was embarrassed to be a member of the parliament when such a history had been established.

Miller pointed out that the premier’s persistent blaming of the PPM, the FCO, the civil service, or anyone else would not solve the problems faced by government in regard to its finances. “We can’t blame the civil servants, because … the civil servants don’t set policy or pass legislation or put programmes in place. Those decisions are made by ministers and the elected arm of government. The civil servants have no authority to just imagine expenses and go out and create them,” he added.

Ministers must take responsibility to decide what programmes and what policies, what legislation it is going to amend to cut costs, the MLAsaid. “You can’t cut spending by just writing a letter to the civil service telling them not to spend. The PPM proved that didn’t work in 2008/09,” Miller warned.

He stated that amendments to the PMFL and to the Public Management Service Law were required to re-centralize government accounting and human resources and to make real cuts in government spending. The North Side representative pointed to the motion he brought in 2010 asking government to do that but he said the UDP benches rejected his proposal because they were planning on making the necessary changes themselves by June of that year.

However, the MLA pointed to the fact that two years later the changes still hadn’t been made and the government machine remained over staffed and out of control.

“If you have to get rid of people then you have to get rid of people,” he said. “You must take the responsibility to do what is best for the country, not play politics with these kinds of decisions and worry about votes. We have thousands of people on work permits which can be cancelled and Caymanians can be hired. If restoring the financial position of this country requires laying off some Caymanians, Ezzard Miller will support that,” Miller directed at the government benches during his debate.

Continuing with runaway spending and increasing the cost of living by imposing taxation to create jobs in government was wrong, Miller said, adding that the problem with the budget was not revenue. Every year since taking office the UDP had increased revenue and collected more money from the people. “But they have spent more,” he added.

Miller accused government of not being “man enough to accept the responsibility to do what is right by the country”, but like it or not, legislators had to make the tough decisions. The only way government could get public finances back on track was through genuine public sector cuts, the MLA stated.

He also spoke of the need to reduce fuel duty to stimulate the economy and accused the UDP government of “murdering Mr Entrepreneur” because by sending up the cost of business and imposing so many high fees, the cost of doing business was too great.

Despite everyone saying the local economy was in the doldrums, each year the government was able to extract more and more cash from the public.

Category: Politics

Comments (36)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    One big problem I don't see mentioned as yet but forgive me if it has cause I haven't read all the posts thoroughly but…..and which one of his other puppets, pardon me, Cabinet members are fit for the job should he resign?  Fact is we are in a dire situation and election can't come soon enough!

  2. Anonymous says:

    We were told in the Civil Service that by appointing Leonard Dilbert (at a huge salary) as his Chief of Staff, Mac would become more efficient and accountable. What happened?

  3. Anonymous says:

    There can be no doubt that McKeeva Bush has been an abysmal failure in office. Bumbling incompetence, constant cloud of allegations of corruption, painful attacks on constituents and media, no economic recovery, no budget, no audited financials, several high profile mishandlings which have led to direct claims of millions of dollars on the public purse, misappropriation of government funds for projects, 3 ongoing police investigations for a myriad of offences, blatant bullying of the Speaker of the House to stifle opposition debate, crippling fee hikes on businesses, failure to control public spending….where are the investors he went abroad to lure? where is the balanced budget? where are the government financials?

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Investors that he went abroad to meet??? – you believe that??? if he met any actual potential investors who were also intelligent legitimate business people, then they were probably smart enough did a little due diligence before proceeding. Nuff said.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What is the status of the 3 police investigations of allegations of corruption into the Premier please?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Anon 08:29 can you please ask the UDP to have the 2009 financial statements audited so that we can once and for all prove that the PPM left the country with a $81 million deficit. I am sure you humble leader will not consent to having those accounts done. why? becuase he knows that the PPM did not leave the accounts in the state that he claims.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly.  The question still remains how a surplus turned into a deficit simply by changing administrations.  Any answers Mr. Jefferson?

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Trustees and Board of a company with a multi-million dollar balance sheet would not allow the hiring of a CFO without some accounting credentials (and they would likely insist on a high school diploma).  So why would a state of "savvy financial minds" allow this to happen?  The Board and Trustees are not doing their job – time for the Shareholders to speak up.          

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you.  Cabinet should be an election of its own by the people of this country so everyone can see the credentials of those running and whether they have the education, skills, experience and "common sense" to do the job they are running for.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Minister of Finance is a new position created in our new modern constitution. There is no guaruntee that any MLA will have proffessional financial qualifications. Also as you look around the region, much of the time the premier takes the Finance Ministers position as well, simply to ensure he/she has control.

      Unfortunately, not enough shareholders spoke up BEFORE we voted to approve the new constitution.  Imagine where we would be now, were it not for the FCO keeping tabs on our borrowing limits, corruption etc.

      We prefer to react to crisis rather than thinkahead and avoid them altogether.  I guess there is no excitement in the latter.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What kind of message would it send to fire a Caymanian after failing to do their job for only three years?

  8. Anonymous says:

    the chamber of commerce should be calling for the same thing…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Agree. Its about time to hold someone accountable for (not) doing their job and meeting thier responsibilities.  You are paid to do certain tasks, no matter how uncomfortable. If you did not have the means, experience, knowledge or backbone to do the job as Finance Minister, you should not have taken it on.

    HOW can the rest of the UDP stomach and defend this bullsh!t??

    Shame on all of you! Caymanians, TAKE careful note of what your MLAs are doing here, because in a short while they will be coming by with their smiles and promises asking for your vote again

  10. Anonymous says:

    Government is too big, no one wants to admit it for fear of losing a job , so the squeeze goes on to the private sector.

    This is a recipe for disaster.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This Finance Minister has failed to introduce normal acceptible accounting practices, has by-passed legislative and legal protocol, central tenders committees, spends the nation's money as if it were his own and in his own name and for his own glory.  Binds the nation to personal deals without providing any transparancy – several of these have resulted in multi-million dollar settlements against the accounts of the people.  There is also the fog of unresolved investigations.  Any reasonable adult can easily see cause for dismissal, I'm just amazed it took this long for someone on the opposite bench to openly propose the obvious!     

  12. St Peter says:

    Come on Ezzy – give him a chance.

    In 2009 –  he was getting used to the Palsy Walsy Calculator, and he got mixed up between 18M and 81M and blurted out to the world that we were bankrupt, and that is what held up the budget process.

    In 2010 – to be honest he was busy on his 'World Tour' and completely forgot about the damn budget, and had to change the law to bring the budget a few months late.

    In 2011 – The Palsy Walsy Calculator was broken and showing a total of $600+ million when it should have said $400+ million. It was embarrassing enough when the FCO took one look at the figures and said:

    'WTF is this?',  and when they managed to stop  laughing,  they turned it down two times.

    And by 2012 – we will be in such a mess that not even God will be able to balance that one…

  13. Anonymous says:

    A decision by a minister of government to resign when he or she has embarrassed the country or is unable to do the job requires a sense of morality. Nuff said.

  14. noname says:

    The PPM leader and the Independent member Mr. Miller seems to be suffering from a case of amnesia, and  that the country and the entire Caribbean region was worried sick of the financial state of  the Cayman Islands; when the UDP took over the reins in 2009.
    The Premier is to be commended for undertaking such a hopeless situation as other prudent professionals/economists would indeed disassociate themselves from an  inheritance of a bankrupt public purse for fear of being passed on the baton with an attached stigma, odious with gross overspending, abuse of the public purse, and improper planning including the construction of public schools etc.

    This only means putting at risk one's reputation, yes the the premier has put his reputation on the line to fix the economy of the Cayman Islands.
    Caymanians lets face it; most brilliant politicians would postpone running for office or even accepting the office of premier for fear of being stigmatised by inheriting an almost bankrupt government  caused by the incompetence and reckless spending of the predecessors, i.e. PPM.
    Our eyes need to be opened taking a keen look at what is really happening to the people of the Cayman Islands.
    The PPM has contributed greatly in destroying the economy of the Cayman Islands.
    In addition they have put every stumbling block in the way of any and all plans for development in the Cayman Islands that will create an environment that will create jobs and put people back to work.
    The PPM and its leader is not mature enough to put aside partisan politics and unite for the good of the country and the people on creating jobs that will restore self sufficency and deignity to our people who are 3,000 jobless and living in devastation.

    Thus the government is forced to seek revenue from the work permit sources, while the opposition beat up their gums criticizing government for every proposal of development, very contentious and contemptuous.  The PPM is also criticising government for the work permit scenario while they have presented no plan to fix it. As a matter of fact the PPM's leadership has contributed greatly to the granting of 4000 status holders as they presented their list of their friends  to the L.A.  at the time the Cayman status was granted in 2004.The names of those people may be found in the Hansards of the L.A.  Maybe we need to take a second look at the PPM and stop blaming Mr. Bush for the sins of thePPM they certainly share the blame.
    Let us not forget the state of the public purse when the UDP took office in 2009.
    We can not replace a government with an incompetent PPM government that was the problem that was replaced.

    For the PPM to urge people to again re-elect them to repeat the incompetence heralded in election 2009 is  utter madness as this is not at all playing with a full deck!
    The PPM must realise that they are fast losing support from Independents as well as their so called diehard voters. People are sick and tired of the divisiveness and pulling down of socioeconomic structures without the ability to construct an edifice; such behavior demonstrated is futile and unworthy of respect.
    Most of us indeed supported some of the criticism against government if we thought they were moving too fast or needed more public consultation. However, when we realised that the opposition HAD NO PLAN, we had to quickly shift our focus on helping the present government build the country instead of joining forces with those who can only contribute negativity and criticism, having no plan at all. To date the opposition has not presented a plan to the L.A. nor the public.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow.  What a butt smooch.

       

    • Anonymous says:

      Mckeeva reloaded? read this statement from Kurt Tibbetts when he was leader of Government business 5 years ago, you would not believe the deja vu I experienced http://www.gov.ky/portal/page?_pageid=1142,2188399&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL
      unfreaking believable, how did McKeeva get back in?I now have very little faith that the people of West Bay will ever rid this country of the tyrant.

      • Anonymous says:

        Modus Operandi my firend.  He did it before and he's doing it again:

        Requoted from article referenced above:

        In each of the cases mentioned …. the Auditor General determined that there was significant departure from the principles of good governance. The conclusions of his many reports make it overwhelmingly clear that the leadership of the Hon. McKeeva Bush and his UDP administration was characterized by gross mismanagement of government funds, misuse of public funds, a lack of value for money paid by government, mismanagement of projects, undue political influence and a lack of fair process and failure to ensure that competitive tender processes were followed in the award of government contracts.

        The consequences of this gross maladministration by the Hon. McKeeva Bush and his UDP colleagues are grave and very tangible. These are not simply examples of breaches of some academic principle called "good governance". The findings of the Auditor General are that in each and every instance referred to above the actions of Mr. Bush and his government cost this country millions of dollars in unwarranted expenditure, money which would otherwise be available to fund many of the projects which this country so desperately needs. Mr. Bush spends a great deal of time claiming that this administration is borrowing and spending too much on schools, roads and other worthwhile projects. Perhaps, he should devote some of his considerable efforts to explaining why he and his UDP colleagues misspent so many millions of dollars of the country's money during their brief term in office.

        In his various Reports the Auditor General spelled out in considerable detail evidence of the gross maladminstration of Hon. McKeeva Bush and his UDP colleagues. While it is not possible in this statement to detail each of them, the following provide some alarming examples:

         

         

        1. In the case of the insurance settlement negotiated by Mr. Bush with Cayman General in the aftermath of hurricane Ivan, Mr. Bush compromised the Government claim of CI$108M for $70M and then agreed that the Government would accept $50M in cash and the remainder in a 24% shareholding in Cayman General. The Auditor General concluded his report on that transaction with the following words: "Given that the Government had given up a consideration of between $20 million and $58 million, it is my opinion that the Government did not receive value for money in this transaction. It gave up its rights to considerable additional consideration (between $20 million and $58 million) and received in return shares that were worth less than $3M in the fall of 2005."

          • In relation to the Royal Watler Cruise terminal Project, the Auditor General concluded: "I believe the Project could have been completed for at least $4.2 million less than the final project amount, which is estimated to be $18.5 million when completed. . .it is the opinion of the Audit Office that value for money has not been obtained via the procurement procedures. We stress that in our opinion, a failed attempt at tendering contributed significantly to the overcharges. Given the size of the contract, it seems impossible to escape the conclusion that value for this project was not obtained in the awarding of these contracts."
          • In the case of the Boatswain's Beach report, the Auditor General stated that: "So in the final analysis, of the $2.8 million relating to the financing of the Turtle Farm, I believe that over $1.65 million was of little value to the residents of the Cayman Islands."
          • In the case of the Affordable Housing Initiative, the Auditor General again found gross maladministration, particularly on the part of the minister responsible. He said: "In my opinion the unilateral decision to award the contracts to Staunch Limited by the former Minister who was also the Chairman of the NHCDT at that point in time, was inappropriate and not consistent with the matter that custodians of public funds should discharge their duty."

         

        It must be pointed out, particularly in light of the Hon. McKeeva Bush's recent attempt to defend his stewardship and to distance himself from the Boatswains Beach fiasco by blaming the Board, that in each and every case mentioned above, Mr. Bush or one of his ministers was in the driving seat during the decision making process which led to the results complained about by the Auditor General. This was so because, in breach of acceptable principles of good governance, Mr. Bush and most of his ministers insisted on chairing the Boards or statutory authorities and government owned companies for which they had constitutional responsibility. Thus at all material times, Dr. Frank McField chaired the Board of the National Housing and Community Development Trust which had responsibility for the Affordable Housing Initiative and the Hon. McKeeva Bush chaired both the Turtle Farm Board which had responsibility for the Boatswain's Beach project and the Port Authority Board which had responsibility for the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal project. It is disingenuous therefore for Mr. Bush to suggest as he has that the Boards, not him, are responsible for the mismanagement and maladministration of the various projects. By virtue of their offices and by sheer force of character, both Dr. McField and the Hon. McKeeva Bush drove the decisions of the Boards which they chaired and, indeed, as the Auditor General has found, at times even made decisions independently of the Boards.

      • Anonymous says:

        CNS

        This has to be reprinted on line for everyone to read and to be reminded.

        This is beyond deja vu, it's simply history repeating itself….over and over and over again.

        There are checks in place but no means of enforcement.

        Obviously it's time for a change.

    • Anonymous says:

      Stop pointing fingers and just fix it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I choose to respond to only a single point in your smear diatribe – "As a matter of fact the PPM's leadership has contributed greatly to the granting of 4000 status holders as they presented their list of their friends  to the L.A.  at the time the Cayman status was granted in 2004".

      Seeing as the UDP grants were done in 2003, even your smear campaign lacks credibility. Also I don't recall these grants being presented to the L.A., so again you lose credibility.

      I have yet to see a such a list from a PPM member but we have seen them from UDP members. If such a document existed, I am confident that the UDP masters would have ensured that it fell into the public domain a long time ago.

    • Anonymous says:

      The blame game rhetoric from the UDP has now reached disgusting proportions.

      "…the country and the entire Caribbean region was worried sick of the financial state of  the Cayman Islands; when the UDP took over the reins in 2009".

      The non-politically affiliated among us have never been more concerned about the financial state of the Cayman Islands than we are now. The UDP government has made the situation worse rather than better. No commendation is in order for a premier/minister of finance who undertakes to do a job, fails miserably and spends the entire term blaming everyone else for his failures and for the worsening state of the country's finances. From the Cohen fiasco to the GLF payout to the potential damages to Tom Jones International the UDP government has wasted this country's money at every opportunity and is no position to try to erect any platform of fiscal prudence. Premier Bush and his supporters need to stop blaming the PPM for the sins of Premier Bush and the UDP. The failure to present a budget is a failure of Mr. Bush as Minister of Finance. It has nothing to do with the PPM or its 2008-2009 budget. 

      I listened to Minister Scotland on the radio the other day who suggested that if the UDP were at fault it was only because they were overly optimistic about the revenue that would be generated. Clearly, the PPM could equally make such a statement. They only spent on schools, roads and a government administration buidling because they were overly optimistic about the revenue that would be generated. If the PPM were incompetent (and they were obviously naive) then the UDP is even more so since we are clearly in the middle of a recession. You are dreaming if you think the the UDP has not lost support from Independents and supporters.   

      Stop blaming others for your failures and your egregious conduct. No one else is to blame for 3,000 (not sure why you say 4,000) status grants than the previous UDP government. Saying to the public that the PPM were responsible because they presented lists of their friends is like a manager saying to the owner of a business that he was forced to employ 10 people for the same position because 10 people applied for the job and he didn't bother to apply any criteria to select one. You insult our intelligence by such a ridiculous argument. 

      It is not the job of the opposition to have a plan; that is the job of the government of the day. It is they whom you must blame for the lack of a plan. Obviously in the run up to the elections we expect anyone vying for office, including the PPM, to present a national development plan but that is not an excuse for the failures of the UDP while in office.    

    • Anonymousey says:

      8:29 you sound just like McKeewa, you live in the past and are continuying playing Politriks. Ok error were made in the past BUT 3 years and knocking everyone he can and the name blaming game to each and everyone including us the people. I am certain that the large majority now want him to resign, have no vote and most importantly keep his mouth shut. We are sick and tired of fealing nauseated EVERYDAY and more and more stressed out. Many countries who had similar rulers then ours, never ended peacefully and at the detriment of the people. No excuse here, get out of the box and take another look or you're reading a different site. Face the facts and accept them. It is what it is !!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes the premier has indeed put his reputation on the line, perhaps even below it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Would you mind telling us how much you got paid to write such an awful load of pure unadulterated crap?

    • Anonymous says:

      When do you plan to open that appliance store?

    • Anonymous says:

      "the entire Caribbean region was worried sick of the financial state of  the Cayman Islands" Man, you really need to drop those McKeeva School of Politricks classes, no matter how much you are being paid to attend them.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Is the Finance Ministers name a secret? What is it?