UK expert offers insight into Cayman budget

| 17/07/2012

math2.jpg(CNS): A UK economics expert has been offering advice to senior civil servants this month in the wake of government’s failure to produce a budget for the next financial year. According to the latest minutes from the Deputy Governor’s Office, Richard Holmwood, Economic Advisor in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, spoke briefly to chief officers during a meeting on 7 July about the Cayman Islands government’s 2012/13 budget and the expectations of the FCO. The minutes show that during the meeting, public sector bosses also discussed cutting official travel in an effort to reduce operating expenditures and help government balance the books and gain UK approval.

The deputy governor’s regular meeting with public service bosses was focused heavily on the current work to pull together a government spending plan for 2012/13. According to the minutes, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson thanked members of the Expenditure Review Committee for their hard work. The committee was established to give ministers advice on cost saving measures that will allow the government to present credible and sustainable budget.

The chief officers also discussed potential cost saving initiatives, including a reduction in official travel and the use of government vehicles. The civil service bosses will be reviewing all proposed official travel and consider whether it is necessary and what benefits it will have to the organization, the minutes show. The discussion resulted in a decision on the Portfolio of the Civil Service drafting an official policy on travel.

The deputy governor also requested that the policy governing the use of government vehicles be reviewed to determine if there are any costs saving opportunities and that chief officers need to consider additional initiatives and share their suggestions with him.

As government continues to grapple with ways of reducing its operating costs, Manderson revealed that the budget for the next financial year is to be approved by early August and he indicated that all chief officers must be available for Finance Committee around this time.

Following Premier McKeeva Bush's failure to provide a budget before the end of the 2011/12 financial year for the UDP government’s final year in office for this term, he was forced to bring a motion to the Legislative Assembly asking for approval for a stop-gap emergency two month spending plan.

Bush, who is responsible for producing the budget in his role as minister of finance, was criticised widely for the considerable amount of travel he did during the lead-up to thetime when the budget needed to be completed and approved by the UK.

In the end the government’s proposed spending plans for 2012/13, which was a deficit budget that included an overdraft facility and new long term borrowing, was rejected by the FCO. The UK had made it clear that the CIG should not engage in any new borrowing and should, by this financial year, be showing a surplus.

Because the budget was forwarded to the UK at the eleventh hour, Bush ran out of time to review the spending plans to meet with the FCO’s approval before the year end.

Government was forced to ask for an interim spending plan of $127 million, which was voted in the Legislative Assembly in the last week of June without any scrutiny by legislators.

See the minutes from the deputy governor’s latest meeting below.

Category: Politics

Comments (36)

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  1. NeoSurvivor says:

    I think we need ALL the trained help we can get.    As it stands, it seems like our current "budget" is a lot like this cartoon:

    http://people.tribe.net/do-not-use/photos/4ffe00ef-881b-44e9-ae56-ccc7a8a8d7f5

     

  2. Stunned says:

    Once the Financial Secretary caved to political interference from PPM that was the final nail in our coffin because Mckeeva ran with that and had an "excuse" for his slackness!! How shameful 3 years later he is still singing the same tune that it was PPM fault despite him wantonly and flagrantly spending public funds!! There is zero integrity to the numbers. All I know is that we are BROKE no idea how much but we are broke, that is clear!!!!

    It is simple we cannot continue to spend more than we earn. What is needed is a strong political will to do what is best for the country and not simply appease the public to ensure that you are reelected.

    Drastic measures are needed if not we WILL incur some form of tax!! It is that simple!

    Civil Servants have to start by paying a portion of their pension and health insurance costs. That's a no brainer and I mean across the Board everyone from Judges to garbage collectors. It is hard but those of us in the private sector had to suck it up and deal with it. It is what it is when faced with no income or less income one quickly learns to adapt!!!!!

     

  3. Anonymous says:

    it would be surprising to all i am sure to see what Mac + UDP racked up in travel costs alone..

  4. Anonymous says:

    You have some people who will simply not accept that McKeeva Bush appointing himself as finance minister was just to have one last jolly at Caymanians' expense…for him and his cronies….and to make sure he and his can retire in wealth and comfort.

    You can't put the cat to guard the milk jug…you'll have no milk left, soon enough.

    Surely McKeeva Bush understands that this should be his last term in power in Cayman.

    If Cayman's voters do not understand it and continue to vote him into power….

    Then, as far as I'm concerned, they deserve whatever they get from him.

    He's certainly got them good and proper this time; that's for sure !

  5. Anonymus says:

    Once again the UK who, like the rest of the EU, love to offer 'technical advice' have missed the point. The problem isn't a technical ability to put a budget together, its a political one to accept a budget that balances. Without loans that is.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mmm. I think you may have missed the point. Do you really think the UK sent him only in a technical advisory role? They know Mac is trying to pull the wool over their eyes. 

      • Anonymouse says:

        Mmm, I'm not sure you read who the article said he was talking to. Or do you know something thats not in the press? Or are you just convinced that the UK is allways right and so they must be talking to the right people even if we don't have any evidence of it?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Actually I'm not sure at all that 'cutting official travel' (grounding McKeeva) is such a good thing for this country. Are you sure that's the best you can do, Guys?

  7. anonymous says:

    Does the include MacTraveller's travel?

  8. LCB says:

    Congrats PPM

    The UK has Cayman where it wanted us. We need a crony in the UK to tell us what to do with our budget.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank God we have the UK's help. Obviously this lot is completely incompetent to get the job done.

    • Anonymous (not verified) says:

      LCB I think a little research of healthcare, education, social services and unemployment costs will demonstrate that budget shortfalls are much more associated with the UDP’s former attempts at securing votes (Cabinet status grants) also resulting in the mass importation of poverty through lack of checks and balances than anu exhuberant spending by the PPM which has in any event been continued by the UDP. Your gratitude should be expressed to the UDP.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman is where it put itself!

      Obviously we do need a 'crony' from the UK to show us how to do a budget!

      Neither political party or finance people in the service are capable….or maybe just 'unable' to count where all the money has gone……

       

       

    • Anonymous says:

      I am failing to see how ALL of this can be blamed on the PPM.  (Just for the record I am NOT a supporter of either party.)  Mr. Bush has been the Minister of Finance for the last 3 years.  Regardless of what situation he found when he took office he OBVIOUSLY has done nothing to rectify that situation, but instead, has in fact made a bad situation WORSE with mismangement of funds.  When you have been in charge for 3 years and you are now  unable to produce a budget for your country there is NO ONE else to blame but yourself.

      Example:  There IS no budget.  He has obtained an interim budget on which to run the country.  But he is now spending / has spent $100,000 running a campaign against the referendum.  How is this feasible, how is this sensible? 

      Did they really need someone from the UK to come here and tell them that they need to cut overseas travel budget?  I mean really now????

      • jsftbhaedrg says:

        UDP and its supporters will still be blaming the PPM in 50yrs, its the only ga,e they can play and are good at in the sand pit.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you considered the alternative, a McKeeva re-election budget with no oversight?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Yet again, Ken Jefferson is absent from this meeting ( and this one was about financial matters!). Why?

    • Anonymous says:

      Deputy Governor Franz Manderson seems to be getting it together, only one.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Cutting official travel and limiting the use of government vehicles is a worthy and valid thing to do  but as far as real cost savings are concerned, it is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and asking the band to play a different tune. The real outflow of money on civil service costs is caused by the pension and health care benefits, paid for ENTIRELY by government with NO contribution by the employees. Short version of what I have just written: read the Miller report.

    • Anonymouse says:

      Thats a lie. Look at any Civil Service paycheque and you will see that they pay half of their pension, just like everyone else.

      • Anonymous says:

        12:45. I am afraid YOU are the liar. Civil servants have NO, NADA, ZILCH ,ZERO money taken out of their take home pay to contribute to their pension. It is what is called "a non contributory pension scheme". That statement on the pay slip was put there many years ago (in the eighties I believe) to reflect the fact that GOVERNMENT had paid a certain sum into the pension fund ON THE EMPLOYEE"S BEHALF. It is astonishing how people like you still keep coming up with this nonsense, despite the number of times government officials confirm that what I am saying is true. Put another SIMPLER way for you. If you apply for and get a civil service job paying $4000 a month, you receive as take home pay the entire $4000. There is NOTHING taken out of it (as happens in the private sector).

        • Anonymous says:

          True? I'm applying tomorrow!

          • Anonymous says:

            You have too much initiative and respond too quickly. There is no place in our overpaid, bloated civil service for you.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, 15:13, that is true. Good luck with your application.

        • Anon says:

          You mean there are CS's who don't even know how their take home pay compares to their salaries?

          • Anonymous says:

            If the trend continues I can only see job cuts and decrease in salaries.  My concern lies with the finances of this country.  We are spending more money than we make and our revenue streams are almost dry.

        • Anonymous says:

          Anon 12:45 and 13:51 you are both wrong and right.

          There are departments within Government that has the CS pay some of their pension/Healthcare.

          But AI do believe that this needs to be resolved as it makes the CS staff look bad.

          Of course generally the CS are underpaid.

          What are you going to do about that?

          And please dont bring up discussion about the politicians and chief officers.

          If you want to play that game then you really need to look at the top levels of the banking sector to compare salaries.

          • Anonymous says:

            16:55, I am 13:51 and I am sorry to say you are completely misguided when you write "there are departments within Government that has the CS pay some of their pension/health care."

            Government is divided into "civil servants" and "public servants". Public servants work in the statutory authorities such as Health Services Authority, Maritime Authority, Civil Aviation, Pensions Board, Water Authority, Roads Authority, etc etc. These are 'government departments" because they could not exist without government funding and regulating them but THEIR EMPLOYEES ARE NOT CIVIL SERVANTS. And yes, I gather some of these NON civil servants have to pay part of their pension and health care (it is often pointed out that their salaries are significantly higher than civil servants' salaries but this usually only applies to the "top boys and girls"). The rest of "government" – most of the departments everyone knows about – are CIVIL SERVANTS and they DO NOT pay a contribution to their health or pension benefits. If you are still confused about this, i suggest you contact the Chief Officer of the Portfolio of the Civil Service, Mrs Gloria McField -Nixon, who will be able to assist you with understanding all this.

            • Anonymous says:

              Anon 1950 I have no problem with what you are saying. And it is the authorities that have in some cases paid for their employees.

              Whther you called them Government or not those authorities are.

              Either way it is safe to agreewith you in saying that just about all employees of mainstream Government and its authorities have their pension and health insurrace paid for them.

               

               

        • Anonymuse says:

          Not true. They'll advertise it for $4,000 and then deduct the pension from that $4,000 before it goes in to your bank account. Don't believe me? Go get a Civil Service job. I dare you.

          • Anonymous says:

            But I AM a civil servant "anonymuse" 8:54 and have been one for many years and you are completely and utterly WRONG!!! It's unbelievable – and depressing — that people like you still think this way in the face of proven and proveable facts.

          • Anonymous says:

            I was a civil servant for quite a few years.  What you describe never happened.  Government paid the civil servants contribution and the "matching" dollars as well.  You do not know what you are talking about.

             

      • Anonymous says:

        You are wrong.  I guess that makes you the liar.

         

    • Slowpoke says:

      Miller-Shaw with their predetermind Reaganomic approach, totally missed the boat when it comes to the healthcare issue.  The real solution to significant savings and ensuring that everyone is porperly protected, would have been to have single payer, for the public and private sector.  We are using the worst possible system.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree 15:17 – I would prefer an NHS as in the UK but that is a completely different matter.   Miller-Shaw were reporting within the parameters of the system we have now and commenting on the civil service costs accruing from its non contributory nature within that system.