Government quiet on finances

| 07/01/2010

(CNS): Despite attempts to find out exactly how government revenue and expenditure is going after the first six months of the 09/10 fiscal year, CNS has learned that the only documentation regarding the overall financial situation is Cabinet notes — not covered under Freedom of Information. During the last session of the Legislative Assembly the government said it would not be revealing the financial progress until later this year, allowing the new fee increases time to take effect. However, there has been mounting speculation in recent weeks that revenue is considerably less than anticipated and that government spending is on the increase.

Although duties have been increased, according to the collector of customs revenue from imports is already down some 15% during the first half of the financial year, and revenue from work permits is also said to be down considerably. Expectations raised by the 2009/10 budget predictions on other coercive revenue sources, especially in the financial sector, may not be met either.

With government annual accounts still some five years behind, in order for the CFOs to catch up the auditor general has confirmed that government departments have suspended their quarterly reports.

That information would have given a relatively accurate indication of the money coming into government coffers and the money going out, which would also have been accessible to the people under the FOI.

However, although government itself is informed on a monthly basis through the cabinet notes compiled by staff in the treasury, this information is not available in the wider public domain as all cabinet papers are exempt and there is no way to confirm how close government is to achieving its very finely balanced budget.

Opposition members pressed government to reveal the current situation with regard to its financial circumstances before the Legislative Assembly adjourned for the Christmas break to no avail. Speaking to CNS on Wednesday, opposition member Alden McLaughlin said he was concerned that the government seemed less than willing to reveal the financial details of the first six months, particularly given the limited room for error in its first budget.

“The refusal of government to reveal the current financial position is an ominous sign,” said McLaughlin. “Either they don’t know what the position is or it is so bad that they are not willing to reveal in the hope that New Year fee increases will turn it around.”

While government collects a significant part of its annual earnings in January form the offshore sector, duty collection and work permit fees also make a significant contribution to the treasury and those are collected year round. Government has announced plans for significant hikes in the work permit fees, though the date of the implementation of the new fees and the schedule of increases has not yet been revealed.    

Faced with significant financial difficulties when the UDP administration took office, the government chose to increase fees and government earnings in an effort to reduce the $80 million plus deficit to zero and avoid the problem of seeking approval from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office for anything more than essential borrowing. As a result, if the government fails to balance the budget at the end of June 2010 it will have to go back to London for permission to increase that borrowing.

It is very likely that if government is placed in that position the UK will only permit the borrowing on the condition that the Cayman Islands introduces some form  of direct taxation, a proposition that Premier McKeeva Bush has vowed to avoid.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If a private business does not pay pension funds than it is takend to court and fined and or someone goes to jail.  This is called justice.  It is called this because it is infered that a company should be run in such a manner that its people are payed what is owed to them for work done. If a company (big or small) does not bring in enough to pay its employees it fails.  And it should!

      When (not it) the Cayman goverment does the same thing its called?  No fine, no going to jail because?  When(not if) the goverment does not bring in enough to pay its employees it steals from the people to try to get more.   This is still a failure of Goverment.  When(not if) it shows that stealing from the public to pay the goverment still doesn’t work the obviouse thing that will happen is that the U.K. will step in and do the right thing for Cayman. (Not just those who belive they are royalty.) All of those who are now getting payed to do little or nothing will cry out loudly. All those who are now paying the bills for them will have more of their own money to spend on themselves and their families.  You can’t please everyone but who should be pleased?

      When (not if) the information about the Goverment finances comes out (They can’t with hold it forever) What will the people of Cayman do?

    A,  Basically Nothing as usual and let their Gloriously incompetent and corrupt leaders talk their way in to more of the same.

    B. Let the U.K. in to do what voted in Cayman leaders could not.(cut the massive spending and looting of Cayman islands funds).

    Or? is there a C?

     

    • StillgoingStrong says:

      There is a C

      But people (from both UK and Cayman) wouldn’t like it

    • Anonymous says:

      "What goes around comes around"

      "Spit in the sky & it will fall in ya eye"

      hahahahaha! the UDP feeling it now! They loved to talk & criticize when they was out & looking in, but now they cannot handle it! hahahaha! Poor tings, they out of their league while the country falls apart! What’s next? Just wait & see! It don’t look good! hahahaha "dat wha ya get"

  2. Peter Milburn says:

    To anonymous.

              I should have clarified my remarks earlier.I was not trying to privatise the civil service per sey but thought that we should seriously look into doing away with (1)Boatswain Beach.(2)Pedro Castle(3)Garbage collection and the dump(4)Water Authority(5)Cayman Airways(on the fence with this one but it should be looked at very closely)

                Our Govt.is trying to do too much and not concentrating on the more urgent things ie.Schools,Hospital(privatise this one????)Not too sure how all this could be done but something has to give sooner rather than later and we must get on with things(Govt wise)and stop wasting time.This is something that we do not have.The so called review that is being done?is a joke if indeed they are conducting this on themselves as reported some time back.We MUST cut back on this arm of Govt somehow,somewhere hence my thoughts on privatising.

  3. Nathan Jones says:

    Mr. Watler and Mr. Miller are the two biggest threats to Cayman’s future right now.

  4. Joe Grinder says:

    Giving power and money to goverment is like giving rum and car keys to a teenage boys.

  5. Scrooge McDuck says:

    This indicates one of two things:

    Either tings is

    Terribly bad

    Or terribly awful.

    With prudent management it could just be terribly bad.  We have to be optimistic.  Last fall we were told it was terribly awful.  Let’s give them a chance to turn tings around to terribly bad.

  6. Peter Milburn says:

    PRIVATISE AND TRIM THE CIVIL SERVICE  period!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!30 million CI$’s a month on salaries for these folks??????????????????????How more rediculous can we get here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Peter:

      The trouble is if privatisation was brought to bear on civil service departments-eg Public Works, Fire Dept, Post Office, Roads Authority-the first thing the new owners would do is slash the work force to get rid of those (Caymanians, I’m afraid) who are surplus to need and basically just getting a social payment for existing-they’re not actually doing any jobs. Imagine what would happen to the Brac where practically everyone has very little productive work to do. Our civil service in Cayman is to a significant extent a social employer-that may not be a bad thing but let us accept it for what it is and stop trying to pretend that -eg- our firemen are always stressed out putting out dangerous fires.

      • StillgoingStrong says:

        Listen

        We need to protect Caymanians

        But at the same time, we need to reduce the size of government

        So… how do you do this?

        Simple… regulate and enforces laws to protect the environement, employees and consumers from harm

        Keeping a big government will only give the UK more reason to push us towards taxing everyone, which is not right!

        We have prospered with taking any monies from our customers and banking clients – Why should we start now??? 

        Peace

    • Anonymous says:

      Could McKeeva Bush and the UDP please let the people of The Cayman Islands know who paid the travel expenses (airline and 1st class Hotel) for the Government members who travelled to India to visit Dr. Shetty. This proposed project is a PRIVATE enterprise but the CITN news showed Bush, Glidden and Scotland along with one of the local businessman that will be financing this venture. 1st of all, there was no reason why Government members should be travelling to set up a private project but if they decided to travel it should be done at their own expense and not Governments, but if the Premier expects that we, the people of The Cayman Islands has to pay for his private housekeeper/cook along with everything else he wants, well I suppose he expects us to pay for his and his friends to "holiday" in India! Peoples, get use to this as this is what we are going to get for another 3 years & 5 months, UNLESS we stand up to this man and his cronies and put a stop to all this wasteful spending!

      • Che G says:

        You and your children and maybe even your childrens children have payed for it all.  Hopefully when they all get back they will have the time to come to your house and thankyou before they have to leave again on their next "project".

    • slowpoke says:

       

      I am not opposed to reducing the civil service.  But, all these "cut/trim" comments are so vague – if this is such a great idea where do you want to make these cuts?  Be specific.  Cut teachers, ambulance drivers, police, trash collectors….?

      Also, if the private sector is always so wonderful, how do you account for the fact that they created the financial crisis that is the root cause of our problems in the first place? Where did the private sector run to when they needed bailouts?

      • StillgoingStrong says:

        Slowpoke

        Indeed, certain antitrust laws should be enforced to protect the people from harm, and "harm" only… Government should be against all injustices against the consumer and employees of the private sector, but should allow the market to BE as much as possible. That is why the United States became a prosperous nation, because of a strong and free market.
        You may disagree with me, but the primary cause of the Global Recession was GREED (human nature), lurking within the private sector and the United States’ government. So this mess wasn’t just a private sector thing! If the U.S. government had not interfered with the free market in legislating unnecessary regulations, bailouts, and imposing taxes on businesses and people, do you think that we would have so much trouble with tax-avoidance, commercial deceptions, embezzlements, and companies “walking over people,” trying the beat the U.S. system. My friend, it is not only the private sector, it is the problem with big government with its many regulations and laws, which restrict people’s liberties. It is government, interfering or getting involved TOO MUCH with the free market. 
        Now let’s consider the Cayman Islands – Home!
        To trim the Caymanian government and shrink its size was the best option the UDP had on the table to satisfy the UK’s demands, which is either we balance the budget or go the way of taxation to sustain ourselves. But unfortunately (human nature), certain members of the UDP, I sincerely believed, wanted to secure their reputation and loyal followers. Hence, the UDP government came up with increasing fees and duties upon the Caymanian people as a solution to balance the budget and satisfy the UK.
        I believe that is why they don’t want the budget disclosed to the public as yet – in order to avoid constructive criticism. If this is the case, this is a very sad dilemma for the people of these Islands. As well, I don’t expect any better from the PPM side.
        I say, a cry is in the wilderness for an Independent Party to set things straight!
      • Anonymous says:

        Umm, no why would we cut frontline services? The civil service is massively bloated with civil servant pen pushers most of whom are lazy and stuck in their ways because they know they won’t get fired.

        We could cut a third of the admin staff and there’d still be enough to do the job. Of course government won’t because they either cut the expats who do the majority of the work, or they cut out the potential voters.

      • your an idiot! says:

        Boy if you don’t already work for the civil service you definitely got what it takes and don’t have what they don’t want.  Tell your uncle you want a job.

      • Anonymous says:

        I cannot argue with you but only because I do not have time to teach a course in economics and common sense.

        Knowing what and who to cut is easy.

        Attach garbage fees to utility bills, no need to have massive billing and collection teams (or offices, or computers, or electricity) at DOEH.

        Allow (and eventually even mandate) online and credit card payments of all Government bills and fees, no need to have massive billing and collection teams, and accouting, and receipt writing, and auditing, a paper shuffling, and slip filling, and cheque depositing teams (or offices, or computers, or electricity)  at pretty much every Government department.

        Imagine an automated direct debit scheme at Immigration re work permit renewals, by way of example.

        Imagine electronic issuance of traffic tickets and work permits.

        There, budget problem solved instantly.

        Anyone capable of smiling can get a job in a hotel or elsewhere.

        Everyone wins. 

         

         

         

  7. Anonymous says:

    last years budget was a smoke and mirrors sham job, where the government avoided any hard decisions like reducing the civil service…. what in store next year??… increase durties and work permit fees AGAIN so we all subsidise the wastage of the civil service even more?????

  8. PPM says:

    The PPM need to operate under the same rules they set for others. The UDP now has to manage this mess, and the PPM need to be thankful for once that our problems are being solved by a capable Government. They need to look and learn!

     

    • Anonymous says:

      If your name is not mckeeva Bush then you are someone very closely associated with him! I’m talking to you Anon 13:12! Up until now I only knew of Mckeeva Bush twisting facts to suit himself, but if you are in fact NOT mckeeva Bush, well then you are just like him, & I feel sorry for you & I offer you my condolences!

      The UDP have been in government for 7 months now & they are hiding the country’s true financial figures from us, after having spent the last 4 years complaining & accusing the PPM of doing the very same thing? If there is nothing to hide then the UDP should do as they preach & let the public see the figures. You all never cease to AMAZE me & the Cayman people! CNS is reporting that the UDP government is spending more than they are making! WOW what a shock!! Bush is really AMAZING (in a BAD way), because he has told the whole world that we are bankrupt, yet he & his cronies continue to spend like there is no tomorrow (sorry, my apologies, I can’t include his cronies, those wimps, because they have NO SAY!). Mckeeva Bush says that we are bankrupt, but it is funny how the UDP can find jobs & projects for their associates, close supporters & themselves. The UDP government must make public the financial figures. If they felt so strongly that the PPM should do so, then it goes without saying that they MUST do the same, unless of course, as I suspect, there is plenty to hide! I think the Cayman peoplewill be SHOCKED when the truth of their spending (on what & where) is revealed. IT SHALL ALL BE REVEALED IN TIME! The Udp should be ASHAMED of themselves, but it’s nothing new for them!

  9. Cut the civil service says:

    It was obvious that tax hikes would not bring in enough money.  Slash the bloated civil service now, or the FCO will coming a-knocking.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Who is the criminals?  Those who steal from gas stations and liquor stores with a gun  or those who steal from the people in offices payed for by the people.  Who is more the crook?  The ones who get $100 or the ones who get millions?  The Goverment of Cayman islands is stealing millions of dollars every year and no one can do anything about it. They are not even getting investigated.  Think about it! Why are they doing it?  Because they can!  If they are not then where is the invoices proving it?  How many years back do they go? Who is responsible?  No one?  Bush? Cayman has been a banana republic for years and no one knew.  Someday soon the people of Cayman will end up paying paying the bill for the few "leaders".  O wait. Its already started.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Is anybody surprised?????  Come on let us be real.  If the news was good, Government would be broadcasting it!  The bigshot, bureaucrats in Government are going to try and hide as much as they legally can – it is not their intent to be forthright with the public to let them know the real situation. (hey this is one of the FOI loopholes – just goes to show that the Government is going what it wants to do and when it wants to).

    This writer does believe that the budget projections and expected revenue will not be anywhere close (25-33% lower) to what the public has been lead to believe.  Core Government spending will continue to be a problem, as many of the services offered by Government would be run more efficiently if it was run by private businesses. 

    It is unfortunate that 2010 will be a year that the Cayman Islands feels the full effects of the Global Economic Crisis and Poor Fiscal Management policies by both the previous and current Governments.  The private sector has stood up to be a proactive part of the economic recovery process. 

    Our Government spending needs its own Gastric Bypass surgery – Government could be trimmed down and therefore it would take less to maintain.

    Sign Me,

    Gastric Bypass Helped our Premier, now let it Help all of us who call the Cayman Islands Home (and avoid any form of Direct Taxation).

    • StillgoingStrong says:

      lol

      In order to maintain a FAT government… tis why we have these high duties and fees…

  12. Lachlan MacTavish says:

     Duties 2% up……revenue collected 15% down….civil service the same….stay over tourism/ cruise down….financial ser fees probably down….capital expenditures still on stream……The challenges Cayman is facing are about to double when everything catches up to us. The UK are going to put the brakes on….then world confidence in Cayman will change….with tourism sliding where will the revenue come from …..

    • StillgoingStrong says:

      I dread the day when the UK will have rule over us and take away our personal freedoms (that’s if we don’t wake up, balance budget, and clean house)

      Please don’t see the UK as our saviour; our only help would be governing ourselves aright!

      WE NEED AN INDEPENDENT PARTY IN THE HOUSE… not UDP and PPM

  13. Anonymous says:

    The Govt. should attempt to reduce the cost of living in this country.  THere are too many businesses and entities whom refuse to reduce their bottom lines, and the only solution and advice they can give to the Govt is to increase taxes, so they can maintain their lifestyles.

    I have to wonder why is it that Caviar and Champagne are duty free!! Yet bread, eggs and now dairy is being taxed.  I find it hard to believe that the majority of the people in this country live on Caviar and Champagne, that is a wealthy man’s food. 

    It really blows my mind about the new tax increases.  If our representatives would do the opposite, reduce fees, and cost of living and force the business enttities to reduce their bottom lines, then the majority of the people in this country would have more disposable income and spending would be up and everyone would make money.

    The representatives have also not said anything about reducing their salaries, the private sector is reducing salaries in order notto layoff their employees, the Govt. should do the same.  Forego all the additional spending for now until we can get caught up.  THis means doing away with all the extra luxuries and only dwell on the necessities.

    The schools need to be built  to accommodate the increase in children.  However, the children are in schools now, they are being housed, lets take our time and finish the school in George Town and then work on the other one in Frank Sound, but lets take it slowly and finish it right and cut out he extras.  I would like to see some downsizing of the finish work, and outfittings because I personally can’t find justification in such an expensive kitchen.  When I attend CIHS back in the day we had some great cooks teaching us and we all learnt how to cook in small but organized kitchens.

    The people of this country is being OVER-TAXED and this is certainly unnecessary, cut costs in other areas, and force businesses to reduce their prices.

    We are creating a socialist state if we continue on this path.  However, that may be intentional too so that the more reliant you are on the Govt. the more inclined they will be to retain their seats.  If that is where I want to live I will relocate to Cuba or China. 

     The Cayman Islands is being looked at now as if we are responsible for some of the global financial crashes.  That along with Pres. Obama threats during his campaigning, I can assure you from all of this the Cayman Islands is looked at as this bruised and battered nation.  Rightfully so, we are and at the hands of a joint association of elected officials, and the aggressive and irresponsible investors.

    We are in a sad state of affairs, and our current Govt. really and truly does not have a plan to resolve the major issues we are being faced with and the only solution so far is to increase taxes, whilst customer service is thrown out the window.

    I am thankful for that British Passport, in case I have to run when we are declared a socialist state.  I note our leader was in China recently looking monetary investments.  Why are we dealing with this country?  This is a country that oppresses it’s people, and the average persons annual income is less than a US$1000,  and creates toys for export to our children made with poisenous materials.  I can only ascertain from this venture that our leader is seeking to formulate a similar state of affairs for us in this country, which infact will give the leaders more power and greater control over the people’s free will.  I am hoping this is not the situation.

    Selling off the Govt. businesses is something that tells me our leaders plan for the future is to have as little responsibility for certain entities. If this is so, then will the Govt. reduce the cost of living in this country when their load is lighter? If the leaders of our country were to revamp the structure of the way the Govt. runs, and weed out the dead weights, and improve customer service, reduce the cost of doing business in the country, improve and make all depts. more efficient, we the people would feel better about our Govt.  Weed out those who have no foresight and are wasters including all the YES MEN sitting on the boards such as work permits etc…

    Lastly, we need to make everyone accountable for their actions in the Govt. depts. and make sure that they are held accountable when they make a mistake and waste our money. Find solutions, do not allow them to get buried or shelved.

  14. Anonymous says:

    All will be as nought unless the size of the civil service and the attendant expenditure on it is dealt with. Govenment needs to face up to Mr Watler and his civil service union or we are going to plunge even deeper into the financial doldrums. And "deal with" does not mean letting them review themselves, surely the most stupid decision made at the end of last year.

  15. livingcayman says:

    I say once again get rid of CFO’s they not obiviously able to help with the management of Government Funds and they cannot even produce annual government reports.

  16. Anonymous says:

    After four years of operating without financial statements the PPM is pressing to know the current financial status!

    What changed?

    • Anonymous says:

      Four years of UNAUDITED accounts. They knew the financial position, or at least thought they did, but like any government in power sought to project them in the most favourable light. Ken Jefferson was the key figure in the "I said" vs "they said" arguments on the true financial position before/during/after elections.

      It now remains to be seen what happens with the projections that Mac reported as given to him by Ken Jefferson. In this instance no news is unlikely to be good news, so I expect Big Mac will throw Ken to the wolves.

      • Sheep in wolf's clothing says:

        Me thinks the wolves are licking their lips right about now

      • Anonymous says:

        It is my very humble opinion that the only thing that can save Cayman at this time is if Ken throws Big Mac to the wolves!

    • Mr. Leroy himself. says:

      A yard fowl is known to crow less often than one in the street.

    • Anonymous says:

      After four years of demanding that the PPM "operate with financial statements" the UDP are now "operating without financial statements"!!!

      WHAT CHANGED?

      Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!! HYPOCRICY at it’s best, that’s the UDP!!!!