Private sector offers little for civil servants

| 12/03/2010

(CNS): Despite comments by the premier that government would be asking the private sector to support civil servants who are looking at salary cuts by offering them discounts, many of the entities cited by Bush say they are not in a position to offer discounts. Hurley’s Supermarket was the only grocery store that has publicly stated that it will offer the discount and HSBC said it would look to help with interest rates. Foster’s told CNS that they already cut discount to the wire in their stores and if they had the room for more they would offer it to everyone. CUC also said it did not have the room and neither of the water suppliers have made a decision.

In his address to the country on Monday evening before he went to the UK, McKeeva Bush said he was aware that the cuts would hurt and that he would be asking the private sector to help civil servants and the country by asking the supermarkets to give a 10% reduction on their groceries twice a month and for CUC and the water companies give 10% reductions on the monthly bills. Bush also said he would ask Cayman Airways to give 20% on needed travel, and the banks to cut interest. “Everyone needs to help at this time that is the way we can make some changes, Bush told the country.

However, Woody Foster of Foster’s Supermarket pointed out that the store was not in a position to meet the request. “If we had this extra margin we would have provided it long ago,” he told CNS. “We will continue to offer the best price that we can while offering the freshest quality and service. Wherever we can reduce we will continue to do so through aggressive specials and promotions along with everyday low prices.”

The Consolidated Water Company, which supplies water to the West Bay area of Grand Cayman, said it had not yet been approached by the premier asking for any kind of support for civil servants, but the firm would want to see the details of government’s proposal before commenting.  Gelia Frederick-van-Genderen said that the Water Authority did not have any information on the proposal and wouldn’t be able to comment.

Grand Cayman’s power company, CUC, also said that it was not in a position to offer the discount as it did not have the financial resources or margins to grant any further rate reductions following the rate freeze that was in place from 2002 and the rate reductions given in January 2008.

Meanwhile, Johnathan Tibbetts at the Cayman Brac Power and Light Company told CNS that while the firm was not offering a direct discount on bills, the firm’s pre-paid system could help all customers save. He explained that all customers who switch automatically get a 3% discount but the savings can be as much as $30%. Tibbetts explained that the firm had received a number of calls recently from civil servants wanting to switch to the metered system, which he said really helps customers save on power bills as they can monitor their use of electricity much more effectively. “We encourage any civil servants who are concerned to contact us. Once they switch they will save money. We now have over 500 people on the pre-paid system and they have all saved money,” Tibbetts added.

CNS contacted a number of banks but most were not available for comment with regard to rate cuts. However we were able to reach HSBC, which said it would be willing to assist public sector workers.

"HSBC is committed to the Cayman Islands and fully understands the economic challenges faced by the country,” Chief Executive Officer, Gonzalo Jalles said. “Accordingly, through 30 June 2010, HSBC Cayman is willing to offer members of the Civil Service a discount below the weighted average lending rate in the Cayman Islands, to refinance mortgages or loans, on a case by case basis and subject to good credit history." Butterfield bank also issued a statement explaining its position.

“Butterfield is cognizant that a number of customers, across the entire customer base, have been adversely impacted by the effects of the current economic recession since onset in mid 2008,” the bank said. “At Butterfield we look at each situation on a case by case basis and work closely with our costumers to ensure their financial obligations are manageable.  We apply the same approach across our entire customer and employee base.  Also, it is important to note that interest rates are already at historic lows, both for borrowers and depositors.”  

CNS also contacted Cayman Airways but was unable to reach anyone able to comment.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This whole Discount Scheme of things for the Civil Service Union if fact persued would be discrimination against other Employees in the first place!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    The greatest failure is the not trying.  We must atleast give the Premier respect for trying to find a solution.  I have never believed in Party Politics and would therefore urge the Premier and all members of the LA to come together and work for the good of this country and  find solutions to our problems it’s not a "Party" problem it is a Cayman problem.

    To the business community I say shame on you to whom much is given much is expected.


  3. Anonymous says:

    I hope this is not a joke ? Looks like we have to pay a subsidy twice for inefficiency.

    Insteadof running the country’s affairs like a business, we have a request to subsidise their living agin.

    To the politicians, can you please politics behind and start looking after the country’s interest. Please be men enough to stand up and tell the civil service– soory guys, we cannot protect you much longer as the public has brought up the matter of efficiency and waste.

    Lastly, why not give the private sector a discount including work permitsetc on par with the civil service— Great idea

    Lastly, the civil service can start a printing  press department–  to print currency and pay themselves


  4. 0% off says:

    My business will not be offering any discounts.  What a ridiculous idea.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What about private sector workers??? The civil servants need to learn how to live on low wages like some people I know who earn $1,000 per month. These people do deserve to have discounts not luxury lifestylecivil servants.

    • noname says:

      you think just private sector people make 1,000 per month?  I started out with just 1,200.  I don’t make much more than that still.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Its funny – big Mac wants the water authority to cut its monthly bills to civil servants by 10% but then also cut their salaries too!!  Where’s the savings?

  7. Anonymous says:

    "“Accordingly, through 30 June 2010, HSBC Cayman is willing to offer members of the Civil Service a discount below the weighted average lending rate in the Cayman Islands, to refinance mortgages or loans, on a case by case basis and subject to good credit history."

    what does this mean? this sounds good – but arent they banks doing this already?

    • Fact Checker says:

      Yes. All banks, including but not limited to HSBC, allow people to refinance loans subject to their credit history and current circumstances, and the interest rate is always based on prime (currently 3.75%, the lowest it has been in donkey years). As prime is currently so low any loan/refinancing completed at this stage will necessarily be "below the weighted average lending rate in the Cayman Islands." HSBC’s statement is not a new deal for civil servants, it is their regular operating policy.

      In my opinion, HSBC just saw the opportunity to sound like they’re doing good things to potentially attract new customers. It would be like Hurley’s qualifying their civil servant discount by saying it would only apply on Wednesdays – everyone already gets 10% off on Wednesdays! Butterfield kept it real and I applaud them for that.

      Encouraging banks to give risky credit is a bad, bad idea, Mr. Bush. The banks here have always been responsibly accommodating and current conditions are excellent for borrowing and refinancing existing debt. Let the private sector do its job.

      • Anonymous says:

        I would respectfully disagree. HSBC’s statement of offer is as clear as Buuterfield’s; moreover, it must be pointed out that none of the other retail banks made a similar or anny response, apart from Butterfield/ HSBC.

        Lastly, any oppourtunity to the Caymanian public, who are generally financially naive, should be welcomed to enable families to perhaps consolidate loans and take alleviate some of the financial pressure. Kudos to both banks.

  8. Anonymous says:

    the mother of my children has been living in the cayman islands for 22 years, since she was a little girl, our children were born here, the other time when Mckeeva was elected, he was giving out status and she applied but for some reason her papers got misplaced, and her cousins who have only been the living here for about 11 years already got their status aswell as their cayman passport. she resubmitted her papers again in 2006, and still immigration hasn’t even started to deal with them, if there is an emergency like ivan again she wont be able to leave the island and very soon she’ll be having our third child. Why can’t things like this issue be resolve by the premier instead of trying to make hard for island.

    • frank rizzo says:

      Why can’t these issues be resolved bythe channels in place to deal with them and leave the Premier and MLA’s to get on with their appointed duties? MLA’s are not here to take care of our personal problems. For every person who runs to their MLA to have a personal problem resolved, CUC bill paid, driveway paved etc., there are probably hundreds more suffering equally. All the MLA has done is get one person out of their office and the problem still remains.

  9. Anonymous says:



    Many in the Private Sector, do not like Civil Servants. Many are even Anti-Caymanian!  You people need to wake up!

    Opps… I guess I will be getting alot of of thumbs downs on this one. :o)


    • Anonymous says:

      thank god for cns… at last expats have a voice….

    • Dj says:

      yup.  we are outnumbered. i know what you talkin about still. i just hope our politicians stay on our side, the people and not sell us over for money like Judas

      • Marco C. says:

        "we are outnumbered"

        How can you possibly say this ?  Look at the population statistics and face the fact that is is time for ‘Camanians’ to review all problems there and realize that one can not blame others for everything that is amiss on the islands. 

        It is time to eliminate the sense of entitlement that many there seem to demand and try to work with everyone there to improve conditions. If foreigners are causing problems then expel them from your islands and don’t allow them to return.

        Your banking revenue and offshore businesses have been badly damaged,  and with the incivility and apparently expanding crime you are likely to see losses in tourism adding to further  loss in revenue.

        It is time for everybody to pitch in and unite in working together to get through these bad times.

        Marco C.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Some-one really needs to get a clear message to our Premier that he needs to think before he speak, but then we have a problem cuz he can’t think so how is he gonna think before he speak.  He really need to just shut up n let Joke Joke speak for him. Ha! Ha! What a bunch we got elected to run our country. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    With respect, this was a stupid suggestion in the first place. Where does Mac come up with these ideas! What comes out of his mouth just blows my mind. For the sake of Cayman, I beg you Mac, please shut up.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I want to know why the Government thinks that we the people should pay for their mistakes?????????????

    Why don’t you get rid of your chauffers, cooks, maids etc and cut your salaries by 75%.  You can still live comfortably off the 25% just as we had had to do.

    Greediness choke puppy!!!!!


    • Anonymous says:

      It’s stupid remarks like this that burn me about the PPM.  Their blind followers forget that it was the PPM who implemented these perks for the Premier thinking Kurt would get in as Premier.  Especially those nice SUV’s that were already in place even before Mr. Bush got voted in.  Is that his fault too?  Would these stupid suggestions be made if Kurt was now in power?  I think not.  Stop with the sour grapes – it’s almost funny if it weren’t so ignorant and childish.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh you blind UDP followers! Talk about ignorant and childish and that’s starting from the top of the UDP right down to the last of the nitty gritty followers! It does not matter if the perks were in place, your Premier did not have to take advantage of them especially in these economic times – if hewanted to win some favour he would have rejected these ‘perks’ but no, he’s too caught up in himself to turn anything down! And by the way, I never once heard your Premier fighting against such ‘perks’ being put in place – not a word against them so really your suggestion that this was all PPM’s doing just does not hold any water – your Premier only had to say ‘NO’ and he did no such thing – far as I’m aware, silence equals approval.  Your Premier needs to stop singing the song of ‘victim’ – "oh, I did not want all this, but the PPM forced it on me" – makes him look like the village idiot.  And in case you did not know it, those nice SUV’s were NOT to be for everyday use by the Premier, as Mac would have you believe, they were ‘protocol’ vehicles, intended to be used only on specific offical occasions such as the LA opening ceremony, for visiting dignataries, etc etc……so get over it and accept that your Premier is full of hot air and only chasing after the highfalutin lifestyle of his other Caribbean corrupt buddies….accept it blind follower!

    • Welcome to the real world says:

      The rest of the world has being paying for their governments’ mistakes for years – it is called income tax.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Just goes to show that Bush nor the UDP have any concept of business in Cayman.

  14. Anonymous says:

    the civil service is already subsidised by every private worker in this country!

    the civil service is like a cancer that is eating this country alive… time for drastic measures

  15. Anonymous says:

    Good.  The private sector has been crippled by the same issues everyone else has, but have had the good sense to cut staff and expenditure,pay rises, and whatever else was necessary to keep going.  Why should they bail out an irresponsible government who do not have the financial prudence to do the same.

    In any event, even if the discounts had been granted, the companies would only look to set off that loss against their customers – yes you guessed it – us the people.  So as well as subsidising civil servants pensions and health insurance we would effectively be also subsidising all their ‘discounts’ too.

    • Anonymous says:

      And by cutting Caymanian jobs you, the private sector, is contributing heavily to the unemployment and growing crime problems here. Ever thought about that?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes.  Its a lame excuse.  Caymanians and ex pats alike are losing their jobs in the private sector, what makes you so special. 

        If the country goes broke because of the government/civil service greed, and everything caves in, the CI dollar ends up devalued, businesses pull out, then you, the civil servants, will be contributing heavily to the same unemployment and growing problems here.  Ever thought about that?

        A basic understanding of world economics would be of great benefit to you and your government.