Civil service to wield own axe

| 31/03/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News, Cayman finances(CNS): The country’s civil servants can breathe a sigh of relief over their pay packets until the end of this fiscal year but they are still facing a possible 8% cut in salaries and benefits in the next. A memo sent from the Deputy Governor’s Office to senior public sector staff yesterday has revealed that government may not be docking wages before 1 June but has left it up to the civil service itself to wield its own axe on human resource costs for 2010/11 by eight percent. Civil servants have been told they must reduce HR by $19,000,000 and they are to decide how those cuts will be made.

Donovan Ebanks (above) confirmed salaries would be safe until the end of this financial year as a result of dramatic operating cuts to the tune of some $49 million in 2009/10 expenditures, but next year would see some tough decisions.

According to the deputy governor’s memo, while public sector employees will hold on to their pay this fiscal year, the civil service has been given a set human resource target budget of $219,000,000 for the fiscal year 2010/11 — $19 million short of the expected HR needs.  The government has also mandated that the statutory authorities and government companies cut HR costs by 8%.

“Cabinet has not stated how these savings should be achieved but rather has challenged ministries, portfolios and SA&G-oCs to identify and implement solutions in preparation for the 2010/11 Budget,” Ebanks wrote in the circular.

He explained that decisions had been made over the last week between Cabinet and the UK to set budget targets below those that were submitted by the civil service previously for the 2010/11 fiscal year.  

He stated that this would mean that consideration would need to be given to a range of cost reducing options, including the reduction of staff, which would require further operational efficiencies. Ebanks also said HR policies would need to be revised to temporarily reduce allowances, introduce cost sharing for benefits, in particular health care, and temporary salary reductions unless savings could be achieved elsewhere.

The deputy governor confirmed that the current arrangement regarding pension contributions would not change as a result of work carried out to examine this option last year. However, he did say there could be a reduction in health care benefits but they would be done in consultation with stakeholders.

Following the work to reduce this year’s government expenditure by civil servants, Ebanks said the efforts were commendable, but despite the forecasted savings of almost $50 million, he warned that “due to the poor performance in revenue” the operational cuts may still not be enough to prevent cash flow problems in June 2010.

“The situation is being monitored closely and your continued efforts to restrain expenditures are vitally important,” Ebanks wrote.

Pointing out that these were extremely difficult times for the civil service, the deputy governor told public employees he appreciated their hard work in making the savings so far but it was not over yet.

“We must continue to strive for effective and sustainable ways to reduce our costs bringing them in line with prescribed targets,” he said. Ebanks noted that over the next three years the public sector costs had to come down through balanced measures and that the 2010/11 budget was the first step.

Although the memo lists the targets government has set for civil service spending, the memo gives no indications of policy changes or reductions to services which would be acceptable to the elected arm of government. Ebanks indicated that Cabinet has left the goal of cutting to the civil service itself.

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  1. Lev Itticus says:

    Mac prefers holding onto power to doing the right thing.  Cowardly.  The civil service needs to be slashed.  The benefits of those that remain needs to be slashed.

    Poor little Mac, scared of the nasty civil service unions are we?  You are all talk and no action.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ok CS the ball is in your court, show the government that  you are not the problem, rather the solution to the problem.  James L. Hayes said " An effective organization has a purpose that is shared by all its membes and to which they will willingly commit their efforts, people working together can do almost anything". Work together find the solution and shut up the critics once and for all. 

  3. Joe Mama says:

    Funny that so many can agree on the problem and fixes but those you have choosen to lead cannot.  Ask yourselves Why are YOUR leaders not listening to you?  There is a very simple answer.

    There is a very simple fix.  But that would require all of you to grow a set of balls and then do YOUR job.  Or maybe its not really YOUR house after all.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If Government is so broke, why is it everyday the Police Helicopter is circling McKeeva’s house in West Bay, as part of his security checks.  If he cares anything about saving Government money, he should start by cutting from his end. I don’t think he cares, afterall he is the Primer as the West Bayers calls him, so he is entitle to waste.  McKeeva has no rights to ask  the Government employees to save money, he needs to start by leading by example. Cut his expenses, cut his salary, cut his trips and cut his unnessary spending on his private and personal ventures.  He wants to live like the King, but he wants everyone else to live like paupers.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Donnie is a good guy but, like many of us, he sometimes appears too gullible. I trust that he will take off the blinders and not let this become another mess created by the golden boy in grooming.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Excellent research. But what relevance are the facts in this matter? Cayman, very unfortunately, is going to have to learn the hard way.  

  7. Joe Average says:

    To prevent my head from spinning further at this announcement, I had to refer back to the Miller Report for some figures:

    2009/10 CIG Budget stated Personnel Costs of CI 243 million.  This included wages.  When ongoing pension & health care benefits are added the total costs for the public sector would be 49.84% of anticipated revenue.

    Figure 2-6 of the report shows:

    GDP falling, Tourist spending falling, Cruise ship passenger numbers falling, Stay-over tourism falling.  And government personnel costs escalating out of sight.  On the same graph.

    Table 5-1 indicates:

    2009/10 Total Government Revenue projected at   CI 562 mil.

                    Total Government Expenditure at  CI 531 mil.

    Budgeted-for personnel costs as stated earlier were CI 243 mil. Which was 45.5 % of expenditure.

    The revenue was overstated, and as well 45.5% of expenditure for personnel costs is, as the report stated an unrealistic number.  And in a comparison shown in Fig. 5-1 much more than most developed countries have as a percentage of expenses.

    So, for the civil service to say it isn’t their numbers which are the problem but recent reduced revenue, is incorrect and misleading.

    As we can see from the information, in fact it is their numbers, wages, and benefits which are the problem.  And have been for a long, long time.

    How can we then expect them to come up with a workable solution when they have denied something so obvious??

    I’m not convinced they are aware.  This akin to asking bank robbers to turn themselves in.   It doesn’t often happen.


    • Anonymous says:

      Miller also said that the airport authority is losing money which wasn’t true.  I for one will ignore the Miller report because any idiot knows that a report can’t be done without an audit.  Government has no idea how much money they spend or how much their assets are worth.  Another thing if goverment so broke why McKeever don’t stay his ass home and stop wasting government money.  When he stop running around the world, I’ll take a pay cut. Civil Servants are expected to take a pay cut so McKeeva will have more money for his and Julie’s hotels, bodyguards, butlers, housekeepers, wardrobe, flights, walls, cronie’s trips, etc.  At least I work for my money. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree.

      Everyone, DONOT forget that we have 110 civil servants per 1000 population so compare this with other countries and you will find the shocking realization that Cayman has more than 10 X the civil servants of other nations.

      The civil service has become a powerful union which is actually running or should I really say "ruining" our country. Why are we entrusting them to regulate themselves or carry out their own policing when they are the servants of the people and they work for us.

      Our country’s financial problems are very easy to correct during these difficult economic times, however we need people in Government who have the balls to do the job. I don’t think any of them have the balls and therefore should not be in the positions of power that they hold.

      Bring in private sector CEOs and business executives to staighten out the problems, stop the bleeding, eliminate the waste and improve efficiencies and productivity. Break the CV union and place the entire civil service entirely under private sector conditions, salaries and benefits. This is the opportunity to correct the problem and it may not come again.

      Stop the wasteful spending Cayman and thatapplies to especially to our Premier, MLAs and Civil servants. It’s time to put your house in order.

      • Anonymous says:

        Start by making redundant the following CS

        1.      Positons filled by non Caymanians in middle management postitons

        2.      All Clerical positions filled by non Caymanians

        3.      Unskilled positions filled by non Caymanians

        When we have accomplished this spend the money that we save on the proper training of Caymanians and see the huge benefit and savings that Cayman will get from this.

        We don’t need to spend another dollar on financial industry scholarships we need to focus more on training our young people to become Teachers, Nurses, Doctors, Health Care Professionals, Plumbers, Carpenters, Chefs, Secretaries, Corporate Assistants, Insurance Management, Electricians, Masons, Builders and all the other 26,000 positons that we cannot find Caymanians to fill.

        The economy will florish again when most of the monies that are earned in this country stays here but it cannot remain here if it not being made by Caymanians.

        • Anonymous says:

…Anon Sun 14:13…what happens when our Caymanians don’t want to follow these career paths (who the hell in Cayman would want to teach some of these thugs we have in our schools now?) or just don’t have the brains to be a doctor??? That’s been the problem for 30 years. They want to become partners in Walkers or bank managers after they leave high school.They’re Caymanians, after all, so they are qualified.

  8. Joe Bananas says:

    So we can all expect them to do the same great job takeing care of themselves at the expence of everyone else then.  And the lesson here is?

  9. Anonymous says:



    Let’s let the prisoners run Northward while we’re at it!

  10. Pit Bull says:

    This is an April Fools’ joke isn’t it?

  11. Anonymous says:


    Its time for a National. Florida and all other States and the UK have National Lotteries. Why Not the Cayman Islands.

    Yes it is true certain people are now Billionaires in Cayman for selling the Illegal Lottery. The Honduran one.

    They bring in $5million to $10million weekly calculated that is (52 Weeks in a year X $5-$10 Million = $250 to $500 million per year that is

    500,000,000.00      Which is: a half a Billion or more dollars lining the pockets of some illegally!

    Come on now, we are not asking you to start a campaign or waging war on those selling the illegal lottery.

    Let this be a lesson to you that those monies should be coming to the Cayman Islands Government.

    Big Mac and Mr.Taylor

    ITS TIME FOR A LOTTERY.  (Then you wouldn’t have to hire Mr.Miller anymore ang get critizised.

    Solve the financialproblem with a lottery. IT MAKES SENSE,

    There’s nothing religiously wrong with a lottery, the churches gamble all the time. Selling Raffle Tickets and giving the prize to one or few people while everyone contributed !

    Caught You!


  12. Anonymous says:

    Jackson Memorial Hospital is in trouble financially and one of their measures to a relolution to the problem was a common sense approach.

    The hospital staff including nurses, doctors, office staff, administration etc. they are all as civil servants.NOW MAKING CONTRIBUTION TO THEIR HEALTHCARE AND PENSION

    Our civil service is no better. Why would the Premiere not want to cut them anyway they all voted for Kurt and the PPM, I’m an Independent, I have nothing to lose! The truth should be told. Why is Mac afraid of losing votes he never had in the first place?

    Not handling the budget is a sure ticket to not getting re-elected not risking the civil servant swing vote!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Do you all realize that 30% of the civil service are expats from other countries? 

    The fact of the matter is that if you cut any portion of most of those employees benefits that they will walk.  And the money replacing them will completely erase any savings from the reduction in benefits and or salaries.  They are here on contracts for the most part.  And if the contract terms are changed, that is a breach of that contract.  They could choose to accept it, but most of them won’t.  They came here for a specific time period, for a specific amount of money, and for specific benefits.  It is like being caught between a rock and a hard place I know.  However, blame the politicians for putting up the salaries to begin with.  The only option for those with contracts is to let them expire and offer them less for subsequent contracts and hope they stay.  Changing them midstream would open up the government to all kinds of litigation.  Which they may or may not win, but either way it will cost them more money than the money it will save.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Great solution…lets do nothing and let the problem sort itself out…kind of sounds like the criminal activity approach on the island…


    It seems that Government is more worried about being voted back into power than about saving Cayman…

    What great leadership!

  15. Anonymous says:

    more spineless management by the the udp (ppm were even worse)….. this is why we need direct rule from the uk… so somebody can make some tough decisions…..

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is beginning to look suspiciously like a fudge and an opportunity lost.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I as a taxpayer makes the decision that the civil service must pay and make contributions to their own health care and pension.

    Any government that argues with Mr. Watler on that need his or her head examined. This has to be done or we sink!



    • Jab-Jab says:

      The civil service do pay their half of the pension contribution. It says so every month on theirpay slip. Don’t believe me? Go ask a civil servant. That’s what I did.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Stop locking up the ganga heads, put them in school teach them a trade and turn them over to Pastor Al and the local pastors to be adopted by the churches and have some accountability. This will help rehabilitate them while they get drug counseling as well.

    There is so much to be done, and very easily. But our L/A.Ministers are busy consulting with their lobbyists who funded their campaigns and trying to please them instead of the people who voted them into office. We have a real problem.

    Since we elected a government that can’t do the math the easiest way out as I see it is a National Lottry. That way we an move on to bigger and better things that are so important like, drafting  healthcare reform, and deal with the immigration issues,which needs to be looked at even more carefully.

  19. Anonymous says:

    While cutting away civil servants salaries by $l9 million dollars.

    Why not remove the head ache from everyone’s brain and simply start a Cayman National Lottery?!

    We alreay have an illegal lottery bringing in $5 to $10 million weekly!  someone is laughing all the way to the bank. And that’s not fair. Why not let all the people get a chance to win some money legally through a national lottery.

    the casino idea is going to limit articipation to only the rich, famous and the elite.

    A national Lottery is the answer. It can be started quickly, and it’s simple.

    Caymanians and Honduraneans are pro’s at this lottery business by now, so stop talking about the budget and fix the budget. Government should not allow people to sell liquor without a License and when it comes down to a National Lottery, government should not allow people to sell illegal lottery without a license.It should be a National Government Lottery. Even the big shots buy the lottery, I mean the illegal lottery so whats the hold up?

    Get er done!s

    The Ministers and the churches can’t interfere because they are all gambling as well, raffling off tickets! IS GAMBLING !


    • Anonymous says:

      We already have an illegal lottery bringing in $5 to $10 million weekly????????  I don’t think so…. 

    • zzzzz says:

      I expect the "decision-makers" have their hands in the cashbox of that particular "$5 to $10 million weekly", so don’t expect that to change.  Of course they’ll stop to blame it on the religious types (who are at the time outbuying numbers) and go on to say they can’t condone gambling as it is ungodly.  Greed corrupts…

      As an aside, if you can break the stranglehold of the corrupt-in-power, why not make the "National Lottery" international in scope instead?  Let people around the Earth buy tickets on-line, and make the payments to the winners by a bank deposit in Cayman.  You know what I’m on about.  The winner then would probably feel inclined to leave the money in Cayman rather than repatriate it to a high-tax jurisdiction, and perhaps they would spend a good bit of it here (condos, beaches and Cayman holidays, here I come!!!), resulting in a net cashflow into Cayman (all ticket money in, not all winnings going out).  Why keep it local when you can draw money in from around the planet?  Think big guys!

  20. Jab-Jab says:

    This latest brainwave will not hold.            The elected arm of government cannot abrogate their responsibility for public policy to the unelected arm. What do I mean? Remember that any cuts to civil service positions mean cuts to civil services. I.e., if someone’s not there they can’t do the job they’re there to do. A job that exists because it is related to performing some service that a politician has deemed necessary, either through direct involvement (build this road)  or indirect legislation (create an NRA to build roads, indirectly hire a secretary to answer telephones at the NRA). The only way to cut people is to cut ‘services’ and the only way to do that is for politicians and their electorate to decide what they don’t want done.

    If you believe there’s massive inefficiencies in the civil service and that ‘good management’ could take up the slack from eliminated posts then so be it, but, will this approach result in those efficiencies? No. So, again, this latest brainwave will not hold. The elected arm of government has got to be involved in this solution and not try to keep ducking their responsibilities by hoping that someone else will find them enough money that they can do whatever they want to do without making hard decisions and hard explanations. ("I’m sorry, ma’am but not only is your son out of work but your pot hole is not being fixed because I decided to cut that part of the budget instead of cutting something else.")

    (I’m not picking on the NRA because I think they are a significant part of the problem, but because they are a recognizable service that employs many people that we don’t see on the front lines of critical employees. They’re the sort of people that will get cut but that the public will then decide shouldn’t have been cut. These decisions need to be made up front and in the open but that can only be done by and through the elected arm of government.)

  21. Anonymous says:

    As a civil servant at HSA…we are being underpaid to begin with…we have been promised a 50% increase for years now….as well we didn’t even get the cost of living increase that everyone else got. We are understaffed and overworked!! This hospital soon go down the drain….AND some people have the odacity to want to CUT our pay?? Sure go ahead…but who will suffer the most is the patients….quality care will be absent….so think about saying CUT ALL civil servant salaries…you may come to the hospital next and it might be you who suffers then….

    I am glad for the decision that has been made thus far.

    • Anonymous says:

      The HSA have too much Non Caymanians on Staff get rid of them only one Native Caymanian on staff in HR department, what a shame only in Cayman.  Get rid of all the Non Native Caymanians and then the Government will be able to function again.

  22. De Ciwul Serwant says:

    I’m a civil servant. I want an axe. Gimee, gimee an axe…pleeeeeeeeeese gimee an axe (and a bucket truck to get at the top) i know where to chop…trust me……..gimee de axe…

  23. Richard Wadd says:

     Leadership is about just that, LEADERSHIP.

     We are neither the first country in this world to experience a Recession, nor do we have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ in finding and applying the solutions to our Financial Crisis.

    No-one wishes to see another person out of a job in these hard economic times, no matter how incompetent that person may be. But to say to the Civil Servants,

    ‘we are running out of food, so here is the key to the pantry …’  

     is downright irresponsible of the Premier.

     The solution is simple. CUT ALL civil servant Salaries and Benefits.

     It is better for ALL to work 4 days a week, than for SOME to lose their jobs altogether.

     Come on Mr. Premier, show some balls and be the Leader that we voted you in to be. If we wanted in-decision and incompetence, we would have kept the PPM.

    • Common Sense says:

       Agreed.  No one wants to be the bad guy politician, but stop worrying about future votes and do the right thing NOW.

      Payless paydays, 4 day work weeks,  salarycuts, but still employed HAS TO BE THE WAYFORWARD.  Our economy is not getting better and law firms are moving out of Cayman.  It is time to tighten our belts and save for a rainy day because another storm is coming!  Better someting than nutting.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Cut salaries across the board by 10% no more compromising XXXXXXX. All MLA’s sould get $80,000 no more simple they don’t do anything but argue and get photos and stand around like sidekicks. Ministers get $120,000. Privatise Cayman Airways sell 40% to  major US Carrier such as Delta and leave the remainder in local held shares that will reduce the deficit of this long lasting cash dropping airline who is losing $35 million year to. Cayman Airways needs to become a low cost carrier. Sell Boatswain Beach or lease it longterm for 20 years to Disney the seem for Pedro Castle.

    Start a National Lottery to fund education to pay Teachers better so that we have a great education system. Quit locking up ganja heads they cost $54,000 a year of tax payers $. Lets get our Cayman back on track ASAP and Happy Easter to all.


    • Anonymous says:

      Haha I think you are overvaluing Cayman’s assets somewhat. Would Disney seriously want to buy Boatswains beach? No. There is obviously not enough room for them to build a park and they wouldn’t be allowed to build anything decent there so of course they (or anybody) else would not be interested.

      As for Cayman Airways, if they bothered doing accounts they would be losing millions every year. No airline could afford to get involved and even if they did they would not want to be told by this mickey mouse government what to do and where to fly. Sure some of the flights are profitable but most aren’t and only run to ferry ministers and their cronies back and forth. No airline would agree to that. They’ve got more liabilities than BA!

      Forget giving pay cuts to MLAs, How about you people demanding more qualified and competent people stand for election next time. Regardless if you vote for UDP or PPM you will get a muppet running the show. They are as useless as each other. Find some talented, experienced and professional candidates with some business acumen and more interest in serving the public not themselves. But oh, wait a minute that would mean an expat, that wouldn’t work. Just do the best with the limited resources you have.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Sayonara Cayman

    Your leaders are on a course of destruction.

    Good Bye.

  26. Anonymous says:

    A blanket approach would be a disaster. As a CS, I would be willing to take a 10% pay cut for  the equivalent in vacation time.  I know of other CS who would like to go at 3pm when the kids get out of school and would be willing to take some sort of pay cut in return for spending more time with their kids. Other CS might be willing to take some sort of pay cut if they can start earlier to beat the traffic.  Other still might be willing to take a pay cut if they can have flexibility in their working hours or are able to work from home.  An approach which gives CS a choice that best suits their personal situation would generate the most support and therefore be the most successful.

    We all recognise that with the downturn in revenues that the Gov’t needs to save on its cash outlay. However if we handle this creatively  then we can maintain the quality of the public service while allowing parents to spend more time with their kids.  This, in turn, would enrich our social structure and given the rising crime among out youth, investment in our social structure is badly needed.  It could be win win win all round.  Surely, we rise to this challenge??





  27. Shock and Awe says:

    And what happens if the civil service, notorious for wasting money, and extravagant benefits, doesn’t meet the targets?    Nothing.  

    They’ll just cook the books.  Oh, I forgot….

    We don’t have any books.

    One giant step.

  28. gobble gobble says:

    Come on, some one, get a grip.  None of these turkeys are going to vote for Christmas, and anyway, 19mill will not even make a dent in the debt.

    Pointless tinkering around the edges.  Absolutely facile.  The problem is not the operating costs, but the massive unquantified contingent liabilities.  Until there is legislation, that cannot be touched.  Someone needs to grow some appendages and actually DO something.  Unless and until they do, SNAFU

  29. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t there an obvious way? Civil Servants should have to pay their fair share in terms of pension contributions and health insurance.

    It was a crazy idea in the first place that they would not have to pay like everybody else and it is costing the country a fortune.  It is such an obvious and effective way of saving millions of dollars.  It’s just a shame that the only people who can rally around and effect these long-overdue changes are senior Civil servants – who of course benefit themselves from the policy…. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Why? Don’t you understand that those benefits are part of people’s compensation package. If it was not given then it would have to be given in pure salaries.

      Remember the public sector does not get any annual or XMAS bonus, unlike the generous ones given in the private sector so the two cannot be equated in any form or fashion.

      What is so difficult to understand about that concept if you are in the private sector, about the public sector? Surely you can understand the difference between the two.

      • Anonymous says:

        Private sector won’t be happy till all civil servants are laid off or take a major pay cut.  I have the best solution to satisfy them..all civil servants go on strike for 1 week or take a reduction in pay and everyone figure out how much hours less work that is and only show up to work for those hours.  That would mean reduced hours for all goverment services.  See how they like the hospital, fire, 911, schools, government offices, police station closed for a few hours.  That should shut them up.

        • livingcayman says:

          Got over 800 people waiting to take their jobs make us happy.

        • PaperCaymanian says:

          Schools are always the easy example.The cost per student at a private school versus a public school is always less,often by half or more,but the private school virtually always produces the better educated child. It’s the bang for buck factor that annoys everyone in the private sector. Please don’t take it personally.