The civil service

| 13/05/2010

The civil service is the Caymanian middle class. It is the most tangible evidence of how Caymanians have benefitted from the staggering economic development of the past 30 years. The stability of the civil service is the most critical element to maintaining our national success. I hope I am not proven right.

During difficult economic times, it is understandable that members of the private sector (and wanna be civil servants) complain that civil servants have secure jobs and steady incomes. They also rightly resist any hint of taxes or raises in fees – after all, governments will usually find ways to spend the funds, and not always in the most prudent fashion. Read the blogs today and these folks are having a whale of a time criticizing civil servants and daring the politicians to slash and burn. They however do not understand that Government is much more than a business. If only it were so simple.

We cannot afford a destabilized civil service – the consequences are too grave for all of us. Remember also, the Miller report found that the Cayman Islands had a “low tax burden” and that while the government expenditure on personnel costs in ratio to overall expenditure was high in comparison to many places, they also pointed out that other countries have huge welfare costs that we don’t have. Take the welfare costs in these countries and add it to their civil service costs and you see how favourable we compare.

The G8 countries should be aware that the alternative to our economic model which encourages the voluntary inward investment from their nationals, – is that we become yet another third world country with all the myriad of problems which comes along with that. This actually costs the G8 and their citizens more in the long run (with no return), as it requires a never ending series of bailouts, IMF loans, poverty reduction strategies, disaster funding, crime and security issues etc., for the foreseeable future.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather pay for a generally effective and reasonably uncorrupt (even if slightly bloated) civil service and get some return on investment, than transfer that expense (plus much more) to pay for more welfare, unemployment, prison costs etc. The civil service however, must become more customer friendly and focused, it does not help when the people who are paying your wages, get less than helpful service. I applaud them for agreeing to take a 3.2% pay-cut, but 5% would have been more meaningful. In these extraordinarily difficult times, if we all shoulder a little of the weight, the challenge we face can be met.


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  1. Tartan.export says:

    I see in the newspapers new civil service posts been advertised I guess I would be native to assume that these new contracts will have contributing pensions and health schemes similar to private sector where the employee pays their share as well as the employer. Thus saving us the tax burdened share holders of Cayman Island plc some money.

    It would be nice to know that CS (government ) actual listens to the people who pay their wages.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Civil Servants are NOT the middle class of the Cayman Islands. Depending on their pay scale they make more than those in the private sector, and certainly in all instances they make more for doing less when it comes to the service industry.  Let’s not evenbother talking about their salary in comparison to those who work in the non-profit/charitable sector.

    The problem with the CS in cayman is that it is ineffective. Plain and simple.  How is it that DCFS does not have a standard or criteria for assistance to persons seeking help from the department under the "poor person’s" law (whatever its proper name).? How can that be that money is being given away without rhyme or reason?

    It is an antiquated system, where there are no performance reviews and firing people is impossible (so why even bother).  One gets promoted based on seniority and not ability and maintain the status quo. Plain and simple.

    BTW: if Civil Servants were TRUE Civil Servants they would do what’s best for the country once the directive was given- meaning if the solution was cutting down the size of the CS then that’s what they would do without putting up a fight.  That is one of the risks that you take in getting a job with government. It is not like the private sector in that way too.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Spineless leaders =Taxation on everyone!Big Mac you and your cronies need to go,end of story.

  4. Tell da truth says:

    Let us stop using incorrect terms.  We are not talking about the civil service.  We are talking about public sector workers.  Only part of the public sector workers could every genuinely call themselves civil servants. 

  5. Alan Nivia says:

    Ireland – 15% public sector pay cost, pension cuts, hiring freeze.

    Great idea for Cayman.  Shame our politicians are spineless cowards.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who was supposed to be ‘in charge’ of the civil service in the last four years when all this increase happened? What happened to him or her?

  6. Joe Average says:

    You’re correct in saying here, as elsewhere, it is often the Civil Service that has to receive the brunt of complaints from the populace when there is a budget crisis.  There is good reason for that, as governments always state, when admitting a shortfall, that their expenditures have exceeded revenues.  And at the same time we are told that unfortunately at the moment revenues are beyond their control.  Therefore, the conclusion drawn by the populace is the only thing they possibly do have control over is expenditures.  As you know, here on Cayman 51% of government expenditure is for civil service salaries and benefits.  It stares us in the face to the point where we then ask "is it possible to reduce that?"  

    Following that, a simple request was made for civil servants to begin paying their share of pension and health insurance not an unreasonable request considering most other workers pay their portion.  The answer from the Civil Service Association was they didn’t find that acceptable. 

    The next issue was health insurance, and in the case of the civil service plan this also included dental, a very expensive outlay for anyone. This included spouses and dependents.  The costs to government of that are huge and will get larger.  It was somewhat agreed by the association that government shouldn’t pay for this completely. But then that semi-concession was clouded over by an insistence on choosing where to receive medical care.  If you noticed, no one disputed that.   But it continues to be used as a reason for not agreeing to paying a portion of their health insurance.  So, by not agreeing to anything, the civil service, remaining the largest government expenditure, succeeded in backing itself into a corner whereby a 3.2% increase received awhile ago is now mandated to be rolled-back.  Some don’t see this as a meaningful concession, because many haven’t received an increase at all for quite some time.

    The problem with all of this so called "picking on the civil service" is that they have brought much of upon themselves.  By being stubborn.  Firstly, by not accepting the overall realities of pensions and health insurance.  And secondly, with government continuously stating they are it’s largest expenditure, it has doing absolutely nothing voluntarily… yet the civil service wants our support. 

    Rather than come together it would be preferable for the public to meet half-way.

    To go further as to where this has left the state of affairs here’s a quote your viewpoint:

    "the Miller report found that the Cayman Islands had a “low tax burden” and that while the government expenditure on personnel costs in ratio to overall expenditure was high in comparison to many places, they also pointed out that other countries have huge welfare costs that we don’t have. Take the welfare costs in these countries and add it to their civil service costs and you see how favourable we compare."

    By that do you imply we should be supportive of an out-of-proportion for our population, expensive, (and stubborn) civil service, because it has evolved as one of our government alternatives to an expensive welfare system?

    What DID you mean?


    • tired says:


      Please review this position  for I feel that it was not so "simple" and “reasonable” with the following issues providing some of the complications.
      ·        Some people would have automatically lost 30% of their income. (Including teachers and nurses) and consequently
      o       Their homes
      o       Their cars
      ·        Some middle management would end up earning less than those they supervise.
      ·        While some private sector employees do have less favorable benefit packages I can assure that many others have more favorable.
      ·        Many persons overlooked less than competitive salaries, poor/hostile working conditions for these benefits.
      ·        Every civil servant has a signed contract and the right to negotiate this contract (under the ILO convention).
      What the private sector keeps forgetting and perhaps deliberately so that all government organizations are by definition different from private organizations. Therefore all of these private business type solutions are probably not going to work.
      While it is obvious that government HR and spending are disasters. It is a very complicated mess. Therefore there is NO obvious panacea.
      Cutting the civil service is very much like a person with poor appetite control having liposuction. Yes the person will instantly look thin but as soon as their out of the recovery room they are shoveling food again and packing back on the fat. (FOI salary adjustments right after the infamous memo went out and see how many managers moved staff salaries so that they would not “feel” the proposed cut)
      It is time to think outside of the box! What are the roots of the problem and how do we fix them so that we can be “healthy” rather than just look it.
  7. Joe Mamma says:

    The Cayman islands Civil service is proof positive that you can not get quality by paying for quantity.  The fact that it takes 3 politically correct persons to get a job done poorly still does not equate to 1 competent non political person doing the job right the first time and showing those around them how it SHOULD be done.  But yes that equates to 3 less for sure votes so in this system it will not happen.  And the bill for poor or none service gets bigger and bigger and ………

    For all you thumbs down civil service types Prove me wrong in my eyes and in the eyes of the private sector then I would listen to you.  You are not doing a good job no matter how much it cost period. So if I had a choice ( and most of us do not) I would not pay so much for so little.

  8. Andrew says:


    David Cameron has announced PAY CUT by 5% for all ministers – that’s 5% folks. I mean it is still not enough, but if practice what he preach, it would make our top government leaders look stingy.  See the

    Still the UDP has not given us any answer as to the pay cuts from their salaries 20 to 30%

    Still the Premier has not given us any answer as to his perks and bonuses

    Still we see the hardworking civil servant who makes below 2600 a month, are mandated to cut off 3.2% of their salaries whilst the top paid civil servants making above 9,000 a month, get away with paying a "Chicken Fee." This is not right!  The cuts should have been based on your salary scale – how much you make, and the MLA should have been the ones to pay more!

    • Dred says:

      Actually Andrew I could agree with this. I believe the top should support the bottom. I could see a scaled % based on salary but I could not see it during a McKeeva lead government sorry to say. The problem is our politicians are too worried about 2012 to make actually decisions.

      I’m betting his team shot down the MLA paycuts very quickly. I mean Ellio without his Mercedes God forbit.

      Let’s face it they have a few first timers in there vying for the payday for life thing so no cuts for CS because our CIG has no @@’s.

  9. Raffaele says:

    The problem of Corruption: It undermines political, social and economic stability it threatens security and damages trust and public confidence in systems which affect peoples daily lives. Although corruption frequently occurs at local or national levels it’s consequences are global, its Hidden Cost are IMMENSE Big government is a big threat to freedom and remember Cayman a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have. the only difference between the government and the Mafia is size.

  10. Ex-Lobsta Hunta - till Decemba says:

    One of the things they seriously need to change, is the health benefits and pensions and make them pay 50/50 just like the private sector. Get rid of CINICO and give them a choice of which insurance they can use. When that happens, they can reveal all of those people who haven’t worked for the Government one day in their lives, has a business, and has free medical insurance with the Government. Then the burden will be broken and they can help the real elderly people that deserve it.  

  11. Anonymous says:

    The good times are over.  CIG needs to look in the mirror and get honest with its needs.  A big diet exercise is in order. 

    • anonymous says:

      The civil service is a product of successive governments and the demands of the private sector.  When govt was embarking on all these various and extremely costly reform initiatives, the chamber of commerce and media were constantly applauding. Numerous people inside govt said that the reforms would only increase the size of the service and make it very top heavy as the new recruits were mostly on the top scales.

      The next time you hear govt talking about some sweeping reform and there is a big publicity campaign behind it, i suggest everybody stand up at the same time and say NO!   

  12. Come on sense says:

    Spoken like a true civil servant!

    You blur the lines between effective government spending and overpaid civil servants, you are proposing to maintain the grossly inflated salaries of civil servants despite the fact that that it is DIRECTLY “strangling the financial resources of the country” and attributed by the Miller report as the #1 cause of extended national debt (borrowing)!

    Pray tell which areas of the civil service are so effective and deserving of remuneration and benefits way in excess of civil service standards in other developed nations? Or even, where our civil service is even comparable to other lesser well rewarded civil services?

    Also, please tell me how reducing the pay of civil servants will negatively affect our inward foreign investment? Do consider how much more attractive this country would be to investors if there was good fiscal governance, which there is not, and the threat of sudden economic change that is now necessary as a result of said bad governance – such as the gross over payment of civil servants.

    Lastly, it is not a result of economic downturn that “now members of the private sector (and wanna be civil servants) complain that civil servants have secure jobs and steady incomes” – the arrogance!! There have been many, many, people criticizing the luxurious pampering of civil servants (including me, and NO I don’t want to be one thank you) for a long time now – it is ONLY now that the Miller report has been published that the centrally controlled media outlets are finally giving it any attention!!

    Being a civil servant should be just that, it should not mean having an easy ticket as it does in Cayman. Simple.

    • Young Caymanian says:

       "Pray tell which areas of the civil service are so effective and deserving of remuneration and benefits way in excess of civil service standards in other developed nations?"

      —Teachers perhaps? 

    • Hmm... says:

      Not to say that the civil service is a shining beacon of efficiency. It is not. Is it the nadir of ineptitude and general moral turpitude that certain persons have taken great pains to suggest over the past year? No it is not that either.  Nor is it the only institution/industry that has been somewhat backward in having a comprehensive and accessible public discussion about its flaws, how these have impacted the public purse, how they can be corrected and what steps are being taken to ensure that buffers are put in place to prevent a re-occurrence of the present economic situation. Indeed the systematic positioning of the civil service by various parties  as the cowardly, lazy, bully boy behind the economic downturn, has resembled nothing so much aiming a great big expensive pr bazooka at 3500 fish crammed into one 80million dollar government building. Not sporting at all. Really.

      Hence– to help the poor little fishies out– a few questions…

      1) Are you so convinced that the civil service remuneration package is that far in excess of developed nations? Why are you so convinced? Was it because the Miller Report told you so. Or the "centrally controlled" media? On what empirical evidence did the Miller report draw its conclusions? Did the evidence that it offered really seem to support the statement you have just made? I say again, Hmmm.

      2) In terms of civil servants who are (i) efficient and (ii) deserve their remuneration, well how about: (i) MRCU– if you think the present plague of mosquitoes is something to complain about talk to people about what life was like before Dr Giglioli; (ii) public school classroom teachers quite a few of whom make well below the GDP per capita wage teaching in overcrowded classrooms, with no assistance, little moral or other support from successive administrations or, in many cases, parents, while trying to make sure that enough students have viable social and academic skills that crime won’t go up by 300%  during the next holiday.  These people by the way make up close to a quarter of the civil service.

      3) Just curious CNS, are you really centrally controlled? I never would have guessed. Could you tell us more about that?

      Oh and BTW, I do agree with a salary reduction and some lucid discussion and concrete action concerning what it would take to ensure the sustainability of the benefits. If all concerned had spent less time avoiding blame and more time discussing how this could be achieved in a fair and equitable manner for public sector employees and the public they serve– we might be well on the road to economic and social stabilisation.

      CNS: I don’t know what the previous commenter was referring to by "centrally controlled media" but we are not controlled by anyone. 

    • Anonymous says:

      come on sense … clearly u r lacking

      i beleive the writer actually suggested that the cuts should have been greater.

      when revenues are down, expenses have to be cut, its that simple.

      however the facts of the matter are that as bad as things are, the porportionate total costs of running government here in cayman is much less than most other places.  But there is alot of room for improvement.

      come on sense NOT, please tell us which country you think we should be emanating.


  13. Sigh. says:

     "slightly bloated" ?! lol

    Wake up and smell the coffee dude, you could take 1,000 people out of the civil service and have the remainder more than capable of running the country if they could be persuaded to do their work properly. If Caymanians realised they had to work for a job and not just be handed one for life when they graduate, you’d have a whole lot less expats on the island because Caymanians would be populating the private sector. 

    Caymanians are just as competent as people from any other race, but also in common with everyone else if you consistently tell them that a good living is their birthright then they’re going to be tempted to sit around and wait for it to come to them.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Civil service is far too large and inefficient.

    Cuts are neccessary. Make them.

    End of story.

    • Anonymous says:

      So cut the police force????

      • Major Tom says:

        Cut the endless army form fillers and filers.  Computers use them, the sixties are over everyone.

      • nittygritty says:

        Civl servants who are keyworkers need better representation and better press! Cutting pay and conditions to health workers, social workers, police, emergency services and teachers all leads to worsening conditions for Cayman residents and Caymanians. Health, crime and education should be any governments priority – clearly these departments are not bloated as they continue to NEED new employees. Don’t cut the pay of keyworkers – phase in health and pension contributions for all civil servants over the next 5 years to 50% contributions!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I think these are your key words, "if we all shoulder a little of the weight, the challenge we face can be met."

    No one should be pointing their finger at anyone or any civil servant, except those who are dealing with the finances of the country. And you are absolutely right, in the long run, an inadequate civil service would mean more of an inadequate service to the public and private sector. 

    If you start penalizing the real backbone hardworkers of the civil service, the private sector will have more to complain about, because the job-performance of the civil service will go down! 

    It is some among the top civil servants making above 10 grand a month (sit behind the desk) that I am really pointing finger at. Until now, I have not seen the 20 to 30% cuts in the MLA’s salaries like they said they would do last month. 

  16. Da big deal says:

     I am no fan of the civil service as a retired civil servant i understand some of very the criticism level at the service is some what justified as most reasonable and hard working civil servants themselves have experience these very things in the service. This current movement afoot to lay the blame for all our economics woes at the feet of the civil service by private sector and political forces is both unwarranted and down right malicious and cowardly and stinks of hypocrisy and appears to be a vendetta by some individuals who for personal reasons or frustrations are carrying around a virtual woody for the Civil service, some of it is just plain ignorance  Those who have help instill some of the very vices such as divisiveness, laziness rude and insolent and even unlawful behaviour and conduct ineptness, dishonesty aid and abetted corruption installed political moles and cronies and partiality, inefficiency, immunity from even criminal prosecution. Encouraged division, greed,discord, nepotism, strife and running the government like a personal fiefdom returned old recycled and filled with animosity and mentally constipated mentors, who could not make a decision to save their own life, who were involved with questionable practices and acts whilst in various government departments or in the private sector so long as they are loyal and carried out the agenda set by those in charge.(still happening today) You know the old game Cayman "Go with the flow" come to work get paid go Home" don’t buck the system" "that just how it is" "They belong to the Old boy network" Yes you Lodge Boys you know how it go? You same people who killed and repressed and demoralizes persons with youth drive,ability,innovation and initiative, hope, great ideas to improve the "systems of government",efficiency team spirit and even humor died. Funny enough these are the same people now complaining ain’t that a real shame i feel your pain. I know one thing you can’t blame the civil service for this Financial law enforcement and regulatory vice we fine ourselves jammed in and the life being squeeze out of us Caymanians This unrelenting crush G7 countries holds for Cayman needs to be explained by the blameless private sector. Well  i hope this little piece brought some perspective and closure to civil service haters who appear to be legends in their own minds. Stand tall you hardworking Civil slaves "oops" servants what comes around goes around in this life.

    • Anonymous says:

      Something bothering you, Da big deal?

    • Dred says:

      As a retired CS you would not grasp the level of problems we are speaking of. You would not have seen such as things as:

      2005 – 2009 – Increase of 400 staff

      2005 – 2009 – Increase of $110,000,000 in personnel cost

      That’s 275,000 for every new staff member. Rediculous!!

      During this period the average personnel cost per CS staff member went from $45,454 to $70,270. That’s an increase of 54.6%.

      Now you speak of the private sector but understand this we are taking our licks also. Just look at all those who have lost their jobs. I would estimate the numbers at between 100 and 200 private sector workers. That’s JOB LOSS. We are not even talking about paycuts which they were present also. Then there were the benefits that were shut down.

      Look we fully recognize that not all CS staff are loafers but they have a lot of them.

      What we are saying is that the decentralisation that happened with the PPM needs to be reversed. While decentralisation has it’s positive aspects it’s not what you would want to do in a collapsing economy. In fact this is the time now to centralise just about every function you can think of.

      We need to address every area you can think of relating to cost savings before we start considering VAT or TAX or personal fees. What we are looking at is a Government too scared to make the OBVIOUS decisions.

      WE NEED THE CS CUT DOWN!!! Short and sweet.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The government should have accepted the Civil Service offer for unpaid leave and given a choice of either that or the salary reduction. Unfortunately many civil servants who could retire now and were intending to do so have opted to delay because of the salary cut as retirement benefits are calculated on end salary. So the government is closing the door on a real means of reducing the service because of this.

    • Dred says:

      That is not the answer. Unpaid leave is crap offer which CS is good to offer.

      There is 2 possible answers to this problem and since CS has already rules 1 out we are left with cuts.

      They need to centralise services that can be and find savinsg elsewise. THere is savings that can be made of purchasing if all CS purchasing power is centralised.

      CS also should be able to get benefits for their staff by using their buying power locally such as Home/Car Insurance, Gyms just to name a few. How about leveraging to get discounts locally.

      The problem we have is McKeeva is ball less. He’s too scared of Elections 2012 and is scared of loosing votes. We put him in to make the tough decisions because in teh past that was what he was good for, making tough decisions now he’s spineless leading a bunch of even more spineless mlas.

      You know PPM made this mistake. THEY MADE IT. But seeing how Big Mac is handling this it’s even more attrocious than the initial mistake itself. We go from decisive but follish to indecisive and even more foolish.

      Let’s see how many changes we have so far. Let’s take a % from everyone. NO. Let’s cut benefits, No. Let’s try some Country Fee, No let’s try VAT, no how about payroll tax, No……..God how can someone be so indecisive?

      Big Mac if you are reading this CUT THE DAMN CS. Cut 400 jobs over the next 6 months and move these into Private Sector. Get Immigration to assist with current applications and move these people over.

      That’s 400 x 3,000 = 1.2Mil a month in salary alone. Then 400 x 700 = 280K a month in pensions/health approx. That’s almost 1.5Mil a month or 18Mil a year right there. And that’s conservative estimates because on avg I’m sure salaries are higher.

  18. Dred says:


    That’s a pile of rubbish. We need the Civil Service trimmed to where it should be. You are not going to sit there and justify an increase of 80 million dollars in personnel cost over 3 years and call it slightly bloated.

    You know what is even more amazing? Between 2008 and 2009 the amount of staff actually dropped by about say 100 staff while the cost to CS staff went up from about 216M to 260M.  How in ther world does this happen?

    You can sit there and try to soften this anyway you want but the fact remains that 260,000,000 divided by 4600 staff is about 56K per a staff member. That is already a fair amount more than I make.

    The CS can be trimmed and staff moved to private sector. There are still plenty of work permits going through which means staff can be moved to private sector.

    Stop making excuses for wastage.


    • Anonymous says:

      Are there not still government ads in the newspaper?  Ihope not!  And how is it that the more Police Officers, especially from the UK we get and have to pay, is the more crime increases

      Hmmm… interesting…

      Something must be wrong with how the service is being managed