Civil servants face jail threat

| 14/12/2010

(CNS): A number of the government’s top employees have been warned that they could face a six month prison sentence and a $10,000 fine if they do not comply with the Public Management and Finance Law and submit all of the necessary financial information to the Auditor General’s Office. Ezzard Miller, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, told chief officers, chief financial officers and senior staff from various public authorities on Tuesday that he has asked the attorney general about taking legal action against those who have committed an offence by not meeting the 31 August deadline to submit their accounts in accordance with the law.

Although more than half of the government entities obligated to submit accounts under the PMFL have managed to address a considerable part of the backlog and submit their 09/10 accounts to the auditor general more or less on time, more than a dozen public entities have failed to do so and were warned by Miller at the committee meeting that there was no more room for excuses.

Following his controversial move last week to use the law to sanction a reporter and a local newspaper, Miller warned a number of civil servants that they too were liable to prosecution as a result of falling foul of the law.

The PAC chair first raised the issue of possible prosecution with the chief financial officer and chief officer in the premier’s ministry, when he said that theMinistry of Finance Tourism and Development should be setting an example.

Miller acknowledged the staffing issues that the CO said were causing the problem, but said he did not believe, as the ministry responsible for finance, that there were not people there that could address the issue. “My job is to get these accounts up to date and for too long we have been satisfied with saying it can’t be done,” he added as he read the relevant section of the law and the jail time penalty. “I can no longer sympathize with you.”

Miller also warned Cayman Airways, which is also still struggling to meet the requirements of the law, and revealed that it was not working backwards through its accounts, which were still outstanding going back to 2006. As the government’s airline has to use a private auditing firm for its commercial loans and leasing, the CAL management team said it was impossible for them to meet the deadlines set out in the PMFL.

However, Miller warned that they had an obligation to find a way. “I don’t want to see you go to jail,” Miller told Fabian Whorms, the CEO, and Paul Tibbetts, the chief financial officer. He warned that there could be no more excuses. “Trust me. You are at the end of the road,” Miller stated.

Staff from the Port Authority, UCCI, the Airports Authority and the Cayman Cultural Foundation were all told that the chair had sought advice with regards possible prosecution and implored the various authorities to get their 09/10 accounts into the AG’s office.

Listening to the various explanations, Miller told the senior staff that they had to find ways to solve their problems because when they were asked for the accounts by the PAC (as they were during the last meeting since they had not given the accounts) they had committed an offence. Imploring the staff to get the accounts done, Miller pointed out that to have just one of the entities missing would mean that the entire government accounts could not be done.

As each entity came before the PAC, it became apparent there were varying degrees of delinquency but in some cases substantial progress had been made and the PAC chair offered his congratulations to those entities that had submitted 2009/10 accounts on time or within a few days of the 31 August deadline. The Health Services Authority, which was once one of the most delinquent authorities, was after considerable effort revealed to have caught up, and the Cayman Turtle Farm was also noted as a good news story for its substantial improvement in the state of its accounts.

However, the AG issued a warning that the overall picture for government’s consolidated accounts in regard to the backlog up to the year end 2009, which is complete and due to be laid on the table of the Legislative Assembly at the next sitting, would be qualified and by and large unreliable.

See more on CNS tomorrow about the overall picture of public accounts.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard should know better than to threaten the civil service. That is not his purview to do so, but is for the governor to take action if needed for the civil service.

    It is indeed a sad day when politicians start to meddle with the civil service, and is the road that countries who have failed have gone down.

    He is a staunch advocate of independence so we need to be careful of giving such persons more power. Can we blame the people therefore for not giving politicians any more control and placing a limit on their powers – until we have a cadre of more balanced and reasonable people coming forward that are capable of making good decisions?

    When are we going to stop having the unemplpoyables represent us?


    • Anonymous says:

      Boy, Ezzard sure coming across as a strongman-in-the-waiting. First he threatens to jail the press, now the civil service. Who next, the public? Pretty soon he’ll be sporting a leather belt over his shoulder to support his pant’s belt and a smart black pair of jackboots. Mindful of history, kind of a scary guy, but then that’s just my opinion, of course. Perhaps, like Alden, he should try and soften his threatening attitude.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Part of the problem is the ‘musical chairs’ after eveery election.


    The other part is the lack of continuos training, and people in positions they are not qualified to hold. Plus every accountant does things his own way, so nothing is common.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cannot ask for a better suggestion, even though he is not my cup of tea with his opinionated ideas. I agree with him this time.

    Let us start downsizingthe civil service from the top and things will improve at the bottom. It is never to late to start.

    Since the residents are paying the bill, let us retain only the best and competent.

  4. anonymous says:

    I private industry the state of our accounts would lead to the firing of the CEO not the department heads.

    Ezzard used to be the voice of reason.  Now he wants to throw everyone in jail and hush the press while doing so.  It seems that he and the Premier have a lot more in common than we thought.  When people disagree with you: whine and threaten.  The more they berate the press the less respect they will get from the people. Respect is Earned not deserved.

    Imagine how these two would do in the US or UK where there is a much more open press. 

    History shows that control of the press is one of the first steps to the loss of democracy.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Miller dishing out threats that he can not back up.

    If memory serves me correct, didn’t he ruin quite a few ministries when he was in exco way back when.

    From what I understand… all financials have been submitted and it is just a matter that they have not been auditted.  How can the CO/CFO be responsible for an audit team not completing their jobs?

    My question would be to the auditors.  There only excuse is that it is not prepared to their likings??? Well deal with it and work together going forward to get it to your likings.  I swear all of this hoopla over accounts that are 3 and 4 years old needs to stop.  We need real time figures to determine how to spend money wiser.


  6. Really Wondering says:

    Ok, Ezz, let’s see what kind of man you iz.

    You did not hesitate to get the LA to move to prosecute the newspaper for a single act you say broke the law. The breach of the laws regarding the government accounts has been going on for years. You talk a big game. So where is the action on this issue?

    Your performance in dealing with the PAC issue makes your actions against the Compass look more and more like a personal vendetta rather than the works of man who is honestly trying to uphold the law.

    You did not give the paper the benefit of any warning or threats, you went straight to prosecution. What are you waiting for now? Why hesitate? You know the tardy accounts problem is a flagrant violation of the law. Or are you OK with government breaking the law and you do nothing but spew threats to make yourself look powerful and important?

    You spouted some rhetoric on your contribution to Viewpoint here at CNS, essentially stating that if you see a law being broken you act. You are the head of PAC for godssake and you have known about this breach for a long time. Contrary to your rhetoric, you have not acted effectively at all in discharging your responsibilities to the people in seeing that these reports are tabled in a timely manner! Nada action, no one held responsible and punished, just threats. So far, empty threats at that. Some man of action you are!

    In the case of the tardy government accounts, it is abundantly clear that the law has been breached. Making threats does not diminished the fact that laws have already been broken regardless of whether or not those responsible for breaking the law produce the tardy reports tomorrow. How are you going to act on the breaches of law that have already been committed? How long past the 31 August deadline are we now? It is soon going to 2011, dude. Are we to expect any action on this, Ezz?  Or are you just going to ignore the crimes?

    Your lack of action proves how empty your words on Viewpoint are. As far as upholding the law is concerned, you have failed miserably to do so. To the contrary, you have tolerated this crime for far too long and done nothing. In failing to uphold the law, you have failed in your responsibility as head of PAC.  You should be replaced as head of PAC for your failure to enforce the applicable laws.

    There is a difference between "asking" the AG about prosecution and actually requesting that he move to prosecute. All you have done so far is beat your chest and make threats. Such posturing works great for lower primates but is truly not becoming a self-proclaimed man of action such as yourself.

    Where is the action, Ezz? Don’t you think that breaches of the law concerning accounting for public funds are more serious than a newspaper publishing a story you did not like? Is this any indication of your priorities? Pretty poor set of priorities for a man who bigs himself up as some kind of leader. Sad. You are set to loose what little respect people have for you.

    If your actions were consistent with your rhetoric we would have seen heads roll and/or these sluggards led away in handcuffs a long time ago. We are watching you now, Ezz, and you are showing us what kind of man you really iz.

  7. Anonymous says:

    We all know why civil servants are not going to be fired, no matter how much they mess up! Can you spell VOTES?!?!?

    No politican will touch civil servants, not even with a 10 foot pole as this would most likely translate to loss of a whole pile of votes in the next election.

    The End!

  8. Rabble Rouser says:

    I hope Ezzard told the AG that these have to be prosecuted before the Compass reporter.

    • A Question says:

      In response to Peter Principle’s comment re FMI. can you just lock up the people who saddled the civil service with that – and then get rid of it!?

      • Anonymous says:

        "A Question": You have no idea what you are talking about. You are probably connected to those (including chief officers) who are so bloody incompetent and lazy they refused to attend training in FMI, told their staff to ignore it because it would go away and now spend their vast salaries trying to say it is the fault of the Law not their own uselessness

  9. Sick and Tired of the B...S... says:

    Ezzard’s suggestion MIGHT have some effect, but what should be motivating individual civil servants and, more particularly, the premier, is the thought that the UK government may become concerned about the standards of financial governance in Cayman and decide that, as in T&C, they should conduct an "onsite" inspection.

  10. Peter Principle says:

    Basically government is a dysfunctional uncoordinated mess, as everyone knows. It is not the fault of any single person but the system.

    The questions that should beasked are :

    1. What did the FMI achieve except hire a load of accountants?

        b) Who was on the Project Team and management?

    2. How much experience has these accountants have outside of government before the introduction of the accrual system, which they clearly cannot manage?

    3. If you are a good accountant, why are you in government taking this load  of XXXX  which must be demoralising?

    4. How many HOD’s, Deputy Chief and Chief Officers and higher has ever had proper management training ?

    5.I hear there is one particular Chief Officer did not even finish high-school so don’t we have a recipe for disaster here?

    6. Is it not clear by now that government should revert to the old centralised system of accounting?

    • Slowpoke says:

      You are of course right, this issue is much more complex than a few people refusing to do heir job.

      It is just the CIG way, to find a scapegoat and then punish them, absolving all others from any responsibility. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    Name and Shame them all now for the people to see. Maybe that will have more impact than threats of prison..

  12. O'Really says:

    "  As the government’s airline has to use a private auditing firm for its commercial loans and leasing, the CAL management team said it was impossible for them to meet the deadlines set out in the PMFL."

    If this is the quality of excuses brought to the table in the past without challenge by PAC, no wonder we are in so much trouble. 

    The directors of any company, CAL included, are responsible for producing the company’s accounts that are then presented to the external auditors for audit. In fact the external auditors would have a serious conflict of interest if they actually produced, in any meaningful way, the accounts on which they express an independent opinion. If the auditors haven’t been able to sign off on accounts since 2006, it will be because management have not produced accounts which are capable of being audited.

    Somewhere in CAL ( and almost certainly the other delinquent authorities ) is one or more individuals who either refuses to do what they are paid to do ( they won’t see it this way, they will certainly either blame someone else or argue they are over-worked ) or is incapable of doing what they are paid to do.

    Jail is not the answer. The answer is that someone in senior management has to roll up their sleeves, accept the job is going to be painful and determine get on with it. The job is assessing in a hands on way where the bottlenecks lie, setting reasonable, agreed upon deadlines for more junior staff and holding them to them, with sanctions, including dismissal, if they fail. If this doesn’t happen, management should be held to account and disciplined/fired if necessary. Sending a memo doesn’t get it done. And nor do empty threats of jail, apparently the solution du jour.

    And since CAL’s excuse contained the implication that loan and lease terms have almost certainly been breached by failing to produce audited accounts, it would have been nice for PAC to have picked up on this and asked management to explain how creditors and lessors were being kept happy. Maybe I missed the memo!


  13. EyesWideOpen says:

    Can someone enlighten me as to what is the role and responsibility of Mr. Ken Jefferson ?

    • Anonymous says:

      EyesWideOpen: The answer to your question is "no". The Ministry of Finance has three chief officers (Carson Ebanks,Sonia McLaughlin and Dax Basdeo) plus Mr Jefferson as Financial Secretary (a non-job now) plus Messrs Dilbert and Ebanks (Kenneth) as planners plus at least two deputy chief officers. Heaven alone knows what they all do but they are on big time salaries.

      • Anonymous says:

        Anon 9:11:

        You’ve forgotten to list Deborah Drummond in this ministry’s list. She’s still on very highly paid leave.

      • EyesWideOpen says:

        Thank you!!

        This is the exact response I needed!!……..more so, what we ALL needed to know!!

        So basically we could cut govt expenditure here if we removed them from their post…….but if we have them arrested for failure to perform their duties and imprisoned them, we would have to feed, house, clothe, air-condition & light, toiletries, etc, etc., for doing absolutely nothing!!  Or are you gonna tell me that’s what they’re doing now….i.e. absolutely nothing?

        Well, lets figure out what’s their cost of losing their freedom!!…….maybe that might just do the trick!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    zzzzzzz…they are more likely to get pay rises before being prosecuted…..

    when was the last time someone was fired from the civil service for not doing their job?

  15. Anonymous says:

     This condition continues to get worst and I do do expect anything to change for the better especially under the bush administration. 

  16. Anonymous says:

    Threatening law suits and prison terms for non compliance of an employee is surely the greatest nonsense that Cayman has ever seen.

    Why not just fire a few of the worst offenders?

    Everyone would be surprised how fast the others would fall into line.

    Who is in control of hiring civil servants anyway? Surely it must be the people who are paying their salaries. Namely, the people on the Cayman Islands.

    Our leaders need to stop talking nonsense and address the problem as they should.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, we should fire them but unfortunately the elected politicians can’t fire them they have to put them on paid leave which cost the country even more money. The Governor needs to step in and instruct the Deputy Governor as the head of the Civil Service to roll some heads.

      These people will never change unless we start getting rid of a few of them. They have a fat salary, 12 percent pension, free unlimited health and a job for life with the guarantee to get cost of living increases each year.

      This is no way to run a country, a business or anything else. They are not obeying the law or their employer and in any other entity they would have been fired a long time ago.

      It’s time to take action. I say fire the whole lot and hire three or four of the big ten accounting firms to get the job done within a year and we will see how fast it can really be done. Mind you it is not just the accountants but some heads of departments that are obstructionists as well that could even cause these folks to fail.

      They have had a long enough time to set things right.

      It’s time for heads to roll!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        It is very difficult to fire government personel,easier to DEMOTE.

  17. John Evans says:

    Seems to me he’s telling them something they are probably all well aware of and couldn’t give a d**n about.

    Threats don’t work, until you sack a few of them nothing will change.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Chief Officer of Finance took up the post in 2004, when were the last set of Government’s consolidated accounts prepared? A. 2004

    Ministry of Finance has failed to appoint an Information Manager or comply with the FOI law, whose job was it to ensure that this was done? A. Chief Officer, Ministry of Finance

    Who has been ignoring a meeting request with the information Commissioner to address the issues of noncompliance within their Ministry? A. Chief Officer, Ministry of Finance

    Who represents the Government’s financial interest on the Board at Cayman Airways? A. Chief Officer Ministry of Finance

    Who has the Auditor General stated said in his prior reports was responsible for providing leadership in getting the annual accounts cleared? A. Management Ministry of Finance

    Who always has an excuse for not complying with the public management and finance law? A. Chief Officer, Ministry of Finance

    Who is accountable for reporting Government’s finances and who keeps getting it wrong? A. Chief Officer Ministry of Finance

    Which Ministry in Government has the highest number of people in senior management? A. Ministry of Finance

    Are we seeing a pattern here people? until we get someone in that post who is going to be an effective leader and who understands what they are doing, we are doomed to continue along this road.

    However, instead of getting an effective leader, what the Minister of Finance did, was appoint 2 additional (yes that’s right they now have three with the appointment of Dax Basdeo) Chief Officers in that one Ministry and between all three, they still can’t get their act together.

    When will this madness end, when will people start calling a spade a spade and take action? If you clearly can’t do the job, do the honorable thing and resign.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 4:06: You certainly know the inside story -even to the snout in the trough part about Cayman Airways. I did not realise anyone else had noticed that. You could have said even more but we won’t go there.

    • Caymanian 2 D Bone & Proud of It says:



      This is so very sad!
      Does anyone really think that a Chief Officer/Minister of Finance/Chairman of PAC, or anyone who is REALLY responsible for Govt accounts and the mismanagement/ is going to be FIRED? 
      Of course not it will be someone directly below them, those individuals who spend hours upon hours working tirelessly to try to get the documents/reports completed and ready for the Chief Officer/Minister of Finance/CFO to submit,   I’m not referring to the "CFO" of the various dept, as they are hardly ever in office as it is, it is the small fries below them,
       Deputy Gov. Donovan Ebanks recently stated that the Public sector needs to be downsized!
      How about starting at the very top this time instead of at the bottom where all the work is ACTUALLY done!
      The BIG WHITE ELEPHANTS are who he should be starting with. 
      Oh by the way Donovan, while you make these statements can you also propose when and where the "sacked public sector workers" will be able to apply for another job?
      Apparently you have now also caught the "foot in the mouth" disease that has been spreading through Govt top dogs, no regard to the people whose lives are already affected by this recession, in some cases those who are still employed in the public sector are the sole provider for their families.
      Have you all been drinking “Cock o’ Mamie" cocktails again? Why do all of you who sit in the HIGHEST paying Civil Servant jobs seem to feel "untouchable, & unstoppable?
      We are sure that you all are unprofessional as you all can’t do the jobs that you were appointed to by your Party UDP/PPM association/friends, unrealistic &unaware as to how to bring this country thru a recession, who in their right mind raises the cost of living during a recession; especially when SO MANY ppl are out of work?
      These positions in which you all now occupy are not LIFETIME positions and the decisions you all are making now and that we the people are having to endure will still affect you as well someday, or maybe you all have a “fool proof” plan that you will never be in a similar position as the rest of us are. Remember the ol’ saying you play with fire you WILL get burned! & Today for YOU & Tomorrow for ME?
      Common sense is something you are suppose to be born with, you do not have to go to school and get a degree for this!    
      Crime is at an all time high the reports we read in the news, and the statistics released by RCIPS doesn’t do "justice"  to the people of this country, we are all victims of the social decline in this country because of the lack of proper guidance, from all the ppl who should have this country at heart, everyone Caymanian & those employed on Govt contracts that make the decisions for this country are only concerned about the $$$$$ that they collect at the end of the day.
      Hey just look at the "Leader" of the country he runs away ever chance he gets (Business Trips?) Yeah right! I hope that he takes a lot of pictures for memory of the JETSET life he is living at our expense, because it’s not going to last much longer,  can’t wait till hear/see what his "McKeeva Bush’s Countdown to Success" will be! Scary!!! 
      We are nearing the end of a very chaotic year, I pray to God that he will continue be with each of us in this coming new year; and each and everyone will find some sort of relief this year from the hardships that have been brought on us by the recent recession and all the other much avoidable hardships that mismanagement of our beloved country has made each of have to endure. 
      May God Bless each of you and your families during the Christmas Holiday and from the bottom of my hard I wish you all a very Prosperous & Happy New Year.
  19. Anonymous says:

    another populist soundbite for ezzard… deflects from the fact that he has failed as chair as pac….. zzzzzzz

    direct rule please!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard’s answer to things he doesn’t like is to instruct the AG to go after ’em.

    Who wants to bet no one ever sees the inside of Northward?

    • Anonymous says:

      LOCK THEM ALL UP.!!!

    • Pending says:

      Even worse than that….being taken to court, publicly scrutinised etc and then guess what? The cases then get thrown out and they all sue.

  21. Anonymous says:

    This is pure hot air. Nothing has been done in the past, so what has changed now

  22. Anonymous says:

    Good. People need to be held accountable for not doing their jobs. Now if only there were an equivalent for these useless MLAs….

  23. Houdini says:

    Did Ezzard not promise months ago that we would get the accounts this month? What became of this promise? Bit like the Premier’s promise to fix everyting. He’s got two days!! Bet the AGs report is meaningless. All qualified accounts not too different from that of First Cayman Bank, before it went under!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr Ezzard, it is a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it.  Lock up their As$#@.

    • A Question says:

      Can someone comment asto why this happened. did the civil servants not comply in previous years. Surely there must be some staffing or other basic reason why all of a sudden most of them cannot get the accounts up to date.

      Perhaps they should be examining what went wrong during the years in question.

      • Anonymous says:

        They do not want to be accountable, under the old cash based accounting system all kinds of tricks went undetected, under the accrual accounting it is harder to play the tricks and most are not smart enough to know how to play the tricks so they stall and stall and stall….

    • Houdini says:

      Guess I was right about the AG report. Nothing new.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bring Dan back….please.

        Mac convinced the governor / FCO to get rid of him – pure political interfearance in what is supposed to be an independent office.