Baptism of fire for Archer

| 06/06/2013

marcoarcher5.jpg(CNS): With the newly elected Progressive government facing myriad issues, all of its new ministers, whose roles were finalised Tuesday, will need to hit the ground running but Marco Archer, the new finance minister, has perhaps the most daunting task of all.The first time MLA who now has responsibility for public finance has no more than three weeks to deliver an interim budget and just three months to deliver a full budget for the 2013/14 financial year. Arriving in office to a surplus that falls far short of that promised to the UK government last year by the former premier and finance minister, McKeeva Bush, Archer also has to work within the plan agreed to by the UK. Photo Dennie Warren Jr

This all comes at a time of growing demands on government’s dwindling resources and a slew of campaign promises to deliver on.

Archer confirmed Thursday at the new government’s first press briefing that the Treasury was reporting an anticipated surplus of around $40 million, which, while offering some level of comfort, is $40 million short of that promised by his predecessor.

Over the next few weeks Archer will need to pass an emergency interim budget in order to allow government to spend money after the 2012/13 appropriations expire on 30 June. The short term budget will be based on the allocations on last year’s financial plan, which will tide the new government over until it can begin to define its own earning and spending plan for 2013/14.

A big campaign promise of the PPM was to cut operational expense through efficiency and consolidation in the civil service but it is still the government payroll which consumes around 50% of operating revenue.

While committed to not cutting public sector jobs at present, government workers, including statutory authorities and government companies, account for 15% of the entire labour force in Cayman, with some 5,700 people on payroll.

Reducing the government’s staff costs without cutting services and without any major job losses among locals will not be an easy road for Archer, who is also bound by the tight impositions that the UK has placed on the Cayman budget as a result of the current borrowing levels still being outside the parameters of the levels set by the Public Management and Finance Law.

However, the new premier is hoping to talk to the UK to persuade them to let up on the demands for significant surpluses and allow Cayman to tackle its earning and spending problems over a longer period and move towards more sustainable budgets, while at the same time creating some form of economic stimulus to address the local unemployment problem andthe stagnant economy, which is also impacting the public purse.

Although Archer is new to the political arena, he is no stranger to government and on paper has the experience required to tackle the mess that is Cayman’s public finances. Archer, who is an economist and statistician as well as a lawyer and MBA, spent several years working in government finances before his time in the private sector.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Marco is a wiz. But it will take a prudent and hard working government all around to save us! We have more issues than just the economy.And he is but one man, however we need a village and Gods divine guidance to bring Cayman back. For instance, we need to pay attention to the children. You think they give a rats ass about the Dow Jones report? Hell no. Folks, this is the other major concern we need to tackle. The kids have nothing to do. Our major schools are boring and broke. Teachers are leaving. Parents are overwhelmed. And families are fading. We are about a different life. Cayman is about brotherhood and family. Where has that gone? Thank God for the Sister Islands, at least they bring back a semblance of nostalgia. And their kids are bright! Hats off to them all. Well done. A for effort.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Finance Ministe alone will not solve the problem, it will be solved by elected minds en toto along with the populace input.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I believe that they couldn't have chosen a better person to take on minster of finance. Marco I so believe in you!

    • ANderson Ebanks says:

      Marco will not succeed unless the same civil servants who have failed over previous years to perform within the Ministry and Budget units do their jobs and provide correct information. Was it an 81m deficit or 18m?

      Cayman is lucky to have capable elected persons like Maro, Wayne and now Roy assisting to review matters and setting policy but unless the Dep Guv and the Chief Officers in the portfolios start earning the pay cheques the PPM will fail and Cayman will continue to get screwed by a Civil Service who are not held accountable. In the real world failure to do your job gets you fired not a promotion!

  3. Chris says:

    Marco is the person who will get the job done right; he is no stranger to baptism and has practiced financial prudence all his life.

    Success isnot an event but a practiced and learned behaviour. Marco has demonstrated the hallmarks of success throughout his professional life.

    Based on his qualifications and track record, we can be confident that he will deliver honest and prudent financial management for the Cayman Islands over the next 4 years.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Is it still the policy to advertise all posts in the Civil Service?  I heard a NEW Deputy Accountant General was recently appointed and that the post was NOT ADVERTISED.  Sounds like MAC'S favourite quote "SUBSTANCE OVER PROCES"  –  is this for ONLY A SELECTED FEW!!!  Poor Marco must be confused to find no DIRECTOR OF BUDGET as this person is now the new Deputy Accountant General –  SURPRISE , SURPRISE!!!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Not to worry Marco. We would THINK of asking you to find that 81 million whats his name was going on about.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How can this surplus be correct when the budget does not recognise pension and health liabilties for the civil service? When all the expenses/liabiilites are accounted for –  this is when we will know the true situation with the Government finances. Good Luck Marco – you sure will need it!!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I  have all faith in Marco that  he will do a great job. Maybe for once the counrty mite realize with serioUs debt we are in . Good Luck  Marco .

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good luck Marco. If you pull this off you should get your statue in the square. Show them how its done.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Per Einstein , Intellectuals solve problems, Geniuses prevent them.

    So who is the intellectual and who is the genius we will soon find out.

  10. Anonymous says:

    If anyone can do it, Marco can. A symbolic action to point the way forward would be to shut down the abuses of Gasboy once and for all, then we'd know for sure we were breaking with the corroded  ethics of the past.

  11. Anonymous says:

    So….. Ken Jefferson prepared several interim budgets for the last administrations UDP/PNA having been financial secretary before that but now Marco has to prepare a full one in a few weeks – really?

  12. Anonymous says:

    implement the miller shaw recommendations….

  13. Anonymous says:

    easy free solutions:

    casinos for tourists/expats only

    sunday trading

    extend bar opening hours on saturday nights

    sell cayman airways

    sell turtle farm

    • Anonymous says:

      Sunday trading and extended bar hours are cost free and would operate across the economy.  Sunday trading would dramatically reduce operating costs for many businesses.  Unfortunately "selling" Cayman Airlines and the turtle farm would come at great cost because they are liabilities not assets.  The casino is probably of less worth than many think, but still would bring in something.

      • Anonymous says:

        how would sunday trading reduce cost for businesses ??? please explain !

        1. extended hours is a no no…way to many drunk drivers on the road and way to many accidents after 2 a.m.

        2. keep turtle farm and cayman air ( for sure )

        3. but "yes" to casinos for sure

    • Anonymous says:

      plus adopt daylight saving time..

  14. Anonymous says:

    Reality is now REALITY !!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Marco is well qualified and ambitious to tackle this task and he can also solicit help from Roy Mc Taggart if needed.  With two financial wizards in the house and many years of experience between them we can expect an attainable and sustainable buget.  We will also for once have integrity and honesty about our financial situation on a day to day basis which we have not had in the past.  I have every confidence in you Marco. 

  16. Anon says:

    You can do this, Marco! We have full confidence in you.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Marco, you have more than luck on your side. May God help you to guide us and your able Government through these very difficult and thorny issues. There is much riding on this. We in turn need to prepare ourselves for austerity measures that will and MUST come.

  18. Hopeful says:

    Lets hope all those degrees… transfer into moves in the right direction.  I am truly hopeful it will.  I hope Merco is wise enough to ask for Roy's assistance also. Good luck Marco, my childrens future depends on you

    • Anonymous says:

      08.41. I beg you pardon!! That is where you and manny other err. Your childre’s future depends on you and them!!

      • Yaseemi says:

        Your comment is ignorant. Gov't sets the stage, with the UDP gov't of the last 4 years, unless youwere on the inside and willing to let your moral go, you were destine to poverty.  A good government sets the stage to allow empowered people to have opportunity and thrive.  But without that government structure it is not up to me and mine.

  19. Bean Counter says:

    How can the country be certain that it has a surplus when the government holds of on paying vendors?

    Without audited accounts to verify and none have been produced for 8 years it is really just numbers on a piece of paper. No one can run their business without correct data to make an informed decision but successive administrations continue to mislead the public and pretend all is in order.

    If you doubt this ask theAuditor General and read his reports.

  20. Anonymous says:

    "Reducing the government’s staff costs…


    Please start by giving the politicians a 30% pay cut.


    These people better start leading by example before they start asking the common person to "make sacrifices".

    • Dennis Smith says:

      Just try to buy the professional knowledge and experience and pay for the volume of work that Marco, Wayne, Winston, Tara, Osbourne, Kurk, Moses and Alden are performing from the professional sector on a politician’s salary. It can’t be done.

      A good business manager makes at least $200,000 to $300,000 pa andan exceptional one much more. Lawyers and Accountants bill at $500+ per hour. Given the steep learning curve, the work and the responsibility I think the Cayman Islands are making out like a bandit with this educated and talented group. A much bigger concern is whether they can solve our problems, build a sustainable foundation for the future and pull off the economic miracle that these Islands need.

      Lets monitor their performance and measure value for money after they show us the results of their management. I for one really appreciate how much they are giving up to fix the country that they love.

      • Anonymous says:

        Government work should be seen more as pro-bono work that is part of one's civic duty.

      • Anonymous says:

        In most 1st world countries, political salaries are much lower that private sector salaries.


        Many politicians serve for several terms at these low rates knowing full well that their name branding will pay huge dividends when they go back into private practice. In Canada a few names easily come to mind: Peter Lougheed, Brian Mulrooney, Jean Cretien, Pierre Trudeau, Paul Martin etc etc etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      Politians need to hold on to that 30% to pay for CUC bills and groceries for the many who are out in full force begging already

      • Anonymous says:

        Do not spoil the people with the hand outs. Truman Bodden never handed out anything but he was honest and kept the Country running in good standing. Once you start with those handouts you will have to sell your soul to continue handing out.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the Politicians pay cut is about 30% then there wont be too many running in the next Election. I dont know how the hell you all expect for the average person to live from the little incomes that they have to work so hard from, when the Politicians earnings per month is more than the average person is for one year. No wonder so many people is stealing. I met an elderly lady today shopping who only had $50 to buy her groceries. She was almost in tears, and from that $50 she had to keep back her bus fare. You can see the stress on our peoples faces. I understand that Alden and Moses K will not be requiring a driver, way to go.

    • Anonymous says:

      The civil service had to take a pay cut but not the statutory authorities and government companies. They are still paying out increments and bonuses and their salaries are way above civil servants'. It's really unfair plus it means that Government is not able to save money on all these inflated salaries.