Public spending reined in

| 12/08/2013

(CNS): Efforts by the new finance minister to rein in civil service spending in the last quarter of the year appear to have had some positive results. Speaking at the Progressive’s National Council Meeting on Saturday evening, Marco Archer revealed that even though new government obtained approval for the $46 million overdraft facility from the UK immediately after being elected, it hasn’t had to use it. He said that a directive from his ministry and the decision to appoint a member of the treasury team to coordinate the end of year spending to manage government cash flow had proved very successful. The person, who was nicknamed "the sheriff", managed to keep a tight hold on the purse strings and help government save more money.

“We have managed to control spending very well and have not had to draw on the overdraft facility approved by the FCO,” Archer said. “In June we asked the civil service to exercise prudent cash management and not spend their budget allocation just because they had it.”

Archer told the meeting of the party faithful, which was held in the Mary Miller Hall, that he also intended to hold a meeting of the Finance Committee shortly to address the issue of supplementary appropriations over the last four years. He explained that during its tenure, despite numerous changes to the predicted budgets, the UDP administration had never held any open sessions in the Legislative Assembly, as is required under the law, to approve the budget changes.

Archer said it was important in terms of transparency and accountability so that the wider public could see where changes to spending had been made and why.

The new finance minister also confirmed that he plans to bring the substantive budget for 2013/14 to the Legislative Assembly during the last week of September, giving legislators around five weeks to debate and examine the new PPM government’s spending plans for the remainder of the financial year after the interim budget expires on 31 October.

This is a major change to the pattern of the budget delivery over the last few years, when budgets were delivered at the eleventh hour, forcing legislators to sit into the small hours in order to approve the cash spending and where the expected scrutiny by legislators has been lacking as a result of the marathon sessions.

As the government’s hands are tied by the strict parameters laid down now by the UK, the need to ease the massive tax burden on ordinary people will come as a result of efficiencies, Archer said. He explained that these would not just be confined to prudent spending but that government would be concentrating on collecting what it is properly owed and the amount of random duty waivers currently in operation would be addressed.

“It has become something of a free for all,” Archer stated, as he warned that he was working on a policy document to formally direct the circumstances under which duty is waived. “We need to ensure there is discipline in the way we do things. Discretion is good but there needs to be guidance,” the minister added.

Archer said that preliminary predictions for the 2013/14 budget were around $542 million in operating expenditure and government was expected to collect some $640 million to remain in line with the UK requirement to meet the terms of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR) and the Public Management and Finance Law. Promising no new significant revenue raising measures on the man in the street, Archer said the government would be doing what it could to improve efficiencies so it could cut fuel bills and try to reduce the pressure on the people.

Painting a picture of continued fiscal discipline, Archer said that once public finances were back on a path to sustainable growth, government would be able to begin reducing other fees.

The C4C member of the PPM government, Roy McTaggart, a counsellor in both Archer’s finance ministry and the financial services ministry, said that the Department of Commerce was looking at ways to reduce work permit fees for small businesses.

Speaking on behalf of Finance Minister Wayne Panton, he pointed to some impressive increases in company registrations in the three months since the new government was elected. He said that figures from the General Registry pointed to a far more robust financial sector at present compared to this time last year, which he said was a good sign that the economy was on the turn.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Go Marco!

    Now you have to trim back all the gold-plated Stooges on the top floor of the Glass House – but first take away their golden parachutes!


  2. Anonymous says:

    Well done Minister Archer!  Please also be on the look out for project to 'secure our partiuclar ministry's budget' such as hiring consultants to produce reports that list a bunch of non-existant and aspirtional projects in order to avoid (most likely well deserved) budget cuts.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I thought our premier said austerity measures did work? Whatgives???

  4. Anonymous says:

    Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! Just the kind of management I expected from Marco Archer who I know to be a smart and frugal fellow. THIS is the kind of management that the Finance Department has always needed and I am confident that there are more changes to come and better days ahead. I am proud of you Marco.  I have not been a PPM supporter but I absolutely support Marco Archer 100% and am heartened to see that the PPM appears to be changing gears under his financial leadership. Well done Marco.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent Marco, Your next step should be to recentralize the government financial operation so we can once again produce government accounts. While you are at that, you must do likewise with the HR functions and reintroduce an independent recruitment committee to deal with hiring. It's the only way to keep the epats out of the civil service. Most of them that they bring here mess up. I prefer for my own Caymanian to screw up than to import a foreign worker to screw up.

      • Anonymous says:

        What a truly idiotic comment 21:58. You clearly know nothing about the topics you are commenting on. I suggest you start by reading the HR report from PoCS which will tell you how many Caymanians and expats there are in the civil service. Then you can put your brain to work to come up with a way to replace the expats in, for example, the garbage collection service, the teaching profession, the prisons and the police with Caymanians who if they mess up will be ok by you because they are Caymanians.

        • Anonymous says:

          Poor old 21:58. No doubt he is deliriously happy with the efficiency, excellent customer relations and productivity of these 100% Caymanian staffed departments – the Post Office, the Immigration Department and the Customs Department. In Customs, Government cannot even find a local employee in the Customs dept with the intellect to run to run the place in the 21st century. All the deputies (many named Powery!!) think they are over qualified for the job. Government disagrees. I suppose it's a UK plot.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The chappie is definitely worthy of Oscar consideration.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It is good to have reined in spending but however the PPM had promised a roll-back on fuel tax and that roll-back is not forthcoming thus far despite CUC having increased its rates with the resultant increase in profits leaving the country for the coffers of well-heeled Canadian shareholders of the company. Canadians alraedy are benefitting far too much in this country while indigenous Caymanians are suffering.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Please, Mr Sheriff, release some funds to fix them garbage trucks because I’m sick of these high piles of stinky garbage!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Marco knows very well who the totally useless person is at the top of Finance ( and has been there for years doing nothing except collecting a huge paycheck) so hopefully he will encourage retirement for that person who is well past retirement date. Finance can never improve until that person and one other are gone.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please Marco, get rid of those unless dead beat. We the public have to suffer because of their inepness and incompetent behavior.

    • Anonymous says:

      The whole Brass Section needs to be erased from your government – the senior civil service echelon is comprised entirely of sponges who are choking the progress of the country, while bedazzling each other with their giant smiles, personal contracts and secret handshakes!

      Do it Marco!

  9. Anonymous says:

    He needs to tell Alden that the 'constitution trappings" that McKeeva had has to be given up too. his little press release about hi political appointments scares me. How much are they being paid and are they really necessary? I didn't think Mckeeva needed them and from what I gathered from Alden he would get rid of them but all he did was get rid of McKeeva's and brought in his own. I was hoping the "party" gravy train had stopped with the PPM but here we go again.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Do a FOI on hirings, political appointments and the salaries each post to see cost control at work. LOL

    Also a lot of vendors have not been paid by CI Government and continue to struggle to collect on invoices submitted months ago. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I did. No cook ordriver, or first class airfares, or large entourages for foreign travel, or paying electricity bills for Premier. So definitely savings.

  11. you-na-no-much says:

    Go Marco!! I knew you would do exactly as you promised.

    Now let's see all of you other ministers show the same fortitude to bite the bullet, and do the prudent thing for Caymanians.

    Not so hopeful though about any changes with the Dart Deal. Having noticed that the Premier had to remind the Minister to speak on that subject which he {the minister} apparently did with some reluctance.

    No one should forget all the promises that were made during the campaigning for office, and that  people have become a bit skeptical of promises. People want to see positive change that  benefit the locals along with everyone else!! You all have four years. We have placed our trust in you so please don't disappoint us. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you PPM. Keep un-doing the destruction caused by Dirty Willie his cronies.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The civil service has been working very hard and scaling way back for a lot longer than the last year.  Can we get at least get the COLA raises that we've given up for the last few years?

    • Diogenes says:

      Scaling back !  May be you personally, but the total amount spent has increased massively.  

      • Anonymous says:

        And, Diogenes, according to Moses Kirkonnell, there will have to be extra immigration officers hired to cope with the increased crowding at the airport. I wonder what the naysayers will blame the increase in the civil service on when that happens.

  14. Knot S Smart says:

    This is positive news…

    Thanks Marco, Alden and the PPM…

    And in other good news the only candidate to lose twice in one election is the wanna-be UDP West Bay candidate…

  15. Anonymous says:

    Good job Marco,Roy and Wayane, keep up the good wok, and as a small business owner, I really appreciate your hard work in trying to reduce fees for the smaller business community, God knows we need some assistance as we are struggling to keep up with the bills. May you be successful in your efforts.

    A small business owner

  16. Anonymous says:

    no real news here…… all they are saying is that they are staying within in their budgets which of course is good….. but how are thing going to improve if everything remains the same?..

    read the miller shaw report…

  17. Anonymous says:

    "The Sheriff". Love it!!!

    Go PPM!

    • Anonymous says:

      Only wish that Marco would direct some of his good knowledge on our Immigration control. This is going to be the failure with the PPM. Most of the visitors to our shores are coming here with their own invitation, and after they get here they go around begging for jobs. I suggest that we cut out the Residence and Status business completely except for marriages and even that should have some policing.

  18. BORN FREE says:

    This is responsible governing, thank you Minister Archer & the Progressives government. What a difference from Big Mac's time: night & day; chalk & cheese; XXX, PPM & UDP! What a pleasant change.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is good. Our government is so inefficient and unaccountable it should be possible to reduce spending by 50% or more, which would solve our economic problems. All it takes is someone with the courage to start pulling snouts out of the trough.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Feels positive for a change…

  21. Anonymous says:

    So what have they doen since they been in office for the Caymanian.  SMH

    • Anonymous says:

      Looks like they have done a damn sight more than you…

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are looking for a new household appliance or a cash handout, go see McKeeva.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you think cutting the running costs of goverment do not benefit ALL Caymanians, then you are a damned fool.  Cease with the idiotic comments already.

    • Anonymous says:

      9:49 – everything takes time… ask that question in a year's time. Patience bo bo.

    • Butch Cassidy& the Red Wagonneers says:

      To 9:49 – Dude, what have they DONE? You can’t see there’s a new Sheriff in town to clean up the UDP Ka-Ka & stench the UDP left behind. 


  22. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Marco and PPM. Please clamp down on the 11th hour dumping of the unspent cash that Government departments are known for. Time to stop the "use it or lose it" mentality that many department heads have.

    • Anonymous says:

      Uhm, 'use it or lose it' mentality that the budget process, controlled by the politicians (Finance Committee), has. If you were told "if you dont' spend your paycheque this week you'll get less next week" wouldn't you make sure to spend up to the limit? If Marco will change the system the Civil Service will change with it. So give scorn, and credit, where it is due.

      • Anonymous says:

        The budget process starts with a department estimating how much it needs in order to acheive the objectives that it is required to achieve, and requesting that sum of money from government coffers. Which rather begs the question, why did the department ask for the money in the first place, if it couldn't spend it? Change is needed everywhere, but the basic business skill of accurate budgeting would seem like a good starting point, not the "oh, we asked for x last year, so let's ask for x plus 10% this year" method that seems to be used

    • Anonymous says:

      The Chief Officers should all be canned for allowing & encoruaging this for so many years!

      Acutally – that would be a Great cost savings.. let  see them try to get real jobs with the rest of us in the private sector, then we'll see what they're worth!