New rules coming for PAs

| 18/11/2014

(CNS): The government is currently working on a new law which will see the rules regarding government companies such as Cayman Airways and the Turtle Farm, as well as the bodies that manage the port, the airport and the Water Authority, follow more standardized practices. Despite being government-owned, these various public entities have functioned separately with their own boards and rules. Many have different recruitment practices, benefits packages and management and accounts systems. But given that more than $114 million of taxpayers’ money goes to these companies and authorities annually to provide services or service debts, the Cabinet wants to regain some control and introduce across the board standards.

Speaking at a press briefing last week, Premier Alden McLaughlin said the current "ad hoc system" will be changed when the new law moves through the parliament sometime in the New Year, as he pointed to some of the problems with the way that public bodies function.

Government is seeking to remove the random management practices that have characterized some of the agencies and create standard recruitment and HR systems as well as pay and benefits packages for staff.

Government has 25 statutory authorities and government companies and many of them have entirely different management systems from each other and from core government. Marco Archer, the finance minister, recently described them as “a mixture of small, medium and large entities with varying degrees of reliance on financial support from the government”.

The drain on government resources from the Turtle Farm, for example, is well-documented but other entities such as the port and the Maritime Authority, which were meant to be profit making entities, are also facing problems. While others, such as the Water Authority and the Airport Authority, generate income, in some cases the government has lost control of what is happening inside the entities, which has result in significant problems and, according to the auditor general, the serious risk of abuse of public cash.

On top of the various types of problems, regardless of the size or system, their financial performance directly impacts the government’s financial results and the quality of the financial statements.

As a result, Archer said at the government’s professional development course last week that government has already stepped up its scrutiny of the SAGCs in order to ensure that they are “prioritizing the need for improved financial management; improved financial performance; and enhanced accountability for the way they carry out their functions”.

The public authorities all fall under the Public Management and Finance Law, which has some tight regulations and rules, but because they operate as distinct entities, each with separate boards of directors, they have sometimes been in conflict with it and the vision of the government.

“This occasionally results in unintended negative consequences, either in terms of policy direction and or financial performance,” Archer stated, as he explained that the draft bill may seek to better define the roles, responsibilities and autonomy of SAGCs and their relationship with Cabinet.

Archer further stated that government would be planning improvements regarding how all public sector agencies track and report their performance to show exactly how public money is spent.

“It is crucially important that the people of the country are given meaningful reports that allow for the assessment of how well agencies are performingand how that work aligns with the strategy and policies of the Cabinet,” Archer said. “The PMFL has a very complex performance reporting framework that has not worked as envisioned. The current system of Output specification and reporting requires an enormous amount of manual work and does not produce the type of information that Cabinet or the Legislative Assembly needs to properly evaluate agency performance.”

He said that the budget statements produced by government may provide an enormous amount of information but he questioned how useful it was as it does not really show the activities of a given agency or how well it is doing what it should do.

Over 2,000 people work in the 25 public authorities that fall outside of core government and the premier has indicated that his government is keen to see those public employees on morestandardized HR packages, as well as working more on government rather than their board’s policies. He said the bill would create common standards, not just for the financial reporting but in employment as well.

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  1. Kadafe says:

    Yay! Adding  another 2000+ persons onto an already failing and substandard insurance policy.  Can't wait to see the great healthcare provided under that system!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Let's be clear that the position of Premier is not one of a passive monarch, or one of selective responsibility: it's the new label for the position of Leader of Government Business, which dictates that the buck stops with him (or her), just as it should have with the previous Premier and LOGBs going back over a decade.  We need a leader that will fill these shoes, and a mechanism to remove them if they don't.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I look forward to getting the 12% free pension contribtions!

    I don't look forward to the additional 2,000 people having to use CINICO

    • anonymous says:

      12% is only good if your pension exists. Otherwise 12 % of something misplaced or unaccounted for is still the same as zero.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Are "new rules" still rules if nobody pays any attention to them?

  5. Anonymous says:

    But who is going to be held "accountable" for allowing the creation of all these PA's (moved from Central Govt.) without sensible controls (laws and policies) in place?

    That's right folks….no one!

    With so many very highly paid powers that be….and no one saw this coming?….BS!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Woo Hoo!

    More laws that will not be enforced.

    What a waste.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Will we be bringing wages into parity. I want a callout agreement like Paul from the port has.

    Easy money for sweet ^&*&* all.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well Im confused. I thought the Authorities were set up to be independent and run like a business. Now the politicians want more controll. The fact is some are well run and the reason some are a disaster is because Politicians put unqualified friends on the boards who were also of questionable character and then proceeded to meddle in the running of them. Why not just hold people accountable for their actions.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Boards can be and in most cases have recently been changed for the better. The bigger  problem is when Politicians put their unqualified buddies in high paying "jobs for life" at the SA's. It is almost impossible to move these people once they are in and the entire organization suffers from incompetence at the top.

  9. Anonymous says:

    About time. This should stop the favourtism and harrassment that some employees get from their supervisors and heads of department as they are accountable to no one and the poor staff have to rely on the LABOUR DEPARTMENT which is a waste of time. Longevity of service also needs to be done away with promoting to higher positions that involve human resources as too many are given top positions and they do not have a clue how to deal with employees. No one should have to work under fear and be ruled by fear and controlwhich is what happens at the authorities.

  10. Out of control crony spending says:

    Prime example: Pedro St James Management

  11. Dreadlock Holmes says:

    New Rules:

    You must show up.

    You must do something.

    If you spend money like a drunken must provide receipts.

    You can't leave early.

    It will tough at first.  But with a little effort and team work ..we can make this go away!

    • I. M. Wright says:

      Show up?  Do something?  Can't leave early!  Have you lost your mind?  You're asking too much!    I can handle the little effort part 'cause that's my specialty…. little effort.  I'm not sure about the team work, 'cause I don't know nothing about teams but I know that mules work in teams so I don't want no part of that.  What I want is a job in management where you get credit cards and other good stuff and nobody knows how much you spend or put aside for later.  I heard you can leave your job and come back later and get two payments for whatever you might do..i just hope the high ups don't screw things up for us.  You high ups got to be careful.  Don't do nothingthat would cause us to vote for somebody else.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If it happens a step in the right direction..possibly…

  13. Better late than never says:

    Not surprised about this either.

  14. Anonymous says:

    If we can get more politician involvement in the PAs then we can really lose some serious money.  But we will get some great sound bytes.

  15. Anonymous says:

    It's not that difficult to keep accounts if you:

    a) Desire to keep them – ie. incentives or penalties (see c)

    b) Take a half day to learn the software and how to correctly book a DR or DR.

    c) Have a reporting officer that demands that records be kept, or will replace you

    The Cayman Islands government spent a lot of money on software that nobody seems to be using – because nobody has made them use it.  That person (who must surely be pulling in 6 figures) should at minimum be demoted, resign in disgrace, or be fired themsleves.


    • Anonymous says:

      For a country where shaming is common place for young children, the idea that a politician would feel shame here when it is discovered they are gambling, using government credit cards, shamefully putting cronies into jobs, accounts not balanced, expenses not backed up by receipts, is a total joke.  They cannot be shamed.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Great! I expect we will see a draft around 2034

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes oerhaps, but which draft ?

      • Anonymous says:

        Presumably one that has been plagerized from the internet then circulated to industry for "comment" (also known as the actual drafting process).

        • Anonymous says:

          No 9:09, it was drafted here in Cayman almost 10 years ago but the then heads of the Authorities did not want the bill as it limited their perks and bonuses and salaries among other things so it was shelved. It has been modified and you will see the draft soon as Government now realises the Authorities are out of control with senior managers earning HUGE salaries.

      • Anonymous says:

        An overdraft maybe?

        • anonymous says:

          Nope, due to losing 1.5 billion in 2009, a further 1 billion lost this year, no government records kept of financial transactions, government credit cards that don't seem to be paid back and a minister of finance who is addicted to slot machines, I don't even think they will get an interview for an overdraft.

          I would not authorise any release of funds if I saw this history before me.