CIMA understaffed, cramped

Chairman of the Board Tim Ridley said the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority is understaffed and working out of inadequate office accommodations.

Noting that the solution to the problem comes down to funding, Mr. Ridley said CIMA will ask the government for an increased budget for the fiscal year of 2005/06. He spoke at the Cayman Islands Bankers’ Association quarterly luncheon on Wednesday.

CIMA has a staff of 94 people, which Mr. Ridley said is insufficient.

‘We are currently understaffed, most notably in the insurance and investments and securities divisions that are critical divisions, given the continued growth of the industries,’ he said.

‘This pressure is exacerbated by the mandate to review the domestic industry in the light of Hurricane Ivan and the additional responsibilities imposed by the Securities and Investment Business Law.’

As a result of its lack of staffing, CIMA had to suspend its on-site inspection programme of licensees.

‘We won’t be able to meet the obligations (of the on-site inspections) under current staffing conditions,’ Mr. Ridley said.

‘We are currently reviewing our projected staffing needs in light of the new risk rating and staffing methodology and will be discussing this with Government over the next few months as we negotiate our Ownership and Purchase Agreements and budget for fiscal 05/06,’ he said.

Mr. Ridley also noted that CIMA has a board of directors of nine people, one less than it had until the resignation of former chairman Mike Austin on 31 July 2004.

‘We need a least one more locally based director in order to enable the executive committee and other sub-committees of the board to function effectively,’ he said.

‘The problem we have is the enforcement executive committees need a core of local directors,’ he said. ‘The pool of people to draw from is very small. We need a person with the right experience, the right background and the willingness to work.’

Mr. Ridley noted that most people with those qualities are still working full-time with their careers and that CIMA directorship also required a lot of work.

Another issue of particular concern for CIMA is its accommodations situation, Mr. Ridley said.

‘We are woefully short of office accommodation,’ he said.

Mr. Ridley pointed out that CIMA was recently able to secure some additional space at Elizabethan Square, which it will occupy soon as a short term solution to the problem.

However, in the long term, Mr. Ridley said CIMA needs a Category 5 hurricane-rated building to ensure it could carry on its vital work in the event of another major hurricane.

Although CIMA’s current offices survived Hurricane Ivan well, Mr. Ridley indicated it might not be so fortuitous if another hurricane hit.

‘There’s nothing magic about Elizabethan Square,’ he said. ‘We were just lucky.’

Mr. Ridley pointed out that CIMA is an important revenue earner for the Government.

CIMA provided Government with CI$38.48 million last year, he said.

‘This was a significant contribution to the Government,’ he said.

In addition, Mr. Ridley said CIMA provides an essential service as it works to fulfil its mission statement of ‘enhancing the economic wealth and reputation of the Cayman Islands by fostering a thriving and growing, competitive and internationally -recognised financial services industry through appropriate, responsive, cost-efficient and efficient supervision and stable currency.’

Mr. Ridley assured the attendees of the luncheon that CIMA would only ask for the additional funding it needs to operate effectively.

‘The increased funding is not attributable to any increased benefits for anyone at CIMA,’ he said.

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