Today’s Editorial March 18: Make salaries public

Should the salaries of high ranking government employees be revealed to the public?

We certainly think so.

We don’t want to know salaries just to be nosey.

We think the public, which ultimately pays those salaries, should be privy to the information.

The Caymanian Compass has requested, through the Freedom of Information Law, certain salaries of people who hold top positions within Cayman’s government.

We want to know what Acting Police Commissioner James Smith is making because the full-time job is being advertised between $109,000 and $130,000.

If Mr. Smith is making more than the advertised salary, the public should know. His post could arguably be the most public of any government official because the police commissioner is responsible to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A similar FOI request was made for the 21 employees of Government Information Services, which includes information officers, graphic artists, video and audio production employees, Internet employees and clerical staff.

Again, we received ranges of salaries for those employees, but nothing specific. What we did learn is that GIS employs 21 people to disseminate government information to media houses throughout the Cayman Islands. We would bet some in the Cayman Islands didn’t know there were that many people on staff at the information services department.

The Compass understands the exceptions under the FOI Law to exclude personal data from a government record that is released to the public.

Most personal data is just that and we’re really not interested.

But we are interested in salaries – again, those of top ranking employees – because we are paying those people.

While we don’t have direct taxes in the Cayman Islands, we certainly are putting our hard-earned dollars into the government’s coffers to pay these salaries.

Every time we buy a gallon of milk, put petrol in our vehicles or pay duty on an item we bring into the country, we are paying what could be considered a hidden tax.

We would bet that the 75-year-old widow on a fixed income from a pension struggling to make the decision whether to buy that needed medication or a hot meal would like to know how much our top ranking government employees are raking in.

Salaries of top government employees should be a matter of public record anyway. No one should have to make an FOI request to find out how much the commissioner of police, lawmakers, the governor or anyone else in a position of authority makes. Those figures should be available at all times.

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