Education ministry reviews staff

Newly-appointed Education Minister Rolston Anglin said this week that he intends to begin a review of his ministry’s staff with an eye toward streamlining operations and potentially reducing the number of jobs there.

Mr. Anglin expressed concern that there may simply be too many people working within that office.

‘If you come in and find a ministry that has 30-plus people, and you find every other ministry is 1/3 of your size, you may need to look at that ministry,’ Mr. Anglin told the Caymanian Compass. ‘We are obviously looking at everything that we have. We want to be as efficient as we can.’

Mr. Anglin said he would have Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues conduct the review of the ministry positions.

Reducing the size of the ministry office doesn’t necessarily mean cutting staff from government. For instance, Mr. Anglin said four people had been sent from the ministry office to the Department of Education since the new government’s arrival.

The minister also noted that some of the previous responsibilities of his office, namely the Ministries of Sports, Culture and Youth, had been shifted to other ministries by the new government and so some of those individuals who previously worked at his office had been transferred elsewhere.

‘Those individuals are still employed elsewhere in government,’ he said. ‘We have about 23 or 24 total staff now.

‘I think you will find the other (government) ministries don’t even have half that amount (of 30-plus employees),’ Mr. Anglin said.

Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush advised that his Tourism Ministry had approximately nine people employed there when he first took over following the 20 May elections.

The entire Ministry of District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs, under Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, currently employs 19 people.

The Ministries of Health and Housing had not responded to Compass requests about their respective staff sizes by press time.

‘I think not only the Ministry of Education, but the entire government, should look at how efficient it can be,’ Mr. Anglin said.

The size of the civil service in general has been an issue of some debate in recent years here in Cayman.

The most recent Annual Economic Report available, completed by the Economics and Statistics Office for the calendar year 2007, showed there has been a sizable increase in government employees.

In 2006, government employed approximately 3,520 personnel. At the end of 2007, that number had risen to 3,843, according to the statistics office report.

The previous government had introduced plans to hire another 300 or so civil servants during the current 2008/09 budget year, but had to put those plans on hold as the country’s economic situation deteriorated.

To deal with the drop in revenues, government enacted a six-per-cent across-the-board budget reduction and also put in place a ‘soft’ hiring freeze that allowed government departments to hire personnel considered essential, but that delayed filling most positions.

However, former Education Minister Alden McLaughlin said during a recent interview that the ‘soft freeze’ never actually happened in some departments because of bureaucratic resistance.

The government’s projected operating deficit, according to Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson, has ballooned from an estimated $29 million in March to a figure of some $74 million this month.

Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush has proposed substantial borrowing of some $282 million as part of plans to get government through the first four months of the new fiscal year which starts on 1 July. However, he has said he will oppose the enactment of any new ‘major revenue measures’ to support government operations.