Civil servants warned

Salaries, benefits could go down

Donovan Ebanks

Donovan Ebanks – Chief Secretary

An administrative circular sent to all civil servants Friday warned them of possible reductions in salaries and benefits as a result of the economic crisis in the Cayman Islands.

The circular, which was sent out by Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks, noted the Cayman Islands Government has incurred a deficit of almost $75 million for the 2008/09 financial year that ended 30 June and that revenues are forecast to continue declining.

‘If revenues continue to fall and expenditure remains the same, the $75 million deficit of last year will be far exceeded,’ Mr. Ebanks wrote, adding that the current financial situation was simply not viable.

‘The government frankly does not have the money to continue to spend at the same level while revenues decline,’ he said, ‘and we all need to understand that the government will not be able to rectify this situation solely through increased borrowings.’

Mr. Ebanks said there would consequently be a series of cost reduction measures implemented across the entire public sector, including core government ministries, portfolios, offices, departments, units and sections, as well as all statutory authorities and government-owned companies.

‘With the government facing this unprecedented financial situation, significant changes are required in the way we do business,’ Mr. Ebanks wrote. ‘Every public servant can contribute by pursuing efficiency measures such as reducing electricity consumption, restricting use of government vehicles after hours, eliminating personal telephone usage and avoiding unnecessary purchases of furniture and equipment, etc.’

The cost reduction measures might not end there, although Mr. Ebanks assured civil servants that government would make every effort to preserve jobs.

‘However, it should also be clearly understood that adjustments to employment conditions, including salaries and benefits, may be necessary in order to overcome this difficult time.’

Mr. Ebanks called Cayman’s financial crisis ‘the most challenging times that I have seen in my 34 years of public service’.

‘We must be prepared to put aside selfishness and indifference,’ he wrote. ‘Instead, we must take our share of responsibility and accept sacrifice.’

Mr. Ebanks asked civil servants to put forward ideas on how to cut costs, telling them to send their ideas to the head of their department or agency; to Budget and Management Unit Director Ronnie Dunn; or to Portfolio of the Civil Service Chief Officer Gloria McField-Nixon.

Contacted about the circular, Mr. Ebanks said he didn’t think it appropriate to comment about it publicly at this point.

‘The circular was really aimed at civil servants,’ he said. ‘A further public statement will probably be issued later this week.’

Mr. Ebanks

PULLOUT

‘With the government facing this unprecedented financial situation, significant changes are required in the way we do business. Every public servant can contribute by pursuing efficiency measures such as reducing electricity consumption, restricting use of government vehicles after hours, eliminating personal telephone usage and avoiding unnecessary purchases of furniture and equipment, etc.’

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