Today’s Editorial for October 2: Cut civil service waste

During the public meeting held by the government Tuesday at Mary Miller Hall, United Democratic Party General Secretary Ellio Solomon cited some eye-opening statistics when it came to the growth of government in recent years.

Looking at the operating expenses of core government between the financial years of 2005/06 and 2008/09, Mr. Solomon said they had grown from $372 million to $526 million. That represents in increase of $154 million, or 41 per cent, in just three years under the People’s Progressive Movement administration.

Mr. Solomon also noted the number of civil servants went up from 3,067 to 3,769 in the same period.

These startling increases were contributors factors that ultimately what led to the un-audited CI$81.1 million deficit for the 2008/09 financial year.

It should be obvious to everyone that this kind of growth in government operating expenditure cannot be sustained, especially considering the growth in Cayman’s population hasn’t kept pace with the growth of civil service.

According to statistics in a recent edition of the UK current affairs magazine Private Eye, there are about 522,000 civil servants serving a population of 59.8 million people in the UK. That works out to about 8.7 civil servants per 1,000 people. Estimating there are about 3,800 civil servants in the Cayman Islands and a population of about 60,000, the ratio of civil servants works out to about 63 per 1,000 – more than seven times that of the UK.

We understand that civil servants are people who need jobs to live. By the same token, these people would probably have jobs in the private sector had not so many new civil service positions been created in such a short period of time.

If the review of the public service insisted on by the UK indicates the number of civil servants should be reduced, we hope the government does so in ways that make sense to departments from which they come. If there is deadwood about, that is what should be eliminated first.