The civil service is hiring 100 new members of staff despite a hiring freeze and a government undertaking to the UK government that it will carry out a cost-cutting review of the public service.
Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks said the civil service planned to hire people for 100 positions which needed to be filled due to new posts being created or vacated positions due to retirement.
He said there had been a policy in place for the past 12 months to only replace essential staff and this had resulted in a reduction of 150 staff.
According to estimates from the Portfolio of the Civil Service, 3,680 people were employed within the Cayman Islands Government at the end of last month, compared to the end of 2007 when nearly 4,000 people held government jobs.
In response to a question from Opposition Member of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Ebanks said he was unable to immediately provide information on how many new hires had been made by the Civil Service in the past 12 months, since a hiring moratorium was put in place in October last year.
Mr. Ebanks told the Finance Committee on Friday that a strategy for carrying out the review was underway and he expected to begin implementing that strategy within the next two weeks.
The UK has asked for the findings to be submitted by January 2010.
Mr. Ebanks said no specific funds had been set aside to do a review of staffing and resources in the civil service. ‘The dialogue is less than 10 days old and so did not form part of the numbers being manipulated here…,’ he told the committee which is scrutinising the proposed 2009-2010 budget.
Mr. Ebanks said he did not immediately have available information on precisely how many new hires there had been in the past 12 months.
Opposition Member of the Legislative Assembly Alden McLaughlin argued the government should have a say in the staffing and hiring policy in the civil service.
‘I believe that the decentralisation of many of the government functions is the major culprit in the growth of public service and the consequential expense,’ he said, adding the new constitution gave elected members the scope to have more input on the hiring of civil service personnel.
Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said that while the government may not have input in who is hired for civil servant posts, it should manage the expectations of the public.
‘We don’t control hiring, but what we can control is the rising expectations by our people. For everything that we put forward as a government, there is… a corresponding add-on effect,’ he said.
He pointed to the example of the police commissioner telling him community policing needed to be increased and the corresponding costs involved in that.
The chief secretary explained that he believed Cayman’s growth over the past 30 years was the equivalent of 50 to 60 years in other countries.
‘It isn’t very surprising that as we add new services and become a relatively sophisticated community in terms of the services we offer, that the cost of services increase,’ he said.
He cited the setting up of the Complaints Commissioner’s Office and the Freedom of Information Office, describing them as ‘nice accessories that not everyone in our leave would have’, adding, ‘Is it surprising that costs have continued to grow?’
He agreed that elected politicians should be better empowered to have input in how the public purse is spent on staffing the civil service.: