Today’s Editorial Novermber 04: Fed up with civil service

At the People’s Progressive Movement public meeting on Monday night, those in attendance primarily wanted to talk about one thing: the expense of the civil service.

The questions and comments from the audience on the topic were so persistent, Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts half-jokingly asked if they could talk about something else for a while.

When Mr. Tibbetts suggested it was an almost impossible task to trim civil service expenditure, someone in the audience yelled out ‘it shouldn’t be!’

Also on Monday night, we heard George Town MLA and former Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin say he was told by his former chief officer that if he wanted his policies carried out, he had to follow the civil servant’s plan.

The truth of the matter is that many people in this country are fed up with what they perceive as a civil service out of government control.

However, every politician recognises that the civil service represents the largest and most powerful voting block in the Cayman Islands. Mr. Tibbetts said it was a recipe for disaster for any elected government to target civil servants. He didn’t use the words ‘political suicide’, but he could have.

Although overspending on capital projects contributed to Cayman’s current financial woes, overspending on the civil service was also a big factor. The UK has steadily maintained that Cayman must reduce government operating costs, and reducing the size of civil service and/or civil servants pay is a logical way of doing that.

But instead of logic, we get politicians too worried about their elected status to do what’s right for the territory. Ultimately, pandering to the civil service in such a way might have serious repercussions for the Cayman Islands, including the imposition of direct taxation.

The people of this land have good reason to be fed up.