Today’s Editorial for November 24: The fox and the henhouse

Among the conditions set by the UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Chris Bryant before granting the Cayman Islands approval to borrow above the limits prescribed by the Public Management and Finance Law, was an independent revenue study.

This study, which is due by the end of the year, will look at the sustainability of Cayman’s revenue base and consider the feasibility of other new revenue sources, including some sort of direct taxation.

Another condition laid out by the UK was for there to be a review of the public service in an effort to make real cuts in public expenditure.

Although the revenue study is now under way, nothing yet has happened with the review of the public service. Premier McKeeva Bush has told the Caymanian Compass the civil service wants to conduct the public service review itself rather than having an independent reviewer.

If this is allowed to happen, it would, in analogical terms, be like the fox guarding the henhouse.

The results of such a self-evaluation would be predictable; the civil service will undoubtedly resist any scaling back in size or salaries.

We can understand the civil servants’ fears. No one wants to lose their job. No one wants to take a pay cut. No one wants to work harder for the same money. But these are exactly the kinds of things that the private sector has had to do in order to survive in the current economic climate and this is exactly what the civil service must do to help the Cayman Islands survive and prosper in the future.

The government has produced a budget that actually reduces government expenditure over the next three years and the only way that is going to happen is if the civil service makes some real – and probably painful – cuts.

Having the civil service review itself at this point is a waste of time and resources. An independent review of the civil service is essential, especially if this country wants to avoid the imposition of direct taxation.