Today’s Editorial for January 29: The tax clock is ticking

This week, there were two front
page stories in the Caymanian Compass that should send shivers down the spines
of Cayman Islands residents.

On Tuesday, we learned that some
6,000 people – more than 16 per cent of the entire Cayman
Islands labour force – work for either core government, government’s
statutory authorities, or government-owned companies.   That statistic means there are more than 100
people working for government for every 1,000 people in the population, a
figure that is off the charts of prudent government operations.

Today we find out that despite the
government budget problems, there are three civil servants who are getting paid
six-figure annual salaries for not coming to work.  These employees, who are in the Cayman
Islands’ version of civil service Siberia, are
not there through any fault of their own; they are there for political reasons.

Governments the world over often
want people they can work with and trust in key civil service positions.
However, if elected politicians decide to move civil servants out of these key
positions, those ousted in other countries don’t normally continue to draw
their same pay for doing nothing for months on end.  To allow that here, in the context of the
current budget crisis, is beyond outrageous and would border on laughable if
the stakes weren’t so high.

If you ask the politicians, they’ll
tell you it’s out of their hands; that it’s a matter for the civil
service. 

The question then becomes, who is
running this civil service show?  Is it
not the governor who ultimately has responsibility for civil service?

The UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth
Office has said it wants the Cayman government to take steps to reign in public
expenditure, yet its own representative here does nothing.  Is the Cayman Islands
civil service a law unto itself that no one can control?

The 2009/10 government budget
projections, especially when it comes to revenue, are likely to fall
short.  Everyone knows the UK will push
for direct taxation when that happens.  The
clock is ticking and it looks like no one has any power to do anything to stop
the impending explosion of taxation.

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