Public service overhaul recommended

Miller Report is in

The report of the independent
commission headed by James Miller recommends a major overhaul of the Cayman
Islands public service.

Premier McKeeva Bush said Wednesday
that he received a copy of the report over the weekend.

“It is a very strong report,” he
said. “It confirms what many people have been saying over the years and what I
have been saying since I took office, and that is that we cannot sustain the
current levels of expenditure.”

Mr. Bush said the report noted that
Cayman’s civil service “had grown too large.”

 “It calls for a serious overhaul of the way
things have been done in the past,” he said.

The strong recommendations of the
report led Mr. Bush to meet with the heads of government departments and
statutory authorities Wednesday morning to discuss a way forward.  He said he was pleased with the way the
meeting went.

“There is a realisation that the
business model of government has to change,” he said. “But the expectation of
the public on services has to change, too.”

Mr. Bush said the department heads
understood that something significant has to be done to reduce expenditure. He
said he told them the choices are either salary cuts or losing jobs.

“They will now go away and discuss
what cuts have to be made,” he said.

Although Mr. Bush suggested this
week in Legislative Assembly that public servants take pay cuts that would vary
in percentage depending on their salary, he said that was only one possible

“Salaries is the last thing I want
to cut, but general expenditure must be reduced.”

Mr. Bush said the report also
called for a divestment of public assets

As a condition for the UK’s  allowing the Cayman Islands to borrow past the
limits prescribed by the Public Management and Finance Law, the government
agreed to undertake a professional assessment on the sustainability of Cayman’s
revenue base, the options for new revenues – including direct taxation – as
well as an assessment on government spending.

Cayman needed the additional
borrowing to ease a severe cash crunch that occurred last September.

Mr. Bush said he would release the
Miller Commission report, but not just yet.

“I’m going to make it public, but I
can’t until after I discuss it with London,” he said.  “In support of full co-operation with them, I
can’t make it public until I get back.”

Mr. Bush is scheduled to travel to
London for the discussions with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office next
week.  He said he would be in the UK for
one week.

Prior to leaving, Mr. Bush said he
would address the country next Monday.

With regard to broadening Cayman’s
revenue base, Mr. Bush said the report did make a number of recommendations,
but he declined to elaborate in advance to his discussions in London.