Civil service pay cuts on hold

Cayman Islands
civil servants were advised Thursday that salary and pension cuts announced via
a 4 March memo would not be taking effect, at least not this month.

 Officials
with the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association confirmed late Thursday that
plans for salary cuts between 5 and fifteen per cent in March had been revamped
and that proposals for a 100 per cent pension suspension had been deferred.

Also,
plans announced in the 4 March memo from Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson,
which would have required all civil servants making at least $3,000 per
month to pay 50 per cent of their monthly health care premiums, were no longer
being considered.

Civil Service
Association President James Watler told the Caymanian Compass that the government
was still proposing to reduce civil servant salaries by roughly three per cent
– basically the amount government workers received in cost of living pay increases
last year. However, he said that was just the latest proposal he’d heard.

“It’s
better than what they had proposed,” Mr. Watler said. “Things are extremely fluid
right now.”

Another civil
service official said that a memo released by Acting Deputy Governor Franz
Manderson on Thursday asked government departments to focus on cutting
non-salary budgets by 15 per cent, in efforts to reduce a projected $61.7
million deficit in government’s operations budget.

That 15 per
cent budget cut was also ordered by Mr. Jefferson in the 4 March memo.

Neither Mr.
Jefferson nor Premier McKeeva Bush was in Cayman at the time of the announcement.
Both men, along with Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor, were involved in
negotiations with the United Kingdom
in London.

UK officials are currently reviewing an independent
commission’s report that suggested a number of measures Cayman might take to
get it through its current budget crisis. Although that report has not been
made public, it was understood it recommended major cuts in the public sector.

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