$500,000 paid for year of no work

Cayman Islands taxpayers
spent an estimated $388,836 for the salaries of three high-ranking civil
servants who were on ‘required leave’ and officially did no work for government
between 1 July, 2009 and 30 June, 2010, open records requests made by the
Caymanian Compass have revealed.

If the standard 12 per
cent pension contribution was added to those three salaries for the year, the
total jumps to more than $435,000.

Adding the salary of a
fourth civil servant, who is being paid by government while not working because
of an order from the UK Privy Council, brings the total spent on the four idled
civil servants’ salaries and pensions during the 2009/10 budget year to about
$500,000.

The unusual aspect of all
four civil servants’ situations is that none of them has been accused of any
wrongdoing that would have forced them to be placed on paid leave.

According to additional
records obtained through the Freedom of Information Law, one of the four civil
servants – former Ministry of Education Chief Officer Angela Martins – recently
retired from the civil service after being on required leave for more than a
year. Although she is entitled to a government pension, her previous monthly
salary of $10,801 is no longer being paid.

However, government
records released last week indicated that two other high-ranking civil servants
– former deputy financial secretary Deborah Drummond and former Health Ministry
chief officer Diane Montoya – remained on required leave at the same pay level
as Ms Martins. This means government has been spending the same $10,801 per
month for each of them, even after the end of the 2009/10 budget year.

Deputy Governor Donovan
Ebanks was interviewed about the situation in January when the Compass broke
this story. At the time, Mr. Ebanks said no time limit is placed on the period
of required leave involving the idled chief officers. 

Mr. Ebanks said the civil
service could not place any limits on the required leave pay period because the
arrangements the three chief officers found themselves in “were not initiated
by the individuals”.

Moreover, Mr. Ebanks
confirmed there was no active placement effort under way to find new jobs for
the three idled civil service chief officers, even though at least two of them
had expressed a desire to return to government work.

“There is no active and
assertive placement programme aimed at assigning them in positions,” Mr. Ebanks
wrote in an email in response to questions on the matter. “We are mindful of
them and their current status.”

Mr. Ebanks declined to
respond to numerous questions about Ms Martins’ status following her
retirement.

Phone calls to Ms Martins
seeking comment were not returned.

The jobs previously held
by Ms Martins, Ms Montoya and Ms Drummond have been filled by other individuals
following the ascension of the United Democratic Party to power in May 2009.
According to Mr. Ebanks, Ms Montoya and Ms Drummond would have to be placed
within similar positions at similar pay levels to the ones they were in prior
to being placed on required leave, if they were to return to government.

The fourth idled civil
servant, Astley McLaughlin, is a scientist whom the UK courts determined was
wrongfully fired by the Cayman Islands government in 1999. Mr. McLaughlin has
been on the public payroll since the Privy Council’s judgment on his case.

“No agency has indicated
an interest in employing him,” Mr. Ebanks said in January.

Mr. McLaughlin – now
listed as receiving a salary of between $55,128 and $74,136 per year – will
have to be paid until he reaches age 60, regardless of whether he is again
employed by government. Age 60 is typically the mandatory retirement age for
Cayman Islands government workers.

Other Cayman Islands civil
servants are currently on paid leave for various reasons. For instance, in the
case of suspended Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon, he is
awaiting a decision on disciplinary proceedings brought against him as a result
of the Operation Tempura investigation. But none of the four idled civil
servants mentioned above find themselves in that situation.

The Cayman Islands Public
Service Management Law sets out strict guidelines for removing civil servants,
particularly chief officers, from office. The rules generally make it very
difficult to remove chief officers for any reason other than gross misconduct,
loss of mental capacity, serious illness, or significant inadequate performance
over a reasonable period of time.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. OMG! What next! First we’re paying all McKeeva’s bills now we’re paying for others who aren’t even working! Yet every month the same amount comes out of my salary for pension and health but I don’t reap the benefits!

    Somebody do something!

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  2. Wow, when I grow up I want to be a civil servant. This is just ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Who writes these laws. In every country in the world when there is a change in administration, most governments have their own people that they appoint to certain positions. In many other countries in the Caribbean, a Chief Officer would be somewhat akin to a Permanent Secretary. It is a political post and not a civil service appointed one. Why is it that we have politically appointed posts coming under the auspices of the Public Service Management Law. This is getting crazier and crazier.

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  3. Ah! Oh! so the UDP and its leader is responsible for this hefty tab on the tax payers back.and more over for this WASTE of tax payers money, not to mention this incomprehensible act of ignorance and incompetency.

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  4. Tennis Ace:
    Permanent Secretaries are not politically appointed officers – hence their title. I suggest you look at a few Constitutions to help sort out your ideas.You may find some information about Special Advisers, PR advisers etc, who are indeed appointed by elected Government politicians, on contract: and of course, for most of whom the taxpayer ends up paying, anyway.
    On the specific situation in Cayman, see my comment on another thread on this subject.

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