As many residents of the
Cayman Islands are too painfully aware, the great recession is far from over
here. Not only are many residents and
businesses struggling to get by, but so too is the government. Just last week,
Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly admitted that government had a
difficult time meeting the civil servants’ payroll this month.
On top of that came the
depressing news last week that the United States economic recovery has itself
slowed, creating fears that Cayman’s primary source of tourists and investment
funds will slip into another recession. The effects on Cayman if that happens
could be devastating, especially from the standpoint of government revenues.
So far, all the current
government has really been able to do to address its significant reduction of
revenues is to increase a variety of fees, which has in turn raised the cost of
doing business and the cost of living in the Cayman Islands. As a result,
companies and people are leaving the Cayman Islands for greener, and less expensive,
In this backdrop, we now
learn that the government has paid three high-ranking civil servants nearly a
half a million dollars over the past year to stay home and do nothing. One of those situations came about because of
a UK Privy Council ruling, but the other two occurred solely because of the
change of government in 2009. In other words, the taxpayers of the Cayman
Islands are paying these two individuals six-figure salaries to stay home for
political reasons. This is the kind of ‘fool fool’ folly that makes this
country look, well… extremely foolish.
We’re sure the government
would like nothing better than to be able to terminate the employment of the
individuals, but they can’t. That the elected legislators can do nothing to
rectify the situation gives a clear indication of the inordinate power held by
the civil service – through the governor – in the operational aspects of
government. So while the elected government should accept some criticism for
allowing politics to adversely affect the Cayman Islands, it’s not right either
that the UK should stand on the sidelines watching this happen, knowing the
elected government is powerless to act.