Monetary Authority won’t move in
One of the largest tenants of the new Government Office Administration Project will not be moving in after all.
Premier McKeeva Bush confirmed this week that the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, which was supposed to occupy a space for at least 204 people on the third floor of the new five-storey building, will not be moving in.
“CIMA cannot go in there,” he said. “I support the Monetary Authority in their representations.”
The primary reason the Monetary Authority won’t move into the building, which will house all government ministries, the Cabinet office and many other government entities, is that it needs to be autonomous of government, Mr. Bush said.
“We’ve already been warned by the [International Monetary Fund] and several other international financial organisations that Monetary Authority needs to be autonomous,” he said, noting that Monetary Authority had misgivings about moving into the building from the beginning. “We take enough battering internationally as it is. It will not give a ring of [the Monetary Authority] being an independent authority if they move in there.”
Opposition Leader Kurt Tibbetts, who was Leader of Government Business when the GOAP was planned and later begun, confirmed that Monetary Authority had expressed reservations about moving into the building from the beginning.
“At the time, we didn’t agree for them not to be there,” he said. “Personally, I didn’t see the logic as to why they shouldn’t be there.”
As a result of the People’s Progressive Movement government’s decision, plans went forward for the Monetary Authority to be a major tenant of the building, a move that was eventually sanctioned by the Monetary Authority’s Board.
However, according to a Monetary Authority source, the situation changed after the financial crisis in late 2008 and the subsequent international pressures brought to bear on offshore financial centres.
“There may be rationale for the decision from that perspective… from the image situation,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “But once the space is filled and government doesn’t have to pay rent for some government departments, it doesn’t really matter. Not all government departments could move in there anyway.”
Mr. Bush said other departments of government would indeed move into the building.
“We need all the space we can get in there,” he said.
Mr. Bush said the Department of Commerce and Investment, which currently rents space at the Cayman Corporate Centre, would be one entity that would now move into the building. Ironically, the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau, which became the Department of Commerce and Investment, was originally slated to move into the new Government Office Accommodation building, but was later taken out.
The delay in making the decision, however, could cost the government a considerable amount of money, because the Monetary Authority’s space was fit out especially to its needs.
Project Manager Jim Scott said he was told as recently as last year the Monetary Authority would need enough space to accommodate 204 staff members – up from 187 – and would also need additional space for future expansion.
“They were provided with all the provisions they asked for,” he said.
Mr. Scott also said the Monetary’s Authority space was custom built – at a cost of about $3.5 million – and includes a data centre with a dry gas system “which is all redundant now”.
The Monetary Authority’s space also included a vault. Mr. Scott said the organisation’s ground floor currency operations would still move into the new Government Office Accommodation, but that only eight personnel are involved with those operations.
Mr. Scott conceded, however, that much of the fit-out could be used by other government entities and that if departments like Computer Services made use of the data centre, even part of the fit-out wouldn’t necessarily be wasted.
However, because of the lateness of the decision, Mr. Scott said it was still uncertain which government entities would take the space originally slated for the Monetary Authority.