Editorial for April 4: Is double dipping wrong?

The issue raised in one of our front
page stories from Friday’s paper has caused the Caymanian Compass some
consternation over the past several years.

It’s the question of whether public
servants should be able to receive pension while continuing to work for
government. We have spent considerable time studying this issue and actually
haven’t come to a definite conclusion.

On one hand it would seem like a
no-brainer. If you’re working, you’re working. If you’re retired, you’re
retired. Never the two shall meet.

But in the modern world things have
changed. The days of working 35 years at the same company until you receive the
gold watch and then sitting in the lawn chair for the rest of whatever have
long gone.

Government servants all over the world
leave their positions upon collecting the maximum pension for highly paid
consultant jobs. Once they reach retirement age, they can receive that pension
– whether it is in monthly payments or in a lump sum – and no one quibbles if
they wish to take up a new job at age 55 or 60 in the private sector.  

In fact, many people are forced to keep
working after their retirement when their pensions or savings don’t support the
lifestyle they would wish to have or, in some cases, fail to even make ends
meet.

But let a civil servant or elected
lawmaker receive a pension while holding the same job they got that pension
from, and everyone gets all upset. In the end, is there a real difference?

The problem with Cayman’s scenario is
that elected lawmakers set the rules under which their pensions are governed –
unlike civil servants. It is also quite strange to us that while the civil
service defined contribution pension plan is underfunded to the tune of
hundreds of millions of dollars, no such issues exist with the parliamentary
pensions. Also the retirement age for elected officials (55) is largely
voluntary, while the civil service retirement age (60) is mandatory.

So we do have different plans for
different folks. And maybe that is what is really the unpalatable part when it
comes to Cayman’s public retirement system.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I think this editorial, in a move uncharacteristic of the Compass, takes a rather too simplistic view of this issue.

    In most countries public servants who retire then move into the private sector have to hand over a substantial part of their earnings to the tax man – that does not happen in Cayman Islands.

    I cannot comment on other countries, but in the UK public servants who retire then remain in public service (as my late Father did) receive a much reduced pension until they actually stop working. This particularly applies to people like former police officers who, with 30 years service behind them, have traditionally been able to retire in their late-40s or early-50s. Again that will not happen if they move to the Cayman Islands.

    This isn’t just about Cayman’s public retirement policy but also about the recruitment of retired ex-pats into highly paid public sector jobs in the Cayman Islands – should you really be subsidising their lifestyles?

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  2. When someone retires from a position in the civil service and then receives a contract to continue working in the same position at the same salary, perhaps it should be on the basis that they defer their pension payments until such time as they stop working. Currently, there are people who retire and receive 2/3rds of their salary as pension plus and also get an additional full salary. Where is the incentive for them to train up younger people to take their jobs? If you look closely you might even find that as some of these folks approach retirement age, the people who work for them who could have taken their jobs were conveniently transferred or promoted elsewhere.

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  3. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this question (and personally I think it is entirely wrong) the Premier’s answer that he is entitled under the law simply will not do. Those who make the laws cannot then hide behind them as justification for their actions. It is a moral question, not a legal one.

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