Planning, immigration up next in budget review

The third phase of Cayman’s public sector review process began last month and is expected to look at $126 million worth of annual spending from six of Cayman’s major government agencies.

The agencies included in the review’s third grouping are the Planning Department, the Immigration Department, Lands and Survey, the Department of Vehicles and Equipment Services, the National Roads Authority and the Health Services Authority.

The public sector review process began in late 2009 and recommendations have already been made regarding some budget cuts in various agencies.

A review team made up of both public and private sector representatives recommended cutting $17 million across four government bodies in the first phase. Cabinet agreed to $15.2 million of those proposed cuts.

Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks has said the public sector review was done at the request of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office as one of the conditions for agreeing to let Cayman borrow $312 million in the 2009/10 budget.

“To realise $15.2 million in savings from only four of the government’s 62 public-sector entities is a significant achievement,” Mr. Ebanks told the Legislative Assembly.

The first review phase included the prison service, the Department of Tourism, Public Works and the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company, known as CINICO, which together spend about $72 million annually.

The recommended cuts included shutting Fairbanks prison for women, introducing insurance co-pay for civil servants and outsourcing the Cayman Jazz Fest.

Among the recommended cuts are $7.5 million, or 15 per cent of current expenditure, from CINICO; a $2.2 million cut, equal to 20 per cent of current expenditure, in the Public Works Department; a $3.9 million, or 28 per cent of expenditure, in the prison service, and $3.5 million, or 12 per cent of expenditure from the Department of Tourism.

A second phase of the public sector review, which was completed in January, encompassed eight government agencies that account for some $200 million in annual spending.

Recommendations from that phase have been made and are expected to be reviewed by Cabinet soon.

The second phase focused on the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Education Department, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Cayman Islands Airport Authority, the Port Authority, the Fire Service, Customs and the Computer Services Department.

Cayman has steadily reduced the overall size its central government departments, mainly through the elimination of contracts for foreign workers, since mid-2009. According to a report issued last June, central government had less than 3,700 workers.

Statutory authorities and government companies employed just less than 2,200 people at 
that time.