Who is being asked to sacrifice?

Letter to the Editor

Cayman, like most countries, is facing financial problems. But one wonders just who are being asked to sacrifice to assist government to balance our budget. 

There was so much said about the so-called expatriate tax that it was taken off the table, but what about government workers? They are being asked to now pay for health insurance for their spouse. Not just those making more than $3,000 a month, but everyone – even those who have only worked for a few years and making less than, $2,500 a month. Many of these may have young children or an unemployed spouse – just some of the 2,000 unemployed Caymanians while those making more than $3,000 a month of the 20,000 expatriates do not want to contribute. 

But how much is the health insurance? Some of the lowest priced policies are more than $200 a month. This means that government workers would have to now pay between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of their income if they want to insure their pregnant or unemployed spouse. If they cannot pay, then again government will have to give them free service. Free for them but not for government. 

The premier has suggested a rise in permit fees between 5 to 35 per cent – is this enough? Most expats who make less than $3,000 a month pay much less than $100 a month for permit fees. The only ones paying $300 to $400 a month in permit fees are the higher professionals who make $5,000 to $7,000 a month, yet this is what most government workers are now having to pay – is that fair?
According to law, the employers should be paying the permit fees, yet we know that most are forcing their employees to repay them. 

There is a solution. Increase permit fees by 100 per cent, but change the law so the employee pays half. This means that the majority of permit holders would only pay between $40 to $100 per month; very small compared to what thousands of Caymanian government workers are asked to contribute – not even counting the other lost benefits. Maybe the police could then keep the helicopter and catch some bank robbers or save a life at sea – maybe yours or mine. 

Another good thing that could come from this si that when employers realise they are going to have to pay for permits (which is what they should be doing now – and this would not cost those who are already paying for their employees’ permits anyway) they wlil be more encouraged to hire locally. 

I have many friends who are expats and I fee sure most of them would not mind having a few less beers on the weekend to keep Cayman a good place to work and live. For others it may be a bigger sacrifice, perhaps a bottle of wine or rum less on the weekends. 

 

Clive A. Christian 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Yes the solution is to shift the cost to the expats this is part of the mentality that brought Cayman to this dire situation. The civil service is unsustainable plain and simple. Until that reality is realized and accepted schemes to get more money will continue.

  2. Has anyone for one moment, thought. That maybe the civil service has grown the last 5 years, was to stave off local unemployment?!

    The fact of the matter is this. When locals have a hard time trying to get private sector jobs. They eventually get hired in government.

    This is why the economy has not crashed here, as bad as it has in the US.

    Because government has absorbed the unemployment shock wave.

    But, due to the fact of roll over, with people leaving. And companies leaving due to more enforcement of hiring candidates that are unsuitable for the job.

    There just isn’t enough people left on island to support the government info structure.

    So those Caymanians that wanted expats gone. Got their wish by 10K expats gone.
    But there is a price to pay for that. Anyone that thought by rolling expats, means more jobs locally. Isn’t realizing that companies can and up and move in 3 days. Because most companies are all computerized now.

    Databases and electronic paper can be moved overnight to any place on the globe. The only thing left is to move the workers, or if there are no workers to be had. Move the company name.

    Walkers, as we know is one of the biggest employers on the island. And last year, moved their entire finance department overseas. Basically overnight. They got tired of being forced to hire unfit candidates.

    So where do those Caymanians that did work well with walkers go? They stayed here.
    To either be hired by other private companies or go into government. Or unemployed.

    Everyone loses.

    Because those that left the island, aren’t paying for goods and services, which brings in taxes, that feeds the government who has been hiring locals, to stop the unemployment numbers, like they have in the US.

    Now multiply this with more companies leaving due to employment polices. And now we know why government is unsustainable.
    And those who wished it. Got their wish partially filled. 10K expats gone off the island.
    Now because of this, there will be more unemployed Caymanians.

  3. It’s very easy to just say, let’s make the expats pay.

    It’s also very easy for the expats, and their jobs, to leave Cayman for more business-friendly jurisdictions.

    The problem with the budget is that too many politicians have treated the Government as a mechanism for looking after voters, rather than as a mechanism for delivering necessary services.

    When the politicians relaise that they cannot keep on paying people to be Caymanian, we might start to see our economy and our public finances recover.

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