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