Government personnel spending cuts consumed

Health care, legal aid outlays increase

In each of the last two government budget years, the amount of money budgeted for Cayman Islands civil service personnel costs has been significantly reduced by the end of the fiscal year.  

However, in both of those years, records examined by the Caymanian Compass show additional expenses supporting non-governmental organizations subsumed much of the savings gleaned from personnel cost reductions.  

For instance, in government’s 2011/12 budget, budgeted personnel spending went from $229.2 million to $213.3 million, a budget savings of roughly $16 million for the year. However, government spending to purchase “outputs from non-governmental organizations” for that same year went from a budgeted $17.7 million to an actual $28.9 million, a loss of more than $11 million. Combined with an $8 million loss that year from statutory authorities and government-owned companies, the personnel savings was completely eaten up.  

Similarly, in the 2012/13 budget year, the civil service shaved about $12 million from initially planned personnel costs. The amount spent on non-governmental output suppliers went from $18.9 million in the budget to nearly $26 million actual expense – a $7 million loss that accounted for more than half of the personnel savings.  

The Compass looked at what’s costing so much money that isn’t being planned for at the start of the recent government budget years.  

The big ticket item in each of the budgets went for health care costs. In the 2012/13 budget, which ended on June 30, 2013, medical care received at various overseas institutions cost $15.3 million, up from a budgeted amount of $9.4 million at the start of the year. That amount alone accounts for $6 million of the overage spent on non-governmental organizations.  

Legal aid expenses also increased from $1.66 million in last year’s budget to $2.3 million in actual costs by year’s end. Legal aid is the provision of government legal services to impoverished defendants in criminal cases, or in some situations litigants in civil matters such as divorces or lawsuits.  

Another increase from the originally budgeted amount in 2012/13 was “services for refugees,” generally the housing and feeding of Cuban boat migrants who come to Cayman’s shores until they are able to be repatriated.  

Government planned to spend $27,000 on those services at the start of the year, but ended up spending $445,000, as much larger numbers of illegal migrants arrived during the year.  

Rental accommodation assistance for those in need also cost about $100,000 more than initially budgeted.  

The problem during the 2011/12 fiscal year was even more pronounced.  

The 2011/12 budget for medical care at overseas institutions was $8.2 million, but government ended up spending $18.3 million on that item for the year.  

Legal aid services, first budgeted at $1.25 million, rose to $1.8 million by the end of the year. Services for refugees increased ten-fold from a budgeted $28,000 to $239,000 in actual spending. Rental assistance for those in need increase its budget by nearly $700,000 for the year.