The EY report: 
Who should be wielding the scalpel?

The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce wants to know: Why have civil servants been tasked with making cuts to the civil service?

Excellent question.

The local business group, which thankfully has rediscovered its voice this year under the administration of President Johann Moxam, is calling on the country’s leaders to set aside political differences and unanimously support Ernst and Young’s report on reducing the size and cost of Cayman’s government.

According to a public statement from the Chamber Council, “Members believe that government works best when it creates a regulatory and enforcement environment that foster business development and growth rather than competing with the private sector by providing services that fall outside the central role of government. The public service should be seen as an enabler of business and the regulator of standards and the protector of persons in our community who are most vulnerable and require assistance.”

However, “The Council questions the decision by Government to assign a team of civil servants to lead the implementation of the recommendations that are to be accepted. We are concerned by the potential conflicts of interest and whether the team will have the requisite change management skills required to carry out this challenging process.”

The points raised by the Chamber Council have validity.

What message, intentional or not, did government send by appointing long-time civil servant and former Education Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues as head of the four-person unit charged with carrying out reforms approved by Cabinet? At the time, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said, “One of the criticisms of civil servants and of government in the past is that we are really good at getting reports, but we are not so good at implementing those reports. I am keen to ensure that does not happen under my watch.”

That’s what the deputy governor said, but that doesn’t appear to be the message received by the Chamber Council, which seems to be about as (un)inspired as we are by the performance of Cayman’s public schools during Mrs. Rodrigues’s tenure.

From Mrs. Rodrigues herself, we have heard nothing – not one word – since the deputy governor announced her new role in mid-August, more than a month ago.
Premier Alden McLaughlin also has remained silent on the topic since early September, when, flanked by Deputy Governor Manderson and EY Managing Partner Dan Scott, he helped unveil the report.

We would like to think that their uncanny silence is an indication that Mrs. Rodrigues, Premier McLaughlin and Cabinet have buried themselves in work on the initiative, not that they are having second thoughts about aggressively executing the report’s recommendations.

Many in Cayman – this newspaper, the business community, the Civil Service Association, folks on the street – have had something to say about the EY report.
However, joining our governmental leaders in a conspicuous, but rather inexplicable, silence are the pre-eminent figures in Cayman’s financial services industry. Where are the voices from organizations such as the Cayman Islands Society of Professional Accountants, Cayman Islands Law Society, Cayman Islands Directors Association, Caymanian Bar Society, Insurance Managers Association of Cayman, and Cayman Finance, for starters?

This is no time for Cayman’s most gifted stakeholders to sit silently on the sidelines while the future of their country is being decided.

The Chamber Council is pushing for greater involvement from the private sector in the execution of Cabinet’s decisions, saying, “The implementation phase should not be led by bureaucrats who may lack the objectivity to guarantee the success of this initiative.”

We’ll reserve further comment for now, except one general observation: The primary reason why even highly skilled physicians seldom perform self-surgery is that it’s nearly impossible to gather the will to cut oneself as deeply as may be necessary.

Simply put: It’s just too painful.

1 COMMENT

  1. The Chamber of Commerce is a special interest group with a narrow focus that only involves looking out for the interest of its members. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the Chamber of Commerce has the interest of Caymanians in mind when they are bloviating about complex matters that they don’t truly understand.

  2. I truly believe that no mater how much we holler and rollover it wont change a thing; the steak has been already cut. As far as I can remember this sort of action has been taken where Caymanians are ushered to carry out the killings, so we might as well pile on or our salad and eat..

  3. Editor, I applaud your approach, first you make your position known and thereafter you have a general reveille and a call to arms the troops to support your campaign.

    If I may be allowed to make one observation, and I have said it before; The only thing Cayman can bail out is a canoe, given it current strapped revenue stream. The cry not long ago in the middle of the financial meltdown in the US was, too big to fail.. Their federal government was able to dig into their reserves and bail out those failing private sectors giants that was too essential, or so they say! to fail. Cayman government do not have the capacity to jumpstart an essential service left bankrupt by a private entrepreneur.

    The Financial industry you call to arms, well let me say, I lost 24,000 in one year from my hard saved pension savings while their CEO were getting millions in bonuses for failing. While the average man on the street was being financially ravished, their pockets were being greased. So Cayman government, brace yourself for the residuals, If the private sector decides one of your citizens is too old or risky, you take care of that poor soul, religate yourself to trying to regulate the loophole experts, while maneuvering to bring in foreign reserves. And please, be prepared to clean-up your indigent casualties from the field..

  4. Whilst I have the highest regards for the Cayman Compass and the Chamber of Commerce, I do not think that it is fair for them to unreasonably criticize the independence and, by implication, the credibility of the senior government officers who have been tasked with the responsibility of reviewing the EY report. Further, I believe that Government is well advised to take whatever time necessary to seriously review this report prior to implementing it. A significant flaw in the report, seems to be EY’s admission of not having sufficient time to properly analyse it (due to time constraints) prior to presenting it to government; please note page three (3) of the EY report which categorically states that it was not possible for EY to analyse all of the information in depth due to time constraints, although in their earlier Statement of Work – Project Future: Review of Public Services, Phase V Rationalization, dated 15 April, 2014, they had undertaken that their work would consist primarily of qualitative analysis and analytical procedures on data provided to them. Based on this initial undertaking, why did EY later state in their letter to Hon. Franz Manderson (dated 1 September, 2014) that due to the short time frame ….they were unable to properly analyse in depth the information available to them? If this is correct, why were they not given sufficient time by Government to carry out an in depth analysis of their report? Further, how then can government be reasonably expected to seriously implement EY’s recommendations, without first taking the necessary time to properly review the basis on which EY’s recommendations are made?

  5. The EY Report and Miller Shaw Report both a have a lot in common and that is they offer government a clear path to getting back on their feet. The CIG is certainly good at commissioning report, but In my opinion they are all a waste on money if you have no intention of acting on the recommendations. So hopefully this will be that last one. We all know that no politician is going to implement these political damaging recommendations, so why bother.