Water Authority, assets won’t be sold either
The Cayman Islands government will not sell Radio Cayman, which was one of the recommendations of the Ernst & Young report on public services, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced Thursday.
Mr. McLaughlin delivered the government’s decision during his keynote address at the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce’s seventh annual legislative luncheon held at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
“Aside from the fact that it is a Caymanian institution, Radio Cayman provides a key and trusted service to the Cayman community,” he said. “Instead of being sold, Radio Cayman and the other government media will be coordinated in order to serve government and the community.”
Other government media include the Government Information Services, which provides several media functions to the public service and elected government, including issuing press releases and video features and staffing the Cayman Islands Government Television station. Those entities compete against private sector companies providing the same services.
The decision not to sell these government media entities is at odds with the stance of the Chamber of Commerce as expressed by its president, Johann Moxam, in his speech during the luncheon.
“We advocate for a government that does not compete with the private sector,” he said when listing several expectations the Chamber had of the government.
The sale of Radio Cayman is one of several recommendations of the Ernst & Young report, which the government itself commissioned, that Mr. McLaughlin said would not be adopted.
“We believe the report is a useful tool and we thank EY for their good work in its production,” the premier said. “But the government is not going to adopt the report wholesale. Some recommendations will be accepted, some will be modified, and others will not be accepted. We are still carefully going through the review process and making decisions.”
In addition to not selling Radio Cayman, Mr. McLaughlin noted two other examples of EY report recommendations the government was “not inclined” to adopt. He said the government is currently not inclined to sell or lease the Water Authority, adding, however, that it would develop a request for proposals for private sector interests to bid for the construction of a national sewerage system instead of having the Water Authority do it.
He also said the government was currently not inclined to proceed with the sale of key government assets, including the Government Administration Building. With regard to that building, he said that instead of paying back a loan on an asset it owns, government would have to make lease payments.
“We are not persuaded that this makes good commercial sense,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
In his address, Mr. Moxam noted the government’s penchant for commissioning reports and ignoring their recommendations, mentioning the 2010 Miller Shaw Report on ways to cut government expenditure and increase revenues, reports on what to do about the George Town Landfill, and past reports on crime and criminal behavior.
“We are smart enough to pay for expert analysis, yet we repeatedly lack the discipline to implement the recommendations,” he said. “What exactly is the point of knowledge if we don’t use it?”
Mr. Moxam said that efficiency, action, accountability and reform were vital for the government.
“If this is not the course to be taken, then my question to the government today is this: If you choose not to implement any of the recommendations in the recent EY report, and countless other consultants’ reports, what are you going to do? What exactly is Plan B?”
Mr. McLaughlin said the government recognized the need to rationalize government services.
“Before we make any moves toward privatization, amalgamation or restructuring, the administration will have to be satisfied that any action Cabinet takes will be in the best interest of the Caymanian people,” he said.
“We acknowledge the concerns expressed by President Moxam about whether or not the implementation unit made up of only civil servants will have the nerve to implement Cabinet’s recommendations. On behalf of the government, therefore, I would like to invite the Chamber to nominate one member to serve on the steering committee, which will guide the implementation process.
“Together, in the true spirit of partnership, I believe we can make it happen.”