Two former top Cayman Islands civil servants who were removed from their jobs without cause in 2009 began earning pension payments and retiree health care benefits this summer, several years earlier than they normally would have done.
The cost to taxpayers for the pension and healthcare payouts, according to an open records request filed earlier this year by the Cayman Compass, will be $1,239,410.10, starting from the date of their effective retirement on July 1, 2014 until they reach age 60.
Typically, Cayman Islands civil servants are mandated to retire at age 60, unless they receive a fixed-term contract that allows them to work beyond that age. Government workers can retire earlier, but depending on their retirement age, would not be eligible to earn a full two-thirds of their salary under the defined benefit pension plan.
The two former civil service chief officers involved in this case, Diane Montoya and Deborah Drummond, have received an agreed settlement amount from the government and, in addition, began earning pensions as of July 1. The amount of the cash settlement from the government had not been released at press time but it is being received at the same time as the early pension payments.
In addition, healthcare premium rates paid for the two workers would cost taxpayers between $870 and $2,176 per month, depending on their family situation. Those costs were factored into the $1.2 million the women will receive until age 60. Mrs. Montoya, the former health ministry chief officer, and Ms. Drummond, the former deputy financial secretary, had been on required leave since 2009 and received full pay from the government until their retirement – a period of nearly five years.
Salary and pension payments to the two women during that period, irrespective of any settlement they received from the government or pension payment after their July 1 retirement, were estimated conservatively at $1.25 million.
That means the two wrongly removed ex-chief officers will have received about $2.5 million between them since 2009 until whenever they reach age 60 in salary and pension benefits, without including the settlement amount paid to them by government. The two have not worked a day for government since late 2009.
In January 2010, the Compass revealed that three high-ranking members of the civil service who held chief officer positions under the former People’s Progressives Movement government were placed on required leave following the election of the then-United Democratic Party government. Former Education Ministry chief officer Angela Martins, Ms. Montoya and Ms. Drummond continued to receive pay at Grade C level – between $127,000 and $148,000 per year. Ms. Martins retired in 2011, but the other two civil servants continued to receive payment while on required leave from their government employment. Deputy Governor Franz Manderson has said that the two women are entirely blameless in the situation that was created when they were removed from their posts.
“At no time has any allegation of wrongdoing been made against the officers, despite their having been put on required leave dating back to 2009,” Mr. Manderson said. “In the face of this difficult situation, the officers have conducted themselves with the utmost professionalism and have, throughout the arduous process, demonstrated respect for the offices they held and the people and government they have collectively served for more than 60 years.”
Mr. Manderson said in March, when asked about the situation with the two civil servants, that such a blunder with government employees could not and would not be allowed to happen again.