Delivering on a promise to the civil service

Premier Alden McLaughlin has announced that Cayman Islands civil servants will receive a 4 percent pay raise next July.

This is welcome news.

Although public payroll expenses remain a burden dragging down Cayman’s economy, the issue with government’s over-spending has never been about the salaries of individual civil servants (particularly those in the rank and file), but about the overall size of the civil service. Put succinctly, we believe Cayman’s civil service should be smaller, but better paid — with pay linked to performance.

On the two-way road of accountability, the government should be cutting the civil service in areas where results do not justify costs, but also should be providing real incentives to employees who excel.

Trimming government where appropriate and tying employees’ pay to performance should lead to a more efficient, customer-oriented civil service with a higher morale.

We, as a country, would probably be willing to pay for that, perhaps even gladly.

What we’re not willing to pay, however, is more money every year to employ more and more people who continue to provide inferior services.

Pay raises for civil servants should not be automatic, and while dynamic circumstances such as cost of living, inflation and purchasing power should be taken into account, what should not are things such as “tenure,” “seniority,” or other hallmarks of an entitlement mentality.

That being said, the 4 percent pay raise announced by Premier McLaughlin is a bit of a different subject, considering the civil service has not received a pay increase since 2006, during which time they have had a 3.2 percent cost of living adjustment granted, taken away, re-granted, then taken away again.

In our minds, the premier’s recent declaration is not so much a wage hike for the civil service, as it is the (belated) fulfillment of a promise already made. Ultimately, it’s a matter primarily not of finances, but of fairness.

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