We now observe, with some unease, that the government is reloading, and re-aiming — this time at the public sector.
The economy is hurting badly enough from the first government-inflicted wound. In a global competitive marketplace, the second could prove devastating.
This Editorial Board is a strong proponent that government should be as small as possible; however, government should also be as professional as possible and deliver public services at the highest-quality level. That means being able to hire, and fire, whomever they want from wherever they reside. If government thinks of its civil service as an “employer of last resort,” it needs to do some serious rethinking.
Currently, government employees are exempt from the immigration rollover policy that applies to the private sector, limiting how long non-Caymanians may live and work in the country without obtaining permanent residence, or without leaving Cayman for at least one full year.
In an editorial published Sept. 26 last year, we rhetorically asked why, if the rollover policy is such a good policy, has it not been extended to the civil service?
The answer, while unspoken, is obvious to anyone in the private sector: The government to date has not embraced the rollover policy because it is onerous, unfair and incredibly disruptive to business operations.
High-ranking Caymanians in the civil service (or in the private sector) do not hire foreigners because they’re “against Caymanians.” They hire foreigners because they need the best people in order to get the job done.
The rollover policy isn’t just illogical; it is absurd. Under the rollover regime, the foreigners who have lived in Cayman the longest, who have verified their ability to support themselves, who are the farthest on their way down the path of cultural assimilation, who (at least in the private sector) are demonstrably the “best” employees a company has — those are the people we regularly order to leave the island.
Even using political justifications as benchmarks, the rollover policy has failed. The rollover has not reduced the population. It has not provided jobs for Caymanians. It has not prevented foreign workers from obtaining Caymanian status and the right to vote.
Infused with the spirit of tit-for-tat retribution, some may be tempted to encourage government to adopt the rollover policy, so it can experience firsthand the hardships it has imposed upon the private sector.
But that, too, would be nonsensical.
The rollover policy was a bad idea for the private sector. And it’s an equally bad idea for the public sector.
It might, in fact, be worse: Applied to the private sector, the rollover policy hurts individual companies to varying degrees, depending on whom, and when, they hire.
Applying the rollover policy to the public sector — and removing en masse many of the best performers from some of the most critical areas of government (such as criminal justice and education) — on the other hand, will immediately weaken the provision of public services, and directly and negatively impact the country as a whole.
The rollover is one of the worst policies the government has ever inflicted on Cayman businesses. Now they want to inflict it on themselves?