Government pay increase not across-the-board

While all Cayman Islands central government employees will receive a 4 percent pay hike in July, the same increase has not been assured for employees in the statutory authorities and government-owned companies that operate separately from the civil service.

Finance Minister Marco Archer said Monday that he would be meeting with the relevant authorities and companies about the pay raise issue this week.

“The cost of living pay adjustment as announced by the premier relates to central government only,” Mr. Archer said.

That’s still more than 3,500 government workers who will receive a pay raise on July 1, 2015, at a cost of more than $5 million to the public purse. However, nearly 2,300 more employees in the separate authorities represent roughly 38 percent of all public sector employees in the Cayman Islands.

When the last cost of living pay adjustment was awarded in 2008, and then taken away and again in 2010 only to be taken away again, only some statutory authority workers received the increase. This largely depended on whether they were considered to be civil servants, according to Civil Service Association President James Watler.

One lingering issue that may be holding up confirmation of how the pay raise applies is a proposed revamp of the statutory authorities and government-owned companies under the Public Authorities Bill. The proposed legislation is expected to come before the Legislative Assembly before the end of the current budget year on June 30.

Among other things, the legislation – which has not been made public in its draft form – will create standard rules for employment, including pension and healthcare policies for the statutory authorities and government-owned companies.

The general idea is to bring the separately operating public sector entities under more direct control of Cabinet members. Right now, the Cabinet appoints board members to oversee those authorities, and elected leaders are required to take a hands-off approach in issues concerning day-to-day management.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has said that the “somewhat ad hoc system” under which statutory authorities and government-owned companies currently operate will end under the bill.

“[There is] the need for a Public Authorities Bill to bring all of those [entities] under the purview of the government so that we have common standards with respect to accounting, with respect to employment,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

One employment issue that has irked lawmakers and high-ranking members of the central government service in recent years is the salary scales that have been set for senior managers in the public authorities. This issue was highlighted by North Side MLA Ezzard Miller during an LA meeting last week.

Mr. Miller asked government members for information on the “salary ranges” paid to the managing director of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority and the chief executive of the Cayman Islands Maritime Authority.

According to information provided by Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton, the salary range for the monetary authority position was $160,000 to $229,818. The range for the Maritime Authority CEO was $151,200 to $216,000.

In both cases, the top end of the salary scale is far more than the amount paid annually to the Cayman Islands premier and deputy governor, both of whom are responsible for managing or overseeing a far greater number of employees.

Mr. Miller asked why such “broad salary ranges” were given for each position. Mr. Panton replied that the initial starting salary for the maritime authority was set by Cabinet in 2004 and similarly, upon the appointment of the monetary authority managing director, the initial salary was set by Cabinet.

After that, boards of directors for the relevant authorities determined managers’ salary ranges, Mr. Panton said.

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