Public service larger, less Caymanian

The Cayman Islands public service had more overall employees than ever by the end of 2017, according to a human resources report released by the government last week.

A total of 6,250 people worked for either the central government civil service or its associated statutory authorities and government-owned companies by Dec. 31, 2017. That is about 5 percent more employees than the public sector had during mid-2016, the last time it reported on its membership.

The majority of the new hires appeared to be non-Caymanians, as the percentage of Caymanians employed within the government service fell from about 74.5 percent in mid-2016 to 73.5 percent at the end of last year.

The entity that hired the most employees within the civil service was the Department of Education, bringing on 54 new employees during late 2016 and 2017.

Several statutory authorities increased their staffing numbers significantly during the same period, including the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Turtle Centre.

According to the report, the number of non-Caymanians employed by the civil service and related authorities increased by 274 people between July 2016 and December 2017.

The number of Caymanians working in the service increased by 181 people during the same period.

Cayman’s auditor general noted in a recent report that the central civil service employed more staff at the end of 2017 than it did in 2008-2009 at the start of public sector austerity measures enacted just after the global financial crisis.

In 2009, there were 3,756 workers in the central government service, according to public sector human resources records. That figure dipped to just below 3,500 people in mid-2015.

However, in December of last year – two and a half years later – that number was back to 3,778 central government employees, the audit noted.

Last week’s report noted that staff employed within the outside authorities and companies added another 2,472 people to the payroll for an overall total of 6,250.

Auditor General Sue Winspear commented on the employment growth in her evaluation of public sector workforce management, which pointed out the need for better oversight of hiring and advancement within the service. The report also focused on the effect of various “pay freezes” and other cost-saving attempts taken within the public sector over the past decade.

“The size of the civil service has remained reasonably constant since 2010, while staff costs have increased from $216.6 million to $239.5 million over the five years from 2012/13 to 2016/17,” Ms. Winspear’s report read.

Personnel costs for the current 2018 budget for central government were stated at $299.6 million. By 2019, they are expected to grow to $310 million.

The audit focused only on the central civil service and did not take into account the operations of the 27 different statutory authorities and government-owned companies that operate outside of central government.

The government lifted its salary “freeze” in late 2016 and eased off a general moratorium on recruitment about a year ago.

However, government’s figures show the growth in staff began well before last year. The central civil service went from 3,484 employees in mid-2015 to 3,600 in mid-2016. By the end of the last year, the civil service staff grew to 3,778 – an 8.5 percent staff increase in 30 months.

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