Audit estimates $46.7M in COVID-19 spending

Most of government's COVID-19 response costs have been related to healthcare.

The Cayman Islands government spent around $21.5 million on coronavirus-control measures during the first three months of its pandemic response, according to analysis released Monday by the Office of the Auditor General.

The report looked at COVID-19-related spending across a wide range of government ministries and agencies through 19 June. The largest expenditures came from the Health Services Authority ($11.06 million), the Ministry of Education ($2.8 million) and the Ministry of Financial Services ($2.05 million).

Based on government commitments made as of 19 June, the auditor general estimated at least $46.7 million would be spent on pandemic response.

“The government has made a number of commitments in relation to COVID-19, particularly in relation to providing assistance to individuals suffering financial hardship and supporting businesses to help bolster the economy. These commitments could cost a further $25 million at least,” said Auditor General Sue Winspear.

Of the $25.1 million in additional estimated spending, a majority, $14.1 million, is expected to go towards support for business. A further $5 million is slated to go towards public-sector personnel costs and $3.8 million for social assistance.

The spending is categorised under healthcare, quarantine and social distancing, social assistance to individuals, support for business, education, public-sector personnel, and other costs.

The largest area of spending was in healthcare, with more than $12.5 million spent on test kits, personal protective equipment, medical supplies and other items. That sum includes $5.2 million for PPE, $3 million for testing, and nearly $3 million for medical supplies and equipment.

The auditor general anticipated $14.2 million would be spent on healthcare costs overall.

Around two-thirds of the $2,807,499 spent by the Ministry of Education went towards outsourced services, such as security, janitorial services and school buses.

Much of the $2,052,942 spent by the Ministry of Financial Services went towards quarantine facilities. The auditor general identified $1.3 million had been spent by government on quarantine facilities and more then $500,000 on additional facilities, including establishment of emergency field hospitals.

A further $209,000 will be spent on these field hospitals to cover payments for work already completed, the report noted.

Cabinet spent just over $1 million on securing COVID-19 test kits. While the total transaction cost for the kits was $3,685,000, government received a $1.8 million donation and sold some kits to Barbados and Bermuda.

Nearly $5.2 million is expected to be spent on social-assistance programmes. As of 19 June, $1.4 million had been paid towards social relief, including $831,725 for “vulnerable people” and $533,203 to assist expatriates.

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