(CMR) The controversial move by the UPM government to grant civil servants a one-time payment of $1,500 in December is being questioned by many in the community, even more so now after learning this payment is now being extended to employees of some Statutory Authorities and Government Companies.
Many others have been left wondering if they will be included in the recipient list, with no clear indication as yet. The topic has also been raised in various community forums, including TCHT and several WhatsApp forums. The general consensus is that the government making a poor fiscal decision not supported by any financial analysts.
With 4,566 civil servants recorded on the government's payroll for 2022, this one-time payment could cost the government approximately $6.8 million just months after former Premier Panton asked the government workers to restrict any unnecessary spending. In a leaked memo sent just two months ago, Panton requested the civil service to be fiscally prudent with their spending for the remainder of the fiscal period.
In a subsequent explanatory interview, he also shared that he was not willing to “put this country's fiscal stability at risk.”
His cautious approach has been thrown to the wind after it was announced last week that the UPM government would be ignoring the advice of financial secretary Kenneth Jefferson and giving this one-off honorarium payment.
CMR was reliably informed that the financial secretary Ken Jefferson had advised the PACT government to not give out this money yet when it came up for a previous discussion. He recommended that they wait to see what the true financial position would be after December, as the expenditure was close to the budget.
Other people, such as pensioners, are now questioning why they are not part of this windfall since the money is available to spend. However, others are concerned it may put the people of the Cayman Islands in debt as the previous premier had revealed that spending was cutting it close to the allocated budget.
In a memo to various CEOs and directors, Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan revealed that Statutory Authorities and Government Companies that fall under his ministry will be receiving this payment after the government agreed to extend this payment to Statutory Authorities and Government Companies once the funds can be found.
Employees at Cayman Airways, Port Authority Cayman Islands, Cayman Islands Airport Authority, and the Turtle Center will be receiving the one-time payment as the necessary funds were found to support such payments, Bryan said.
“I am happy to advise that the UPM government is in full agreement that the $1500 one-time payment for the month of December that is being awarded to Civil Service employees is also extended to all SAGCs once savings can be found to support such payments” Bryan stated.
“As a result, all CAL, PACI, CIAA, CINAA, and Turtle Center employees will be receiving the one-time payment as the necessary savings have been found in the respective entities,” he continued.
He further stated that as the minister for Tourism and Ports, he was happy that these employees were getting this money:
“I'm happy we are able to do this one time grant as I know all of the above entities employees have worked extremely hard over the last year. And in light of the increased cost of living, it will be a welcomed payout.”
A week after forming the new government, Premier Juliana O'Connor-Conolly announced that civil servants would receive the one-time payment in December but did not elaborate on where the funds would be shifted from.