A surplus on our backs?

| 01/05/2017 | 45 Comments

Cayman News Service101 writes: As the local political campaigns were heating up two weeks ago, GTC candidate Kenneth Bryan released a video via social media implying that while his competitor in George Town Central may be viewed as a good finance minister, he hasn’t actually done well by the people. Bryan used the incidences of mortgage foreclosures, poor treatment by banks and poverty to support his argument, complete with actual clips of Marco Archer saying one or two things to support Bryan’s message.

At first it sounds like silly politics. Indeed the premier said at the PPM launch that the video “made him angry”. If you don’t immediately dismiss the video as par for the course politics and think for a minute, it raises the thought provoking questions: Has the government achieved a significant surplus on the backs of many? Were certain key public services or projects neglected in pursuit of the surplus? Could we have achieved compliance with the Public Management and Finance Law (PMFL) without the much boasted about $400 million in accumulated surpluses over the past three and a half years (and an expected $48 million for this coming year end?)

For certain, 101 grades Marco Archer as doing a great job as minister of finance. His job is to ensure our finances are at their best. But what really matters here is the people of George Town Central and the wider set of voters.

And what about the government’s own ‘backs’?

Did some ministers and other Cabinet positions suffer with not so good grades because Archer tightened the belt while securing his accolades along the way?

The promised completion of the high school in George Town is a straight forward example of something that was sacrificed in order to achieve the surplus. In the most simplest of terms, if that project was completed as promised, there is absolutely and unequivocally no way that the surplus outcomes would have been achieved to the extent they have. The presence of a derelict unbuilt school site reflects poorly, of course, on Tara Rivers.

This shows a failure of the entire government in the broader sense and cannot be laid solely on the shoulders of Archer (although, as a member if Cabinet he is partly to blame for this imbalance). There are other areas to be examined as well. Several political terms ago it was discovered that there were a number of outstanding bills to local suppliers that were unpaid, resulting in the government securing a ‘surplus’ because the accounts are done on a cash basis — if you don’t pay your bills, the expense is not recorded.

What about this time around? Are there unpaid bills lying around?

The government has done a very good job stabilising the country, both economically and politically. But we do run the risk of focusing so much on praising the stabilisation that we forget to assess whether there were any proactive measures to take the country forward. In that same vein, we run the risk of praising the surplus while losing sight of its cost.

Archer was viewed as the strongest PPM candidate before the launch event two weeks ago, but he wasn’t the most inspiring speaker on the evening and perhaps this really just isn’t one of his strengths. Apparently there are over 300 less Caymanians unemployed in 2016 than there were in 2013, but that’s hardly an earth shattering comparison when, by the government’s own admission, there are still almost 1,500 Caymanians out of a job.

It is these little stumbles and apparent reach to inspire with the less than inspiring that causes thought for pause; could the PPM have done better for the disenfranchised, the vulnerable, the poor over the period? Were they neglected in pursuit of excessive surpluses?

Did the minister of finance secure a surplus on our backs?

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Category: Election Viewpoint

Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    ok. Thank you for letting me know.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You can’t have met Kenneth Bryan. Little Marco only knows how to save a few pennies like most of his kilt, Cayman needs reps who can see the forest and the trees, not people with one track minds. The man cannot even talk, Kenneth is light years ahead of him. Even though I am his church brother I will not be voting for him, I prefer an open sepulchre.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What was missing from that video was: (1) any mention by Kenneth of what he would have done differently and (2) what he will do to fix the problem going forward. We can all complain and criticize. Takes a true leader to find a solution and lead!

    I give him credit. He knows he can’t raise himself to Marco’s level so he has to do what he can to bring Marco down to his. Possibly a smart political move, but I hope to God the people of GT Central are not so simpleminded that they fall for it.

    • Rick says:

      It would be good if you explained why Kenneth cannot ‘raise himself up to Marco’s level’. It appears to me that he has already done that, when you have the entire government led by the Premier, focusing on this little young man. But keep making your snobbish statements. Each time I hear it, I know people will be taking notice and looking at Bryan.

      I have the utmost respect for Kenneth Bryan and hopes he wins. He makes a powerful argument when the Civil Servant in the Education Ministry who champions children’s advancement quits out of frustration because he cannot get money to feed hungry children in our schools or fund other programs necessary to prevent our children from failing. Hungry Caymanian Children (over 100 per day at Clifton Hunter High School, the best government school in Grand Cayman). I wonder how bad it is in other schools?!?

      How can you boast of a huge surplus when Caymanian children are hungry!!!???!!!

      This government has no vision. These children will be costing this country many more than the many millions they claim to have in surplus.

      I wish Michael Myles had run for a seat on these issues. He could not lose. Kenneth, I hope you win in a landslide.

      • Anonymous says:

        Again, all I hear is complaints. No solutions.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why is it governments responsibility to “feed hungry children”? Is that not the parents responsibility? Did they consider that responsibility before enjoy 5 minutes of pleasure and thus creating a child they could not care for?
        Maybe you should be advocating free birth control (condoms) for everyone. Enjoy 5 minutes of pleasure without creating dire consequences.

        • Rick says:

          Good question.

          Now tell me, who do you think is paying for the children who had no parenting and are roaming our streets as gangsters, drug addicts and criminals? Who do you think is paying in the government schools when hungry and neglected children disrupt the learning environment, forcing teachers to be police officers? Can you make the connection between dead tourists, drug addicts, crime and lack of parenting? Who pays the costs of these outcomes?

          Now tell me, is it better to put programmes in place to prevent these children from becoming the lost souls they are or is it cheaper to blame their parents and pay for the outcomes?

          My child does not go hungry; but what am I teaching her when she attends school with classmates who cannot afford lunch?

          Hungry children are our problem, whether we accept it or not.

          • Anonymous says:

            Rick please remind us how Kenneth, convicted of drug trafficking, proven guilty of assaulting police is a role model for our school children. Or how do we know that some of those parents unable to feed their children because of a drug problem, were not supplied drugs by Kenneth years ago. kenneth may have changed since that conviction but actions have consequences and if he supplied drugs to someone in the past and today they can’t function or feed their kids , then Kenneth cannot be allowed to just dismiss that.

  4. Pass the jam says:

    Kenneth was right about the foreclosures, PR system and house prices. If the expats are granted PR then that is an increase in demand for houses. PR requires them to invest in property in Cayman. What is the use of that to locals? It actually hurts them and will see an increase in prices for locals who want to live on their island. Rollover should have been continued and no Key Employee. The expat is gone for a year and could return. The businesses who are making millions from their Cayman business models would not be unduly affected (they might have employed more locals and invested in training with rollover) and locals could still afford a house in their own country. Now we have the ridiculous pension rules which will increase demand for houses further by allowing people to make withdrawals to purchase property. It seems some people in Cayman want to see property prices hit the moon.

  5. frangipani says:

    Please don’t even try to compare Marco Archer with Kenneth Bryan in any way shape or form.There is no comparision. Marco is a gentleman of clean character; he is well qualified and he is doing more than a good job in his position as Finance Minister. If George Towners know what is better for themselves and the whole country they will do what it takes to make sure that Marco is re-elected so that he can continue to manage the finances of this country.

    • Anonymous says:

      Marco is not the bastion of goodness he trys to portray.
      As a Christian he should have stood with Eden on the Same Sex Marriage issue.
      As a lawyer he should have stood with the Independents on the Legal Practitioners Bill.
      Marco seems to be willing to put party before God and Country and has now lost my vote and support

  6. Anonymous says:

    If the salary for MLAs was reduced to $40,000 a year and the pensions provisions tightened up, we would have far far far fewer of these people who have not had any REAL job in Cayman, giving them a steady salary and pension rights, running for office.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth would be an absolute disaster!
    He has never had an original thought in his life. He is being back for special interest reasons.
    Marco is working for the people, ALL of the people of Cayman.
    Kenneth is working for himself and a fat government check. Kenneth couldn’t make a quarter of that salary by his own devices.
    That video is exactly what Kenneth is, DIRTY DIRTY DIRTY

  8. Anonymous says:

    sure surplus celebration and no school supplies for our kids and more people getting denied money at NAU. this government don’t care about anybody

  9. Anonymous says:

    All you need to do to create a surplus is cut spending on social services and school supplies and quietly in a few other key areas…

  10. Anonymous says:

    Saving for a rainy day!! Might sound like a novel idea to some. Typically the people who don’t have a red cent saved for themselves and will be a burden on the rest of us for many years to come will bawk at the thought of the Government making a surplus to be used to pay down debt and build reserves. Demonstratable fiscal prudence should be a pre-requisite for candidate qualification as well as voter qualification. Sounds harsh? Sometimes we need to protect people from themselves!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Why would any intelligent voter listen to Kenneth Bryan a criminal convicted and jailed for selling drugs tour children, for this is just one example of his solution to our economy and the future of our children. Another candidate without education wanting to lead a country and manage the lives of all of us. Wake up and not be fooled by such people just talking and waffling about others when they have no solutions to back up their criticisms of others. Marco Archer is a good highly educated and religious human being who loves and cares for his people. VOTE MARCO.

    • Anonymous says:

      please give that a rest bobo. Kenneth is in tune with the people in GT central. No one has a perfect past. he has shown that he is a man that cares for people especially young kinds. he understands where they coming from and might go because of his own life experience. voters can choose someone who is disconnected from them and ruthless in cutting services to them or someone who would ensure they get essential services. the people of GTC will let these incumbents know what they think on May 24th.

      • Anonymous says:

        You see – there it is – the damn entitlement culture! I am sick and tired of hearing people moan about services being cut. Some fell on hard times sure, but unfortunately too many lazy asses who have wrong priorities have been leaning on Government way too long and there is now struggle to provide for the people who truly need it.

        And what does this mean being in tune with the people of GT central? There is a whole country to be run and managed, not just a small sector.

    • Anonymous says:

      You would all lead us to SLAUGHTER with those two statements – Highly Educated” and “Religious Human Being”, and we wonder why foreigners take us for fools.

  12. Johne says:

    Marco is waste of time he the one give Dominica half Million $$ but can’t give caymanians nothing
    And some fools still think he is good minster of finance..????

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been saying for months. Having a surplus is good to get the U.K. off our back but some of that surplus should have been used to help people. Not saying handouts but invest in people.

  14. Dennis Smith says:

    I wonder why nobody has noticed that school leavers have enter the work force every year yet total unemployment has still fallen. By my thinking it should have increased every year unless more jobs for Caymanians were created steady every year. Even retirees have hung on as well and yet unemployment has fallen instead of increased. Am I missing something here? Maybe we should look at how many Caymanians are working and see if that number is rising. Looks like it should.
    As far as foreclosures go they are a contract between a lender and a borrower. If the borrower doesn’t pay the lender needs the money back, especially a bank that actually lends depositor’s money that they in turn have to pay back.
    We talk about foreclosures but what about the thousands of people who are paying their mortgages by working very hard. How many Caymanians are buying their own home and paying every month for it. That would be a nice number to see and a testament to Caymanian hard work, thrift and perseverance.
    Of course I feel sympathy for someone who loses their house but it’s not governments job to pickup the slack. The sooner we realize that our debts are ours and ours alone the better.
    Some candidates are pandering to the poor for votes but most Caymanians are hard working and moving forward. Just look at the 6am to 9am morning traffic and you will see the hard working population of Cayman. I’m proud of them all.

  15. Anonymous says:

    You seem to be trying very hard not to criticize Marco but he has to take the blame for this as well. I will never believe the surplus until the previous accounts are properly audited. And btw I am owed money by government.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The answer to the question is yes yes. The surplus was achieved on our backs. People still suffering abs lots of promises like the John gray school broken.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Your example of the non-completion of the high school is not accurate. This non-completion has more to do with stricter requirements on projects and getting better value for money than it has to do with spending the surplus. If the school construction has now been restarted in a scheduled manner, how would this be possible were it not for the savings?????

    • Anonymous says:

      and why did the previous Government not complete it? Perhaps they were busy spending money on trips and other things instead?

  18. Anonymous says:

    You are mentioning what is wrong but offer no solution. My understanding is that when the current Government took over, the country’s financial situation was beyond dire. There was debt which had to be paid off in order to avoid more accumulation of debt through rising interest rate. Of course if you are crawling out of a hole, something has to be sacrificed along the way.

    You seem to have forgotten about the “nation building slush funds”, scholarships to imaginary universities, Government credit card debt on casino trips, trips to the post office conference in Dubai, paving of private drive ways, various law suits which were the results of conflict with the previous Government – all funds which were squandered instead of put towards betterment of the country, and I am sure the list above is not even close to being a complete list.

    I don’t care if someone is PPM or independent (as long as they are not UDP or CDP) but I wouldn’t vote for anyone I would not trust with my own money. Simple!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I would say largely irrelevant unless the methods used for the accounting changed year to year, a $400mio surplus is only paying back some of money already spent and if the accounting rules haven’t changed a surplus trumps a deficit.

  20. Revelations 3:45 says:

    There is no real surplus. The numbers are not properly audited. Look at the results and multiple Auditor General reports.

    The long term debt is kept off the balance sheet and ignored due to political agendas and rhetoric. The are afraid to tell the public the true position. Look at pension and healthcare liabilities that is nearly 2 billion for a local population of 30,000 Caymanians. That is shocking. It will only get worse.

    If Cayman Islands and PPM or the next government gets things wrong with more expensive government funded projects and debt that it doesn’t need nor can afford as it struggles to confirm financing formulas the risk to the country’s credit rating will be severe which will contribute to a slide into third world status.

    The signs are all there. Tax payers and those who remain will ultimately being paying the price for irresponsible management of the public finances. Learn from the mistakes of other countries in the region and globally.

    Do not allow your country to become the Greece of the Caribbean.

  21. Anonymous says:

    There will always be 1500 Caymanians out of work. There are easily that many people with no desire for a steady job and who only want to get by with casual fishing and the occasional odd job.

    • Anonymous says:

      Plus those that think they are brilliant because they are Caymanian encouraged by Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I guess the PPM could give away millions like the UDP did only to have their homes repossessed any how.

  23. Banker says:

    Government cannot control the banks; Government does not lend money, banks do.

    Now if Government were to convert the Monetary Authority “Cayman Finance” into a proper central bank, then it could control interest rates and lending………….!

    • Anonymous says:

      I would assume by the capital “B” that Banker is your last name and not your profession, if you think that Cayman needs a proper central bank, or that it could control interest rates while ignoring what’s happening in the rest of the world.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The question for voters is really simply. Do we really believe that Bryan can do a better Job than Archer. To me the answer is clear nooooooooooooooooooooo. Did I say no!!

    So if Archer only fault is that he tighten the government belt too tight …that seems hardly a reason not to re elect him. Putting money aside for a rainy day has always seemed sensible to me

    In fact if that rainy day had occurred (hurricane) and we had no money in the coffers …we would surely be blaming him for not saving money.

    • REALITY CHECK says:

      Political spin and scare mongering are the tactics being deployed by the PPM and its agents. Kenneth Bryan has not publicly said he wishes to be finance minister. In fact he is not suitable for that role and he would accept that position if offered unlike some others. However, that does not mean that other winning candidates on 25th May 2017 cannot handle the cabinet position of finance minister.

      It is nonsense to state that Marco Archer is the only candidate or viable option for the position of finance minister. Roy McTaggart, Chris Saunders, Alric Lindsay and Marco Archer all have the business acumen and qualifications for the post if they are successful at the polls. The key is to winning their respective seat first. The work in the ministry of finance is carried out by the ministry staff the minister then takes the credit if things go well.

      All will be revealed by the first week of June 2017 after the horse trading has taken place and a Coalition government is formed.

      • Amazed at the nasayers says:

        101 needs to understand Government, accounting better. What does foreclosures have to do with good fiscal policy? is the government expected to pay off a mortgage for everyone who has financial difficulty? And even if the JGHS had been completed,
        that would have been a capex and and would not (likely) have any impact on a surplus.

        • Anonymous says:

          Me thinks you don’t really understand what’s happening here: once the school is built there would immediately be a significant increase in operating expense just to maintain them not to mention the other running expenses. Check the running costs for Clifton hunter to get an idea. Secondly the ‘surplus’ from previous year’s results in an increase in cash balances and the capex you are referring to if it’s not coming from borrowing which the government is trying to avoid, will have to come from somewhere ( yes the accumulated cash in the bank that came from the surpluses over the years). But that’s all ok you can twist it however you wish. I mean isn’t that what governments do anyway?

          • Amazed at the nasayers says:

            You are twisting, capex is not charged against current revenue. If borrowing is sought only interest costs hits current revenue. Operating costs of the new school will not likely be significant to put much of a dent in the recent surplus.

      • Anonymous says:

        Troll

      • Anonymous says:

        Agree with that! Kenneth should not be compared as a finance minister and he never said that. He would be a good social services minister. As Alden himself said, Kenneth Bryan CARES!!

  25. Anonymous says:

    We have already spent the “surplus”. It’s called debt…

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