Wide disparity in pay for CIG board chairs

| 21/07/2015 | 35 Comments

Boardroom(CNS): The fees that chairmen and directors receive for serving on government company or authority boards varies widely, according to a recent FOI release requested by a CNS reader. Although volunteers, most board members are given some kind of fee to cover expenses for attending meetings but the payments being made vary widely for no apparent reason, with one chair receiving over $700 every month plus meeting allowances, while others receive only lunch. 

According to the information released from the various government entities that responded and complied with the FOI law, the average amount appears to be around $150 per meeting or per month, but there are a number of notable exceptions.

The Information Communication and Technology Authority (ICTA), which regulates the broadcast and telecoms sector, pays $700 to its board chair as well as $100 for every meeting attended. The Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands chairman also seems to get a significant amount, receiving a precise $562.50 for each meeting he attends. CINICO pays $350 to the chair of its board, while others are paying as little as $50 or supplying only lunch, as the case for the Education Council.

The only chair to receive no fees, expenses, stipends or any other payment is the police commissioner for chairing the Anti-Corruption Commission. However, the chairperson for other commissions, such as the Human Rights Commission and the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, can claim up to $200 per meeting.

CNS contacted a number of government departments to find out why there were such significant disparities on the fees or expenses paid to the chairpeople, and in some cases directors, on the numerous government boards and commissions but after more than a week, only one authority responded to the questions.

Alee Fa’amoe, the managing director of the ICTA, told CNS he believed the stipend paid to his authority’s board chair, currently Dale Crighton, was justified. Unable to explain the disparities across government boards, he nevertheless explained that the ICTA chairman’s payment was set in 2003 when the authority was created. The ICTA board of directors undertook a review of numerous directors’ stipends from both the public and private sectors before they arrived at an appropriate fee, he said.

“The board reviewed the stipend payment amounts a few years ago and decided not to make changes,” FA’amoe said, pointing out that the board meets every month at a minimum for 3 to 5 hours on average, with subcommittees meeting more frequently. “The authority draws heavily on the wide and varied experience of its board members. Over the past year, since I joined the authority, I’ve enjoyed unprecedented access to board members, including our chairman, at odd hours and weekends to discuss issues and matters of urgency. I can’t thank them enough for all their hard work in supporting the efforts of the authority,” he added.

Fa’amoe said the authority considers the remuneration as a token amount due to the responsibility and time commitment required of all the members.

Finding experienced people to serve on government’s array of public boards and regulatory bodies, which is always an issue, raised even more controversy recently when many responded unfavourably to the Standards in Public Life legislation drawn up by government, which past and present board members said was too intrusive and far-reaching.

However, the problems of mismanagement, potential or perceived corruption, as well as the incompetence of some board members was of significant concern to the former members of the Standards in Public Life  Commission, which drew up the original law.

The backlash from ‘volunteers’ on boards to the law, which was passed in 2013 but has not been implemented, has stalled the much-needed new governance regime for politicians and civil servants alike. With no legislation, the commission is unable to sanction people in public life that may be falling short of the ethical practices required of those serving their country or to step in where there are obvious conflicts of interests regarding board members.

With the government’s dependency on volunteers for its numerous committees, commissions and boards, who in most cases must also have Caymanian status, it has a problem finding enough experienced, competent and, above all, willing directors and chairs who are able to fulfil the duties without being conflicted.

While there have been only a very small number of enquiries into the abuse of board positions, it is a long-standing perception locally — rightly or wrongly — that many individuals take up director and chairmanships position within their sector of expertise with the hope of at the very least advancing that particular industry, if not their own commercial position.

See full list: CIG Board Payments June 2015

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Category: Government Finance, Government oversight, Politics

Comments (35)

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  1. At the trough. says:

    Unbelievable!

    Serving should be an honor!

    What a scam!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have read many comments here from many individuals bashing civil servants without having any real facts ‘for themselves’. Most simply repeat what others have said. They don’t know how many civil servants work their hands to the bones each day to provide the best customer service possible in spite of the burdensome restrictions placed on them. When they make suggestions or try to make improvements they encounter all types of roadblocks. You might wonder why the persons in charge stop their staff from making positive changes? That’s the same question we ask ourselves.
    I have attended meetings for a particular board for the past 10 years and I have never been paid and I do not know of any other board members receiving any payment or compensation. We have had lunch provided for us on occasions when we are working. Our meetings have lasted anywhere from 3 to 8 hours. I have attended all meetings, even when I am on vacation, as long as I am on island. I commit untold hours in preparing for each meeting; this includes reading all supporting documents and relevant laws so that I can make an informed decision on the agenda items. The job is not over when the meeting ends that day. There are many items to follow up on and this must be done in addition to my regular duties. Sometimes it feels like working 2 full-time jobs.
    Please keep in mind when making comments that there are many people who give of their valuable time to work on these various boards – without any compensation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Glad these things are being checked but the results of this one are less than news worthy. How about someone looking into transfers in and out of government land/property inventory including:
    – reasonableness of purchase/sales prices
    – conflicts of vendors and purchasers
    – transfers prior to government transactions

    CNS: Anyone can make an FOI request and they can do so via email anonymously if they wish. So, if you think that this is something that should be looked into, go ahead and make that request. We will publish the response.

  4. Anonymous says:

    they are all overpaid and under worked……sums up the civil service perfectly…
    read miller shaw or e&y reports!

  5. Spiydah says:

    CIFA Board all day long bwoy. Perks dem much betta still.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Maybe a follow-up FOI should be how many chairmen and members refuse the stipend? Just because the rules state that these are to be paid, it does not mean that they are. I am a member on one board and I refused the stipend. It’s my service.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good idea, 22/07, 12:06 pm: I had always thought serving on boards was a public service.

      Were stipends for board chairs and members formally introduced in the infamous Public Service Management law?

      I saw a culture change when this law was introduced — up until then many civil servants were prepared to put into extra hours to get work done without thought of compensation. After the law came into effect, civil servants from middle management down were routinely claiming time in lieu of anything over the daily eight hours. Given the General laxity in approach to time management and efficiency, it became a bit of a nightmare for senior managers to cope with getting work done and managing time off in lieu. That law may be the trigger for much of the inefficiencies and failings of the civil service today.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not true, 6:39. People have been accepting stipends for Boards (and in some cases not even showing up for meetings) and civil servants have been strolling in late and rushing out early and generally mismanaging time for at least 20 years before the PSML was introduced. The economy has changed and people are very conscious of the need to earn every dollar they can -here in Cayman but also everywhere else. The fact that civil servants’ salaries have been frozen for so long (no increments since about 2001) without even cost of living increases, which means their earning power has actually gone backwards, is a major demoralizing factor in what you believe to be a decline in the volunteer spirit but in truth it was never as strong as your idealized memory of the supposedly good old days would have us believe.

      • Anonymous says:

        No @ 6:39, the stipends and attendance payments were in place for very many years before the Public Service Management law was introduced. That law had nothing to do with payments for Boards. Service on boards was always touted as a “public service” but it was actually very often a reward for supporting a particular group of politicians and payments/allowances have always been a part of it. As for your other comment “up until then many civil servants were prepared to put in extra hours to get work done without thought of compensation”, you must have worked in a different civil service from me. Some civil servants did as you say but most of them put in for comp time or time in lieu and some lucky ones even managed to get their accumulated comp time paid to them as cash. That went on long before the law came in.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately there are not many honourable people like you. Please run for office!

    • Jonas says:

      So CNS why is the Port Authority Boatd exempt from disclosure?

      CNS: The article is based on the information received from a CNS reader who made the FOI request. CNS did not seek or receive the information directly.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The chairpersons of several of the boards receive a monthly stipend apart from per monthly meeting attendance payments.

    • Anonymous says:

      How much does the Port Authority Chair get plus all the extras?

    • Anonymous says:

      The only people in Cayman who are required to give time and effort as a public service are teachers — as a consequence I am not surprised that the Education Council gets lunch only.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would like to see greater parity — and that includes pay between employees anot the Authorities and those in the general civil service.

      Profits were to be returned to government and not into pockets. It is time that this cash cow for the greedy be brought into line.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Board system, the fact there are far too many MLAs, the over-sized civil service, all examples of the intricate web by which too many snouts are interested in pigging at the trough of public funds.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This Government is such a joke. Just the other day someone at Customs was bragging to me about their upcoming raise of pay for doing nothing. I quote “I gettin $600 dolla raise for having no education and doing nothing all day…I love my job and why would I leave Government.

    • Bojack says:

      Don’t paint them all with the same brush. You will find some robust and efficient ones there.

      But I do admit the ratio of lackness to competency is probably 8:1, so generally speaking, you’re more right than wrong.

  10. Anonymous says:

    You missed the Monetatry Authority. If you want a shock, FOI that one.

    • Anonymous says:

      That sounds about right because “Monetary” is in its name.

      Take out the “tar” and you are left with “Money”.

      Hmmmm, instead of take the “tar” out, maybe we should be adding feathers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Probably the worst one relates to civil servants on Cayman Airways Board. Free First Class tickets for LIFE for them and their spouse and any children under 24.

      I can maybe understand a ticket perk for the individual board member while they are serving on the board, but to give it for life and for extended family members is just absurd. And this relates to an entity that has to be subsidized by the public to the tune of about 15 million a year.

      We not serious.

  11. Alan says:

    Notice that the high payments are to non civil service boards the civil service had taken great steps to reduce costs while the public authorities continue to spend big bucks. Most of the CEO of the statutory authorities and government companies are paid more that the Deputy Governor and our Premier but even those salaries pale in comparison to what the average CEO in the private sector earns.

    • better cayman says:

      The CEOs of statutory organizations are normally more heavily tasked and with specific requirements and qualifications than the civil service or the politicans (as there is currently no required qualification to be premier) and the statutory organizations normally answer to international industry standards whereas the other 2 mentioned don’t seem to have reporting. Persons should be paid according to the requirements of their posts and their relative responsibilities, not to mention that may of the statutory organizations are the only ones making revenues and contributing positively to the coffers of government to pay those not performing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Peter’s research is flawed, some of the bodies listed are not Statutory Boards and he excluded majority of the 26 bodies which are. The highest paid among the lot is the Chair for CIMA, there are also a few other high paid ones beside ICTA.

    Having said that, I don’t know what the gripe is though, many of the people sitting as chair for these Boards are successful business people or high ranking individuals, what is a couple hundred dollars per month for the responsibility and the risk they take on?

    • Anonymous says:

      the gripe the greatly varying amounts, kudos to those volunteers that take on the risk for only a free lunch. as long as their are no secret profits made from conflict of interest.

    • Anonymous says:

      @ 4:31 am – What risk?

      • Anonymous says:

        Reputational risk! The type that could kill your entire career or business.

        In this small town, the slightest hint of anything untoward, even if it has nothing to do with the Board member, and the entire village shows up with the torches and pitchfork.

        You are immediately tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion and the reputation which you may have worked decades to build and maintain suddenly go crashing against the rocks as collateral damage.

        And for what, $150 per month or free lunch? My helper makes 10 times that and she is not subject to the same responsibilities and risk that Board members are.

        A bunch of you are just jealous, ungrateful and can’t stand to think that someone else is getting something you are not. Go talk to the man/woman in the mirror, you’ll find it is less about the stipends and more about how you feel about yourself

  13. Anonymous says:

    Jobs for loyal party supporters, lodge brothers and friends

  14. Anonymous says:

    Where is the list for the Labour and Labour Appeals Tribunal. Has this been conveniently withheld?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Community and patriotic philanthropy should not command any fee. Such weird and demented rationale in Cayman for service that ought to be freely given from the heart.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is not a Cayman problem.

      It is a world wide problem.

      Have a look at the recent chatter in the news about the Canadian senate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not the same at all. The CND senate has it’s problems with members milking expenses but it is not just a voluntary board. It has enormous power over the House of Commons and can veto any legislation. The reason for the expense scandal is that members are audited and have to account for every penny.

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