Short-term support still in question

| 08/04/2020 | 67 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin at Tuesday’s press briefing

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government does not have the resources to roll out the type of measures that have been put in place in the United States or the United Kingdom to help employers pay staff who are not currently working as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Premier Alden McLaughlin said at Tuesday’s press briefing that the package of measures unveiled on Monday is a first step to get people thinking about what they can do in the post COVID-19 local economy, but is by no means a solution for everything.

A growing numbers of people say they are now financially desperate or really worried about how much longer they can hold on but have not yet approached the Needs Assessment Unit. But the question of how they will live in the coming weeks and months has not yet been answered.

While public sector and offshore workers are more likely to still have jobs and will be able to weather the storm, employees of a wide range of businesses, especially hospitality related, are in grave financial trouble.

It is clear that government will not be able to help everyone and the premier has warned that government’s own revenue has already fallen dramatically.

McLaughlin said Tuesday that the $14.4 million package was partly a wage subsidy for smaller commercial enterprises, but it was really a survival rather than a stimulus package. He said that government had already paid cash to tour and boat operators; and another group of people in the tourism sector has also been identified and will receive some direct assistance.

Things at the Needs Assessment Unit were now up and running, and cheques and food vouchers would be going out this week to the 136 new applicants, he said. “We are continuing to look at how we can support the economy, but we are not in a position like the UK where we can offer 80% of the salary of every single person who is now unemployed in Cayman.”

McLaughlin explained that what Commerce Minister Joseph Hew was trying to do with this first ‘survival package’ was to get people to start thinking about what they could do as a business over the course of this year, because whatever they did before in tourism is not going to be around for possibly ten months.

The premier urged people to “refocus or repurpose” what they do in order to survive and find “some traction in the local economy”, but acknowledged that many businesses will go under. He said restaurants that just targeted tourists are not going to survive the long-term closure of the tourism industry.

While the banks have agreed not to repossess any homes over the next month or so and the water companies and IT utilities have committed not to cut people off over the three months from when the curfews started, CUC is still only making that commitment on a month to month basis.

With landlords also getting impatient, food prices increasing and the charity of restaurants, hotels and NGOs only able to stretch so far, concerns are mounting that the situation is going to get much worse over the next few weeks as the lockdown aimed at saving lives continues.

The premier said that government would try to help people in the immediate short term, even as it keeps an eye on the long-term challenges the economy will face. But he warned that it, too, had seen its resources shrink.

“We are going to use as much of government resources as we can to help people through these times but government itself has limited resources,” the premier said. He pointed out that government has to pay its staff, to continue to operate and support the economy as much as it can.

“What people may not be realising is that government’s revenue has fallen off precipitously,” he said, noting the loss of all tourism related fees.

“A lot of work is going on in the background to see what we can do to help people. We do not have all of the answers now; I wouldn’t pretend that we do,” he admitted, adding short-term measures were in place to ease the pressure.

Governor Martyn Roper said that he and the premier were going to meet with many members of the private sector who say they want to help.

See Tuesday’s press briefing on CIGTV below:


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Category: Business, Economy, Politics

Comments (67)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We need to trim all the double dip post-retirement bureaucrat fat, where ancient party faithful are rewarded/reinstalled to collect pension AND salary simultaneously. That should include MLAs serving beyond retirement age. How do we collectively ignore the obvious for so long?!?

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  2. Anonymous says:

    REPOST. A writer of wisdom. WELL SAID!!!!

    My two cents says:
    09/04/2020 at 2:24 pm
    My two cents, probably not the best solutions but I suppose it’s a start instead of complaining.

    Anyone under the 9 years on island and who hasn’t submitted PR paperwork can get their full pensions.

    Pension holiday for till January 2022

    Insist CUC and water comp break even for next 6 year (they’re Goin to raise prices soon away becuase of their losses with all the hotels closing)

    Are government depts that are closed employees getting full pay? Maybe they should only get 3/4s

    Banks have already done a great job by giving us 3 months no payments on mortgages.

    The only businesses making massive profits at the moment is supermarkets, maybe ask them to drop their prices for a period of 4 months no profit.

    At the end of this month we have to renew our trade and business licenses, prospone those till September.

    Government has also said that this is costing money amd yes it is but they are also not having to pay for any electricity or partial electrical bills in schools and buildings, the electricity does not need to run all day.

    Our business is suffering, fortunately we realised after Ivan we had to have a slush fund set aside, we are now using that to pay for our staff and other bills. We can carry on for about five months. I just hope we don’t now get a hurricane, mind you our insurance would kick in then.

    Why are schools still charging full fees when the kids aren’t in school, yes, online courses and teachers need to be paid but the facilities are closed. This needs to be looked into.
    (I’ve been told, if people don’t pay, their kids won’t be allowed back in when the schools reopen)

    Just a quick shout out to CNS, you guys are really the only new agency asking the hard questions and thank you.

    My two cents

  3. Anonymous says:

    To all of the entitlement crowd out there. Many of us did save, and planned for hurricane season. I saved three months of operating expenses. Not a year’s worth.

    So, you are correct, I did not plan for a pandemic. Did you smarty pants, who get paid even if you don’t work save a years worth of personal and business expenses? Guessing by CIGs responses, that would be a big fat no!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone remember that scene in Titanic where the steerage passengers were locked below decks to drown? That is what our tourism industry is facing. Not just no help, but active acceleration of our demise.

  5. Anonymous says:

    On a positive note, the cruise ship dock should be mortally wounded if not dead. When cruising starts again, you’re going to need the landing fee more than the dock. And I hope that balloon note got refinanced before this struck. Not much coming from CIG about the state of its finances. The duty on groceries is going to be spread pretty thin. What else you got that is not being cut drastically? How much cash on hand?

  6. Anonymous says:

    People want stimulus checks like other countries are doing but would pitch a fit at income tax, sales tax, property tax, or inheritance tax. That isn’t free money.

    Why aren’t people prepared for a “rainy day”? Two days into curfew and people acting like they are going starve that night. No matter how little you make per paycheck, you should be saving some. Stop living above your means and be responsible for yourself.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Amen to that!, nothing for a rainy day. What a bunch of losers!

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    • Anonymous says:

      @ 4:32pm…why aren’t people prepared for a “rainy day” you say? “No matter how little you make per paycheck you should be saving some you say? Do you personally know what each and every individual on this island make for a living and what /whom their earnings go towards? You do not as you can only speak for yourself. It is easy for you and many others to continue to make these judgements yet you do not know what people go through in their daily lives.

      I have an elderly parent who requires medical care, I have children, rent to pay, utilities, my car to keep up to take me from A to Z, insurance, groceries, online school etc and I don’t travel because I can’t and no matter how hard I try to save a bit each month something unexpected ALWAYS happens that I need to find a solution for that takes me right back to square one. As one woman, one person I try to do as much as I can with what I make and stretch it. I don’t live above my means as it’s impossible neither am I here twidling my thumbs waiting for any hand out from Government yet you sit there and judge people because obviously you know our situations….SMH

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    • Anonymous says:

      Um most are paying 27.5 percent of the cost of the underlying goods and the overpriced freight on top of the lucrative financial service fees equivalent to an oil field in any other country…. We have not one red cent out of that so called goose but a big fat surplus and a few politicians of the same size is the result. Ever heard of a sovereign wealth fund.. They haven’t because that gets in the way of Monaco, London or other trip for the crew. You get it… We need it for us… Its not yours….

      Haven’t even touched on the work permits or other fees and taxes such as that on your insurance policy, tax for land transfer, tax on you airbnb, tax on your car, tax on your package, tax on your flight departure, tax on your money transfer, tax on your debit card. 25 cents
      Tax on your probate., tax on diesel, tax on power, Seizure if dormant accounts…. Go ahead chuck on another obe

  7. Anonymous says:

    please. release. pensions.

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  8. Dear Mr. Premier says:

    Honorable Premier,

    I am the first to admit that I have never been a supporter of you or your Government. That opinion however has changed in the past few weeks. You have proven yourself to be a leader which I am proud to call Mr. Premier.

    There will always be those who are NEVER satisfied and who will always critisize although they themselves can offer no solution. When this pandemic is over and the world attempts to regain some semblance of normalicy, I hope we as a community, all three Islands give you and the Governor the credit which you are both due.

    We were once, yes once, a God fearing nation who were known for our friendly smiles and kind nature. These are characteristics we seem to have lost.

    So Alden, thank you for making the hard decisions which had to be made. Thank you for holding your ground even though it may have angered some. Your early decisions have and will continue to save lives. Thank you for not turning this pandemic into a political arena or one of nationality although you have taken a lot of critisisim for this.

    We, these blessed Cayman Islands will get through this TOGETHER!
    HAPPY EASTER AND GOD BLESS.

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  9. My two cents says:

    My two cents, probably not the best solutions but I suppose it’s a start instead of complaining.

    Anyone under the 9 years on island and who hasn’t submitted PR paperwork can get their full pensions.

    Pension holiday for till January 2022

    Insist CUC and water comp break even for next 6 year (they’re Goin to raise prices soon away becuase of their losses with all the hotels closing)

    Are government depts that are closed employees getting full pay? Maybe they should only get 3/4s

    Banks have already done a great job by giving us 3 months no payments on mortgages.

    The only businesses making massive profits at the moment is supermarkets, maybe ask them to drop their prices for a period of 4 months no profit.

    At the end of this month we have to renew our trade and business licenses, prospone those till September.

    Government has also said that this is costing money amd yes it is but they are also not having to pay for any electricity or partial electrical bills in schools and buildings, the electricity does not need to run all day.

    Our business is suffering, fortunately we realised after Ivan we had to have a slush fund set aside, we are now using that to pay for our staff and other bills. We can carry on for about five months. I just hope we don’t now get a hurricane, mind you our insurance would kick in then.

    Why are schools still charging full fees when the kids aren’t in school, yes, online courses and teachers need to be paid but the facilities are closed. This needs to be looked into.
    (I’ve been told, if people don’t pay, their kids won’t be allowed back in when the schools reopen)

    Just a quick shout out to CNS, you guys are really the only new agency asking the hard questions and thank you.

    My two cents

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is the only realistic option if the government wants to help people evade undue hardship. I’m disappointed that there hasn’t been more discussion around pensions, but I expect them to address it next week.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Are we sure that we need this crew leading us through these demanding times…..what happened to the 2 BILLION dollar budget that was just approved….the government need to halt all unnecessary work…. stop the turtle farm in the Brac (2 million)….there is 2 million approved for Mrs. River’s Hollywood project….stop the lease payments on the aircrafts….organize a pay-cut for top levels of the civil service etc..etc………the civil service cannot afford to be payed their regular salary….especially OfREG….this is a crucial time for the government to help the people that contributed to this budget….sounds like we may have to bring back Mr. Panton and Mr. Archer to managed the budget.

    STOP this 14 million dollar initiative and split the money amongst the people. 14 million can help a lot of underprivileged people….if not, you are surely looking trouble Mr. McLaughlin….people are not going to standby and watch their family starve….

    If and when the economy recovers…..I am mighty sure that the people will be willing to be taxed to assist with the recovery.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    There are many billionaires on this island. They could all quite easily lend to government substantial funds at low rates and/or be granted (say)50 year duty exemption on all developments and/or exemptions from taxes on businesses moving forward.

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    • Anonymous says:

      People have savings their savings just happen to be not in cayman

      Half employees have nicer homes than me in Jamaica and Honduras,

      Can you explain that ?

      And want loans from me…. because they have no money…… no they have no money in Cayman

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    • Anonymous says:

      6.59, so if you had a billion dollars, you would lend to government at 0-1% interest rates, or try to make more elsewhere with it? Beside, some banks are able to lend even cheaper these days…

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      • Anonymous says:

        If I had a BILLION dollars, I would give all but a few million to the government. What does that prove?

        Rich people that have benefitted by government largess should be doubling down now. They support us, and we will, in turn, again support them as we have. Otherwise, they are done.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Getting us on the EU blacklist starting to look like an absolutely monumental f up now financial services are the only game in town!

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    • UK Advisor says:

      The blacklist was a body blow to many of us in the International financial world. I lost clients because of this, and others said I must relocate to another fully compliant jurisdiction if I want to keep their business. Then the complete shutdown with no tourism or inflow of new capital is a metaphorical standing eight count to government finances. The government is not the problem, it can only react to the external pressures. From my perspective, they are performing admirably under wartime conditions. The wealthy can always relocate. The Caribbean offers a cornucopia of choices. Capital flows freely, even during times like this. The government must push a reset button and do everything it can to attract capital. This includes streamlining the bureaucratic web and costs for residency / work permit. Other jurisdictions are already aggressively pursuing new capital and business by lowering fees and costs ancd fast-tracking the residency processes. Cayman might want to consider doing the same. The future prosperity of Cayman is in peril.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You know they will…. New dollar better than a loyal dollar. Not sure about lowering any fees just content to gut all status and PR holders and watch them return or run pennyless to somewhere else while life’s work sold on the auction block for fractions on the dollar. The stimulus money being showered will make it to these shores on the backs of New Residents. CaymanKind

  13. Anonymous says:

    We really need Alden to bring out Roy McTaggart to explain what is going on with the country’s finances. It seems we don’t have a pot to piss in anymore..What happen to the surplus they always bragged we had?

    I am very disappointed with the press with the exception of Wendy not asking the hard questions? It’s like they are afraid that Alden will get upset with them…Let him!!! The people want to know and demand to know what will happen to them..To be dismissive and tell us..It seems his major concern is the civil service many of which are at home getting paid to do nothing…These people have had cost of living increases hand over fist whilst the private sector salaries are very seldom moved since this stupid government put in place a $6 minimum wage but there is not one civil servant being paid at that low level.

    I would have felt a lot better I knew the people at the top particularly the politicians and especially those that are double dipping would give back a portion of their wages as a sign that they realize that we are all in this together. The only one that appears to be working is Alden. Where is the rest of the cabinet? Where is Roy McTaggart? Why did they send lil Joey with that bunch of foolishness on Monday. Is that the best they can do?

    Promises are a comfort to a fool. I’m no fool and somebody needs to stand up now and tell the truth and give us some idea of what the hell happened to the major surplus we had…

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    • Rod bodden says:

      They are using the surplus

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    • Anonymous says:

      The politicians gives back a percentage of their salaries every day that they venture out from their homes. Heck they can hardly get in to the LA unless the do a sprint for the back door. Politicians have bills too!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    I am starting to wonder if this is not another one of those years that we find out that instead of being in surplus that we have $81M in debt…Remember the good ole PPM?

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  15. Anonymous says:

    “The Cayman Islands Government does not have the resources to roll out the type of measures that have been put in place in the United States or the United Kingdom to help employers pay staff who are not currently working as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.”

    We can’t afford to implement programmes like the US or the UK are doing, so a good idea is to copy what New Zealand is doing, which is even MORE “squashing” devastating to the economy, and requires even more government support to sustain.

    “A lot of work is going on in the background to see what we can do to help people. We do not have all of the answers now; I wouldn’t pretend that we do,” he admitted, adding short-term measures were in place to ease the pressure.”

    They don’t have any answer…….. But at least we can be comforted that to “get this virus”, they are completely prepared to burn everyone’s estates, finances, homes, families education funds, savings, insurance polices, pensions and businesses to ashes. It seems only God can stop them.

    Except their own of course.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Not a single person has died of Covid-19 on the island, except a cruise ship visitor who had a heart attack. How is this an emergency that requires shutting down businesses all over the island?

      The average age of people dying in Italy was 78, and life expectancy is 82. 90% of people were over 70, and had at least one pre-existing condition. Of people over 70 with no pre-existing conditions, the death rate is close to 3%. This is pretty similar to the normal flu.

      How many businesses have staff that are over 70? Virtually none. The retirement age is 65. The elderly people may need to isolate, but not the people that work. They are not at any risk of dying. Even the elderly and infirm would admit that they ultimately depend on a healthy younger population to take care of them.

      The shutdown of businesses with staff that are not at risk of serious consequences is foolish and cruel. We need to reopen Cayman immediately.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You haven’t accounted for all those that are compromised and there is ALOT of those on island. Heart issues, asthmatic, smokers, autoimmune compromised and the big one.diabetes.
        That’s allot more than those that are 70+.
        Show some humanity. I want things to open up too, but not if it’s risking someone’s life.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Tourism here has thrived for years…where has all of that revenue gone that Government received from these entities? They have paid all necessary fees over the years and now it’s like he’s telling them “Sorry can’t help..get rid of all balls & chains”!? Seriously?

    Government employees salaries partly come from revenue through Tourism! Obviously it should be a priority to now help those same entities who no doubt have Caymanian employees!! WTH?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Wheres it all gone? They spent it. Each and every year. No money put aside for a rainy day. The expenditure expands to consume any surplus. From commissioning ridiculously expensive school and administration buildings to paying for trips to Monaco and a civil service that employs a ridiculous proportion of the working population.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    And I quote as stated in the article “noting the loss of all Tourism related fees” Alden is attributing to Government’s loss in revenue……to whomever said that Government makes no revenue from Tourism you are clearly sadly mistaken!

    Everything has come to a full immediate stop because everything depends on Tourism in all shapes and forms. Tourism does not necessarily mean just Cruise ships, it would also includes Airline arrivals who also bring the work permit holders (over 20,000).

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    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, everything depends upon the Financial Services Industry.This is the only game in town, right now.

      Perhaps, now for once, CIG will pay it the respect and deference it deserves and the (uninformed) MLA’s take the time (while they are sitting at home doing nothing), to read up on the various sectors within its complexion and for once, try and understand the industry and the benefits that it brings to the island.

      Financial Services is the only thing that will keep the lights on over the coming months (just like after IVAN)….. Politicians, as well as both Civil & Public servants – remember this. Stop beating up on FS and treat it like a golden goose – whose eggs we need to survive……

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      • Anonymous says:

        It seems the Pension Holiday and withdrawal is flip flopping. It shouldn’t be that hard. The 15th of the month is coming up so that means employees/employers will have to pay into the fund while struggling….hurry up Alden, we need a plan….

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        • Anonymous says:

          No, it means that investment will be made while the market is low, helping pension holders significantly in their retirement.

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          • M McLaughlin says:

            Wrong! Real wealth isn’t stored in financial paper products or on some Stock Exchange. 

            You must be blind with all the recent events to want go back in now to take losses. Too many people are forced through CI Government mandates to bleed away their pensions, there is no “real diversification”, of pensions here thanks to the CI Government and the Pension Administrators.

            I guess your one those people that believe Amazon is actually worth USD1 triillion. Tell Mr. Bezos to sell 20% of his stock next and then tell me how much the remaining 80% will be worth?

            Real wealth and capital preservation can only be obtained in real estate, Gold, Silver, etc, tangible assets. THERE IS NO REAL WEALTH IN FIAT!

            The stock market is a like casino, always rigged for the house!

          • Anonymous says:

            Pension law should be changed so its unconstrained… Feed capped at 1 percent for money manager and admin. Then holiday and return to people. No reason for insurers to be making money off of us by administering the thing

    • Anonymous says:

      If we had implemented income tax when the financial was booming we would have the 80% to pay the unemployed . Surely that is how the US, U.K. And other countries are able to do that. I am by no means suggesting income tax just how other countries like USA, U.K., can do so. Hands up please all of those who have made oodles of money on the Rock and wish we had implemented it in the good old days.

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      • Anonymous says:

        No problem with income tax once CIG removes the exorbitant indirect taxes and fees that we fork out IN LIEU of income tax.

        I know that this is a difficult concept for some.

        Go slow. You will soon get it.

        We tax differently.

        We also leave the majority of incomes in the hands of the people that earn those incomes.

        People are supposed to be smarter that governments.

        At least, that what we have been told.

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      • Anonymous says:

        No, they are borrowing the money. The difference is they are borrowing the money then using it to re-inflate the economy by spreading it around. Once Alden persuades the FCO that we should be allowed to borrow in excess of the financial responsibility limits, its going to go on keeping paying the public sector and propping up the CAL and the authorities.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Borrowing and printing… Agreed we need to be on the same boat….. Because 2 dollars borrowed today will be worth 2 cents in 2 years.

      • Anonymous says:

        Or merely unemployment insurance.

      • Anonymous says:

        No they’re printing and borrowing. Tax receipts are in freefall.

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      • Anonymous says:

        They are paying for it via huge amounts of debt, not from any reserves they have laying around. the US and UK are some of the most heavily indebted places on earth.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Well income tax is what allows US, UK and Canada to offer their citizens 80% of their salary. As I said I am not in favour of income tax, but if we had implemented it then we would be able to give out the80%. Of course nobody would like that. – not the low earners nor the high earners. The message is we don’t have income tax therefore there is no other means to offer more than has been offered for short term support. I apologize to those who jumped to the conclusion that I was advocating for income tax.

      • M McLaughlin says:

        Sorry friend you are wrong, the US and UK can only do this because they go to printing more money, which kicks their problems down the road for future generations. Does make any sense, right?

  18. Anonymous says:

    So now those surpluses from all these years of Aldart giving permits to whomever can pay aren’t available. Where’s that money Aldart or Roy or Marco?

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  19. Anonymous says:

    I keep hearing about stimulus packages, suggestions about cutting civil servants’ salary, bank and utilities’ payment holidays, request for landlords to be compassionate and empathetic with their tenants but what I am not hearing is I will take a pay cut, for say the next 3 months, from our 19 elected MLAs. The majority of these persons have done little to nothing in the last year or so to even try to justify why a $9,000.00 KYD minimum salary is now warranted to them.

    Do the right thing MLAs. Collectively agree on a pay cut NOW!!!!! so the government can put this extra money into the public purse to help the country survive this current situation.

    If not, the dominoe effect will be disastrous.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes it will and it will happen! This will take much longer to recover from than Ivan. Then if we get a double whammy of new cases in December people will quickly need to relearn rope making.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    thanks alden for saying what we know.alden is pretty much saying to the private sector…you are on your own.
    all the time while the overstaffed civil service is on full pay…..the band plays on the ship is sinking.

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    • Anonymous says:

      2.01pm You seem to forget that the salaries paid to those Civil servants are contributing greatly to the economy at this time. What Alden is saying is that Govt will help but there is no way for Govt to cover the cost of running all these businesses.Also I am sure you know what Govt announced on Tuesday that they are doing to assist small (private sector) businesses, yet you failed to mention that. Bias?

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      • Anonymous says:

        According to one civil servant I know the government only has funds to cover the public sector wage bill until July.

      • Anonymous says:

        The small businesses plan is so laughable as to make George Carlin roll over in his grave.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Time to start reallocating expenditures then. 25% of civil servants salarys (who earn over say 72K pa) would throw about 90M into the pot. Surely if they are earning more than this they are not living hand to mouth and nobody needs surplus funds for “luxuries” right now.

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