$220k spent from port vote $1.32M budget

| 28/07/2020 | 10 Comments
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson in the LA on 27 July

(CNS): An additional CI$1,320,000 was budgeted for the people-initiated referendum on the cruise port project, but in the end the Elections Office spent only $220,000 on the verification and early prep work. Deputy Governor Franz Manderson revealed that, since it was a non-election year, the office had needed the $1.32 million above its 2019 budget of around $400,000 to prepare for the national vote.

In the Legislative Assembly on Monday, Manderson presented the details of the “exceptional circumstances” transactions for the Portfolio of the Civil Service (POCS) for 2019. He explained why the money was appropriated but did not say what had happened to the balance of around $1.1 million.

The referendum, which had been scheduled for 19 December last year, was stayed by the courts after a successful challenge by the Cruise Port Referendum campaigners, who organised the petition, over how government had gone about settling both the referendum question and date.

Manderson explained that money was spent on the verification process, which included manning the Elections Office to cope with walk-ins, verification at supermarkets and other locations, as well as staff going door-to-door. He said other work that started after the verification included early referendum training and logistical plans.

As 2019 was a non-election year, the usual budget of just over $407,821 represented a fraction of the sum needed to host the national vote. The DG said the 2017 General Election had cost $1.98 million, so the office had asked for another $1.32 million to cover the estimated cost of the whole referendum.

The projected costs of that were around $1,100,000, including postal ballots, mobile voting and general polling on referendum day if the vote had happened.

Manderson said that without the additional funding, the Elections Office would have been unable to meet its constitutional obligations, opening the office and the Cayman Islands Government to potential legal action for breach of law.

The premier has made it clear, however, that the referendum will not take place on general election day next year, so it is not clear what happened to the additional cash appropriated into the 2019 budget that has not been spent on election expenses. However, it may have plugged a hole in the PoCS budget created by an increase in the cost of health insurance for retired civil servants.

Manderson said the 2019 budget for Health Insurance for Civil Service Pensioners had been $22.5 million but the actual cost for 2019 was $27.4 million, which meant there was a budget shortfall of $4.9 million that had to be made up. The budget gap emerged as a result of an increase in retirees and people over the age of 60, as well as an increase in the premiums, in some cases by 34%. The average monthly invoice went from $1.7 million to $2.27 million, the DG revealed.

He explained that the PoCS was allocated additional supplementary funding for the increases in the health insurance premiums via a centralised reallocation managed by the Ministry of Finance. However, the amount of $3.57 million was insufficient, so another $1.35 million to cover the remaining shortfall was requested.

He did not say if the unspent cash allocated for the referendum would be used to fill this gap but stated that the exceptional circumstance transaction did not cause any non-compliance with the Principles of Responsible Financial Management.

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Category: Government Finance, Politics

Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What are people happy with $1.1mln missing?

  2. Anonymous says:

    “He explained why the money was appropriated but did not say what had happened to the balance of around $1.1 million”. Just days before, Roy was filing a special requisition which included the full $1.32mln, as if the full amount were a booked current liability on the Statement of Financial Position. If he is responsible for the entire CIG Accounting Cycle, how does a prudent Finance Minister mis-ledger $1.1mln like that? How does such a inter-departmental miscommunication occur? Who is the source, and what is their career status? We need many more answers on this.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Using the peoples money to pursue a project that only a select few had a vested financial interest in. Sounds legit..

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well as long as we can keep paying MLA’s salary everything’s good. Oink oink Aldart.

  5. Nofreebiesforprivatesector says:

    I am not good at maths, but $27.4 million assuming an average annual premium of $1,000 which must be on the high side given the high volume, comes out at 27,400 pensioners – that’s almost half the population!. How much do we pay for our civil servants who are still employed?.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Alden and Moses should have to pay back every penny..

    The way they handle the people’s money is just unconscionable and atrocious..

    It’s time to hold their feet to the fire…

    • Anonymous says:

      There needs to be a third-party Public Audit Committee to vigorously monitor the entire CIG Accounting Cycle, including Public Accounts Committee composition and performance, and the introduction of Zero Cost Budgeting to many inefficient and non-compliant department sink holes. There are still far too many recurring sunk cost failures drawing budgeted funds; many bookkeeping questions; insufficient tracking effort, accountability, performance benchmarks; and few de-consolidated departmental performance reports to pinpoint exactly where and how the colossal territorial budget vanishes, and often in the red!

  7. Anonymous says:

    And how much public money was spent on the CIG misinformation campaign? All elected members need to be held accountable and pay back the funds to improve our environment. But as things go in Cayman, these rejects will most likely find some other sinkhole project to spend the remainder on.

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