FS warns of long road to modernise CIG budget

| 29/01/2021 | 28 Comments
Cayman News Service
FS Kenneth Jefferson is sworn in by PAC Chair Ezzard Miller on Thursday

(CNS) Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson has accepted that the current budget system doesn’t make the important link to show how public cash being spent by government is achieving its stated policies. The system is based on outputs rather than outcomes, which does not help people understand the real performance of government, he explained, but said that adopting a new model would take time, given the history that led to where the budget system is today.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, alongside Accountant General Matthew Tibbetts, to answer questions about an audit on the government’s way of reporting the budget, Jefferson agreed with the findings that the system was voluminous and didn’t make the connections it should. But he warned that “we have a long way to go” to get to an outcomes-based model.

Jefferson said that it would be several years before the cumbersome and opaque government budget system will be modernised and the efficiency improved, as he pointed out the legal requirements and the evolution of today’s system, which began in the late 1990s.

The report by the Office of the Auditor General, Improving Financial Accountability and Transparency: Budgeting, which was published at the end of last year, said the current process was “not effective or transparent and there is scope for significantly more change to further simplify it to improve transparency and accountability”. Auditor General Sue Winspear also noted the failure to connect the government’s strategic policy statement, where it lays out how it will spend the people’s money and how this will achieve its aims.

The budget is a list of activities or projects rather than outcomes, which means it is not clear how these activities and projects contribute to government’s goals. “This, in turn, will make it difficult for core government entities and SAGCs to demonstrate how their activities contribute to outcomes,” she wrote.

Jefferson agreed that his department needed to help government find more appropriate measures that can reflect what it achieves with the money it collects in revenue. “We need to specify new performance measures for government,” he said, explaining that an outcomes budget can make a better connection between what government is doing and what it is achieving.

The Cayman Islands Government produces a set of government documents that is more voluminous than those produced for New Zealand, a country of five million people with an annual budget of over US$85 billion. That country was supposed to be a role model for the changes Cayman has made to its public accounting systems over the years, but the massive amount of information now created here is not helping the public understand anything.

Jefferson told PAC that despite this enormous amount of information, the important links are not there and new measures must be found to show the outcomes as well as the outputs and how the two are connected.

See the report in the CNS Library.

See the PAC session below on CIGTV.

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Category: Government Finance, Government oversight, Politics

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well they definitely saved money on not providing stimulus cheques to Citizens like everywhere else. At least let another pension withdrawal considering tourism industry isn’t coming back for another 6-8 months.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some of us are struggling and haven’t received any support because we didn’t fit particular requirements. The forgotten.

      Damn right I could do to dip in my pension again. Only wish we could double-dip too!

  2. Anonymous says:

    “that the current budget system doesn’t make the important link to show how public cash being spent”.

    Well at least most of us have eyes and a brain that works; look around……..where does it actually all go given the litany of massive problems.

    I would love to see the warehouse where they store all the Consultant Reports too that we pay KYD 1.5 million a pop to big 4 Firms every single election cycle.

    Do they wipe their arses with them?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Having worked with it, the biggest problem is that no one can really understand how it works because it is so convoluted.

  4. Too many bees in the honey pot says:

    I would bet my prize mango tree that our civil servant per capita ratio is far higher than New Zealand’s, but is theirs “world class”?.

    • Anonymous says:

      “World Class”? Every time I read it, it becomes more laughable.

      • Anonymous says:

        A World Class morass of incompetence, seething jealousy and downright ignorance at the top management level.

        The vast majority of civil servants are dedicated, efficient and simply want to serve the public.

        Not so, the vast majority of top management starting with the deputy governor. Jokers, most of them.

        • Proudcivilservant says:

          5:07 oh my did someone pee in your cereal?

          Those incompetent civil servants recently received Awards from the Public Accounts Committee for immaculate accounts.

          It’s those incompetent civil servants who are keeping you safe from COVID-19.

          Why don’t you pop up to the airport for the next BA flight and process arriving passengers. You won’t and will likely remain under your bed. While our brave Civil and public service process COVID-19 positive travellers.

          Yet you complain and attack!

          Shame on you. Proud civil servant

          • Anonymous says:

            Please reread and retract. The comment you responded to clearly supported civil servants and squarely pointed the finger at the top dogs. And they nailed 👌 it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Another example of world class accountability where the person responsible for the work speaks of long standing issue at arms length as if it is someone else’s problem to identify and fix it. The acceptability DG keeps speaking of won’t happen until long overdue promised 360 appraisals for executives weed out the incompetent establishment deadweights in charge of ministries and departments (only in name and title) with no interest to own and fix the problems in their remit.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Government knew from its inception that the Public Management and Finance Act was far too complex for our purposes. However a New Zealand consultant and one public officer who will not be named were able to convince them that the convoluted Act was first world. Sigh.

    • Anonymous says:

      Follow the money on this one.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wish more people would understanding for the associated cost of implementing PMFL. New Zealand dropped the law what does that say??? Only fools here are us; throwing money to fix a unfixable law/regulations.

  7. Gray Matter says:

    Government is not a business or in business. It’s a large bulldozer that pushes mountains of cash here and there.

  8. Anonymous says:

    another glorious day for our world class civil service…..zzzzzzz

  9. Anonymous says:

    Lots of greased hands

  10. Anonymous says:

    Fund a focus group to figure out what is going.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Let’s not overthink this, clearly the outputs are not producing the outcomes desired. EVERYONE knows it already. Incompetence in planning and execution will not be cured by a new model detailing the crappy outcomes we can all see right now.

  12. Bring out those skeletons in the CIG closet says:

    “the current budget system doesn’t make the important link to show how public cash being spent by government is achieving its stated policies” How hard can it be to track where our money goes? It’s not like we have a black ops budget hidden within the visible budget do we?
    Not reporting or deliberately concealing figures is fraud.
    We should be asking our candidates what new measures will be put in place to ensure we get value for our hard earned duties. What a surprise it might be to find out whose greedy fingers have been in the pot.

    • Anonymous says:

      How hard can it be to track where our money goes? It’s not like we have a black ops budget hidden within the visible budget do we?

      No but we do have black holes where the money goes to never to be seen or properly accounted for:

      Nation Building Fund – Turtle Farm – Cayman Airways – Pedro’s Castle – OffReg.

      I could go on and on but pretty sure you get the point.

  13. Anonymous says:

    “The system is based on outputs rather than outcomes, which does not help people understand the real performance of government,”

    That’s all you need to know! They don’t want their performance (or lack thereof) to be quantified for the public to see. Accountability would be a great thing!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would it matter? We can’t even vote to replace them

    • Anonymous says:

      Outputs are important and should be tied to outcomes which should then be measured. But we are not good at measuring and when we actually do do it ( or the auditor general does it) we are not good at accountability when there is a failure to achieve outcome goals. No consultants, no budgetary method, no promises from Ken Jefferson will ever change that.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I have a hunch part of the problem might be that SAGC member grease isn’t reported or added into general public revenue. There seems to be enough of it swirling around, that nobody’s asking for the kind of obvious accountability that might otherwise limit their own avarice. That’s what corruption looks like.

  15. Anonymous says:

    It looks like it is time for another outside consultant.

    • Anonymous says:

      1:52 hell no. I am sure the negative know it all posters can come up with the solution.

  16. Anonymous says:

    A lot of dipping going on.

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