Stipends missing from pre-election budget forecast

| 17/06/2021 | 81 Comments
Cayman News Service
Finance Minister Chris Saunders at Wednesday’s press briefing

(CNS): The previous government failed to included the cost of funding the tourism stipend when it released the pre-election budget forecasts earlier this year, which, according to the new finance minister, Chris Saunders, means the deficit may be worse than predicted by the end of this year. But he said that so far the government has an operating surplus of around $175 million for the first five months of the year, which is around $18 million, or 11%, better than called for in the budget.

This is due to the revenue collected so far from the financial services sector. However, he warned that operating expenses are now 8% over budget, largely because of the unaccounted for spending on tourism support.

He said that when PACT took office, the previous government was forecasting a deficit of $98 million for central government and $59 million in the statutory authorities and government companies (SAGCs), for a combined deficit of $157 million. But excluded from that forecast was at least another $35 million in tourism stipend payments. With the stipend payments included, the combined deficit forecast will increase to $192 million for this year, the minister warned.

On the campaign trail, the PPM had promised to increased the stipend and are now calling on the PACT Government to do so. But Saunders explained that if they did, the country could expect a 2021 deficit of well over $200 million.

He said the deficit will get worse in the latter part of the year as revenue slides, and while government still has over $571 million in the bank, collectively the SAGCs are running a deficit, given the losses endured by the tourism related entities such as the Turtle Farm and Cayman Airways. He said it was important that government keep a tight grip on finances because these public authorities are dependent on core government as a last resort to pay salaries as their deficits get worse,

“One of our primary focuses is to get the country’s finances back in order despite the challenges faced in the tourism sector,” he said.

Government would be doing all it could to keep a lid on public spending while at the same time it had every intention of helping those in need and giving tourism related business more direct support over and above the existing loans on offer, he said. But he had to keep government spending low, he stressed, noting that the civil service was working hard to make savings.

Saunders said the country had to be mindful of the need to keep enough cash in the bank not only to keep propping up tourism until the borders are fully open but to steer Cayman through what might be another active hurricane season.

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Category: Government Finance, Politics

Comments (81)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Just a little suggestion from a common sense Caymanian. There is over 12,000 tourism out of work workers receiving $1500 per month. I think we should be working for this money, I think each person should be given back at least 40-50 hrs a week in community services ( log taken and submitted before these monthly funds are released). With so many supplemented unemployed tourism workers the beaches, canals and roads should be clean and No more monies should have to be paid out of Government coffers to pay for these services. Many tourism workers DO NOT want these islands to reopen and it has nothing to do with safety but rather the free money. For many this is the most guaranteed money they have ever made and especially for doing nothing. Mr Tourism Minister please consider this or somehow we can continue to help these people at the seem time getting something back — it is a win win you get your stipends and we will have a very clean Islands to welcome tourist back to our shores “teach a man to fish”

  2. Anonymous says:

    Legalise the herb and the farming of the herb. Money problems done. Nobody na stop burn ganja.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Voodoo accounting

  4. Anonymous says:

    Message: Local businesses should cater their businesses to the residents. No tourists, no businesses. All affected should seek alternative opportunities. The residents are supporting local businesses. We may be on a coveted rock, we should appreciate what we got, then maybe, we will see what is happening and why we need to change , to change us, as we are killing the planet, with our human existence. The change starts with us, as we need to see ourselves and fix us to become humans, you dee, we are still transitioning through the animalistic stage, where we kill and eat, to where we grow and eat. There are available technologies to reduce our carbon foot print. The earth needs healing. God, has no form, no gender, no color. It, yes It, is not human, not like us and is not attach to a religion and it’s not in the sky, it’s all around us. Heaven is what we will create on earth.

    • Truth says:

      How about presenting us with this island wide alternative opportunities? Any real ideas on how to make money out of nothing besides working for CIG? Right now they are living off of borrowed money.

  5. Anonymous says:

    ppm left with a $90m deficit…mmm…wonder when the last time that happened?….yes ppm spent us into bankruptcy in 2009
    so what is the pact plan?….from their performance so far it is pretty obvious they have no plan and no clue except for political mud-slinging.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Cayman we need to seek opportunities that are economically viable and sustainable. Instead of talking about stipend which may or may not be enough. We need to grow our own food, and start eating what we grow. If anything should happen up north, we will be in a dilema on the island. We should start here other opportunities will follow.

    • Watching Pact says:

      Re: 5.06 pm 17/06/2021

      Your point is valid. The previous Government implemented a pilot project to encourage and assist people to move to farming, if you remember. I thought that would have been the impetus for farming to make a come back and be like how we were in the 1960’s when we did not import beef chicken or eggs or potatoes
      However the PACT Government did not think this was a worthwhile project and just cancelled this initiative. I am not sure what their priorities are. They are becoming worrisome.

      • Anonymous says:

        Whilst I wish this government well, this is the problem with independents; they did not campaign on a unified manifesto and by definition all have their own priorities. It’s hardly surprising it all seems a bit rudderless right now.

        • anon says:

          10.24am They might be rudderless but they are certainly not udderless with all the milking that’s been going on.

      • Anonymous says:

        Back in the 1960s you didn’t have 71K people living on the island. Not sure we have the land or ground water for an agricultural industry that can support that many.

      • Anonymous says:

        I do and I can tell you it’s starting to have an impact. On the client side not being able to visit your clients or pitch for work in person onshore hurts business. Didn’t matter so much when your clients were locked down and every other OFC was too. Now we have New York open for business and competitors like BVI and Bermuda free to travel. Ditto clients visiting them/ us to discuss business. And then there are the staff implications. We live in a very competitive world for talent – we compete with open offshore jurisdictions for the skilled professionals we need, and getting people to relocate to a country where they cannot leave easily and re enter adds another challenge. It’s obviously not as bad as tourism, but the status quo is not sustainable if we want to remain competitive.

        • STX says:

          It is going to take the other CI industries to force the CIG to pry open the borders. The tourism portion just isn’t enough. Everyone needs to be making their voices heard or this will just drag on and on. If left to the natural course of events – the opening won’t happen until the damage is widespread. The CIG isn’t a business and they don’t know how one works -obviously.

  7. Think About It says:

    So with China releasing the virus, either accidentally or on purpose, and the USA funding the research that China was doing in Wuhan, perhaps it is time that world governments call on these two terrible countries to pay for our losses.

    After all, it was their fault we are in the position we are.

    • Anonymous says:

      3:42 You’re a complete fool! So the US was funding the Wuhan lab? Was it Hunter Biden with funds washed through the Cayman Islands? Sounds like a great Fox News story. Or did it come from that pillow selling crackhead?

      • Anonymous says:

        Truth will come out. China lied and people died. Period.

      • Anonymous says:

        The fact that this has that many downvotes is exactly why this island has got to get some actual education.

      • Anonymous says:

        Errr…the NIH, headed up by Dr. Fauci, made grants to an organisation called EcoHealth Alliance, run by a Dr. Daszak. EcoHealth Alliance contracted with teams at the Wuhan Lab to conduct various research projects, including gain of function research, which is incredibly dangerous and the highly likely source of Covid 19.

        That is fact, not some conservative conspiracy theory.

        Also Daszak was a member of the first WHO ‘investigative’ team that went to ‘investigate’ the lab a few months ago and got a snow job from the Chinese, so much so that the WHO eventually admitted the investigation was not satisfactory.

        Conflict of interest for Dr. Daszak anyone?

        • Anonymous says:

          Godddd, you people are exhausting.

          • Anonymous says:

            Remember your words.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yeah, my default is to think people are tinfoil hat wearers. But you should look up the references here. Turns out NIH did fund EcoHealth, and EcoHealth did work with the Wigan lab pre Covid, specifically on SARS viruses. The whole “China bio weapons lab screws up” line starts to look a little more complicated. Thought provoking.

        • Anonymous says:

          Q is calling. Run along.

      • Anonymous says:

        5:58 Educate yourself. The Wuhan labs have received US federal money to conduct coronavirus research, this is a matter of public record. The only thing up for debate is if it included “Gain of function” research.

    • peter says:

      you must have brain damage go see a doctor immediately

  8. Anon. says:

    If Alden promised people the stipend would increase to $2000 if he was re-elected means he lied if they had not even budgeted for the original amount past May.

    A lot of things will be revealed now.

    • Anonymous says:

      No it doesn’t he would have just called parliament and appropriated the funds. That’s how it works. Stop listening to the novice Finance Minister he doesn’t get it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I realize the need for those receiving the tourism stipend now to continue receiving it. However, I think it should remain at the $1500.00 because as it has been pointed out, the Government needs to keep a lid on spending for the time being. Having said that, there are lots of people who receive the stipend who have returned to some type of job and earning a salary and some are even double-dipping and thus receive a pension plus this stipend. There is no justified reason to increase this stipend.

    How about topping up pensioners who earn less than the $1500 that the tourism stipend people are getting. At least that would be justified as this group of people actually worked for the government before retiring.

    • Anonymous says:

      But how do you justify that when pensioners whether or not we have tourists would be making the same.

      What needs to happen is another pension withdrawal because they’ve chose to vaccinate us but yet not open the borders. Not to mention not even include all of us who did our duty to get vaccinated when it was our time with all the prize draws.

      • Anonymous says:

        I wonder if this is even a consideration as there was no mention of a second pension withdrawal at all. With no certain date of our boarders reopening, it’s there best option to stimulate the economy. Summer is approaching and there won’t be staycations and local spending in hotels/restaurants like there was last year. Per our Government, things are tight and they can’t offer any stimulus whatsoever.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be a complete moron and I hope to Christ that you don’t reproduce
      The measly stipend still don’t cover what I and many others used to make in tourism before covid
      I personally use to make 1.500 every 2weeks and even with my new POS job I still ain’t making it, imagine those who are solely depending on the stipend, trust me it’s not even considered hand to mouth.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wait… you are currently employed and still receiving the stipend?

        Isn’t the stipend for “umemployed” people?


        • Anonymous says:

          No dumbass the stipend is for displaced tourism workers, grow a brain so it may help you in your future.

          • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

            I was sympathetic to your plight, until you opened your mouth and started insulting people.

            Here’s a little hint for you: Who do you think funds the money that government gives away to out-of-work tourism workers? They don’t manufacture it themselves. No, it comes from all of us who purchase goods (duties) and are still scrapping by and working by paying our licences and permits. So think about that next time you feel the need to bite the very hands of people who are funding you.

            Get it now? I hope your condition and situation improves. I hope my own does as well, but what I’m not going to do is blame it on anyone else. I have had to adapt to this suddenly changing economy.

            I’m also growing more vegetables than I have in the past and will continue doing so regardless of what the government does or anyone else. Be safe.

            We can pull together, yes? We used to be a consolidated people, working together to overcome disasters. Our response should be similar to that of the aftermath of a hurricane.

            I’ve had to tighten my belt. A lot.

        • Anonymous says:

          5:18pm. Too many robbers receiving the stipend. Investigate and jail the thieves. How many of them are really unemployed? They are dishonest and fleecing the hand that is helping them. What did you do with all you collected over the years? We’re you fleecing the the tourists as well?

          • Anonymous says:

            On work permit, but no job.

            Rollover is 7 years, but yet they overstay.

            They come on visitor visas, but get friends to take out work permits for them to stay.

            Rinse and repeat.

            Gaming the system is no secret and everybody knows what is happening, but laws are laxed if you know the right people.

      • Anonymous says:

        4:26 pm, What about the old pensioners and old seamen that has to live on less than 1500 p m. you workers can gets other jobs to help out like construction, but the old pensioners and old seamen are too old and weak to work. Be thankful that the tax payers are giving you 1500 p m

        • Anonymous says:

          They wouldn’t be working if there was no border closure. Their means to income has not changed.

      • Anonymous says:

        I know of a displace tourism worker that is receiving double what they were earning before covid from their employer and did not even have health insurance. They were off island came and applied and received the stipend then went back to their home country and still getting the stipend. How many more are like that? And don’t forget those that applied and still receiving even though they are locked up in Northward prison.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a fact. I know of persons back in their full time jobs and earning as usual but still receiving the stipend. That is just not right and the Ministry of Tourism or the DOT should check on this. How difficult can that be? Don’t rely on the recipients’ honesty. They like the money and perhaps even need it but in the meantime, there are others who get a lot less and could use the assistance.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The financial services revenue has been a saving grace while tourism revenue is absent. However, even financial services will start feeling the pinch if borders stay closed. I fear we’re headed for a really rude awakening when companies start doing business elsewhere… our potential tourists have already done.

    • Anonymous says:

      And on the other hand, dead people. You realize every country that reopened its borders had to revert to another lock down. Do you think many local businesses could survive another lockdown? Please use common sense with your thinking than with greed. When you are dead you are dead. There’s no coming back!

      • Anonymous says:

        8:30 pm. You are 100% right. You are one with common sense. Common sense is not common any more. But a few of us still have it, thank God.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s the problem we now have here in Cayman – some people are still in pre-vaccination mode – hey, its June 2021, not to April 2020

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you even work in Financial Services to make such a comment?????

  11. Anonymous says:

    They think they can just keep flogging that golden financial services goose and it won’t fly away.

    • Anonymous says:

      Funny. They need us more than we need them.

      Threat to leave #71294……zzzz

      The ones who genuinely want to be here and not hold it over our heads as leverage every chance they get, were and are always welcome here to reap the benefits.

      The new government will not respond to childish temper tantrums everytime foreign special interests cannot have their way. Period.

      They think they can just keep taunting the turtle and it won’t clamp down. Think again. New rules, friend.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t think you understand how this all works… the second the financial services leave your infrastructure will crumble and your government will be scrambling to take what is left of any money on island leaving you more destitute than you were before.

  12. DUH says:

    Just a random, silly idea but maybe our leaders should take a pay cut.

    • Anonymous says:

      Start with the PPM members first.

      • Anonymous says:

        2:34pm the PPM members should be put out for a public flogging Cut their pay. They should’ve been ashamed of themselves to increase their pay. But Alden the Monarch was so sure he was going to be back on his pedestal, too do what he wanted, he went ahead and got the grave train in motion, only to fall off the back of it. He still can’t find common ground, since he got left.

    • anon says:

      1.45pm They all earn more than their UK counterparts with a fraction of their responsibility and a complete absence of accountability.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. How many are double-dipping?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Excuses Chris. You were there when similar appropriations were dealt with in the House. All it would take is one meeting of the Parliament to vote the money. That’s how it was done previously, no need to budget it ahead of the new term as one administration cannot bind the other. If Alden had gone ahead and appropriated the funds you would be complaining that he bound your administration with extra debt based on a campaign promise. I really expect better from a minister of finance who purportedly knows about this stuff. You had one term to learn but your complaining shows that you really are not ready and “unnuh really don’t got this”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Budgeting is not the same as appropriating funds. Fortunately you are not the Minister of Finance.

      • Anonymous says:

        The budget is set once every two years, Alden could not create a new budget ahead of elections. The poster is correct. A special appropriation would have to be voted on in Parliament. Alden was sensibly planning to do that when he got back in office as part of the Government. Chris is just throwing out distractions and whining (and not the Batabano kind either)

        • Anonymous says:

          But he was also making a lot of political capital over how well the PPM had controlled spending, and using estimates of what the year end deficit would be to prop that up, whilst conveniently forgetting to mention those estim had no provision for his promised increase in the stipend – or even the continuation of the stipend past the election.

      • Anon. says:

        Fortunately neither are you as you don’t understand how the process works in Government.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. He was there, he was a finance expert!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Get them Chris Saunders show the world the hypocrisy of the Progressives who are salty and focused on pure politricks

  15. Anonymous says:

    Expose all the lies and corrupt dealings of the previous government that will help us understand how screwed we really are as a country

  16. Anonymous says:

    Chris may(or may not) have heard of appropriations.

  17. Anonymous says:

    They gonna run out of money if they don’t open up.

    • Anonymous says:

      And they will blame the previous government for that.

    • Anonymous says:

      The cost of hard lockdowns for the whole country from opening up without a proper plan will be far worse.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lies. It’s over. Move on. Vaccines are available so either do it or don’t but it’s time we stop bringing our game down to the worst players levels

  18. Anonymous says:

    With no plan there will be no tourism industry and what will be left of the finance industry won’t pay the bills. We’re doomed Captain Panton!

  19. anon says:

    When will they release the “Plan”, so we know when the borders will open?.

    • Anonymous says:

      When all business except CIG are closed and gone the plan to get rid of all business in the Cayman island will be reveled. Borders to open soon come after.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kenneth needs to do a survey first. Weren’t you listening ? Lol

      • Anonymous says:

        Ah yes his famous survey of four of his constituents.

      • Anonymous says:

        He needs to stop being so thirsty for speaking time, it’s so obvious. Please only contribute when there is something of “value” to contribute, not just to hear your own voice.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Considering our incredibly low debt levels as a ratio to GDP, government can (and should) easily absorb a single, or even multi-year, budgetary deficit. I would even recommend we consider a capital expansion campaign to drive local economic growth.
    But nah sure the MoF understands how that works.

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