PACT changes policy on overseas offices

| 20/07/2021 | 90 Comments
Financial Services Minister Andre Ebanks in Finance Committee on Monday

(CNS): Financial Services Minister Andre Ebanks has announced a policy review of the previous government’s plans to open overseas offices, and said that a team of new staff employed around the time of the elections by the now disbanded Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs will need to be retrained for different jobs. Ebanks said most of these areas have now been placed directly back under financial services and the previous plan to promote investment is under review.

Speaking at the Finance Committee meeting on Monday, Ebanks sought to move some $2 million set aside by the last administration for these global offices into social welfare and small business support.

Explaining the change, Ebanks told his colleagues that, given the new dangers facing the offshore sector as well as the changing situation in the world since the idea to open these offices was first proposed, the ministry was now going to have to deal with the new employment contracts that were signed “around the election period” that would have seen the new Caymanian management team relocated to these proposed offices to do a very different job.

“The complexities related to financial services have increased since that plan was proposed,” he said, adding that these changes in the geo-political landscape were having a tangible impact. “Against that background, the PACT Government has decided to refocus the proposed overseas offices for North America, Europe and Asia and transfer the operations and staff to the Ministry of Financial Services,” he said, noting that investment promotion would become a secondary activity.

Ebanks said there would be “a more modest approach to launching the offices”, with the opening of the Washington and European bureaus postponed until the end of the year and the office in Hong Kong put off until next year, if ever. This means that the new team will need to be retrained into relevant specialisms, since inward investment will no longer be a priority as Cayman navigates the threats to the offshore sector.

The financial services minister said that the Brussels office was being rethought as the London office could still act as the base for the Brussels team because of its proximity and because of the switch in Europe from in person meetings to video conferencing over the last year because of the pandemic.

However, the previous administration began the process of recruiting these new management teams for the overseas offices earlier this year and then signed contracts with five people sometime between the elections and the swearing in of the ministers, which has left PACT with a challenge, given its policy reconsideration.

Ebanks described these new government recruits as “energetic and articulate Caymanians” who are capable of re-tooling, but they were now facing the prospect of a very different job from the one they were recruited to do.

“They will now need to fully immerse themselves in the complex area of regulation and tax matters,” the minister said. He also noted that not all of the tax and benefits liability in these new locations had been worked out for each of the jurisdictions, so they would not be relocated until all of those issues were addressed as well.

In short, he said, PACT would not need the CI$2 million that the previous government had set aside for opening these offices in this financial term. If and when all three offices open, he said he would be looking at doing it in more cost effective ways. This meant that the money could be diverted to meet local demand to help small business and fund social welfare.

He said that those who have been hired were going to be paid and retrained here. But he explained that this had created a problem because they were hired under a different and broader mandate and now may even want to reconsider their situation.

Answering questions from members on both sides about this recruitment on the eve of an election and a previous policy that prevented government from signing significant contracts just before a national poll, Ebanks said he would look into that because it has created issues for the new hires, some of whom, it was understood, may have already sold their home here and moved.

One of them is understood to be Chris Duggan, who gave up his job with the Dart Group and his position as the RCIPS Special Constabulary Commandant after he had been recruited to head up the office in Washington. The police commissioner had wished him success in a press release about his departure and invited him to serve with the specials whenever he was back on island, which is likely to be much sooner than expected.

Ebanks said his chief officer, Dax Basdeo, was dealing with the fallout from the newly hired employees, as he pointed out the inevitable consequence of making such decisions at the time of an election. He said that “engaging staff during that particular period without knowing the new government’s priority… has presented these challenges”, adding that it was important to look at the timing of hiring civil servants because the staff have been impacted, and that ought to be avoided in future.

Former premier Alden McLaughlin, who created the separate ministry for trade, which he had hoped he would be running after the elections, challenged the decision to review his previous policy and went on to lead an across the board ‘no’ vote in the committee by the opposition. The effort failed, however, as the government had the votes to successfully move the cash.

As he spelled out his objections, McLaughlin said he had been advised that Cayman needed an office in Brussels, given that the greatest threats to this jurisdiction come from Europe and that need was compounded by the UK’s departure from the European Union.

However, Ebanks pointed out that a decision to open an office in Europe was “not off the table” but COVID-19 had changed how business is being done there now. Therefore, the urgency for in-person meetings was not there any longer, he said, noting that when he was the London representative, he was able to get Cayman of the EU grey list via Zoom meetings. He said he remained confident that Cayman could engage properly for the time being from London.

See the Finance Committee proceedings on CIGTV below, set to begin with Minister Ebanks requesting appropriation changes:

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Category: Government Finance, Politics

Comments (90)

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  1. Cayman Conch says:

    So is Andre still great then or??? Wasn’t he recently at a retreat with Eric’s ministry praising how good the work was for the overseas offices with these same 5 reps? There was a press release just in early June

    Go back and check how many of PACT members said they actually supported the overseas offices proposed by PPM during the campaign. They are all on video!! So why the sudden change? Oh because they found some extra monies to do other things like pay raises and small business for who? Those that employ everyone on work permits?

    For all the folks saying this is good, the fact is there’s a lot of costs being proposed and no real good source of paying for them. The overseas offices are needed to bring investment to Cayman otherwise where’s the money going to come from? Does Andre and PACT expect these officers to go into countries and preach about how many laws we have? The work he is asking them to do is the work that the Ministry of FS is required to carry out to get us off of the black list but yet he is shifting it to these officers. A year from now we will be up to our necks in borrowing and debt.

    Sorry to let Andre know the world, even UK is learning how to work around covid and getting back to some normalcy. Everything cannot be done over zoom although that’s probably all he did during the time, a very short time he’s had in any role. He has been very demeaning to these good civil servants he talked about in parliament but yet he’s been smiling in their faces everyday and telling these people they were doing a a good job. Fact is him nor his current Chief Officer of FS have been successful at their stints in overseas offices and don’t want them to do better than they did. So do they really have the expertise to tell anyone how to do their jobs? Check his annual report and see what he accomplished. People need to be more informed before forming an opinion.

    This is all about ego and revenge, Eric was his boss!! Follow the facts people

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why is the Cayman Islands sponsoring a rugby team that plays in England? The team in question is London Irish which plays in England’s Gallagher Premiership.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth really need to calm that ego of his down. Andre Ebanks is experienced and QUALIFIED for the job he now has.

  4. Ppm Malicious Agenda says:

    Poor Kenneth listening to Boss Hogg yet again ,because he appears unable to think for himself! Alden learned the hard way senor Bryan. Good Job MP Ebanks shutting down yet another bunch of foolishness designed to fleece our economic situation.We had a competent and effective and efficient company to do our business in Europe and elsewhere how is placing and inept agenda political minion going to enhance that situation???

    • Anonymous says:

      Good Job MP Ebanks shutting down yet another bunch of foolishness designed to fleece our economic situation.

      When it comes to fleecing, PACT might set a record which will be the envy of all for years to come.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who is Boss Hogg?

      • Anonymous says:

        21@7:32pm – You really have to ask? McBeater Bush!!

        (refer to the Boss Hogg character on Dukes of Hazzard TV Show)

  5. Just Sayin says:

    My take on this having listened to the proceedings is that the PPM’s approach was to use the overseas offices to promote inward investment and keep a watch on financial services issues. Spending $2M in the hope of earning more was a business-like decision.
    Now that we are back to borrowing hundreds of millions of $$, the PACT’s approach seemingly is not to promote investment but instead to focus on financial services issues alone. Redirecting the $2M into ‘social welfare and small business support’ may sell well politically but they need to understand that they are “eating the seeds rather than planting them”.
    As for the offices, I found Andre’s argument for servicing the EU from London rather than from Brussels completely ignored the fact that the UK has turned its back on the EU. Anyone representing us with the EU inherently leaves the wrong first impression when they have to say that they are based in London.
    With regard to when people were hired, it does seem ironic that the PACT have said nothing about the PPM signing a $200M contract with Dart 3 weeks before the election. Either you have a principle or you don’t.
    Not surprisingly, the PACT had no difficulty in embracing the PPM’s salary increases for themselves – 16% for the Premier, 8% for MLA’s and 0% for civil servants.
    Just sayin.

    • Anonymous says:

      Considering Andre was formerly able to represent Cayman in the UK and EU (including post-Brexit) as his actual job before running for office, I think at minimum he is qualified to speak to how there may be opportunities to optimize that arrangement.
      Your other points notwithstanding, I would at least acknowledge the Minister is a subject matter expert in this respect.

      • Anonymous says:

        How long did he do it for and what were the results?

        • Anonymous says:

          As a responsible, professional person Andre sure had a hard act to follow in Eric Bush.

          It takes a special person to waste time and CIG’s financial resources in the way that Bush did during his time in London!

          • Anonymous says:

            The complaints will come from the beneficiaries of the largesse- some quiet, some quite loud.

            Be prepared for the backlash. There are some seriously upset people out there.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not necessarily so!,

    • Anonymous says:

      These overseas positions where we supposedly represent Cayman are just an expensive boondoggle to pretend we are are big players in the market and also to give our Caymanians high paying jobs. It all started with the desire of Jim Bodden and co to give dear old Tom Russell, their pet Governor, a job once he left Cayman as a reward for his support of the Unity Team policies. In this day and age with digital communications we do not need people on the ground in places like the UK. No UK person really listens to them and the “friends of Cayman” stuff is an embarrassing waste of time. Ask Jennifer Dilbert what Cayman got from her buddying up to Alexander McCall Smith which she made a huge thing of when she was our representative in the Uk. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

  6. Let the public purse pay says:

    Same as with the waste management plant; after the election they rushed to sign the contract with DECCO (Dart). Why do it in a rush before swearing in, when they had three years to analyze it and sign it calmly?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great job Andre. You are sooooo good. You did the right thing. With this Covid crisis still existing, we do not need any overseas offices at this precise time. Use those funds for a more worthwhile cause.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why was Kenneth attacking his own Cabinet minister ? I was watching and it was very … unsettling. Does he realize he is no longer a one man opposition show ?

    • Anonymous says:

      I watched the same clip and Kennuy did not appear to be attacking. MP Ebanks motion was to redirect the $2M from the proposed offices to elsewhere. Kenny (and Bush) questions related to why the contracts were signed in the short run up to elections. That is a fair point but it was clear that MP Ebanks did not want the question to detract from his motion. It was clear that Kenny (and Bush) did not understand the subtlety.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth questioning his own Cabinet colleague. Lawd sah.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kenneth getting too big for his boots, all going to his head, he needs to sit down, quest himself, get extra flights on and do his own job. Very professionally handled Andre.

      • Anonymous says:

        I said from the start that is was very sad that the PACT Govt found themselves in the position of having Kenneth as a Minister. He’s too arrogant, egotistical and clueless for his position. To question Andre, someone who can and is running circles around him with professionalism and knowledge. Aye boy smdh!!

      • Anonymous says:

        He’s showing how incompetence…true colours shining thru…

      • Anonymous says:

        Getting? LOL

    • Anonymous says:

      Kenneth just doing what Mac tells him to do.

      • Anonymous says:

        The plethora of overseas offices would suit the likes of Bush n Bush, Dart, Fraser, Blair, etc

        It’s a sure fire way of getting their grubby little paws on incoming investment by presenting themselves (and their wives in some cases) as the keeper of the Islands.

  10. Anonymous says:

    They were spending money like it grew on trees. Look at the 15 per cent salary increase in January for senior staff.

  11. Anonymous says:

    An alternative headline could read “PACT Government behaves responsibly seeks to unwind previous administration’s grubby appointments”.

    Proud of you Andre.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Time will tell. The old people used to say “Penny wise and pound foolish”. There are massive international challenges currently and more to come. Let’s hope Andre’s new policy is up to the task. If not, “we inna worries”.

    • Anonymous says:

      One step forward and two backward. I do not understand why successive governments have to dismantle policies and procedures whether warranted or not. Nitpicking and dismantling is never productive especially when it is driven by egos and oneupmanship. You all rule the roost now please act responsibly.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The individuals were all hired using correct protocols. They are all highly qualified professional Caymanians. Most of them with Master’s degrees. One is a former partner in a law firm.

    They ALL gave up jobs to go overseas to represent their country. Tasha Ebanks Garcia was one of those hired.

    It is fine for the new government to rethink policy BUT not at the expense of degrading people who did nothing wrong.

    BTW — who the heck is Kenneth Bryan to question anyone’s qualifications?

    • Anonymous says:

      They were not all qualified they were friends of friends or loyal to Eric, Franz or the lodge in Prospect.

      How are contracts being signed the week the new government is being sworn in proper protocols?

      What was the budget for these expensive junkets approved by Eric Bush, Franz Manderson and the former Premier Alden McLaughlin? The devil is always in the details.

      • Anonymous says:

        Agreed. Not all qualified & signing them up when they had not guarantee PPM would be in power. Disgusting.

    • Anonymous says:

      4:54pm. Who in the heck would’ve gone ahead to make such unscrupulous plans when the PPM knew that there was no certainty that they would’ve been returned to power.
      Was it always known that they were not wearing rose colored glasses?
      Who is degrading people? Or are they questioning the fast track tick of the PP.M?

    • Anonymous says:

      4.54pm If you think they’re all highly qualified you obviously don’t know the one that was going to Washington. Certainly not able to handle such an important job and especially regulation & tax matters. Ask anyone who ever worked with him.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “The previous administration began the process of recruiting these new management teams for the overseas offices earlier this year and then signed contracts with five people sometime between the elections and the swearing in of the ministers.”

    Ok, who exactly signed these contracts? I’ll bet it was a civil servant and not a former minister. I wonder who that could be?

    • UnCivil Servant says:

      Time to fire Eric Bush for another shit show. Everything he touches becomes an expensive mess. DG Manderson can no longer protect him

      • Anonymous says:

        Blame him all you want but POCS would have had to sign off..

      • Anonymous says:

        DG Manderson ??

      • Cayman@heart says:

        Another shit show? Who set up Travel cayman working 18hra. Day and passed it on to protect our islands from the pandemic? If EB is so bad, why was he given the two worse portofolios in civil service to sort out ( social services and IT)
        He is so bad and incapable that they increased his staff from 50 to 500?
        Those are facts, not the BS you are all vomiting around.

        • Anonymous says:

          Travel Cayman was a disaster, completely unprofessional and they didn’t give a shit.

          A typical Cayman experience

          • Anonymous says:

            Wow this is so unfair. I have a son in school in the UK. My husband and I had to deal with multiple persons in Travel Cayman. The were kind, courteous and professional. And I can’t imagine how many persons they had to deal with and how many situations. Too bad defaming and destroying others is such a priority these days.

        • Anonymous says:

          Slither away 9:11pm with your comment, “not the BS you are all vomiting around” .

          If there is any vomit in these comments it just reflects how sick to our stomachs many residents are of the economic cartel assembled by Eric Bush to further plunder at the source, any possible growth opportunities for everyday Caymanians.

          Sooner or later we had to puke.

          Thanks again Andre.

    • Anonymous says:

      And who got hired?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Another great example of PI$$ POOR MANAGEMENT by those in charge including the DG that gave his puppet Mr. Bush the green light to spend spend spend on this project.

  16. 4th Floor GOAB says:

    Sensible decision Minister Ebanks it was a poorly conceived idea from the start by the PPM and Chief Officer Eric Bush that was going to become a financial black hole for our government. Look at the hiring process as evidence of the rush job.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Rookie Government 1 PPM 0

  18. New Dawn says:

    FANTASTIC decision Minister Ebanks!
    Eric Bush, Alden McLaughlin and their cronies in lodge were setting up MIATA to be nothing than expensive overseas boondoggles for a select few favored folks. Tell them to show the public the business plan. Saving government money and better utilizing the resources is a great example between the difference between PACT and PPM.

  19. anon says:

    Why has only one of these “energetic and articulate Caymanians” been named, who are the others?. It will be interesting to see what jobs they end up with.

    • Anonymous says:

      The one salesman from Dart, what does he know about the politics of Washington, DC?

      Good old boy from the economic cartel assembled by Bush n Bush.

      The plan was simple and transparent, catch and control the inward investment at the source and funnel it to Dart properties.

      Caymanians thank you Andre. Ignore Eric and his cabal.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dart again, this octopus (squid might be better) has his tentacles into every thing the Alden led goverment did. This wants to make a person puke!

        Oh we need the development – give them everything!
        We will shrivel up and die without them!

        F$%#@& Off!

      • Anonymous says:

        The ex Dart gets a plum job in Washington with his American wife…
        What is wrong with that?

        • Anonymous says:

          Nothing at all except Cayman paying for.

          He can get a job in Washington on his own steam if he is that good of an employee!

        • Anonymous says:

          Instead he gets to be “retrained” (or is it deprogrammed?) and gets to take his orders from civil servants. This should be good.

        • Anonymous says:

          She had already moved to the states with their daughter, so clearly this was a job created for him by his friends.

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s going to be quite an entertainment budget as some of his future visitors to Washington will not drink regular wine..

            • Anonymous says:

              Sounds like his old boss might be paying for the wine in return for a little lobbying in Washington for the big company..

  20. For transparency says:

    This is absolutely the right thing to do. $2 million to open/establish overseas offices with marketing persons? We need lobbyists in Washington and London, not sales people. Are the hires really the right people for the job—even with intense training? Europe is essential—so is Washington—lets see someone with lobbying and extensive experience in global tax and aml matters—not “talking heads”.
    Congratulations Andre—-

    • Anonymous says:

      Lobbyists are going to cost WAY more than these people would have, though there is a big difference in their effectiveness. McKeeva engaged the Livingston Group out of Washington years ago. I didn’t go well and cost a fortune.

      • Anonymous says:

        What would you expect, when they blindfold you to pin the tall on the Jackass.

      • anon says:

        You can employ whomever you like. The reputation of the islands is ingrained in tax evasion and money laundering. No lobbiest firm nor local is going to change that. Remember you are a dot on a map to G7 nations. They don’t give a fxxx about you. The net is closing bit by bit and there’s nothing you can do.

  21. Anonymous says:

    How articulate and precise was Andre Ebanks answering questions during that meeting. Quite refreshing!

    • Anonymous says:

      He does need to learn protocol to address questions through the Chair, but that was evident for most of the newer members. Odd to hear him questioned by a member of his own Cabinet as well.
      I feel bad for Andre having to manage those hires by one of his COs. Very telling they have been moved to his other CO.

      • Anonymous says:

        By the way it is silly to say “through you Mr Chairman” the members are not speaking through the Chair they are speaking to the Chair there is a difference and I cringe every time they say “through you”.

        • Anonymous says:

          Cringe all you want. There is nothing absolutely wrong with directing it through the Chair. It’s done all over the world in committees. That was not created here nor is it incorrect.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Time to urgently costs costs and pull back expenditures that provide a negative economic benefit.

    Payroll also needs a 15% cull

  23. Anonymous says:

    So.. we’re bound and committed to retain and retrain employees for whom there are no jobs?

    Sounds like more bloating the already bloated and inefficient Civil Service to me!!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Good decision to review Fter covid crisis

  25. Anonymous says:

    We have to be careful about creating new posts. Departments will always ask for more hands. One job of 50000 per annum is a recurring cost.white elephant. Better to give capital funding like updated coputers etc which r one time cost or may need now and then

    • Anonymous says:

      When will he do something for Red Bay voting district (includes parts of Prospect/Patrick’s Island)?? Not even an office for us to go & tell him what needs to be done. SMH

  26. Anonymous says:

    It would be nice to know if any of these “midnight hires” are relatives or friends of any PPM members or elected officials. This seems to really have upset Old Alden since he must have planned some big visits and splashy events at these new “offices”. By the way Alden, how about dealing with things right here in your district of Red Bay since you seem to have nothing real urgent to do anyway and we are paying you pretty good. That park you started could use the weeds pulled up, think you could ride your bike over and get on to that old man?

    • Tiffany says:

      You are my new best friend!! 😁😁😁

    • Anonymous says:

      The people in Red Bay deserve his everlasting neglect. When you have a pair of old shoes that are falling off of your feet, you replace them with an new pair. What did they do?

  27. Anonymous says:

    “retrained into relevant specialisms..” – as if there is some magic specialism for a lobbyist. Face it – these were jobs for friends and political associates – “signed contracts with five people sometime between the elections and the swearing in of the ministers” – training was the least of the considerations.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Andre your approach makes too much sense for the cabal that had been assembled by Bush n’ Bush.

    Thankfully Cayman – he is a Minister and he is correct!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Great Job Andre.. I really like how you are standing up to Alden in a very calm and professional manner. He is not used to that. Don’t ever let him change your demeanor or professional stance..He thrives on that, big time.

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