COVID has cost public purse over CI$333 million

| 13/05/2022 | 67 Comments
HSA staff during the pandemic

(CNS): Government has spent at least $202M and missed out on revenue of more than $131M as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years, but it could be considerably more, the Office of the Auditor General has found. In a new report looking at the impact of the pandemic on the public purse, Sue Winspear said she and her team were not able to count every bean, especially spending and losses by some statutory authorities and government-owned companies (SAGCs) and not all of the accounts they used were audited.

She also warned that COVID is still taking a toll on the public purse and will do so for some time to come.

On the day Winspear published her report, the government was dealing with an increase in community spread that is impacting the economy. An estimated 1,667 people are currently infected and unable to go to work or school while eight people remain in hospital. As of Thursday, the seven-day rolling average case number was 116 after another 273 people tested positive over the previous two days.

Winspear said the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant effect on government finances between March 2020 and March 2022, but this report focuses on lost revenue, the amount spent and on what, rather than how it was spent.

There is little analysis or judgement in this audit about the purchase of things like test kits and PPE or any scrutiny of the cash given to tourism stipend recipients or small business owners. With the exception of some queries about money spent by the Department of Education on janitorial services, the report focuses on expenditure alone rather than process and management, which is expected to be the subject of a separate report.

“COVID-19 has been a major worldwide pandemic that has had a significant impact on global health, societies and economies,” Winspear said after the publication of the report. “The Cayman Islands has not been spared from this. In mid-March 2020, the government started to take a number of actions to suppress the spread of the disease, and many of these have continued.”

Despite the significant spending, she said she welcomed the action taken by successive governments to suppress the spread of the disease and said the costs could have been far worse. She made it clear that spending continues and at this point the OAG is not able to do a comprehensive assessment of everything that has already been spent or the exact amount of revenue lost.

“There is no doubt that governments have succeeded in preserving life during the pandemic. However, the actions taken, while sheltering residents from the worst effects of the virus for a significant period of time, have had a substantial financial impact, which we estimate to be at least $333 million over the two years to March 2022,” Winspear stated.

She said the closure of the border had a huge impact on the tourism industry and contributed to the bulk of the spending and revenue losses. Half of the money was on supporting individuals and businesses.

“The financial consequences of COVID-19 could be with us for some time,” Winspear warned. “The government continues to manage the spread of the virus through testing and vaccinating people, and it could take some time for the tourism sector to recover fully to pre-pandemic levels. We will continue to monitor the additional costs.”

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said the report provided a valuable record of the key measures taken in the government’s response to COVID-19 and their financial impact.

“This information is important for accountability and longer-term planning,” he said, noting that the country will be managing the pandemic into the foreseeable future. Given other potential emergencies that could disrupt the economy, the report will be useful as the public sector considers long-term financial sustainability.

Manderson also said the report shows how policy initiatives worked and the outcomes achieved for the Cayman Islands including the absence of community transmission to any significant degree until September last year.

“It was no accident that the Cayman Islands had a unique and sustained period of no community transmission while the pandemic raged in most other parts of the world,” Manderson stated in a release from his office. “It is no coincidence that we have not suffered the large-scale hospitalisations and deaths experienced in most other jurisdictions, as we slowly and strategically reopened our economy and ports.

“Rather, our success is testament to the work of thousands of public servants and other concerned stakeholders who worked tirelessly and with personal sacrifice to support the elected governments.  Together, we kept our people safe, our country functioning, and made travel to and from the islands possible,” the DG added.

See the full OAG report here.


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Category: Government Finance, Politics

Comments (67)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If CIG had any mechanism in place to “tax” the amount of ganja consumed in Cayman during the lock-down, the revenues from that would overshadow what was spent on covid!

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  2. Anonymous says:

    The true cost of Covid is currently unknown. A child in Year 1 in 2020 has been trying to learn with school interruptions and masks for 3 school years. He will now move up to Year 4 in September.

    Has money been set aside for learning interventions or future stipends when this person reaches adulthood?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Intervention should not be delayed; whatever gaps exist, they are easier to bridge now than waiting until adulthood, so the adults involved should be seeking that assistance as we read.

    • Anonymous says:

      PACT don’t care about our children, that much is clear.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh no no no. We cashed out our pensions and futures to the tune of $440 million not including missed contributions for the past 2 years to try to keep this place and ourselves afloat.

    Try more like $600,000,000-$700,000,000

    And what did we get? A record breaking death count last year and that’s excluding people who died from covid.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    What happened to all the fraud cases that were exposed in the tourism stipend? Including the serving prisoners? Oh that’s right – absolutely nothing. Perhaps “lessons were learned” lol.

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  5. Sad says:

    What Wayne has done to destroy local businesses on Cardinall Avenue is very disturbing. Who benefits? Very sad to see someone I thought cared about locals is actually in concert with those who want to end us, and end local businesses.

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  6. Annie says:

    Off Topic. But has anyone else tried to apply to Travel Cayman? It if impossible. It is an act of futility. You cannot enter your (required) birthday on their glitching app. You cannot get your QR code read, not even directly from the ‘My HSA’ website. Totally disgusting. Need to end this bull now. This is so bad. Shame on those allowing this farce.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I had no problem. Uploaded info & answered questions pretty quickly. Approved within the hour.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And why wouldn’t it be approved? What possible reason could they have for saying no? Which rather raises the question of why you have to apply in the first place.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Obviously the lock down in the beginning made sense. But now there are vaccines and common knowledge about the virus. We need our lives back and government to go back to not caring about the toxic dump and traffic violations.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Start recouping money by getting rid of travel time. In fact get rid of all regulations and maybe just take care of yourself…

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    • Tinfoil Sales says:

      Don’t stop there. Get rid of speed limits. In fact, get rid of all road regulations and maybe just drive however you like…

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      • Anonymous says:

        I’m going to start by using the other side of the road. It’s my ‘natural’ side for driving.

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    • Anonymous says:

      No need for PCR confirmation of positive nor for exit after being sick. Those, in addition to Travel Cayman can be scrapped.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Line by line, please. I am talking about expenditures.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    And how many lives did the government destroy?

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    • Anonymous says:

      And how many lives did the government save by enacting regulations on a populace that is brainwashed by anti-Covid conspiracy theorists?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Good question. 274 people died in Cayman in 2021. 9 of them were from or with covid. 215 died in 2020.
        That’s 50 extra deaths year over year that don’t have anything to do with dying from covid.
        You were saying something about being brainwashed?

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        • Anonymous says:

          $333M/50 = $6.6M per person.
          Any life insurance actuary will tell you that’s a horrible deal for society.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Did government make any money from testing or test kits?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    ✅Embroidered face masks

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Send the bill to Chyna. Also, send sleepy Joe in the white house an invoice to offset his inflation tax that we’re now experiencing.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    And who got rich?

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  15. Anonymous says:

    That’s enough for 13,325,000 cases of 345 Lager.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Ok. How much if anything has been donated to Cayman by the pharma industry.
    Or other countries and UK?

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Waste of money plus loss of liberty = FAIL.

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    • watcher says:

      You, young son, don’t know anything of the world. I can only hope that you are observant, and willing to embrace the scientific approach. That way leads to learning and self-improvement.

      Be safe.

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      • Anonymous says:

        125pm. Age has nothing to do with my belief and I am a critical thinker which is essential for a scientific mind. So there’s that. Also, it was kind of you to call me your young son. I’m sure you didn’t mean it to be dismissive nor pejorative as many might perceive it that way. Finally, I ask you to heed your own advice for learning, self improvement and respect opinions that oppose those of your own. You just might grow and learn something from one you consider to be an inferior intellectual.

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        • Anonymous says:

          You know next to nothing about “loss of liberty”.

          Wear your mask and follow the rules crybaby.

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          • Brian says:

            Omg ur reply was hilarious. It’s so funny when uneducated people reveal themselves. So glad u can pass judgement with all ur facts and points. Keep up the great work!! 🙂 lol

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        • watcher says:

          I don’t consider you intellectually inferior at all, just reactive, immature, and perhaps a tad uncaring. Your “loss of liberty” saved lives. It has done so everywhere.

          Decades before you were likely born, I earned a degree in Chemistry, with minors in math and physics. Years later, I got my masters. I rely heavily upon vetted medical studies, and not at all upon opinion pieces.

          Agree with you that we must all do our own due dilligence, and make up our own minds. I really didn’t intend to be dismissive. What I wanted to do was intuit your experiences based upon your few words, and try to reach you with mine. How’d I do?

          I don’t have everything figured out. My research is contiguous and well documented. That, most of all, allows me the ability to have an open mind, fully able to discuss and debate, and God willing, maybe learn something.

          Be safe and well.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    It didn’t have to cost that much.

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  19. Bad lucked Fine says:

    I wish some people would stop counting chickens before they hatch with the predictions we hear for the up coming season why are we counting the cost for Covid 19 when it’s still here.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    This was a graft fest. Government overspent on everything. Don’t even get me stated on the stipend which I presume is the majority of the cost! It was like flushing money down the toilet. We here literally nothing to show for this money. “The policy saved lives” you might say but I disagree. All we did was pushed the deaths out til recently. This virus is here to stay. People are catching it multiple times. Immunity from illness lasts 4 months. You are lucky to get 6 months out of the vaccine. What a s-show! And what an enormous waste if money and what damage we have and continue to do to our kids. Please see sense and end this foolishness – by which I mean stipends, masks and arrival testing.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    I am so proud of how the civil service and wider public service responded to the pandemic.

    Can we now find a caymanian to blame for this success.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Could have built our much needed cruise piers with that.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    How many people would still be with us today if we spent 300,000,000 on advanced cancer care and youth intervention programs?

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