It was quite interesting, but disheartening to read about the Public Service Pension Board’s “big-time payouts” of bonuses and consultancy fees, in the Caymanian Compass of 26 April.
Thanks to disclosure due to an FOI request, we now know of the kind of unjustified (as concluded even by the government’s own auditors) amounts paid out in bonuses to top-level staff at the Pension Board. One has to wonder how this kind of excess can take place with pensioners’ monies at a public entity, while the of rest us, particularly small business owners, have to struggle to meet the demands of a mandatory pension scheme.
At a time like this when businesses are faced with the relentless challenge of simply staying afloat, many business owners find themselves hauled before the courts when they cannot meet their pension liabilities. Struggling to make ends meet, employers have to retain the services of a lawyer to defend them and are not given any leeway when extenuating circumstances such as the drastic downturn in the economy, death or loss of business partners or clients cause them to fall behind in their obligations.
These struggling, hardworking citizens are penalised and fined and in some cases have to take out further loans or mortgages on their already struggling businesses to pay outstanding amounts to pension schemes, which in some cases are poorly managed and have resulted in significant loss of people’s retirement funds.
One would expect that the Public Service Pension Board would exercise stricter control in its management of public pension funds and that there would be systems in place to ensure greater accountability. It is disheartening to learn of the “unclear policies” and “inherently compromised” approaches at the Pension Board, to important issues such as pay increases and bonuses.
This is just another instance of lack of accountability and mismanagement that, in the long run, will continue to hurt our country’s image.
This whole issue begs the question of why people be forced to contribute to these pension schemes, when they are not properly managed and when those who administer them can grant themselves fat bonuses, with the proper controls. At whose expense are these bonuses being paid out?
The mandatory pensions scheme hangs like a noose around the necks of employers and business owners, who are thrown to the mercy of the courts for any infraction. Meanwhile, at the Pensions Board, we can see that scant regard is being paid to being good stewards of people’s money.
Cayman, now is the time to speak up and demand greater accountability from those entrusted with positions of authority.