Integrity slips from government’s agenda

| 14/07/2015 | 17 Comments

Cayman News Service

(CNS): With the Standards in Public Life legislation stalled and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) missing three members, the issue of integrity in government, a central platform of the PPM campaign, appears to no longer be a focus of its agenda. Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick, a permanent member of the corruption watchdog, confirmed last week that the commission has met only once this year and that the two seats reserved for private sector members are currently empty.

The Commissions Secretariat confirmed that the appointments came to an end on 28 February, more than four months ago, and it is not clear why no other individuals were appointed in time to step in. However, the ACC is “actively engaged in an appointment process of persons to those two positions”, the manager of the constitutional commissions stated Monday.

Sir Peter Allen and Leonard Ebanks both decided not to continue their service when their appointed period ended and Nicola Williams, who held one of three official permanent post as the complaints commissioner, alongside the auditor general and the controversial appointment of the police commissioner as chair, left the island in January.

Her seat is currently held by Acting Complaints Commissioner Bridgette Lazzari-von Gerhardt so the commission could make a quorum to meet but it has not done so since November, when the last minutes recorded a meeting lasting one hour and fifteen minutes, in which the unit was said to be working on 19 corruption cases.

The only permanent RCIPS officer assigned to corruption cases, Richard Oliver, is reportedly continuing with the caseload but the unit remains severely under-resourced and it is no longer clear how many other officers have been seconded to the unit to help with the open cases.

Meanwhile, the Standards in Public Life Commission also seems to be taking a back seat.

The most recent minutes available on its website are from a March meeting, when it appears the new chair, Rosie Whittaker Myles, and two members, Sheena Hislop and Pastor Shian O’Connor, met for the first time and had not seen the legislation and had not received any complaints. Although scheduled to meet again in April, the minutes of that meeting have not been published.

The Standards in Public Life bill was passed by government in January 2013. At the time Premier Alden McLaughlin described the passage of the law as “ticking another one of those boxes with respect to the undertakings that we gave when we stood for public office, when we published our manifesto”.

McLaughlin, who presented the bill to his parliamentary colleagues 18 months ago, said at the time that the PPM had campaigned on a platform to restore the confidence, repair the reputation of the Cayman Islands Government and ensure that “integrity and principle were tenets of our administration”.

However, the law has not been implemented as a result of a backlash from private sector board members sitting on government companies and statutory authorities.

Just a few months after its passage the premier revealed to Finance Committee that  government had received “significant pushback” from people serving on commissions or boards”, as he pointed to a threat of mass resignations because of some definitions in the law that could see board members breaching the law because of family members’ work or business interests.

The premier raised his concerns that the law might scare board volunteers away and then there would be no one to run government’s companies and authorities. He said it was “one thing” for elected members and senior public servants to disclose everything but he said it was too much for volunteers to be held to the same standard.

The private sector’s reluctance to sign up for transparency and integrity while serving on government boards has been seen by the wider public as a clear demonstration that one of the motivating factors for business owners to serve on government boards has been the potential advantage such positions can offer to commercial interests.

But bowing to pressure, the premier has said the law would be revised and the new draft law was scheduled to come before parliament again early this year. However, half way through the year there is no sign of the redrafted legislation and there has been no indication from official sources that it will be presented before the year is out.

While it is now unclear when the ACC will meet again or when the Standards in Public Life Commission last met or whether it will be involved in drafting the new legislation, the chair of the SPLC and the anti-corruption officer managed an overseas trip recently to Grenada.

Rosie Whittaker-Myles and Detective Inspector Richard Oliver attended the first Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies between 22 and 26 June, where they said delegates shared information on what worked and what did not work in their respective jurisdictions.

“For that, we are better placed when our legislation (Standards in Public Life Law) comes into effect,” Whittaker stated in a release from the secretariat.

Minutes of meeting, 5th March 2015, Standards in Public Life Commission

Minutes of meeting, 24th November 2014, Anti-Corruption Commission

Annual Report for 2013/14, Anti-Corruption Commission

 

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Category: Government oversight, Laws, Politics

Comments (17)

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  1. Just Sayin' says:

    Your headline incorrectly implies that there was integrity to start with.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Integrity” and “Cayman” should never be used in the same sentence!

  3. Anonymous says:

    @5:42pm Sounds like a UDP party line.

  4. nauticalone says:

    ACC and Standards in Public Life….don’t make me laugh eh. Funny how the entire LA can get things moving so fast when it comes to “treason” but ACC and SiPL….soon come! (Meaning; nah today Bobo)

  5. Knot S Smart says:

    But what would Donald Trump say about this…

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yes it would be suicide in a public place to take on the establishment including MLAs ministry chiefs and about everyone else who has any say in how Cayman is run. The in crowd really do believe that they are running the country as a private enterprise business with the working class and the non working class just cogs in the gears.
    It must be time for the people to take back our parliament and demand transparency in all matters to do with government.
    It seems that the majority of the ruling/ business class are on a binge with power, maybe drugs, and unfettered hoarding of the peoples money. The love of money etc etc.
    Is there not a group of like minded honest Caymanians who are courageous enough to stand up and be counted. Some of us, like myself, need to remain anonymous but there must be enough people of integrity, including lawyers, bankers and the clergy to rein in this unbelievable anarchy at the top of Cayman’s ruling class.

    • Cayman needs a new political party for a PARADIGM SHIFT says:

      I agree 1,000%!

      To the outside world looking in, it just appears sad to see the farce that is taking place in government at our expense.

      The good news is that Tara Rivers has secured case precedence for any dual national so inclined to take on this job, so anyone with Status who can garner the votes of about 1,000 people will be all it takes to start the Paradigm Shift in Cayman.

      So, who do you believe has this type of integrity that will dedicate themselves to robust enforcement and bypass the continual rubber-stamping status quo?

      • Anonymous says:

        A very good question but very difficult to answer. As I said above, the clergy should be able to step up and have a say, but not in the Al Sharpton way. In Cayman we should be able to have a voice without rabble rousing. Are any clergy qualified to stand for parliament?
        Caymanians as a whole are a well mannered thoughtful nation, but unfortunately tend to be insular when it comes to controversy.
        There are lawyers who see the wrongdoing but profit from defending the blatantly guilty people who are bringing us to our knees. Are any of them qualified to stand for parliament? If so, then they would be aware of the consequences of being swayed by a majority of their peers.
        Business men who are qualified, are you so wrapped up in the profiteering that you cannot see the inequities that surround you?
        Yes, maybe a group of dual citizens can help to bring this country back to its former glory. Religion may have a place in a proper democracy, but not if it only seeks to keep the people compliant.
        Could it be possible to create a new political party with the experience of world politics and law and order to force a coalition government of the Cayman Islands? I for one truly believe and hope that it could happen.
        The alternative is disaster for the next generation because the current crop of school “graduates” does not seem to have the ability to lead their own nation.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The fact is with half of government employees running their own businesses and the other half having immediate family members running a business, the public sector will never rid itself of conflicts of interest, and the long established code of conduct (or more accurately misconduct) of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” will always prevail.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This was a complete joke from Day One. The fact that they can’t find two public sector representatives and the public sector as a whole wants nothing to do with this speaks volumes for the corrupt state of these islands.

    • Ho ho ho! says:

      Better watch out, CNS. You’re next on Alden’s hit list of treasonous media.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wow CNS, you are being threatened too now? Will you be the next Austin Harris? And the PPM had the nerve to talk about McKeeva??? OMG!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, had a Freudian slip there – it should ‘private sector representatives and the private sector’. Guess sometimes I lose track of the distinction between the two.

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course upholding standards only seemed important to the PPM when they were trying to bring down McKeeva at all costs. Now they have completely ignored that. They also ignore the poor suffering Caymanian people many of whom are losing their homes as they are displaced in jobs given to expats. I am more and more convinced that this is definitely an elitist government who only think about making laws to further marginalize us such as the bill concerning higher jail time for crimes on West Bay Road and the proposed bill against dressing like a gangster. While I personally don’t like that look and would never allow anyone in my house to adopt it, the only thing that will get is more of our young boys in jail as many do it for style. Why don’t they fix the immigration fiasco, the high crime or the dump situation? Things that really matter. I am also convinced that while I initially favored the one man one vote, the way the new constituencies are being divided is not in our best interests. Why fix something that is not broken? PPM should keep the constituencies as they are but only approve OMOV! I want to be able to vote for who I want in my district not whoever is running in my little constituency!

      • Island girl says:

        What I find puzzling with this is that the Private Sector is always setting themselves up as being always above board. They are so quick to point out that all things are so squeaky clean in the private sector. They are always pontificating about how bad public sector is compared to private sector, but on the other hand we cannot find three of them who are willing to sit on the ACC board. What happened they cannot trust themselves, or they are afraid of what skeletons might come to light? VERY SAD. I hope Mr. Legge would write on this side of the story!!

      • Island girl says:

        I concur, there is no need to cut up the island. Just say each person can only have one vote. What is so difficult about that. Am I missing something here?

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