Chance to address CPA conflicts ignored

| 24/02/2016 | 17 Comments
Cayman News Service

Martin Ruben, Performance Audit Principal at OAG

(CNS): Ministry officials were clearly warned by the Office of the Auditor General about conflicts presented by the makeup of the Central Planning Authority, including the board’s chair, but did nothing to heed advice, the Public Accounts Committee heard Wednesday. Senior auditor Martin Ruben revealed that long before the OAG’s critical report on government’s national land management was published, the ministry and auditors discussed the problems presented by the CPA’s membership, but government re-appointed the board anyway.

Ruben, the lead auditor on the report, told the PAC that during the course of the audit, which led to the damning report, the team raised the issue of the makeup of the CPA with government leaders and warned that putting individuals on a committee with opportunities for a conflict created difficulties.

The OAG advised government to place people on the CPA “who could act in the interests of the planning law and best serve the community” and avoid real or perceived conflicts.

The CPA is currently chaired by A.L. Thompson, the owner of the largest retail supplier of construction materials on the islands, and its membership includes many people who work in the building and development sector.

During Wednesday’s PAC hearing on the OAG’s report, National Land Development and Government Real Property, June 2015, Winston Connolly, formerly a government but now an opposition member, questioned how the CPA had been recently reappointed despite those recommendations.

Ruben said the audit office had held “lengthy discussions”, including some with the CPA chair himself, when there was still plenty of time to address the makeup of the authority and long before the members’ tenures expired. He explained that during the audit process there is room for government to tell the OAG what they are doing to address issues the auditors may find and their recommendations. When they do, he said, any “proactive action” would be included in the report, giving a more positive aspect to their findings

Ruben said in this case, the CPA problems were raised very early in the audit, which was conducted in 2014. “It took a great deal of time to go through the findings with officials, to fact check, and we engaged in considerable discussions before it was published,” Ruben told PAC. “Government had this information early in the process and could have acted on it. Instead they chose not to act on it.”

The current CPA chair, who was appointed in the first instance by the UDP administration, was reconfirmed by the planning ministry, headed up by Kurt Tibbetts, just a few months after the report was published along with several of the previous members. CNS understands that while the decision was supported by planning ministry officials, the director of the planning department, Haroon Pandohie, told PAC that his department had no say in the CPA membership and was not consulted.

However, it wasn’t only the membership that PAC had questions about.

The committee members were unanimous in their support of the OAG’s recommendations that the CPA meetings should be held in public. The decision to keep the meetings behind closed doors is, according to the current law, in the hands of the CPA chairman — a rule the PAC said needed to be changed.

Ruben explained that the audit researched best practice on planning committees and found that land development hearings in most jurisdiction are public due to the critical issues they decide. “It seems obvious to us that hearings on development decisions should be made in public,” Ruben added.

OAG Report: National Land Development & Government Real Property, July 2015

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (17)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Cayman has certainly made many a star of those who were coal elsewhere!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    CPA is allowing developers to “take” green open space in neighborhoods unlawfully. It is shameful and illegal. The OAG, FCU,and DPP must bring charges against the fraudulent applicants. Theft of “property by deception” (BonnieView Estates)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Alden is scared of upsetting those who demand patronage before 2017. Example number 774 of Alden doing the cowardly thing to save votes instead of the right thing.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yep, same main players on CPA Board for many years now…and some have seemingly living large….more so since being on the Board!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why should they change it? And lose the gravy train? Goodness me, some people want too much. In fact, all of the above mentioned, want too much. Come the revolution The Cayman Popular Front will mercilessly heckle these people silently.

  6. Anonymous says:

    All of those Ministers that voted in favor of retaining a conflicted CPA board should have their names etched into a “wall of shame” for all to see – a permanent reminder for the short-memoried voters that keep putting these same recidivists back in power every election cycle. These Ministers clearly do not take their oath of office seriously and are not serving the people of the Cayman Islands. CNS, can you post a link to the OAG report please?

    CNS: the link has been added to the end of the article. Look at page 16 – “Decisions regarding development are not always transparent”.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Im not surprised, the poor are never considered. Consolidation of wealth is GOD everyone worships it. I have no hope for any brighter future for the ordinary honest guy and gal. Good luck if you think you can change things. Just ask Obama!!

  8. Kurt and Mac = Same Dog Puppy says:

    When are we going to see Kurt Tibbetts for what he really is? Great guy my back foot!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Cayman politics starting to mirror that of or less fortunate cousin – Jamaica
    This kind of stuff never seems to get anything attention from the phantom Attorney General, the RCIPS and the ever failing Office of Director of Public prosecutions. They can chase after Kenneth Bryant for a misunderstanding but cant do anything about the dodgy millionaires.

  10. Anonymous says:

    PPM and UDP same bull$hit different government

    • Southsounder says:

      What is the point in paying for an Auditor general and all his staff, if they are completely ignored by the idiots in government?
      More wasted money by a bunch of Nepotists, milking the gravy train whilst they still can..

  11. Anonymous says:

    Party politics at its worse!

  12. #COLDHARDTRUTH says:

    PPM protecting their guys and big supporters on the CPA and other boards too.

    Time to face facts PPM are exactly like the UDP just talk a better game about transparency and good governance. Look at their board appointments it’s like a buffett of conflicts of interests. Why hasn’t the Governor or Deputy Governor done anything to prevent this or seen it fit to have the AG’s recommendation implemented?

    • It is written says:

      21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

      22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

      23 And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.

      24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:

      • Truly Corruptible says:

        Anyone else up to dishonour their own bodies this weekend, I have some lust in my heart and so beer to be drunk. We can groove on down and top it all off by glorifying some creeping things, no idea what is, but it sounds freeeeaky.

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