CIG tries again to make ethics bill work

| 04/05/2016 | 29 Comments
Cayman News Service

Premier Alden McLaughlin wraps up debate on amendments to the Standards of Public Life Bill

(CNS): Amendments were made Monday to the much-anticipated Standards in Public Life Bill, which was passed almost two years ago but never implemented because of opposition from people serving on government boards over the requirements of the law. The revised legislation passed through the Legislative Assembly with unanimous support on its second reading but there is still no clear date for implementation. The amendments remove the requirement for board members to declare the interests of employees or those beyond their immediate family.

Worried that no one would want to sit on the numerous boards and commissions, which would undermine the current system of government that depends heavily on community involvement, Premier Alden McLaughlin said the law had to be less onerous.

The new law removes the requirement to disclose information about “connected persons”, a term that was considered far too broad, and narrows down disclosure requirements for board members to what is considered relevant to their appointments. However, the premier said that for politicians and paid public servants, the law still requires full disclosure.

He said it was very important that the people could see all the interests of elected members because they are “entitled to know what we have”, so they can determine if there is undue influence or self-interest in the decisions they make.

Nevertheless, he said, government had to make provisions for the people serving on boards and commissions who are performing public service but do not want to become elected members and should not be subject to the same level of scrutiny that politicians face.

McLaughlin warned that the current system of administration for authorities, government companies and commissions depends to a large extent on a “ready set of civic-minded individuals prepared to give up their time and expertise to help”, and they should not have to face requirements so onerous that they would no longer be willing to volunteer.

Answering questions from members about keeping the declaration of interests by private sector board members under wraps, McLaughlin pointed out that could generate “criticism and cynicism about those seeking to do the public’s work”.

Noting the importance of striking the right balance, he said a secret private register may give rise to suspicions and concerns that the information is being kept from the public to cover up conflicts.

See proceedings below. The premier begins wrapping up the debate at 9:05.

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Category: Government oversight, Laws, Politics

Comments (29)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    In practice, what will happen is that people of substance will avoid these positions and the boards will just be filled to the brim with people who are totally beholden to the politicians who appoint them.

    The entire Board system needs to be scrapped.

  2. Big Brown says:

    Do we want greater participation in the decision making process or don’t we? Democracies all over the world are expanding the involvement of citizens. Serving on public boards is one such way to achieve this. This law as I see it is to provide a check and balance for those willing to serve.

    Why are we always so negative?

  3. Anonymous says:

    While the law never got accented to in 2014, it did yield some immediate benefits to some people and showed how absolutely hypocritical some people can be.

  4. Joe B says:

    Failing to make “honorable for life by law” honorable by law. This is Cayman islands leadership.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “The new law removes the requirement to disclose information about “connected persons”.” This statement is factually incorrect and I encourage CNS to correct it. The new bill modifies the definition of “connected persons” slightly to clarify that spouses are included and removing reference to employees, but the term remains.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Boards should be made up of people from overseas that have nothing to do with Kayman
    this way only good mindedness will guide the process
    The current makeup of the boards is that of what can I do for my business or family

    • Anonymous says:

      Right…and foreigners don’t have vested interest in the Cayman Islands??? GTFO with this ridiculous comment

    • Anonymous says:

      I am proud to be a member of a local board ( not the CPA ) that strictly adheres to the highest standards of declaring interests and recusing , if a topic of possible conflict is raised.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why is it so hard to be honest in Cayman? How does it hurt to disclose interests if there is no conflict?

  8. Anonymous says:

    so a member of a board in cayman who may have shares in a company overseas that has no relevance to any board proceedings in cayman has to declare that ? why ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Because one day in the future that company (or a subsidiary of it) might get tied up in business here. What’s so complicated about that? Haven’t you learnt anything from the CarePay and FIFA scandals?

  9. Anonymous says:

    There is one very simple solution to this – replace the boards with a Tribunal presided over by a Judge backed up by two suitably qualified lay members. That way decisions would be based on the law and any conflicts of interest could be kept under control. The problem with the current boards is simply that too many people have access to the decision making process, that’s the real issue that needs that needs to be addressed. When, as we do now, you have board members sitting in on decisions that involve their own companies, their family’s businesses or their company’s clients’ interests the whole process turns into a complete farce.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Is that malodorous scent the lack of public accountability or the dump?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yawn yawn yawn. We just need enforcement of current laws and for all those bible bashers to actually live what the good book says. That ain’t going to happen sometime soon.

  12. Jotnar says:

    So if you are an elected member you need to disclose your interest, but if you appoint your buddy to a board he doesn’t have to disclose how he is looking after you. Well that seems perfectly reasonable.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Is the message here that those persons serving on …. let’s say….the planning board, are there for so many years based soley on their desire “to serve”? I don’t think so!

  14. Perry says:

    Let’s hope the private sector supports the bills this time.

    Come on folks get on Board. The last few cases of corruption have all been private sector board members. This Law is badly needed.

    I Hope the private sector will follow the civil service lead and clean up its act.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed , at least the PPM recognize the meaning of ‘ethics’ and are trying to put in place regulation for those who would gamble with our money, simply because there is no law saying you can’t do that.
      In the absence of integrity , Mac , and those of his followers who can read, need to be guided by the law.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, they believe in ethics so much that they turn a blind eye to the paving of private driveways in the Brac with public money. Give me a break!!!

        • Anonymous says:

          That was done by the previous interim administration. The MLA responsible was re-elected by the people of the Brac. Maybe you should aks them.

          • Anonymous says:

            Makes no difference, previous administration or not. This administration has failed in taking proper action.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Caymanian law makers making a law enforceing ethical behavior? Too funny. Watch as once again nothing happens except the collection of pay checks.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Of course they are so “not corrupted” that they have nothing to fear about every one finding out how they make all that money. Besides this is Cayman where there is no law enforcement only crime clean up. If you don’t get caught then your still good. XXXXXX They should all just come out of the closet and be proud of what they are.

    • Anonymous says:

      If there is still a requirement to disclose assets I can predict a number of resignations from boards.

      • Anonymous says:

        Agreed. Not only assets, but income and liabilities as well are required to be reported. Watch as the boards empty out.

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