Transparency needed around concessions

| 11/01/2018 | 26 Comments

(CNS): Auditor General Sue Winspear has commended government for improvements to public finance reporting but she is not giving the leaders a free pass, as there are still many areas that need improvement, especially when it comes to the collection of revenue and what government gives away. Winspear said she is expecting to soon see a framework implemented that will set out the general parameters or criteria surrounding government concessions. Accepting that officials need room to negotiate and rules cannot be set in stone, she said there still needed to be some broad transparent guidelines.

Concessions packages to large developers continue to be a major point of controversy as in some cases it is hard for people to see the benefits deals given to often overseas investors when local businesses are paying all their fees in full. From full duty waivers to the elimination of work permit fees, concessions are often seen by government as an incentive to attract inward investment or shape a new area of business but whether they actually work remains an unanswered question.

Winspear told CNS that the management and justification for concessions given to anyone which will reduce the money coming into the public coffers needs to be more transparent. She explained that a lack of transparency in many areas of government finance remains a major problem across the board. But she said government management must understand that being open and honest, regardless of mistakes or criticisms, always works out better than trying to cover up something that is bound to be revealed in the end.

When it comes to concessions, Winspear said the public needs to see the reasons why they have been given and what government hopes to achieve as a result. She also called for concessions to be monitored and said government should be examining whether or not it got what it wanted after the concessions were granted.

Given the problems regarding how government reports back to the people about how it has spent public cash, it is currently not reporting whether the concessions are working or not, whether they are fulfilling expectations of creating jobs or boosting the economy.

Public Accounts Committee Chair and Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller has also been sounding the alarm about government’s lack of management when it comes to the concession deals it makes with developers.

He told CNS that he will be pressing this issue again in 2018 and agrees that without transparency, politicians and civil servants are negotiating behind closed doors, resulting in public suspicion of potential corruption. Miller is calling for a strict set of criteria that is based on the amount of investment and the goals of a project. He said that this way developers know what is available and the public can see what is being given away and why.

He said government needs to pay far more attention to monitoring what developers are claiming because it is not unheard of for some to abuse the system by importing materials unrelated to the specified project alongside those that are, making it easy to get everything through either duty-free or at the favorable rate.

Over the years numerous developers have been given concessions, in some cases exceptionally generous ones, but it is hard to gauge what the benefits have been to the community at large. In some case it has emerged after the fact that the government and the public purse lost out significantly and any benefit to the wider Caymanian community has been hard to identify.

Government has, as far as we can confirm, never undertaken any kind of evidence-based assessment of the concessions it has given through the years or ascertained what the short- or long-term benefits were and whether or not it is the most productive way of getting jobs or generating trade for local businesses.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , , ,

Category: development, Government Finance, Local News, Politics

Comments (26)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Not so 5:29 !!! Unfortunately, this state of affairs is true for most human political leaders world-wide! GOD ALONE is just, true and wise and can therefore safely be trusted. All others must be prayerfully elected (with His guidance) to SERVE- and carefully monitored once in a position of power..

    • Anonymous says:

      God has seemed quite content to leave humans in charge for all this time so you’ll have to forgive me if I’m not exactly depending on him to do anything for me

      This is precisely what is wrong with Christianity and other major religions, instead of getting up and speaking, or doing something to cause a change people are told to go home close their eyes and pray and wait for a miracle to happen

      You have free will, use it

  2. Mike B. says:

    So when is the real debt and interest payments going to be revealed. McKeeva Bush has alot to answer for. Do we still owe Arab countries and China for borrowed money? Is anyone speaking up?

    • West bay Premier says:

      Mike B , If so yes Ms Winspear is speaking up and telling the Government that if they give away all the potential Revenue there wouldn’t be any money to pay off loans . That’s why i said in my other comment , if any Political figure try to give Ms Winspear a hard time doing her job, the People should rise up in her defense .

  3. Anonymous says:

    More of the Cayman Way.
    Anything can be had for the right amount of cash

  4. West bay Premier says:

    I completely agree with Ms Winspear for standing up to the Government and saying the facts and truth about what and how Government is destroying the money . If any Political figure should want to shut her down or call her driftwood , then the people should rise up in her defense . Because it looks like she is the only future for the Cayman Taxpayers. Not those good old boys .

  5. Cayman biting ants says:

    Goodluck wid dat Madam Winspear with government run and pillaged by the nepotism Lodge

    • Anonymous says:

      Everyone seems to blame the “Lodge” for everything and while I don’t question it’s existence kinda curious as to where the evidence for all of this is

      It feels like anything uncanny happens the Lodge is blamed for it

      • Anonymous says:

        Any Organisation that is so secretive whilst claiming to be doing good, is highly suspect and fails to match the transparency test the fine OAG alludes too. If you are doing nothing wrong, and allegedly doing good, why would you be so secretive? I’ll tell you why. They may be doing some good, all else is dodgy underhanded backroom deals bound by the oath of silence.

      • Anonymous says:

        the problem is that “Dart” is not a member of the “lodge”. This will come back to humble the lodge members.

        • West bay Premier says:

          I know that the Lodge was formed long before Dart came to Cayman but he just makes that Lodge so so much bigger and everything else .

          • Anonymous says:

            I think the lodge put chemicals in the water to make the frogs gay and the turtles female


      • Anonymous says:

        The lodge is so seclusive and secretive that everyone and their mother seems to know exactly what is going on in their clandestine meetings but at the same time apparently we don’t know what’s going on and that concerns us
        If you think that is oxymoronic that is probably because it is

        Either we know what they are doing and it’s bad or we don’t know what they are doing and we are just making stuff up

        Spoiler: It’s the latter

      • Dunz says:

        Nope, the expats.

  6. Anonymous says:

    fill my boat…fill her up to over -flowing….? pray for our dearly beloved christian government!!!?

  7. Anonymous says:

    “What I see happnin here is pure unadulterated booracratic harassment!
    We nah needs no transparency….den ereybody will know we bidniss…cha!

  8. SPOTLIGHT says:

    Do you think it’s an accident that after years of granting concessions no one in successive elected government or Cabinet and the Civil Service that handles the administrative process and manages public funds can provide any details of these deals or track benefits to the Cayman Islands?

    Corruption takes many forms and is institutionalized in the Cayman Islands. Hence, why none of the current or past elected officials want the Standards in Public Life Law to come into effect. Roaches prefer to operate in the dark and the lack of accountability is the oxygen than makes all involved braver every year.

    • Anonymous says:

      I disagree, some of the present have been reminding the Premier to bring the Standards in Public Life Law forward. Unfortunately they do not have the power and the Premier also does not have the power. Feel free to make your conclusions.

      • Anonymous says:

        So if the UNITY government with 13 members in the majority versus 6 in the opposition do not have the power to implement the law please tell us exactly who has the power or is preventing it and why?

        • Anonymous says:

          Those reminding the Premier does not have the Power and the Premier probably has to clear it with someone who is dead set against. Go figure!

      • Anonymous says:


  9. Anonymous says:

    “Room to negotiate” is very different from ensuring opacity for bribes, blatantly falsifying valuations, rampant soft dollar cronyism, file removal, evidence-burning, and back-scratching.

    The Opposition Leader should already be very aware (having resided in the LA for many years) of the “Standards in Public Life Law (2014)”, and its amended ambitions, oversight commission, all of which has been gathering dust for years, waiting to be implemented…

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. miller and the other Opposition members are very much in favour of the law but they cannot implemented it. But perhaps if all of the public who wants to see the law implemented will get out and make t march on the LA it might be done. Mrs. Thompson and others spent so much time on that law – they must be so disheartened.

  10. Anonymous says:

    All governments for the past 30 years at a minimum have shown they are not interested in transparency accountability and good governance.

    Concessions are given away annually like candies because it forms part of the kick backs negotiations in the dark rooms or over dominoes and pots of turtle meat dinners. This is how cayman politics has always worked. It involves all the so-called men of integrity and pillars of the community. It is a time honored tradition and how business is conducted in this country.

    Has anybody in Cayman ever been charged or convicted for fronting?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.