Ethics body sought meeting with governor

| 10/07/2018 | 27 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): With no sign of a start date for the Standards in Public Life Law, which remains the unfulfilled commitment to keep politicians and senior public servants honest, the commission established under the Constitution to keep an eye on the morals and integrity of government had sought a meeting with the now supended governor. The most recently published minutes from the Standards in Public Life Commission reveal that before the sudden recall of Anwar Choudhury to London, CSPL Chair Rosie Whittaker-Myles had asked for a meeting with him to express their concern over the continued failure to implement this law.

The commission had wanted to raise the issue with the governor that, four years after the passage of the first Standards in Public Life Law in 2014 and two years after it was amended to accommodate the demands of private sector board members, there is still no sign of its implementation date. However, with the UK official still under a mysterious investigation and his posting in jeopardy, it may be some time before the members of the commission have anyone with whom they can raise their concerns.

The legislation was drafted not only to give the commission some teeth but to require politicians, public officials and board members of statutory authorities and government companies (SAGCs) to properly disclose their interests and conflicts. The aim is to ensure that those who are making major decisions about public spending are transparent so that people can see for themselves whether decisions are being made in the public interest or if people are abusing their public office to feather their own nests.

The law was changed in 2014 to reduce the amount of information that public officials would need to disclose after private sector appointees to government boards threatened to resign en masse rather than meet the legal requirements to divulge their own and their family members’ financial and other relevant interests. As a result, the legislation was watered down.

In the commission’s most recent public report covering the period August 2017 to January 2018, the  members stated that they met with Premier Alden McLaughlin in January about securing a commencement date for the law and the need to draft regulations, but six months later there is still no start date, despite the amendments. Gloria-McField-Nixon presented that report to the LA at its recent meeting but made no comment on the failure of government to enact the law.

It is no longer clear what the hold-up is on its implementation other than a reluctance by those who will be most impacted by the law to actually implement it.

When, or if, the law eventually comes into effect, all elected officials, top civil servants (such as the deputy governor and the attorney general), all chief officers, chief financial officers, heads of departments and their deputies, and senior officials at the SAGCs, as well as board members, will be required, within 90 days of taking on the relevant job, to report their income, assets and interests to the Commission for Standards in Public Life.

See the minutes and report from the CSPL in the CNS Library

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps AG for life Bulgin would care to comment.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am here to comment on his behalf…

      “*Hearty laugh* now dat is an interesting one *strokes beard he doesn’t have*”

  2. Two Cents says:

    Keep voting for the Fop and see wha unnah get. He got his black Range Rover driving round in hahaha.
    He gets a kick out of passing this kind of things and making the voters believe that he so upright. Givin unna wha unna want and telling his rick buddies “Duh worry, nothiing nah guh change unless i say so”. Four years later it ain’t start up yet. Serve unna right.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It is badly needed, some of these senior public servants run their authorities like it is their own business, come and go as they please and spend public money very questionably. They can easily hide this from the auditors within their budgets. Their main menu is planning their next conference or show to attend, while leaving their ‘deputies’ to run things. The boards have no accountability and do not pay enough attention. It is a disgrace

  4. Anonymous says:

    When will the local “press” be required to declare its interests?

    Most recent case in point – stories on OfReg.

    You can smell these stories from miles off.

    Telecom, Fuel and Electricity monopolies/oligopolies having a field day.

    • Diogenes says:

      Do you honestly think it is a good idea for the elected government in a jurisdiction as small as Cayman to force the handful of news outlets present to declare their interests?
      What does it accomplish at the end of the day, and since slippery slopes seem to be the name of the game online, lets have some fun
      Would you also support a government approved press and news Organization license that has to be renewed and approved annually in the LA or before a board

      It would be rank hypocrisy for the CIG to force private entities to divulge their interests publicly in this manner(as the CIG fights the Beneficial ownership register from the UK and as they drag their feet on the transparency issue themselves, 4 years and counting, forgetting of course that hypocrisy seems to be almost natural to our people)

      The institution of the free press should only be impeded in times of civil unrest, a breakdown of public order or blatant cases of libel or slander (among a select list of other things)
      Also It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who slants what news what way
      and if you’re paying attention and hence who the likely monied interest are behind said slants
      (and no my conservative friends before you start, taking a liberal position on the news does not equate to monied interests from some imaginary liberal
      International /Caymanian benefactor)

      While the press is an important (and mandatory) part of any healthy society and play a formal role in the system of western governance, they are and remain private citizens even as they connect the private and public spheres with their work
      To remove the protections of a private citizens on anyone who reports on the news or works for one of the various media companies would be a bridge too far

      I do agree however, far too often certain news media write articles that favor some of their larger advertisers calling for ending government “socialism” and deregulation of perfectly logical regulations.
      Sadly that is all technically above board, though I have no idea how they get away with not disclosing their conflict of interests as a company in this position of public
      That might actually require the people of Cayman to hold someone accountable for once
      So it isn’t going to happen

      These however, are just my thoughts on the idea


  5. Say it like it is says:

    We have had a Register of Interests which requires MLA’s to declare their assets, for decades, but it was the norm either to ignore it, or alternatively declare only minimal assets after transferring most of them to nominees. The current legislation is doomed as there will be no improvement in the standards of “morals and integrity” of our senior public officials (or at least the vast majority of them).

  6. Anonymous says:

    The disclosure and transparency criteria under this law, set a very low bar – much less than what would be normal compliance disclosures at many private sector firms, or foreign governments (FCPA etc). That this remains a bridge-too-far, four years on, is very telling about who we have had running this show, and what we can only infer, are the blatant conflicts they are keen to keep buried – that would criminalize current engrained behaviors.

  7. Diogenes says:

    It’s almost as if trusting the people in charge to hold themselves accountable is a bad idea

  8. Anonymous says:

    Gee I wonder why it hasn’t started yet. Us Caymanians do NOT like to have our dirty laundry aired and some of our politicians and public servants apparently have some serious stink piles hiding in the closet. If they had nothing to worry about this law would have been in effect when it was first created. Shame on us.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s more than a laundry problem…normal engrained behaviors would become criminalized with enactment of these minimum standards. So prevalent are these conflicts, that there would need to be an amnesty period and future effective date in order to grandfather the jaw-dropping library of past transgressions.

      • Anonymous says:

        I would say screw the amnesty period, a crime is a crime and you should be held accountable but that’s just me. Even with an amnesty period this thing will never get going. Too many people scratching each other’s backs.

  9. Anonymous says:

    To quote a quotation oft repeated by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly “Even blind Bartemeus can see….” why the Law has not been implemented – there is too much corruption in politiciand, civil service and the private sector.

    David Legge is right, the Cayman Islands is corrupt to the core

  10. Sucka Free Cayman says:

    How about a law that when those in power no longer act in the best interest of the people they should be cited and sanctioned then removed from power, that would eliminate 80% of government officials and their special interest friends they have employed. Make it retro active too determine exactly how they got their first promotion and see where their first sign of brown nosing started! that’s another 15% gone.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The aim is to ensure that those who are making major decisions about public spending are transparent so that people can see for themselves whether decisions are being made in the public interest or if people are abusing their public office to feather their own nests.

    When people stop voting period then we won’t have to worry about stupid self serving leaders being elected.

    • Anonymous says:

      Like maybe a BIG FAT, but totally unneeded or wanted, new port to further fatten the pockets of certain downtown merchants cum politicians !

  12. Cayman Regent says:

    Government having to declare their interest it’s like northward prison has no space to put them.

  13. Anonymous says:

    HA, HA, HA, HA, HA………never happen…..

  14. Fred the Piemaker says:

    Well they could raise it with the acting Governor, but given he is one of the individuals required to comply with the legislation, he may just have a conflict of interest. They should raise their concerns with the FCO directly given the FCO has chosen to remove the current Governor. Whilst I doubt the FCO really cares, the threat that the UK could be publicly accessed of undermining good governance in a BOT may have some sway.

  15. UnCivil Servant says:

    The government cannot afford for that body to have teeth. No wonder Choudhury had to go never to return as he would have driven the process that would turn the status quo on its head.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well I hope Mr Choudury spills the beans on what he might have uncovered during his short, promising and prematurely interrupted time here and karma bites their butts. I really hope England sends him back and heads here start to roll.

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