Government ignoring key laws, says opposition leader

| 30/08/2018 | 54 Comments
Standards in Public Life, Cayman News Service

Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller in the LA

(CNS): The Unity government is failing to comply with, or fully implement, its own legislation written to ensure good governance in the Cayman Islands, even as it is in the process of executing a number of costly and far-reaching public projects and contracts, the opposition leader has said. Ezzard Miller called on the administration to implement the Standards in Public Life Law, establish the necessary oversight committee for the Procurement Law and follow the requirements of the Public Authority Law. He said the Legislative Assembly passed these laws over the last few years to safeguard integrity and good governance but they are not being applied.

“The impact of this non-compliance is that solid principles of procurement and good governance are not being observed, and the necessary accountability for and management of government resources are consequently being undermined,” Miller said in a statement about the implications of government’s failure to follow its own good governance legislation.

Miller, who is chair of the Public Accounts Committee, pointed out that the Standards in Public Life Law was passed in March 2014 and amended in 2016, but no commencement order has been made to bring it into effect, despite the creation of the Commission for Standards in Public Life some eight years ago. The commission has advocated ever since for the legislation, but according to Miller, the failure to enact the law has “neutered” that board.

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The Procurement Law, 2016 has been implemented but government has not established the necessary oversight body. “The result is that this law is still languishing on a shelf gathering dust,” Miller said, noting that without the oversight committee the law has no teeth.

Miller said that prior to the commencement of the law, the governor had contacted him, as leader of the opposition, to nominate a member to the commission. Miller had named Dr Sidney Ebanks in March but he has never been contacted.

“What we have essentially is a situation in which no one is minding the store, and therefore good business practices can easily be swept under the carpet,” he said. “The real losers here are the people of the Cayman Islands who must stand the cost of these projects and bear the burdens of losses and failures.”

To underscore the importance of compliance with this particular law and its regulations, Miller said that in many cases the required transparency of processes is not being followed.

Meanwhile, the Public Authorities Law, 2017 came into force on 1 June. This law sets out the roles and responsibilities of the Cabinet, ministers, chief executive officers and boards, and while this law is fully operational, Miller believes its requirements are being ignored, and he pointed to the recent appointment of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange CEO, which he said was in violation of five sections of the law, and the Port Authority’s recent handling of recruitment and firings.

Miller added that the two biggest projects that Cayman has seen in many years, the airport development and the cruise berthing tender, are “staggering under the weight of mismanagement and non-compliance”. Miller said that in a fully compliant scenario, the Port Authority Board would assume leadership of projects like the cruise facility.

Under the three pieces of legislation, ministers and chief officers have been assigned the role of providing the checks and balances. That important role is basically voided, Miller said, if ministers and chief officers are also awarding contracts for capital works.

“In the case of the cruise ship berthing contract, the Port Authority Board, which has been mandated to carry out all the governance requirements to ensure the integrity of the process, has been completely sidelined,” the opposition leader stated.  “They have exactly no involvement, while the minister and his chief officer are taking the lead in executing the award of the contract.”

Miller believes similar problems occurred with the procurement process for the waste management project, after the original three bidders were allowed to amalgamate and negotiate a final deal.

“This is not in compliance with the Procurement Law that requires competitive bidding rather than a negotiated deal,” Miller warned. “The upshot is that the bidders are holding the handle, depriving government of the opportunity to select bidders based on assessments and competitive pricing — which will only mean higher costs to the people.”

Without the obvious benefits to government that these pieces of legislation were designed to achieve, the opposition has been analyzing the reasons that they are being held in abeyance while these projects are crying out for proper direction, and the checks and necessary scrutiny that these laws mandate.

“The game plan by government is difficult to come to terms with, as we can expect some dire consequences going into the future,” Miller said. “What I can say, however, is that the optics of delaying full implementation of these three pieces of legislation until after these projects are delivered creates a great deal of suspicion, to say the least.”

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  1. Penal Code Section 121 DISOBEDIENCE OF LAWFUL DUTY says:

    “A person who wilfully disobeys ANY LAW by doing any act which such law forbids, OR BY OMITTING TO DO ANY ACT WHICH SUCH LAW REQUIRES TO BE DONE, AND WHICH CONCERNS THE PUBLIC or any part of the public, commits an offence and, unless the law provides some other penalty, is liable to IMPRISONMENT FOR TWO YEARS.”

    Anti-Corruption Commission, are you paying attention to this?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yaaaaaaaawwnnnnnn. Where is our governor?

    • Anonymous says:

      Well yeah, that’s exactly why Standards in Public Life Law has not been enacted. Many of our MLAs would be jailed in other countries that are compelled by an interested public to follow through on regulations and enforcement.

  2. Anonymous says:

    WE, the majority of the people already voted the PPM party out because we had little trust in them. Since taking power by default the PPM have fuelled our lack of trust by continuing to exert control with its rigged boards, doubling down on its lack of transparency and as Mr Miller points out, exhibiting its callous disregard for the basic principles of good governance.
    Those few “independents” who walked away from their promises to the majority of Caymanian people who gave them their votes, should carefully reconsider whether their priorities rest with the people or with a party which obviously will not be in power much longer.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard has hit the nail on the head. This behaviour is pervasive.
    The recent announcement about Suckoo joining OfReg is a current example of the flouting of laws. Samuel Rose (CHIEF OFFICER LEVEL) is right now preparing to put his friend in a job that currently doesn’t exist. Even if the Authority needs the post — that job should be created the official way and ADVERTISED. Titles are not usually created for secondees. This is a new job and a recruitment process needs to take place. Gloria McField-Nixon (CHIEF OFFICER) are you sleeping on the job? Remember if you lay with dogs you will get fleas.

    • Anonymous says:

      4:40pm they are all birds of a feather. They jump from job to job only seeking financial gain, not work.

    • Anonymous says:

      4:40 … read the Ofreg law before commenting. Thank goodness Suckoo is going to that run away SACG. No more trips around the world. Cancel the Tahoes.

      What real scares me is what he will find when he gets there.

      We know about the overspend, world wide travelling, wasted money, Tahoes and overstating . But what else.

    • Anonymous says:

      The main reason we know about the stock exchange debacle and the bizarre recruitment at the Port is because of the Public Authorities Law. Seems like that law is working.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jon posting is a racket in and of itself. Nobody gets those posted jobs except the annointed ones.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard is just hot air, he will object to anything to try to get power.
    He’s still upset Mac chose the better team.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr Miller is doing his job and we are grateful for his service to his people. Thank you Mr Miller.

  5. Anonymous says:

    career politicians…who cares!????

  6. Anonymous says:

    People talk a lot of crap about Ezzard but he’s the only one I see trying to protect the Caymanian people from corruption. Keep the pressure on the Ezzard!

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Ezzard is dead right. The single biggest problem faced by our islands is compliance. It starts in the departments and works its way to the top. None compliance should be followed up by enforcement. That just does not happen. There is no will from the departments to enforce the laws and regulations, yet often they have both the power and the resources.
      It is not just this government but successive Governments over the past twenty years or more that lost their way. The problems are much bigger than those of yesteryear but the right people at the top with independent and honest people sitting on boards and committees with full transparency should do the trick.

      • Anonymous says:

        Agreed Chris, sad part is that anyone trying to stand by the letter of the law gets victimized by those in power. Shame that Cayman is being dragged down into banana republic politics.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mr. Johnson you are correct. Hopefully the Foreign Office, Attorney General and Auditor General will step in.

      • Anonymous says:

        But when Mr Miller was himself a Minister, in those days called a Member, he wasn’t exactly a model of transparency and compliance. Just ask the senior civil servants who had to work with him and whom he made retain their silence when some of his claims about his new hospital plans were false.

        • Chris Johnson says:

          You will recall my reply referred to successive governments which included Mr Miller and of course the Speaker in different clothing. At the current time Mr Miller is doing his job. The question is will the points that he is raising make a difference.

        • Anonymous says:

          10:06 am: what you say does not go Port with the Ezzard we know.

          If you have claims you need to declare what they are and provide concrete evidence, not cast vague aspersions.

          Anyone could do what you just did about anyone.

        • Observer says:

          10:06 am: hmmm — are you sure that you are not comparing apples and oranges:

          1st: You make no allegations about a law being by-passed — what law was he not in compliance with?

          2nd: the hospital was built and serves its purpose very well — so what was the impact of the claim that was so “false”?

          3rd: Were these alleged claims a matter of opinion and did these civil servants bring their concerns to the attention of Mr. Miller? I know him to be a reasonable man who would listen and would certainly not hold to false claims.

          4th: In the case of differences of opinion, it would be utter chaos if every Civil Servant made his or her opinions known publicly.

          Civil servants are not empowered to do so anywhere in the world, unless they have grounds for believing that lives are at risk, laws are being broken, or that there is some other egregious reason that would act against the public interest.

          And if they had such evidence and allowed themselves to be silenced, that is a serious reflection on their duty to the public.

    • Anonymous says:

      “the only one” – Ride on the coat-tails of a big fish in a small pond…much?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Miller, the other Cabinet Members cannot touch Moses, he is the real Premier.

    If the Ministry cannot trust the Port Board, why have the Board there?

    • Anonymous says:

      The Port board seem to be the only ones with the guts to deal head on with correcting past misdeeds .

    • Anonymous says:

      8:43am If who was in charge at one time was not reliable then, why have him directing now?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Keep holding their feet to the fire well done Mr. Miller. The public must hold all the mla’s to same standards and demand they do the right things and comply with all laws and regulations.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Let’s not forget the decades-long saga to draft and enact the NCL which is being set aside at Will by this Cabinet and colluding sub-agencies.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent point. The NCL requires our marine and terrestrial environment to be protected and the laws enforced.
      All I see is the law being deliberately ignored by the public and totally unenforced by an under funded, under resourced lame duck department whose weak management is obviously scared to death of its legal obligation to enforcement.

  10. Brian Tomlinson says:

    What are the consequences for not obeying these laws? Do the laws stipulate what happens in the event of noncompliance? Perhaps CNS can provide this information in a follow up article.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeh, I want to know too.

    • Two years imprisonment for Disobedience of Lawful Duty says:

      Disobedience of Lawful Duty by wilfully omitting to act where the law requires that act to be done is a criminal offence.

      The consequences are two years imprisonment according to Section 121 of the Penal Code.

  11. Anonymous says:

    About… Damned… Time…

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr Miller for keeping them on their toes. Now let’s see if you can keep an eye on who is pushing for CHEC to be awarded the Port contract.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Its time for Miller to go. He is part of the kabuki dance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anybody calling for Ezzard to go has clearly lost sight of the goal. He is doing a damn good job! He is an excellent Leader of Opposition!

      • Anonymous says:

        A band of disparate independents are not an opposition because they hold no common mandate or policy. Ezzard just makes the most noise.

        • Anonymous says:

          The opposition doesn’t need a mandate they are the opposition

          Also If according to you analysis they have no mandate

          Then by your own logic the government has no logic either

          At least all of the Opposition are independent

          The government is PPM+CDP+IND

      • Anonymous says:

        And will be our next premier

        • Anonymous says:

          Lord help us all. Ezzard as premier would be disastrous. He might spend the whole term arguing with himself!

    • Anonymous says:

      7:36, you are a prime example of what Cayman has too much of…..uninformed fools, who couldn’t make a good decision if it was written on paper.

  14. Observer says:

    Who else better to critique the government than Minister Ezzard Miller ?!

    It seems like Ezzard along with Ministers Chris Saunders and Arden Mclean are Cayman’s local watchdogs. They are not liked, ignored, are said to be bad for the country.

    But all like the wise folk in North Side always make sure Ezzard has a seat in the House every 4 years. This is Northside’s real contribution to the Cayman Islands.

  15. Anonymous says:

    They are waiting for the U.K. To reign them in again! FFR-!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    You sir are frustrated by the great work of the Unity Team and all they are accomplishing. Dear Honorable Premier do not be phased by this sore loser who desperately wants to be the leader, keep the team moving – full steam ahead!

    • Anonymous says:

      Drug use is illegal in these islands and so should all forms of political KOOL AID!
      This government are perfect for each other as they have continued to sell out Caymanians for the last twenty years. The CHEC is in the mail

      • Anonymous says:

        Stop bashing our great leaders and the Unity Team. Get the port built pronto. Decco and China Harbor will give us a quality project at a low cost. Praise to our leaders!

    • Anon says:

      5:50 pm — fortunately most voters don’t share your view.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sore looser? Your PPM crew, as well as the UDP was REJECTED by the majority!!! Overwhelmingly I may add.

    • West Bay Premier says:

      5:50 pm , you should stop consuming that PPM kool-aid , if you believe what you said . I would think that their accomplishment 80% bad and 20% good, that’s not a good record to play .

  17. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard, they cannot cope with simple things. What makes you think they could deal with complicated stuff?

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