(CNS): The auditor general has urged the government to implement the Standards in Public Life Law in order to plug the gap in the public sector’s anti-corruption regime. In the latest audit from her office to be made public, “Fighting Corruption in the Cayman Islands”, Sue Winspear assessed the national framework for fraud and corruption and used planning as a case study to see how well the government is doing at battling the scourge of corruption. Despite finding that progress has been made, the report said that Cayman is still at risk. Winspear identified a number key issues, such as the failure to implement the ethics law and a need to reshape the Central Planning Authority to cut the risks of foul play.
“The Cayman Islands now have a wide range of laws that contribute to the fight against corruption, including the Anti-Corruption Law,” Winspear said. But she urged government to bring the Standards in Public Life Law into force and to focus on doing this quickly, as the law was passed more than four years ago.
The audit also found that the arrangements in place for preventing fraud and corruption in the planning sector still need work. She urged the government to diversify the membership of the CPA because, despite recommendations by the Office of the Auditor General some three years ago, the make-up of the board is still weighted heavily towards developers and those in the construction sector, leaving the board vulnerable to corruption and perceived conflicts of interest.
She also raised concerns that decisions are still not fully transparent, even though planning meetings have been opened up to the public.
Public Accounts Committee Chair Ezzard Miller said the members would meet on 30 January to review this audit and ask questions of government employees about the issues it raised.
“Despite anti-corruption legislation being introduced and an Anti-Corruption Commission being established, the Cayman Islands continues to experience significant levels of corruption and the perception is that this is more widespread than reported,” he said, adding that he welcomed Winspear’s work in this area.
“As a committee, we are concerned that five years after the Legislative Assembly passing the Standards in Public Life Law, it has still not been brought in to force,” he said. He described this as “unacceptable” because safeguards are needed to ensure that “people involved in public life and are sitting on the boards of public bodies are operating with integrity and honesty”.
Miller repeated his position that if board members of public entities don’t want to abide by the requirements of the legislation, then they should not be appointed.
“We will be asking government officials about this when they appear in front of the committee at the end of January.”