Regs to come after ethics law starts

| 28/02/2020 | 16 Comments

(CNS): More than four years after passing the original legislation, government has issued the commencement order for the Standards in Public Life Law, but the regulations will not be published until after the fact. Last month the premier said the issues that had concerned those serving on public sector boards had been addressed through the regulations, though he did not detail what they were. As a result, the public still does not know how much this law has been weakened

The law is coming into effect on Sunday, 1 March, but the regulations detailing how it will work will come out Monday, a government official has confirmed to CNS.

The implementation of the law coincides with public pressure for House Speaker McKeeva Bush to resign. Bush, who holds one of the highest offices in the Cayman Islands, has admitted being involved in the assault of a female manager at a Seven Mile Beach bar early last Saturday morning. He has since apologised to his victim and has said he is taking a leave of absence to address his alcohol abuse and mental health problems.

But the community is calling for him to step down completely. MLA Ezzard Miller (NS) has noted the constitutional problem that there is no provision for him to take a leave of absence.

And it appears the implementation of the SIPL law will not assist in resolving the growing crisis surrounding the speaker as there is still no code of conduct for politicians that would cover the issues regarding Bush’s behaviour last weekend or the question of whether he is able to take the leave of absence or if he needs to resign.

Miller believes the answer is in the Legislative Assembly Standing Orders. He said that while there is no written code of conduct, there is certainly an implicit code to which every member subscribes.

“At the core of our unwritten code of conduct is a pledge to safeguard the respect necessary to maintaining the trust and confidence of the local population and the international community. When we damage that respect, as has so obviously happened in this case, then our fidelity to the institution that we serve and represent must be challenged,” Miller said Friday, as he called for a special meeting of the Legislative Assembly to deal with the Bush situation.

While the SIPL is about much more than resolving the current constitutional situation caused by Bush’s behaviour, it has served to highlight the inadequacies of the law, and the public has no idea how weakened the legislation may now be until the regulations become published.

The law will, however, formalise the role of the Commission for Standards in Public Life, although that body appears to be hamstrung in the face of this current crisis. The commission issued a statement earlier this week revealing its inability to deal with the situation regarding the speaker.

The commission said that its “authority does not extend to engagement with a public official’s private life or dealings except where the circumstances raise a reasonable inference of lack of integrity, incompetence, corruption, conflict of interest or lack of standards of ethical conduct in the conduct of that official’s public functions”.

The commission went on to say that the matter of Bush’s admitted assault is outside its remit at this time.

And while the public may find that utterly inconceivable, the spokesperson for the commission made it clear that it will not be any help in resolving this particular matter. However, the commission said one of its functions set out under the Constitution is to recommend codes of conduct.

“In 2013 and 2017 the Commission provided extensive feedback on the original and revised Draft Ministerial Code of Conduct produced by the
Cabinet Office,” the commission stated. “The Commission has made several requests for updates on the finalisation and implementation of the Ministerial Code of Conduct, which we understand remains in draft form. The Commission encourages the finalisation of a code which would apply to all elected members.”

The long wait for the SIPL law has raised considerable controversy in the community for some time, and has contributed to the growing public distrust in all public officials. Throughout the last four years government has blamed the directors who serve on public authority boards, councils and commissions for the delay in implementing the law.

On numerous occasions Premier Alden McLaughlin has pointed to government’s heavy dependence on these volunteer directors who are overseeing many important areas of the public service. His government has made it clear it has been willing to accommodate their concerns over public exposure of their personal finances.

But the opposition has continued to question the issue, especially Ezzard Miller, the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, who has challenged the idea that they should be given a pass. He has pointed out the constant recycling of certain people in the community on the various boards, against the backdrop of public suspicion of corruption and conflict.

Miller believes strongly in the need for board members to be scrutinised, regardless of whether or not they are volunteers, because they are still in service to the people and responsible for public cash.

See full statement by the SIPL Commission re allegations against the speaker in the CNS Library


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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Until there are regulations, inquests, and arrests our “laws” are just window dressing. This is part of CFATF critical language from last year. No improvement, in fact the opposite: heavy resistance to the cosmetic appearance of improvement. That’s full Banana.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Are we still allowed to use the phrase ‘Banana Republic’ or is that considered offensive now?

    • Anonymous says:

      @4.45pm It is ok, if you are talking about a Banana Republic; not ok if you are talking about the Cayman Is.

  3. Fire Pant🔥👖 says:

    Liars!

    If you can’t do it, don’t pledge to do it. Don’t be a liar; say only what you can do. It’s better for you to have a “single sentence” manifesto about your life which is fulfilled than to have 25 chapters’ theories about your visions that remain undone!—Israelmore Ayivor

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why the delay Alden, is it to allow another elected member to go on bad and slap up another woman?

  5. Anonymous says:

    any comment mr governor????
    direct rule please.

    • Anonymous says:

      To 8.08am No to direct rule. Just accept that when you are here, you submit to being ruled by us.Direct rule is something bring pushed by expats ( British) who find it hard to be under Caymanian rule. So no Caymanians do not want to be colonised all over again.

  6. The Spanish Inquisition says:

    The volunteer non- executive directors are considered to be there for one thing only: support the executive in their relentless pursuit of entrenchment, entitlements, and emoluments.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pubic Service Management Law (2013)

    PART II – Public Service Values and Code of Conduct

    4. The values to which the public service shall aspire and which shall govern
    its management and operation are as follows –

    (a) to serve diligently the government of the day, the Legislative Assembly and the public in an apolitical, impartial and courteous manner and to deliver high-quality policy advice and services;

    (b) to uphold the proper administration of justice and the principles of natural justice, and to support public participation in the democratic process;

    (c) to strive continually for efficiency, effectiveness and value for money in all government activities;

    (d) to adhere to the highest ethical, moral and professional standards at all times;

    (e) to encourage creativity and innovation, and recognise the achievement of results;

    (f) to be an employer that cares, is non-discriminatory, makes employment decisions on the basis of merit and recognises the aims and aspirations of its employees, regardless of gender or physical disabilities;

    (g) to be an employer that encourages workplace relations that value communication, consultation, co-operation and input from employees (either individually or collectively) on matters that affect their workplace and conditions of service; and

    (h) to provide a safe and healthy working environment.

    5. (1) In the course of employmentm a public servant must comply with the Public Servant’s Code of Conduct specified in subsection (2) and failure to do so in a significant way shall be grounds for discipline or dismissal.

    (2) The Public Servant’s Code of Conduct is as follows –

    (a) a public servant must behave honestly and conscientiously, and fulfil his duties with professionalism, integrity and care;

    (b) a public servant must be courteous and respectful to the Governor, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, Official Members, Ministers, Members of the Legislative Assembly, other public servants and members of the public, and treat everyone with impartiality and without harassment of any kind;

    (c) a public servant must be politically neutral in his work and serve the government of the day in a way that ensures that he maintains the confidence of the government, while also ensuring that he is able to establish the same professional and impartial relationship with future governments;

    (d) a public servant, as a member of the public, has the right to be politically informed but must ensure that his participation in political matters or public debate or discussions, does not conflict with his obligation as a public servant to be politically neutral;

    (e) a public servant must not, at any time, engage in any activity that brings his ministry, portfolio, statutory authority, government company, the public service or the government into disrepute;

    (f) a public servant must obey the law and comply with all lawful and reasonable directions, including work place rules established by his chief officer or a person with delegated authority from the chief officer;

    (g) a public servant must disclose, and take reasonable steps to avoid, any conflict of interest (real or apparent) with his duties as a public servant, and must not use his official position for personal or familial gain;

    (h) a public servant shall not directly or indirectly disclose information which comes into his possession in his official capacity unless authorised or allowed to do so under this section, the Freedom of Information Law, 2007 or any other Law”; and

    (i) a public servant must not use official resources, including electronic or technological resources, offensively or for other than very limited private purposes.

    http://www.pocs.gov.ky/portal/pls/portal/docs/1/12276854.PDF

  8. Anonymous says:

    Section 6 of the Public Service Code of Conduct, in accordance with Public Service Management Law already makes very clear the unacceptability of “harassment”. I think we can all agree that reigning blows down on a smaller person, is well beyond the embarkation line of simple harassment. We’re well into physical assault stage. There should be no confusion on that point.

    • Anonymous says:

      3:35. Only one problem with your analysis Politicians are not civil servants or public servants. Their conduct are not governed by the public service management law.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes they absolutely are. They are literally “the government”. It’s part of SIPL as well – now in effect!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Is cultural misunderstandings covered ?

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