Minister urged DG to deal with ‘troubling’ report

| 02/11/2022 | 106 Comments
Cayman News Service
Chief Officer Eric Bush (left) and Minister Andre Ebanks in May 2021

(CNS): CNS has received several records in response to a freedom of information request relating to commitments made shortly before the 2021 General Election by the former premier’s ministry to open overseas offices and attend the Dubai World Expo. One record shows how the new PACT minister, André Ebanks, was “troubled” by a report by the Office of the Auditor General and had urged the deputy governor to take disciplinary action.

The OAG report found that officials in the Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs (MITIAMA) had acted unlawfully. But almost a year later no one has been held to account.

After Minister André Ebanks took office and assumed responsibility for the areas that had previously been under then-premier Alden McLaughlin’s ministry, he raised concerns that government officials had acted inappropriately regarding the establishment of the overseas offices and the related recruitment of additional staff, as well as the decision to attend the Dubai Expo.

As a result, Auditor General Sue Winspear was tasked by the governor to take a look. In her report on the matter, she raised a number of problematic issues, not least that the PPM administration had broken the law when it committed the current government to a policy and future spending of over $6 million on overseas promotion.

The report has still not been made public and as a result, has not yet been scrutinised by the Public Accounts Committee. However, it was leaked to CNS by an anonymous party in January of this year.

It showed that the former premier’s ministry signed agreements and contracts to open overseas offices and attend the Dubai Expo just days before and after the election. Governor Martyn Roper also made the requests for Cayman to open two overseas offices the day after McLaughlin brought the election forward.

The report also documented concerns around how staff were recruited and selected for both the offices and the costly Expo, and raised serious questions about the conduct of senior civil servants, in particular Chief Officer Eric Bush.

After Ebanks and Premier Wayne Panton had seen a draft of Winspear’s report, they both met with Deputy Governor Franz Manderson to discuss the findings and the next steps. In an email sent on 30 November, Ebanks made it clear that he had concerns and was hopeful that the DG would deal with the issues.

“I am quite troubled by the findings of this report,” Ebanks wrote. “There are many aspects of concern. Foremost is our overall system of checks and balances and importantly the conduct of the civil service pursuant to the civil service code.”

While Ebanks made it clear he had no intention of interfering in civil service issues, as he pointed out that personnel is the responsibility of the DG’s office, he appeared to have been assured by Manderson that the report would be considered seriously and a disciplinary process would follow.

But in May 2022, six months later, Manderson issued a statement saying he had found no breach of the Public Management and Finance Act (PMFA) following an internal investigation into the OAG report. Nevertheless, Winspear has since said that she stands by the report, which found examples of poor governance and administrative failings that amounted to breaches of the law.

During his investigation, Manderson determined, based on financial reports available now that were not available to the OAG at the time, that sufficient funds were available to meet the costs associated with the Dubai World Expo and the opening of the overseas offices, so there was no technical breach of the law.

But Winspear has pointed out that at the time, civil servants did not know that they would be saved from committing a full breach rather than just one on paper by under-spending elsewhere in the ministry. Redacted documents also show that senior officials did not appear to have checked that money was in the budget until the auditor general began her review.

Winspear had found breaches of the Cayman Islands Constitution, the PMFA and the Public Service Management Act (PSMA), as well as irregularities around some of the human resource practices. She also found that clear guidance was lacking on how the civil service should implement government policies after an election had been called.

Other documents released under the Freedom of Information Act since Manderson released his statement dismissing the audit report and effectively finding no one accountable, showed that the DG’s office had conducted a much narrower review of the ministerial goings on at the time than Winspear’s team had to arrive at his conclusions that nothing unlawful had actually happened.

To date, despite the clear concerns raised by Minister Ebanks, Premier Panton and the auditor general, based on a paper trail and documented evidence of what Ebanks haa called “troubling” conduct, no one has been held accountable.

See the email between Ebanks and Manerson below and in the CNS Library:


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Category: Government Administration, Government oversight, Politics

Comments (106)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Andre continues to impress. He may be soft spoken but is proving to be very effective. Let’s hope he doesn’t let this one go.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Governor Martyn Roper, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, MP Alden McLaughlin, MP Joey Hew and Eric Bush are all peas in the Lodge Protected Pod!

    If anyone sees Good Governance in reality please let the rest of us know because they are keeping it hidden – except of course in their Press Release that fool noone.

    Thank you Premier Panton and Minister Ebanks for trying to clean up the UDP and PPM government mess.

    At least you are trying, even if you have to have the UDP and PPM dregs in the PACT government.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Premier Panton and Andre Ebanks are not much different than those who have been mentioned above, so don’t get too excited.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Misconduct is defined in the code of conduct. Was there a coordinated attempt by one or more to subvert the law, and conceal it? Looks like it. This isn’t an HR issue, it’s ACC. With criminal conspiracy, you don’t just get fired, you could also go to jail. It’s in our best interest to show the FATF and other watchdogs that Cayman’s anti-corruption regime functions. The necessary escalation of a fully-functional system is worryingly impaired.

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  4. Darlene says:

    Our Hon. Mp Minister Andre maybe no one is held accountable for the “troubling” report. Maybe who is responsible for the accountablity maybe is apart of the problem or the top star leader of the problem. so maybe you will never see anyone be held accountable at all. unless maybe you know away out how too nip it in the bud mash-up any dolly baby house that maybe going on or open up any can of worms that needs too be open you will open it. maybe it is maggits by now

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  5. Slacker says:

    Franz is always kind, listens, is empathetic and then…… does nothing. Speaking from experience.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Got an idea, transfer CO E Bush to OfReg as the new CEO to replace Interim CEO P Gough….

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  7. Anonymous says:

    time for class action lawsuit against the incompetence of the civil service and cig.

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    • Anonymous says:

      03 @ 3:37 pm – Yes! I will join a class action suit. Perhaps put out a public sweep – I’ll bet there are many people who will sign-up. I’m ready!

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  8. Anonymous says:

    another glorious day for the civil service…..zzzzzzz
    just another day in wonderland.

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  9. BLVCKLISTED says:

    “Redacted documents also show that senior officials did not appear to have checked that money was in the budget until the auditor general began her review.”

    This is the kind of flash light we need to be shining into all facets of our government. Maybe then, the powers at be will at least think twice before proceeding with illegal/immoral activities since there’s barely any form of law enforcement on this rock.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Franz will be rewarded with CBE whenever he retires. Eric will be rewarded with the DG position.

    That’s how shit works in Lodge-controlled Government and Civil Service!!

    Disgusting bastards!! Break the Hold!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t get carried away with your hate for Eric and Franz.
      CIG took an area in the UK’s space to promote Cayman and it’s services to the thousands visiting the Dubai expo.
      A very standard and sensible promotion which would benefit any government.
      Childish finger pointing going on .

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      • Anonymous says:

        Care to comment/justify on all the other overseas offices and representatives?

        We’re used to various in the elite going on random jollies (Monaco etc), but the additional overseas offices with permanent staff was a step way too far and without proper due process it would appear.

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        • Anonymous says:

          The London one maybe has her permit now.
          The Washington one is still waiting and enjoying a paid time with his family in the US.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yet, crickets about the similarly unresearched Hong Kong office they were also angling for. What a disaster that would have been.

        • Anonymous says:

          Hmm you say that and yet look at all the MPs who ran campaigns and took part in the CoC debates and interviews. All but TWO were in favor of overseas offices and it’s on the record. Including Andre himself…let’s be clear, since we’re pulling out records now.

          FYI, they could have all voted against the money for the salary increases they got as well….the previous admin wouldn’t have known money was there for those increases so it could have voted down as well. They chose not to.

          Stop trying to paint PACT as these saving grace, do-gooder politicians. Same dog puppy but using non-objective “news” outlets to tell a narrative they want you all to believe aka propaganda politics!

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          • Anonymous says:

            oh geesh..don’t start with this salary increase again. the PPM voted this in, and PACT had to approve it to pay to abide by change in the law put in place by the PPM.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Manderson’s legacy is confirmed with this sad chapter of abuse by his most trusted CO and the excuses. Time for them both go as the creditably of the civil service is at stake. The chaos at the top sets the tone for the entire civil service.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    At the creation of what eventually becomes the exposure of these schemes & scandals there has to be a known of the probability of entering into something dubious, personally problematic, pulling the wool over the eyes and downright deception. Yet these creators and their cronies jump right on, tweak their project to push it through in the best way to avoid checks & balances and probably discuss a strategy to adhere to for when the stuff might hit the fan. Now call me old fashioned but that just stinks of underlying character non-integrity, these people should be nowhere near public service but on the street hustling card tricks instead, technically then they aren’t deceiving. ♠️🃏

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  13. Anonymous says:

    I would just like to share this with the 796 – 72.04% of the people of West Bay South. BE PROUD OF YOURSELVES AND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Andre really doesn’t know how this place works.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Enough of the bollocks Bush and Manderson OUT NOW!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    The new Governor cannot be as biased or useless as the current one. He has allowed all of this to happen unchecked by failing to apply known standards of Good Governance. The DG’s decisions have exposed them all and embarrassed the country on countless occasions. Cayman is really a corrupt country where it is overt but protection is easily bought if you are on the right team or connected to the right people.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Gov Roper, the grinning minstrel, who does very little in the way of good governance has made it easy for these politicians to do exactly what they want. Let’s hope we have a new Governor in The spring who actually does more than pose for the camera.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I used to think that, but just get proved wrong repeatedly over the years. The best chance at a good gov we’ve had in recent times arrived surrounded by controversy because of his religion and left a scapegoat surrounded by scandal because he said some things that needed saying and stood up for the people. Hope is hopeless in this situation.

    • Anonymous says:

      The most fundamental and encoded principle of the civil service was completely obliterated by those who are ultimately responsible for protecting it. Broken system.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It’s sad that when I read the headline I wasn’t sure which one of the troubling reports this article was about. Sadly there are many more such reports all with the same plot line: no one is ever held accountable. We must do better Cayman!

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Rubbish posts. After Manderson investigation the AG walked back her major finding and stated technically no law was broken. End of story

    Why the word technically?

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  19. Kman says:

    The Lodge Club doing its best to protect their Golden Boys Franz and Eric. Alden so wanted to get PPM back in as Government at all cost,he’s no better than his nemesis Mac and the truth is starting to show up. Franz, please resign you’ve worn too many robes and accept responsibility for your failures likewise Eric and Gov Roper say bye-bye too.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Manderson’s legacy is confirmed with this sad chapter of abuse by his most trusted CO and the excuses. Time for them both go as the creditably of the civil service is at stake,

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Roper and Manderson are implicated. Who does the Attorney General report to? How could Franz’s investigation be objective? It was a cover up.

    There was no objective investigation. The Attorney General is conflicted. Sue Winspear isn’t conflicted. She is being muzzled because Roper himself is guilty.

    Stinks to high heavens. Franz, you investigated yourself? Foolishness.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Attorney General is the legal advisor to the CI Government and to Parliament (s.56(2), Constitution).

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  22. Anonymous says:

    All these offices were set up by Eric for him and Aldart to travel around the world. Eric hired his friends for roles they can’t do. Two of them may never get the visas to work in the various offices. Yet CIG is paying these people. Who dropped the ball there? Eric. But ZERO consequences for this cock up costing CIG hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    I don’t blame PACT, this is weeks before PACT was sworn in. PACT has showed us they hold people accountable.

    Head of the Civil Service? Not so much. World Class.

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    • Anonymous says:

      whoa. PACT holds people accountable? What a fickle minded community we have. Do you forget the McKeeva situation?

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  23. Anonymous says:

    The motto of modern Cayman is ‘Whats in it for me?’

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  24. Anonymous says:

    7.08pm suggests review by an outside entity – could that possibly be London – are we getting closer to the path trodden some years ago by Turks & Caicos.

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  25. Anon says:

    I look forward to the day Franz Manderson retires or resigns.
    Maybe then the civil service will finally be “world class”

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  26. Anonymous says:

    The civil service is a circus full of clowns

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    • Anonymous says:

      Clowns having a laugh and squandering public funds at our expense nonetheless!

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    • It’s Time says:

      Missa Manderson,

      I write this eith a heavy hand ; pick up ya bundle snd leave and go don’t stay there no more, you have list credibility, sensitivity and no one xAn say there is accountability in the di c as led world class service you say you run. Go home sah you have served a long time, ya brain fuzzy , yourcrelayions with staff are bordering on pathetic snd like another recent incident by aBayer whatever good you have done is now clearly and unequivocally overshadowed by these reports. Go home sah!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      And the chief clown is the unfit DG.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    Can someone explain why Eric still has ANY responsibility, and why Franz is allowed to continue the charade?

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  28. Anonymous says:

    How is Eric Bush still employed as the chief of anything given his track record of failure and scandals?
    Is the lodge that powerful or is his boss the real problem?

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    • Anonymous says:

      No one can touch Eric “Teflon” Bush – he’s protected for the rest of his life by his Lodge buddies. Eventually, he’ll be Deputy Governor Bush, where his screw ups and sweetheart buddy deals will have an even worse impact on the Cayman Islands.

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      • Anonymous says:

        No chance after all the evidence proving his incompetence and years of embarrassing incidents that he is directly involved in. Whoever does that is as incompetent as him and does not understand the backlash that will come.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Answer: Franz

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  29. Anonymous says:

    Franz needs to go now he has lost the plot.
    Roper has enabled loads of nonsense pretending to be objective

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    • Anonymous says:

      Another example of UK failing to ensure good governance in the Cayman Islands.

      Like the BVI, the problem is the corrupt UK.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Franz lost the plot a decade ago. It is simply taking a while for people to notice the Emperor has no clothes.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    There’s a lot of words in that article CNS but only five that ring with any consistency, –

    ‘no one has been held accountable.’

    for ***** sake Mr Manderson, Mr Roper, do something that escapes the bounds of being disingenuous, just once.

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  31. Anonymous says:

    Personally, I believe the Cayman Islands has more thieves in the government than you could shake a stick at!!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      I think CIG is mostly honest and well-intentioned, with a couple dozen rotten eggs that foul the whole show.

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  32. Anonymous says:

    This is possibly not a good look for the DG. Maybe an outside and independent entity needs to take another look at this matter so that the DG can assure the public that everything is aboveboard. Can anyone with a legal background say if Governor Martyn Roper should have made the requests for Cayman to open two overseas offices the day after McLaughlin brought the election forward or if this was also something that the OAG deemed to be in breach of some rules or best practices?

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  33. Anonymous says:

    No one is ever held accountable. The civil service needs to be privatized. Almost all of it.

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  34. Junius says:

    Certainly, decisions/actions were irrational (s.19(1), BoR) and, therefore, unlawful (s.24, BoR).

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  35. Anonymous says:

    Why is Eric Bush so special and seems untouchable? Why does his name keeps popping?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Lodge

      Deputy Governor’s best friend

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ask Franz. Go and check his record for jumping to the defense of the indefensible. He has done this many times and his behaviour is suspect, yet he remains in his lofty position. Go figure!

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  36. Anonymous says:

    Teflon Eric wins again! Lodge Teflon!

    Disgusting! Break the Hold!!

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  37. Anonymous says:

    The civil service is a mess run by yes men and charlatans pretending to be nice

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  38. Anonymous says:

    Franz and Eric go way back and are buddies- no way anything was going to happen..

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  39. Anonymous says:

    The career and leadership of DG Franz Manderson is summed up in the last paragraph of the article.

    “ To date, despite the clear concerns raised by Minister Ebanks, Premier Panton and the auditor general, based on a paper trail and documented evidence of what Ebanks haa called “troubling” conduct, no one has been held accountable.”

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  40. Anonymous says:

    World class my ass!

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  41. RES IPSA LOQUITUR says:

    Deputy Governor Franz Manderson made the willful decision to protect his man Eric Bush at all costs. The report is clear about the breaches that occurred by the Chief Officer of MITAMA. They hoped it would blow over.

    “Winspear had found breaches of the Cayman Islands Constitution, the PMFA and the Public Service Management Act (PSMA), as well as irregularities around some of the human resource practices. She also found that clear guidance was lacking on how the civil service should implement government policies after an election had been called.”

    Yet Mr. Manderson and Governor Roper ignored the findings in the report in order to protect Eric Bush. They absolved him of any wrong doing likely because he was operating with their implied consent.

    “ May 2022, six months later, Manderson issued a statement saying he had found no breach of the Public Management and Finance Act (PMFA) following an internal investigation into the OAG report. Nevertheless, Winspear has since said that she stands by the report, which found examples of poor governance and administrative failings that amounted to breaches of the law.”

    The reality is that they were both complicit in this fiasco and allowed Eric Bush to wheel and deal whilst assuming the PPM would be returned to power. To their surprise PACT emerged and pulled back the curtains by questioning decisions of the previous government which exposed many senior officials. This was then confirmed by the Auditor General in the report.

    The leadership of the civil service is shambolic focused on uncovering leaks and cover ups instead of accountability, transparency, value for money and the consistent application of the rules across the board. When will they accept that the service is run like a third world outfit and nowhere near world class?

    Just read multiple Auditor General reports over the years and you will find a recurring theme. Clearly the fish rots from the head. The facts speak for itself.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I left the civil service and returned to the private sector earlier this year. Your comment is an accurate assessment of the root cause of what is wrong with the civil service.

      The problem is the DG himself! Minister Andre’s misplaced “confidence” in Franz to take any action, let alone the right action against any of his personal friends he appoints in management is the most disappointing section of this article

      It is very obvious to the majority of civil servants who is responsible for the dysfunctions of the veneered “world class” chant.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If the DG cared accountability, transparency, value for money  consistent application of the rules across the board half the Civil Service would be fired for absenteeism, tardiness, incompetence, unsatisfactory performance and wasting public funds.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And add abuse of sick leave, extended sick leave, and running to HSA for every lil pain while loading up with unnecessary medication.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Lest we not forgot about cosmetic surgery that was facilitated through CINICO.

        • Anonymous says:

          And over 70% of the civil service consists of Caymanians 7:20 and 9:46 so all the negative stuff we hear about their employability seems to have a lot of truth in it.

  42. Anonymous says:

    PPM still has their tentacles and cronies in the civil service.. Disappointed in the DG but par for the course and to be expected..

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    • Anonymous says:

      He needs to go too many excuses and fake smiles he is a major part of the issues because the buck stops with the DG

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  43. Anonymous says:

    The AUDITOR GENERAL can determine if funds were in place.

    What did the ATTORNEY GENERAL say about the ‘breaking the law’?

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  44. Anonymous says:

    I’ll be sarcastic and cynical… Why hold anyone accountable in the CIG; this is Cayman – a sizable portion of the CIG is corrupt. The real travesty is our electorate who term after term after term elects past criminals, current criminals, and simply unqualified Ministers. Cayman has basically lost control of itself to outside corruption and INSIDE corruption. Caymanians are selling the soul of its future for quick gains. And outside money has no reason not to accept the opportunities. We have few ethical, educated candidates. We have little history of making the ethical, but hard decisions. Our youth is getting poor role-modeling from our Ministers. Our youth is getting a low standard of education. Our financial base is very thin for a wide moat of secure revenues. We are ruining our ecology both on land and in the sea. So to circle back to the question and my answer – We had been taught to expect our Ministers to fail in being accountable.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Failures like Joey and PPM?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe the entire electorate isn’t dumb, maybe big money skews the vote by funding generous hand outs om behalf of the candidates with the most poor or addicted people. Ezzard spoke about this happening in North Side Christmas 2020.

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  45. Anonymous says:

    Re: She also found that clear guidance was lacking on how the civil service should implement government policies after an election had been called.

    question: are there NOW clear guidance in place so we can avoid these issues repeating?

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    • N says:

      I get what you’re saying but…..Prior to that quote the OAG clearly said several LAWS were not followed (BROKEN) so if there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY for BREAKING LAWS, what good will an further guidance do?

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you believe the PACT doesn’t have their election vote buying plans in place already I have some swamp land you might be interested in

  46. Anonymous says:

    Manderson seems to escape again all these infraction using hios magical cloak. No worries, its all our money it will come home to roost one day.

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