Public service faces new rules for election campaigns

| 06/12/2022 | 22 Comments
Cayman News Service
Government Administration Building

(CNS): An administrative circular has been issued to all public servants setting out the rules regarding their work and decision-making during the “Period of Election Sensitivity”. Public sector workers have been given guidance on how issues such as negotiations, consultations and the use of government resources for political purposes should be handled from Nomination Day until a new government is sworn in.

Similar guidance is already included in the Cabinet Manuel published in July, which tells ministers how they should behave once the campaign begins. The need for guidance stemmed from concerns raised in the wake of the last election when the incoming PACT administration found that the previous PPM-led government had made some costly expenditures and commitments in the eight weeks leading up to the election.

The details were set out in a special report by the Office of the Auditor General, which raised questions about the expenditure, recruitment and other actions taken by the chief officer in the ministry of then-premier Alden Laughlin in relation to the PPM policy to open overseas offices and to attend the Dubai Expo. The OAG also raised questions about the waste-management deal signed with Dart just a few weeks before Election Day and a massive spike in spending on roads, since 88% of the NRA budget was spent in the two months before voters went to the polls.

All of this had fueled concern about Cabinet ministers and politicians, with the support of senior civil servants, manipulating their positions in government and access to the public purse to assist their electoral fortunes.

In future, during the two months before the general election, civil servants will be required to ensure political impartiality in media communications, public statements and announcements, and to consider best practice for dealing with requests for information and to watch for the misuse of government resources that appears politically motivated. The new rules are designed to reduce any uncertainty as to what public servants should and should not do during this period and guide civil servants on what to do if they have concerns.

While all administrations are guilty of using the power of office during an election campaign, this is the first time that such rules have been put in place that indicate to both civil servants and politicians what is expected. In the past, the focus has been on the private political activities of civil servants and the restrictions on them taking a direct part in candidates’ campaigns.

In a press release about the new guidance, Premier Wayne Panton said the PACT administration was committed to improving good governance and transparency. He said the new election sensitivity guidance was a vital addition to the Cabinet Manual outlining the standards of behaviour that Cabinet members are expected to abide by.

“This formalised guidance further underscores the requirement for particular care and discretion to be taken by all public servants during a Period of Election Sensitivity. Leading with the Cabinet Manual, we are proud that the civil service has been able to establish this important guidance document,” he added.

Panton thanked Deputy Governor Franz Manderson and members of the Cabinet for supporting the rollout without unduly restricting the operations of government, so ministers will be able to continue essential business as normal during the election campaign.

Manderson, who is understood to be on the road to recovery, said in the release that the guidance had been a joint approach between the elected government and the public service. He said it reinforces, with clear and specific information, how ministers, official members and all public servants should conduct government business once parliament has been dissolved and an election has been called.

“We appreciate the support of all public servants to continue to conduct the core business of government during a Period of Election Sensitivity, whilst striving to ensure that their actions do not unduly fetter the discretion of any new government, or influence the outcome of the democratic process, in accordance with our shared values of professionalism, integrity and passion as a world-class civil service,” he said.

In line with the claims of transparency, CNS has requested a copy of the guidance, and we are awaiting a response.

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Category: Policy, Politics

Comments (22)

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  1. N says:

    Okay, let’s suppose that some do not follow this guidance / these rules going forward (as we know will be the case of some) what happens then? What are the enforceable consequences? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess….none!

  2. UnCivil Servant says:

    Manderson needs to retire now he has created a mess. Before he leaves he needs to fire his protege for incompetence, abuse of public office and other findings in the Auditor General’s report.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Franz better recognize that there is no world class civil service in the Cayman Islands just corruption, nepotism and protectionism of Masonic lodge brothers and other of his hand picked cabal of clowns. The civil service will bankrupt this country.

  4. Raise the Standards says:

    Commendable move PACT, despite the numerous voices of ill-informed people on these comments who do not have the spine, experience, political knowledge or wherewithal to be a member of parliament themselves. Funny enough most persons on here are probably unable to manage the affairs of their own households much less the affairs of an entire country.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are a real idiot if you think any of this lip service bullshit will ever be followed, let alone enforced.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t see much sign of the Cayman government managing the affairs of the country either.

  5. Anonymous says:

    These rules are really just for 1 person, Eric Bush – should be called the Eric Bush rules

  6. Anonymous says:

    How does it look that Joey Hew’s GTN District office is in the same Bon Vivant business warehouse beside Parkers? Seems like a pretty obvious conflict.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a ridiculous comment. Then there’s conflicts of interests everywhere, including politician’s homes in their electoral districts.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So… about MP McKeeva Bush who was convicted of assault? His associates in Cabinet supported his contribution to a charity or docking his salary in compensation. The charity selected flatly refused to accept his “blood-money”.

    So….what has happened to that? He owes something for that, except lawyers fees.

    This measure goes a long way. But like many laws and regulations which exist in Cayman, how well will it be enforced?

  8. Anonymous says:

    the only correct recommendation coming from the OAG report on the overseas offices.

    when you get something wrong just admit it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Kenny’s illegal billboard is still up. All the MLA’s are above the law.

  10. Truth says:

    One major step forward would be to pass the SPL and ensure all affiliations are declared.

    One of the BIGGEST setbacks is tbe “LODGE”. Root this organization OUT of government and HALF of the issues will be solved.


    • Anonymous says:

      How many senior CS personnel are prepared to look the other way if “someone” makes it worth their while?

    • N says:

      You are absolutely correct, yet we’re learning that Parliament is set to debate 30 story buildings and vehicle imports limits with no proper public transport system nor mention of debate on a proper public transport system! Things that make you go hmmnn?

  11. Anonymous says:

    There was quite a bit of uncontested treating last election. Several of our chronically misbehaved MPs should have been disqualified and ineligible to stand given the timing and obviousness of their suspicious and unusual philanthropic generosities.


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