Governor Owen commits to good governance

| 11/05/2023 | 34 Comments
Cayman Islands Governor Jane Owen, Cayman News Service
Governor Jane Owen in her office (from social media)

(CNS): Governor Jane Owen has a “huge amount to learn” about the Cayman Islands, she said, and will be doing a lot of listening at this early stage in her tenure. In her first interview with CNS, she said it was still too early to answer many of the questions we posed, but she was clear on her commitment to ensuring good governance and an efficient civil service that delivers on policy, as well as the need to protect the environment.

Owen, who was the UK’s ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein before coming to Cayman, said that in addition to the constitutional differences, the “breadth of things you are involved in” makes the role of a governor significantly different to that of a senior diplomat.

But the governor said she was keeping an “open mind” about what might come up and the challenges likely to arise. Open and honest dialogue between her office and the elected branch would be extremely important to ensure a way through whatever future conflicts there might be, she said.

Recent tensions between then deputy premier Chris Saunders and her predecessor, Martyn Roper, illustrated that the relationship can be challenging. There has also been tension between the government and the civil service amid allegations of politicians bullying staff and politicians accusing public servants of dragging their feet on implementing policy.

In her first two weeks, the governor has been hearing about what’s on people’s minds and the issues that concern them. “I am already really interested by what I have seen on how Cayman manages a lot of its domestic affairs,” she said. Although the governor has the ultimate responsibility for the civil service, Owen said that she views this as “something of a team sport”.

Her office, the deputy governor and elected officials should be able to work together to successfully navigate any conflict, she said, adding that she was “impressed with the way civil servants prepare papers for ministers” and the workloads they are managing. But there is always room for improvement, she said, noting the need for civil servants to work “at pace”.

Owen said it was important to ensure a culture of respect in government and stamp out bullying and sexual harassment and said that people need to know what the expectations are. “We all need to make an effort,” she said, adding that this is a priority for her as part of her remit and commitment to good governance.

Owen also said she would be watching how the issues surrounding a potential rollback of environmental protections play out after the recent parliamentary debate over the East-West Arterial Road extension. While the environment is a devolved issue, the UK has partnered in projects and offers critical technical support and even funding for conservation issues, given that the biodiversity of the British Overseas Territories is a factor in the British government’s own environmental bragging rights on the world stage.

“It is too soon to comment,” she said in response to the question on how the UK might react to a potential rollback of protections for the environment. “I think we have to wait and see how this will play out over the coming weeks and months. I absolutely recognise people in parts of Cayman… are concerned about road access. But equally, a lot of people want to make sure that whatever is done to develop the island… is done in a way that respects the environment.”

She said she recognised the challenges, but the significance of the environment to the country’s economic development was also important.

Owen also said she would be ensuring that the government continues to take the right approach to public finances and stays within the parameters of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility. With questions now being raised about the sustainability of public revenue, she said the current volatility of the global economy had to be considered.

She said it appeared that the government was working hard on maintaining a sustainable revenue source, but pointed out that the local budget was a domestic area and the responsibility of the local government.

Owen is currently in the UK with the premier and other local officials for the UK and OT’s Joint Ministerial Council.

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Category: Politics

Comments (34)

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  1. anonymous says:

    Good Governance – Governor Owen is starting well with a mission to get back to overseeing the governance – she has a lot of ground to make up since Roper didn’t do anything about good governance. He spent all day every day looking for a self promoting photo opportunity. We have had all sorts of Governors but this one seems humble and doesn’t have an ego the size of Roper’s.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Please claw back the incredible salary increases that the exec level gave to themselves Only just after the election.
    And fix the huge inequity in salaries across the civil service.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Awkward office photo nomination: ergo-staged computer keyboard and iPad just so, telephone far away on back credenza, while also holding a pen like Bob Dole, but without any documents or paper. Highlighter.

  4. no way says:

    Excellent looking forward to working with you here’s your to-do list:

    1. Ensure that the government knows they are working for the public and business not vice versa

    2. introduce a review of the whole structure of CIMA and why the are conducting bad faith review of licensees

    3. remove all employee interaction from registrar of companies it should be fully automated similar to the UK, rejections are given out continually claiming users made mistakes, whereas the system is inadequate just copy the UK companies house system which is fully self-service

    4. introduce automated arrival and departure records get rid of those offputting forms for tourists and residents

  5. Anonymous says:

    Presumably Roper left a brief for her on every politician, the police commissioners, leading citizens etc. Shouldn’t take long to get up to speed but it would be quicker if she as actually here.

  6. Anonymous says:

    She better get up to speed, this is not a vacation.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Dear Gov

    If you want to ensure good governance, please do something about our dumbass, selfish inept and greedy political pool and overhaul the CS and the archaic laws of this land.

    yours in frustration


  8. Anonymous says:

    yeah I never heard that one before

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why would he have to commit to common sense?

  10. Sir Humphrey Appleby says:

    We don’t measure our success by results but by activity…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Good luck with that plan. First try something easier to accomplish, such as world peace.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Ms Owen seems to have a very similar ringtone to when Wayne first sat in his chair, – don’t be ‘a Wayne’ Ms Owen 🪑

  13. Lady Mercury says:

    Ironically she is already accepting invitations from those who’s view of of good governance is to raise the profile of their corrupt family felonious hegemony whilst berating their own decent Caymanians. how sad for all in these islands. Lets hope for Cayman’s sake their corrupting influence does not take hold?

  14. Anonymous says:

    If good governance was the intent, Anwar would still be here.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Where she going with that 1980’s printer?

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s government for you 1:24. The private sector gets everything new when it comes out but we in the civil service exist for ages with old stuff.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Our Cabinet isn’t into good governance, but I’m sure you’re beginning to see that through your crystal clear spectacles. I hope you don’t have another pair of rose coloured ones that might prevent you from honouring your commitment.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Good governance would require rightsizing the Civil Service (that’s at least a 33% reduction in staffing levels). Not sure you have the testicular fortitude for that but we’ll wait and see.

    • Anonymous says:

      11.32 I don’t think the lady is capable of possessing the type of fortitude you refer to…..

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you but please do not use that term. I believe that was copyrighted by the recent departed Minister!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Franz Manderson needs a tough performance review, with 30 days of “cure or quit” notification. The buck literally stops with him.

  18. West Bay Lady says:

    I hope she comes and really make a real effort to know and meet the regular people and gets the right advice from the right civil servants an avoid these dubious and nefarious snob nose nasty individuals giving invites out to congregate with them and their loud mouth drug and alcohol abuser crowd.

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL 😆. She’ll be suffocated by the ineptitude, inefficiency, incestuousness and acquiesce like all before her. Roper is now a mean steel pan exponent. What will Jane do? SUP expert? Lionfish hunter?

      Want to endear yourself INSTANTLY to Cayman? Then ask the Premier why the ‘Hon’ member for BT Duhwayne Seymour got a bly when he clobbered a light pole and never got tested for DUI.

      Cockroach ain’t got no place in a rooster fight.

      • Anonymous says:

        or ask him to read “run spot run” live on a broadcast.

        For particular valid reason I just suspect it would be hysterical.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Well you have your work cut out lady. Have you seen the state of our government?

  20. Anonymous says:

    nice caymanian ‘soon-come’ non-update!

  21. Anonymous says:

    ” good governance and an efficient civil service that delivers on policy, as well as the need to protect the environment..”

    Good luck with that, given the entire government seems fundamentally opposed to any real improvements in any of them, but refers just making speeches about them. Especially if you show the same degree of interest and active involvement in those topics as the last governor.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a tip, avoid CMR

  23. Anonymous says:

    Still see the billboards Jane. Good governance my ass.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hey Gov, welcome! ow fix the police here. They do nothing on the roads or streets for us.


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