No sign of Mac travel FOI

| 07/12/2012

frequent-flier.jpg(CNS): More than two months after CNS submitted a freedom of information request for the details and costs of the premier’s overseas trips for the last 12 months, there is still no sign of the information and the ministry has shown a blatant disregard for the Freedom of Information Law. The request was submitted on 5 October but the ministry has completely ignored due process by missing the 30 day deadline and did not request an extension until some three weeks after the statutory time limit had passed. The information manager (IM) then missed the 30 day extension and has now stated that the ministry cannot supply the details until 21 December.

It is not clear why the premier’s ministry of finance, tourism and development, which has three IMs, is having such a problem finding out where the premier has been, with whom, why and what he spent on travel over the last twelve months, but in her request on Thursday for even more time, Judy Powery, one the information managers, pointed to the accounts department as the place where things were being held up.

In a response to yet another email from CNS asking what had happened to the request she wrote:

“I had the opportunity to discuss this matter yesterday with our accounts department  and they are about 75% completed, however, due to the in-depth details you are requesting they require more time to break-down the costs into the various categories. In light of this, I would appreciate if you could agree to an additional two weeks which would allow us sufficient time to fully complete the request,” Powery stated, adding that she hoped to have the information to CNS by 21 December.

Given the date of the original request, even if the ministry was able to meet its own new deadline, which CNS has not accepted, that would be a whopping 77 days compared to the 30 set out in the law.

In the same week CNS also made a request to the deputy premier’s ministry for similar information and the IM there was able to supply details of their minister’s trips, for the entire three years of the UDP administration, within 41 days. The IM had requested the extra time before the original deadline had passed and was able to supply the information in full.

As the premier’s ministry has completely ignored the law, and with no guarantees that officials will be able to supply this information before Christmas, CNS has now asked the ICO to step in and formally deal with the request.

The premier’s trips abroad have become of significant public interest and the ICO has indicated to all information managers that this is the kind of information that is likely to be regularly requested regarding all government officials, so it should be properly recorded, making it easy to respond to the requests.

However, it appears that no one is properly collating the details of the premier’s whereabouts and why. As a result, the ministry is having to track back through the year to check the numerous trips that McKeeva Bush has taken around the world, why he went, who he went with and how much the travel cost the public purse.

According to the response on the FOI request from the deputy premier’s ministry, Juliana O’Connor Connolly spent more than CI$213,000 on travelling over the three years since she took office. Sources have told CNS that the premier has spent much more than that this year alone. But with no sign of the response to the CNS freedom of information request, speculation that Bush has spent a record sum on overseas trips this year cannot be confirmed.

Related article:

DP racks up 200k travel bill

Category: FOI

Comments (63)

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  1. Peanuts says:

    Two things (1) PPM passed the FOI Law and (2) look out for the most expensive Junket ever, the coming group trip to Jamaica, and the function to get the Dr. after his name. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well – I think it’s totally understandable – I mean there most be thousands of receipts for his travel to count up. Maybe they need a full time accountant for his expenses….he’s a job creator!

  3. So sue me says:

    The worst part about this issue is no matter what sort of abuses of the public purse come to light with his extravagances, and no matter how often unnecessary travel took place- the money's gone. Disappeared. Spent. Never to be retrieved. The sinister part is the Premier knows it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    And to think there are some people who see nothing wrong with having another 4 years of this blatant rejection of anything transparent with the way OUR money is spent.

  5. George W. says:

    FOLKS! Seventy seven [77] days sounds very unreasonable to get  "DOCTOR  BUSH'" [[or is it the other way around?]] expense accounts for that many months of travel!  After all we all know  that a "DOCTOR'S" handwriting is very difficult to decipher and now that he has been so honored it  was incumbent upon him to have a signature indicative of his newly given status. Therefore the staff to whom this assignment was given are having a very difficult time making any sense of a lot of these expenditures! Thus the delay!

    So if one takes a few of these things into consideration and the complexity thereof, we all must agree that giving them at least until the NEW YEAR to get their thing together seems more than reasonable. And by then [his staff are hoping] CNS would have either forgotten about it and/or given up any hope of getting the information at all.

    But I bet  there would be one hell of a NEW YEARS celebration among the staff in his office. 

    So let us stop picking on the "Perpetually Honorable [Is it of divinity?] Doctor  Clean Hands and A Pure Heart Premier Bush" and forgive him for he Noit Not Wat He Do! 

    MERRY X-MAS!

     

  6. Truth says:

    Isn't this exactly what any sane and educated person would expect of this pathetic "premeirship"?  It is what it is.  He is what he is.  Caymanian voters are what they are.  Plan accourdingly.  To fight a fool you must first get him to understand that you know he is a fool.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Try to track a rat in the house !

  8. Stormmy says:

    you caun wait o wa……………dey fix'n up de papas dem……..u kno, like arrangn dem kindda tings aroun so we dunno wah gaun on………….dey hopin.

  9. Anonymous says:

    How to explain the exclusive NYC shoe store expenses on the government credit card?

    • Anonymous says:

      We’re they high heels?

    • Anonymous says:

      You have to also understand that the accounts department at Mac Ministry moves 10 times slower than a snail…ask anyone who had to deal with that Unit…its one of the worse run units in government

    • Anonymous says:

      Ha Ha! Bet you wish you could walk in MY shoes, ya donkey faced, carrots and milk, devil worshippa you. A hope y trip up n pop y mout.

  10. Knot S Smart says:

    Mac is causing pure bureaucratic harrassment to the the FOI process…

  11. Anonymous says:

    No doubt they will string it out until the election and then blame the next government. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    If this was someone in the private sector, any time they could not IMMEDIATELY account for any expenditure (for example on their corporate credit card), it would be taken out of their salary. We all know that even Macs bloated salary could not possibly cover all of the personal expenses that we all probably end up paying for but the same rules should apply.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Sweepstake: how much of our money do you think Mac has spent travelling the world in the last 12 months? Closest wins. 

     

    I'll start the bidding at $180,000. $15,000 per month.

  14. Anonymous says:

    On the positive side, the bandito premier from Turks was arrested.

  15. B. Onneste says:

    This article mentions several acronyms, like CIG, CNS, FOI, ICO, and now you can add another one:  CYA! 

  16. Another Anon says:

    When it takes this long to provide information that should be readily available, surely someone has something to hide.

  17. Wah wah wah!!! says:

    Sadly, the non-compliance on the part of Mac is no longer news – what will really be news is the day he does actually comply, at this point!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Surely the FOI law contains sanctions and penalties for this kind of obfuscation?

    Apply the penalties, and include the individuals responsible for providing the information, and either the truth will out, or the person instructing them to delay will be revealed!

  19. Anonymous says:

    There are two possible explanations for this:

     

    (i) Bush has not properly accounted for his spending and his 3 information managers aren't doing their job(s) (their no doubt extremely well paid jobs) since you'd think they might have anticipated such a request; or

     

    (ii) They have the information and are being dishonest and breaking the law to conceal it.

     

    Either way it is further proof of incompetence and a general attitude that Bush is not accountable to the country.

     

    CNS is providing a valuable service to the Cayman Islands in pursuing this.  Here's hoping the ICO moves quickly to resolve the issue and we get our hands on the information as soon as possible.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Apparently they believe the world is coming to an end on December 21st.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Mac is now a doctor. The records must be doctored and surgically altered before release. Unfortunately, the head doctor is currently practicing off island.

  22. Anonymous says:

    When the ministry head lies, its staff will also lie, how else will they keep their jobs. macidiot has to do some damage control and if it is taking this longto try and hide where all the money has gone on his dozens of public purse paid for holidays for family and friends the amount over the last four years has to be in the millions.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Thay haven't finished doctoring the documents yet…give them some time!

    • Anonymous says:

      So THAT'S why Doctor Mac got that doctorate from Jamaica. I suppose the public deserves to know how much THAT cost us too.

      • Old Sea Captain says:

        We won't know what the doctorate that he got in Jamaica cost us for at least another 50 to 100 years as the effects will continue to be felt for probably 100 years.

      • Anonymous says:

        A 5th grade education by any oher name . . . .

      • Anonymous says:

        That cost us thousands of status grants to UDP supporters.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I dont blame them as they are expected to carry on their duties as usual and cns nor any other mediahouse pays for the cost of accountants time who have to dig up all the files to consolidate infomation requests which probably ask for details like color of underwear the people travelling wore. the FOI law is highly flawed in that. the govt is funding all the media houses by working around the clock to give them their stories! so theres always something to write aboutits either the story on foi response, a story on violation of foi law or story criticizing civil servants of not doing their job properly which may be because of spending hours on end compiling responses for the hundreds of foi requests. 

    I bet if the media houses were billed for the cost of the accountants time for compiling the numerous cumbersome requests they would reconsider some of their foolish requests.

     

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Nonsense.  It is called 'accountability'.  Records and information should be kept up to dateand readily available.   So, if you were running a business, you wouldn't keep your records up to date and know where you stand?  Obviously, the government has the idea that the money involved is for their own use and benefit.  The government is 'employed' by the people and 'accountable' to the people.  If you don't want to know where your tax dollar is going every time you buy something, other people do want to know, or have you been on a few trips too.

    • Anonymous says:

      to whoever wrote this for mac, just add up all the invoices and give up the information you are trying to hide

    • Anonymous says:

      It was legalised in Washington!!  What are you on?

    • Anonymous says:

      Its funny how everyone else can do their jobs and provide FOI on a timely basis but seemingly only the government departments (not surprisingly) can't account for their expenses, either in response to FOI request, in connection with annual accounting audits or at all.  It just goes to further prove how completely incompetent they are.  The fact is that your government departments use the public's money to operate.  The government isn't paying for it the public are.  The only thing that is flawed is the government and its (lack of proper) processes, and lets not forget that a significant compliment of government staff, particularly those in high office, will try everything and anything in their power to avoid being accountable for their actions.  They'd rather blame the media, the FOI law, proper processes, red tape and beaurocracy rather than knuckling down and getting the job done. 

      Lets face it – government is inefficient and every time someone like you makes a dumb-ass statement like this, all you do is prove my point.

    • Anonymous says:

      Seriously! I am a Financial Controller, if a request was made to me for this information, I would have a couple of hours to pull this together in the private sector, 77 days, 41 days, how bad is thier accounting process and control. However, I would not need that muh time because the team I 'control' do a great job of recording the data correctly. Also, if i knew this information would be requested, I would ensure I had a running spreadsheet per person each month so the information was quickly available to anyone making a request. This is just an excuse to delay the release the information over the Christmas news cycle when people are worried about other things.

      The accountants job is to track and report on this stuff, to 'account' to the poeple of the Cayman Islands, if they cannot do the job, get some qualified Caymanians in there who can and pay them whatever the going rate is in the private sector to attrack them. Enough of the smoke and mirrors, all governments are accountable to the people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please, expense claims are not rocket science to photocopy and provide. It is possible he hasn't had time to do any expense claims as he has continued to travel but then I am sure he has some PA doing it for him anyway and it is more than likely that he doesn't need to claim anything as he is the Supreme Leader and answers to no one.

    • Anonymous says:

      CIG is the most underworked and overpaid government in the world. Not my words, it was publushed  here or in Cayman Compass not long time ago. A simple math taking into account hte population of the CI will arrive you to the same conclusons.

    • wayasay says:

      If they did not try to bury the information in the first place, they would not have to spend so much time digging it up. If your records are up to date, as the Deputy Premier's obviously are, then it is just a matter of running the report.

      Oh yea, and start recording the color of the underware, in the report, if that is what is required by trhe law.

      It is the law and it applies to everyone involved in administering it, so enough excuses already.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re a dandy. Okay, just tell us how much WE spent on HIS cashmere/agouti coat.

  25. Anonymous says:

    They are obviously are trying to "bury" the outcome in the holiday break.  I would suggest CNS hold the information once received until the everyone is back in 2013 so that this abuse of power is not effective.

  26. Anonymous says:

    More like they need more time to invent new ideas how the  money was spent. I CALL THAT COOKING THE BOOKS.

  27. Anonymous says:

    "…pointed to the accounts department as the place where things were being held up."

     

    No wonder we cannot get audited books out of this government. If invoices were filed and categorized properly in the first place then the FOI request could be fulfilled with a few clicks into the IRIS system.

     

    Incompetence, pure and simple.

     

    Also McKeeva thinks that he is above the law, I am sure that that attitude trickles down.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Hands up if you are surprised!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Is there really no other news to report on?

    • Anonymous says:

      Lack of interest in your nations finances,or apathy to the same will result in the same sh!t happening again and again.

      Mac, that has to be you. What's wrong, CNS not writing nice things about you and you don't like it and don't want to go to school today?

      • Anonymous says:

        No, it's me actually, I'm just so afraid of missing out on that new frig…er, fridge next May.

        • Anonymous says:

          I hear they just released an 84" TV. You want my vote? I want one of those.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you ever wonder why Cayman is in the state it is currently in financially?  Well go look in the mirror because its people like you who are responsiblefor this mess.  If you don't realise the national importance of this issue then you don't deserve to be working for, or paid by the public purse… or in other words – US.