Archive for July 4th, 2013

PMFL too tough, says OAG

| 04/07/2013 | 38 Comments

myaccountant (274x300).jpg(CNS): While the auditor general has pointed to a number of reasons preventing government from meeting its requirement to report properly on public finances, Alastair Swarbrick said the main problem is the Public Management and Finance Law. Adding his voice to long-time calls for a complete review of what he believes is a very complex piece of legislation, the country’s public auditor said government was never going to meet the law’s demands and, as a result, both legislators and the public would remain in the dark about what government has done with tax payers' money. In a report entitled "Restoring Financial Accountability: A time for change?", he answered his own question with an emphatic 'yes'.

“Whilst poor implementation, leadership and management have been contributors to the absence of accountability over the last nine years, it is my view that the PMFL is too complex for the Cayman Islands government to deliver effective accountability and transparency for the use of resources,” Swarbrick wrote in the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) report, adding his opinion that, nine years after its implementation, the government would never meet the requirements of the PMFL .

Swarbrick pointed to the many damning failures in the administrative arm of government and the end result — a resounding failure of officials to explain how they have spent the people’s money and whether the spending has helped to meet the policy objectives of the successive governments since the law was passed in 2004.

With little or no attempt to report on outcomes (the information which would demonstrate whether or not government initiatives have been a success) and a sizeable increase in staff costs with no tangible benefits, the public purse is at serious risk, Swarbrick said.

Aside from the risk of fraud, abuse and mismanagement of resources, and no way to see if money has been spent wisely, Swarbrick pointed out that for almost a decade, the public has not been given any credible, understandable and timely reports that explain where their money has gone.

Regarding the main function of a financial reporting framework where the people are concerned, he noted, “The framework should enable the Legislature and other stakeholders to effectively scrutinize the plans of government and subsequently hold them accountable for the resources authorised and used to deliver those plans.”

Among the many problems caused by the failure of government to report on spending and the complexity of the current law, the separation between executive and entity has not only led to the need for two sets of accounts but it has blurred the boundaries between what the Cabinet spends and what the administrative arm spends.

“Whilst chief officers are clearly accountable for ensuring adequate controls are in place over entity expenses, in practice executive expenses are not always subject to the same controls,” he said. However, the most pressing problem is that executive transactions are only reported via the Entire Public sector (ESP) financial statements and, as no ESP report has been published since the financial year 2003-04, government has not provided any audited information to the LA or the public on spending by Cabinet for more than eight years.

As the goal is for the legislature and the people to hold government accountable for the money it spends, Swarbrick has recommended a major overhaul to simplify the way government reports, including consolidating the ministries and portfolios into one set of accounts.

Although some of his recommendations have been well received by the deputy governor, who has now taken leadership on government financially accountability, he has rejected some of Swarbrick’s proposals on the grounds that they would be a step away from the goal of complete transparency.

However, Swarbrick argued that this was not the case and, given that government officials have completely failed to meet the requirements of the current system, right now there is no accountability at all. Swarbrick is hoping to persuade the head of the civil service that his ideas will help him and the public sector achieve significant transparency for the first time in years, even if it is in a more consolidated format.

Swarbrick said that producing one good set of consolidated core government accounts that are “credible, timely and understandable” would be a massive improvement on the current situation. “Right now there is no transparency at all,” he said last week at a press briefing about the report.

See full report here.

Continue Reading

Win car, cash or gas from Rotary Sunrise

| 04/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Rotary Sunrise is in their final countdown of ticket sales for the 2013 Car Raffle Fundraiser. This is Rotary Sunrise’s biggest fundraiser of the year with proceeds funding local projects including literacy and youth programs. Top prize is a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a retail value of CI $41,500. The lucky winner of this top prize may also choose to trade back the vehicle for a cash option. Second prize CI $10,000 and third prize is CI $500 in free gas.

Tickets are being sold at AL Thompson through the remainder of this week and at the Arts and Recreation Center (ARC) at Camana Bay on Friday, July 5 and Saturday, July 6. The final draw will take place at Cayman 27’s Island Living Show on July 6. Tickets are $25 each or a set of 5 for $100.

Last year’s grand prize winner was Myles Perryman of a 2012 Ford Explorer, second prize was Adishree Mani of a 2011 Sea Doo Jet Ski and third prize winner was Scott Lennon of $500 gas.

Rotary Sunrise would like to congratulate all past winners and thank everyone who has supported their fundraising efforts.

About Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Sunrise
Rotary Sunrise is a diverse group of like-minded professional, ages 30 years and older who are committed to serving the community. The group is scheduled to meet at the Grand Old House for breakfast on Wednesday mornings for 7am. To learn more about Rotary Sunrise visit www.rotarysunrise.ky or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rotarysunriseky

Continue Reading

Man arrested over West Bay shooting

| 04/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 21-year-old man in police custody in connection with a shooting in the district of West Bay on Sunday night, the RCIPS said Thursday morning. The West Bay resident was arrested last night on suspicion of attempted murder by officers from the Uniform Support Group. The young man is accused of shooting a 56-year-old man in the arm as the victim rode his bicycle in the vicinity of Super C’s restaurant at the top of Watercourse Road, West Bay. The news of the arrest comes in the wake of reports that more gunshots were heard in the district on Wednesday night in the area of Cinder Lane.

Police responded to the reports last night but officers said they were unable to confirm if firearms had been used and were waiting until daylight to investigate the area and look for evidence. Early investigations revealed no one was hurt and it appeared no property had been damaged but police continue to be on alert as tensions in the district escalate.

It is not yet clear if the shootings have been gang related but Commissioner of Police David Baines recently warned that the gang conflicts remain a significant problem for his officers.

Continue Reading

Cayman Kind – a fitting slogan.

| 04/07/2013 | 34 Comments

Yesterday morning my car broke down. Sadly for me and all those affected by the slow traffic I caused for a short while, it didn’t break down at home or at the office or at any other more convenient spot; it broke down about four cars back in the middle lane by the cricket pitch traffic lights heading into town (or trying to!).

It was subsequently discovered that one of the battery connections had come loose and all is now well, but at the time all I knew was I had a dead car in the middle of the road, one that was stuck in park with hazard lights that wouldn’t work (because there was no battery) and so I was unable to enlist any help in pushing it off to the side or warn any oncoming traffic that the car was temporarily broken down. So I stood there like a lemon, unsure of what to do.

Which brings me to ‘Cayman Kind’…

Damian, who sells The Compass at those lights, didn’t hesitate and came right over to see if he could assist. A number of other gentlemen stopped or pulled over to see if they could help also, and I’m only sorry I didn’t get the names of all those who did stop or pull up next to me but I was so very grateful.

There were three guys in particular, though, that stopped whose names I know. One, a good friend of mine, who kept me company until help arrived (it’s not much fun standing in the middle of the road waiving traffic around you first thing in the morning – I’m just so very grateful school is out and so I didn’t have irate parents to deal with!). The other two gentleman I hope to seek out so that I might have the opportunity to thank them personally.

These three, along with Damian and the others who stopped to offer help, really were the epitome of ‘Cayman Kind’ – a Cayman I know well but glimpse less frequently these days, perhaps because we’re all so busy getting on with the business of living – times are tougher, life is moving at a faster pace and sometimes we’re so busy being busy we forget that each moment cannot be re-lived. We get one shot and we are always presented with opportunities to improve the quality of someone else’s life or situation, and yesterday morning all those who stopped to offer help really were the silver lining in my otherwise dark start to the day.

I appreciate that if all I have to worry about is a broken down car, my life is pretty good, but it is all relative and at that moment in time a broken down car, in the middle lane of the road without working blinkers was all consuming!  The people that took time out of their no doubt busy days did more than they’ll ever realize to improve the quality of my day.

So all this to say thank you – yesterday was a wonderful reminder of who we are (even if not always apparent) and who we should all strive to be. Thanks to all for that reminder!

Continue Reading

Female fraud suspect faces charges

| 04/07/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The 52-year-old woman charged with the theft of approximately US$2 million from an elderly resident in the Cayman Islands made her first court appearance Tuesday before Magistrate Valdis Foldats in Summary Court. Michelle Bouchard, a Canadian national, is in Cayman on a student visa and is understood to be studying at the local law school. She was represented by Ben Tonner of Samson & McGrath, who asked the magistrate for an adjournment as he said he had just received the documents which he must revise and needed time to take instructions from the defendant. Bouchard, who is facing several other counts in addition to the theft, was bailed until her next appearance on 30 July.

The RCIPS Financial Crimes Unit went through an eight month long detailed investigation after the suspect was first arrested at her home in George Town. Bouchard was charged last week with eight counts of theft, obtaining property by deception, forgery and money laundering in what is believed to be a major fraud against an older, wealthy resident. A senior investigating officer on the case had confirmed that the defendant is known to the victim.

This case is believed to be one of the largest thefts against an individual in the Cayman Islands and is likely to be transmitted to the Grand Court, given the size of the alleged theft.

Bouchard was a former member of Rotary Sunrise and is the second person in the last few months from that branch of the service club to be charged with a major theft.

Michael Levitt, who is accused of stealing around $500,000 from his employers Solomon Harris, a former president of the club, is due to appear in court to answer the charges against him on Friday.

Continue Reading