Ethics board still waiting to be taken seriously

| 20/11/2013

(CNS): The seventh report of the Commission for Standards in Public Life, made public on Monday when it was tabled in the Legislative Assembly some three months after it was written, demonstrates that the ethics watchdog is still struggling to be taken seriously. Despite the many concerns raised since its formation in early 2010, very few of the commission’s recommendations have been acted upon and it is still waiting on the necessary legislation to give it teeth and the power to deliver on its constitutional mandate. The report also reveals significant concerns about the continued problems on public authority boards and the failure of member to be held accountable or reveal their potential conflicts of interest.

Ironically, late delivery of its reports to the LA and ultimately the public is the first issue dealt with in the commission’s report. It points out that during the period before it was written the ethics board had repeated the request that its reports are, as required by the constitutional mandate, laid before the Legislative Assembly as soon as possible. Despite the commitments made by the authorities concerned that the reports would be submitted on a timely basis, this report still took more than three months to be presented and made public.

“During the previous reporting session the Commission was concerned by the amount of time it was taking for its reports to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly,” the report noted. “The Commission maintains the view that there is no reason why the reports should not be submitted directly to the Legislative Assembly.”

In an effort to speed up their publication the commission said it took steps to obtain the advice of the attorney general and met with the former speaker of the House about the necessity for the reports to go to the deputy governor and then to Cabinet before they went before the Legislative Assembly.

However, these efforts appear to have been in vain as the report, which was only made public this week, is now more than three months old.

As well as concerns over the delay in the report’s public circulation, the commission is still waiting for the law, which it highlighted as a priority in 2010 with the publication ofits first ever report. Now, well over three years later, the draft bill has only just reached the LA and is open for public scrutiny. The final draft had been submitted to the deputy governor almost twelve months ago and put before the minority PNA government following the fall of the UDP administration. However, it did not make it through the ministerial meetings and was deferred a number of times. It is not clear of it was rejected by the five ministers at the time or whether it was simply not discussed.

As a result, the proposed law languished as the country was sucked up into the election campaign. Following the PPM's election to office however, the bill has since been steered through Cabinet and is expected to be debated in January. The commission said it was encouraged by the approach of the newly elected government and its commitment to enact the legislation. 

“Since taking office, the new administration has indicated a strong willingness to ensure the SPL Bill is passed into law,” the report states.

Among the many other issues that the commission raises in this latest report, many of which have been repeatedly raised in previous reports — and apparently repeatedly ignored — is the pressing need to deal with the boards of government companies and statutory authorities, where at best conflicts of interests and at worst actual corruption have been repeatedly highlighted by the local media and the auditor general, but nothing has been done.

“The Commission strongly believes that requiring all persons in public life to declare their interests and to take appropriate steps, such as not participating in the discussion or decision making process and leaving the meeting during such conflicts, when a conflict arises will bring much needed transparency to the real and perceived conflicts of interest that are present currently on a number of boards and committees,” the report reveals. It goes on to express further concern that board members must be properly appointed and "must be held accountable for their actions and decisions".

The commission said it remained committed to its ongoing efforts to establish procedures for appointing members to public authorities, and the terms of such appointments.

The commission states that the register of interest for boards should show current or future conflicts of interests and the declarations should become public documents.

See full report below and proposed bill

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Category: Politics

Comments (15)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We dont need an ethics board here in Cayman… we go to church every Sunday!

  2. Anonymous says:

    The ethics board certainly has some great obstacles to overcome.  Information recently reached me that a  head of a public authority has authorized the hiring of his own daughter. This is totally unethical for a government body, but as long as these heads are kept unchecked they run the authorities like it is their own family business.  What canan ethics board do about what  the already appointed board has failed to do?  Good luck to them, but as others have already pointed out many government heads will resist it because of the shameful exposure it will create on themselves. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    What do you expect when you ask the FOX to impose restrictions on himself with regard to entering or guarding the HEN house.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ethics and corruption are opposites thats the reason why they will never the taken seriously.

      Ethics and governance is easy on paper BUT the hardest thing for any goverment.

    • Anonymous says:

      We should know who is on the ethics board please CNS.

      Thank you.

      CNS: Click here.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The new Governor needs to quickly put her foot down on this, establish her credibility, and stop the prevarication from those who do not want to behave properly in public life and office.  We can not allow misconduct by greedy individuals ruin Cayman.  Let us have the very best ethics and integrity system we are able to devise and ensure all the public sector more quickly becomes fully accountable and transparent for spending our tax dollars.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It should be obvious to all by now that those in power are not yet ready to join the rest of thedeveloped world and forsake corruption as a way of life.  Its going to be third world rules for at least another generation.  Or two.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is a very broad and biased statement ,hope you are prepared to provide proof of what you wrote.Otherwise,you are just an example of another corrupt practice that should be stamped out.

      • Anonymous says:

        Pro government blogger defending the status quo of ineptness. 

        Why is this government taking the same attitude as the last regarding ethics and accountability? 

        • Anonymous says:

          Did you miss this part of the story???? 

           "Following the PPM's election to office however, the bill has since been steered through Cabinet and is expected to be debated in January. The commission said it was encouraged by the approach of the newly elected government and its commitment to enact the legislation."

          or this part????

          “Since taking office, the new administration has indicated a strong willingness to ensure the SPL Bill is passed into law,” the report states.


          The current government is the poster child for ethics and accountability!


          What needs changing is your glasses or your attitude – celebrate good governance for Cayman at last!

      • Anonymous says:

        Your posting comes across like a post by someone who doesn't like the truth.. because it hurts, so you lick back with some nonsense just like a 6 year old in a schoolyard brawl.  SMH.

  6. Anonymous says:

    There is a reason for the stalling.  Neither political party wants this.  Because none of them and their crony-appointed boards want to be held accountable for anything.  Its that simple.  So maybe the Governor should just cut to the chase and pass it into law.  Done.  Next !

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is Cayman we talking about. They'll likely be waiting a long time for ethics to be taken seriously.