PAC delays public meetings on governance reports

| 16/05/2014

(CNS): The Public Accounts Committee recently cancelled a proposed public hearing on a collection of damning reports from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) dealing with the management of resources, accountability and good governance. The five reports were published by the auditor general in January but now will no be publicly scrutinized until later in the year because, the PAC chair said, witnesses were too busy to come to the meeting due to budget preparations. The reports revealed that values and ethics are being applied only selectively in government and while Cayman has a sound governance framework, officials are simply not following or implementing the rules as designed.

The auditor general found systemic and structural problems in government which leaves the public purse open to abuse. Fundamental controls that should ensure lawful expenditure are not robust and are not good enough to even say if budget appropriations are accurate. No one can be sure that the money legislators vote on government is the money that is really required or spent.

Despite the damning revelations, the PAC chair waited until the week before the budget would be delivered for 2014/15 to call a meeting in order to question civil servants on the OAG’s findings. However, Roy McTaggart told CNS that he had cancelled the meeting.

“Following the issue of notices to witnesses and members by the LA staff last week, I was made aware that because of ongoing budget preparations, ministry personnel would find it particularly challenging to attend the meeting as required by Standing Order 77(8),” he told CNS in an email on Wednesday in response to questions.

“In the circumstances, I thought it best to allow the budget preparations to continue without disruption, thus I chose to postpone the meeting until afterthe budget session,” he said.

So far, since it was established in June of last year following the May 2013 general elections, the PAC has held only one public session. That meeting was held in September and the committee examined reports dealing with inappropriate board and political interference at several statutory authorities. During that meeting McKeeva Bush, the former premier and now PAC deputy chair, attacked the auditor general and refused to accept his findings.

The committee has not yet submitted its report on that hearing, any minutes of its closed door meetings or an annual report of the committee's work over the last 12 months.

The former PAC chair, Ezzard Miller, said he was disappointed to see that the new PAC had fallen back into old habits and had not maintained the pace he set when he was chair of not only scrutinizing reports in a timely fashion but keeping the Legislative Assembly informed of the PAC’s work.

Miller has criticised Premier Alden McLaughlin on numerous occasions for nominating and voting for Bush to take a seat on the committee, which will be tasked with examining reports that take aim at his time as premier, which Miller believes will hamper the work of the committee.

The independent member’s fears may also have been born out as sources close to the matter tell CNS that at least one recently completed audit report that should have been sent to the PAC has been withheld by the legal department. This, CNS was told, is because the content infringes on the criminal case against the former premier, who is due to go on trial this September facing charges that relate to the misuse of a government credit card.

“This is an example of the absurdity of this situation when the relevant authority cannot send a report to PAC to undertake the work it is duty bound to perform because it may concern one of its members,” he added.

Bush has vigorously denied the allegations against him and since he was first charged, some eleven counts relating to theft have been dropped. The former premier is now facing allegations of misconduct and abuse of office.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Roy McTaggart as a MLA he is hopeless and out of touch with people. As PAC chairman he sounds more like a kitten and completely lost. Poor Roy is looking like a one termer with each passing day 

  2. SKEPTICAL says:

    Of course bush has historically attacked the various AG's – they were going to reveal what a " dog's breakfast " the government accounting was under his premiership and, particularly, as Minister of Finance. Sadly, the current chairman of the PAC appears to be another spineless appointee.

  3. Anonymous says:

    "…McKeeva Bush, the former premier and now PAC deputy chair, attacked the auditor general and refused to accept his findings…"

     

    It seems that the fox wants to keep his job guarding the hen house.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Why is Bush once again attacking the Auditor General. It seems a lifetime hobby of his and of course he does it in the house where the AG cannot defend himself. Auditors are really nice and inoffensive guys. They are cool under pressure, do not loose their rag, and are constructive towards their clients’ needs. Many have wonderful senses of humour and certainly contribute to society. I have never known an auditor I did not like even ones from Scotland. They are some of my favorite people. Mr Bush you really do need meet some more auditors. I am sure there are many attending your church every Sunday so please go meet them and tell them what a splendid chap you really are albeit a trite misunderstood. Auditors make peace and not war and used to wear flowers in their hair in San Francisco. They are very engaging people and generally go their way in their own god fearing manner.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not only are the current and past auditor generals nice guys, they are professional.

         

        Their crticism of financial shortcomings is often accompanied by helpful suggestions that show the offending department how to improve their bookkeeping and accounting processes so that the tax payers can see clearly where and how their money is spent by the government. This is a good thing. 

         

        The attacks against the auditors general appear to come from individuals who have things to hide.

         

         

      • Hancock says:

        Brilliant Chris. You are spot on and the interesting thing is that Bush will not take you on because he is not protected by the comfort he gets sitting in the house. Keep your responses flowing, they are informative, sometimes brutal, accurate and above all amusing.

      • PEDANTIC says:

        Not sure " trite "  is quite word in this context –  perhaps " tad ".

  4. Anonymous says:

    What is being hidden?

    These reports should be available to the public as a matter of course and far more quickly. The delays are an attempt to avoid the very real issues that the Auditor is reporting, that of a deliberate avoidance of compliance with a system that would provide good governance.

    Thank s to him we may one day get the representation we deserve, but there are too many in the LA, and more important the civil service that will not change their ways.

    So the question remains, WHY?

    • Anonymous says:

      "Why?"

       

      The answer is easy. Corruption and the corrupt people taking advantage of incompetance.

  5. Peanuts says:

    Ezzard ranthe only committes that did work over the past 8 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ezzard?? I thought it was Ellio? Ooohhh right, it was Ellio and Dwayne that didn't show up to meetings.., right, ok den.

      • Anonymous says:

        Typical small islands mentality. They want to be on every boarb, thinking that will make them important. All they do is expose their incompetence.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Pick me! Pick me!

  7. Naya Boy says:

    YES Cayman the PPM in its glory When face with the truth Make up excuses and hide! Aaaah Bwoy seem old wutless Gower Ment!!!