Miller queries review method of finance law

| 07/02/2011

(CNS): Although very pleased that government is finally taking on the need to change the law that governs public finances in Cayman, the chair of the Public Accounts Committee believes it should have been carried out by the country’s elected officials. Ezzard Miller said that bringing in an expensive UK consultant could result in something worse being imposed on the country rather than an improvement on the situation, which he believes a select committee of the Legislative Assembly would have been able to achieve. As representatives of the people and well aware of what needs to happen to make public finances more accountable, Miller said the MLAs could have taken an objective but practical approach to the legal changes required.

Miller said that the FCO consultant who has been selected to review the law, Keith Luck, could have been brought in to assist a select committee and offer some professional advice rather than conducting a closed door review where he will hear only from civil servants who either love or hate the existing Public Management and Finance Law and will not have the benefit of the practical experience the LA has had in trying to utilise the law.

“Although I am glad that the law is finally being reviewed, I am not happy about the way it is being done,” Miller, who is chair of the legislative committee that oversees government financial accountability, told CNS. “While Mr Luck has an impressive CV, I would have preferred to see the review conducted by the whole committee of the House, which could hold public hearings and talk to civil servants directly … I think a lot would have come out of that approach.”

Miller said he feels the public sector employees who are dealing with the law on a day to day basis would be more comfortable talking to their own rather than a UK official. Instead, he lamented the fact that government has opted to “bring in an expert who will do doubt come with another set of solutions and tell us we need to spend x more million dollars to implement,” the independent MLA warned.

He estimated that the country had already spent in excess of $80 million over the years on the introduction of the PMFL and it could ill afford to waste more money introducing a new layer of bureaucracy. He said the PMFL was a colossal waste of money, especially in light of the fact that the public has less information today than it did under the old accounting system about what government spends and why.

“My fear is that bringing in a consultant we will run the same risk,” he said, adding that he hoped the review would not end up with yet another system being imposed on the country. Miller said it would be better for Luck to work with the country’s parliament to draft the legislation that would create the changes necessary to have transparent government accountants as they are well placed to know what is needed.

“As MLAs we are required to vote on the budget and scrutinise government spending, so we are in a position to decide how best the law can do that,” Miller added, stating that even he believed there were some good things about the law that needed to be preserved. He said the fundamental problem with the PMFL was the unnecessary and burdensome bureaucracy that was clouding the transparency it was meant to create.

Miller also noted that he would be pushing for some kind of accountability for those who are responsible for completing government accounts. “One of things I will fight for is that the administrative offence for non-performance will be enforced and the responsibility clear cut. If the law says accounts must be produced by a certain date and they are not then someone has broken the law and must be accountable,” he added.

The PAC chair said he had mixed feelings about the review, and while he hoped for new legislation that would work, he was fearful the country could end up with something worse.

Government announced last week that Luck, the former director general of finance at the FCO who undertook a review of its financial accounting, was on his way to Cayman to conduct a review of the law. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Am I mistaken or is Ezzard the MLA darling of CNS? It seems that he gets more individual press attention than any other MLA and it occurs almost on a weekly basis. Between Super Tuesdays and CNS I am seeing far more of Ezzard than is enjoyable. Everyone knows Ezzard’s favorite topics, Caymanians -good, Expats-bad and Independence now. Most of the stories are variations of these 2 themes.

    What about the rest of the members of the LA? Are they doing nothing noteworthy of mention or is Ezzard just super?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Millars right on the money. So much easier to just disregard any common sense laws that other countries follow and just go with the current Cayman way of take it all and more and spend it all and more on whatever Cayman leadership feels like at the moment it spends it. For the vast majority of leadership and Civil servants its working great. Why change it just because a bunch of crybaby wanabe as rich as the Government workers want it? If they really wanted some say in how the bush tribes spent all their money they shoudn’t have voted him in.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There are laws pertaining to government finances? Who in Cayman government knew? Who cared? Who cares now? Thats the real questions. And of course any fool, fool knows the answers.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard has a valid point!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Elected officials had many years to review the PMFL.

    They did nothing.

    It is pathetic that Miller demands that politicians review a law that was put in place to hold them financially accountable, and which they blatantly ignored.

    What exaclty is this "something worse" that could be imposed on the country?

    I assume and hope it will be something that exposes the daily incompetence and whatever else is going on in our country’s financial management.  

  6. Anonymouse. says:

    Blah, Blah, Blah Blah, Blah. Absolutley no foresight to recommend anything, but always quick to ridicule on the aftersight.

    Boy do we badly need some talent in our politicians.

  7. IRON CLAD says:

    Sorry Ezzard… It is precisely the politicians who has mismanaged Public Funds for all these decades and successive governments and has perhaps instructed the various departments that they didn’t need to place any priority on the departmental accounts, hence in the event of any independent audit of Government Finances by the UK, it would take a longer time and be much more difficult to trace the ABUSE. Hence by the end of the Audit, any ‘HEAT’ could be BLAMED on the PPM or just let ‘Evaporate’ as the Premier seems to be so fortunate with. Otherwise the successive Governments have never been really concerned about the books being up to date since they saw(and still see) the public purse as the ‘Money Well’ that they have benefited from so immensely all along. They truly don’t give a #2 or even a lump of it.

    So this is why we need an independent individual or group that is NOT mixed up in the Politics here and of course one who is CREDIBLE !!! I suppose we would have to hold our breath with that one or as the old Caymanians would say… "We’ll suck on that seed".

    IRON CLAD… as always.

  8. Anyone says:

    Anyone who doesn’t agree with Ezzard on this is a fool. The British empire has seen its last days and they are moving on, but they are not going to leave any colony in a position to fend for itself. From the Eurobank scandal they have been trying to destroy Cayman from within. I do hope everyone knows that we have British agents living amongst us who have orders to report news on our politicians back to the UK and to also cook up ways to destabilize Cayman. Mr. Luck is probably part of the movement to create another Turks situation and all we can do is sit on this site and bad mouth Ezzard? this is why I have chosen to stay out of politics for so long, my people seem to go out of their way to promote ignorance and foolishness and to tear each other down. the entire country should be in an uproar over this before it is too late. oh and as usual, to all the nay Sayers, go ahead and call me paranoid and dumb etc I can take it, but watch who cries when all of this comes to light!

  9. Anonymous says:

    ezzard seems to miss the point completly….it is because of the massive incompetence of caymanian civil servants and politicians that specialists from overseas are required…..

    • .Anon says:

      “It is because of the massive incompetence of Caymanian civil servants and politicians that specialists from overseas are required”
      This is a colonialist mentality.

      You should know that specialist from overseas are the ones that recommended this PMFL to the previous head of the Civil Service and the present Premier and his then colleagues.

      However we need to rid ourselves of the Colonialist mentality that the foreigners are better than ourselves. Ezzard is correct; the legislators need to take responsibility for reviewing this law. How can we trust anyone that the FCO sends here to review any law?
      The UK is an absolute mess and a lot of their MP’s are facing criminal charges and they are socialist. Everything they have done has been to ruin that country as they have tried to ruin every other country they have been to..

      • Anonymous says:

        Re the overseas specialists that recommended the PMFL law to the previous head of the service. Please remember that some civil servants spoke out against this law, they were not ALL fooled by the ‘specialists’. and that expert did not come from FCO.

    • Anonymous says:

      To Anonymous,Mon.02/07/11 09:38 Nowhere does the Governor say that changes were needed because of incompetence of civil servants or politicians .You are missing the point ,deliberately I believe,in order to make your own prejudicial statement.

  10. Anonymous says:

    He just hates losing control, doesn’t he? Awww….poor Ezzard.

    Of course there is also the risk that the UK comes up with a perfectly practical, common-sense plan which totally outshines anything our country cousins in the North Side could come up with. Which is what I feel is going to happen….

    • Anonymous says:

      TO Anonymous Mon02/07/11 09:01.Do you mean something like the present law?