PSPB makes no disclosure

| 29/03/2011

(CNS): With only ten days to go before the disclosure deadline on a freedom of Information request made by CNS, the Public Service Pension Board has still not supplied the documents relating to which current and former MLAs are claiming their pensions. The Information Commissioner’s Office has also confirmed that the board has made no indication that it intends to apply for a judicial review of the information commissioner’s decision. The 45 day deadline which is given to a public authority (PA) after the commissioner rules that an FOI request must be met is not designed to allow a PA to drag its feet over releasing the information but to give the government entity an opportunity to request the courts intervene. The PSPB now has until Friday 8 April to reveal the information or ask for the JR.

If the board does not hand over the documents before that date or ask the courts to review Jennifer Dilbert’s decision the ICO will themselves then apply to the courts toforce the handover by the PA. If this happens it will be the first case of a government entity being forced by the courts to comply with an IC ruling under the freedom of information law.

So far only one government entity that was forced to release documents regarding an FOI request that had been refused has filed for a judicial review of the Information Commissioner’s decision. The Department of Agriculture attempted to deny access to a document regarding the husbandry of dolphins kept in captivity. However, before the case reached the courts the department reconsider its decision and released the documents to the applicant.

The DoA disclosed its intention to apply for a judicial review in the immediate aftermath of the ICO’s decision, but the office confirmed today that there has been no indication from the PSPB that it intends to go that route, though it is still within the authority’s rights to make that challengewithin the next nine days.

The request, which was originally made by CNS in June 2010, asked for a list of current and former MLAs who were receiving a pension as a result of their time in the Legislative Assembly and the length of time they had served, but the PSPB refused the request stating that it was personal information and exempt under the law. When it was revealed that an internal review could not be conducted because of the involvement of a chief officer, CNS requested a hearing. On the 22nd of February, Dilbert revealed her decision and ruled that the board should release the information.

However, the board has so far continued to sit on the information. Two serving members of the Legislative Assembly have already revealed that they are claiming their pensions but there are other members who are entitled under the law that are currently sitting as MLAs. One is Ezzard Miller, who said he was not taking his when he raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly last year and referred to the practice of MLAs drawing pensions while serving as "double dipping", which he said may not be illegal but was morally wrong.

While he said he did not know which members who were over 55 had made the decision to take their pension, he said he was aware some members were. “Although I may be entitled, I have no intentions of claiming my pension until I leave this House for good,” Miller told CNS. “I believe it is immoral and unethical and I will be bringing a private member’s motion to the House to change the law to prevent it happening in future.”

MLAs were first given access to their pensions while remaining in office in 2004, when a change to the law provided for MLAs to claim their pensions once they had served a single term and passed the age of 55, even if they continued to serve in the Legislative Assembly. In the past legislators had died while still in office and were never able to claim the pensions which they had earned through their years of service.

Unlike the civil service, there is no official retirement age for politicians, who can stand for election at any age, and since MLAs cannot be certain they will returned to the Assembly from parliament to parliament, the law was changed to give them access to their pensions before they retired in case they never did.

While Kurt Tibbetts and Anthony Eden have admitted drawing their entitlements, it is not yet known if the other two eligible MLAs, West Bay government backbencher Captain Eugene Ebanks and Premier McKeeva Bush, have opted to take their pensions as well. However, once the PSBP release the information as requested under the FOI and as decided by the commissioner, it will be.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s nice that Kurt and Anthony admitted that they are definately double dipping but just because they admit it does that make it right.

    Why don’t they stop and secondly why don’t they give the money back? It’s not like either is hurting for money….or are they???

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why is the ‘retirement’ age of 55 so prevelant in the Cayman Islands? Most other places its 60, 65 or beyond…?

    • noname says:

      Most of those who can afford to retire, can afford to do so by 40 anyway. The wealth is reserved for a select few.

  3. Double dipper says:

    So someone is desperate to stop double dipping coming out. 

    We already know that Kurt and Anthony Eden are two little piggies happily gorging at the trough of public money.

    So is it the Captain?  XXXXX

    So can we infer it is Mac?  Well I do suppose there are those expensive strata fees on the Ritz condo to pay for . . .

  4. Anonymous says:

    The picture is like one of those what is wrong with photo:

    1) seats are too comfortable and leader of government and opposition seem to be asleep.

    2) second person on bottom row is staying awake with here is the church here is the steeple hand game. 

    3) fourth person on bottom row is staying awake watching person in 2 above in anticipation of "look inside and see all the people"

    Maybe it’s not the comfort of the seats but the subject is something as boring as ministry financial reporting and accountability.


  5. Anonymous says:

    odd request…i understand the situation which the pspb finds itself as a fiduciary…shame that the elected members are performing below standard and they are being called out on it…the honourable thing to do would be resign and save face….

  6. Lachlan MacTavish says:

    They don’t want to reveal the double dipping. It shows an attitude of no long term thinking for an elected member. It shows lets take as much as we can now because the fatted cow might get a little skinny after feeding on scrub grass at nor west point.

    It is horrible what the everyday Caymanian has accepted and is going through because their elected members tell them its ok.


  7. Anonymous says:

    Politrix 101 – if you don’t want something to come out before the next election then don’t file anything until the last possible second and then delay, delay, delay.