Failure to follow rules at heart of TCI’s problems

| 18/07/2011

(CNS): The gap between the law and practice in the main pillars of government in the Turks and Caicos Islands was what facilitated the corruption, Transparency International has revealed in a new report. The global anti-corruption watchdog’s country report revealed weaknesses in the system, which are not dissimilar to some raised in the Cayman Islands by the auditor general’s office and others recently. Transparency International said important mechanisms providing transparency in governance, such as the Register of Interests’ rules were unobserved, accountability instruments like the Public Accounts Committee did not function effectively and ministerial breaches of public service regulations and encroachment on the independence of the public service were common.

In its National Integrity System assessment of TCI, Transparency International said that although there were some deficiencies in the TCI’s legislative framework, it was not the laws but the failure of anyone to enforce them that allowed corruption to flourish. Without adequate oversight, weaknesses in law enforcement and a wider public that failed to demand that the rules were followed meant that the country’s officials simply ignored the rules set in place for good governance.

The overall weakness of the jurisdiction's integrity was compounded by the failure of the governor’s office to stop the slide towards deterioration in governance and reverse practices that significantly diverged from formal rules, Transparency International states. The checks and balances provided for in the system didn’t work as those responsible did not enforce them. Other institutions such as the media were unable to mobilize public opinion against corruption.

“Robust, early intervention from the UK authorities was not forthcoming,” the report states.”The Opposition in the Legislature (2003-09) proved relatively ineffective; and the media less so but nevertheless it fell short in terms of capacity to mobilise public opinion against corruption. Civil society was relatively weak. The Electoral Management Authority and the Ombudsman were both circumscribed as effective checks by deficiencies in law. In the final analysis, law enforcement agencies appeared unable or unwilling to act in circumstances where intervention seemed warranted.”

The system applied no significant brakes, the watchdog says, as governance departed from the law. The divergence between relatively orthodox institutional arrangements and the government’s departure from the rules was down mostly to the limited experience in the operation of institutions of governance.

The report observes that TCI had limited experience in operating democratic institutions such as those related to the separation of powers, the independence of the public service and non-discrimination on the grounds of political belief. The report also points to cultural and historical influences on population movements and the lack of a settled, permanent population of owners, managers and labourers evolving common norms and social cohesion. The islands’ history presented relatively “shallow soil and weak foundations” to build institutional pillars of democratic integrity, it reads. 

The rapid economic growth based on foreign investors seeking development opportunities presented TCI with rosy prospects but also carried grave risk.

“The institutions of governance, already fragile and not deeply rooted, were presented with the new and immense challenge of developing and sustaining transparent, accountable and honest practice in the attraction, regulation and management of huge investment inflows and massive population immigration,” the report reveals. “This challenge, a significant test for robust systems anywhere, appears to have been far from adequately met in the special circumstances of the TCI.”

The report notes that “the fragile and weak foundation” of the country’s local institutions rendered them more than usually dependent on the quality of leadership in the system of governance.

“One reason for this dependence lies in the leader-centred culture of many small island developing states, particularly in the Caribbean region. In the TCI this factor was particularly pronounced, as both the population and the territory’s leadership (in the public and private sectors) had relatively limited experience and acculturation in critical areas of democratic governance,” it says.

It goes on to say that neither traditions, education or ethical precepts “sufficiently immunised the public as a whole against political patronage, vote-selling and vote-buying, nepotism and cronyism, political interference in civil service and other divergences from the rules of the game.”

The report stated that the leaders in TCI were more than usually vulnerable to engaging in such practices because of the relatively recent socialisation and the shallowness of a cultivation at all levels of the political community into the attitudes, values and behaviours characteristic of the Westminster Parliamentary System.

Transparency International said that every democratic system is subject to the impact of ‘money in politics’ but it became a huge factor in TCI. Arising from unprecedented foreign investment and economic growth in the first decade of the 21st century the development carried with it significant improvement in the living standards of TCI inhabitants but “a strong incentive for influence buying and underhand deals with foreign investors, influence-selling and bribe-taking by officials and, not least of all, the subordination of ethical conduct to the get-rich-quick mentality amongst the population,” the report notes.

Throughout the report there are echoes of the recent complaints being made here in Cayman by various groups and opposition politicians. The weaknesses in some of Cayman’s own institutions were highlighted only last week by Alastair Swarbrick, the auditor general, in his damning assessment of the government’s procurement process and the political interference in the system.

National Integrity System Country Report: Turks and Caicos Islands

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  1. Anonymous says:

    As i read your comments from the TCI I wonder if you would make the mistake we made by bringing in the British. If you want you country and your dignity as caymanians you will NEVER make that decision. If you have problems in your country come together and deal with them. Bringing in the Brits is a demoralizing exercise. They will do whatever it takes on get a hold of your country by dividing your people and using some of them to put you down like they are doing here. LEARN from us, straignten your country any other way or you will be like us, in our country looking on, with NO say as they destroy everything we worked for over the years and blame it on corruption. All of our major institutions are dominated by expats who dont care about us. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR, YOU JUST MIGHT GET IT, IT HAPPENED TO US, and now we are suffering. They are changing laws, giving expats citizenship in large volume to dominate our electoral system. This counrty will never be ours again. DONT MAKE THIS MISTAKE.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mon 20:57

      We divide ourselves quite well, thank you.  Don't think we need any outside help.

      We are divided into 1st generation, 2nd generation, etc, then we have paper Caymanians, married to Caymanians, 2003 status by McKeeva, etc.  Have I left out any?  Oh, we have West Bayer, East Ender, Caymanian, Braccer, George Towner, etc  In Cayman Brac, we even have East of the Tamarind Tree.  I never heard that until after Paloma.  Braccers were much divided then.

  2. tim ridley says:

    I agree that the electoral roll (about 15,000) needs to be expanded and we need to move to single member constituencies. But, in the meantime, we have to work with what we have (while pushing for electoral change).

    Although there are, as in all countries, some electors who do not  exercise their voting rights sensibly or in the best interests of the community as a whole, there is a strong element of commonsense and responsibility in the bulk of the voting population in Cayman. What we need are more candidates who better deserve and earn their votes and who perform better once in office.


    • Anonymous says:

      Tim, why does it need to be expanded? If you wish to vote you need only become naturalised. If you wish to run I will vote for you. 

  3. nauticalone says:

    This report sounds very much descriptive of our Cayman Isands!

  4. Anonymous says:

    WAIT,   WAIT,   OH,    OH, THINK BACK. People are going on as if this is a new thing here in Cayman.    check all Auditor General reports for the last 20 years and you will see all of whats reported in TCI and more were and are happening here.

    it is so common now that complacence have set in and the attitude of I CAN DO WHAT I WANT, GET WHAT I WANT,you cant touch me is a daily occurance. the powers know all about it but choose to no see, no here, no do  anything, it keeps life easy for them.

    people wake up, remove the nonsense from the reteric/political spin and you will see plenty to investigate, its our country lets take it back by weeding out the bad.

    forget who you like and dont like and stand up for whats right. think Cayman Islands first, islands will only survive with good honest, ethical hard working people.  quick $$$ only destroy,

    who reaped the majority of benefits from most past developments??? we did not and do not have a plan, promises were made andbroken, they took the dough $$$ and left us with an undeveloped infrastructure and education system, we, GOVT. took the few crumbs we got and wasted it, now we are suffering all because of greed, laziness by powers that be and unethical behaviour. be real, turn off your radios and think back with an open mind and you will recognise the problems, then fix it by reporting it and your next vote.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Libertarian is right but the same problem in T&CI applies here.  The only thing that I think would help us is if the Governor would step in and push a referendum of some sorts.  I don't know if he could do that but that is the only solution that I see.



    • London Bridge says:

      Libertarian need to understand that sometimes people's rights need to be taken away in order for something good to be accomplished. Right-wing backers like himself are the cause of our economic decline and no respect to the Royal Crown.

    • Anonymous says:

      A referendum on what question? What he needs to do is dissolve the LA and call new elections.  

      • Anonymous says:

        10:47: I was thinking a question on our confidence in this government but dissolving government and calling new elections is even better.

  6. B.B.L. Brown says:

    Move over, TCI!  Here comes the Cayman Islands!!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    In the interest of saving Cayman. The UDP MLAs must insist that Mac step down.  There is no other choice.

    • Anonymous says:

      McKeeva is the UDP and the UDP is McKeeva. Replacing a figurehead is not going to fool anyone. The only redemption for those who stood on the platform and pledged allegiance to McKeeva is for them to denounce the UDP and beg for the peoples' forgiveness. Let the UDP go the way of the other political parties that have come and gone.

      • anonymous says:

        What about the PPM?

        • Anonymous says:

          Still too early to pass judgment. Political parties in Cayman have always been "owned" by a popular politician, and when that politician fell from grace, or political friendships/alliance broke up, the party faded away.

          If you can recall, from 2005 to 2007 the UDP was non-existent and it was only revived for the last elections.

          The PPM is the first political party in Cayman to have a change of leader. If they can have another change of leader without the party falling apart then they have a chance of becoming a real political party.

          The success of the PPM will be dependent on the membership controlling the party and making demands on the politicians who are elected to serve them. From the outside, they at least appear to be paying lip service and listening to what the membership wants. Of course, politicians tend to listen to what the electorate are saying a lot more closely when they are NOT in power.

          Contrast what the PPM are doing, or at least on the surface appear to be doing, with the UDP membership who only know what the UDP policies or plans are AFTER McKeeva has made the announcement to the public.

  8. Demi O'Crassy says:

    An excessively small voting group was a significant contribution.  Cayman sufferes from that too.  The UK should extend the franchise and other political rights to decrease corruption.

    • Anonymous says:

      Aha! This is precisely the agenda of those wanting a TCI style takeover. Extending the voter base will do nothing about corruption. Those are two separate issues. Brits are firm believers in the saying "never waste a good crisis". In this case it is simply to advance their own interests under the guise of preventing corruption. The truth is that corruption occurs in large countries with a large voter base including the UK. It is a matter of the character of individuals.   

  9. Caymanian Boat Captain says:

    "Corruption" in the British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean ?? Then read CNN on-line and see what's happening with "The Met Police- Scotland Yard" in the UK. Talk about improper investigations, allegations of bribery, cover-ups and corruption !! Hell, their top brass just resigned and more are likely to follow. Some of the well known figures that traveled back and and forth on local tax payers expense during Operation Tempura a.k.a "The Sunshine Squad", is now being grilled over the coals as well.

    • a nah no mouse says:

      But… the UK (and other jurisdictions that respect the "practice" of law) those persons under investigation are eventually being made to "resign" and are often even arrested!

      Cayman, on the other hand, appears unwilling to "enforce" the law with those at the uppers echelons of society. Corrupt?

      Similar to TCI?….It certainly so far seems so!

      Only a robust "investigation" will tell!

  10. tim ridley says:

    This report should be a real wake up call about the seriousness of the (potential) situation in Cayman and the (imminent) threats to the way we would like our instruments of government to be, i.e. strong, transparent, honest and efficient. The loudest call from the report is that having the institutions of good government and good governance in place is not the end; it is the beginning. The real challenge is to make those institutions robust and effective on a daily basis.

    We have most, but by no means all, of the theoretical tools we need for good government and good governance; but we are certainly not using many of those tools effectively and getting the right results. 

    The private sector, and I have in mind particularly the professional and business associations, should clamour loudly for significantly improved performance in those areas of oversight that are clearly non-performing at present.  They have the clout to do so, to be listened to and to get action. But they need to choose to do so. That means these associations must step out of the shadows of narrow self interest and recognise the need to serve the "greater good".

    We are at the stage where much can still be accomplished by vociferous expressions of moral outrage by leaders in the community at unacceptable behaviour by those in public office (the days of the "quiet word" from "those who know best" are long gone) . We should not simply acquiesce in action by such an official because it may technically be legal, if it offends against what are accepted norms of ethical behaviour by public officials.

    The courts of law are the place to deal with matters of law; the court of public opinion and ballot box are the places to deal with unethical behaviour. We should not think for one moment that these courts are mutually exclusive. Nor should our public officials.

    • Anonymous says:

      See Libertarians comment below. The Courts of Law should deal with it. What amount those who support full British Rule to deal with corruption?

    • Jumbles says:

      Unfortunately the ballot box is not the answer either when the voting population is a minority of the actual resident population.  UK direct rule is the only answer.

      • Anonymous says:

        That is of course simply a function of our economy where much labour has to be imported. We are perfectly within international standards that the right to vote is confined to full citizens. You wish to have direct UK rule for your own selfish reasons notwithstanding that it would destroy our financial industry and lead to social unrest. No doubt you feel that the Brits will look out for the Brits.     

    • TomCayman says:


      Making sense as ever.

      I'd like to key in your point on the private sector. In this I'd particularly highlight the alarming (to me at least!) number of financial services professionals (many of them your friends and mine) who consistently say, when issues concerning the governance of our country come up : "nothing to do with me", or "nothing I can do about it".

      It may take a long time to become something "to do with me" for some of these folks, but when crime is on their doorstep and other such impacts to hit them, they could perhaps reflect on this famous quote :


      ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ – Edmund Burke



  11. Anonymous says:

    Was that a report on Cayman or T&C?  I'm confused.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If we can only make it to the next election without Mother Country taking over.


    • Anonymous says:


      No worries, we will have revenue flowing in long before the next election, so Mother Country won't have any reason to take us over.

      I hope this is your concern also,

      • Anonymous says:

        Any takeover would be about corruption. Given the Auditor General's most recent report that is a very real possibility.

    • Libertarian says:

      True…  And like any report that has recommendations; interestingly, the Transparency International report, in its conclusion, listed four effective anti-corruption' actions on a number of levels pertaining to the Turk and Caicos government: 

      1. Law Enforcement; such as, law enforcement catching up on the backlog of high profiled investigations and prosecutions pertaining to politicians and public officials, and better performance, et cetera…

      2. Implementation of Legislative Enactments; such as, political party registration, whistle blower ordinance, etc…

      3. Administrative Restructuring; and,

      4. Integrity Enhancement; such as, a sustained public education campaign, etc… See page 156 of the Report.

      I would like to bring to your attention that not one of these anti-corruption measures above, justify in any way, a British takeover or dictatorship to rid the country of Turks and Caicos from corruption!  Bear in mind that Transparency International indicates that this report was produced thanks to the financial support of UKAid.  

      And just like someone pushing for these islands to pursue Independence from the UK, anyone who comes to you pushing for a British takeover, does not mean this financial center well. Turks and Caicos has been reduced to a welfare state, no elections, no elected cabinet to represent the people, suspension of their Constitution, bail-outs from UK tax payers, censored press, lands confiscated – all for Her Majesty's Interest, but not for the people's interest. Yet these same bloggers would visit this site from time to time with hugh ratings of followers to convince the Caymanian public that it would do us good if the UK just stepped in and rid us from corruption. How will it do "the people" any good to lose their democracy and rights for the interest of a few??? 

      Thanks to the Transparency International's report and their solemn recommendations, we see even more the non-justification and unwarrant, immoral behavior of the Administrative Power – her colonial acts against the inhabitants of Turks and Caicos Island without their democratic consent.  

      We learn a valuable lesson from Transparency International's Report:  government corruption boils down to government officials compliance to the law. Premier Michael Misick could have been prosecuted in his own home country in accordance to the law. There was no reason whatsoever that was in the best interest of the people there, to allow for a British takeover and Dictatorship. 

      • Joe B says:

          But Premier Michael Misick was not prosecuted in his own home country in accordance to the law and so the UK had to step in.  Yes yes they could have done a better job.  Yes they could have just cut out the bad and left the good but at least they did SOMETHING! 

        What in your opinion is Cayman DOING about their own similar problems?  Anything of merit?  What would be your recomendations to keep UK at bay? You just might have what it takes to come up with a working solution.

        • Anonymous says:

          Right!   I think liberty already explained that they didn't had to step in. Its in the TI's report.

          • Anonymous says:

            So this is why Cayman is prepared to do nothing and when the UK steps in then they will do something about the UK?

            • Anonymous says:

              I must admit that the uk is being slack in "good governance" – of course, they could act now!  no unwarranted british takeover is needed. 

        • Libertarian says:

          Study well the old saying and what it entails about at least doing SOMETHING:  "The way to hell is paved with good intentions." It is not what they done, it is "how" respecting the inhabitants of TCI that really matter. I am a firm believer that when you do things the wrong way, it comes back to haunt you (karma), and I bet my life that this takeover, will come back to haunt the UK, because it was an abuse of power on their part.

      • Anonymous says:

        what does the uk get from taking over tci?

        if i were them i would cut them off and let them become another haiti/jaimaica….

        • Libertarian says:

          There is nothing for the UK (as a whole nation) to get from TCI – except those of certain "special interest." Rather, my friend, it is just a flawed political persuasion that in order to rid a territory from its corruption, requires arbitrarily setting up a dictatorship that suspends and limits autonomy and democracy.  Such a path leads to corruption on both sides. No one is investigating the UK dictatorship and their policies.

    • Anonymous says:

      I'm beginning to think we won't.  a little matter of $350,000.00 … plus

    • London Bridge says:

      The takeover of Mother country would be the best option for the Cayman Islands. The people of Cayman do not need two governments. just one is sufficient.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would you want to?  You think this will change with the next election?  Nothing but more of the same to come for Cayman, except XXXXX might need to buy cars instead of washers this time around for his people in the ripublik.  You are so xxxxed a UK takeover is likely your only way out.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Question: Cayman has 3 branches of government. The Premier is part of the Executive branch. Is he also a member of the Legislative branch?

    If so, does anyone besides me see a problem with this?

    I believe the intent of any democratic government is to provide a true separation of powers among the three branches. How can powers be separated with such crossover?

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. or Mrs. Dumass….that is the Westminister system for you. If you dont like it…become a republic with an elected head.  

    • Anonymous says:

      You seem to be superimposing American constitutional principles on a British constitutional system. There is no complete separation of executive and legislative branches in Westminster model Constitions. Not in the UK, not in Canada, not anywhere.  

    • tim ridley says:

      The Westminster (i.e. English) style of government that we have does not separate the Executive from the Legislative. The US style system does. There is a big difference. 

      Tim Ridley

      • Anonymous says:

        Are we obligated to use the Westminster model or are we able to make changes as needed that result in true separation. Would you agree that the crossover of power is a part of the problem here?

        • Anonymous says:

          Of course we do, unless we wish to go independent. The U.S. system isn't perfect either. You can be completely hamstrung in your policies as the Chief Executive if you have a hostile Congress.   

        • Libertarian says:

          The "crossover of power" becomes useful in that the United Kingdom becomes Cayman's "oversight" against corruption and improper governance. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom need to reform her ways on how she treats the Overseas Territories. Such a reformation can take place on "who" is in power. There needs to be a political reformation, because independence would mean no oversight and protection. We need Cayman politicians that will look out for the local people and no other interest. We need leaders that are "gifted in diplomacy" to strengthen and "improve" on the sensitive relationship we have between us and the UK.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Are there any laws about public administration that are actually being followed in Cayman? Hard to think of one….

  15. Anonymous says:

    Excellent article. It highlights the critical role that the Opposition and the media play in combating corruption by making the govt. accountable and holding its actions up to scrutiny. Some posters on this site do not seem to understand that. Instead, they are deemed to be trouble makers.

    The writing is on the wall.