Ethics bill requires board members to know their stuff

| 28/11/2013

(CNS): The long awaited Standards in Public Life bill, which is expected to be debated in the Legislative Assembly early in the new year, will not only clamp down on members of the various boards having conflicts of interest but it will require those appointed to boards to have the relevant skills relating to the authority or government company where they are to serve. The bill also legislates for political neutrality among members to prevent the past cronyism, which has caused genuine concern and led to serious abuses on some boards overseeing public entities. Once this bill becomes law, Cabinet will need to ensure it treads carefully when seeking experienced people who are not conflicted and also are able and competent.

The draft bill states that when Cabinet appoints a board member it needs to be sure that the person has the “skills, knowledge and integrity to carry out the duties required in a highly competent and politically neutral manner”, and to have no financial or other interest in the areas covered by the particular board.

“When appointing board members of a public authority, Cabinet shall ensure that, between them, the board members have adequate knowledge, experience and understanding of … corporate governance; strategic and financial management; and the scope of business, outputs and operations of the public authority concerned,” the bill states.

The new bill covers all people in public life and replaces the Register of Interests law. It will require all civil servants, elected officials, public employees and members of government boards to declare their interests in the relevant register. Over the years there have been numerous allegations regarding civil servants who are believed to be closely involved or even running private businesses relating to or conflicting with their public office. Under this legislation all public sector workers will have to reveal the details of those outside business interests.

Anyone who fails to declare an interest or conflict or lies about an interest or conflict can be fined up to $10,000 or imprisoned for up to two years.

The bill also protects whistle-blowers and makes it clear that anyone who releases information on wrongdoing, or discloses a serious threat to health, safety or the environment, as long as he acted in good faith, will not be subject to any legal, administrative or employment related sanction regardless of any breach.

The Standards in Public Life Commission has been waiting on the legislation since it was formed, despite a catalogue of concerns relating to the activities and conflicts surrounding boards, public employees as well as politicians. The commission has stated that this bill will enable it to finally carry out its proper constitutional mandate as the watchdog of public officials and their behaviour.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Might be good to look closely at some of the newly appointed government members to be sure they are behaving in an ethical way.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hope that the government steps back and takes another look at their recent appointment to certain boards and see the blatant conflicts that already exist.  For example, wouldn't it be a conflict for someone who owns a buiding supply store to be appointed to a board that makes decisions on building permits? wouldn't it be even more of a conflict if the person was appointed as chairman of that board? Just askin!

  3. Anonymous says:

    PPM was too guilty of placing cronies with no experience or relevance into Boards in the past 90 days! They ignored the recommendations by thedepartments and staff and should be ashamed of themselves.

    Stomp out cronyism Cayman!

  4. Anonymous says:

    It won't be 100% effective because of favoritism, nepotism, etc, but it's a step in the right direction!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of ethics. I understand that under the nation building fund a senior civil servant was able to get a grant for a bus for his/her church. The bus ended up being registered in that person's name and is now used 6 days a week as a tour bus and on Sunday as a church bus.

    • Anonymous says:

      perfect case for the Anti corruption committee!  If it is true, i hope it has been reported.

      • And AnotherTing says:

        Well well god thing indeed. Now, have there been any appointments with this New Government that can be called cronyism and schisms, if so, what is going to be done about it. Come on now merchant class. Rule. And Another Ting.

        • Anonymous!!@##!! says:

          Most certaimly have been, just look at one board in particular. CRONYISM to the max

      • Anonymous says:

        Report it so the bus can get confiscated!! There is plenty of need for transport for foster homes, golden age home, how about making it a FREE shuttle to Pedro for Tourists?? Get that tin can BACK and take away the Church's not-for-profit status!!! I'm sick of the vote buying hiding under the christian name.  No more hidden hand out (ya hear me politicians?!?) your vote buying games are over!!! Time to clean up Cayman and stand proud not stand with your hand out.

    • Anonymous says:

      That's awesome! Where can I get bus?

      • WillYaListen! says:

        At any of the Bus stops around the Island. They are easy to spot.

        I't's spotting the owners use of them that's the difficult thing.