Today’s Editorial August 31:Why only the Governor?

Sometime this afternoon, Government Information Services is scheduled to post the final report of the Auditor General concerning the activities of the Affordable Housing Initiative since its inception and through 25 May 2005.

The report was requested by the Governor shortly after the People’s Progressive Movement government took office.

Like the preliminary report issued on 17 June, the final report will be made public immediately.

This is a change from the usual procedure, whereby reports of the Auditor General are first given to Cabinet, then given confidentially to the whole Legislative Assembly, then reviewed by the Public Accounts Committee, who conduct their own investigation and prepare their own report before any of the findings are tabled in the House and made public.

That process, as we have seen in the past, can take years, sometimes well after the matter of the investigation has lost much of its relevance.

It is therefore very refreshing to see this report, dealing with the matter of the Affordable Housing Initiative, be made public while it is still very fresh in the minds of the people of the Cayman Islands.

But it must be realised that we have the Governor to thank for that, for only he currently has the power to insure the prompt authorized dissemination of an Auditor General’s report.

That is a shame.

Reports of the Auditor General should always be made public in a timely fashion, while the matter of the investigation still has some useful relevance to the people of this country.

That can only be done by changing the Legislative Assembly Standing Orders concerning the way Auditor General’s reports are handled.

The current administration has promised greater transparency in government and has delivered on that promise to some extent. Changing the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Orders to allow all Auditor General’s reports to become public very quickly would be another important step in the direction of transparency.

Sometimes Auditor General’s reports are critical of the administration in power. This would be expected because the government is often in the position to control the things on which the Auditor General would report.

While some might see mere political motivations in the release of Auditor General’s reports critical of a previous government, facilitating Auditor General’s reports that delve into the activities of a current administration would truly be the mark of a mature and transparent government.