Today’s Editorial December 15: Change standing orders

The Auditor General’s office has nearly completed its report on the Port Authority concerning the tendering and construction process for the Royal Walter Cruise Ship Terminal.

However, the way the rules governing the tabling of Auditor General reports in the Legislative Assembly currently stand, it could be months or even years before the general public knows what that report says.

It’s because the Public Accounts Committee first has to do an investigation of its own and complete its report before the Auditor General’s report can be tabled.

PAC Chairman Osbourne Bodden said he learned at a conference in October that Cayman lags behind the rest of the region in this regard. All the other regional jurisdictions table Auditor General reports immediately after the subject of the report has had a chance to respond.

Earlier this year, the Auditor General’s Summer Report 2001 finally became public, almost four years after it was completed.

Among other findings, that report, identified some serious deficiencies in the Department of Tourism going back to the late ’90s. Those findings would have been much more pertinent had they been made public when the report was completed, rather than years later.

In recent times, other Auditor General reports have been made public very quickly.

Two of them were special circumstances, having been requested by the Governor. Two others were leaked to the media. In the end, the public benefited from knowing what was going on in their government.

So what’s preventing a change in the process? The answer is only an amendment to Legislative Assembly Standing Orders.

Mr. Bodden made it clear this week that the issue is a important one, and that he supports efforts to change the process.

The Auditor General has also said he would like to see the Standing Orders amended.

Even the Leader of the Opposition wants to see Auditor General reports made public immediately after the relevant party has had a chance to respond to the findings.

Moreover, the move would reinforce the People’s Progressive Movement’s efforts to bring more transparency to government.

There have been some serious allegations of irregularities made concerning the tendering and construction process of the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal.

The public deserves to know the truth.

It’s time to change Legislative Assembly Standing Orders to allow this and all other Auditor General reports to reach the public when the findings are still pertinent.