Cabinet shake-up is proposed

The Cayman Islands governor will still direct the civil service under the constitutional reform plan set forth by the People’s Progressive Movement government.

But the chief secretary, who now heads that service and is appointed by the governor, would no longer attend meetings of the Cabinet. Similarly, the financial secretary, also a governor’s appointee, will no longer attend Cabinet meetings.

The chief secretary’s and the financial secretary’s votes would be replaced in the Legislative Assembly by those of two elected ministers, under the PPM’s proposal for constitutional modernisation. Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said he believes these changes will not affect the independence of the civil service from politics.

Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack has recently stated his belief that the civil service must remain free from ‘unreasonable political interference.’

The government does not disagree with that position, but its constitutional reform proposal seeks to make clear that civil servants should implement to the best of their abilities the policies of the elected government.

‘If you have a ministry of finance and a ministry of home affairs in a new governance model, you still have your financial secretary, you still have your chief secretary,’ Mr. Tibbetts said last week. ‘So with regard to civil servants, for instance, not being interfered with by the political arm of government, the constitution will still protect that.’

Ministers gave a parallel example of the complaints commissioner or the auditor general, which are independent officers appointed by the governor, but who still must have their annual budgets approved by the Legislative Assembly.

‘There’s no intent for any change of the constitution to allow direct political interference because we recognise that that is something that might not necessarily be good within a governance model,’ Mr. Tibbetts said.

Also, Education Minister Alden McLaughlin said the government is not seeking to place the civil service under the responsibilities of any elected minister.

‘The governor will still remain responsible for the civil service and he will delegate that authority in the way that he thinks fit, which currently is to the chief secretary,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘The governor can attend Cabinet meetings, so there will be a mechanism for matters, which affect the civil service which the governor feels ought to be considered by Cabinet.’

Mr. McLaughlin said the change in the current governance model was more about increasing representative government in the Cayman Islands.

‘The system we have now is very undemocratic in many respects, not least of which is that you have imposed upon the elected government three official members (the chief secretary, the financial secretary and the attorney general) who do not have the mandate of the people,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.

‘What we are proposing in this new constitution is more democracy — the only people who are entitled to sit in parliament are the people whom the electorate have decided upon.’