Today’s Editorial June 26: Portfolios of controversy

Over the past couple of years, there has been an inordinate amount of controversy arising out of the portfolios, the government entities that are operated by non-elected civil servants appointed by the governor.

There was the Commission of Inquiry into the actions of former Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford, an expensive exercise that resulted in a metaphoric slap on the wrist for Mr. Clifford and a slew of recommendations that have been, for the most part, ignored by the government.

Then there are the UK Metropolitan Police investigations, code-named Operation Tempura and Operation Cealt, which are looking into alleged corruption in Cayman’s judiciary and Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

The first investigation began nearly two years ago and has resulted in the filing of three lawsuits for which the Cayman Islands taxpayers are liable, and one of those lawsuits has already been settled in favour of the plaintiff for more than $1.2m. On the other side of the score sheet, two men await trial later this year for criminal offences. However, there has been no indication of widespread corruption as of yet.

There has also been aJudicial Tribunal into the actions of Justice Priya Levers. Although the Tribunal’s recommendations are still forthcoming, one of the main contentions in the matter – that Mrs. Levers wrote letters to newspapers critical of the judiciary under assumed names – has been rejected.

If the investigations, inquiry and tribunal weren’t enough, the portfolios have also been at the centre of other controversies.

The latest case of turmoil finds the Opposition questioning the competence of Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson because he apparently told them one thing concerning the financial state of the country in May and then told the new government something far from that just a month later.

In the meantime, Governor Stuart Jack, who ultimately has authority over all the portfolios, sits back and saysvirtually nothing about these many matters of controversy, some of which are costing the taxpayers millions of dollars.

When he has spoken, he has said things like this in reference to the mysterious police investigations, for which some $7.5m dollars has already been spent or budgeted:

‘…If the end result of investigations… is that if something is proven not to be true, then the community will be reassured by that.’

We think the community would be much more reassured if it knew it was spending money for good reason, and if the portfolios were creating a lot less controversy.