Today’s Editorial for April 19: The auditor general and the press

The fact that outgoing Auditor
General Dan Duguay was unpopular among the circles of power in this country is
well-documented.

Claims by many who have written to
the Caymanian Compass and other local news organisations that Mr. Duguay was removed
– in a roundabout way – from his position, not so much because of his controversial
work, but because he was so open in talking about it, seem to resonate like
something close to the truth.

However, Mr. Duguay’s departure in
itself does not necessarily equate to the immediate loss of transparency and
openness into government affairs.

It is up to the new auditor general
to maintain the high standards set by Mr. Duguay and his team of accountants,
and frankly, we have no evidence at this point to show that he won’t do so.

But we do have to wonder now about
whether those with appointing power over the position – that is one of the
country’s most important fiduciary safeguards – have the same commitment to
openness and transparency.

If it is indeed true – and we have
no reason to doubt Mr. Duguay’s words – that interviewees for the auditor
general’s position were asked about how much they would be communicating with
the press, red flags are immediately raised.

Moreover, if successive governors
have stated that the auditor general should try to tone down his relationships
with the press, a thinking person would certainly have to question the motives
of those successive governors.   Why
would they want less transparency when it came to matters affecting the public
purse?

In a time when we have just
recently passed a Freedom of Information Law, it seems a step backward to want
to an auditor general to be less than forthcoming with the media.

We would use the same sentiment to
describe the relationship between auditors general, the government sectors they
keep a watchful eye on, and the free press.

We hope the governor feels the
same.

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