There have been many changes made to a number of government boards and councils in recent times. The Work Permit Board, the Port Authority Board, the Water Authority Board, along with the Ministerial Council for Tourism and the National Investment Council have all had members, including chairmen, step down or replaced.
Certainly there can be good reasons for this and members who step down usually cite time constraints because of their own work or business commitments. We’re sure those reasons are, at least sometimes, legitimate.
When it comes to the government replacing sitting board members, there are times when it’s probably true the government needs to do this, especially if a particular board member refuses to implement the policy decisions of the government. Indeed, every government can expect some changes in the construct of its many boards during the course of a four-year term. However, when there seems to be a rash of resignations and replacements over a relatively short period of time, there’s the appearance that something unusual is happening.
In the case of the various government boards of the current United Democratic Party administration, there definitely seems to be some internal strife and the whole episode with the Port Authority Board is a pretty clear indication of that. But we also have to wonder whether the current issues with the boards aren’t reflective of a more basic and worsening problem with trying to fill the large number of public entity boards with appointees of the elected government.
Many of these appointees have little or no experience with the corporate-style guidance and their appointments here have, historically, amounted to a form of political patronage; their high incidence of replacement upon a change of government is ample evidence of that.
With the running of government becoming increasing difficult in Cayman, the time has come to consider alternative methods of filling the boards. The use of professional board members, other than civil servants, is an option that should be considered.