In a rare move, Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor has criticised Premier McKeeva Bush over “personal attacks” against the country’s auditor general and his office staff.
Mr. Taylor, who has typically stayed out of such verbal spats in his first 18 months as governor, questioned Premier Bush’s statements over the past week regarding an auditor general’s report on government procurement and the office’s intentions to look into the Premier’s ‘nation-building’ fund.
“I do not think it is helpful to accuse the auditor general of bias, of ‘seeking out banner headlines’, of being used as a ‘hit man’, or to accuse his staff of being ‘spiteful’ or of ‘indulging in bureaucratic harassment,” Mr. Taylor said in a statement released Friday. “These are very serious accusations to make. I have seen no evidence to justify them.”
Mr. Bush’s comments about the banner headlines referred to a Caymanian Compass story last week that quoted Deputy Auditor General Garnet Harrison as saying the auditor’s office would look into the nation-building fund, including $4.1 million given to 18 local churches. The “hit man” remark was made in a story in another local publication where the Premier sought to respond to the auditor general’s report on deficient procurement processes used in obtaining three government contracts.
The ‘spiteful’ and ‘bureaucratic harassment’ comments were made in a broadcast address to the country Thursday, during which Mr. Bush again sought to criticise the auditor general’s office.
Mr. Bush, in a statement Friday night, said that he supported good government measures and had “pushed for more good government vehicles than any other legislator”.
However, he said he believed the auditor general’s office had gone beyond its duties under the Cayman Islands Constitution in this instance.
“The auditor general’s duty….is to report his findings to the Public Accounts Committee and the Legislative Assembly,” Mr. Bush said. “He should not be in these higfalutin every day interviews with the media. He should not be courting the press.”
“I will continue to support him and his office in getting value for government money spent. I want a better procurement system.”
Governor Taylor said the auditor had done nothing wrong.
“It is perfectly legitimate for the Premier to respond robustly to any points made in reports issued by the auditor general,” Mr. Taylor said. “But, in my view, it is unacceptable to respond by making personal attacks on the auditor general and his staff.
“I believe that the auditor general and his staff have acted in a responsible, objective and professional manner, as I would expect of all civil servants.”
Mr. Taylor said he has spoken with Mr. Bush about his concerns and urged him to “show restraint”. He also said that addressing problems with government procurement would be one of his “main priorities” over the coming months.
Please see the full story in Monday’s editions of the Caymanian Compass…