Editorial for Oct 27, 2011: Cayman needs progression

It seems many of our legislators would like to turn back the clock to a time when the public was kept in the dark about the workings of government, at least until such a time when the details were much less relevant.

During a Public Accounts Committee meeting this week, Premier McKeeva Bush and Bodden Town MLA Dwayne Seymour both suggested the Cayman Islands would be better off going back to a system where reports of the auditor general were not made public until the Public Accounts Committee did its own review of auditor general’s reports. Apparently, they aren’t alone in this belief.

Under that old system, there were times when auditor general’s reports weren’t released until years after they were completed, or, in some cases, never released at all.

The problem is that even with a bipartisan composition, the PAC is a highly political entity made up of the legislators themselves. As such, it is driven by political expediency and is used more as a political weapon rather than part of country’s system of constitutional checks and balances.

Mr. Seymour argued that one reason the government should revert to the old system is that people don’t have the chance to defend themselves against auditor general’s reports until they appear as a witness in PAC proceedings. We would suggest a better approach is to try to conduct the business of the country in such a way as to not draw harsh criticism from the auditor general in the first place.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for that editorial perspective which can be nothing but correct.

    The office of the Auditor General is autonomous from the elected government under the constitution. The reason for that is it performs a fundamentaly important function in our system of government. It is an independent eye for the people of the country which has unfettered access to government records and actions and can ascertain whether laws, regulations, policies and agreed procedures are being complied with or not. Equally it ascertains whether these prescriptions are indeed appropriate to ensure the necessary fairness and desired standard of value for the expenditure of the people’s treasury.

    To suggest that we reverse the actions of the previous government to make these reports public as quickly as possible is wholly undemocratic and smacks of desperate political expediency. The ability to illuminate the actions of our elected government cannot be compromised by reversal. Having the PAC, whose decisions are controlled by the sitting government, determine when the people of the country get to see reports from their independent watchdog(sorry about the metaphor which is for effect not disrespect), is unnaceptable.

    Given a choice, Turkeys wouldnt vote for Christmas either!

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