Gov’t must reveal port analysis, meetings

The Cayman Islands government must reveal a financial analysis done on various proposals for the construction of a cruise ship berthing facility in George Town, according to a ruling issued Friday by Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert.

Mrs. Dilbert’s decision also requires the government to publish meeting minutes of the Port Authority board of directors between April and June 2011, when various aspects of the China Harbour Engineering and GLF port construction plans were being discussed.

The information commissioner’s decision can be challenged in the Grand Court within 45 days of its being made. Government officials gave no indication Friday of whether they would seek to do so.

An applicant for the information under Cayman’s Freedom of Information Law sought a number of records, including the meeting minutes, the financial report, legal advice on the port proposal involving GLF, and a copy of the negotiating agreement between government and China Harbour. Two of those items; the legal advice and the memorandum of understanding with China Harbour have already been made public.

As part of the ruling, Mrs. Dilbert has made the unprecedented decision to allow disclosure of full board minutes – even if those minutes reveal certain deliberations of the board – which is generally prohibited under the FOI Law.

“I find that there is an overriding public interest in disclosing these sections of the minutes,” Mrs. Dilbert wrote. “I fail to see how disclosure would interfere with the board’s or the country’s productivity.”

The Port Authority had initially refused to release the records sought as part of the FOI request, stating that disclosure could prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs and the free and frank exchange of views.

Please see the full story in upcoming editions of the Caymanian Compass… 

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