Editorial 4th April: Setting up a business to fail?

 Records of Water Authority, Cayman meetings obtained by the Caymanian Compass have provided a surprising glimpse into the inner workings (non-workings?) of government’s planning for the divestment of the authority’s assets.

As the situation stands now, it appears the government has given the Water Authority its marching orders: Do whatever you can to sell/divest the authority assets by 30 June, 2012. The consequences to the Cayman Islands government budget for not doing so could be severe.

To us, this situation hardly seems fair.

The government tried to divest these assets back in October, but was essentially told ‘no’ by the Central Tenders Committee. It is our understanding that the auditor general, central tenders and the governor’s office expressed concerns about the process the government used to choose a prospective investor for those assets.

Fast-forward six months, the Water Authority, Cayman – given its marching orders as outlined above – is now left with about three months to find a workable solution for the divestment of the authority’s assets. This must be done without the proper time to conduct a bidding process or thorough checks and balances through any sort of good government processes.

Placed in such a situation, the Water Authority, Cayman will fail. The territory’s water-sewer assets will not be divested. The Cayman Islands government will not get the projected $19 million it says it needs to make ends meet in the current budget year.

The blame for this situation should not fall on the regulator, nor should it rest with the agencies vested with the power to ensure Cayman’s government gets good value for money.

The situation with the divestment of the Water Authority, Cayman assets appears to be just the latest in a long line of examples showing what happens when processes in place to protect the public purse are cast aside in the scramble for cash and political expedience.

This recurring theme must be brought to an end if Cayman is to maintain its stature of a safe and profitable place to do business.