Editorial for 25 May: If it looks, walks like a duck …

When the voters of the Cayman Islands put people into
positions of authority within the hallowed halls of the Legislative Assembly,
they are doing so with the belief that those they elected will err on the side
of caution and try do the right thing.

Human error can and does occur. After all, we’re all human.

But when an elected official makes a determination without
consent of the Legislative Assembly to spend more than $500,000 to pave private
parking lots in Cayman Brac, we cannot chalk that up to human error. That’s
just plain wrong.

Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick has never said the action
was illegal, only that it wasn’t appropriate. He’s turned the matter over to
the Attorney General’s Office. If nothing is done with it on that end, Mr.
Swarbrick could take the matter to the Anti-Corruption Commission, of which he
is a member.

Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly is refusing to
discuss this matter, which is also wrong. She is an elected official, not a
member of the monarchy, and is responsible to answer to the people who put her
in office. The Caymanian Compass has tried many times to contact her about this
issue, but she refuses to answer or return our calls.

The paving was done with public money; money that we pay
every time we buy goods in the Cayman Islands – goods that we pay duty on,
which is how the government makes its money, which is used for legitimate
paving projects and other government services. In a response to Mr. Swarbrick’s
report, the Ministry of District Administration, of which Ms O’Connor-Connolly
is head, said there is nothing in the law that specifically prevents the paving
of parking lots. As one of our commentators at www.cayCompass.com said, “there
is nothing in the Roads Law that specifically prevents the Director of the NRA
from taking conchs from a Marine Park”, so does that make it legal?

Just because a law doesn’t prevent a certain action, it
doesn’t necessarily mean that action is correct. The ministry and deputy
premier can, and should, do better. In most countries the money would at least
have to be restored to the public coffers.

 

 

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8 COMMENTS

  1. ….The Caymanian Compass has tried many times to contact her about this issue, but she refuses to answer or return our calls….

    Nothing new here then. Seems to be the ‘usual’ infuriating behaviour from Government at all levels and Departments.

    Would it surprise you to know that the majority of complaints to the Complaints Commissioner are about non-returned calls and no reply to emails?

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  2. In a properly functioning, accountable democracy, the deputy premier would be sur-charged – that is, required to repay personally the money that her wrong-doing has cost the public funds.

    This is corruption, plain and simple. But in Cayman’s political life, that seems to be OK so long as you are a member of the governing party.

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  3. It is very disappointing that public money has been misspent in this way – again. Self interest would seem to be the only thing that gets some politicians attention. We therefore need to change the law to make government officials who do this kind of thing personally liable to reimburse the public treasury. In my view the absolute minimum they should need to repay is the amount misspent plus interest plus any other costs. I also think that our money would be best protected if our law required government officials to pay back 3X the amount they misspend. With that type of incentive I am sure that inappropriate activity would be minimized.

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  4. The Caymanian Compass has tried many times to contact her about this issue, but she refuses to answer or return our calls.

    When someone refuses to answer or return your calls the next logical step is to call their boss. The Deputy Premier is appointed by the Premier, and he can remove her from office anytime he wishes. The paving of private parking lots was carried out with the full knowledge and assent of the Premier. That is where the buck stops.

    This does no absolve the Deputy Premier and all of the other UDP members from their responsibilities to the people who elected them, but let us not forget who is driving this runaway train.

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  5. If the expenditure did not follow the approval process, then it should be processed for approval after the fact. If the projects gets approved by Cabinet then squash the complaint. If it is not approved; someone should be made to pay back the money to finance.

    But’ why would finance pay-out on a project that has not been approved by Cabinet?. There seem to be a multiple of failures.

    Evidently someone has not been paying attention, these lame excuses and looking for loopholes to bypass known protocol is partly the reason our Premiere had to sign
    the fiscal responsibility draft dictated by the UK..

    The AG is reporting, and the UK is looking to see if legal gets this one right I bet.

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  6. What about the checks and balances provided in government that should PREVENT unauthorized expenditure from happening in the first place. All we seem to concentrate on is taking action AFTER the deed is already done. This is a very expensive and damaging way of doing business.

    Doesn’t the government have a multitude of Chief Officers and Chief Financial Officers that should ensure things like this don’t happen?

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  7. Completely Baffled wrote:-
    The Caymanian Compass has tried many times to contact her about this issue, but she refuses to answer or return our calls.

    When someone refuses to answer or return your calls the next logical step is to call their boss.

    Agreed CB, so we did and the boss does the same. Next stop, the Premier. Guess what…..? No reply from him either.

    And they talk about transparency.
    Yeh, right.

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