Ambition was affordable homes

Time is longer than rope and after waiting seven years I was finally given an opportunity at a special meeting of the Public Accounts Committee to provide some comments on the Special Forensic Audit Reports done on the National Housing and Community Development Trust by former auditor general Dan Duguay.

In his report, Dan Duguay stated the following:

“It should be noted that this investigation was assisted by members of the Royal Cayman Island Police Financial Crimes Unit. However, I must emphasise that this was not a police investigation. They assisted my office at my request. The main reason that I requested their assistance was to ensure that the document gathering process was done correctly”.

This forensic audit was brought about by the present Leader of the Opposition; that same person who would be our next Premier. Mr. Alden had hoped that these audits would be the last nails in my political coffin. From the outset of the affordable housing scheme he and his members of the PPM hurled accusations against the homes and me. They then heated up their attacks and attempts to mislead especially my GT supporters during the election campaign of May of 2005; they won their battle. However, the two candidates the PPM had used to remove me from my seat in May 2005 were themselves unseated in May 2009 after having gained little, if any, political accomplishments for the people of George Town.

At the PAC meeting the present Auditor General Mr. Alastair Swarbrick had the following to say before I made my remarks on September 19th, 2012 at 10.35am:

“Most of the concerns that are raised in these three reports bear a striking resemblance to issues that my office and others have identified over the last few years in respect of procurement, project management and governance, including issues recently identified at the national Housing Development Trust during 2011.

I am therefor of the opinion that my management style was not so different from that of past and present ministers and that there is embedded in our institutional political culture a management style that produces very personalised and almost irrational decisions. And in some cases where we suspect corruption what really exists is incompetency and the unwillingness of some civil servants to challenge the administrative inexperience and narcissism of their ministers. The yes minister stereotype of government is very much alive in our government administration and this is one reason why education and experience in the private sector is no substitute for the learning curve one must experience as a politician and political administrator.

Our country has a lot of growing up to do and we will not accomplish the objectives of good governance if we in 2013 replace UDP downside broomsticks with PPM broomsticks. Thus with all due respect to the PPM proposed candidates for George Town in 2013 youth and neighbourhood fraternity are not sufficient qualities in these serious times. We already have an example of the difference between the political behaviour of Big Mac when his cabinet was made up of men like Gilbert, Roy, Linford and me; and how he now behaves with a cabinet composed of virtual youngsters and an older man who is a good man but with no sense of urgency.

My most important political ambition was to create affordable communities for lower income families. The concept required home ownership; not a house rental scheme. I went out of my way to seek labour and materials that would allow me to develop communities and homes where families could afford ownership. Although I came close to achieving my goal the PPM attacked my ownership and community concept and removed my embedded social workers; then they removed the concept of community from the scheme completely.

The PPM next removed persons I had put in place to maintain the homes. Finally they encouraged the low income owners to reject those homes and to look forward to the more improved homes the PPM promised them they would build to replace homes built by my administration. Then in 2010 Ellio Solomon and the UDP rushed to the task of trying to erase my efforts and highlight the PPM’s lack of effort. And in his attempt to gain favour among our lower income families without one thought about the usefulness of lower income ownership of property he make the same mistake I had done all I had to avoid; namely creating government properties for the poor.

Life and politics are not fair and fighting for the common decency of home ownership for low income families may have been my greatest political and personal mishap. I lost in May 2005 my seat as a George Town representative and subsequently started drinking after being sober for 10 years and lost my marriage. But I have not lost my desire to continue to recognise and live up to my responsibility as a father of a smart and wonderful son and a friend of the woman who cares more for him than for all the respectabilities and wealth of Cayman.

1 COMMENT

  1. The problem with this country is both civil servants and politician did not then and still do not today procure services from Caymanian companies. They ignore that unless you directly work for government then you need a trade and business licence to tender and be awarded contracts in Cayman. Instead they procure services from overseas directly employing consultants who don’t have a work permit nor local knowledge of weather conditions and surprise it cost more money than budgeted or goes wrong will the same result.

    Then they recover the costs of these mistakes from the local firms that have paid their fees to operate here buy hiking up taxes. With 600M budget and only 50,000 people here that means every man, women and child pays the equivalent of CI 12,000 each per year.

    Dr Frank if you had operated within the law instead of using an Italian firm to provide the homes then the local firm would know it rains heavily here for 6 months a year and raised the foundations with a simple six inch step from the deck slab or that tin plate steel connector rust due to the salt air then every one would be singing your praises but you did not and so you failed all the people that brought into your scheme and they got left with a pile of rust and dashed their dreams of owning their own home.

    Also for the new homes that cost more to build than they are been sold that well that just causes the private home builder who has paid all his fees to government to go bust because government probably forgot about market forces.

    My question is did the firm that designed these new houses have the trade and business licences to cover all the disciplines that they represented on those drawings or not! Thus did CIG break the law by not checking this!! And once again local firms who paid their fees are ignored and history repeats itself.

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