Opponents to proposals to build a dump in Bodden Town have written to the United Kingdom’s Foreign Affairs Committee following what they perceive as inaction on the issue by the Cayman Islands governor and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Members of the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free are appealing to the 11-member cross-party committee, which monitors the policy, administration and expenditure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to urgently intervene.
“Both the governor and Foreign and Commonwealth Office seem selective in ensuring good governance in the Cayman Islands and appear to be applying a double standard in the enforcement of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility – the very law which they themselves recently forced on the Cayman Islands government,” said Charles Clifford, a coalition representative.
“The FFR requirement for transparency and due process clearly applies, not just to the proposed cruise berthing facilities, but to all major public projects and divestitures of significant public assets,” he added.
Alain Beiner, chairman of the coalition, said he deplored “the FCO’s reluctance to apply the rule of law” to the ForCayman Investment Alliance agreement between the Cayman Islands government and the Dart group, especially in relation to the plan to close the George Town dump and open a new dump in Bodden Town district.
The proposed new dump site is on a 110-acre area east of Midland Acres in Grand Cayman.
In December 2012, Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor said the procurement requirements in the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility, which was imposed on the Cayman Islands last year to better manage public finances, did not necessarily apply to the ForCayman Investment Alliance projects. “It’s not a procurement process as such,” Governor Taylor said. “You’re not in a competitive tendering position because you’re looking at some swaps there between what government have and what Dart has.”
The Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free argues that the FFR should apply to the ForCayman Investment Alliance deal because it involves the divestiture of public assets that include Crown lands, which the group says must be done through an open tendering process to establish their true value. “How else can the people know if our government is not trading gold for onions, particularly since many here feel that the ‘swap’ and the dump deal only benefit Dart?” said Gregg Anderson, a coalition member.
In their letter to the Foreign Affairs Committee, the coalition wrote that it had “grave concern[s] about developments in the Cayman Islands which mirror the unfortunate events in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where the governor and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office failed in their responsibility of ensuring good governance. In support of the governor, the FCO initially refused to appoint a Commission of Enquiry into the allegations of official corruption in the TCI.”
They said that the sums of money involved in the public projects and divestitures of public assets “far outstrip the value of alleged criminal transactions disclosed in the TCI after the intervention of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the subsequent suspension of the local government and constitution”.
The group urged the committee to send a bipartisan delegation to the Cayman Islands to investigate the ForCayman Investment Alliance agreement, which along with the dump proposals also includes imminent plans to close a section of West Bay Road.
“We ask that the standards and the constraints of the FFR law be applied to all major public projects regardless of the wealth of those promoting them, alert to any attempt to deviously subvert these constraints by ‘splitting’ major projects into components of lesser value than that which is stipulated in the FFR,” the letter stated.