Editorial for 15 April: Premier’s stance on nation building

 We had to do a double-take Thursday when we
heard Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly refer to herself as a “sacrificial
lamb” with regard to some money that was given to a Red Bay church out of the
much-maligned Nation Building Fund.

We realise Ms Juliana will probably be
upset by us writing this, but it needs to be said by someone. Ms Premier, if
you are being sacrificed on the altar of political ambition, it is your own
fault and the fault of the government of which you were a part.

We at the Caymanian Compass are
disappointed that a potentially well-intentioned Nation Building Fund has
become a political football. A number of projects supported by the public purse
under the initiative are amazingly worthwhile and beneficial to the Cayman
Islands community. Some are not.

However, it is not the actual substance of
or reasons for the government giving money to non-governmental organisations,
churches included, that is now being debated. It is the perceived secrecy and
seemingly random nature of these grants, which some have said were being given
to “buy votes”, that has taken centre stage.

Rather than state why government did what
it did, providing all the pertinent details and showing the process that was
used to award these grants [if there was any], the former premier McKeeva Bush
chose to howl at those who questioned the programme, calling them
“devil-worshippers”, and the current premier has tried to present herself as a
victim of it all. The Caymanian Compass requested a full list of Nation
Building Fund projects since the programme’s inception last fall. We were given
everything from 2009-2012, but bizarrely the current 2012/13 budget year
spending was left off. We’ve been waiting months for this information and still
today have not received it. If the government did truly want the “facts to come
out” about the Nation Building Fund, they could have provided us and other
media a full list of the grants with explanations about how those awards came
about. They didn’t; instead the public got half-baked stories of speculation
and innuendo from some of the media. One day the government will learn this
lesson. That day is apparently just not today.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. The entire concept underlying the slush fund euphemistically called a Nation Building Fund was to do away with accountability. Just look at the political rhetoric used in announcing it and the discretion attached to it. If there had been a requirement for transparency and accountability and published criteria and a proper process for the granting of public funds together with audits of value for money spent, then there would be no room for graft and corruption and there would be no Nation Building Fund in its current form. The Nation Building Fund in its current form would never have been created if accountability had been a requirement. The only difference between the Nation Building Fund and other things that were going on is that so far there is no evidence of the involvement of an ATM.

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