Editorial for 19 August: Resume gov’t press briefings

Since taking office in May this year, the People’s Progressive Movement-led government has held two press conferences – both to announce the composition of its new Cabinet – and one public meeting to give an update on the progress of its policies.

As the PPM’s 100th day in office nears, (on 6 September), the government appears to remain largely out of the public view – a far cry from that party’s previous term in office where it embarked on weekly press conferences which were covered by all media houses in Cayman and aired live on radio and television.

When the UDP took power in 2008, those weekly briefings became things of the past, with only the occasional one being held for specific announcements rather than the weekly updates on what Cabinet had been working on.

In December, when the party that went on to become the People’s National Alliance took office, its members – then Premier Juliana O’Connor Connolly, Rolston Anglin, Cline Glidden, Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour – reinstated the weekly press conferences. The PNA, and during its previous administration the PPM, had an open floor policy where they took questions of all ilk from reporters at those briefings.

While we realise that these press conferences have their public relations advantages for the parties holding them and can and have been used as political platforms in the run-up to elections, they nonetheless provide a forum at which politicians and ministry officials can be put on the spot about dubious decisions or questionable spending or simply can be requested to give more detail about policies that are being undertaken.

Considering its enthusiasm for press conferences during its earlier term in office, we wonder why the PPM isn’t making itself available on a weekly or at the very least a regular basis, where its decisions and approaches can be aired in a public forum and can be queried and questioned.

Much has been said over the last few years about the need for good governance and transparency from the people elected by the voters of the Cayman Islands. Giving a weekly account of what is happening behind the closed doors of the Cabinet office is a good start.

We understand that discussions are afoot about the possibility of bringing back the weekly press briefings. We urge the PPM to do so.