McTaggart resigns, Miller new chairman
An effort to remove Cayman Islands Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush from the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee is under way.
The revelation came as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, George Town MLA Roy McTaggart, resigned his post over the weekend, saying he believed he could no longer appropriately head the five-member legislative body that reviews reports from the auditor general’s office.
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, who led the committee during 2010-2012, was named the new chairman on Monday.
The Progressives-led government announced Monday that it would attempt to remove Mr. Bush from his position via a vote of the Legislative Assembly later this month.
Multiple attempts to reach Mr. Bush for comment Monday were not successful.
“Mr. Bush was previously asked to resign from PAC in June 2014 in a formal letter from Mr. McTaggart as PAC chair because of several statements made regarding the integrity and professionalism of the auditor general and his office,” a statement from the government noted. “The concern was that this demonstrated the inability of Mr. Bush to consider the reports and oversight of the Office of the Auditor General with any sense of objectivity. Mr. Bush’s criticism of the Auditor General and his office has continued and with the Committee set to consider the Auditor General’s Report on the Nation Building Fund, this concern has increased.
“Regrettably, as Mr. Bush has refused to take up the invitation to resign, it is felt best to allow the Legislative Assembly to make the needed changes so as to enable the committee to better meet its charge to examine the public accounts of the Cayman Islands.”
In 2014, Mr. Bush said he believed he was a victim of “political trickery” in government’s attempts to remove him from the Public Accounts Committee.
“The PAC should be chaired by the opposition or an independent member, not by a government member,” Mr. Bush said at the time. “Roy McTaggart and the PPM are in breach of this important democratic benchmark. For them to come now with their political shenanigans of saying I’m in conflict for openly criticizing the auditor for his unfairness is purely an action taken for political trickery and vindictiveness.”
Mr. McTaggart, an independent member who joined the Progressives-led government coalition following his election in May 2013, said he felt there would be a clear conflict of interest if he continued to chair the group while it reviewed upcoming audits on the current administration, echoing comments Mr. Bush made a year before.
“We’ve had this discussion. The [Public Accounts Committee] should be chaired by a member of the opposition,” Mr. McTaggart said Monday, adding that, to this point, the committee has only reviewed reports from the former United Democratic Party government’s tenure. “I would feel uncomfortable chairing these meetings now because I’m a part of [the current] government’s work.”
Mr. McTaggart’s resignation was tendered two days after the committee completed its review of the government schools construction audit, which was highly critical of the former UDP government’s actions, particularly those by former Education Minister Rolston Anglin in relation to the project.
Upcoming reports for the Public Accounts Committee’s review include the audit of government’s 2013/14 financial accounts and some reports – including one of the management of government land resources – that involve some decisions made and projects undertaken by the Progressives-led government.
Mr. McTaggart acknowledged that while he is an independent member of the legislature and has not joined the Progressives party, he has been attending government caucus meetings and largely voting with the Progressives-led government since taking office.
He said he would gladly continue to serve on the committee if that was the will of the Legislative Assembly, which appoints the committee. However, he cautioned that he did not want the group to become “too lopsided” with either government or opposition members.
Currently, the Public Accounts Committee consists of three government backbench members, George Town MLAs Joey Hew, Winston Connolly and Mr. McTaggart. Opposition members and West Bay MLAs McKeeva Bush and Capt. Eugene Ebanks fill out the remainder of the roster. If the current committee membership stands, and the effort to remove Mr. Bush is successful later this month, only one official opposition party member – Capt. Ebanks – would remain in the committee.