Good governance works best in the sunshine

Transparency is a first step toward accountability.

When it comes to the perception of high gas prices, Cayman Islands lawmakers have wholeheartedly embraced the idea of using transparency as a tool to force private sector companies to lower the cost of fuel for consumers. They are demanding that fuel importers open up their books to government scrutiny and demonstrate that they are not colluding to fix extortionate prices.

This is an example of “Do what we say, or else” approach to governance. In the minds of legislators, the “or else” means the potential for outright regulation of the fuel market. In the minds of fuel importers, that might generate the thought, “We’re outta here.”

Conversely, while the government is saying that private companies need to be more open about their finances, they at the same time are taking actions that are delaying the release of information on public pension funds.

As we reported on the front page of Tuesday’s Compass, officials have decided to delay until March 2016 the publication of an actuarial evaluation of public sector retirement savings plans. The evaluation, conducted by outside consultants, will describe how much money taxpayers owed to the public pension scheme as of Jan. 1, 2014. (A 2011 evaluation pegged the shortfall at $178.3 million over a 20-year rolling period.)

The newest evaluation was completed and presented to government caucus in September 2014, then sent back for significant revisions, which were finished in August of this year.

The Compass submitted an open records request for that information, which officials “deferred” until the “anticipated” date of March 31, 2016, in order to allow time for Cabinet members to read and approve the report. Assuming that time line is adhered to, the information on the public pension plans will not emerge into the public domain until it has aged for a period of two years and three months.

Data, unlike fine wines and certain rums, do not tend to improve with age.

On another matter of the public purse, Mr. Ezzard Miller, MLA from North Side, has reassumed the mantle of chairman of the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, following the resignation of Councilor Roy McTaggart from the post and the forced ouster of Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush from the PAC.

We opposed the removal of the Opposition Leader, brought about by a majority vote of Progressives and independent lawmakers. We think the absence of Mr. Bush diminishes the ability of the PAC to provide a forum for the expression of views not necessarily in line with those of the ruling government.

That being said, Mr. Miller, on his own merits, is a most suitable chairman of the PAC. Mr. Miller brings the very kind of “bulldozer” mentality that the leader of the PAC requires. Anyone who knows Mr. Miller knows his personality is comprised of very little “bull” and plenty of “dozer.” Just what the PAC needs.


  1. How can you have a member of the PAC reviewing a report from the Audito General on the management of funds for which he was personally responsible – his opinions are hardly likely to be unbiased, especially if the AG’s report is critical. It would seem to represent a deep and inherent conflict of interest. It must rank with a Grand Court Judge being required to recuse himself because a defendant in his Court is a friend, or well known to him. Think your argument lacks merit.

  2. Memories are short, in Cayman. Who remembers, now, the Vision 2008 exercise of 1998/9? Apparently, not many. I sat on two of its Committees, one of which was called "Open and Accountable Government". Indeed, I was the secretary and took the Minutes – copies of which I still have. Regrettably, our recommendations (which included "government in the sunshine") were way too hot for the politicians and senior bureaucrats of the day, and our report never saw the light of day. I wish the Compass better luck in its present campaign.

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