“Years after Nation Building grants, churches still building,” July 28

A very interesting story of government promises, well-meaning hope and bigger disappointment.

Once again when government steps in with promises of “assistance” and “partnering” with the people of Cayman, it falls short and leaves in its wake broken dreams, disappointment and distrust. With visions of safe, comfortable worship facilities in their heads, and excitement generated from “jump start” funding from government officials always looking for more votes, our church community was lured into an ill-conceived scheme to build religious facilities they simply could not afford.

I will not get in to the argument of whether or not government should be funding church facilities. The taxation scheme here in Cayman leaves much room for these projects.

However, I do feel that I must comment on the extreme lack of control and accountability both by the individual churches and by the government. For this, I totally blame government. Standing up in the Legislative Assembly declaring a program must be funded to “help the people of Cayman,” it is incredible that those very same officials take no responsibility in making sure such programs succeed. One of the first things we learn in Government 101 is the importance of accountability of public funds. In accepting their positions of public trust, aren’t officials sworn to protect the public? Does that not include protecting the public wealth? Do government officials not have a responsibility, if not a mandate to protect the good name of the country? Is a country known for fiscal responsibility and ethical responsible management not the ultimate quest of an administration?

With a billion dollar budget … Did I say that? Yes, a billion dollar budget, there will be failed programs over time, that is for sure. However it is government’s responsibility to ensure those failures are held to a minimum, and hold those responsible accountable, if only in the public eye. After all, if government is determined to spend every penny it takes in and more, shouldn’t the public actually see a benefit rather than lurking concrete hulks as monuments not to God (or a pastor’s ego) but to failure and broken promises?

Cayman people, well-meaning and God-fearing as they are, need to demand responsibility from their government, and its workers, no matter if those involved are husbands or wives, or sisters, brothers, parents or other relations. Good government is a right every single Caymanian deserves and the people should demand it; if not for themselves, then for their children and their children’s children.

With a small segment of the population allowed to or willing to vote, politicians know the cards are stacked in their favor. Soon there will be another election and another change to take control of your destiny. Will the Cayman voters come out for responsible, effective government, or will they sit back and “accept” the status quo where failure is simply expected and success a pleasant surprise? Will the Cayman people re-elect the same tired old egocentric pols they have been, or will there be a new breed of elected officials who will actually serve the public interest?

Your choice, Caymanians. It’s going be an interesting year.

— Rodney Barnett

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