An attempt to require public disclosures by elected politicians, senior government workers and government-appointed board members made in 2014 – then delayed and reintroduced with amendments in 2016 – has now laid dormant for more than two years.
The Standards in Public Life (Amendment} Bill, 2016 was approved by Cayman Islands lawmakers in May 2016 but has still not been put into legal effect more than two years after its passage.
According to a report made public last week, the Commission for Standards in Public Life met with Premier Alden McLaughlin in January “to express the commission’s eagerness in securing a commencement date for the law,” and to move forward with the drafting of legal regulations that will govern the operation of that legislation.
At the time of the commission’s report, a Cabinet paper seeking approval for the drafting of regulations had not been issued.
The original Standards in Public Life Law was passed in early 2014, but the legislation was never put into effect, largely because of complaints from appointed members of boards and commissions serving at the request of politicians. The disclosures mandated by the initial law, board members argued, were far too broad – extending in some cases to distant relations and employees of the board members.
Under the amended legislation, board members will not have to declare memberships in any professional group, charity or special interest organization. Interest disclosure requirements for appointed board members extend only to their immediate family – spouses and dependents – and are to be declared only when the board member holds property or manages anything on behalf of that person or if that person manages something for the board member.
For politicians and senior civil servants, the required disclosures are more stringent, but more or less unchanged from the initial legislation that was passed in early 2014.
The original Standards in Public Life Law requires “a person in public life,” within 90 days of assuming office, to make a declaration to the Commission for Standards in Public Life of income, assets and liabilities acquired during the previous year.
For a Legislative Assembly candidate seeking election, that declaration should be made before the person files nomination papers. Thereafter, the declaration must be updated no later than June 30 of each year.
Those required to register include all Legislative Assembly members (including the deputy governor and attorney general), the Speaker of the House, civil service chief officers and deputy chief officers, chief financial officers and their deputies, heads of departments, section or unit chiefs and their deputies, as well as top officials within statutory authorities or government-owned companies and appointed board members who oversee those authorities.