EDITORIAL – Good news, good news: At last we have a ‘permanent’ governor

We don’t need match.com to confirm that Martyn Roper is the right governor at the right time for the Cayman Islands. And last week’s announcement made it official: Governor Martyn Roper and his wife Elisabeth will remain on our islands for a full four-year term.

We are especially buoyed by this news.

After what it describes as a competitive process, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office removed the qualifying “interim” from Governor Roper’s title – offering welcome and calming continuity after last year’s tumultuous events surrounding the still-unexplained departure of Governor Anwar Choudhury.

In a written statement, Mr. Roper thanked everyone for their patience and support to date, adding, “I am greatly looking forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead and to finally being able to unpack properly.”

At a reception at Government House Thursday evening, Governor Roper shared the news personally with the assembled guests, all of whom broke out into spontaneous applause.

Despite the initial uncertainty, Mr. Roper certainly wasted no time in his first few months on island, meeting with leaders and residents, hosting events and keeping the public updated through frequent social media updates. The news of his permanent appointment came in the immediate aftermath of his return from New York City, where he joined Premier Alden McLaughlin, Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin and Cayman Islands Monetary Authority Managing Director Cindy Scotland in a series of events with U.S. financial services associations.

The long-term economic health and security of our islands must be the governor’s first priority moving forward – namely, in helping manage challenges to our financial services sector from well-known foes and even ostensible friends – as economic substance rules take effect and discussions continue over public registries of beneficial ownership.

As he has no doubt already surmised, there are other matters also worthy of his attention.

We are assured that such an accomplished man as our new governor is familiar with Stephen Covey’s views on time management, which distinguish between urgent and important tasks. Too often, our days are swept away in a tide of “urgent” matters that have little meaningful impact on the success of our larger goals. The consequence of concentrating on the cry of the immediate is that the drivers of strategic initiatives are postponed (and postponed, and postponed) for another day. One key to effective management is reversing that natural tendency, and ensuring the important issues are given their due.

Unfortunately, government has traditionally been quick to act in response to momentary matters while fundamental, structural problems lie undisturbed.

Important but largely prolonged are Cayman’s troubling and persistent concerns around crime, policing, our hopelessly gridlocked courts and crowded detention cells. Of primary importance is the security of our residents and visitors, and the preservation of a calm and orderly society.

Also essential is the reduction and elimination of bureaucratic red tape, overreaching regulation, duplicative and often conflicting bureaucracy, and public programs and services that do not achieve clearly articulated goals. Governor Choudhury was correct in putting this array of issues, which diminish the quality of life in these little islands, in his crosshairs.

Governor Roper, as head of the civil service, holds the keys to setting us free from government’s overreaching and overbearing interference in our daily personal and professional lives.

Finally, we would implore the governor to use his influence to demand higher standards in government schools which, through years of sluggish reforms and reorganizations, continue to shortchange our future generations of leaders.