The Commission for Standards in Public Life has said it is “encouraged” by the announcement that the long-awaited Standards in Public Life Law will come into force on 1 March.
The law, which was first passed in 2014 and amended in 2016, has been in a state of abeyance, as Cabinet had not released a commencement date. A review of the legislation was announced following concerns raised by some members of public boards.
Last Friday, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced the formal commencement of the law, adding that the regulations accompanying the legislation will be produced shortly.
The law requires public disclosures of all interests by elected politicians, senior government workers and government-appointed board members.
At present, legislators are required to file their interests in a register at the Legislative Assembly. Senior government officials are also required to file their interests, and those are audited annually by the Office of the Auditor General.
In a brief statement to the Cayman Compass on the law’s commencement, the commission said it had provided input to the draft regulations and “we expect that these will be finalised soon”.
It said that the making of declarations to the commission by ‘persons in public life’, identified in Schedule 1 of the law, is an important feature of the legislation.
“As such, there will be an awareness/education campaign to familiarise the public with this requirement, as well as with the various other provisions of the Law. The Commission will also [liaise] with the Registrar of the Register of Interests, (Register of Interests Law, 1996), for the handing over of records as required under Section 36(2) of the Law,” it added.
The original Standards in Public Life Law was passed in early 2014, but was not put into effect, largely because of complaints from appointed members of boards and commissions, who said the declarations required were too broad.
Under the new amendments made in 2016, board members will not have to declare memberships in any professional group, charity or special interest organisation.
They will, however, have to make interest disclosures for their immediate family – spouses and dependents – which 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.
What is the Standards in Public Life Law?
The law ensures the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct by persons in public life, which includes politicians, members of government boards and government staff. It also requires full disclosure of interests, such as assets and businesses, to guard against conflicts of interest.