Premier Wayne Panton, on the eve of the first 100 days of the PACT administration, has announced the enactment of the updated Cayman Islands’ Ministerial Code of Conduct.

“I think it represents a significant step forward and a real commitment to transparency and adhering to accountability for the executive of the country,” Panton said in a video message released Thursday by Government Information Services.

Back in 2016, the Alden McLaughlin-led Progressives government, of which Panton was then a minister, announced the Cabinet would be approving a proposed update to the 1995 ministerial code. However, it was never formally enacted.

Panton said the enactment of the new code, which was approved by Cabinet on 27 July, fulfils one of his government’s commitments to good governance, adding that the work on the Parliamentarian Code of Conduct is also nearing completion.

“We are working on the finalisation of the code of conduct for parliamentarians. I expect that to be done relatively shortly, but this is a very significant occasion. It’s the first code of conduct that’s been put in place for the senior executive of the country,” he said.

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The implementation of a parliamentary code formed part of the PACT deal following the 14 April general election, paving the way for the return of House Speaker McKeeva Bush, who was convicted in December 2020 of assaulting the female manager at Coral Beach Bar in February of that year.

Expectations of proper behaviour

The 14-page ministerial code, which contains a foreword from the premier, outlines how members of the executive branch should conduct themselves when it comes to ministers’ interests, conflicts of interest, gifts, travel and accommodations, favours and more.

It also states that ministers are expected to comply with the Nolan Principles – the Seven Principles of Public Life, which also form the basis for the Standards in Public Life Act and the Commission for Standards in Public Life.

These principles are selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

“This Code of Conduct reinforces this commitment and clearly sets out our standards for adhering to the principles of good governance. It also addresses one of the Broad Outcomes outlined in our Strategic Policy Statement which is Strengthening Good Governance for More Effective Government and promotes greater accountability within the Executive branch,” Panton stated in the foreword of the code.

Commitment to accountability

He added, in that opening message, “The more transparent we are, the more accountable we are to the public. The better we are at transparency, the better we will get at decision making and resource allocation.”

The code also applies to ex officio members of the Cabinet such as the attorney general and the deputy governor.

Governor Martyn Roper, in the GIS statement announcing the new code, congratulated Cabinet on the enactment.

“The approval and enactment of the Ministerial Code of Conduct is a strong indicator of the Government’s commitment to accountability and transparency. It is an integral part of good governance, and encourages greater trust between the wider community and those they have elected to represent them,” Roper said in the statement.

Under the General Code contained in the Ministerial Code of Conduct, members of Cabinet are required to behave in a way that “protects the integrity of the decision-making process and upholds the highest standards of propriety and to comply with this Ministerial Code of Conduct at all times”.

Panton said, in the foreword, “This is another historic moment for the Government and people of the Cayman Islands. I am especially pleased that this matter was given priority by my colleagues in the PACT Government for completion within our first 100 days in office.”

When it comes to conflict of interest, the code states that “Ministers are responsible for ensuring that no possible or perceived conflicts exist or appear to exist between their personal interests and their public duty. Ministers must conduct themselves at all times in the knowledge that their role is a public one; appearances and propriety can be as important as an actual conflict of interest.”

Read the full code here: Cayman Islands Ministerial Code of Conduct 27.07.21

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