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Government 25 Oct, 2023 Follow News

Speaker with HE Governor and CPA Reps

The Parliament began a week-long Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) benchmark assessment this week, facilitated by two CPA representatives who will spend the week meeting Members of Parliament, Parliamentary staff, civil servants and many others.

“This is a great opportunity to see for ourselves where Cayman’s legislature is performing well, and where we need to improve our parliamentary practices,” said the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, MP. “I welcome this opportunity to gain a better viewpoint of our accomplishments, such as our improved communications, as well as finding solutions on how we can strengthen our parliamentary governance.”

The intensive assessment exercise will review the legislative and operational aspects of the Parliament against 132 indicators of good governance that the CPA developed in consultation with other Commonwealth legislatures between 2006 and 2018.

“I view this exercise as an opportunity for the Parliament to conduct an extensive review of how the Benchmarks can be used to improve the overall performance and management of the Cayman Islands Parliament,” said Mrs. Zena Merren-Chin, Clerk & Chief Officer of the Parliament.

The CPA’s benchmark indicators cover a broad range of topics relating to the legislative governance, including but not limited to: elections processes, the organisation of the legislature, gender representation, practices of committees, parliamentary staffing, public input, separation from the executive, financial oversight, and openness and transparency of the legislature.

The two representatives, Mr. Clive Barker from the CPA’s UK Headquarters and Mrs. Shannon Dean from the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Canada, began their interviews on Monday with the Hon. Speaker and Mrs. Merren-Chin, followed by a meeting with Her Excellency the Governor, Mrs. Jane Owen.

The facilitators will also meet this week with the Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton; the Deputy Governor, Hon. Franz Manderson; the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Roy McTaggart; Hon. Kenneth Bryan; the Auditor General, Mrs. Sue Winspear; Dr. Annette Stephenson and representatives from the Disability Council; several Chief Officers; legal professionals; members of the media; and, several staff of the Parliament.

“This is not an external review so much as a unique chance for our own local stakeholders to self-reflect with the facilitation of these professionals, to measure our progress in achieving good governance against the standards adopted by the CPA,” said Hon. Ebanks-Wilks. “We will be hearing from a wide range of Members and civil servants throughout this benchmarking exercise, which will help to contextualise our performance against these benchmarks that have been adopted by other legislatures in the region, and will only serve to strengthen our own practices.”

The benchmarks run parallel to and compliment the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for all countries around the globe in an effort to improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth.

Following the week-long assessment, the CPA will prepare a report for the Parliament that will amalgamate the responses given by the various participants. The report will serve to guide Cayman’s Parliament in improving its administration and legislative functions.

“Meeting with stakeholders in the Cayman Islands Parliament for this CPA Benchmarks Self-Assessment will allow us to scrutinise their parliamentary procedures,” said Mr. Barker. “We hope that the recommendations in our outcomes report we produce will help them to establish a roadmap to reforming the institution, with our help where needed.”

Other Caribbean legislatures have undergone the assessments with the CPA facilitators, including Anguilla in February 2020, and most recently with the legislatures of Montserrat and Malawi. Mr. Barker noted that the CPA intends to facilitate assessments for ten legislatures in the first half of 2024 with the support of the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office.

“The beauty of being a member of the CPA is that we have access to resources that will enable our Parliament and Parliamentarians to advance. I am hopeful that at the completion of this assessment, we will have a clear development plan for our Parliament,” noted the Speaker. “Additionally, with completing this exercise, we also have assistance in modernising our Standing Orders, which will include a schedule of regular meetings, and implementing a Code of Conduct that all Members of Parliament will be bound to.”

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