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DG review finds no laws broken

Government 05 May, 2022 Follow News

DG review finds no laws broken

Following the Governor Martyn Roper and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson’s review into decisions made with regard to participation in the Dubai Expo and also the opening of overseas offices in Brussels, Hong Kong and Washington, they have concluded that no laws were broken.

This review was in response to the Auditor General’s findings that that there had been breaches of the Cayman Islands Constitution, the Public Management and Finance Act (PMFA) and the Public Service Management Act (PSMA) by the Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs (the Ministry).

The OAG also highlighted irregularities around some of the HR practices used to employ staff associated with the Dubai World Expo and Overseas Offices.

The report also stated that clear guidance was lacking on how the civil service should conduct themselves in relation to the implementation of certain Government policies once an election had been called.

The Deputy Governor then conducted an internal investigation, including a review of the OAG report, obtaining responses from the Ministry, a review of the Ministry’s audited financial statements, legal advice from the Attorney General’s Chambers and independent reports from Internal Audit.

The most serious finding by the OAG was that the Ministry breached section 12 of the PMFA and the Constitution by spending funds that were not appropriated by Parliament. However, the DG found that sufficient funds were available to meet necessary costs associated with the Dubai World Expo and the opening of the Overseas Offices without the need for further funding. Given this, there was no breach of section 12 of the PMFA, or the Constitution, he found.

Auditor General, Ms Sue Winspear stated: “I agree that technically there is no breach of PMFA as the funds requested for 2021 were not actually needed after all. After the election, activities relating to the new Overseas Offices and Dubai World Expo were scaled back as a consequence of the different priorities of the new Government and so the actual costs were able to be funded from within the existing 2021 budget for that Ministry and the underspend that was carried forward from 2020. I prefaced my report by stating that I presumed the funds requested and agreed by Cabinet in January 2021 were both necessary and requested in good faith. The commitment to the additional staffing costs of course continues beyond 2021.”

The entire issue was only brought into the public domain through a leak, and so the OAG report raised material issues about the conduct of the Civil Service and said it should have been treated the issue with the highest level of confidentiality in order to allow the entire review process to conclude fairly. It was for this reason that both the Governor and Deputy Governor condemned the leak.

The Governor said he was satisfied that the Deputy Governor’s investigation had been carried out comprehensively and objectively in the interests of fairness to all concerned.

“It is unfortunate that the press commentary after the leaking of the OAG report, and before the Deputy Governor’s full investigation was complete, led to inaccurate and skewed views being aired in public,” he stated. “Notwithstanding the findings of the Deputy Governor’s investigation, I am grateful to the OAG and Deputy Governor for ensuring that going forward, the jurisdiction has learnt important lessons for the future, especially the need for clearer policies and practices during periods of election sensitivity.”

Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart echoed these sentiments when he stated it should have been taken into account that both the Overseas Offices and the Dubai Expo were in the works for many months. Both had the support of the United Kingdom and the Governor’s Office, given their strategic importance to our Islands – particularly to financial services, he stated.

“I have said before, including in my public statement in February, that in our view, the Auditor General was gravely mistaken in several areas of the report. Today’s statement by the Deputy Governor confirms this,” he said, and added: “It is unfortunate that the report, with its inaccuracies, was unlawfully leaked. The consequence of the leak was to have the reputation of hard-working civil servants tarnished by the serious, albeit inaccurate, allegations levelled in the report.”

McTaggart said a further consequence of the leak was to have some in the media wrongly accuse members of the Progressives Government of wrongdoing. The statement from the Deputy Governor referred to the views that were aired publicly as being skewed and inaccurate. He was pleased that these inaccuracies were now being corrected.

The Deputy Governor said they continually looked for ways to improve and so welcomed constructive reports which provided opportunities to further develop Civil Service policies and procedures.

“As a consequence of this OAG report, we have now developed a formal policy entitled “Period of Election Sensitivity”. Once approved by Cabinet, this guidance will provide clear information on how Civil Servants and Ministers should conduct Government business once an Election has been called,” he confirmed

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