By Lindsey Turnbull
During his address at the Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Luncheon at the Kimpton Seafire last week, Premier Wayne Panton reiterated what the PACT government stood for: People-driven – Accountable – Competent – Transparent, and said that transparency would be key to regaining the public’s trust in Government.
A good start in the transparency exercise would be to make all Central Planning Authority meetings public, he said.
“In the same way that the National Conservation Council meetings are held in public, we want to see CPA meetings also be made public unless there are very good reasons not to do so having to do with data protection or commercially sensitive material,” Premier Panton said. “We believe that demystifying the work of the CPA will be to everyone’s benefit.”
Collating better data would be an essential part of transparent decision-making and the Premier said the government was working to greatly enhance data collection.
“Data is vital to our vision,” he confirmed. “We have found that our country operates with a remarkable lack of data critical to decision-making across all three pillars of sustainability - the economy, the society and the environment. Simply put, better data means better decisions and thereby better outcomes.”
Premier Panton called this lack of data a “weakness in government” and said it was something that elected officials and civil servants were working to quickly rectify. He called upon the business community to assist in gathering up-to-date and factual information. Part of the information sharing would come in October when Cayman embarked on Census 2021, he said.
His government had pledged good governance, accountability and transparency to the people of the Cayman Islands in the election and he would be fulfilling that pledge by holding elected members accountable for their actions. To assist in that, they would soon be making public manuals and codes of conduct for both the Cabinet and the Parliament.
“I took responsibility in the administration of 2013-2017 to rewrite the 1995 Guide to Operations of the Executive Council, which is no longer germane, but it didn’t have the support needed to be adopted,” Premier Panton advised. “The new version will be a reflection of my government’s mission and vision. And as I said, these documents will be published for perusal of the wider community, which the 1995 document, under which we still operate, has never been.”
Premier Panton said this was a serious part of adhering to good governance and being transparent.
“People outside of Cabinet don’t know what Cabinet deals with; they don’t understand the standards,” he stated. “This helps build a framework of the conduct they can expect from us and that we expect of ourselves.”
The Premier said the more government could be accountable to the public, the better they were at transparency.
“The better we are at transparency, the better we will get at decision making and resource allocation. Other governments have talked about transparency, but we can demonstrate it. We can move forward and make significant inroads in dissolving public mistrust and speculation about what happens in government,” he said, adding that the elected members were expected to conduct themselves honourably.
The Government has sought feedback on the Digital Identity bill which is to be debated in parliament. Do you support the introduction of this Bill?