October 29, 2020

The Editor Speaks: “Disappointing” is actually “appalling”

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Colin WilsonwebIn a disclosure reported on Monday (2) by the Caymanian Compass under the title “Lawmakers’ financial disclosures ‘disappointing’” it says Karin Thompson, chairwoman of the Commission for Standards in Public Life, used the word “disappointing”.

The story was about the disclosure, or in this case, non-disclosure, by a number of our legislators on their Legislative Assembly (LA) register of interests forms.

Ms Thompson pointed to the actual declaration of interest form currently used as being “inadequate” and “open to abuse”.

“It basically allows individuals to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘not applicable’ and then sign off,” she said.

And some of our legislators did just that. The Compass report named no names.

The most basic of information concerning disclosure of interests held by close relatives of the candidates was given and was so sparse anyone reading it would be no wiser.

Even where a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer is only required some of the legislators left those sections unmarked.

It is a lawful requirement that our lawmakers MUST disclose their financial interests. If they haven’t done so adequately they shouldn’t be sitting in the LA now.

So who is responsible for allowing this? How long has this been going on?

To show how important the LA thinks this all is, is the way the forms have been filed.

The financial interest disclosure forms submitted by sitting members of the LA were being kept in the same folder as forms submitted by unsuccessful political candidates.

Unsuccessful candidates do not have to file financial disclosures for the Register of Interests Law if they did not hold public office. They only have a legal requirement to file certain information under the Cayman Islands Elections Law.

The only good thing that came out of the Compass article was the expectation of a bill that will regulate standard financial reporting requirements for those who hold public office. This will include not only elected members of the LA but top civil service officials and many public servants as well, and the form used will NOT be anything like the one currently being used today for LA sitting members.

If we in the media push hard enough the expectation will become a reality.

No more hiding.

In the mean time I am not disappointed in this revelation. I am appalled.

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