The Auditor General released a report on Monday (5 November) saying that Government has been slow to implement recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee, particularly when it comes to social welfare programmes.
The Deputy Auditor General Garnet Harrison told Cayman 27 on Tuesday (6 November) the worst performing area concerns the report “Government Programmes Supporting Those in Need” where only “limited progress” has been made.
Mr. Harrison said the Ministry of Community Affairs is falling at the very first hurdle; that they have started to develop their social assistance strategy but the timescales have not been confirmed yet. The implementation of other recommendations is dependent on that strategy being implemented.
Social welfare is a front-line public service – the reason for which the Auditor General says we should take their findings seriously.
“I think the biggest thing is some of these reports relate to critical public services, such as healthcare, social welfare and the recommendations are intended to improve how Government delivers these vital services to the people of Cayman,” Deputy Auditor General Harrison explained.
And it is the people of Cayman who will suffer if Government continues to go slow on fulfilling the Public Accounts Committee’s proposals.
Mr. Harrison added: “what this means is if there is slow progress then delivery of services to the people of Cayman is either not as effective or efficient as they should be. This means people are not receiving the services they require at the right time or in the right manner.”
On Monday (5 November), the Auditor General’s office released a report “Follow-up on past PAC recommendations”. In it, they raised concerns about Government’s slow progress in implementing those suggestions.
Mr. Harrison believes social welfare is the biggest victim of Government’s procrastination.
“We hear of complaints with those Government programmes for those in need, where people may be receiving those services who really don’t need it and yet there’s others who are not receiving it who really need it,” he stated.
The Deputy Auditor General also flagged that some of the neglected recommendations go back as far as May 2015 and that dates for implementation keep being rescheduled.
“It could also mean that there are wasted opportunities to better the lives of the people of Cayman as well. When these recommendations aren’t implemented in the time frames that have been set originally,” Mr. Harrison said.
But what powers do they have to hold those government officials and civil servants responsible to account?
“They will have to answer to the PAC who hold them to account… this is in public forum as well, where they need to explain why they haven’t achieved certain results,” Mr. Harrison explained.
Punitive measures can go further, but Mr. Harrison said it rarely gets to that stage.
“There can be fines as well, but in my years of experience, that has never been implemented,”
We reached out to both the Premier’s Office and the Deputy Governor’s Office for their response to the OAG’s criticism. We are yet to receive a response.