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Government needs a development plan for Cayman Islands, says Auditor General

There are several areas where the Government can improve how it manages lands in the Cayman Islands, says the Auditor General, Alastair Swarbrick, in his report made public today. The most significant concern he raises is the continuing development of land without the benefit of a national development plan, which is required by law and should be used to guide government decision makers.

“I understand the challenges involved in creating a comprehensive development plan for the Cayman Islands,” said Mr. Swarbrick. “However, there is no excuse for continuing to develop properties on such an ad-hoc basis. A development plan would help protect these beautiful islands for future generations.”

The report, “National Land Development and Government Real Property,” looks at how well Government manages both public and private lands in the Cayman Islands. Included are case studies of recent development projects, such as the National Road Authority (NRA) Agreement (building of the West Bay Road extension), South Sound (Adagio) Development and Health City. The audit also looked at management of the land that is covered by water around the islands; it found gaps in responsibility for managing this important resource.

The audit found a number of areas where government has not followed its own laws. For example, on several occasions the Public Management and Finance Law (PMFL) was effectively ignored, and former ministers overreached their roles in the negotiations relating to the NRA Agreement. The audit also identified a number of areas where the framework in place does not provide the level of transparency and accountability the auditors expected to find.

In his report Mr. Swarbrick makes several recommendations for Government to improve how it manages this important public policy area. This would include opening Central Planning Authority (CPA) and Development Control Board (DCB) meetings to the public and providing greater rationale for decisions. He also recommends that these committees have broader representation than just members from the building industry.

“I am concerned about the lack of transparency we found in how the CPA and DCB operate,” said the Auditor General. “I believe that some development decisions might have been different had the information been discussed in a public forum rather than behind closed doors.”

More information regarding this report can be obtained by contacting Martin Ruben at the Office of the Auditor General at (345) 244-3206. A copy of the report is available at www.auditorgeneral.gov.ky or downloaded here, National Land Development and Government Real Property.