Pandemic response ‘lacks transparency’

KEY decisions made as part of Jersey’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic have lacked transparency, a Scrutiny panel has found.

Chief Minister John Le Fondré. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30446307)
Chief Minister John Le Fondré. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30446307)

The Corporate Services Scrutiny panel said that Islanders were being denied a clear understanding about the basis on which decisions were made because minutes of meetings were either not published, exempted or subject to lengthy delay.

In an interim report, published this week, the panel called for minutes of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell, as well as Council of Ministers, the ‘Competent Authority’ group of ministers and the Emergencies Council to be published within two weeks.

A series of sets of STAC minutes were published in January, including some that were up to four months old, while so far in 2021 only one set of minutes has been published covering an 11-week period.

Panel chairwoman Senator Kristina Moore said: ‘The need for the government to provide clarity and transparency in decision-making related to Covid-19 is crucial, particularly when it comes to the minutes of decision-making bodies.

‘While the panel appreciates the pace at which the government has had to respond to this pandemic, the panel’s recommendations should inform the ongoing response and that of future crises.

‘The panel will continue monitoring the effectiveness of government decision-making and evaluate the potential long-term societal impacts of these decisions in its next report.’

Other recommendations by the panel were that:

  • The Council of Ministers and other decision-making bodies had not always followed the advice of STAC and should communicate when this was the case.

  • The Channel Islands Pandemic Influenza Strategy had not been updated for several years and did not align with Covid-19 strategies. The government should identify the timeline for a revised pandemic strategy and demonstrate an alignment with Covid.

  • The government had failed to review Islanders’ views on Covid-19 policy and should initiate a survey to gauge perceptions of the pandemic response and ongoing strategy to better inform future decision-making.

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