Archive for August 8th, 2008

Motorcyclist in fatal accident arrested

| 08/08/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Police said today, 8 August, that they have arrested a 31-year-old man who was riding the motorbike which crashed on Sunday evening, 3 August, killing the pillion passenger, 31-year-old Tabia Henriques-Bodden. The man who remains in hospital was arrested on suspicion of various offences including causing death by dangerous driving, driving whilst intoxicated, consuming a controlled substance.

Police said the man is due to be flown off-island for treatment shortly for the injuries he received after the fatal crash, in which he was driving the Kawasaki motorcycle that crashed into a wall on South Church Street, South Sound at around 11:00 pm.

Police officers from the Traffic Management Unit said they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash and anyone who witnessed what happened or saw the motorbike prior to the crash is asked to contact officers on 946-6254 or Senior Investigating Officer, Sergeant Ivan Wedderburn on 916- 3871 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Migrants still on the run

| 08/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Five of the 23 Cuban migrants who escaped from the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) Thursday night, 7 August, remain at large, report Immigration Department officials. According to Acting Chief Immigration Officer Kerry Nixon, assisting the escaped migrants is an offence attracting penalties of up to $50,000 and imprisonment of up to seven years. Anyone who sees them shoud call 926-0433 or 244-2028, or contact the police by calling 911.

Immigration and police officers searched areas around Fairbanks Road with the assistance of the Cayman Helicopter. During the early hours of Friday morning, 17 migrants were apprehended and detained while another turned himself in at the IDC. Immigration officials have said that at least two of the migrants were previously repatriated and were among the group that demonstrated last year.  Nixon claims that these returning migrants are the ones who have been inciting trouble at the centre, though the nature of the truble has not been revealed.

“We are very disappointed with the aggressive and criminal behaviour of the migrants, and we call on those who are on the run to return to the centre,” she said. “These migrants have in essence landed in the Cayman Islands illegally and we are asking persons not to offer them any help, but to report all sightings to the police or immigration,” Nixon said.


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Athletes welcomed to Beijing

| 08/08/2008 | 0 Comments

With the official opening ceremony taking place today, excitement is mounting among the Cayman Islands Olympic team. This week, Cayman’s flag was hoisted among all those from competing nations around the world at the Athletic Village welcoming ceremony.During the ceremony the Mayor of the Olympic Village, Madame Zhili Chen, officially welcomed the Chef de Mission from each country with a gift.

 Zhili Chen presented a China plate featuring two doves of peace to Cayman Chef de Mission, Lori Powell. In turn Powell presented gifts of Caymanite penholder created by artisan Horacio Estaban to Madame Chen. Brett and Shaune Fraser were photographed as they practiced at the Bejing Olympics new aquatics stadium, known as the Water Cube.



Attending the ceremony on behalf of Cayman included the four competing athletes Shaune Fraser, Brett Fraser, Cydonie Mothersill, Ronald Forbes as well as the team officials and members of the Executive Committee: President, Donald McLean; Secretary General, Carson Ebanks; Chef de Mission, Lori Powell; Beijing Attaché, Matthew Bishop; Physiotherapist, Pier Ann Brown and Athletics Coach, Kenrick Williams.


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Rodriguez gets five years

| 08/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Tonie Miguel Rodriguez has received a five year sentence for the manslaughter by reason of provocation of Aaron William Berry at the Everglo Bar in Bodden Town on 23 February 2008. Berry died after he was stabbed in the neck during a fight, which reportedly started after he broke a bottle on Rodriguez’s head. Berry received two superficial knife wounds but the third severed a vein and he died after driving himself to George Town. Rodriguez gave himself up to the Police when he learned of Berry’s death. The plea has raised controversy in the community, particularly from Berry’s family.

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Financial sector presses MPs on White List

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Cayman’s omission from the EU White List was one of the pressing concerns that the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association (CIFSA) raised with the recent delegation of MPs from the UK last month, including Michael Fallon (left .) “The evening was very beneficial in exploring the rationale behind the ‘White List’ in excluding a jurisdiction like Cayman which scored very highly in the FATF standards, while including many jurisdictions such as Switzerland, Singapore and Australia that scored very poorly,” said David Roberts, a director of CIFSA.  

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cayman Islands was led by Ian Davidson, (Labour), and included Michael Fallon (Conservative), who is also a member of the UK treasury select committee. “Such visits are useful in expanding our knowledge of the high regulatory standards in the Cayman Islands, and it enables those involved to deal with any UK Government issues impacting the Cayman Islands from a first hand position,” said Fallon.

 CIFSA said the visit provided an excellent opportunity for it and other senior level representatives involved in the financial sector to enter into personal dialogue on issues of mutual interest and concern for the Cayman Islands financial industry.  

“CIFSA continually looks for opportunities to better share information with organisations and individuals both locally and overseas who may have an interest in our financial services industry.  We believe that this type of dialogue is important in ensuring our members stay abreast of current issues as well as providing an update on developments within our sector to organisations and individuals based overseas,” added Andrew Johnson, a CIFSA director.

 Roberts noted that in the same week as the delegation’s visit Cayman received favourable news from the United States with the release of the independent GAO report on the Cayman Islands that was quite positive when describing the regulatory environment in Cayman.

“We must still remain vigilant and steadfast in our efforts to spread the truth about our industry, particularly in jurisdictions where it is politically expedient right now to exploit negative stereotypes that have little or no basis in reality today.  But this week has been a very positive step in that process,” he said.   


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Cabinet waives book rental fees for students

| 08/08/2008 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Parents with children attending government schools will not be required to pay book fees at the start of the upcoming school year in September, and any outstanding fees that were owed are no longer payable, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts announced Thursday, 7 August, saying that this Cabinet waiver represented a saving of up to $500 for many families.

For previous academic years, parents were charged a book rental fee of $50 for primary school students, $100 for middle school students in Years 7 to 9, and $150 for students in Years 10 to 12. Tibbetts noted as he made the announcement at the post-Cabinet media briefing that these mandatory fees are in addition to the other costs parents have to face at the start of the academic year, such as the provision of school uniforms and other requisite school supplies. He said it had been found that these fees were placing an additional financial strain on parents, especially those with limited income or with several children of school age.

“The myriad of changes taking place in our educational services rests on a foundation of equity, geared at ensuring that all students – regardless of circumstance or ability – are provided with the same opportunities. By removing the requirement to pay book fees, it is Government’s intention that all children, irrespective of their financial situations, will always have access to the school books which they need,” Tibbetts said.

The LoGB said the waiving of these fees placed an additional cost to Government of around $240,000 in lost revenue, but said Cabinet firmly believe that it is the right thing to do.


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Gas prices face gov’t control

| 08/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The islands’ two wholesale gasoline and diesel distributors will have to notify the Chief Petroleum Inspector before increasing their prices under new regulations the government intends to introduce. The rules will give the inspector the authority to approve or refuse increases in part or in whole, to postpone them or set terms and conditions upon which they can be made. Failure to notify the Inspector of increase in the wholesale price or failure to comply with his directives could result in a fine of $10,000 for the wholesaler.

The islands’ two wholesale gasoline and diesel distributors will have to notify the Chief Petroleum Inspector before increasing their prices under new regulations the government intends to introduce. The rules will give the inspector the authority to approve or refuse increases in part or in whole, to postpone them or set terms and conditions upon which they can be made.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet press briefing, the Leader of Government Business, Kurt Tibbetts said that the amendments to the Dangerous Substances Handling and Storage Law (2003) would regulate the process by which the two wholesale distributors of gasoline and diesel and any other future distributor can increase their prices. Failure to notify the Inspector of increase in the wholesale price or failure to comply with his directives could result in a fine of $10,000 for the wholesaler. Tibbetts explained that the inspector would be required to consider relevant factors, which may include data provided by the wholesalers, or public interest in making his decisions and if wholesalers are dissatisfied they would be able to appeal.

 “Oil prices are siphoning money out of everyone’s pockets,” said Tibbetts. This government’s foremost responsibility is to look after the welfare of its citizens, and this is exactly what we hope to do with these amendments.”

 He said that while the global oil problem is not in this government’s control locally there were steps that could be taken to ease the financial burden for Cayman’s residents and that this was just one measure. He said that because there were concerns about how the wholesalers control the prices at the pumps this was an opportunity to begin assessing how closely price increases reflected the global situation. Minister Alden McLaughlin said that with these amendments to the law would help government to ensure prices were fair.

“There is a common allegation that as soon as oil increases on the world market pump prices go up immediately even if the tanks are full, but when costs fall we don’t get the same response,” he said. We don’t know if this is the case so we are trying to establish if it is or not and then we a will be able to reassure the public that prices are fair.”

 Tibbetts said there needed to be some accountability around pricing but the government was not quite on the road of price fixing even though this was happening in other Caribbean islands.

“While we are not convinced yet that we should have specific regulations that create mark up ceilings for both the bulk distributers and the retailers this data will give us a clear indication as to what kind of mark up now occurs,” he said, adding that the distributers were not being singled out for any untoward behaviour.

“If there is one commodity which determines the price of everything else it is fuel hence we have to take steps for a proper accountability process which is transparent. We are not deciding how they run their companies but we want to make sure that prices are fair.”

Both of the fuel wholesalers on island, Chevron and Esso confirmed to Cayman News Service that they had only received notification of the proposed regulations at the end of the office day on Wednesday 6 August and had yet to consider the information. Chevron pointed out that it was the firm’s policy to comply with local legislation and that it was looking forward to consulting with the Cayman Islands Government as this important legislation is being developed. Esso will also be offering their thoughts on the regulations later today (8 August).



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LoGB seeks united front

| 08/08/2008 | 3 Comments

The government has said it hopes to move towards some form of compromise with the opposition on Cayman’s constitutional proposals so that they can present a united front to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when talks start in September. Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts has said he thinks there is very little that the two parties cannot come to some sort of agreement on. However, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush says there are a number of issues where he beleives it will be very difficult to find a compromise.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet press briefing on Thursday morning, 7 August, Tibbetts said it was the government’s intention to move forward for the good of the country in preparations for talks with the UK, the first of which is set for 29 September. “I have written to the Honourable Leader of the Opposition highlighting the importance of using the time allotted wisely and to hold preliminary meetings in good faith with a view to agreeing the position of the Cayman delegation and presenting a united front,” he said.

The government has proposed that the Cayman delegation will include up to four government MLAs, four of the opposition MLAs, a representative of the Chamber of Commerce, the Cayman Ministers Association, the Seventh Day Adventists and perhaps one other NGO.  Tibbetts said he had asked Bush to provide the opposition’s position on the revised proposals and any additional proposal that the Opposition recommend by the end of August, in time for internal negotiations.

The LoGB said that while the government could not see any merit after close scrutiny in the opposition proposals for a senate, he felt there could be some kind of compromise on most other matters. He also said he was confident that there would be few problems working things out with the UK to achieve constitutional change and that the people would get what they wanted, because whatever was hammered out in the negotiations would be placed before them in a referendum next year.

However, Bush told Cayman News Service that not only does his party still need time to assess what the people want, there are a some proposals relating to the PPM government’s proposals to reduce the Governor’s powers and removing the Attorney General from the Legislative Assembly that he would not be prepared to give on. He further noted that the UDP had requested funding to help them assess the views of the people and for an advisor. As Professor Jeffery Jowell was advising on the government proposals, it was only fair that the UDP also had the assistance of a constitutional expert when considering their own.

“When the UK delegation of MPs came here they were quite shocked to discover the government had spent so much on special advisors and a secretariat and that the opposition had not been offered the same resources,” said the Leader of the Opposition, adding that if the LoGB was genuine he should make sure that the opposition has the resources to establish what the people really want. “We still need to talk to the people before we can begin negotiations because we need to do everything we can to find out what it is the people want in their constitution.”

Bush said he was happy with the government’s proposal for the representatives in the negotiations but he saidhe was not sure about a united front. “There are a lot of things that we and the people are opposed to and a lot of areas I won’t give an inch on,” he added. 

The unlikely prospect of a united front was also noted by Ian Davidson, Labour MP for Glasgow South-West and leader of the recent All Party Parliamentary Group delegation from the United Kingdom, who noted that while the UK was probably in a position to accommodate almost any of the views prevalent in Cayman about the constitution, it could not accommodate them all at the same time, and he was not sure how Cayman would resolve the problem of what he considered to be such a wide number of obviously incompatible views.







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LoGB seeks united front on UK talks

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Minister says AG’s report illustrates need for constitutional change

| 08/08/2008 | 0 Comments

Behind closed doors the government has taken everyone to task, including the Governor who has ultimate responsibility for the civil service, about the failure of government companies to meet their obligations under the Public Management Finance Law, as revealed in Auditor General Dan Duguay’s report, The State of Financial Accountability Reporting, Minister Alden McLaughlin said. He noted that the report revealed a very serious issue, but in a constitutional system where the elected government has no authority over the senior officers in ministries and where the Financial Secretary is not an elected member, it is difficult for the elected government to do anything other than complain about the lack of performance of civil servants, the minister said.

“We are very unhappy about the state of affairs. While we understand some of the reason for the delays as the news system requires a great deal more work, they are reasons not excuses for the delay,” he said, adding that the reason government has not said much on this so far was because the Governor is ultimately responsible and they could do very little.

“Some of the proposed constitutional changes would address this. If and when we get a Minister of Finance who is an elected individual, I think the situation would be quite different, the elected government would not be able to say it wasn’t responsible because it would have direct responsibility,” he said. No matter which government was in office, until the Constitution is changed, elected members can’t force the issue, he added.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said that the delays were down to a multitude of reasons and that the whole affair was a long story, but he was certain that with the release of the report and the flurry of activity that has followed it, the accounts would soon get done .

“The sad part about all of this process is that the majority of those reports now are worth nothing more than the paper they will be written on,” he said. “Six months after the reports are completed they bear no relevance, so when you are three or four years behind you are just complying with the law. The reports won’t help any government form policy.”

He said that the best thing was to get on track and then keep on track so the documents would be relevant. In a written statement, the LoGB said that after the most recent correspondence with the Auditor’s Office, the government fully expected that the remaining government agencies would have the audit of their 2004/05 annual reports completed by the end of September, and the next step would be tabling them in the Legislative Assembly.

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