Archive for September 12th, 2008

Drive by shooting in GT

| 12/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): An investigation by George Town Criminal Investigation Department is now underway following an unconfirmed report of a shooting in School Road this morning. Police said that an on-duty officer was told that shots had been fired in the Rock Hole area from a car on Friday 12 September at around 11:50am.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service responded to the scene and were told a car had passed and fired shots. No-one was hurt in the incident. Officers investigating are aware that there are rumours circulating that it could be connected to the earlier bomb hoax. The RCIPS would like to stress that there is no evidence at this point to confirm this and it is too early to jump to conclusions.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station 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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Seven Mile Beach bomb scare

| 12/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands emergency services responded to a bomb hoax this morning at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites on the busy West Bay Road following a call tothe 911 Emergency Communications Centre from a man who stated that a bomb had been placed in the hotel opposite Deckers restaurant at around 10:25 am.

Police said all the emergency services responded to the scene and hotel management took the decision to evacuate the premises. The area was cordoned off and as a precautionary measure a section of West Bay Road was closed to traffic. The hotel grounds and rooms were searched by police officers and hotel security staff. A further search was carried out by a K9 Unit officer handling a dog trained to locate explosives. The all clear was given at approximately 12:30 pm when the road was re-opened and guests and staff were allowed to return to the complex.

Investigations by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) are ongoing to identify the person who called 911 and made the report.

It is almost a year since two men in their 60s were arrested and taken into custody on Cayman Brac following a hoax bomb threat they reportedly made against George Town Police Station. The two hoax calls took place on the morning of Wednesday and Thursday  19 & 20 September 2007 and the men were arrested after the Thursday morning threat.

Following this morning’s threat, Chief Inspector Peter Kennett, who led the operation from the scene, noted the danger of such hoax calls as emergency resources were diverted.

“This is a serious offence which has caused a lot of disruption to holiday makers and emergency services who could have been dealing with a genuine incident,” said Kennett . “We will do all we can to identify this individual and prosecute to the full extent of the law.”

Kennett added that those involved in the incident should be commended. “Hotel staff remained calm and there was no panic on the scene. They did a great job. Hotel Management should be proud of the actions of their staff.”

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station 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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CITA supports new CAL jets

| 12/09/2008 | 11 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) fully supports government efforts to boost tourism with the acquisition of two new aircraft and the potential addition of new routes, and believes the two Embraer jets that Cayman Airways is planning to lease are well suited to the customer base for the Cayman Islands. They are well aligned for the potential new gateways and are also much more viable for any ‘thin routes’ than CAL’s existing 737s, says CITA.

"As the rest of the region is cutting flight schedules and vacationers are looking elsewhere to visit, the Cayman Islands Government is taking bold steps to gain a competitive edge over other destinations, ultimately resulting in new business that will boost the Cayman Islands tourism industry in these harsh economic times," according to Trina Christian, CITA Executive Director.

She said that over the last couple of months, the Cayman Islands Government has consulted with the CITA Board and private sector representatives to discuss the best possible new routes for the Cayman Islands. “The CITA has offered feedback and has been fully supportive of the investment in the new aircraft, feeling they are well suited to the customer base for the Cayman Islands,” said Christian.

“Choosing a more fuel-efficient aircraft with a 70-seat capacity presents a better opportunity to successfully operate geo-targeted flights and produce higher load factors to [make] new gateways more attainable, and therefore allowing for a more frequent flight schedule. With the price of fuel skyrocketing it seems a much more responsible choice of additional fleet to the Cayman Airways and adds potential business opportunities,” Christian said.

CITA and the Cayman Islands Government are also exploring ways in which the Public/Private sectors can partner to ensure the new routes are successful; therefore it has been CITA’s message from the beginning that it was fully supportive of additional airlift in the Northeast (US market) and South America and increased airlift to the Sister Islands.

”Given the fact that the Cayman Islands Government is assuming the financial burden and demonstrating their commitment to our tourism product, CITA has challenged its members with the same level of commitment towards the marketing efforts. CITA has been anxiously awaiting the news of exactly which gateways CAL will be going into so that they can align their marketing plans towards hopefully promoting the launch in late 2008,” Christian said.

CITA plans to offer the same support and even more than what was done with the launch of the New York (JFK) flight, which included a special promotion to entice visitors to book on Cayman Airways. Such an offer would include special offers when there is proof of a Cayman Airways ticket. Offers will include a resort credit at the hotels, special rates on condo/villa properties, and discounts at restaurants and and on watersports activities and attractions.

”The bottom line is that the private sector is fully supportive of the new aircraft and feels that the revenue opportunities for the tourism industry and the return on investmentfor our economy far outweigh the investment that is being put forth,” Christian stated.


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Greenlight Re gets top marks

| 12/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Owing to the firm’s experienced management team, the disciplined implementation of its business plan and excellent risk-adjusted capitalization A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) for Cayman based reinsurance firm Greenlight Re.

The first and still only real RE-insurance company headquartered in the Cayman Islands,  was issued a credit rating (ICR) of “a-” of Greenlight Reinsurance, Ltd. (Greenlight Re). A.M. Best also has affirmed the ICR of “bbb-” of Greenlight Re’s holding company parent, Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd. (both of Cayman Islands). The outlook for all ratings is stable said the specialist rating firm.

“The rating affirmation from A M Best confirms our belief that the Cayman Islands have been an excellent place to nurture and develop a global reinsurance company,” said Len Goldberg the firm’s CEO.

 The ratings recognize the company’s enhanced balance sheet strength following the successful initial public offering (IPO) on May 30, 2007 of Greenlight Capital Re. These strengths are partially offset by the start-up nature of Greenlight Re, the challenges associated with writing profitable business in a softening market and the leverage resulting from an investment portfolio that is primarily composed of publicly traded equitysecurities, AM Best said.

Greenlight Re operates as a reinsurer writing a combination of global property, casualty and specialty reinsurance business primarily through the broker market. It opened its doors in Cayman at the end of 2005. It has been successful building its underwriting team and infrastructure and adding new business and the company also continues to follow stringent underwriting and risk management guidelines.

There are hope still hopes that the firm will lead the way for development of the reinsurance sector in the Cayman Islands. A public/private taskforce was recently put together to try encourage more re-insurance firms to relocate from other jurisdictions such as Bermuda or to for start ups to choose Cayman. 

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Minister calls for more power

| 12/09/2008 | 7 Comments

(CNS): Accusing the current Governor Stuart Jack of being “very political", Education Minister Alden McLaughlin has once again called for more power for elected officials, suggesting that the current situation where the administration is expected to take all  the responsibility for things when they have none of the authority is an invidious position for any elected government.

Speaking about the current police investigation, the helicopter debacle, issues surrounding the status of the suspended Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, and even the failure of civil servants to submit their accounts for audit, as recorded in the Auditor General’s report, the Minister complained that the government was powerless to address certain things because of the current constitutional arrangements. Pushing the need for serious constitutional change, McLaughlin said that the situation was unacceptable.

At Thursday’s Cabinet Press Briefing the Minister complained that the elected members of government had only heard from the Governor a short while before he made the public announcement about Kernohan’s failure to respond to official requests to return to Cayman. Even though they had discussed the matters in Cabinet on Tuesday (9 September and the day before the Governor’sannouncement), the Governor had reportedly failed to update the elected members on Kernohan’s failure to respond, which he has since denied.

 “The Governor tells us what he thinks we should know, what he deems fit,” said McLaughlin. “This is all to do with the constitutional problem of elected members having to face the responsibility but having none of the authority. We have no mechanism to find out anything; no one is obligated to respond to our questions.”

Demonstrating his frustration over the elected government’s exclusion from certain decisions as well as policy surrounding all police and security matters, the Minister said there was an undue deference given to the Governor and the media let him get away without scrutiny. “While we are sitting targets, the media has a reverence for the Governor’s office that is unhealthy. This Governor is very political and he ought to stand up to scrutiny,” he said.

He called for elected government to have much more involvement in policy matters, and noted what he considered to be the irony of the current situation in that all the major problems concerning good governance were matters that fell under the Governor’s area of responsibility, including the police investigation and the financial reporting problems within the civil service.

While the public thinks the failure of financial officers to do their job is the responsibility of government, McLaughlin said it is not a matter that the elected government has control over, and while theyhave some influence they have no real authority.

He said that significant constitutional change was required to change the situation or every future elected administration would face the same problem as the current government.  He explained that when things like the AG’s report which noted the failure of the civil service to comply with the PMFL came to light, the Chief Secretary or the Governor did not stand up  and take responsibility for those issues.

“These are serious governance issues that will not be sorted out unless there is a better framework for the Cayman Islands government to operate in,” he added. McLaughlin said that government had made the strongest possible representations that the present arrangement is unsatisfactory with regard to the overall policy-making and management of the police service.

“The elected government needs to have a greater role to play,” he said.” We have been critical of the way things operate and … we have complained … very strongly about the way generally police matters are dealt with, the lack of information we get in relation to investigations such as the Kernohan issue and in relation to the helicopter fiasco,” he added.

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Woman in court for stabbing

| 12/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 26-year-old woman appeared in court Thursday, 11 September, charged with attempted murder following a stabbing on Friday night, 5 September. Darla Natasha Ebanks, of West Bay, has been remanded in custody until next Tuesday, 16 September. According to police, Ebanks was arrested after a 37-year-old woman was stabbed in a bathroom at the Cracked Conch restaurant in West Bay.

The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at 11:20 pm from a member of the public reporting that a woman had been stabbed in the downstairs bathroom. Police and medics responded and found that the victim had received a serious stab wound to her back.

Anyone who was in the restaurant or bar area at the time of the incident who may
have seen something important is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Winsome
Prendergast on 916-5241 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477.


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Help is sent to Turks and Caicos

| 12/09/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The Cayman Islands has sent supplies, Jamaica is dispatching personnel, and Bermuda has sent troops to help the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), which was devastated by category 4 Hurricane Ike on Sunday which destroyed more than 80% of the homes and left the airport under water, downed power lines and swept away every single boat.

On Thursday morning, 11 September, four years after Hurricane Ivan left similar levels of destruction on Grand Cayman, a Cayman Airways flight left the island loaded with around 24,500 pounds of relief supplies, including generators, tarpaulins, non-perishable foods and staple items such as toiletries and baby supplies, destined for the British Overseas Territory.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts told the media at a press briefing Thursday that he’d been in contact with TCI Premier Michael Misick and had told him that Caymanians are praying for all in the TCI. Tibbetts said that food, water and other essentials were being sent to reduce the suffering of neighbours who now find themselves in the same plight as the Cayman Islands were after Ivan, and thanked local suppliers and Cayman Airways for making the special humanitarian flight a no-charge reality.

Tibbetts said government is working closely with local Cuban-Caymanians to organise hurricane relief supplies for Cuban residents, particularly those in the Isle of Pines with whom Cayman has strong historical and family connections. He said trailer homes have also been offered to both the Turks and Caicos and Cuba.

Meanwhile Jamaica has dispatched a team of six people to TCI, drawn from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, the Ministry of Health, the Jamaica Public Service Company, the United States Agency for International Development, the Canadian High Commission, and the United Nations Development Programme.

And, as they did for Grand Cayman after Ivan, Bermuda is sending soldiers to Turks and Caicos in response to an informal request by TCI Premier Michael Misick. "The Premier of Turks and Caicos has made a request to the Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown for help from the Bermuda Regiment. This will probably be reflected in a formal request from the Governor of Turks and Caicos very soon," Governor Sir Richard Gozney told reporters.

"We are waiting for a more detailed assessment from Turks and Caicos of how the Regiment might help. All involved here — that is, Government House, the government of Bermuda and the Bermuda Regiment — expect that there will be a useful role for the Bermuda Regiment in helping the poor people of a sister territory in putting their lives back together," he added.

A four-member reconnaissance team from the Bermuda Regiment left for Providenciales yesterday, and Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel William White said a decision on the deployment of further troops would follow by the end of the week. Meanwhile, Bermuda’s sole power supplier, BELCO, said it has been asked by the Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation to send crews to reconnect power lines on the battered islands.

Premier of the British Virgin Islands Ralph T. O’Neal has told Misick in a letter, “My government stands ready to assist in any way that we can to make your restoration efforts a little easier.”

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said Bahamian authorities were "already in discussions" about the extent to which assistance from The Bahamas would be necessary and required by the Turks and Caicos. "And we undertake to do all we can to ensure restoration of amenities in Grand Turk, South Caicos, can be achieved in the shortest possible time," he said.

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Garden Club rescues Miss Lassie’s plants

| 12/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As the Cayman Cultural Foundation begins its efforts to restore and renovate the home and gardens of the late Gladwyn Bush, “Miss Lassie”, for eventual opening to the public, the Garden Club of Grand Cayman has stepped in to rescue plants around the house with an aim of using them to re-landscape the property when the renovations are finished. (Photo courtesy of the Garden Club)

A team of gardeners were on hand along with Garden Club President, Berna Thompson Cummins and long-time member Rob Bennett (photo below) , Vice President Jennifer Godfrey and Lois Blumenthal. Some plants were moved to the perimeter of the property and some were tagged or roped off in place with ribbons, but most were put into pots and transported to the Cultural Foundation for safekeeping.

The rescued plants were photographed and cataloged and were a mixture of native and traditional species, including old-time White Ixora and other Ixoras, Crocus, Sambac Jasmine, Ti Plant, Periwinkles, Vitex, Catbush (Dashalong), Virvine, Rattlebox, Asparagus Fern and an assortment of small Popnut trees and other plants. The group also rescued about 40 seashells for lining walkways and unearthed two antique kitchen pans that had been recycled in the traditional way by Miss Lassie and used as flowerpots in her garden.

The Garden Club is active in community gardening projects, hosts an annual Flower Show, and holds regular educational meetings once a month. New members are always welcome. Contact us by email at or phone 516-0327 to learn more or to attend the next meeting.


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HSA to change billing system

| 12/09/2008 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The cost of most hospital services, including doctors’ appointments, pharmacy, and lab work, will not increase when the Health Services Authority (HSA) implements the new Charge Master billing system on 1 October. Fees for inpatient room and board, medical supplies, lab, radiology, pharmacy drugs and physiotherapy also remain unchanged.

According to a government release, while there will be adjustments in some fees, primarily in the costof surgical procedures, many will still fall below standard rates set by the National Health Insurance Commission. Under the new system, facility fees and procedure charges (which include physician costs, anaesthesia fees, and fees for assistant surgeons if applicable), will each be billed separately. Currently, facility and physician fees are included under one charge. Anaesthesia charges are separate.

Charge Master is an internationally-accepted procedures billing programme used by hospitals and healthcare systems worldwide. Insurance companies also require this method because it efficiently standardises coding. Overall, the application of a common set of health and insurance industry codes will simplify the payment process, the government maintains.

The HSA has received government approval to implement the system, bringing it in line with the global industry’s best practices. With the implementation of Charge Master, fee codes will be updated electronically and annually, and proposed pricing changes authorized by Cabinet. Charge Master comprises 4,000 new procedure codes, ranging from minor to major, allowing the hospital to better expand its future services. However, the HSA will initially use only 1,500 of these codes, which will be billed according to rates set out in the Standard Health Insurance Fees.

Historically, the hospital has billed for services under the Fees Law, which limited HSA’s ability to recover the full costs of services provided to patients in line with real costs. Further, the Fees Law does not allow for the addition of services and programs. As a result, the hospital has been unable to fully cover major overhead costs, or charge correctly for new procedures. In part, this has contributed to the hospital’s deficit.

The HSA has set up a special telephone line to answer patient questions about the new billing system. The public can call 244-2662 for more information.

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