Archive for April, 2009

Conch season closes Friday

| 30/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Department of Environment (DoE) is reminding the public that the closed season for conch and whelks begins on Friday 1 May and runs through October 31, 2009. No one may take any conch or whelks from Cayman waters, or purchase, receive or possess conch or whelks taken from Cayman waters, during these months. The DoE said violation of this or any of the Marine Conservation Laws is an offence carrying a maximum penalty of CI$500,000 fine and one year in jail.

The DoE said that upon conviction, forfeiture of the vessel or other equipment used to illegally poach may also be ordered.

The department is also reminding residents that in accordance with the Marine Conservation (Amendment) directives  2009 the manufacture of spear guns or their parts is prohibited in Cayman. Spear gun license holders are not allowed to cause to be or to manufacture a gun or any part of a spear gun, with the exception that licensees may manufacture the type of spear gun known as a ‘hook-stick’ which is a rod or stick of three and a half feet in length or less, and with only a fish-hook affixed to one end.  

All of the marine conservation regulations and laws are designed to protect Cayman’s valuable but dwindling marine resources. All of the details of these and other laws are available on www.doe.ky/laws.Persons may contact the DoE at 916 4271 (Grand Cayman), 926 0136 (Cayman Brac), or 926 2342 (Little Cayman) or call 911 to report violations of any marine conservation legislation.

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Pictures reveal dump as seen by cruise visitors

| 30/04/2009 | 60 Comments

(CNS): Photographs taken from the deck of a cruise ship anchored in the Cayman Islands are making the round on an e-mail and have been posted on a website illustrating the state of the George Town dump. A key feature on the campaign trail, the landfill and the failure by the PPM government to address the problem during their time in office is becoming a common criticism. Aside from the dump’s unsightly appearance (as illustrated in the pictures) and unpleasant smell, the main concern is leaching into the North Sound. (Photos by Kerry Horek)

The debate concerning what should be done about the George Town dump which has continued for several years resurfaces during each election campaign. However, each successive administration seems to struggle to address the issue. Although this administration says it has adopted a solution and has plans in place for a waste-to-energy programme, it has not been able to begin the initiative because of the expense. Nonetheless, a number of candidates have said the proposed plans, which were the result of cross party research, are not only far too expensive they will only address the top third of the garbage and have suggested an incineration programme.

Speaking at the George Town Chamber Candidate’s District Forum on Tuesday (28 April) Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said adressing the dump was on the priority list .

“The Minister for Communication and Works has gone a far distance with regards to solid waste disposal and plans are to move ahead … this is going to cost us close to $150 million at the end of the day and we have to devise ways and means that it can pay for itself.”

On Monday, when a question about these pictures being posted on the web came up at the forum in West Bay, the candidates all lamented the failure to address the problem. “Resolving the issue of the dump is a critical tourism and environmental issue,” said Rolston Anglin. “Governments have looked at the possibility of a waste-to-energy. I believe a public-private should be engaged in to ensure that we continue down that track,” he said, adding there was also a need to create a sustainable way to manage our waste into the future.

A number of candidates have said that the waste-to-energy plan will not address the whole dump and that much of it will still need to beincinerated. Others have raised very real concerns that this can no longer be an issue that keeps getting placed on the back-burner and has become a critical problem as it is leaching pollutents into the Sound.

Arden McLean, whose ministry the dump falls under, has said the plan he wants to put in place which came out of the work of the solid waste management committee, would bring the dump to zero and that the plan does include incineration and recycling. Speaking at the first Chamber Forum in East End, he said the consultant’s study on how to tackle it was finished last year.  “That plan calls for the total reduction of the dump as is in nineteen years down to zero through the process of incineration and a waste-to-energy programme,” he said, adding that it was his biggest regret that the current financial situation has prevented the initiative from going ahead. “It’s unfortunate that we did not get to that.”

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Police warn of employment scam aimed at nannies

| 30/04/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) have said that residents should be on the look out for an employment scam which targets potential nannies and housekeepers. An advertisement that ran in the Caymanian Compass appealing for a full time experienced nanny / housekeeper may not be above board and may involve cheque fraud.  

Police explained that a member of the public responded to an advertisement for a nanny offering $30 per hour for a fun loving, caring person with a patient personality. However, the resident became suspicious and reported their concerns to the RCIPS. As a result the police discovered that the ad may be part of a scam which involves the potential Nanny being sent a cheque by this supposed employer who almost immediately asks for its return because of an emergency. In some cases the potential employee has returned the money from their own funds only to find that the original cheque bounces.

“Further investigations have revealed that a number of warnings about this type of scam have been published,” a police statement said. “Basically, the potential employer will likely send some form of pre-payment or overpayment to the employee in the form of a cheque. The employer will then request the money back for a ‘family emergency’ fairly rapidly. The victim is then forced to send some of their own money before the cheque has cleared. The cheque then bounces and the employer is never heard from again”

Polcie said the same scam can also be used to obtain people’s personal details which could be used for identity theft.

“It can be hard to tell the difference between a genuine opportunity and a scam,” the police said adding that red flags to indicate a possible scam include if family offers to hire you without an interview; the family offers you money in advance; there are any references to Africa or cruise ships; the salaries or work conditions which seem amazingly high or unrealistic; they ask you to open a bank account or ask a ‘favour’ from you to forward money somewhere for medical care, furniture, moving, child’s tuition etc via a money transfer centre.

In this case aside from offering $30 per hour the ad it asks for two years experience with babies and excellent spoken and written English. It stipulates that the person should be a non-smoker and that applications should be sent to john.kellog@yahoo.com.

There are more details about the various housekeep and nanny scams on the sector specialist website –www.4nannies.com/info/nanny-scamsAnyone 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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The “knowledge engine”

| 30/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): A web tool that "could be as important as Google", according to some experts, has been shown off to the public. Wolfram Alpha is the brainchild of British-born physicist Stephen Wolfram. The free program aims to answer questions directly, rather than display web pages in response to a query like a search engine. The "computational knowledge engine", as the technology is known, will be available to the public from the middle of May this year. "Our goal is to make expert knowledge accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime," said Dr Wolfram at the demonstration at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

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Wolves deny GTSC victory

| 30/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): DHL Wolves snatched a much-needed victory away from George Town Sports Club, last year’s champions in the Dominos Pizza men’s league, to win by a single point on Sunday night.
The match, which took place at the court off Eastern Avenue, ended 69-68. George Town Sports Club secured the lead in the first, second and most of the third quarters. Wolves tied the game at the end of the fourth quarter and in the dying minutes of the game, GTSC saw the victory slip through their hands, when Earl Allen did a reverse lay-up for two points. It was just what Wolves needed to secure the win. Of course, it helped that throughout the game, Wolves out-rebounded GTSC, 59-38. (Photo by Tara Bush: Wolves’ Gary “Butcher” McLaughlin scores)

According to a release from the CIBA, Wolves’ leading man was Dwight O’Garro with 23 points and 18 rebounds. Carson Fagan and Gary “Butcher” McLaughlin also contributed. Fagan’s total was 20 points, with 5 assists and 7 rebounds. McLaughlin’s tally was 11 points and 10 rebounds.

GTSC’s top scorer was Antonio Thompson with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Jonathon Mitchell had 22 points and 8 rebounds and Mike Morgan added 10 points and 8 rebounds.
Coach of DHL Wolves, Duran “Trini” Whittaker, attributed his team’s victory to “a burning desire to win.”

He stated: “It means everything to us to win the league title. We have come so close before only to lose to GTSC. This year it is going to be different.” Theresa Hamil, the first female coach in the men’s league, said while her team, GTSC lost, they gave an excellent performance.
“It was a good game and it hurts to lose by one point. The fact that Wolves were grabbing up the defensive rebounds and then turning around to score is what hurt us at the end of the game,” she said.

Samuel O’Garro sets new records

In the first game of the evening, Esso Blazers defeated Tarheels 94-90 in an intense match that went into over time.

While Tarheels out-rebounded their opponents, they were unable to capitalise at the free throw line. Esso’s execution was nearly flawless and was the deciding factor that led to their victory.

It didn’t hurt that one of their players, Samuel O’Garro, had the perfect night. In fact, O’Garro set a national record by recording double figures in four categories in the stats – 29 points, 11 rebounds, 12 steals and 13 assists.

National Technical Director, Victor “Voot” O’Garro (who is also Sammy’s father) explained how difficult it is for a player to achieve this type of record. “It means that a player has to record double figures in four statistical categories. Such a player has to play both ends of the floor – offensive and defensive. Very few players have accomplished this,” he said.

Other top scorers for Esso Blazers were Perry Levy with 24 points and 3 steals and Kevin Maxwell with 19 points and 9 rebounds.

Tarheels’ top player was Omar Clarke who registered his career high with 36 points and 18 rebounds. Andrew Wisdom backed him up with 14 points and 9 rebounds.

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Man attacked on Cayman Brac

| 30/04/2009 | 10 Comments

(CNS): Following an incident in which a man was attacked in his yard on Sandpiper Drive, Cayman Brac, at around 10:40 pm on Tuesday, 28 April, Brac officers have arrested a 46-year-old man on suspicion of assault, actual bodily harm and criminal trespass. He has now been bailed with conditions. Barry Morgan told CNS that when he and his wife returned home from a public meeting Tuesday night, the suspect came into his yard and swung a metal pole at him. He went to the hospital that night and received treatment for minor injuries to his forearm before going to the temporary police station at Stake Bay to give a statement.

The suspect was arrested on the morning of Thursday, 29 April, after statements were taken from those involved. Police said that officers who arrived on the scene on the night of the incident suspected he was under the influence of alcohol. However, they said there was no reason to take a urine sample. “He was not driving and therefore there was no power or reason to request urine. The situation was assessed by the officers on the scene, statements were recorded from the victim and a witness. The victim had no visible signs of injury at that time. Therefore, he was asked to seek medical attention to ascertain whether his injuries amounted to common assault (not arrestable) or ABH,” police said.

Searches were conducted for a weapon but none was found.
 

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Storm brewing for Caribbean

| 30/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(Wealth Bulletin): The Caribbean holds two big attractions for the wealthy: idyllic islands and low taxation. But a storm is about to hit the region’s tax havens. Rudolf Elmer, former chief operating officer of Julius Baer in the Cayman Islands who has turned whistleblower on tax haven abuses, says he has seen a surge in interest in information he holds on the island and its accounts from overseas tax authorities in recent months. Others believe the Cayman Islands is more compliant than many mainstream financial centres. Charles Jennings, joint managing partner of Cayman Islands law firm Maples and Calder, says: “Cayman operates a well-regulated financial system.

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WHO: pandemic imminent

| 30/04/2009 | 27 Comments

(CNS): The UN’s World Health Organization has said that a pandemic is imminent and has raised the alert over swine flu to level 5 (indicating human-to-human transmission in at least two countries) the highest level of alert since the warning system was introduced in 2005 in response to the avian influenza crisis. Phase 6 means a pandemic is under way.Dr Kiran Kumar confirmed yesterday that during a pandemic we can expect around 25% of the population in Cayman to be affected.  Liquid disinfectant stations are being set up at airports and sea ports in the Cayman Islands.

People are being encourage to manage their personal hygene and to keep their hands clean and to avoid contact with their eyes, nose and mouth.

With oversight by Dr Kiran Kumar and the Ministry of Health, the Cayman Islands has initiated the plan of action outlined in the Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan, Health Minister Anthony Eden said at a press conference yesterday. Public Health and Health Services Authority have started surveillance for the disease, paying specific attention to cases with a combination of relevant symptoms and travel history to affected areas. He said the Cayman Islands is procuring additional supplies of the antiviral drug Tamiflu, which can prevent serious complications and is best if started within two days of symptoms, and this will arrive on the Islands by this weekend.  The island now has 3000 courses with 10,000 more expected. Additionally, discussions are being held with the UK for extra supplies.

The Department of Agriculture will organize a surveillance program to identify any symptomatic cases in the local pig population. Locally, swine flu has never previously been reported or tested for, but the department has the capability to monitor it.

Dr Kumar corrected inaccurate information printed by the local media about a shortage of swine flu vaccine. No such vaccine currently exist and WHO estimates that it may take 4-6 months before the first batch of vaccines are available to fight the virus.

Posters and pamphlets will be placed and distributed at all of Cayman’s ports of entry and all cruise ship companies are being advised to prevent passengers with respiratory illnesses to disembark. Anyone presenting to A&E with symptoms will be immediately isolated, tested and treated. Medical Director Greg Hoeksema explained that any one suspected of having swine flu will be treated immediately even though it will take 3-5 days to confirm blood samples as they are sent via DHL to Trinidad. He said depending on the severity patients will either be sent home for self isolation or will be kept in the hospital.

Kumar also noted that should the pandemic arrive in Cayman plans are in place to have people working from home as much as possible to try and minimise transmission. All local agencies and stakeholders are now in communication following the plan which is expected to work well the Minister of Health confirmed.

The Miami Herald has reported that 20 possible swine flu cases have been identified in Miami-Dade County, but it could be several days before the test results come back. The cases are considered ”suspect” because the patients have flu symptoms and have traveled to Mexico or other areas where the swine flu has been identified.

According to the Department of Tourism, two cruise ships which originally had itineraries which arrived in Grand Cayman directly after visiting Mexico (where the swine flu outbreak originated) have cancelled their calls to Mexico until further notice. To date, at least five cruise lines have adopted similar policies to temporarily suspend calls to Mexico.

In the past 48 hours, the Cayman Islands has received additional bookings from cruise lines, the DoT has said in a release. The Carnival Inspiration has extended its visits to two-day calls during the month of May 2009 and will stay in port until 6pm (instead of 2pm) on its normal days, go offshore and return the following day at 7am and depart at 3pm. In addition, they will be calling on alternate Saturdays. Other bookings are being made tentatively by various cruise lines. Persons with cruise interests are asked to closely monitor the Port Authority cruise schedules to monitor these developments.

“The swine flu has the potential to seriously interrupt travel and trade around the world. While international analysts disagree about the extent to which this will have an impact on tourism, locally we are taking steps to actively protect our borders while working closely with our business partners to weather this crisis as we have done in the past when facing global threats,” said Tourism Minister Charles Clifford.

Since Monday night (April 27), Public Health has implemented advisories that all ships calling upon Cayman should restrict the disembarkation of passengers and crew who have flu-like symptoms.

In terms of travel by air, DoT notes that theCayman Islands does not have any commercial flights to and from Mexico; however direct flights do operate from countries/states with confirmed cases (Texas, New York, Canada and the UK) and private flights routinely visit from Mexico.

Protocols have been requested from local public health in the event additional vigilance is required and signage is being developed for all Cayman ports of entry. Any procedural change will be handled in accordance with international standards.

The DoT said, “Many travel journalists seem conflicted on whether or not they think the outbreak will actually affect travel demand, however this presents yet another challenge that global tourism is facing and we need to implement measures to mitigate the impact on the Cayman Islands.”

As a preventative measure, front-line staff at the airport and port have been advised to implement everyday actions that can help to prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Additional measures are in place to encourage good hygiene at ports of entry. Liquid disinfectant stations are being set up at airports and sea ports to encourage and remind people to keep their hands clean and to avoid contact with their eyes, nose and mouth.

The National Influenza Pandemic Committee convened its first meeting yesterday, 29 April.
 

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Clifford defends conservation bill

| 30/04/2009 | 10 Comments

(CNS): Minister for Tourism and Environment Charles Clifford has strongly defended the National Conservation Bill, which failed to make it to the Legislative Assembly during the last sitting because of both political and public opposition. Speaking at last night’s Chamber forum, Clifford said he very much regretted that the bill was not passed but there had been a propaganda campaign against the bill incorrectly leading people to  believe they would not be able to develop their land when that was just not the case.

Despite the fact that his political and ministerial colleague Minister Arden McLean openly stated at the first Chamber forum that he would not back the bill unless it is changed, Clifford defended the bill when asked a question about environmental issues and protection at the Chamber Candidate’s District Forum in Bodden Town.

“The National Conservation Law is a law that was not passed during this administration and it is something that I very much regret,” he said. “There has been a propaganda campaign against that legislation. People have said all sorts of things about people not being able to develop their land if we pass the conservation bill and that is simply not correct.” He explained that the only issues that deals with the enforced protection of land refers to crown land (government owned) which has a sub-section that indicates if government wants to protect land it has to d so with the owner’s consent. He also wanted government to try and acquire the land around the duck pond so it can be protected. Clifford said it was an important eco-system which was as connected to the North Sound which was in turn connected to the tourism product.

Answering the same question about environmental challenges, Dwayne Seymour, a UDP candidate for the district, said he was concerned about the blasting and quarrying in the area as there were now some seven quarries in the Bodden Town district and the earth and even people’s houses were literally shifting. He also stated that the derelict vehicles and garbage as well as illegal dumping were serious problems, which, following his participation in Saturday’s Earth Day Clean-Up, he saw with his own eyes.

Seymour said he too wanted to see the pond saved for future generations. However, referring to Clifford’s comments regarding the National Conservation Bill, he said that as Minister McLean had said that he wouldn’t support it, Seymour thought there must be something seriously wrong with it. “He is a part of the present government, so I would be hesitant and would have to review that further find out what is so bad in this document that he and his colleague can’t agree on.”

Theresa Lewis–Pitcairn one of two other independent candidates on the panel stated she had concerns that there was so much litter, garbage, derelict vehicles in some areas of the district as this was part of an overall undervaluing and neglect of some of the poorer communities and she agreed that the duck pond needed to be protected.

Gilbert McLean, a former UDP member who served in its previous administration as Health Minister who is now running as an independent, said he was also very concerned about the quarries. He noted a tremendous amount of heavy equipment was now in the area, as well as increasing garbage and the related pests. He said there was a number of pressing environmental issues that needed to be addressed.

During the debate the four candidates covered tourism, the Turtle Farm, law enforcement, the airport redevelopment, the economy, new revenue ideas and unaudited government finances among other district and national topics.

The issue of government finances and the need to raise revenue came upin a number of different questions. But the need for greater efficiencies in government as a way of reducing spending rather than raising money, which has been a persistent theme of agreement throughout the forums, was also agreed by the final Bodden Town panel.

Clifford pointed to the idea of zero based budgeting and said that over the years operating budgets were always based on the previous year spending but it was time to move away from that and look at what government departments really need to operate. He said that government would find it could easily produce the same level of services but at a reduced cost. He said there was no need to raise revenues of fees every time the finances were in deficit, but he said given Cayman’s situation there were not that many options for new revenue raising measures.

Lewis-Pitcairn noted there were no easy solutions and the problem was compounded by the failure of government to supply audited accounts but there were areas of potential new revenue. She said that we could not continue to milk tourism and the financial services sectors but could utilise the lever of the agreements we were making overseas regarding tax information exchange to bring new business to Cayman in return. She said there were a number of ways to both raise revenue and increase efficiencies.

Three of the candidates said they supported rollover and that it should extend to the civil service, but Seymour noted it wasn’t working properly and needed reviewing. Lewis-Pitcairn, however, said she had never been a supporter of the policy as she did not think it addressed the fundamental problem that even when educated, qualified and experienced, Caymanians were still being discriminated against.

“I was never somebody who supported the rollover as you can’t legislate for people’s behaviour,” she said, noting that Caymanians were not being promoted even when properly trained and she said that was why we continue to see designer ads in the paper for jobs while Caymanians were still unemployed. “It does not add up,” she noted. “We need to ensure that persons that sit on these boards are there to do a proper public service or are paid a wage to do it.” She also noted it was wrong that the policy applied to the private sector and not the public when we were all one working community.

When the subject moved to the current government’s achievements and disappointments in the last administration, Clifford listed a lot of achievements before running out of time to list any disappointments. Lewis-Pitcairn cited Alden McLaughlin’s courage in addressing education, and both McLean and Seymour said they could not find any achievements only disappointments.

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UDP denies disqualification

| 30/04/2009 | 73 Comments

(CNS): Despite conflicting information from the Attorney General’s Office and the Elections Office, who both say they have made no statements on the issue, the United Democratic Party has claimed that reports regarding their Bodden Town candidates being disqualified are inaccurate and this has been confirmed by both those offices. However, Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez and AG Samuel Bulgin both say they have made no statements regarding the qualification as they stated it is a matter for the courts to decide.

Yesterday (29 April), the UDP circulated a statement from the General Secretary of the party, Rolston Anglin, in which it said media reports saying that  Bodden Town candidates Mark Scotland andDwayne “John John” Seymour are disqualified from standing in the May 2009 General Election are false and have been inaccurately reported. “The fact that our candidates are entitled to contest and be elected by the people of Bodden Town in the General Election on May 20th 2009 has been confirmed by the Elections Office and the Honourable Attorney General,” it said.

However, following the release of this statement CNS contacted the Attorney General’s Office who confirmed in an email that the only comment the AG has made on this matter was that reported on CNS on Tuesday and there has been no other statement. In the email to CNS on Tuesday, 28 April, in response to a number of questions that have arisen over the candidates’ breach of a constitutional requirement, the AG said: “The issues raised byyou in your note are all questions of fact and law that can only be conclusively determined by the Grand Court after hearing all the facts and considering the relevant law(s).  Indeed the outcome of any of these issues (is) going to be informed by other factual and legal matters that we are unable to foresee at this stage.  Accordingly, any opinion at this juncture will be mere conjecture which would not be very helpful.  In fact it will only lead to more questions”.

Gomez also told CNS that he has made no statement confirming the qualification of the candidate as he is not able to do so as this is a constitutional issue and not one for the Elections Law. He explained that the candidates were both duly nominated on 26 March, Nomination Day, as at that time they were in compliance with the requirements of the Elections Law. Gomez said the constitutional requirement is a different matter which comes after that date and the Elections Law has no provision to deal with that. He added that it was an issue for the Grand Court and not the Elections Office. Furthermore, last week the Governor’s Office confirmed that the Constitution would not be suspended.

Given those facts, the two candidates remain in contravention of the Constitution, which means that no one but a court can confirm their qualification for election as the current Constitution indicates they are disqualified. However, as the candidates names appear on the already printed ballot, the fact is they are able to contest the election whether they are qualified or not.

Even though this issue concerns a constitutional requirement as set out since 1972 which the candidates have contravened by publishing the details of their government contracts around four days late, the UDP have called this a political issue.  “We humbly ask the general public and the people of Bodden Town not to allow political rumours and threats to distract you from the real issues facing this country or to discourage you from exercising your right to vote for Mark Scotland and Dwayne “John John” Seymour on 20 May 2009,” the General Secretary stated.

Anglin’s statement  said that in relation to recent threats from political opponents that they will seek to have them removed from office, the UDP is satisfied that Scotland and Seymour have done what they need to do to qualify.

“In relation to recent threats from their political opponents that they will seek to have Bodden Town’s lawfully elected representatives removed from office following the General Election, our candidates are satisfied that they have made full and frank disclosure and been completely transparent with all information required from them in order to qualify them as candidates and to be elected to sit in the Legislative Assembly as your duly elected representatives for the next four years,” the General Secretary’s statement read.

A number of the other eight candidates running in the district have told CNS that the two must be challenged because this is in breach of the Constitution and, as the highest law of the land, it cannot be disregarded regardless of whether there was no intent to deceive. Section 19 (g) of the 1972 constitution states:  “No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the Assembly who…. is a party to, or a partner in a firm or a director or manager of a company which is a party to, any contract with the Government of the Islands for or on account of the public service and has not, in the case of a contested election, caused to be published, at least one month before the day ofthe poll, a Government Notice setting out the nature of such contract and his interest, or the interest of any such firm or company….”

Speaking at last night’s (Wednesday 29 April) Chamber Candidates District Forum, which included Seymour, three of the panellists all said they agreed with the provisions for candidate qualification in the Constitution, however, Seymour said there was a problem alluding to the requirement for declaration of public contracts coming after Nomination Day. “I think right now there is a problem with both laws correlating. The Elections Law doesn’t marry with the Constitution law. There is currently a flaw in the law,” he said.

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