Archive for April 19th, 2009

Alcohol is top drug problem

Alcohol is top drug problem

| 19/04/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): Announcing Cabinet approval for the formation of a plan to tackle drug abuse in the Cayman Islands for the next five years, Joan West-Dacres (left), the Executive Director of the National Drug Council, said that while Cayman’s drugs of choice were ganja, cocaine, tobacco and alcohol, it was the abuse of alcohol which represented the biggest problem to the community. She said the National Anti-Drug Strategy 2009-2013 aims to significantly reduce the prevalence of substance abuse and misuse in Cayman and was particularly timely as risk factors were on the increase.

The plan primarily aims to co-ordinate all of the disparate and independent programmes, activities and initiatives relating to drug misuse, abuse and treatment, to avoid duplication and plug gaps. It will also measure the problem and seek solutions and legislative change where necessary. Explaining its significance, West-Dacres said there was a clear need for a policy that could provide an enhanced strategic and coordinated approach.

“Taking into consideration the ongoing issues of substance abuse, misuse, the social and economic impacts, utilising a broader approach in order to formulate a National Anti-Drug Strategy is now timely,” Dacres said, adding that in spite of deficient data, quantitative indicators ofdrug use in the Cayman Islands are significantly increasing and there is a notable under-utilization of the institutional care infrastructure organized to handle the drug problem.

She said the NDC, through a consultative process with key stakeholders and guidance from an external consultant, had formulated “A Comprehensive Approach to Drug Control, the National Anti-Drug Strategy (2009-2013)".

“The primary aims of the strategy are to significantly reduce the prevalence of drug use among the Cayman Islands population and to reduce the social harm and health damage it causes in the society,” she added. “It addresses both illegal and legal substances,” she said, later indicating that the misuse and abuse of alcohol was the most problematic issue for the Cayman Islands.

West-Dacres said there were three general objectives to the strategy, which were: preventing illicit drug use, treating those with drug dependencies and combating the availability and distribution of illicit drugs on and within the islands.

Although the strategy is focused on prevention and treatment, law enforcement would still form a major part of the strategy, and while West-Dacres said there would be legislative review, there were no plans to decriminalise any illegal drugs and the policy for zero tolerance would remain. West-Dacres said the strategy would allow for immediate action in some areas, which would in the first year require little or no additional funding, such as the review of legislation, development of best practices and improved collaborative efforts.

Overall, the plan seeks to strengthen and assist families and communities affected by drug abuse; provide a national policy framework for the delivery of a comprehensive drug education programme; guarantee the delivery of treatment and rehabilitation services that meets the needs of the individual; support the supply reduction efforts of law enforcement and interdiction agencies; develop a culture and practice of data collection and dissemination in relation to substance abuse; provide clear indications about the merit and worth of current actions and activities at the local level; encourage multi-agency cooperation and the involvement of civil society and the private sector and the international community.

Minister for Health and Human Services Anthony Eden was also present at the presentation of the plan and said he was pleased that Cabinet had approved the plan. “We are all aware that the misuse of drugs and other substances is not only a problem that affects the abuser, but also impacts every aspect of society and economy, including health care, family life, law enforcement, employment, and the list goes on. As a government we need to do whatever we can to protect the people of the Cayman Islands from the abuse of legal and illegal substances,” he said, adding that it was critical that there was a national commitment to comprehensively address and prevent issues related to drug control and the strategy was a blueprint for the response to the misuse and abuse of both illicit and legal drugs.

The NDC was established in 1997 to co-ordinate the country’s anti-drug measures and came out of a plan approved by the government for the period of 1995-1999,which was not fully implemented. During the presentation of the new strategy, no mention was made of how the NDC had fulfilled its mandate since 1999 save to say that it had for the last ten had oversight of the National Anti-Drug Strategic process and the revision of the National Anti-Drug Strategy (NADS).

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Google avoids £100m UK tax

Google avoids £100m UK tax

| 19/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(Times): The internet giant Google with the motto “don’t be evil”, avoids paying more than £100m a year in UK tax despite pulling in annual revenues of more than £1.25 billion. Even though the web search engine operates as Google UK Ltd in London, British firms which advertise with it pay their subscriptions to a subsidiary based in Ireland, where corporation tax is far lower than in the UK. This structure, condemned this weekend as “unfair” and “unacceptable”, allowed Google legallyto avoid paying £110m of UK tax in 2007, according to research by an expert on corporate tax avoidance.

Go to article.


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UDP invite falls foul of law

UDP invite falls foul of law

| 19/04/2009 | 44 Comments

(CNS): The UDP confirmed on Friday evening that Miss Cayman Islands, Nicosia Lawson, would not be speaking at their youth rally as promoted due to her role as a civil servant. According to the Public Servant’s Code of Conduct, government workers have a right to attend public meetings but they must remain politically neutral to protect the integrity of the office. UDP General Secretary, Rolston Anglin, said due to a miscommunication Lawson was promoted as being a speaker but that this had to be cancelled.


Cayman Islands government workers were warned earlier this month by the Chief Secretary George McCarthy not to engage in political activities in the run up to the General Election on 20 May. Civil servants cannot assist parties in their campaigns, fundraise or put bumper stickers on cars, never mind actually speak on the platform of a political party or candidate.

“In accordance with the rules of civil servants Ms Lawson will not be able to speak at this event and we sincerely apologise for the mixup which resulted in us inviting her as a speaker,” said Anglin on Friday.

A recent memo reminding public sector workers about the rules concerning elections from the Chief Secretary’s Office said they were entitled to gather information and ask questions to allow them to make an informed vote. The Cayman Islands Civil Service Association recently asked for a more specific list of do’s and don’ts regarding what civil servants can and can’t do, as it stated that it is frustrating for public officers as they try to engage in the election without violating neutrality.

Lawson, who is on sabbatical as Miss Cayman from her job at the Cayman Islands Development Bank, had been invited to speak at a special rally organized by the UDP for Cayman’s younger voters on Friday night, which Anglin said had generated a lot of excitement and he was expecting a large turnout at the free concert. “We are looking forward to having some clean fun as well as interacting with our youth. The entertainment is great and we are looking forward to this event,” he added before the concert started.

Entitled “Empowering Our Youth”, the UDP youth rally featured local boxing hero Charles Whittaker, Richard Christian and Yentel McGaw, as well as artists such as Big J, Jeffery Wilson and Atomic Disco.

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Lawyers to talks funds online

Lawyers to talks funds online

| 19/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): One local legal firm is turning to online technology to help keep clients informed regarding issues affecting the local hedge fund industry. Solomon Harris is hosting its inaugural Webinar on ‘Managing Distressed Cayman Funds and lessons learned for new funds’ on Tuesday. The firm said using the web will help it reach as wide an audience as possible on this topical and important subject. Sophia Harris, the firm’s Managing Partner said the Webinar fits perfectly with the firm’s approach to business and “Our firm tends to work directly with investment managers and the more informed our clients are, the better for us as their legal advisers,” she added.

Partner, Paul Scrivener, head of the investment funds group explained that recent significant stresses placed upon hedge funds, particularly in Q4 of 2008, have given the firm’s investment funds group invaluable insight into the issues facing managers with liquidity problems and the legal and practical tools available to them.  “We were keen to share our experiences in a practical way with those involved in the industry and we felt the medium of the webinar was the ideal way to reach the widest possible audience,” he said.

The firm said it will also be joining forces with KPMG in the presentation which may be better known for the provision of US tax services to Cayman funds, Paul Hotchkiss will be covering recent tax changes in the UK and the possible impact on Cayman Islands investment funds.

"I visited Cayman recently to undertake a series of seminars on these and similar topics and I am delighted to be asked by Solomon Harris to participate in their inaugural Webinar. UK taxation of offshore funds is undergoing significant change and also there has been an increased interest from HM Revenue and Customs in the structuring of such funds,” Hodgekiss said.”As Cayman has been historically, and is still, widely used as jurisdiction of choice to establish funds with a UK focus, I hope my comments will be relevant to the participants who are involved with funds with a UK focus."

The firm said that the response to the Webinar has been overwhelming, confirming how topical it is.  “We are looking forward to hosting a webinar annually but will do so more frequently if necessary where we feel the need to address other pressing topics affecting the Cayman hedge fund industry,” said Laura Hatfield, partner and head of the firm’s dispute resolution and corporate recovery group.

As investment funds are such a major part of the firm’s practice, the firm also launched its fund-specific website, ‘’ late last year also with a view to keeping the firm’s clients better informed.

“We have noted that according to the Barclays Capital Asset Management Solutions Group Survey, 70% of investors were interested in re-deploying cash by the end of the second quarter 2009 and of those surveyed, 88% said they remain opportunistic and would continue to fund allocations.  It also showed that cash withdrawals have slowed and is now more in keeping with the long-term industry average,” Harris added. “So  whilst we know that we will continue to see investment managers dealing with the challenges of the current economic market, we still remain confident about the industry overall.

Solomon Harris ahs also recruited back attorney, Nick Reid, who has worked in the firm’s investment funds group previously before moving to Dubai to work with Al Tamini and Company, where he also specialized in investment funds.  Reid is now returning to Solomon Harris to work in the firm’s Swiss office.

“We are delighted that Nick has decided to rejoin us.  He is a first-rate funds lawyer and the experience he gained in Dubai only adds to his skill-set.  Nick will be our third lawyer in Europe and we know that he is going to make an invaluable contribution to our team there,” said Scrivener.

For more details of the webinar contact the firm at or visit their website at


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Candidates back on the campaign trail

Candidates back on the campaign trail

| 19/04/2009 | 11 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of the Easter break, the candidates for the 20 May General Elections returned to the hustings last week competing for attention with the Chamber debates. Both the political parties were backon the campaign trail hurling insults, while the independents also began working hard at setting themselves apart. In George Town Burns Conolly turned the heat up on government and the party system, while in Bodden Town Vincent Frederick presented some unusual propositions and Theresa Lewis-Pitcairn noted that, despite three cabinet ministers living in the district, Bodden Town had been neglected.

Speaking to the people of Windsor Park on Thursday night, Burns Connolly doubted that they were better off with the two-party system and said the solution was voting for him and other independents to make a difference. Heavily criticising the current government, he accused it of neglecting the needs of the people.  “They have forgotten that you must come first. That you need jobs first, and that you need dignity, hope and a future for your children, that you need a good roof over your head and some solid walls around you first,” he said, addingthat on 20 May voters should show them that they have forgotten about them too.

Criticising government spending and education policy, Connolly said if elected he would introduce Kindergarten years into the public school system and add an after-school programme. He said there was no need for expensive schools as the church halls were empty. Saying a vocational training school was a priority, he did not say whether that meant he supported the existing plans for the George Hicks campus to become a vocational college. He said the need to give non-academic kids a chance was important as it was time to stop losing good kids to bad situations.”I will ensure they all have a fighting chance. We cannot afford to lose even one child in Cayman. We are a small country, we need all hands on deck,” he added.

Meanwhile, in Bodden Town, Theresa Lewis-Pitcairn focused on the neglect of the district and false promises made by the incumbents, and said that Bodden Town needed investment and development. She also urged unity and asked voters not to let frustrations with leadership past and present encouraging cultural divide to limit the community.

Addressing unemployment, Lewis-Pitcairn said retraining was crucial to help Caymanians back into the workforce and promised to introduced specific programmes that would fit the needs of employers and give young men hope. She noted that they also had a part to play. “I want to see our young men ready and able to upgrade their skills. I want them putting some money aside to take care of their kids. I want to see them spending quality time with their kids; lifting them and hugging them and letting them know that they are safe and loved,” she said.

On crime, she said, Cayman was spending too much money, time, energy and resources on responding to crime instead of addressing what causes It. Lamenting poor levels of training in the police service, the divisions because of a failure to introduce cultural sensitivity training, and poor levels of transparency communication, she also said their was a lack of trust between the public and the police. “People say to me that the disconnect between the public and the police only helps to fuel criminals,” she said, adding that under her leadership there would be a review of law enforcement. She reminded people, however, that crime was not just a policing issue but there were socio-economic considerations.

Earlier in the week Vincent Frederick told the people of Bodden Town that the country is in a state of despair due to the political and social injustice being thrust upon us.” He also flew the flag for independents when he told voters that they had been better off with them in the past and would be again.  Why skip from party to party and getting nothing but hardship,” he said.

Talking policy, Fredericks put forward his solutions to problems of unemployment and said he would reduce the foreign workers in the civil service and limit them to three year contracts with no exceptions. He was not afraid to limit the number of foreigners employed in Cayman, he said, and as a revenue raising measure he intended to introduce an infrastructure fee (income tax) on their earnings. “The foreigners enjoy our beaches, our hospital services, our roads, our houses, and depend on our law enforcement to protect them…… putting extra burden and strain on the society,” he said adding that he proposed a fee based on a percentage of the foreign workers income and any other form of incentives that they make.

Fredericks explained his proposition would  start at 1% for workers making under CI$2,500.00 per month, 2.5% for workers making CI$2,500.01 and so on up to 5% for workers making over CI$5,000.00 per month. Another revenue raising measure he proposed was an annual infrastructure fee on all commercial buildings over 500 square feet.

Every day we see a new building going up in the air and when it’s completed there are no other fees except for the one time planning and building permit fees,’ he said. To enforce the collection of these and other fees he proposes, Frederick said he would form the ‘National Infrastructure Bureau’.

He also noted he would re-write the proposed national conservation bill which, he said, protected iguanas more than people. He described it as a law written by foreigners robbing Caymanians of their heritage. “Why do we need someone from Russia to come here to tell us how to fish and how to eat?” he asked rhetorically, adding that he would change the law to allow the importation of spear guns and parts for Caymanians.

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Activists urge voters to understand constitution

Activists urge voters to understand constitution

| 19/04/2009 | 8 Comments

(CNS):  With just over four weeks to go before polling day the general election noise appears to be drowning out the information regarding the referendum vote on Cayman’ proposed constitution which will take place on the same day. However, Equality Cayman is urging voters to read and learn the constitution and the rights that it currently denies them. It says its goal between now and 20 May referendum will be to raise awareness and help the electorate understand the pros and cons of a yes or no vote.


On 20 March this year the grass roots organisation Equality Cayman which was created to draw attention to the lack of human rights protections included in the new constitution’s Bill of Rights, submitted a petition with 701 signatures to the office of Kurt Tibbetts.

“The petition requested that the Government include two alternative versions of Section 16 in the 20 May referendum and allow people to choose for themselves, between the original section 16 (free standing right) or the new section 16 (right to equality limited to the Bill of Rights),” said Equality Cayman spokesperson, Carlene Alexander. “To date, Equality Cayman has not received a response from Mr. Tibbetts or anyone in his office.”

She added that 300 of the petition signatures were obtained in just one day, which suggests that had the organization had more time, a lot more signatures could have been obtained. She explained that Equality Cayman’s primary concern is that the original section 16 of the draft Bill of Rights stated that the Government should not discriminate against anyone at any time, however, the new section 16 does not protect anyone from discrimination by the Government in relation to healthcare, housing, employment, access to public spaces, the provision of social services and anything else which is not listed as a specific right in the Bill of Rights.

In the original draft constitution, the right to equality applied in all areas of daily life, including healthcare, housing and employment. This meant that it could not be restricted and made to apply only to certain areas/types/categories of rights and not to others. If the new constitution is accepted, there will be no full right in the Constitution to truly equal treatment by the Government.

As a result she says the organization is now embarking on a campaign encouraging the public to educate themselves on the details of the constitution and the rights that it currently denies them. The primary objective of Equality Cayman now will be to facilitate that education process and help Cayman voters understand what the pros and cons are of voting yes or no on the constitution as it stands.

The constitutional secretariat has produced an explanatory guide document for the constitution written in plain English. In it government takes some four pages to spell out its position regarding the denial of a free standing right in section 16. However, it does not explain in those pages that all Caymanians will be denied protection from discrimination regarding a number of areas including health, housing and access to various services offered by government. The documents are available in libraries across the islands or log onto


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