Archive for May 5th, 2009

Governor backs prison boss

| 05/05/2009 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Following charges against HMP Northward inmate Randy Martins for the murder of Sabrina Schirn the Governor has said he has called for an independent review of the policies and procedures of the Prison Service in relation to the supervision of prisoners outside of the prison. While ordering the enquiry the Governor still offered his support to Dr William Rattray the Commissioner of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The governor said that the murder of Sabrina Schirn was both a tragic and appalling act but he welcomed the steps that Rattray has taken.

“The safety and security of the residents of the Cayman Islands are of paramount importance to me,” Governor Stuart Jack said. “This includes the public having the utmost confidence in the systems that have been put in place to ensure the safety of the public and in those who have been entrusted with operating those systems.

He said that the arrest of a suspect happened just before he left on leave but he had asked officials to consider what steps should be taken at HM Prison Northward pending the outcome of the police  investigation.

I welcome the steps that the Commissioner of Corrections and Rehabilitation has taken including suspending the farm operation,” the Governor said adding that now charges had been brought against an inmate he had decided that there should be an independent review of the policies and procedures of the Prison Service in relation to the supervision of prisoners outside of the prison.

The aim will be to ensure that the arrangements for prisoners outside the prison adequately protect the public while balancing in an appropriate way the important efforts that Dr Rattray and the management and staff of the prison have been making towards the rehabilitation of prisoners.

He said the review would be undertaken by Orren Merren, a local attorney has and the terms of reference will be announced in due course. The FCO’s Regional Overseas Territories Prison Adviser will provide technical advice,” he said adding that he envisaged a thorough but quick review. The Governor also offered his condolences to Sabrina’s family as they come to terms with what has happened.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Cayman now has basic quick flu test

| 05/05/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): According to the government H1N1 flu update today, Tuesday, 5 May the HSA can now do a basic test to see if a person has the flu with results available in 3-4 hours. HSA said that if the test is positive for Influenza A (the flu comes in two major types – A and B), the test will be sent to CAREC in Trinidad as a suspect case if the person has a travel history to an affected areain the past seven days. However, government has confirmed that there are still no suspected cases of H1N1 Flu in the Cayman Islands.

Government also stated that the name of the virus causing the current outbreak is Influenza A(H1N1) or HIN1 Flu as Swine Flu is now being frowned upon by the Centre  for Disease Control , WHO, health professionals, and pork producers as they all feel the name “swine flu” is wrong since the virus contains human, bird and swine factors.

Despite global indications that the flu is considerably less harmful than first suspected, the CI government is continuing with the flu pandemic plan including posting health alert notices at all ports of entry and a health desk at Owen Roberts where arriving passengers, who feel they might have the flu, can get help or where front line staff from airlines, Immigration and Customs can get information.

Anyone who tests positive for Influenza A will be treated with Tamiflu, stockpiles of which are now enough to treat 2,492, and asked to isolate themselves at home, staying away from family members and not going to work or to any public places. If they are severely ill, they will be admitted to the hospital.

HSA said it continues to hold briefing sessions for staff and private physicians and will continue periodic updates. Briefing sessions will soon be held with 911, Customs, Immigration, health professionals in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman..

The Cayman Islands National Influenza Pandemic Committee (CINIPC) is collaborating with HMCI the full resources of which can be called upon as the situation develops and CINIPC has advised the Chamber of Commerce and the Portfolios of Economics and Finance and Civil Service to inform their stakeholders to review business continuity plans.

An additional 2,000 copies of The Cayman Islands Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan, sponsored by Sagicor, will be printed, so the plan can be made widely available. It’s already on the CaymanPrepared website.

Any vessel or aircraft which enters the Cayman Islands directly from Mexico will be met by public health officials. Passengers and crew will be screened before clearance by Immigration. It is important to remember that the best personal defence is good hygiene, i.e. frequent hand washing; as well as good health — eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising.

 

Continue Reading

Clear as mud

| 05/05/2009 | 27 Comments

In what he called "a clarification" that made the situation regarding the late declaration of public contracts held by Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour about as clear as mud, the governor has failed to answer the question regarding this constitutional issue surrounding the two candidates and in turn failed the electorate.

The statement issued by Governor Stuart Jack yesterday would not have been quite so ridiculous if the UK’s representative had not cited it as a clarification. Given such statements, none of us can blame Scotland and Seymour for staying in the race. They want to be politicians and as far as they are concerned remaining in the election despite being technically disqualified is in their best interests, because if on Election Day either one pools enough votes to be elected they can use the democratic principle and the demonstration of support from the electorate to fight any challenge.

The problem here lies with the authorities and in particular the governor. After all, the Cayman purse is already some $6 million down and counting because of what Jack has perceived as the pursuit of good governance. It seems that he is perfectly comfortable ruining the careers of high court judges and senior police officers with distinguished records where there is virtually no evidence to suggest wrongdoing, but where there is a glaring breach of a black and white requirement in the Constitution he takes no action to indicate whether the candidates are qualified or not.

There is absolutely no suggestion that either of these two Bodden Town UDP candidates were trying to hide anything or deliberately avoid compliance. However, as many a person clutching a speeding ticket will attest, not meaning to do it has never saved anybody from paying the consequences. As Mark Scotland can probably testify as well, when a footballer scores an own goal no amount of pleading to the referee that it was an oversight will make it go away — because it is the rules.

This situation would be far better served if the two candidates were able to clear this situation before Election Day to ensure fairness with regards to all the candidates in the race as well as for themselves, but above all the Bodden Town electorate, which has a right to know that if they vote for either of these candidates that vote will count.

Whether it is the governor, the attorney general  or a Grand Court Judge, there is a pressing need for a definitive ruling on the two candidate’s qualification before Election Day. At this very moment in time the candidates are both, according to the Constitution — not to CNS, the other independent candidates, the PPM or anyone else, but the Constitution — disqualified. It says so very, very clearly in Section 19 1 (g) and if that law was upheld by the person who is ultimately responsible for upholding it, Scotland and Seymour would have already been declared disqualified giving them a chance to go straight to the courtroom to present their case.

Then, if as the UDP has declared they are eligible to contest the election, they would win and a judge would say so. At that point all the candidates would be able to return to the hustings for the mudslinging, insulting and regular political criticisms in a fair fight to the finish.

Sadly, however that does not look like it is going to happen, so both Scotland and Seymour will stand on Election Day while, to the letter of the law, being disqualified. Should either candidate then gain enough votes, he will be challenged and the legal wrangling will begin, possibly destabilising any potential new government and creating a post-election battle that will not only damage confidence at home but likely damage confidence abroad as well.

Continue Reading

Gauguin cut off Vincent’s ear

| 05/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Vincent van Gogh did not cut off his own ear but lost it in a fight with fellow artist Paul Gauguin in a row outside a brothel, it has been claimed. It has long been accepted that the mentally ill Dutch painter cut off his own ear with a razor after the row in Arles, southern France, in 1888. But a new book, based on the original police investigation, claims Gauguin swiped Van Gogh’s ear with a sword. The authors argue the official version of events contains inconsistencies. The book, titled In Van Gogh’s Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence, is the product of 10 years of research by German academics Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans.

Go to article

Continue Reading

Wally takes on builder’s law

| 05/05/2009 | 53 Comments

(CNS): Already considered a serious contender for one of the four seats in the George Town district at the General Election on 20 May, Walling Whittaker upped his game yesterday in a bid to attract more votes when he called a meeting of small sub-contractors and warned them that the Builders Law would put them out of business, but if they elected him he would repeal it. Whittaker said the new law would add such onerous burdens to small contractors that they simply would not be able to trade.

To a packed room at the Reliable Industries showroom, Whittaker launched an attack on the law in which he stated that most of the people there would be facing more red tape as the law had created more hurdles for them. Worse, he said, was the creation of a board madeup of their competitors to whom they would have to answer. He asked the audience why they should have extra layers of bureaucracy when many were already meeting these requirements under different laws and regulations.

“Your Trade and Business Licence will be no longer valid,” he said. “You will have to apply to this new board made up of your competitors for a different builders licence. Contractors who have been in business for years will have to take an exam set by a board and administered by an institution of their choosing.”

He said contractors would be limited in the work they could do and the law created unfair differences between civil contractors and residential trade contractors. Whittaker described the law as misguided and the aim to improve standards could have been achieved differently. “I haven’t seen any buildings dropping on people’s heads, so I think you know what you are doing. This is a bad law for your industry.”

Whittaker warned the law would lead to domination of the market by large general contractors as the small contractor would not meet the requirements to trade. “The barriers for entry are too onerous for you to meet, so you will fade away. This will drive up cost of housing for all the community,” he added.

He said the new board would be able to prevent small contractors from being licensed. “They can decide you can’t have a licence based purely on the economic  situation. They can refuse you your license based on things you’ve done in the past. You have to show your  board your finances and your competitors will decide if you can stay in business,” he claimed, adding that the board would also dictate to contractors the ownership of shares, they could not move shares around unless the board said so, nor would the contractors be able to start spin-off companies unless approved by this board.

“Your competitors are deciding if you are competent but who decided they were competent to decide if you are competent?” Whittaker asked, adding that their only course of redress if they did not like the board’s decision was through the Grand Court.

Whittaker told the increasingly disgruntled crowd that the law, although not implemented, was already passed and would come into effect once the eighth board member had been appointed. He said, however, that he would fight for its repeal but the best way for the contractors to fight the law was to create a small contractors association where they could pool labour and resources while dealing with pension and heath issues collectively. He said pooling together would see them able to protect themselves from legislation like this and their interests, as he noted that the Cayman Contractors Association (CCA), which was in support of the new legislation, had failed to do that.

Hitting back however, Steve Hawley, president of the CCA, pointed out at the meeting that Whittaker had grossly distorted the facts about the law and that, as it introduced levels and categories of contractors, all the persons in the room would be able to choose what type of licence they wanted with graduated requirements. He explained that if a small contractor was hoping to pitch for a Ritz size contract then indeed he would have to meet certain criteria, but this would not be the case for a small trader’s licence.

“If what you said was true then this would indeed be a horrendous law,” Hawley said to Whittaker. He also called Whittaker out as being on the original committee that wrote the law but who had never turned up for meetings. Whittaker denied being invited despite his name being on the committee list.

However, the crowd of subcontractors clearly felt that the CCA did not have their interests at heart and one contractor pointed out that with some 18 members out of an industry of up to 400 that was not surprising.

Hawley also admitted that the only actual builder on the committee of 13 people who created the law was the president of the CCA, which had begun with Ian Pairaudeau from McAlpine and then himself when he became the next president.

Tommy Bodden, a well known and respected local contractor, defended Hawley and the CCA as he said the reason why the membership was low was because it had very high standards. He explained that the new law was designed to protect the customer from rogue companies and the idea that it favoured general contractors was misplaced as it was to protect small business too.

Hawley tried several attempts to explain what the inaccuracies were that Whittaker had presented but he was asked to stop his explanations by Whittaker (and on one occasion Ezzard Miller, independent candidate for North Side, who was also there)  as he said it was his meeting and if Hawley wanted to explain why he felt the law was good he should hold his own meeting.

However, Hawley did manage to explain that the two main thrusts of the law had been to address the problem that too much business has been locked up with big contractors and give opportunity for young Caymanians and small business to break into the sector and attempt to address the problem of fronting. He said the law was also to raise standards and eliminate rogue contractors to ensure the honest man got the job and not just someone with 40 work permits.

Whittaker responded saying that could all have been achieved through other means, adding this would be the first of several meetings he intended to hold with contractors to help them establish an association and to begin a serious campaign to repeal the law which he said was a piece of garbage.

Continue Reading

Conference to help manage in tough economic times

| 05/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): George Town candidate Walling Whittaker will be one of the speakers at a one-day conference on 7 May hosted by the Cayman Islands Society of Human Resources Professionals (CISHRP), which will focus on strategies for managing in an economic downturn. Targeted to business leaders and senior managers in the community, in addition to human resource professionals and business owners, this annual professional development conference will feature a combination of prominent local professionals in addition to top international experts.

This year’s conference theme, “If the Bubble Bursts… How Will You Manage and Motivate Your Talent”, is focused the HR challenges facing businesses in light of the economic climate, according to CISHRP, which has even reduced the registration fee to demonstrate the Society’s knowledge that all businesses are being asked to do more with less.

CISHRP has “We are extremely excited about this year’s conference and feel it is relevant to what is currently going on in the Cayman Islands,” said Conference Chair, Samantha Bennett.

The event is being held at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort Conference, where keynote speaker will be Dorothy Hill, SPHR, Field Services Director in the Southeast Region for the US-based Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). Hill is based in Vero Beach, Florida, and is responsible for programmes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi as well as Bermuda, The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix. She will be discussing HR Competencies – Setting the Stage for Success and will conduct a workshop for attendees on how to identify these competencies and how to integrate them into their organisations.

In addition, Doug Soares, founding partner of Expertise, Bermuda’s largest consulting firm specializing in human resource management and who was the keynote speaker at last year’s CISHRP conference will return. Soares will be discussing Cutting People Costs Without Cutting People and will conduct a workshop that will identify strategies for reducing personnel costs without resorting to redundancies. Other speakers include Walling Whittaker who will discuss Don’t Think Pay Think Total Compensation and John Harvey who will discuss Performance Management in Good Times and Bad.

A new feature in the conference programme will be the HR Open Forum which will comprise a panel of experts to whom attendees can ask a multiplicity of human resources related questions and engage in discussions. This year’s panel will include Franz Manderson, Chief Immigration Officer; Lonny Tibbetts, Director of Employment Relations; Cyril Theriault, Superintendant of Pensions; and Mervyn Conolly, Superintendant of Heath Insurance.

In addition to the speakers and workshops, CISHRP has brought back the HR Marketplace, a social event held the evening before the conference providing an opportunity for attendees to meet vendors of human resources products and services. Vendors interested in participating by sponsoring a table at the event can contact a CISHRP on 916-3742 for details.

Registration for the event includes attendance to theone day conference, lunch, refreshments, conference bags sponsored by Bank of Butterfield; CISHRP polo shirts sponsored by ICO Uniforms and lots of other CISHRP giveaways.

For further information on the CISHRP’s annual conference 2009, please contact Meaghan Mitchell at 949-1345 ext 128, Samantha Bennett at 916-3742 or registration@cishrp.ky or log on to www.cishrp.ky for registration and speaker details.
 

Continue Reading

Cayman Islands essential to US, says CIFSA Chair

| 05/05/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Following yesterday’s announcement that President Barack Obama intends to introduce measures to crack down on US companies that attempt to hide their assets in offshore tax havens, chair of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association, Anthony Travers, has said that it will have little detrimental impact on the jurisdiction and will hopefully demonstrate that the Cayman Islands is an essential part of the US financial architecture.   

During his speech yesterday, Obama urged Congress to close loopholes in the federal tax code that he believes will save some 11 million jobs projected to move overseas in the next decade, as well as an estimated $210 billion in possible lost tax revenues. Obama’s concern is that the current tax code rewards US corporations for creating jobs overseas and penalizes them for doing it at home. The White House is reportedly expecting a major battle with corporations, lobbyists and their allies in Congress over the reform package. Yesterday a number of democratic senators said a closer look would be needed to ensure there were no unintended consequences regarding the proposals.

Even Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus called for “further study” of Obama’s proposals within minutes of the president’s announcement, according to Bloomberg. Representative Joseph Crowley from the Ways and Means Committee said he was wary because the tax changes would hurt Ctigroup, his New York district’s largest private-sector employer.

Meanwhile in Cayman, in the wake of the announcements, Travers explained that CIFSA recognizes that the issue of whether US subsidiaries should be entitled to tax deferral is entirely a matter of United States tax policy. 

“Some would argue that it is short sighted to suppose that tax policy can dictate on the issue of where US corporations should most economically locate manufacturing operations and whether US tax revenue will be increased in the long term by taxing the offshore profits of US Companies given tax deferral effectively serves to boost capital for reinvestment,” he said. However, noting that was a matter for the US Treasury, he also said it was unlikely to seriously impact Cayman’s business. "Since the number of US corporations that have subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands that have benefited from this proposal is statistically insignificant, CIFSA doubts that there will be any material adverse effect to the Cayman Financial Industry,” he added.

“CIFSA however wholly endorses President Obama’s proposal that additional reporting requirements are placed on those US citizens who seek to evade US taxation.  Only thereby will the President come to understand that because of its full tax information treaty with the US, United States citizens and corporations do not evade tax through the Cayman Islands. Rather, the international capital markets use those 12,000 companies to invest into the United States and that Cayman is therefore an essential part of the US financial architecture.”

Given Obama’s comments yesterday, however, convincing the US that the Cayman Islands is a necessary part of the US economy remains challenging as the US President once again focused on what he has called the biggest tax scam in the world — Ugland House.

 “On the campaign, I used to talk about the outrage of a building in the Cayman Islands that had over 12,000 businesses claiming this building as their headquarters,” Obama said. “And I’ve said before, either this is the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam. And I think the American people know which it is: The kind of tax scam that we need to end.”

However, Maples’ senior partner Charles Jennings defended his now infamous office and told Bloomberg yesterday that Obama was mistaken.  “I’m sorry to disappoint anyone, but our office is neither the largest building in the world nor a centre of financial misconduct,” said Jennings.

“Having a registered office address in the Cayman Islands is driven by commercial considerations, not by tax avoidance. It allows companies to raise capital and conduct global business.”

Reports across the US media yesterday focused on which leading US corporations have offices in offshore financial centres and used many that are listed here in Cayman as an example. Bloomberg cited US Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc., whose corporate headquarters is in Coral Gables, Florida, but which also has a registered office at Walker’s House in George Town. Bloomberg stated that Del Monte’s effective tax rate for 2008 was 3%, up from 1% the year before and said that Del Monte spokeswoman Vidya Samsundar had no immediate comment on why the company is incorporated in Cayman. 

Continue Reading

Legal drama to cost Cayman

| 05/05/2009 | 22 Comments

(CNS): As the doors open to yet another legal drama in Cayman this Thursday, the estimate made by Governor Stuart Jack last year that the tribunal convened to hear allegations against Grand Court Judge, Madam Justice Priya Levers, would cost around $1 million is looking like a serious underestimation. Four separate teams of lawyers have now lined up to spend what is likely to be more than one week presenting, hearing and defending this case, which will be paid for by the Cayman tax payer.

A statement issued by the Chairman of the Tribunal, Sir Andrew Leggatt, yesterday (4 May) confirmed that Clifford Chance, one of the UK’s leading law firms will be supporting the tribunal along with Timothy Otty QC and by Joanne Larcombe, Secretary to the Tribunal, while Justice Levers will be represented by Stanley Brodie QC and Anthony Akiwumi of Stuarts Walker Hersan. Leggatt also confirmed that while Janine Sheff of Red Lion Court Chambers in London has been recognised by the tribunal as the legal representative of the Cayman Islands Government’s Legal Department, local lawyers Campbells will be representing a number of Grand Court judicial officers and staff members. All of the legal costs as well as the fees of the sitting tribunal members are being financed by the Cayman public purse.

The tribunal was appointed by Governor Jack on 15 September 2008 under section 49J of the Cayman Islands Constitution to inquire into allegations made against Justice Levers. Since the announcement, it has been revealed that the accusations concern a combination of factors, including the question of the authorship of letters written to Cayman Net News condemning the behaviour of some members of the judiciary, complaints made against Justice Levers regarding comments she has allegedly made in and out of the court room, and a bias against women, as well as concerns that she herself raised with the Chief Justice (and reportedly with the governor) about the conduct of some senior members of Caymans legal profession, among others.

The tribunal’s fact-finding hearings will begin on Thursday, 7 May, in the Inquiry Room at the Grand Cayman MarriottBeach Resort. The tribunal intends to sit on each weekday between 9:30am and 4:30pm, and on Saturday, 9 May, from 9:45am to 1:00pm. The hearings are scheduled to conclude on or before Monday, 18 May, and will be held in public.

So far Justice Levers has emphatically denied all of the allegations against her and has promised to defend them rigorously. Once the tribunal has heard the evidence against Justice Levers and she has presented her defence, the tribunal will then report to the governor and advise him whether he should request that the question of removal of Madam Justice Levers from office and be referred by Her Majesty to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Aside from Leggatt, the other tribunal members are Sir Philip Otton and Sir David Simmons. Sir Andrew Leggatt and Sir Philip Otton are Privy Counsellors and former Lords Justices of Appeal. Sir David Simmons is the Chief Justice of Barbados.

Continue Reading

Men invited to anti-violence conference in NY

| 05/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation (ESRF) is inviting men who work directly with boys and/or men in the Cayman Islands to apply for a full sponsorship to attend the Stand Up and Speak Out Conference in New York later this month. This is the 4th annual conference organised by A Call to Men, The National Association of Men and Women Committed To Ending Violence Against Women in the United States. The ESRF sponsorship of the successful applicant to this conference includes airfare, 3-nights accommodations, conference fees, and a per diem to cover the cost of mealsand transportation.

ESRF Chairperson Rayle Roberts will also be attending the conference, which will be held 21 and 22 May, and is reported to be an unprecedented gathering of men and women coming together for the purpose of increasing their knowledge while strategising and organising as a collective effort to end domestic violence, sexual violence and all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls. ESRF is offering the sponsorship in an effort to increase male involvement locally with these issues, a release from the foundation said.

A Call to Men (www.acalltomen.com) believes that ending violence against women is primarily the responsibility of men. They state that historically it has been almost entirely women who have been at the forefront addressing this issue, and they think it is essential that men play a primary role in the solution to end it.

"We realise that the majority of men are well-meaning and do not engage in acts of violence against women; however it is precisely these men that don’t see themselves as a part of the problem who are a critical part of the solution," stated Roberts. With one of its objectives as a life free of violence for all, the ESRF aims to be an active change agent to engage men in addressing the issue of ending violence against women in the Cayman Islands.

Men who work directly with boys and/or men in the Cayman Islands are encouraged to learn more about the criteria for the sponsorship by downloading the application form at www.esrfoundation.org.ky. The deadline for submitting the application for the Stand Up and Speak Out Conference Sponsorship is Tuesday, 12 May, at 5:00pm.

 

Continue Reading

Caybrew export after dive trip to the Caymans

| 05/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(tampabay.com): If only it were that easy. Go on vacation. Taste the local beer. Declare, "I should import this!" Then, to get through a recession, actually do it. Easy it isn’t. But the exclusive importers of Caybrew lager are proof it is possible. "This beer has never been off the Cayman Islands," says importer Fritz Hofmeister. And yes, he has a great name for a beer man. "It’s like divine destiny," he says. Mind you, he and partner Larry Glover are not a couple of drunken frat boys. Hofmeister, 38, is a general contractor who builds luxury homes in south Tampa. Glover, 44, supplies windows and doors. There just has not been much demand for big houses lately. So Glover went on a dive trip to the Caymans. In a bar, he sampled his first Caybrew: smooth, crisp and hoppy. He liked it so much, he started bringing six-packs to the condo.

Go to article

Continue Reading