Archive for May 7th, 2009

President Obama’s ‘notorious tax havens’

| 07/05/2009 | 7 Comments

On Monday May  4, 2009, US President Barack Obama took the first steps toward making good on his campaign promise to finance his initiatives and social programs “by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don’t help America grow”.

President Obama served notice to offshore jurisdictions worldwide, announcing his intentions to reshape the US Tax Code and, in the process, eliminate the loopholes that allow U.S. corporations to use offshore financial jurisdictions. President Obama highlighted the Cayman Islands as one of the “notorious tax havens” targeted as a financial jurisdiction they feel is assisting U.S. corporations and individuals to avoid potential tax exposure.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown on March 4, 2009 before the U.S. Congress, "How much safer would everybody’s savings be if the whole world finally came together to outlaw shadow banking systems and outlaw offshore tax havens?"

What’s at stake for the US and UK? The Obama administration states that closing these loopholes would generate approximately $200 billion in tax revenue over the next decade. In a report by the U.S Government Accountability Office “Eighty-six of the 100 largest publicly traded U.S. corporations had foreign subsidiaries and sixty-three of the 100 largest publicly traded U.S. federal contractors in terms of fiscal year 2007 contract obligations, reported having subsidiaries in jurisdictions listed as tax havens or financial privacy jurisdictions.” By some estimates reported in The Wall Street Journal “$700 billion or more in U.S. corporate earnings have accumulated in overseas accounts in recent years.” In the U.K. the BBC has reported that “According to one estimate tax havens cost the U.K. revenue at least £18.5billion every year – a loss which has to be made up by ordinary tax payers.”

It is therefore understandable that we find ourselves under attack from foreign governments seeking to recoup some of these losses.

Governments around the world have communicated their desires to shut down offshore jurisdictions for years, but none have been as persistent as the current administrations we now face. They have been backed into a corner and are now forced to find funding while facing a global economic crisis. However, with the current status of the world economy the consequences that would come with these tax initiatives are far more widespread and damaging than the administrations wants to admit.

The proposed changes to tax codes would leave multinational corporations at a great disadvantage, essentially leaving them unable to compete against companies operating in countries with less tax exposure. Such a scenario would ultimately lead to many of the companies the administrations are trying to protect, vulnerable to takeover by foreign competitors.

Some estimations state that approximately 50% of our GDP can be attributed to the financial services sector. However I believe that the loss of any portion of this industry would have a much more severe impact that 50%. We cannot pretend that this will quietly go away; instead we now have to be proactive and deal with the reality that these administrations want their money back.

At last month’s G20 meeting in London the so called "notorious tax havens" had little or no representation at the table during discussions that have the potential to significantly impact us. This is not just a problem for Cayman; these initiatives will impact many of our neighbours including the Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos.

I find it curious that the countries with so much to lose have not come together to refute the claims made against them. For example, at last months Summit of the Americas, the Cayman Islands was not represented. It is ironic that the countries we find pointing fingers at our financial industry today such as the US and UK fail to recognize the regulatory failures in their own systems; essentially trying to pass the buck on to countries with little voice on the world stage.

The global economic meltdown has just started to have visible effects on our Islands, and it is now time for us to reassess ourselves and start the reforms and re-inventions necessary to sustain ourselves through these uncertain times and beyond. This is just one of the many issues confronting us today.

The good news however, is that we still have the capable people and financial resources necessary to develop the policies and strategies necessary to reform and re-invent the product that will allow us to adapt to these difficult times. There is no international rescue plan for the Cayman Islands; we must rescue ourselves.

In order for Cayman to remain a significant player in the world financial industry we have to utilize the best and brightest minds we have available, in both the public and private sectors.

However time is against us and the time for talk is over. It is now time for us to take action but the first action must be to elect the right people on May 20, 2009.

 

Derrington Bo Miller is an Independent Candidate for the District of George Town

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Lions give to Seamen and Veterans

| 07/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  On Saturday, 26 April, the Cayman Brac Lions club made a donation of CI$500 to the Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Veteran and Seamen’s Society, which will go towards the re-building of the center after being destroyed by Hurricane Paloma last November. The club continues to play its part in helping to improve the community of Cayman Brac and is encouraging other organizations and companies to support the Veteran and Seamen’s society by making donations to assist them in the rebuilding process.

Photo left to right: Brac Lions Club President Kevin Roberts, V&SS Treasurer Joris Poldervaart, and Acting President of the Veteran and Seamen’s Society Arlen Tatum.

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Get travel documents in order

| 07/05/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): People travelling to the US on the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), including those with a British passport should be aware that it only operates for commercial flights and they need a US visa if travelling on charter or private flights, including an air ambulance. Those nationals looking to travel under the VWP should also apply online for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). Anyone who may wish to travel to the US either before or immediately after a hurricane must make sure all their travel documents are in order.

It is extremely unlikely that anyone without appropriate documentation will be allowed to enter the United States in any circumstances, according to the Governor’s Office. Copies should be made of key documents, including passports, birth certificates, work permits and drivers’ licenses, and stored in a safe place, separate from the originals. The original documents should be kept with you in waterproof bags or containers during any emergency situation, particularly in the event of an approaching hurricane or tropical storm.

British passport holders should note that an application for a passport renewal has an 8 – 10 week turnaround time. Those people with passports expiring in the next six months should not send them away for renewal unless they have a second passport that could be used in the event of an emergency. US Immigration will accept a machine-readable British passport with at least one month’s validity. British passport holders should note that they are able to renew their passports at a Passport Office in the UK providing the holder is in the UK at the time. Details of this service can be found at http://www.passport.gov.uk/passport_index.asp. Nationals of other countries should also give consideration to applying for a new passport if you intend to visit your home country over the summer. The following nationalities are represented in the Cayman Islands:

 

 

Austria: Please contact Martin Richter at richter@candw.ky or by calling 949 9333 during business hours.

Barbados: Please contact Mr Wingrove Hunte on 926 8303, or e-mail hunteWO@candw.ky

Brazil: Please contact Giorgio.Subiotto@ogier.com or call 949 9876 during business hours.

Canada: www.international.gc.ca/jamaica or callthe consul on 949 9400, or e-mail cdncon.cayman@candw.ky The Consulate of Canada is located at Landmark Square, 3rd Floor, 64 Earth Close (off West Bay Road past the Strand), Seven Mile Beach. Open Monday to Thursday from 10am to 1pm. Canadian nationals can register while living abroad at www.travel.gc.ca

Germany: Please contact Mrs Christiane Schuette-McField on 945 0115, mcfieldc@candw.ky

Honduras: Please contact Miguel Brown at miguelmbrown@yahoo.com or 939 7914 or 546
3127

India: Please contact Dr Krishna Mani at krisbina@candw.ky or 945 1565 or 916 8709

Jamaica: http://www.jaconsulatecayman.org/m1a.html Jamaican Consulate: Dot Com Centre at 342A Dorcy Drive in the Industrial Park – Contact Elaine Harris on 949 9526. Emergency travel documents can be issued within 24hrs with proper proof of Jamaican nationality and identification, and the passport renewal time is 2 to 3 weeks.

Philippines: Please e-mail Mr. Art Ursua at artursua@candw.ky or call 925-8279

Spain: Please contact Garth Arch at spainconsulate@candw.ky or call 949 2400

Switzerland: For Consular and administrative information, please contact the Consulate General in Atlanta, USA on 1 404 870 2000 or e-mail vertretung@eda.admin.ch Please note that there is a turnaround time for 3 – 4 weeks for new passports. Further information can be found at www.eda.admin.ch/atlanta For on island emergencies please contact Peter Schmid on 949 1841 or 326 4385 or by e-mail peterschmid@candw.ky

UK: Call the Cayman Islands Passport Office at 943-7678 or visit the Office at Sussex House, Elgin Avenue, George Town, or for other consular information contact Melenie Mylrea on 244 2431 during business hours, melenie.mylrea@fco.gov.uk

USA: http://kingston.usembassy.gov/information_for_travelers.html Please contact Dee Duggan on 945 8173, consagency@candw.ky The U.S. Consular Agency is now located at the Cayman Centre, Unit B-1, 118 Dorcy Drive

The Governor’s Office would like to remind all other foreign nationals in the Cayman Islands that the advice above also applies to them. If you have not already done so, you should consider registering with your nearest Consular mission. Further details can be found on your own government web pages.

 

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Caribbean big fish declining

| 07/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(ScienceDaily): Sharks, barracuda and other large predatory fishes disappear on Caribbean coral reefs as human populations rise, endangering the region’s marine food web and ultimately its reefs and fisheries, according to a sweeping study by researcher Chris Stallings. While other scientists working in the Caribbean have observed the declines of large predators for decades, the comprehensive work by Stallings documents the ominous patterns in far more detail at a much greater geographic scale than any other research to date.

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Cuban rafters’ bodies ID’d

| 07/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Days after Tropical Storm Fay swept through the Florida Keys last August, four decomposed bodies chewed by sharks were discovered floating by fishermen and boaters over a 33-mile stretch. Their faces were unrecognizable. Their identities a mystery. But desperate families from Miami to Havana thought they knew who the victims might be: men from a group of eight who fled Cuba on a homemade raft to avoid being jailed for their human rights activism. ”I began getting Q-tips in the mail from Cuba,” said detective Terry Smith of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. “The families were trying to send us swabs . . . to be tested for DNA. They were so frantic to try to identify their loved ones.”

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Cops don’t want Jones back

| 07/05/2009 | 25 Comments

(CNS): Existing officers within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) may not welcome suspended Chief Superintendent John Jones back with open arms. CNS has learned that the Cayman Islands Police Association may be preparing to make it known that they do not want the Chief Superintendent to return to his post. While Jones has persistently said all he wants is to return to his job, even if he his exonerated and reinstated, his troubles may not be over.

The Chief Superintendent was suspended by the governor in March 2008 along with Commissioner Stuart Kernohan in connection with the so called Netnewsgate and Deputy Commissioner Rudy Dixon for unrelated investigations as a result of enquiries by the Special Police Investigation Team, which began working in Cayman in September 2007.

Since that time Jones has remain suspended on full pay while SPIT continued Operation Tempura and Marlon Bodden was placed in this job as acting Chief Superintendent last year.  Since the departure of SPITS’ SOI Martin Bridger last week, Acting Commissioner James Smith cleared both Jones and his former Colleague Kernohan of any criminal wrong doing. However, Smith stated last Friday that investigations were still continuing with regards to whether or not there would be any disciplinary action regarding Jones.

While Kernohan has already been dismissed, Jones contract was due to end this month, but CNS has learned from other sources that this may have already have been renewed despite the objections to the senior cop’s return from within the service.

“I believe they may be walking off the job,” one former police officer told CNS with regard to the feelings of those currently serving in the RCIPS. A police spokesperson said no comment when asked about this situation.

The instability within the police as a result of the suspensions and the investigation has been blamed for the decline in both police morale and the increase in resignations as crime stats climb. Following Kernohan’s dismissal by the governor last year, over which Kernohan is now seeking damages, the search for a new commissioner began.

Last month an announcement was made that David Baines from the Cheshire police service in the UK would be taking up the permanent post as of 1 June, surprising many people in the community who expected the job to go to  APC Smith.

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Cayman can be centre of learning says BT candidate

| 07/05/2009 | 35 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands could become a centre for excellence when it comes to further education, says independent Bodden Town candidate, Justin Woods. When it comes to finding a viable third pillar to help prop up the local economy behind financial services and tourism, the local businessman said that it has already been demonstrated with St Matthews Medical School that Cayman has the potential to bring more further education institutes to the island as well as develop and expand those that already exist, such as UCCI.

 

Speaking at a political meeting at the Bodden Town Post office on Tuesday evening (5 May) Woods suggested that there was considerable untapped potential in the business of education. “We have veterinary school, a medical school, a law school as well as UCCI where we can develop the potential for learning here,” he said. “We can have children coming here to learn.” He added that this was a business that would be constantly renewed. Talking with CNS he said this was an idea he had been considering for many years and said with the Marine institute in Little Cayman as well, there was a significant opportunity to develop new business for the country by expanding courses on offer for overseas students. He said with Cayman’s reputation as a financial services sector the country could develop a specialist business management courses designed to meet the needs of those looking to study the offshore sector which would also have enormous benefit for our own students. “It’s a no brainer and I can’t understand why it has not been developed,” he added.

Woods also spoke about the need for a new kind of representation from politicians as he said it takes an election for the people to see their representative. He said politicians spent more time arguing with each other in the Legislative Assembly than taking care of the needs of the people. He said the district of Bodden Town had been neglected but there was a lot of need in the district so it was time to give people the tools to advance themselves and not give them handouts.  He estimated that there were as many as 3000 Caymanians out of work but the country had some 27,000 permits with no policies in place to address that or make people’s lives better.

“What is going to happen to our people?” he asked stating that it was time to change things by electing people who cared and who were able to make the changes to make a better life for Caymanians. He also said that the delays on addressing the flooding on Bodden Town were unacceptable when all it required was a pumping station and that the claims by government that the Savannah gully wall had been held up by planning were not true as planning had approved the wall some time ago but the government had not provided the financing.

However, Anthon Eden recently stated at a Chamber Candidate’s District Forum that the delay was down to objections to the plans to build the sea wall by residents in the area which had only recently been addressed and the project was now slatedto go ahead.

Woods also spoke about rising crime, the glass ceiling for Caymanians in the civil service, the failure to promote Cayman as a tourist destination overseas and the money that was being spent on buildings without any investment in people. He said government was spending and borrowing millions of dollars while Caymanians were out of work. He asked the people to think very carefully on Election Day and to consider if they were better of today than in the past before they marked their Xs.

“If you elect me I will be a different kind of representative,” he said adding that if the people wanted better for their children he was the one they should vote for.

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Deadline approaches for candidate’s withdrawal

| 07/05/2009 | 19 Comments

(CNS): The deadline for candidates to withdraw from the General Elections, which will take place on Wednesday, 20 May and for candidates to nominate their agents, who will be permitted to attend the polling stations and counting of the ballots, is this Saturday 9 May, Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez said today. He reminded all candidates of a provision in the Elections Law which states that a candidate may withdraw his candidature if he gives the notice in writing to the district Returning Officer. “This notice must be given at least 10 clear days before Election Day,” Gomez said.

 

The Supervisor explained that in order to get back the $1,000 deposited on Nomination Day, candidates must produce their receipts and said that all of this information is repeated in the Candidates, Agents and Observers Handbook, which was given to all candidates when they were nominated on 25 March. Both the Election Law and the Handbook also detail the conditions for appointment of agents. A candidate may nominate two polling agents to attend at polling stations and two counting agents to attend the counting of the votes at each counting station.

The agent must be a person who is entitled to vote in the district in which the candidate has been nominated and the agent may be appointed on behalf of more than one candidate and may be both a polling agent and a counting agent. The Elections Law requires that each appointment be in writing, including the agent’s name and address, and be signed by the candidate.

Agents will be seated in the election polling stations so they can see and keep a record of each person who comes to vote. They cannot see how the person votes. They cannot interfere with proceedings, except to object if they believe a voter is misidentifying himself or has already voted. The Presiding Officer will question the voter accordingly. Candidates and their agents will not be permitted in the polling stations where voters cast ballots for the Referendum.

The Elections Office, located on the second floor of the Smith Road Professional Centre, will be open until 5pm on Saturday.

 

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