Archive for May 19th, 2009

Manifestos same but different

| 19/05/2009 | 9 Comments

(CNS): As Cayman goes to the polls tomorrow (20 May) the side shows — of accusations and counter accusations, qualifications and even disqualifications — of this election campaign should prove less important than what is contained in the political manifestos. However, a comparative read of both of the political parties’ manifestoes does not reveal any massive political differences between the two, with both parties promising similar policies in the key areas.

Although both of the political parties produced manifestos late into the campaign, the contents are meant to be the most effective way for them to sell themselves to the voter and reveal their intentions if either the United Democratic Party or the People’s Progressive Movement returns enough candidates to form the next government. With the economy, employment, education and environment taking centre stage in this election, the PPM and the UDP are both making broad promises on all of these issues but there are as many similarities when it comes to policy and intent as there differences, making it a difficult decision for the voter genuinely interested in politics as oppose to personalities.

According to the PPM manifesto, if re-elected it promises to lead a “national effort” to shore up the twin pillars of the local economy: financial services and tourism. The party says it will not raise taxes but take measures to cushion people and businesses from the global crisis, encourage Caymanian entrepreneurship through the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau, and give Caymanians a greater stake in the economy. It will also press on with its government capital projects to help stimulate the domestic construction market and spin off industries.

The UDP has also promised to shore up financial services and tourism but has also said it will simulate the local economy through more private sector development and inward investment. The UDP manifesto says that if the Caymanian people return a UDP government it will conduct an impact assessment of the medium-to-long term implications of the global crisis on the financial services industry to find out what the sector needs.  It says it will also review spending to ensure that the tourism dollars are spent primarily to generate business, improve the guest experience and maintain or elevate service standards. The UDP also says it will develop an aggressive plan to identify and attract new industry to diversify the economy. It states, “We will take action to support small businesses and encourage entrepreneurship among Caymanians.”

Meanwhile, to tackle unemployment the UDP has promised to talk to the financial services sector to find out how to get jobs that have been lost back to Cayman. The manifesto also promises that the UDP will meet with all major employers to discuss lay-off arrangements and establish an aggressive job placement programme in partnership with the business community to relocate laid off Caymanians to other jobs and the introduction of a Human Resources Agency to better balance work permits and unemployed Caymanians, but it has not stated it will overturn the rollover policy.

The PPM also promises to do similar things, saying it will also introduce new labour regulations as well. Although it failed to implement the Labour Law, which was passed during the UDP’s previous administration, it says this term if it is returned it will establish a national minimum wage across all industries, to ensure that mandatory severance pay of one week’s pay for each completed year of service shall be without a maximum, and establish a single tier, independent Labour Tribunal. The PPM says it will also seek to improve the balance of work permits and unemployed with the promised changes to the Immigration Law, which were announced earlier this year. The PPM has also promised, in conjunction with the business community, a review of the “rollover policy” to ensure that it is operating effectively and achieving its objective, but it will not overturn rollover.

Having invested a significant amount of time and resources in completely restructuring Cayman’s education system, from the way it is governed to the National Curriculum, the PPM’s manifesto has a significant chapter on its continued ambitions for overhauling education from top to bottom. The party is promising to follow through with that work should the electorate return them to office tomorrow.

“Educators have indicated that improvements in standards, conditions and the learning environment in which they teach students are as important as increases in remuneration,” the manifesto reads, and goes on to state it will continue the plan that has seen 94% of education professionals engaged in professional development, intensify efforts to increase the recruitment of Caymanian teachers, address overcrowding as the new schools come on line, introduce the post sixteen education and early education plans, convert George Hicks into a vocational college and focus on results now that the Education Law has been passed and policies put in place and implemented. The party also promises to focus on improving literacy standards and special or additional needs education, as well as promoting a culture of life-long learning for all.

Meanwhile, the UDP is also promising to establish an accredited Technical and Vocational Training Institute and a review of teachers’ salaries and working conditions. Although national standards have been introduce already under the new Education Law, the UDP’s manifesto states that it will establish National Standards for primary school leavers and high school graduation, but it does not say how this will differ from the policies already in place. It promises a review of the existing curriculum (which its MLAs just voted for along with the government in March of this year) and the party promises a restructure of the education scholarship programme to ensure that all deserving students benefit from tertiary education here and abroad, it says. It does not say, however, if it plans to increase or reduce the current spending on scholarships, which is currently at  $8.3 million annually, or make reductions back to the figure of $2.9 million, which was spent annually under the last UDP government.

TheUDP also promises a National Training Initiative (NTI), which it says would be a tool to centralize all efforts towards long-term humancapital development. “A highly collaborative approach with all stakeholders and economic sectors in the Islands,” the manifesto reads. The UDP is also promising to create a Centre of Excellence for the Treatment and Support for people with Autism.

When it comes to the environment the two parties are making various promises but there is no commitment to the National Conservation Bill in the UDP manifesto, and while the PPM claims it as its first objective if re-elected, it is worth noting that this law has been promised by the minister in question for more than two years.

The PPM goes on to promise cross-ministry collaboration to implement a National Recycling Programme, the development of a National Energy Policy, changes to Planning Laws and Regulations, and facilitate the Climate Change Adaptation strategies, while simultaneously continuing to reduce our carbon footprint. The PPM also says it will approve a new National Development Plan and the National Sustainable Development Policy.  If returned to office the party also promises to implement the Darwin Initiative funded action plans for species and habitats and significantly expand the Blue Iguana conservation programme utilizing the Crown property in East End that was recently vested, as well as a commitment to public education of environmental issues.

The UDP says it will also launch an aggressive campaign to encourage consumers to conserve energy and adopt measures to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels. The manifesto promises the development of low carbon technologies. The party also promises a long-term strategy to handle Municipal Solid Waste as a priority. “This landfill must be addressed in a manner that will yield the maximum benefit,” the manifesto states. “The UDP will seek to deploy sustainable technology that will allow for the waste to the disposed in a manner that will result in minimum environmental damage. The strategy will also include a Waste to Energy component to allow for the generation of electricity.”

The PPM manifesto also says that a tremendous amount of effort and thought has already gone into developing a Waste Management Strategy for the Cayman Islands. “Additional elements of this strategy will be implemented over the next term,” it reads adding that the reorganization of the George Town land fill will include the Waste to Energy Facility and recycling initiatives.

In the end however, despite their promises and similarities, whether it‘s to be a “better way forward” or “don’t stop the progress” or a rejection of both is down to the 15,000 plus people who have the right to cast their vote tomorrow in the country’s General Election.

Continue Reading

Local developer gives to Miss Lassie project

| 19/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman National Cultural Foundation’s project to save and restore the home of the world renoun visionary artist Miss Lassie (Gladwyn K Bush) in South Sound received a $25,000 boost recently from the Dart Foundation. The money will go toward continuing assessment of the house by building and art restoration experts and ongoing reconstruction. The government purchased the property last year for $1 million and the CNCF now needs to raise at least another $1 million to complete the project.

Two Cuban experts had previously begun the first phase of the assessment aspect of the project. Dr. Isabel Rigol, an expert in the restoration of buildings and Dr. Elisa Serrano, an expert in conservation and restoration of pictorial heritage and mural art advised the Cayman National Cultural Foundation on what was needed to save the house for future generations. Local engineering advice has come from Alan Veeran. Work on the building continues with construction crews from Phoenix Construction working on weekends.

Miss Lassie started painting at the age of 62, after what she described as a visionary experience. Strong Christian themes run through her work, which she painted not only on canvas, but also on the walls, windows and furnishings of her home. The paintings on her house remain to this day andis one reason why there is an urgency to preserve the house as a national cultural treasure.

Continue Reading

Group raps for referendum

| 19/05/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A local rap group is encouraging young people to make their mark in tomorrow’s referendum through song. A new track from C.B.R. (Cats Brought up Restricted) “Choice” is a collaboration between the group and the Constitutional Review Secretariat (CRS). Geared towards the 18 to 20+ voter, the song encourages listeners to get informed, make a choice and then vote. “It’s all about civics and participation in the country’s democracy,” CRS Deputy Director Christen Suckoo explained.

 

“We need to encourage more young people to get involved. These young men are leaders in the community, and the song is an excellent way to get the message to their peers,” Suckoo added.

The group said it had jumped at the opportunity to get involved. “This was our chance to make a positive, historically significant contribution,” C.B.R. Manager Fritz McPherson explained. “We all need to learn about the constitution and how it will affect us in the future,” group member Michael ‘M-Lito’ Muthen added.  “We have to be aware of what’s going on in our community and have our say in it.”  

 To listen to the song, visit the Constitutional Review Secretariat’s website at www.constitution.gov.ky, select news & events and click on media room. A link to the 2009 Draft Constitution Explanatory Guide is also available on the site’s homepage.

 

Continue Reading

Radio takes fast approach to hook up lonely hearts

| 19/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two local radio stations are coming together asking for your ‘love’ next week and not your vote. 106.1 KISS FM, in collaboration with 96.5 CAYROCK, will play cupid amongst local singles The stations are encouraging the single men and women of Cayman to gather for a night of fun at another installment of ‘Speed Dating’, at Guy Harvey’s Island Grill on the George Town waterfront between 7 and 9pm on Wednesday, 27 May.

“This event continues to be a success as single ladies and gents seek to find their perfect match,” said Chuck Taylor of KISS. “At the very least, it is a wildly entertaining night and provides an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. With speed dating, you meet an abundance of single prospects and talk to them for just enough time to decipher if you would like to get to know them better. We understand that your time is precious – so in the essence of not wasting time, head down to Guy Harvey’s and try your luck. You have nothing to loose and everything to gain.”

The nightis free to attend and depending on the number of participants, speed dating consists of a select number of round robins. Each couple spends roughly three minutes of one-on-one discussion time to make their impression, before moving on to the next person. At the end of the night, participants anonymously submit a list of names of the individuals whom they would like to get to know better. The organizers review the submissions and arrange for an exchange of contact details between couples who mutually selected one another.

“We are thrilled to be the venue of choice to host this event,” said Guy Harvey’s Restaurant Owner and Manager   Bruno Deluche. “It is always fun to introduce a little spice to an otherwise ordinary night of dining. We are also keen to showcase our diverse menu boasting a selection of delectable dishes. Come get matched up and stay for dinner.”

As well as a selection of appetizer and drink specials, which will continue through the night, to further celebrate the single ladies, upon arrival they will be greeted with a complimentary rose, compliments of Celebrations. Registration is between 7-7:45pm and there will be prize giveaways at the door.

“We continue to bring back this event as the turnout is consistently impressive and Cayman seems keen to play the game,” added Phil Vinciullo, dms Broadcasting’s network promotions and marketing manager. “With over 40 participants, the past speed dating event actually matched a couple of successful couples which is always enticing.”  

 

Continue Reading

Motorcyclist crashes into wall

| 19/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  A 25-year-old motorcyclist is currently in hospital with serious injuries following a crash which occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning, police said today (Tuesday 19 May). The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at around 1.20 am on 17 May from a member of the public reporting that a motorcycle had crashed in the vicinity of McField Lane, George Town.

Police and medics responded to the scene and found that the bike appeared to have collided with a wall. The driver was taken to hospital with serious injuries. He continues to receive medical care and is said to be in a stable condition police reported. Officers from the Traffic Management Unit are now investigating the crash and would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time who may have seen the crash or the ligt blue Suzuki GSX-R 750 before the collision occurred. Anyone who can help should contact officers on 946-6254.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

Continue Reading

Local patient tests positive for strain of flu

| 19/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Health Services Authority (HSA) has investigated a total of 17 patients with respiratoryinfections or flu-like symptoms in the Cayman Islands, eight of which had a travel history with potential exposure to the new H1N1 virus. Sixteen have tested negative and Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar said Public Health is waiting for results from CAREC for a patient that tested positive for Influenza A on Sunday 17 May. He said, however, investigations had revealed that the patient had probably contracted a local strain of seasonal flu from members of her own family before travelling to the US.

He explained that while the patient had travelled to the States  it did not mean the patient has the new H1N1 flu (what was previously known as swine flu) He said that Influenza A comes in different strains with various subtypes.

“The patient had travelled to the US and returned to Cayman on 7 May. Even though the patient does not meet the criteria to be considered a probable case, as an extra precaution, the patient was treated with Tamiflu, put on home isolation and health officials are monitoring the patient and the family’s status daily,” Kumar said.

He also noted that while H1N1 flu is spreading fast, for now the virus is seemingly not causing serious illness in most patients. “Due to the fact that Cayman receives international tourists daily we are closely monitoring the situation. Our goal is to identify any imported cases as early as possible to give us a chance to contain the new H1N1 flu once it reaches our shores,” Dr Kumar added.

As of 19 May the World Health Organization (WHO) had  received reports of 9830 confirmed cases of influenza A-H1N1 – including 79 deaths – from 40 countries. The US has an ongoing flu surveillance system. For instance during the week 3 – 9 May, it tested 12,202 samples. From these 1,454 (11.9%) were positive for Influenza of which 1,286 were Influenza A. Out of these a further 441 (34.3%) tested positive for the new H1N1. The rest of the samples were different types of flu and some could not be sub-typed.

This indicates that testing positive for influenza A does not necessarily mean a patient has the new H1N1 flu. It could be that it is only the seasonal flu. While the confirmed cases are about 5000, the US Centre for Disease Control indicated last week (15 May), that the actual H1N1 flu cases may be about 100,000 at this time in the US.

Specific US statistics to date: The US has reported 5123 cases, including 5 deaths. Ten states have reported more than 100 cases: Arizona (476), California (553), Florida (101), Illinois (696), Wisconsin (613), New York (254), Massachusetts (143),  Michigan (158), Texas (556), and Washington (294). Mexico has reported 3103 confirmed cases and 68 deaths and Canada has reported 496 cases with one death.

Health officials will continue to keep the public informed of any developments. It is important to remember that the best personal defence is good hygiene: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. If you are sick, stay home from work or school and protect others by avoiding close contact with them. Good health is also important — eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising.

 

 

Continue Reading

Cops join with activists to clean up

| 19/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) and the Empowerment and Community Development Agency (ECDA) joined forces recently to clean up around the Watlers Road area of George Town to give residents a refreshed and clean environment. Neighbourhood Officer, PC Gaunett Harvey was joined by members of the ECDA and local residents to clear the area of unsightly and environmentally damaging debris and rubbish.

Police said that in addition to the use of a back hoe that cleared items from the side of the road, the volunteers also chopped back overgrown bushes, raked the side of the road and filled dumpsters with litter. Residents have expressed their gratitude for the efforts which gave the area a complete facelift.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

Continue Reading

Lions Club working to prevent Osteoporosis

| 19/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Next week the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens will begin a series of awareness meetings about osteoporosisa debilitating disease that can be prevented and treated. Starting on 28 May, 7:30pm at the Elmslie Church Hall a panel of medical practitioners will speak on risk factors, symptoms and prevention of the disease. “Experts will also be present to provide current information on the latest drugs, diet and supplementary vitamins available on the market,” the service club said.

The club will also be providing 30 free vouchers to those that qualify for bone density exams. Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones that occurs over time for most people. Although, most common in women, itcan also affect men as they age. Osteoporosis is associated with 1.2 million bone fractures each year and robs individuals of their independence.

Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, leading to a loss of bone thickness (bone mass or density).  As a result the bones become thinner and less dense, so that even a minor bump or accident can cause serious fractures.  People cannot feel their bones getting weaker.  In fact, they may not know that they have osteoporosis until they break a bone.  A person with osteoporosis can fracture a bone from a minor fall, or in serious cases, from a simple action such as a sneeze or even spontaneously.  Women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass in five to seven years after menopause.

The good news is that osteoporosis can be prevented.  The following five steps can optimize bone health and help prevent osteoporosis.  (1)Get the daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D. (2) Engage in regular weight bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise. (3) Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol. (4) Talk to your healthcare provider about bone health and (5) have a bone density test and take medication when appropriate.

Continue Reading

Law calls for job ad details

| 19/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Due to new requirements in the immigration law which come into effect on 1 June employers will need to indicate the salary range and benefits offered for posts where they are seeking work permits. Advertisements for positions accompanying work permit applications to the Immigration Department and must include information on salary range, benefits and other relevant information. Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said that this measure is now a legal requirement under the immigration law.

Manderson noted that after 1 June applications submitted to the department, the Work Permit and Business Staffing Plan boards, without this specified information will not be accepted. He also said that the advertisements must also indicate the newspaper in which it was published along with the publication date.

He explained that the requirements exist to equip the department and the boards with the information needed to decide each application for a work permit on its merit, which ultimately helps to protect Caymanians in the workplace.

According to  Section (4) of the Immigration Regulations (2007 Revision) as amended among other provisions employers making work permit applications and renewals must be accompanied by, “a copy of each advertisement published in accordance with sub-regulation (3), with details of the newspaper in which it was published and such advertisement shall contain information relating to salary range and all other benefits attaching to the advertised post and the date on which it was published; a full and accurate description of the job to be filled; a full and accurate description of the qualifications the employer or prospective employer considers necessary for carrying out the job and the reasons for requiring those qualifications.”  

Employers are also obligated to submit the details of any responses received from the advertisements including the qualifications of those who responded; and the reasons for not employing any Caymanian, or persons legally resident in the Islands, who responded.

Continue Reading

Changes in law will help Cubans get residency

| 19/05/2009 | 7 Comments

(CNS): Cubans with Caymanian connections who may have been waiting to have their status regularized for almost a decade are being urged to apply for permanent residency as soon as possible, as a change to the law means they can now gain extra points. Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson has said these people need to make their applications before 30 November of this year.

“I urge those Cuban nationals who qualify to submit their applications for permanent residence at an early stage,” Manderson said. “I also ask those Cuban nationals who have already applied for permanent residence to contact the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Secretariat to ensure that their applications are up-to-date and complete so that the application can be presented to the Board.”  

Nationals exempted by the Governor in Executive Council (now Cabinet) from work permit requirements in the 1990s because of their close Caymanian family connections and who have been resident in the Islands for at least eight years are encourage to submit applications prior to 30 November 2009.

Cabinet recently approved a change to the Immigration Regulations (2007 Revision) which means members of this group who apply for permanent residence before 30 November this year can receive additional points resulting from their close Caymanian connections in the Permanent Residents Points System.

Continue Reading