Archive for August 24th, 2009

Minister encourages Cayman to grow its own food

| 24/08/2009 | 34 Comments

(CNS): Following a visit to an agricultural show in Jamaica recently, the minister with responsibility for agriculture says that she wants to improve local agricultural production, encourage more people to grow food in their yards and introduce farming classes into schools. “In these times of global recession, we must find new ways to improve local agricultural productivity to assure the islands’ food security,” Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said, adding that with Cayman’slimited agricultural land farmers needed to utilise green house technologies.

The Minister for District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs led a delegation to the 57th Annual Denbigh Agricultural Show, held in Jamaica between 31 July to 2 August. Under the theme "Grow What We Eat…Eat What We Grow", the show, one of the region’s largest, brought together numerous farmers, agro-processors, farm suppliers, business operators and commercial interests. While at Denbigh, the Cayman team also met with agricultural counterparts from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Guyana.

“While the Cayman Islands already has trade relationships with Caribbean countries, including Jamaica from where it imports seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural material, the plan is to strengthen existing relationships and explore new avenues of cooperation,” said O’Connor-Connolly. “We discussed at length how we can support each other in developing our respective agricultural sectors. We also explored how to build stronger links between agriculture and sectors such as tourism, business and manufacturing in order to add value for farmers and reinforce the economy.”

The show’s emphasis on the role of youth in agriculture led the minister to say that she would begin dialogue on the possibility of introducing agricultural science in Cayman’s schools. Following the show, the minister toured a number of farms across Jamaica, and viewed firsthand greenhouse technology, which Caymanian farmers could use to grow their produce. “Some local farmers already use greenhouse technology from Jamaica, but we are looking to expand this,”  O’Connor-Connolly added.

Given the limited land space for agriculture in Cayman, technology that allowed local farmers to grow their produce in a small, controlled environment, would go a long way to help maximise local production, and the minister also disclosed that she is keen to encourage backyard farming on all three of the Cayman Islands. “I truly believe that we can make agriculture a part of our everyday lives.”

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Anglin defends law delay

| 24/08/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): In the face of public criticisms, Education Minister Rolston Anglin has defended his recent announcement to delay the implementation of the Education Modernisation Law (2009), which was passed in the Legislative Assembly in March of the year with his support. Anglin said he still unequivocally supported the bill, as he did in opposition, but that he was not prepared to compromise its effectiveness by enacting it without the necessary structures that will make it work. The minister said the law was skeletal in nature, leaving more of the specifics to be defined in the regulations, which have not yet been written.

“There has been some criticism about the postponement of the new Education Modernisation Law (2009), which I acknowledge has, in part, been generated by the fact that I have not sufficiently explained why this necessary step was taken,” Anglin said in a statement on Monday, 24 August. “The law continues to have my support as Minister. It will be implemented. The only question is when. After consulting with the ministry’s Chief Officer; the Deputy Chief Officer, who has been in charge of the project since it was launched by the former minister; a representative from Legislative Drafting; and the overseas consultant hired by the former minister for education, it was unanimously agreed that the 1 September start date was not feasible.”

He said many things needed to be in place before the law could successfully be implemented, including the development of a wide range of regulations which have not been drafted.  “The Education Modernisation Law 2009 is skeletal in nature, which is quite different from many other laws in that it leaves more specifics than usual to be defined in the regulations. And those who follow the making of laws know that it is the regulations that give any law its teeth.  In this instance, the Regulations give the New Law its meat and teeth,” Anglin added.

The minster said he was also concerned that the original timelines would not give stakeholders enough involvement in the development of the regulations or the appointment of the two bodies – the Education Advisory Council and Professional Standards Council as educators have been away for the summer. Anglin explained that the consultation period would now start in September. Finally, he stated that principals and educators in both the private and government schools have reported a lack of familiarity with the law in its final form so an awareness-raising campaign was needed before the law could be implement effectively.

“The postponement of the new Education Modernisation Law is about what’s best for our children, teachers and parents. Governments are at times accused of both moving too fast, and of moving too slow. Both of those accusations, at the time that they’re levelled, can be right. Choosing the wrong speed at which to move sometimes leads to outcomes that are not in the country’s best interests. We are working to avoid that with this law,” the minister said.

He emphasised that he was committed to implementing it as quickly as possible but was not prepared to compromise its effectiveness by enacting it without the necessary structures to make it work.

“I believe this law is an adequate starting point. The government will bring it into effect as quickly as possible,” he added. “My commitment to this law was firm from Day One, so this is not about politics.”

The former education minister and the architect behind the new law, however, told CNS last week that he believed the delay was political, since although the bodies had not yet been appointed and the regulations not written, the preparations were laid, and as the regulations would be a reflection of the policies already in place, it meant the timeline should have been sufficient. Alden McLaughlin said that staff in the ministry and the legal drafters had all agreed that the 1 September start date gave them sufficient time to write the regulations and implement the law.

He said that educators were familiar with the law as it was the formalisation of the changes which had already happened in the education system.

“The law was designed to underpin the fundamental changes which took place over the last few years," McLaughlin said last week in an interview with CNS. “Rather than develop an education law and then make policy to fit the law, the law in this case supports the policy changes that have been made already.”

McLaughlin said that the delay was ominous as he believed the new government intended to roll back the improvements that have been made to the education system over the last four years, changes which McLaughlin said had been made in consultation with stakeholders throughout the system.

He raised his concerns that the new minister was not prepared to follow through with the work required, for example to meet the needs of students once another year was added to the school leaving age which was part of the law. McLaughlin said that a number of UDP supporters on the campaign trail had suggested the policy changes to education had introduced things that were “too difficult" for Caymanian students, such as plans to introduce the International Baccalaureate.

“Education is not one of this government’s priorities; they have no vision about it,” he said. “This is just part of a move to begin developing a case to stop the improvements.”

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Police nab nine “bail-bandits” in warrant operation

| 24/08/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Police said on Monday that they had arrested nine people in a special operation designed to target those who have failed to appear in court as bailed or had not paid fines imposed as punishment. Those netted owed between them over $16,000 to the court system and two of those arrested were given prison sentences of 70 days and 27 months respectively. While another two people paid their fines immediately, the remainder were bailed by the court to appear again at a later date.

The operation, conducted by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s (RCIPS) Process Department on Friday, 21 August targeted individuals who had warrants issued for their arrest. Eight men and one woman aged between 16 and 62 were arrested in the process.  “People who do not appear in court or fail to pay the fines imposed do not respect the criminal justice system,” said Sergeant Angela Madourie of the Process Department. “We will not allow people to dodge the punishment they have been given for their crimes. People should not see a fine as an easy option. If it isn’t paid, you will be arrested and taken back before the court.”

Sergeant Marourie also stressed that the police would rather not have to go looking for people. “If you have been given a court date or a fine to pay, your best course of action is to turn up on time or pay the fine,” she said, “otherwise you will face arrest for a second time.”

Anyone who thinks they may have an outstanding warrant against them or has yet to pay a fine issued by the court should contact their local police station or the court house as soon as possible. Residents who have been issued with a traffic ticket or similar should pay it as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the final day of payment which can often be forgotten and missed. In addition, everyone should keep a record of receipt as proof of payment of a fine and record court appearance dates so they do not get overlooked.

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FOI boss backs Duguay

| 24/08/2009 | 11 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of concerns raised by auditor general regarding government confidentiality clauses in contracts using public money and possible moves by the Public Accounts Committee to delay the public exposure of his office’s reports, Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert has offered her support to Dan Duguay and is urging the government to publish the auditor general’s reports in a timely fashion and to minimize the use of confidentiality clauses to shield contracts from the public.

“The government, both past and present, has stated its commitment to Freedom of Information in the Cayman Islands,” Dilbert said on Monday, 24 August. “However, several serious issues that impact timely and full openness have been raised by the auditor general I feel compelled to address, specifically, contractual relationships between government and the private sector; and the publishing of government reports.”

She said that the auditor general had recently raised concerns about the seeming overuse of confidentiality clauses in government contracts.  “The FOI Law clearly changes the nature of contractual relationships between government and private contractors,” the Information Commissioner noted.  “There must now be an expectation, in line with the experience of other countries with similar FOI laws, that information contained within such contracts may be open to public scrutiny, irrespective of any confidentiality clause.  This would not prejudice the private contractor’s position, however, since the contract will be subject to exemptions to disclosure contained in the Law that will protect a private company’s sensitive commercial information.”

Dilbert said that public authorities should avoid broad confidentiality clauses when negotiating new contracts. “This should have the positive effect of reducing the potential number of FOI appeals being escalated to a formal Hearing before the Commissioner, saving both time and money for all concerned,” she added.

While the commissioner acknowledged the authority of theLegislative Assembly to set its own rules for disclosing the auditor general’s reports, she noted how important publishing them at the earliest possible date would be to public confidence in government.

“The publishing of reports, in a timely manner, will be a determining factor in establishing whether or not government is truly committed to two guiding principles of freedom of information – transparency and accountability.”

Although PAC chair Ezzard Miller has refused to go on the record regarding future plans for Duguay’s reports, recent comments by PAC member Ellio Solomon to The Caymanian Compass indicated that the committee wanted to control the release of the reports and not just ‘dump’ them on the public.

Miller told CNS that the PAC  had agreed that they would not speak to the press about issues which were still under discussion at PAC and that a joint statement about the future process on releasing reports would be made once the committee had reached a decision on which it was agreed. It is understood, however, that the proposals will be presented to the LA this week about what will happenin future to the AG’s reports and the process of public disclosure.

Dilbert recently made her first ruling regarding a disputed FOI request and ordered further disclosure of government salary information as she said it was in the public interest. She said that she is hopeful that government will meet these and other new challenges that inevitably present as more access requests are filed under the FOI Law.  “The Cayman Islands as a whole can only benefit from such willingness of government to account to its people for what it does in their name,” Dilbert added.

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Boaters fined over weekend ganja smoking

| 24/08/2009 | 25 Comments

(CNS): Two men who were nabbed by the joint Customs, Police and Immigration Marine Unit for smoking ganja while aboard a boat at Rum Point last month have been fined $600 by the courts after pleading guilty to possession and consumption of the drug. Police said the pair was arrested on Sunday, 19 July after the marine unit had received complaints that ganja was being smoked in the area.  “We often receive complaints from people about ganja being smoked at Rum Point on the weekends,” said Inspector Brad Ebanks. “This is a popular destination for families and small children and it’s a real concern for parents.”

On July 19 the Marine Unit responded to complaints that ganja was being smoked in the area by a group of young boaters. Police identified the suspects and searched the boat. The search revealed a small amount of ganja and a partially used ganja cigarette. Two men were subsequently charged with possession and consumption of ganja and were fined $250 and $350 dollars each after they pleaded guilty.

“We will continue to ensure that families and young children can enjoy the Rum Point and Kaibo areas without the fear of encountering illegal drug use. We regularly patrol this area on weekends to ensure safety for everyone due to the large amounts of boaters. However, it seems that there are some who spoil this family gathering tradition by consuming drugs, this we will have to pay closer attention to,” Inspector Ebanks said adding that anyone who witnesses this behaviour should make a report to police.

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.

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Walkers looks east for new business

| 24/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Walkers has announced that it has launched a new specialist business practice covering the Central and Eastern European Region (CEER) with the aim of increasing local accessibility to offshore legal services as well as provide greater support to clients doing business in Russia and these other expanding markets. Advising on the laws of the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Jersey, Walkers’ said the new CEER Business Practice will offer the firm’s full range of services.

The legal firm said that the initiative would be spearheaded by partner Jack Boldarin who has relocated to Europe in order to provide time-zone relevant support. “Boldarin is admitted as an attorney in both the Cayman Islands and the BVI, where he has headed up the finance and corporate department for the past three years. Now based in Walkers’ Jersey office, he will receive the support of a dedicated group of partners and associates drawn from Walkers’ London and Jersey offices,” Walkers added.

Boldarin has received numerous recognitions from the leading legal commentators for his work with Walkers both in the Cayman Islands and the BVI, with recommendations from the International Financial Law Review and Chambers Global Guide. In addition, the PLC Which Lawyer Yearbook ranked him in the top tier of Banking and Finance lawyers in the BVI and the Legal 500 directory said Boldarin was "widely acclaimed as one of the islands’ top practitioners".

Walkers stated that with oldarin’s commercial expertise across transactions and products in the emerging Eastern European economies and Walkers’ reputation as the legal counsel of first choice on complex, multi-jurisdictional transactions, clients in the region can rely on receiving the most relevant, commercially aware advice to best meet their objectives

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Men robbed at gun point

| 24/08/2009 | 23 Comments

(CNS) : Police said this morning that the Criminal Investigation Department in George Town has begun an enquiry into the robbery of two men which occurred in the vicinity of the Tortuga factory on North Sound Road on Friday night (21 August). The men said they had been threatened by two robbers who had what appeared to be a hand gun as they demanded cash and then made their escape in a vehicle. Officers are now appealing for anyone in the area who may’ve seen something to come forward.

The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received the call reporting the mugging at 11.10pm. A man stated that he and a friend had been walking in the area when they had been approached by two men armed with what appeared to be a handgun who demanded they hand over any money they had. The victim told police the offenders were given an undisclosed sum of cash and they left from the location in a vehicle. He said they were both dark skinned and were wearing dark clothing.

Meanwhile, during a road block during the early hours of Saturday morning police said they arrested two men on suspicion ofpossession of an illegal firearm. The block was conducted on West Bay Road in the vicinity of the Courtyard Marriot where the vehicle was searched and a weapon was recovered and the two male occupants were arrested.

The weapon has since been examined and it has been determined that the weapon is a flare gun. The two men aged 24 and 27 have been released on bail pending further enquiries. Police said they were unable to draw any connection between the two incidents at this stage.

The RCIPS vows to continue with road blocks such as this in an effort to disrupt the movements of criminals, identify and bring to justice offenders and provide reassurance to the community.

Anyone who can help with the armed robbery should contact George Town CID on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.         

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Jazz fest to move to Cayman’s new town

| 24/08/2009 | 23 Comments

(CNS): Camana Bay is to provide the new venue for the sixth annual Cayman Jazz Fest, which takes place this December with headline act Alicia Keys (left). Joining the nine-time Grammy Award winner, will be R&B legend, Keith Sweat; eight-time Grammy nominee jazz saxophonist, Kirk Whalum; soul vocalist, Oleta Adams; multi-year Cayman jazz fest performer, Mike Phillips; Peabo Bryson; and Everette Harp. For the last five years the event was held on Pageant Beach. However, after what was described as months of negotiation, the festival will be moved to Grand Cayman’s newest neighbourhood.

 “We are excited to present a new site for this year’s Cayman Jazz Fest. Music and jazz aficionados, families and visitors-alike will get the whole package on their trip to Grand Cayman this year: a distinctive getaway filled with the best in music, pristine beaches, wonderful culinary finds and a warm and welcoming culture,” said Minister of Tourism, McKeeva Bush.

Mark VanDevelde, CEO of Dart Realty, said the festival was in line with Camana Bay’s goals to have the new town host exiting events. “After months of negotiating, we are delighted that the Ministry and Department of Tourism accepted our sponsorship proposal to host Cayman Jazz Fest 2009 at Camana Bay. Cayman Jazz Fest is a world class event, designed to showcase the best of the Cayman Islands and motivate visitors to vacation with us – goals which are very much aligned with the goals we have for Camana Bay,” he said.

“One related goal is for Camana Bay to host exciting events which appeal to a wide demographic of residents and visitors alike as a way of energizing the Town Centre. Cayman Jazz Fest is one such event. Our five year commitment to hosting Cayman Jazz Fest underscores our commitment to hosting world class events both for destination marketing and for the enjoyment of the local community.”

Acting Director of Tourism, Shomari Scott, said the festival, which is set for 3 to 5 December, would be a fantastic event. “The new Camana Bay location, coupled with the soulful sounds of Ms Keys and the other seasoned international performers we welcome in December, will elevate Cayman Jazz Fest to the highest level,” he added.

For additional information or to sign up for updates visit

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Lions add to pride

| 24/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Lions Club of Grand Cayman held an Induction of New Members and Awards Ceremony recently to welcome two new members and acknowledge the work of the existing members. New Lions Sabine Calvetti and Stephney Williams were reminded of the history and purposes of the Club then recently elected Zone Chairperson Lion Walter Gooding MJF served as the Initiating Officer. Sabine Calvetti is the first Leo to transfer to Lions under the Leo/Lion Transfer Programme.

She received her yellow Lions vest and was pinned by her sponsor Lion President Deborah Ebanks MJF. Stephney Williams was vested and pinned by sponsor Lion Lee Ramoon, Stepheny is following in her father, Past President Lion George E Seymour’s footsteps by becoming a second-generation Lion.

Melvin Jones Fellowship (MJF) recipient, Lion Andrew Eden was awarded the Progressive Melvin Jones Fellowship; this is Lion Andrew’s sixth Melvin Jones Progressive award. The Fellowship which was created in 1973 is in honor of the founder of Lions Clubs International, Melvin Jones. The Fellowship was established as the Lions Clubs International Foundation’s highest form of recognition to acknowledge an individual’s dedication to humanitarian service. The Progressive Melvin Jones Fellowship Program is awarded to Lions who thereafter further their commitment to humanitarian causes.  

A founding member and Charter President of the Club, Lion Tommy Hurlston, himself an MJF recipient was also awarded the Progressive Melvin Jones Fellowship for his continuing support to the Club.

Honourary Lion Margaret Ramsey Hayle was the guest speaker and after congratulating the two new Lions and the MJF recipients she spoke about the work that is being carried out with the Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) Programme, a projected started by Lions which is now an independent programe.

Lions are supporters of this youth mentoring organization in the Cayman Islands.  BBBS are the leader in one-to-one youth service, developing positive relations that have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of young people they mentor children aged 6 through to 18 in our community.

 Lion President Deborah Ebanks said it was a wonderful ceremony in which the new members were welcomed to the club.”I am happy and proud of their decision to accept membership to our Club and I am looking forward to working with them as together we continue the Lion Club’s commitment to serving the community,” she added.

Since the Club’s chartering in Grand Cayman in 1972, its members have worked on a variety of projects in the local community. Proceeds from past fundraising events have gone to activities such as free sight screening for school children, assisting financially with eye surgeries and other sight related projects. The Lions Club holds their general meeting on the first and third Thursdays of each month at the Lions Den in the Lions Community Centre, Crewe Road. Lions clubs are a group of men and women who identify needs within the community and work together to fulfill those needs. For more information or to get involved with the Lions Club, please contact Lion President Deborah Ebanks at 916-2151.

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New law boosts offshore business

| 24/08/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS):  The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority has confirmed that Appleby is the first law firm in the Cayman Islands to utilise the “merger provisions” for two CIMA registered mutual funds following the amendment of the Cayman Islands Companies Law in April of this year. Until the changes a Cayman company could only combine with another company by way of “arrangement” which required the parties involved to apply to the Grand Court for approval. This Certificate of Merger signifies the first CIMA registered mutual fund structure to make use of the amendment.

It was issued by the Cayman Islands Registrar of Companies to Appleby’s client on 3 August 2009.

The new legislation makes a distinction between a “consolidation” and a “merger”. In a merger, one company remains as the surviving entity, having in effect absorbed the other merging parties that are then struck off and cease to exist.  By comparison, in a consolidation, a new entity is formed from the combination of each participating company. The participating companies, as a consequence, cease to exist and are eachstruck off by the Registrar of Companies.

The funds lawyer involved with the transaction was associate, Andre Ebanks who explained that during these turbulent economic times, investment managers are constantly seeking ways to restructure their investments and the structures that lie beneath.  “This new legislation allows companies to combine without the need to go through a potentially costly court-driven process or, as Cayman mutual fund companies have done in the past, a somewhat cumbersome transfer process; involving a subscription-in kind, redemption, transfer of assets and the liquidation of the terminating fund,” he said. “The provisions allow greater flexibility whilst providing clients with the benefit of reduced costs and time as the merger of the terminating fund and surviving fund is effected by operation of law.”

Bryan Hunter, Partner and Cayman Corporate and Commercial Practice Group Head said the revision to the Companies’ Law which was driven by the private sector had been long overdue.  “Feedback has been great and we have already been instructed by other clients to merge or consolidate companies,” he added.  “We expect to see a significant number of clients using these new provisions in the near future not only in the funds arena but in all areas of Cayman corporate law.”


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