Archive for August 27th, 2009

Saxon nurtures tomorrow’s investors

| 27/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Students in the Cayman Islands will get a chance to dabble in the world of finance by maintaining a hypothetical portfolio in a programme spearheaded by Cayman Islands, Saxon Administration Ltd. (Saxon), agents for Silver Thatch Pensions. All year 10 and 11 students island wide are encouraged to start a chapter of the Saxon Investment Club at their school, where they will gain invaluable insight about investing in a hands-on environment, and at the same time get a shot at winning a trip to New York City. “Our current economic climate is one that can provide a great deal of insight and education in the business of investments,” remarked CEO of Saxon Brian Williams.


 “Investing in our local youth is paramount to Saxon’s dedication to give back to the community. Saxon wanted to form a club for students to learn about the importance of investing, and to spark an interest in a future career in one of the financial industries.”

Students who participate will be formed into small teams within their school’s club to develop and maintain a hypothetical portfolio by picking stocks in accordance with the current market. This in turn will require them toresearch the companies that they have chosen for their group’s portfolio. Along with competing for monthly performance prizes, the group with the highest-earning portfolio by the end of May 2010 will win a $3,000 cash prize, which will tentatively be used for a trip to New York City where students can visit the New York Stock Exchange and local universities.

Williams continued, “We are encouraging students to invest in companies they are familiar with for their portfolios. Seeing the success that they will achieve from a brand or product that they use on a daily basis will help to fortify the idea that there is an opportunity to capitalize on their interests.”

The club will also provide invaluable knowledge about sound financial investing and money management through the careful planning of each group’s portfolio.

Students can register by contacting Brian Williams at or by calling 749-2463. All schools are eligible to participate and must register by Tuesday, September 15th.


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Solomon Islands sending more dolphins overseas

| 27/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(Solomon Star): In the face of international condemnation and scientific advice, the government of the Solomon Islands is poised to allow another export of wild-caught dolphins. Earth Island Institute claims that up to 18 Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins of 30 being held in pens on Gavutu are destined to be shipped to Panama in the Caribbean in the near future. In April of this year, a working group of CITES, the body that regulates the international trade in endangered species instigated an in-depth review of trade in Solomon Islands dolphins because of its concerns about the status of dolphin populations in Solomon Island waters.

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Government runs out of cash

| 27/08/2009 | 172 Comments

(CNS): With literally no money left in the treasury coffers, the government was unable to meet all of its financial obligations this month to enable it to pay civil servants, Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush told an audience at a special meeting called to discuss the financial situation with private and public sector. Government was forced to delay payments on health insurance premiums as well as general contractors to meet the public sector pay role. The situation for next month also remains dire, with a forecasted financial position for 30 September of government incurring around CI$78.1 million in expenditure but expecting to only collect CI$29.5 million in cash. 

 “In order to pay the salaries and wages of civil servants on payday on 25 August 2009 the government also had to take a deliberate action to postpone the payment of other expenses such as pension, health insurance, and postpone payments to contractors and other general suppliers,” Bush said at the meeting at Ritz Carlton on Thursday, 27 August.

Bush said that when the United Democratic Party came into office there were a number of capital projects that were already underway and unless the government takes the decision to stop construction and incur excessive penalty costs it is legally obligated to cover all costs associated with completing these projects. 

“It is estimated that these existing capital projects will incur approximately CI$150.5 million in costs during the 2009/10 financial year.  This does not include furniture and fixtures for the schools. This amount includes CI$74.5 million for the high schools and CI$39.0 million for the Government Office Accommodation Project,” Bush explained, adding that holding back the payments on these existing construction contracts to pay civil service wages was not a sustainable situation.

With no cash in the government’s day to day account, it is now using an overdraft facility and the LoGB said next month the government would be facing a cash shortage of CI$44.1 million unless the UK changes its mind and allows Cayman to draw the funds from local loans that have been secured. Government currently has around 76 million to its name but cannot easily access it. $43.4 is in the General Reserves and $25.7 is in the Environmental Protection fund. Kenneth Jefferson, Financial Secretary explained that these funds could not be used for day to day expenses and so government was already overdrawn in its regular account which he said Bryant was well aware.

Bush stated: “The government has already negotiated with local banks to borrow up to CI$372.0 million, which is required to take it through to 30th June 2010.  The loan funds are ready andavailable and all that is required in order to draw down on the funds is the approval of the FCO.” 

However, the FCO is currently withholding its permission on allowing borrowing to be increased until the CI government offers a new sustainable plan for revenue generation in Cayman outside of the financial services sector and preferably in the form of taxation. (See UK tells Cayman to levy taxes.)

“On 20 August 2009, the FCO informed the government that they were not convinced that the government can sustain these cost savings and therefore they were unlikely to permit any additional borrowing,” LoGB said, adding that he had asked if the CI government could at least draw on $30 million of the loan before the end of August to meet expenditure, but he said the FCO informed him that it was neither “approving or disapproving” the request but it would need to demonstrate new revenue sources for the 2009/10 financial year first. With no cash and the coffers and no approval to draw on the load, Cayman’s financial situation has reached unprecedented circumstances.

During his presentation Bush told the Ritz audience that the government had done another revision on the final sums for the financial year 2008/09 which revealed the deficit was even higher than previously thought. Government currently has loan balances of CI$598.0 million comprising of CI$416.5 million for central government and CI$181.5 million for public authorities.

Preliminary final figures, which included government’s operating revenue, was CI$487.4 million, while expenses of central government totalled CI$557.1 million, and the net loss of the public authorities was CI$11.4 million, he said.  Taking the Operating Expenses and net losses away from the Operating Revenue, public Sector ended up with an operating deficit of CI$81.1 million for the year ended 30 June 2009.

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UK tells Cayman to levy taxes

| 27/08/2009 | 128 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands must show plans to introduce long-term and sustainable revenue raising measures such as direct or indirect taxation before the UK will allow the CI government to borrow more cash. Though government does not have enough money to meet its immediate operating expenses for the next month, FCO Minister Chris Bryant has told McKeeva Bush he wants to see a widening of the Cayman tax base before he is prepared to approve any more debt.

Speaking to an audience of both public and private sector representatives on Thursday morning (27 August) at the Ritz-Carlton (which sponsored the meeting free of charge) the leader of government business detailed the government’s current financial situation and shared a letter from the Overseas Territories Minister from the Foreign and CommonwealthOffice, Chris Bryant, regarding the request to draw down on new loans, in which the UK minister effectively refused the request.

Since the CI government broke the parameters defined by the Public Management and Finance Law during the last fiscal year with a record deficit and record borrowing, the country is now forced to gain special permission from the FCO to incur any further debts.

“Because we were not in compliance, it is the first time ever we have had to do this,” Bush told the audience. He said he could play the blame game but there was no point and the time for politics was past. The LoGB explained that he had already negotiated loans locally to the value of $372 million for the next financial year but before he could draw down on that he needed the UK’s go-ahead, which was not yet forthcoming.

Bush said that although he had submitted the cost savings of around $90 million, which was based on expenditure cuts and the pension contribution freeze, when he approached the FCO to approve the loans he had set up, he said that Bryant had told him on the telephone this week that the UK remained unconvinced that the CI government could manage further borrowing without introducing a more sustainable source of revenue.

On Tuesday 25 August 2009, I spoke with the FCO minister to seek its approval to allow the government to borrow at least CI$30 million that is urgently needed to make current operating and capital payments,” Bush said, adding that although Bryant said he was not necessarily disapproving the borrowing requests, he was not approving them either.

In his letter to Bush, Bryant said he was alarmed that the 2007/08 operating surplus could be turned into such a large operating debt in one year and it could not be allowed to happen again and warned of the danger of Cayman heading towards a debt spiral. And while all countries including the UK are being forced to borrow to see them through the recession, they are at the same time levying taxes and reducing spending. He said the UK expects to see its overseas territories taking a responsible approach to managing finances.

“That means both ensuring a clear strategy for cutting borrowing and debt over the next three to five years, and tackling expenditure,” Bryant wrote. “I doubt that the Cayman Islands government can afford to take on extra debt without getting expenditure under control and widening the tax base. I therefore need to be absolutely convinced that there is a sustainable medium-term plan for turning around public finances and pay off the debt before being able to consider any extension of borrowing.”

The OT minister said such a plan must be realistic about future business activity and government revenues. He said it would need to factor in risk especially uncertainties in US markets and hedge funds and financial services, as well as the outcomes of the G20 summit and Michael Foot’s report on the UK’s OFCs.

“It would be unwise,” he said, “to rely too heavily on a rapid improvement in trust fund income or to expect that the Cayman Islands prosperity can presume on its offshore tax haven status. To make the public finances more resilient in the face of these uncertainties and to give me confidence that you will be able to service any new borrowings you will have to widen the tax base. I fear you have no choice but to consider new taxes perhaps payroll or property tax.”

Bryant also warned that operating expenditure had increasedtoo quickly and it needed to be controlled. He said if he could see clear progress being made he would be prepared to consider the further borrowing request and he expected to hear from the CI government about ideas in a few days.

After sharing the letter with the audience Bush asked what it was that the people of Cayman wanted, as it was evident the country needed to change. “Do we now accept the UK’s implication that we should introduce direct taxes?” he asked. “Or do we craft and implement our own vision on the way forward for a sustainable and successful economy?”

He said government had to go back to FCO with a credible plan but he was concerned that both indirect as well as direct taxes could be detrimental to business and the cost of living.

Bush spoke about a number of possible ideas that would generate revenue for government, such as the development of a new commercial port, cruise berthing to expand tourism, development of five star resorts and encouraging more foreign investments. He said that there were a number of ideas from the civil service, such as the Civil Service Association’s consideration of using its funds to buy the new government administration building; increasing fees on alcohol, tobacco and fuel duties; property tax;  tax onmoney transfers; increase existing fees; investigate government possession of dormant accounts; or a national lottery, something which Bush said he would not be opposed to if there was support for it.

Above all, he said people had to be ready to accept change and in particular he warned against protectionism and anti-foreign attitudes, which he said were undermining foreign investment and driving business away. “We can’t have everything without giving up something.”


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UCCI Cayman Brac Campus orientation

| 27/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): All students who have applied for the Associate and Bachelor Degrees and Certificate Programmes at the UCCI Cayman Brac campus must attend the University College orientation to be held at Stake Bay facility on Monday, 31 August from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm. Parents and guardians are also welcome to attend. At this orientation students will meet UCCI staff and teachers to discuss the coming year at the Brac Campus. Any outstanding items on your application can be turned in at this time. The Brac Campus is at 20 Kirkconnell Street, opposite District Administration and is open Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 5.00 pm.

Second year students are also encouraged to attend afternoon counseling sessions with UCCI Student Services Counsellors, Mary Ann Cannon and Mitch Ebanks, when they can confirm their degree programmes and class schedules for the fall semester.

A second video-link has been added at the Brac campus, and the campus now offers programmes in both Education and Legal Studies as well as second-year classes via this link.

Students can still register on-line at the UCC web site: where available courses are also detailed. Classes for the Fall Semester start on Tuesday, 1st September, 2009.
Contact: Tel: 948-8128, Fax: 948-8129.

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Record top grades in GCSE results in UK

| 27/08/2009 | 13 Comments

(BBC): GCSE grades have reached another record level – with more than one in five exams (21.6%) being awarded an A* or A. More than half a million teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been receiving their results. Grades have risen almost continually since 1988 and this year more than two in three (67.1%) were between an A* and a C. Girls continue to get more A*s and As than boys. Schools in England targeted under what is called the "National Challenge" are those where fewer than 30% of pupils achieve five or more good GCSE passes (A* to C) including maths and English.


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“Key” hurricane reminder

| 27/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Postal Service is reminding customers of two easy tasks to help ease their minds before, during and after any storm: One, collect your mail during the alert phase of a hurricane; two, know where your post-office box keys are at all times. Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow said that everyone’s hurricane checklist should include collecting mail at the early stages of an approaching storm, preferably during the alert phase. When the second phase – called a watch – has been announced, Postal Service staff begins retrieving mail from individual post-office boxes and bundling it.

“This is when the window of opportunity for picking up your mail gets smaller,” Glasgow said.

But while Postal Services staff has some discretion in deciding when to begin pulling mail from individual boxes, it has no say in deciding when government offices are advised to close. “For the Postal Service staff, our plans call for every piece of mail to be secure,” Glasgow said. “So once government announces that its offices are closing, we begin putting mail in heavy-duty plastic bags for safe storage. These bags are taped and placed in large, covered plastic tubs, and we seal the covers to provide additional security. Then, as much as space allows, we store the tubs off the floor.”

Because there are usually a few last-minute tasksto check off the list when a hurricane is approaching, PS staff helps customers to remember mail collection by putting out announcements through the media.

“We strongly advise customers to heed these announcements because after a storm, it naturally takes some time to return mail to the individual post boxes. And since life today doesn’t stop for storms, the timely delivery of your mail is even more important,” Glasgow said.

The Postal Service notes that it only takes one hurricane heading our way for people to start panicking and forgetting important tasks. “You have no idea how many people had to replace their post office keys after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. There is a $30 charge to change a lock,” reminded


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Leadership training for Rotaract Blue members

| 27/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Three Rotaract Blue members recently became the first in the club to receive the renowned Rotary Leadership Institute training, which is designed to develop young people’s leadership skills. Rotaract Blue is a local club which is dedicated to encouraging young people’s involvement in professional development, leadership development and community service projects. The programme is sponsored by Rotary Central, which arranged for the training to take place. Stephanie Scott, club Director of Service is one of the Rotaractors who benefitted from the recent training sessions on the 8 and 9 August at the University College of the Cayman Islands.

She said, “This was a great opportunity for us to improve our knowledge of Rotary and develop our leadership skills. We all found the experience very rewarding.” The course participants, who also included club president, Tricia Cacho, and club Vice President, Yvette Cacho, completed levels one and two of the institute’s three level training programme.Each course level requires about seven hours to complete.

Stephanie Scott and Yvette Cacho were both sponsored by local Management Services firm, Walkers SPV. Richard Ruffer, Senior Vice President of Walkers SPV Limited, commented, “Walkers SPV and the rest of the Walkers Management Services Group are delighted to sponsor Rotaract Blue’s participation in this year’s Rotary International Leadership Training Seminar.” He continued, “As an organisation and a responsible corporate citizen, we are always looking for ways that we can make a contribution to the local community and we have been very impressed with the work of Rotaract Blue and the commitment of its young professionals.” Ruffer added, "We believe that organisations such as Rotaract Blue, which instill the ideals of community service and social obligation, present a unique opportunity to businesses such as ourselves, because the contributions that we can make are multiplied significantly by their hard work and dedication to the community." Walkers SPV plans to sponsor the participation of other Rotaractors on the Institute’s course in the future.

Rotary Central President, Paul Byles, was also enthusiastic about the training sessions. He commented, “Rotary Central is proud to be supporting leadership training for Rotaract Blue members. It is a great way for them to develop leadership skills and prepare them for future roles as community leaders.” Byles added, “We are very grateful to Walkers SPV for their support of Rotaract Blue.”

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Solar panels drop in price

| 27/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(NY Times): When Greg Hare looked into putting solar panels on his ranch-style home in Magnolia, Tex., last year, he decided he could not afford it. “I had no idea solar was so expensive,” he recalled. But the cost of solar panels has plunged lately, changing the economics for many homeowners. Mr. Hare ended up paying $77,000 for a large solar setup that he figures might have cost him $100,000 a year ago. “I just thought, ‘Wow, this is an opportunity to do the most for the least,’ ” Mr. Hare said. For solar shoppers these days, the price is right. Panel prices have fallen about 40 percent since the middle of last year, driven down partly by an increase in the supply of a crucial ingredient for panels.

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Cayman gets poor report from FCCA

| 27/08/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): A visiting official from the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association described Royal Watler cruise terminal as “organized chaos”. Talking to News 27 about the facilities for their members and passengers, FCCA officials said it was time Cayman kept up with the rest of the Caribbean in terms of berthing facilities and customer experience. One of the major problems, they said, is the lengthy transfer of passengers from ship to shore and that an eight hour port of call is actually a six hour call because of the time spent tendering from the ship and back. (Picture courtesy News 27)

News 27’s Tammi Sulliman said the officials pointed to another problem – lack of proper signage directing passengers where to go when they come ashore. The officials said the little we have was too confusing.

“The most important thing to Cayman is that people spend as much time as possible having a phenomenal time spending money,” said one official.

However, despite the poor reviews, Sulliman reported the FCCA officials as saying it’s not too late to show cruise ship passengers the best service that Cayman has to offer.

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