Archive for December, 2009

Local doc doubts Shetty plans

| 30/12/2009 | 63 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman health news(CNS): Although the proposed plans by world famous Indian cardiac surgeon, Dr Devi Shetty, to develop a health city in the Cayman Islands have been broadly welcomed, local physician Dr Steve Tomlinson has warned that medical tourism may simply not work in this jurisdiction. In a trade journal article the Director of the Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital says that both Cayman law and the cost of living may make it very difficult for Shetty to be able to provide the low cost health care service that he has proposed.

Speaking to the International Medical Travel Journal, Dr Tomlinson said he wanted to reserve his opinion on the issue but for medical tourism to work it has requirements. “It has to be quality service, needs to be less expensive than what the cost is wherever those patients are coming from, and/ or must offer treatment not available in the places where those patients are coming from,” the doctor said.

“Cayman law says that we cannot offer healthcare services that are not already available in Canada, the United States and the UK. I believe that most patients would be coming from those countries. Medical tourism works in some places where people are paid very little for the work that they do because the cost of living in places like Bangalore, India, is much lower than it is here in the Cayman Islands. If you are going to use high-grade medical equipment and supplies it becomes very expensive.”

Several months ago it was announced that Dr Shetty was exploring an initiative to bring medical tourism to the Cayman Islands. Dr Shetty is the founder of the Narayana Hrudayalaya Group of hospitals in Bangalore, India. The plan is to establish a health city in Cayman that would include a 2000 bed hospital and a medical university that would cater especially to the medial needs of patients from North America as well as the Caribbean region and locals. Dr Shetty has said that his plan to cut medical costs by 50% will work in Cayman if he can do the volume of work as he has in his hospitals in India, where doctors perform literally thousands of operations every year

Although the details of when the project will start and where it will be have yet to be revealed, the project, which is an entirely private sector initiative, has received the blessing of government. Before Christmas the premier and the minister of health visited India for the opening of Dr Shetty’s latest facility, and McKeeva Bush has stated that his government is in favour of the project.

“I am talking to Dr Shetty and our government has some interest in his proposed medical facility in terms of our medical tourism plan,” Bush said recently. “We are very supportive of the proposed hospital and we are continuing our discussions. Medical tourism will assist the Cayman Islands and it is a serious plan that Caymanians will benefit from, as it will enhance the services that are currently available.”

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Faces of tourism

| 30/12/2009 | 37 Comments

I was in a very popular seaside bar on the other afternoon. I was served by a very pleasant young lady who spoke excellent English even though it was obviously not her first language. She told me that she was from Latvia and had only been on the island for two weeks.

This made me wonder how she had managed to get a work permit when there are a number of unemployed Caymanians perfectly capable of performing the unskilled and less than onerous duties that she has. Now that I come to think about it, I realise that every bar worker I have ever come across here, and there have been quite a few, has been an expat. They are American, Canadian, South African, Australian etc.

There is a similar situation in restaurants. I have never been served by a waiter or waitress who is not an expat. Austrians seem to dominate here, although there are many other Europeans. Never Caymanians.

Why are there no Caymanians?

This is an island that relies heavily on tourism and yet young Caymanians are not working in that industry. Certainly, working as a bartender or a waiter means starting at the bottom but there is experience to be gained that could be of benefit elsewhere and there is also the possibility of promotion. It must be a better prospect than unemployment.

I was talking to a restaurant owner recently about why he had no Caymanian staff. His response was interesting, instructive and depressing. He told me that he advertised a position and (as a long time resident and a status holder who is concerned about rising local unemployment levels) stipulated that only Caymanians should apply.

He received three applications; one from a young man and from two women whose ages ranged from 18 – 21. He interviewed them all. Then he made a difficult decision, as all three applicants were suitable. Later he phoned the successful candidate and told him that he could start the next day. The Caymanian applicant declined the offer. The reason, he told the restaurateur, was that he had not realised what the job involved when he applied and he did not want to work on Friday and Saturday evenings. That was when he went out with his friends. The other two gave the same response for the same reason when called to be offered the job.

Why they applied for the job in the first place is a question that I don’t have the answer to. Didn’t they realise that working in a restaurant was not a Monday to Friday, nine to five job? The restaurant owner has hired a Spaniard.

I am not going to attempt to draw any conclusions from this but I do find it ominous and deeply depressing.

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Christmas Day power cut due to vehicle collision

| 29/12/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Some Christmas diners took a little longer to cook in George Town this year as a result of a CUC outage caused by a motor vehicle colliding and breaking a power pole in the afternoon on Christmas Day. From 14:40pm customers in areas at Outpost Road, Windsor Park, Anthony Drive, Pasadora Place and parts of Smith Road, South Church Street from Texaco to the Cayman Crossings vicinity on South Sound were without power as turkeys sat in cold ovens.

A spokesperson for CUC said on Tuesday that staff had however restored power to the first customers at 15:33pm. “CUC apologies to customers for any inconvenience the outage may have caused,” the firm stated adding that it was committed to providing excellent service to its customers and that it is one of the most reliable and efficient utilities in the region. 

“At October 31st 2009, the Company posted a respectable Average Service Availability Index of 99.95 % compared to 99.93 % for the same period last year.  This means that, on average, our customers experienced approximately three and one half hours of outages during the period,” CUC added

 

 

 

 

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Environmental Health looks for garbage fees

| 29/12/2009 | 28 Comments

(CNS): Despite reports that garbage fees are notoriously difficult to collect the Department of Environmental Health has issued a reminder to home and business owners that the fees will be due by 31 January 2010. Fees are due twice yearly, in January and July for 6 month periods, but owners do have the option of making a full single payment in January and the department also said that payment plan arrangements can also be made to help people meet their obligation. Garbage fees are prescribed in accordance with the Public Health (Garbage and Refuse Disposal) (Amendment) Regulations, 2002.

“Customers also have the convenience of paying garbage fees by debit or credit cards on Grand Cayman.,” said Director Roydell Carter. “Of course we accept cash and cheques too—the DEH aims to makepaying user-friendly!”

To avoid invoice delivery delays, the public is further urged to contact DEH on 949-6696 to update mailing addresses. Customers who do not receive bills by January 15, 2010 are advised to contact DEH immediately.  The DEH said that it appreciates the cooperation of residents who regularly pay their fees in a timely manner, and thanks those other civic-minded individuals who are currently in the process of paying their fees.

Given the shortages in government coffers and recent delays in garbage collections owing to problems with resources in the DEH the fees will be needed more than ever this year.  

The fees can be paid in person at Department of Environmental Health, in the Cayman Islands Environmental Centre, 580 North Sound Road, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday or at any Grand Cayman post office and at the District Administration Office in Cayman Brac. Customers can also post payment to the Department of Environmental Health, P.O. Box 1820, Grand Cayman KY1-1109.

 

 

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Body found shot dead in GT

| 29/12/2009 | 85 Comments

(CNS): Updated 12:15 Police have confirmed that a murder investigation is underway following the discovery of a 27-year-old man’s body close to Welly’s Cool Spot in Sound Way, George Town. The RCIPS said the man’s injuries appear to be consistent with gunshot wounds.The 911 centre received the report that the body had been found at around 8:30am on Tuesday, 29 December. Police said that an extensive forensic examination of the scene is currently ongoing. Police officers are also conducting door-to-door enquiries to establish if anyone in the surrounding area has any information which could assist with the enquiry or help put together the last movements of the deceased.

The identity of the deceased will be made available when formal identification has taken place and his next of kin have been made aware. A family liaison officer has been appointed by RCIPS to assist the victim’s next of kin.

A murder incident team, led by Detective Chief Inspector Peter Kennett, will be based at the murder incident room, which has been set up at George Town police station.

“This young man lost his life in what can only be described as a very brutal way. I have to stress that we do need the help of the public as we try to piece together the last few hours and minutes of the victim’s life,” said DCI Kennett.

“We have already started to gather vital information both from the forensic examination of the scene and from interviewing people who live in the surrounding area but I would appeal to anyone who has any information, and has not already been spoken to by the police, to come forward. Even if you feel the information you have is insignificant or trivial – please let us know – it might be vitally important to the enquiry.”

If, as is already suspected, that this is a murder it will be the eighth killing in the Cayman Islands in 2009, making it the highest number since records began.

Anyone with information can call the murder incident room at George Town police station direct on 244-2924 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

 

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UDP saves NYE bus

| 29/12/2009 | 39 Comments

(CNS): Following the revelation that the National Drug Council did not have funding to run the Purple Ribbon free New Year’s Eve bus service for the 2010 celebrations, Matthew Leslie of the Young United Democratic Party has stepped up to the plate and rallied his party colleagues to come up with the money to get the service up and running. Leslie said that with money from the YUDP’s fundraising coffers, together with contributions from all of the UDP MLAs and some party members, he has come up with enough cash to allow the NDC to run the service island-wide from 10pm to 3am on 31 December/1 January.

“The YUDP felt this was a worthwhile cause to spend some of the money we have gained through fundraising this year as we know lots of young people will be on the road on New Year’s Eve and we want them to stay safe,” Leslie said explaining that after seeing the story on the CNS site he wanted to do something. “With the help of party members and all the UDP MLAs we’ve come up with enough money to give to the NDC so it can organise the free service so that young people can park those cars when they have been drinking and get home safely on the purple ribbon bus. Drunk driving is a genuine concern for all and we want to do what we can to help start the New Year without any major accidents.”

Leslie said that full details of the exact times and routes of the buses would be revealed before New Year’s Eve but that the service would be island wide, free of charge and all buses will be clearly marked.

Mark Scotland, the Minister for Health, said he was delighted with the YUDP initiative and offered his full support. “I was disappointed to hear that the NDC was unable to find funding for this worthy initiative so I am really pleased that Matthew and the YUDP have spearheaded this initiative which all of the UDP is behind. This is an important service as we all want everyone to stay safe on the roads,” Scotland added.

Leslie confirmed that no government money is being used to fund the service but cash from the YUDP’s own coffers, party members as well as the MLAs’ own pockets.

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Shaune Fraser enters Cayman’s sporting hall of fame

| 29/12/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Following his graduation next summer star swimmer Shaune Fraser will become the Cayman Islands latest elite athlete when he signs a contract with government in June 2010. Shaune and his younger brother Brett are currently competing for the University of Florida (where they both have swimming scholarships) on the amateur National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) circuit. Once he graduates Shaune will be able to take on sponsorships and under the contract the CI government will offer financial support enabling him to focus on training and competing.

Swimming since he was six years old, Shaune competed in the Olympics in 2004 (Athens) and 2008 (Beijing). He currently holds the NCAA record for the 200m fly, and the Florida state records for the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, and 200m fly – all set this year. Shaune’s main events are the 200 individual medley (IM), 200 freestyle, and 200 fly, and he has his sights firmly set on the 2012 London Olympics.

Big events for next year include, the NCAA Championships in March, the Central American and Caribbean Games in July, October’s Commonwealth Games in India, and the World Swimming Championships in December 2010. After graduating next summer, he will also start competing on the swimming Grand Prix circuit.

 “Shaune and Brett both have impressive records of performance. Not only have they proven themselves in the swimming pool, but they also are excellent role models for our young athletes. I am impressed with their dedication to their sport and their education. It takes a very special and talented athlete to juggle the demands of international competition and full-time study,” Minister of Sport Mark Scotland said. 

 “My ministry is proud to offer another young Caymanian athlete the opportunity to further his sport career. In turn, Cayman will benefit from being represented on the world stage by an athlete of great calibre.”

The Cayman Islands’ Elite Athlete Status programme allows athletes to enter into a contract with the Cayman Islands Government whereby they receive financial support to assist them in their training and development.  Under the agreement, athletes are required to maintain a certain level of competition and participate, whenever possible, in promoting sports in the Cayman Islands. They are also expected to act as athletic ambassadors when and wherever they are competing.

Current Cayman Elite Athletes are Ronald Forbes, Cydonie Mothersill, Charles Whittakker, and Michael Letterlough.

For more information on Shaune’s performance this year go to http://www.gatorzone.com/swimmingdiving/media/?sport=swimm http://www.gatorzone.com/story.php?id=16876

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Tourism stats still down

| 29/12/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): With only one month’s statistics left to come in for 2009 it is likely that the Cayman Islands’ annual tourism arrivals will be down for both cruise and stay-over visitors this year. While November air arrival stats were an improvement on 2008, unless December turns out to be a record breaking month, visitors to Cayman by air will be the lowest in 2009 since 2006. With five ships in port on Tuesday morning, downtown George Town was experiencing one of its busiest cruise days of the year, but one which again is likely to show yet another decline.

With the world recession still biting, tourism has been one of the hardest hit industries, affecting a number of Cayman’s small businesses and local unemployment levels.

According to statistics from the Department of Tourism, 20,614 people arrived in Cayman by air in November, an increase of 883. However the annual total for air arrivals for 2008 was 302,879, and with just one month o the year left, so far only 242,393 travelled to Cayman by air, meaning the destination is looking at more than a 10 to 15% decline for the year depending on how December’s stats measure up.

Last year’s cruise annual arrival statistics were the lowest since 2001 and 2009 may be lower still. With 1,361,850 people having arrived in the 11 months of the year so far, Port Authority statistics suggest a possible 150,000 will visit in December, giving a total of around 1,520,000 for the year.

With stay over numbers remaining low hotels and condos are averaging less than 52% occupancy this year compared to over 53% last year with hotels showing a steeper decline than apartments and condos which remain at similar levels.

With the promised investment in a cruise berthing facility in George Town to start in 2010 and several new condo and hotel projects also planned for next year, many people are counting on the second pillar of the economy to rebound in the new decade, creating jobs and business opportunities to buoy up Cayman’s flagging domestic economy.

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CBO tackling crime & politics

| 29/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The problem of rising crime, unemployment, as well as the prosperity and politics of the Cayman Islands will be the areas up for discussion when a local panel of experts discusses the future of the islands at the annual Cayman Business Outlook conference next month. Gary Linford will be moderating when the Commissioner of Police David Baines (left), Pastor Al Ebanks of Agape Family Worship Centre, Auditor General Dan Duguay, consultant Paul Byles and attorney Sherri Bodden come together to examine the issues at the forefront of the community.

Organisers are also encouraging the public to submit questions, which can be confidential and anonymous to the moderator at conference-moderator@dmtcgroup.com for the “Jobs, Prosperity, Politics and Crime: What’s in store for Cayman?”  discussion which will round out this year’s conference “Prospering in a Grave New World’ on Thursday 21 January at the Ritz Carlton.

McKeeva Bush, the premier, will open the conference which organizers say includes prominent and influential members of the community including professional local and expatriate business people, leading bankers, lawyers and senior members of government.

 

The CBO 2010 presenters have all made frequent appearances on financial channels and News programmes and are regular print and web columnists. The Keynote speaker is Simon Johnson, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the financial sector and economic crises and a former International Monetary Fund chief economist.  Ann Lee is an expert on financial derivatives and the global financial system. Currently Lee teaches economics and finance at New York University, and has served as an adjunct professor at the Lubin School of Business and Graduate Economics at Pace University, and as a visiting professor to Peking University in Beijing, China. Margaret A Neale is the faculty director of three executive programmes at Stanford University: Influence and Negotiation Strategies, Managing Teams for Innovation and Success, and the Executive Programme for Women Leaders.

 

Fidelity Bank is the primary sponsor of Cayman Business Outlook, a business networking and conference event designed to expand the knowledge of business leaders in the Cayman Islands and to foreshadow threats and opportunities that may exist in the global economic regime during the coming year. Alongside Fidelity sponsors include Admiral Administration, Campbells Attorneys-at-law, Consolidated Water Co. Ltd., DART, Five Continents Financial Limited, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Ritz-Carlton, Royal Fidelity and Royal Star Assurance.

 

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What’s in a name?

| 28/12/2009 | 117 Comments

It’s confusing when a word means one thing in one context and something else in another.  “Caymanian” and “expat” are two such words that we use every day. Who and what is a Caymanian?  It can mean a native ethnic Caymanian, or someone born here, or someone who used to live here a hundred years ago. 

Sometimes it covers all legal Caymanians, including “paper” Caymanians.  Sometimes it means a Cayman Islands passport-holder. 

There are several legal categories of Caymanians, and they don’t all have access to the same civil rights.  That’s an issue not addressed by our new Constitution, by the way.  How many classes of citizenship will the FCO allow in these Islands?

Some overseas Caymanians have a “right of return” by virtue of their ancestry.  In order to claim their birthright they have to settle here.  Not all Islanders approve of this loophole.  When you hear a Cayman-born Bodden or Ebanks spoken of as “not a real Caymanian”, it usually means he or she was born and/or raised somewhere else.

Recently, Britain granted all Caymanians a similar right of “return” to Britain – based on the romantic fiction that it is our ancestral home, since we are all subjects of the Queen.  Cayman Islanders can no longer claim they have nowhere to run to if Cayman collapses into poverty.

Who or what is an “expat” locally?  Largely, it depends on the user and his context.  Native Caymanians who say “these expats taking jobs from Caymanians” mean skilled workers, usually from North America or Europe.  They certainly don’t mean domestic helpers.  “These expats clogging up the infrastructure” usually means Jamaicans or Latinos doing less-skilled work – and, recently, Filipinos and Indians as well.

Interestingly, Caymanians never use “expats” to refer to their own expat ancestors.  Perhaps it is too insulting a term in their ordinary usage. In the mouths of expats themselves, “expats” means all transient migrants and long-term immigrants currently living here. 

Most of us take it personally when any expat nationality is disrespected by our local authorities.  Strangely, very few native Caymanians seem to be aware of this feeling of solidarity.  There is a sort of freemasonry of the victims of immigration injustices. 

Sadly, it’s always “us” and “them” on both sides of the great divide.  Even the longest of long-term immigrants only ever say “we Caymanians” as a rueful joke. 

It’s hard for first-generation immigrants to feel Caymanian when we aren’t equal before the law.  Relatively few of us can vote, and virtually none of us can run for elective office.  Vassel Johnson did it once – but I was present at a public meeting where one of his native-born opponents ended a tirade against him with the muttered words, “Get back to India!”  Yes, indeed.

It’s extremely rare for expats – no matter how capable and committed – to be appointed to politically sensitive boards and committees.  How stupid it is for the political establishment to stubbornly insist that nobody outside the tiny native gene-pool is trustworthy.  Where is the sense in refusing to utilise the experience and expertise of newcomers?

A word that a great many native Caymanians don’t like using among themselves is “immigrant”.  An immigrant is a resident who has an emotional stake in his community – and, if he can afford it, a financial stake.  He wants to belong and to contribute to his new home.  As such, he is anathema to the native Caymanians’ political leaders.  If Cayman is to avoid economic catastrophe, this attitude had better change soon. 

The word “expat” ought to be limited in its usage to transients, sojourners, birds of passage – people who don’t want to put down roots and will happily move on when they feel ready to go.  There is no disrespect in my saying this.  I was a transient in half a dozen places before I came to Cayman; indeed, I came here as a transient, as so many others have done.

Even transients bring skills that are useful and needed.  Many of them are glad to help in areas that interest them, though they don’t always receive due credit for it.

It’s a strange and rather sad society that doesn’t want transients to ever identify their interests with their hosts’; and it’s a cold-blooded one that doesn’t welcome the prospect of transient migrants becoming long-term immigrants.

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