Archive for February 23rd, 2010

Bush defends $1million PR

| 23/02/2010 | 40 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman permanent residency(CNS): Following a considerable amount of opposition to the government’s proposal to sell Permanent Residency to wealthy individuals for $1 million, the premier has defended the policy and said it was a special grant for a limited number of rich retirees that require a second jurisdiction for “their own purposes". Mckeeva Bush said it would enable government to earn money for what it has been giving away for years. “It is not a grant of citizenship or Caymanians status,” he said.  The opposition, however, have said the proposal would allow foreigners to set up local businesses without a Caymanian partner.

“For years we have been giving away permanent residency for as little as $400 in some instances,” Bush said in an audiostatement released on Monday prior to the PPM public meeting where they had said they would be discussing the proposal.

“So in these times of crisis and insecurity we felt it was prudent to establish a new category or PR that would attract a limited number of wealthy retirees that want a second jurisdiction for their own purposes. We would be foolish not to finally gain more economic benefit from people wishing to have a presence in our islands.”

He denied that the grant would allow people to open competitive businesses in Cayman. “It will not entitle the person to work or own a business,” he said, accusing the PPM of misleading the public about the purpose of the grant.

However, in an Associated Press article which appeared in USA Today last week, Charles Glidden, the premier’s new press secretary, said exactly the opposite and indicated that not only would the grant simplify business transactions for those who travel often to Cayman, “it could eliminate the need to obtain a Caymanian business partner". Glidden added that those granted the new PR “can come and go as they like. They would not have to be on a work permit."

Alden McLaughlin told CNS in a recent interview that, as there already was a route by which wealthy people could gain PR through investing $¾ million in the island in property or businesses, this sale of residency seemed an odd proposal and must have an ulterior motive. He explained that in return for that investment people could apply for a 25 year permanent residency certificate for $20,000. This, he explained, could achieve exactly the same goal as that offered in the new million dollar PR, but for less.

Speaking at the PPM meeting in South Sound on Monday evening (22 February), McLaughlin latched on to the comment by Glidden and noted that this would explain the motivation behind this new special category. He warned that if those granted the million dollar PR were allowed to operate businesses in the jurisdiction then they would have considerably more resources with which to compete against local businesses.

“There will be no control over what these people can do once they are granted PR,” McLaughlin said. “And these significant changes are being made without any discussion.”

See USA Today article

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St George revived for charity

| 23/02/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): After almost three decades a group of English residents in the Cayman Islands are hoping to revive the St. George’s Day celebrations on 23 April this year. The goal is to raise money for Positive Intervention Now (PIN), an afterschool intervention programme for at-risk adolescents in central George Town that is operated by St. George’s Anglican Church.  Colin Wilson one of the organizers said the idea of bringing back the English national celebration seemed a good way to drum up some much needed funds for the worthy cause.

"This is a great initiative that is making a positive impact on Year 6 students by helping them develop the social, emotional and academic tools to cope with the transition from primary school to middle school,"explained Wilson.  "I’m hoping we will be able to raise some much-needed funds for this programme along with other outreach projects the church has initiated.”

 Wilson says he is counting on the fact that there is a large community of Britons here who will recognise the significance of the Day and support the event, which will be held at The Wharf Restaurant on Friday, 23 April. 

 The highlight of the evening will be entertainment by international singing star Lisa Carlisle (www.LisaCarlisle.com), a classically trained soprano soloist and performer from the UK offering a varied repertoire including opera, classical crossover, musical theatre, light jazz and romantic songs. 

“We are very excited to welcome Lisa Carlisle to the Cayman Islands for this occasion and I hope that Cayman will take advantage of this unique opportunity to experience her amazing talent,” said Wilson.  “I believe that people will be incredibly impressed with the calibre of her performance.”

St. George’s Day honours the patron saint of England, who was allegedly a roman priest and soldier who saved Christians and died a martyr. He is most famous for suppoedly killing a dragon and while the Cathloic church takes the position that he did exists it admists there are grounds for doubt concerning this legend.

Tickets for the St. George’s Celebration and Banquet cost $125 per person and include a 3-course dinner, souvenir programme and entertainment.  Corporate discounts are also available.  Tickets can be purchased at Allee Designer Fashion Boutique in Galleria Plaza, The Wharf Restaurant, St. George’s Anglican Church, Kelly Holding Ltd. in Selkirk Plaza and from Colin Wilson.

For more information about the St. George’s Day celebration, contact Colin Wilson on 323.0300 or by email on colin@magnacartamusicaltrial.com.

 

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Travers carves past his start number in Olympic race

| 23/02/2010 | 16 Comments

(CNS): Updated 6:00pm.  Having already made history as the Cayman Islands’ first Winter Olympic athlete, Dow Travers has plenty to be pleased about after he moved from a start number of 101 to finish 69th when he competed against the best male Giant Slalom skiers in the world in his Alpine Ski event. Following his two successful runs, Travers clocked a time for both of 3:02.89 — just 25.06 over the win time sent by Carlo Janka, the Gold medal winner in the event. In a field that included competitors from as far and wide as Iran and Brazil, Travers did Cayman proud as he came over the line to cheering crowds.

Travers improved his standing by 8 slots from the first round, which he completed in 1:29.39 to be in 78th place going into the second round.

The race, over the two gruelling and long courses, was dominated by the northern European racers with Norwegians Kjetil Jansrud and Askel Svindal taking silver and bronze. Austrian Marcel Hirscher just missed the podium by .08 of a second. Canada’s best showing was from Eric Guay who made 16th and Jamyang Nangial from India finished last, some 57 seconds off the pace.

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Cops aim to give advice at local shops

| 23/02/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS):  Police officers and staff from local security companies will be manning information booths outside supermarkets throughout the Cayman Islands force area on Saturday, 27 February 2010, to provide shoppers with crime prevention information and advice. Tips on personal safety as well as how to make life more difficult for would-be burglars and other criminals will be top of the agenda, a police spokesperson said. The booths will operate from 9.00 am until 3.00 pm on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, and between 10.00 am until noon on Little Cayman.

The roadshow is one of many events planned throughout the islands in the coming weeks and months the RCIPS stated. Future activities include local meetings involving neighbourhood police officers and one-to-one sessions with condominium owners and managers to discuss lighting and security in their respective complexes.

Chief Inspector Angelique Howell, the officer in charge of co-ordinating the roadshow, said the purpose was to encourage the public to think more about their own personal safety and how they secure their property against would-be thieves.

“This joint approach to security will mean that our communities will have access to the best information available. No-one wants to become a victim of crime and sometimes all it takes is for people to make a few simple changes to their routine and their security at home to vastly reduce the chances of becoming a victim,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to talk to officers and security staff on a one-to-one basis, and pick up all the tips you need to make you, your family and your home much safer.”

The locations are as follows;

Grand Cayman – Fosters, Hurleys and Kirks supermarkets.

Cayman Brac – Kirkconnell supermarket

Little Cayman – Village Square

The security companies involved are Eagle Eye, National Security, Marksman, Caribbean Security, Island Electronics and House Smart.

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Coffee, Cake & Careers and higher education

| 23/02/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The recruitment professionals at CML say they are seeing a trend amongst the candidates that have applied in the first month of 2010 – a keen interest in evaluating how education can improve their situation. Several individuals have sought advice regarding the best educational opportunities to assist them on their career path. Therefore, CML’s next ‘Coffee, Cake & Careers’ evening, which takes place tonight, Tuesday 23 February, will focus on further education.

“Further education is essential to move forward with your career, to help put you past the post,” explained CML CEO Steve McIntosh. “Most of today’s CEOs have been studying for years, with several degrees and qualifications under their belt. I’m a perfect example – I’m currently studying for my MBA! We’ve invited UCCI to join us for our first Coffee, Cake & Careers evening of 2010 to discuss available courses and potential career paths with our candidates.”

UCCI representative Mitch Ebanks, Coordinator of Special Services will join the consultants in meeting and advising job-seekers and those looking to advance their careers in an informal setting. This will be CML’s fifth Coffee, Cake & Careers evening. These events focus on providing feedback and advice on resumes and interview skills for job seekers, as well as assisting in finding employment. Previous evenings have also highlighted the value of training and development, and provided tips to impress an HR Manager. Attendees are asked to bring a copy of their resume to CML’s office in the Grand Pavilion Commercial Centre on West Bay Road between 5 pm and 6 pm on Tuesday, February 23, 2010.

CML Offshore Recruitment is the world’s largest offshore recruitment specialist with professional consultants recruiting for all areas including legal, accounting, IT and administrative fields. For more information contact CML Offshore Recruitment on 949 1345 or email info@cmlor.com
 

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Therapist plans more dolphin captives in Cayman

| 23/02/2010 | 25 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Science & Nature news, dolphin assisted therapy(CNS): An article published in the health section of today’s edition of the Washington Post reveals that an American retired psychologist is planning to open what could be a third captive dolphin facility in the Cayman  Islands, this time under the guise of human therapy. The feature piece by Katherine Ellison examines the controversy surrounding dolphin-assisted therapy, which some say is just another way of exploiting both dolphins and humans for profit. In the article Ellison reveals that retired Florida International University psychologist, David Nathanson, aims to open what he calls a therapy centre in Cayman.

Cayman already has two captive dolphin entertainment facilities in West Bay — Dolphin Cove and Dolphin Discovery, both of which faced considerable opposition from the community, including the tourism industry. Both were granted Trade and Business licenses before the previous government imposed a moratorium on further facilities.

However, Nathanson told the Washington Post feature writer that he would be opening a major new dolphin therapy centre in the Cayman Islands this summer. Nathanson has reportedly conducted a number of studies on dolphin therapy and claims children with disabilities learned faster and retained information longer when they were with dolphins compared to children who learned in a classroom setting.

He has been selling dolphin-assisted therapy for more than 20 years and his website describes him as head of Dolphin Human Therapy, "an international consulting company dedicated to helping you establish, on site at your facility, the highest quality professional rehabilitation program for children (and some adults) with disabilities, depression or other special needs."

It is not clear from the article or his website if Nathanson intends to open a separate facility or if he intends to work with one of Cayman’s existing facilities. CNS has contacted the Department of Tourism for comment and more details on the revelation in the Washington Post article report.

According to Ellison’s feature, the dolphin-therapy business has been booming, fuelled in part by the rapid growth in diagnoses of childhood mental disorders such as autism. Desperate parents in search of cures have flown to the facilities, as if to a seaside Lourdes, when all else has failed.

“The practice, however, is fiercely criticized by researchers and marine mammal conservationists, including the educational anthropologist widely credited with having invented it, retired Florida International University researcher Betsy Smith,” she writes.

Critics say it is no more effective and considerably more expensive than skilful conventional treatment, while potentially harmful to the humans and the animals. Smith, who was originally inspired by watching a dolphin interact with her mentally disabled brother in the 1970s, offered the therapy free of charge for more than a decade, before abandoning the work out of ethical concerns in the 1990s. She now maintains that dolphin therapy boils down to "the exploitation of vulnerable people and vulnerable dolphins."

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Police release men arrested for bank robbery

| 23/02/2010 | 9 Comments

(News 27): The two men arrested in connection with the robbery at Cayman National Bank in Savannah have been released on police bail. Earlier this month, two masked men entered the bank at the countryside Shopping Village one of whom was armed with a handgun.  They threatened staff, fired a shot in the air and took off with an undisclosed amount of money.  Shortly after, police arrested two men aged 21 and 24-year-old but despite the arrest no charges have been brought and the men have been released from custody.  Police say the enquiries are ongoing.

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Witnesses step up, say cops

| 23/02/2010 | 27 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Cayman crime(CNS): The senior investigator into the enquiry of the murder of four-year-old Jeremiah Barnes said that people have finally begun to come forward with information for the team working on the shocking killing. Peter Kennett also headed up a special operation on Monday night, one week after the incident at the Hell gas station in West Bay, at the time and place where the child was shot in the hope of tracing more witnesses who may have been in the area last week and jogging memories of the incident. Officers spent over an hour at the station and talked to 69 people.

Teams of detectives and uniformed officers stopped vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists in and around the gas station on Hell Road to find out if they had any information which could be relevant to the enquiry. Meanwhile, a candlelit vigil for young Jeremiah on the nearby sports field offered a poignant reminder to the public as to why the police were there.

 “We have been carrying out extensive enquiries in the Hell area over the past week,” said Kennett, the man in charge of the enquiry into Jeremiah’s death. ”However, people are creatures of habit and it is possible that if someone was in or around the area last Monday night (15 February) they would also be in the area exactly a week later. Whether that’s because they travel home from work at that particular time, visit a relative or play sports on a Monday and use that route.”

He said the information collected would be reviewed by the team, and with more witnesses now coming forward since the last appeal, Kennett said the investigation was progressing.  “Since our last appeal for witnesses a number of people have been in contact with the enquiry team. I would like to thank those individuals for coming forward. I believe that we are now making significant progress in this enquiry and, like everyone else involved in this investigation, I am absolutely determined to bring this enquiry to a successful conclusion for Jeremiah’s family.”

The police currently have four men in custody but have not yet brought charges against anyone. Two of the men were arrested last Monday evening, which means under the police will need to secure enough evidence to bring charges before Wednesday evening. If not, they will need to seek a further extension of their custody from the courts or let the men go.

Jeremiah Barnes was shot dead while he sat in the back of a car with his family on the evening of Monday 15 February, when two men emerged from behind the service station, one of whom began firing indiscriminately at the vehicle. The child’s father, mother and brother escaped injury but Jeremiah was killed by one of at least four bullets fired into the car. The police have confirmed that they believe the incident is tied to the latest spate of gang violence that has claimed the lives of six other young men in tit-for-tat shootings last year, as well as severely injuring a 14-year-old boy, who is now in a wheel chair.

Anyone who has any information which could assist the enquiry team should contact the murder incident room at West Bay police station either by calling the team direct on 926-1773, or by calling the station on 949-3999 and asking to be transferred to the enquiry team.

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Cruise tourism in Cayman

| 23/02/2010 | 27 Comments

The CIDOT arrivals statistics for 2009 state that the Cayman Islands welcomed 1,520,372 cruise ship passengers. The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) states an average spend of $96.78 per passenger, totaling $126.4 million dollars into the local economy. The cost of attracting these guests to Cayman, in marketing dollars, was nil.

The Cayman Islands 2009 cruise arrival figures are at a low not seen since 2001. Even in 2004, the year of Hurricane Ivan (where we had no cruise business in October of that year), we landed more cruise arrivals than in 2009 -for statistics see www.caymanislands.ky/statistics or page 8 of the FCCA report http://www.f-cca.com/downloads/2009-FCCA-Cruise-Analysis-Vol-I-and-2.pdf

The FCCA and CIDOT figures reported contradict one another, with CIDOT only showing a 3% downturn, while FCCA report as much as a 30% reduction from 2008 to 2009. This is due to a significant oversight in the way CIDOT reports based on ship manifests, rather than counting how many passengers actually come ashore.

The estimated losses for 2009 in the local cruise tourism economy equates to approximately $24 million in cruise ship passenger spending, in addition to a loss in government revenues in the region of $3.2 million from the passenger head tax. These figures would have been even worse if Cayman’s cruise arrivals hadn’t been boosted in 2009 by the Mexico health crisis in the spring, diverting ships to Cayman.

Cayman has a significant problem with declining cruise visitors and revenues; the outlook for 2010 is bleak. What is the magic number for cruise passenger arrivals, and equally if not more important, how much does each passenger really spend?

The most successful cruise port/destination in the Caribbean in 2009 was the USVI, with only 1,575,000 cruise visitors who spent an average of $193.22 per head, totaling $304.3 million that was injected into their local economy. In contrast is the Bahamas, which attracted a massive 2,019,400 cruise visitors but only managed $83.93 per passenger, totaling $169.5 million. The spend in the Bahamas is well below the average for the Caribbean, $97.26 per passenger, and yet they attracted the most visitors. This example indicates that perhaps less is more. At what point does our decline in arrivals equal much less revenue rather than more in average spend per person? What is the magic ingredient that results in some destinations to seemingly enable their guests to spend so much more than others?

The USVI is not known as an expensive destination, quite the opposite. Cayman, by contrast, is considered to be expensive and yet manages to earn less than half of the per passenger spend than the USVI for nearly the same reported number of visitors in 2009. In comparison, crime in the USVI is much more of a problem than it is in Grand Cayman, which would lead one to assume passengers might spend more in Cayman because they feel more at ease. Both destinations have world class duty free shopping, tours and restaurants, all enticing guests to spend.

The one glaring difference in the two destinations is Cayman’s lack of berthing for ships. In St. Thomas guests can walk on and off the ships with ease and at their leisure, whereas in Cayman it can take hours to get to and from the ship. This cuts into spending time ashore. It is also widely acknowledged in the cruise industry that the percentage of guests that go ashore when a ship is tendering is much lower that when a ship is docked. Very few crew members are allowed to come ashore in tender ports, which inhibits another significant source of revenue for taxis, attractions, food and beverage and retail.

When you see the number of passengers who are in port each day and compare it to the amount of visitors who appear on the dock, it often appears to be a significantly lower amount than the number reported on the manifests and what are recorded as ‘visitors’. There is no public data available to prove how many passengers are tendering, but we may be literally missing the business of 50% of the guests and 75% of the crew or more. This would equate to statistics telling us that our guests in Cayman spend less than half of what the same demographic of people spend in the USVI – in the same stores, having very similar experiences on excursions and tours. Comparing the ‘low spend’ of Cayman’s cruise ship passengers to any other statistic, be it the average spend of cruise passengers in the USVI (or any other island with a berthing facility) to the average spend of an overnight visitor to Cayman is just not sensible or fair.

The simple fact is that we have no idea how many cruise ship visitors actually set foot on Grand Cayman, but we can be sure that it is significantly less than the manifest number. Without this data we have little idea what Grand Cayman’s cruise visitors actually spend and what their real value could be to our local economy. If our competition is achieving this higher spend, Cayman is certainly capable of achieving more which our economy would highly benefit from.

Another different but similarly shining example of how our competition is doing a much better job of getting more from less is St. Maarten. In 2009 St. Maarten welcomed significantly fewer guests than Cayman or the USVI – only 1,152,000 (the number Cayman was attracting a decade ago) – and yet their guests spent $147.98 per head, injecting $170 million into their economy. Once again St. Maarten is known for its beautiful purpose built berthing facility, able to attract the 220,000 GT Oasis of the Seas. First impressions upon arrival in St. Maarten are of a clean, organized facility that allows guests ease of access and movement to and from their ships. When guests visit St Maarten’s new docking facility, among the well designed shops and restaurants, there is a very efficient and affordable water-taxi service to the center of Philipsburg. There is also a purpose-designed area set up specifically for all ground transportation. For those who chose to taxi into town to shop in their world-class duty free shops there is a shaded area where guests form a short line whilst they are assigned a cab. The price is standard and there is no jockeying for business. It is efficient, orderly and gives a great first impression of the island. Compared to Cayman, which has none of this imperative infrastructure, the experience could not be more different. One would come to the conclusion that it is not a coincidence that their guests spend more than ours.

The debate over how many cruise ship passengers Cayman needs to attract each year is not as simple as picking a number. If we are to continue to operate our cruise visitor experience as we always have then we will never be able to attract enough people to satisfy the economy; it will continue to be a constant and futile battle to get higher numbers of ships and guests just in an attempt to get as many people as possible into tenders and ashore. However, if we choose, we can have the luxury of sustaining the actual number of visitors to a more manageable level, ensuring that more passengers disembark and enjoy our island. This will achieve the ultimate goal of having our guests spend more time, creating wonderful memories with more space and breathing room than experienced previously by cruise passengers.

Cruise conversion? When one thinks of the current first impressions of Grand Cayman a cruise visitor has, it must be put into the perspective of their itinerary. We all know that Grand Cayman is a first world destination, and in comparison to Jamaica, Cozumel, Nassau, Belize and Roatan (common Western Caribbean ports), we should provide a highly favorable impression that would result in many guests making the decision to return to Grand Cayman for a stay-over vacation. Unfortunately, the current dysfunctional experience provides them with a frustrating first and last impression of this superior island. With a proper cruise berthing facility, Cayman could become the first destination in the region to purpose design and build into the port a comprehensive hotel and attraction experience that all guests would have to interact with or through before reaching their tours or shopping. Many of these 1.5+ million cruise passengers are candidates to return as stay-over visitors and we are missing out on the opportunity to impress them. The ROI on a great first impression for these visitors is critical to our tourism marketing strategy to attract stay-over visitors. If we converted only 1% of the cruise visitors to come back, it would have a significant effect on the tourism industry and its related economic impact to Cayman.

The cruise industry in Cayman is in crisis. Cayman is losing credibility with the cruise lines and has lost the goodwill with cruise visitors, which puts us at a lower rating in the Caribbean. We are losing cruise calls every week and will run lean in the summer months when large vessels like Oasis of the Seas and her sister ship Allure will not visit Cayman due to their size and our lack of berthing facilities.

A new cruise berthing facility is not a silver bullet for cruise tourism in Cayman. Cayman will ultimately fail to our competition if we do not have the political will and a dynamic, strategic and accountable plan for tourism as whole. Our leadership at every level must fully acknowledge and support cruise tourism along with our tourism vision as a whole. The CITA urges the Cayman Islands Government to devote as much attention to the tourism industry as it is to the financial sector before it is too late. As stated all along, the environmental impact study for the cruise berthing facilities needs to be completed as an integrated part of the design process, and agreements between developers and contractors need to be executed.

 

Submitted by CITA President Stephen Broadbelt, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the CITA.

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PPM sets out opposition stall

| 23/02/2010 | 50 Comments

(CNS): The People’s Progressive Movement have reiterated their opposition to government attempts to erase the current deficit in one year and said that the premier must go to London and renegotiate the government’s debt ratio in order to give the country time to recover from the global recession. At a public meeting in South Sound George Town last night, which was more akin to an election rally, the opposition rallied support against the government’s proposal to sell the new government administration building and changes to immigration policy, as well as proposing a national crime strategy that involved border control.  (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

Telling the people, “They’re screwing it up again!” Arden McLean, the member for East End, led the charge against government policy and said the PPM had given the UDP administration a chance to get things right but now the opposition was no longer going to remain silent while the government burned the country down.

The meeting attracted around 300 people, and while the election may be more than three years away the opposition seemed to be hitting the campaign trial. The entire previous Cabinet took to the hustings as four of the party’s current MLAs were joined by former minister Charles Clifford, who lost his Bodden Town seat in the May 2009 elections (Moses Kirkconnell was detained on the Brac). The meeting attracted around 300 people during the course of the evening and heard the former ministers lay out their opposition to changes in immigration policy, which they said would do untold damage to the community, the sale of government assets, which they described as short sighted and irrational, and their opposition to a cargo port and possible oil refinery in East End.

Mclean asked those who had opposed the road through the Ironwood Forest to join him as he lay in front of the bulldozers if ever the project was underway.  

During the meeting the former minsters also spoke about the need for a non-partisan approach to crime and hoped that the government would consider their proposal for a national crime prevention strategy that included border control as much as internal policing issues. Alden McLaughlin, who has filed the motion in the Legislative Assembly, said crime was not the fault of any specific political administration and was an issue that had come about as a result of a combination of social failings and it was now time to fight the issue together. Above all, he demanded that the new National Security Council, as set out in the new Constitution, was convened.

Charles Clifford confirmed that he had gained permission for his march on the Glass House at 2:00 pm on Saturday 6 March. He urged everyone in the country to come and support the demonstration against government policy, called on those who had stood as MLAs and lost in the last election to come and bring the people who voted for them, and asked his own 992 voters to join in the protest. Clifford said he believed the changes to immigration policy to allow virtually all those working in the financial sector to gain key employee status would result in a significant increase in permanent residents and by implication Caymanian status holders, which he said would cause social disharmony. “The future of Caymanians is not for sale Mr Premier, “Clifford said, “and it’s not yours to sell.”

During his time at the podium McLaughlin also queried a number of the government’s proposals regarding immigration and said that, having spoken to a wide cross-section of people in the financial services sector over the last few months they were all far more concerned about the damage the increase in fees had done to their businesses than they were about problems securing permits.

He said that the premier’s idea that putting more pressure on business at a time of global recession was no way to cure the country’s woes and the increase in fees had directly impacted the amount of new business Cayman was able to attract.

“Only a special, special genius like the premier would say the way to increase business would be to charge more for it,” he said, and added that revenue in the financial sector remained dramatically down. He said that McKeeva Bush’s world tour and PR campaign to attract investors had failed, but then he was not surprised as, again, only "a special genius" would start an investment PR campaign by saying the country was bankrupt.

Anthony Eden also spoke briefly about the global recession and that it was absurd to think the country’s economic woes were all the fault of the PPM. He said, given the global circumstances, Cayman’s politicians needed to stop the partisan politics and work together. He also lamented the rise in crime and called on families to take responsibility for their children and warned people of the end of days.

The “irrational and short sighted” decision to sell the new administration building was the focus of Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts when he took to the podium. He said the move made no sense and noting the recent comments from the premier that he wasn’t selling it, Tibbetts waved the offering document in the air, pointing to the part where it said the government was looking to sell the freehold. He explained that government intended to sell the building and use the cash to balance the budget, and would therefore still be faced with the loan and the need to pay rent for government accommodation.

Tibbetts asked, once the premier had sold the building and the sewage works to balance the 2009/10 budget what would we have left to sell to balance the 2010/11 budget?

The former government leader said if Bush was to sit round the table and negotiate with the UK, which had already stated that it was prepared to see the deficit erased through borrowing over a longer period, he would ease the pressure and the need to sell key assets. The opposition leader said this did not mean direct taxation but it would need to see government spending curbed and new revenue measures introduced. He said the PPM was more than willing to go to the UK with him for the negotiations and present a unite front to the UK to find a way of extending the borrowing ratios in order to give the Caymanian people and the economy time to recover.

“I don’t know what government are going to do, but I really hope they listen to what we have to say,” he said. However, the former ministers all lamented the government’s failure to include the opposition in discussion and plans for the country, especially as the opposition bench contained some of the LA’s most experienced politicians. McLaughlin said the only invitation they had received asking for their participation was with the premier’s coronation.  

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