Archive for March 8th, 2010

Civil servants face music

| 08/03/2010 | 92 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman Islands civil service(CNS): Threatened with significant pay and benefit reductions, members of the civil service have planned a meeting on Monday evening to hear the details of the government’s proposals from officials from the ministry and to offer their thoughts on those cuts and other cost cutting measures the public sector has been asked to make. According to a memo sent senior civil servants following their meeting with the premier last week, it is unclear whether there is still a window of opportunity to offer alternative solutions or whether the cuts are happening from this month.

President of the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association, James Watler, confirmed that the membership would be meeting on 8 March at 5:30 in the evening to hear the full details of government’s proposals and to survey the membership.  He confirmed that CICSA had a number of questions about how the benefit and salary cuts would be implemented and how they would work in relation to contracts, as well as whether or not the decision has been made or if there is room for the membership to negotiate other options.

Watler said these were difficult times for everyone, especially the CICSA membership, but the civil service goal would be to remain politically neutral and endeavour to carry out the wishes of government. He also stated that the CICSA would be conducting a survey this evening of the membership’s views, which would be handed to government before Wednesday of this week as requested.

Following his announcement last week in the Legislative Assembly that the proposed surplus for the government’s 2009/10 budget had in fact turned into a significant deficit, McKeeva Bush met with the civil service management to explain the need for drastic and immediate pay and benefit cuts, as well as departmental cuts. The meeting was followed by a memo from the financial secretary outlining the current budget deficit of over $62million and how much government could save with the proposed salary and benefit cuts. The memo also asks civil service managers to cut their department budget allocations for this year by 15% before 30 June. Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson has asked for plans on how they can make those cuts to be submitted to government before Wednesday.

The memo states that by reducing the salaries of all public sector workers, including those working for statutory authorities and government companies, the treasury can save around $17 million before the end of this fiscal year.  If the cuts are sustained throughout 2010/11, government anticipates reducing the operating expenditure by over $51 million

The CICSA meeting will be taking part at the same time that the premier will deliver an address to the country regarding the current financial difficulties of the Cayman Island Government ahead of his visit to the UK to discuss the issue with the FCO and the Overseas Minister Chris Bryant.

Download the full memo

CNS note: Unfortunately, we weren’t able to attend the meeting last night (no press was allowed), but we would really like to hear from anyone who was there – you can remain anonymous. Call 926-6816 or email wendyledger@caymannewsservice.com

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Hitchhiker escapes gun ordeal

| 08/03/2010 | 41 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman crime(CNS): Police have confirmed that a woman was threatened with a gun after she accepted a ride from a driver this morning on her way to work.  The George Town woman is now recovering after she jumped from a moving vehicle when the driver pulled what was believed to be a gun. No shots were fired but the woman was injured when she leapt from the car. The female hitchhiker described her assailant as short and stocky with a light brown complexion, short hair and a Caymanian accent, driving a small red car.

The RCIPS said the woman accepted the ride on Monday, 8 March, at about 6.15 am when she was waiting for a bus close to Reflections in Eastern Avenue. The small red car stopped and the driver offered her a ride. At first the woman thought the driver was a friend, which is why she got into the front passenger seat. However, as soon as she got into the car she realised that she didn’t know the driver but decided to continue with the ride.

As the car turned into Marina Drive, the woman realised that the driver was taking her off the agreed route and she cried for him to stop the car. At this point the driver threatened her with what appeared to be a firearm. Despite the fact that the car was travelling at speed the woman opened the door and jumped from the vehicle. The car sped off down Marina Drive.

No shots were fired but the woman sustained lacerations to her knees and elbows. The car is described as a small red vehicle. The driver is between 5’2” and 5’5” in height, stocky build, light brown complexion, short black cut hair, and clean shaven, with a Caymanian accent.

Detective Constable Colin Pryce of George Town CID is appealing for anyone who may have any information about this crime to come forward and warned the public to be careful when hitching rides.

“This lady was very lucky to escape with such minor injuries; the consequences of this could have been so much worse. I would urge people not to accept rides from strangers. Don’t get into cars with people you don’t know, particularly if you’re a lone female. I would also be keen to speak to anyone else who may have accepted a ride from this individual. If you have, please contact me at George Town CID,” added DC Pryce. 

Anyone with information should call George Town police station on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

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UK deficit double EU average

| 08/03/2010 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): As Greece’s debt troubles batter the Euro, the UK has done its utmost to stay above the fray. Until now, that is. Suddenly, investors are asking if Britain may soon face its own sovereign debt crisis if the government fails to slash its growing budget deficits quickly enough to escape the contagious fears of financial markets. The pound fell to $1.4954 on Tuesday, its lowest level against the dollar in nearly 10 months. The yield on 10-year government bonds, known as gilts, slid as investors fretted that Parliament would be too fragmented after a crucial election in May to whip Britain’s messy finances back into shape. The average deficit at present across Europe is 6% Britain’s is 12%.

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Henry handed three more prison terms by top judge

| 08/03/2010 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman court news(CNS): One of the two men serving a life sentence for murdering Estella Scott-Roberts has been given three more prison stretches by the country’s leading judge. Twenty-seven year old Kirkland Henry was sentenced to another 20 years for rape, 15 years for abduction and 13 years for robbery, to run concurrently with his life sentence, by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie in the Grand Court on Monday morning. Meanwhile, Devon Anglin who is charged with the murder of four-year-old Jeremiah Barnes briefly appeared in Summary Court this morning but his case was adjourned as he still has no legal council.

Henry’s sentences for the charges of rape, abduction and robbery were handed down separately as these indictments could not be tried alongside the murder. However, Smellie said the sentencing was made set against the background of Henry’s murder conviction and the fact that he had pleaded guilty to these three crimes.

The senior judge noted that in each case the offences were the most serious of their kind, but he had taken the mitigating circumstances presented by defence counsel Ben Tonner into account. The judge acknowledged that Henry had entered guilty pleas to these offences, that he did not have any previous convictions, and that he has assisted the police in finding his accomplice in the murder.

Larry Ricketts, who has been convicted of murder, has pleaded not guilty to the outstanding charges against him of abduction and robbery and he will face trial in October of this year.

Over in Grand Court two, Devon Anglin appeared before Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramesy-Hale but the case was adjourned again as the 24-year-old man from West Bay still does not have defence counsel. Anglin is facing a murder charge following the shooting of 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes in West Bay last month, as well as a number of other charges including attempted murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm, plus an imitation fire arm.

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Brac strongman burglar strikes again

| 08/03/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Following the recent theft of a washing machine and drier on Cayman Brac police are now investigating the theft of a filing cabinet from the Watering Place Post Office after a burglar not put off by the size and weight of potential loot made of with it. Sometime between 11.30 am on Saturday, 6 March, and 9.00 this morning, Monday 8 March, the three drawer cabinet, which is cream in colour, disappeared. The drawers contained a small amount of cash, stamps and cell phone top-up cards. “The cabinet is heavy therefore it’s likely that a vehicle may have been used to transport it. I would ask anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area of the post office over the weekend to contact me,” PC John Morrison said.

Sister islands Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay called on Brackers to be on their guard as crime was coming to their neighbourhoods too. “This is the second burglary reported to us in a couple of weeks on Cayman Brac. Unfortunately times are changing and, even on the Brac, if people see an opportunity to make a quick buck then they will take that opportunity," he added.

"Together we need to do everything we can to cut down the possibility of our homes and businesses being violated. If anyone requires information about how to make their home or their business more secure, and less attractive to thieves, I would be happy to meet with them either at Cayman Brac police station or at their premises to pass on crime prevention advice,” Kay said.

Anyone with information about the burglary, or who wishes to meet with CI Kay, should contact Cayman Brac police station on 948-0331. Information about the crime can also be passed to Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

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Women make history

| 08/03/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): During the 12th anniversary of Honouring Women Moth (HWM) the Department of Counselling Services’ Family Resource Centre will be recognising women who have broken gender barriers and shattered glass ceilings under the theme, Women Making History. On Monday morning Cayman will celebrate the UN’s International Women’s Day (IWD) with a ceremony in front of the Government Administration Building hosted by the department and the Minister for Community and Housing Affairs  Mike Adam.

 

 “The theme will allow our community to reflect on past milestones and encourage us to achieve future ones. We recognize that these women did not limit themselves because things had never been done before. Instead they sought a different path and left their mark on the world,” said Programme Officer Miriam Foster.

The IWD address will be delivered by Minister for District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, JP.

Guest speaker for the IWD ceremony will be Merta Day, Sports Coordinator for Women from the Department of Sports and first sports medalist in Cayman’s history.

The IWD Ceremony will also honour the Cayman Islands Under-17 Girls Football Team; unveil the Women History Makers Timeline, and announce the Poetry and Photo Contest winners.

 The UN observance dates back to the early 1900s and is rooted in the centuries-old women’s struggle to participate in society on an equal footing with men.

Today, the UN includes in its central organizing principles the statement that no enduring solution to society’s most threatening social, economic, and political problems can be found without the full participation and empowerment of the world’s women.  

Cayman’s Honouring Women Month celebration will also include a church service; a poetry and photo contest; the Sunrise/Sunset 5K walk/run; the Honouring Women through the Arts, and the Yoga Guinness World Record events, as well as other sporting and business-focused activities.

For more information or to become involved with HWM activities, visit www. wrc.gov.ky , contact 949-0006 or email miriam.foster@gov.ky

 

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Miller offers tough pill

| 08/03/2010 | 77 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Miller Shaw Report(CNS): Although McKeeva Bush has promised to release the report prepared by James Miller III and David Shaw following his return from London next week, the content of that report is already being leaked and early speculation suggests it will be a tough pill for the community to swallow if the government chooses to follow its recommendations. The report suggests the CIG need to dramatically cut the number of civil servants as well as sell government assets and privatize public services. CNS understands that the report does not offer many new revenue raising options but recommends that government focuses on drastic spending cuts without new fees or taxes.

Although Bush has not made the report public, he has stated that it presents difficult challenges and focuses heavily on reducing spending, not just salary cuts but how public services are delivered.

CNS contact James Miller III, former Republican aide to Ronald Reagan, to ask him about his work. However, he said that until the report was made public he was unable to comment on the content but admitted that the report was “bracing”.

The report is over 100 pages long and focuses not just on reducing the salaries and benefits of government workers but also on reducing the numbers of civil servants and privatizing some services. The jurisdiction is criticised for having a disproportionately large public sector for the population size. The recommendations will come as no surprise given the political position of the authors (David Shaw was a former UK Conservative MP), but according to some who have seen it, the report does not address how to make these dramatic cuts.

According to informed sources, the major flaw in the report is that it does not address the problems associated with Cayman’s current limited revenue base and suggest any new ways of generating more income for government coffers or introducing any wider or fairer indirect of direct contribution from the community in the form of fees or taxes.

However, CNS has not yet seen the report and other reliable sources stated that the revenue raising measures have been addressed but the conclusion is that it would be counterproductive for CIG to impose a system of direct taxation and cayman’s problem is spending not  lack of revenue.

Following the budget deficit from 2008/09, which placed the CIG outside the requirements of good financial management set out in the Public Management and Finance Law, the UK government said it was time for Cayman to introduce some form of direct taxation, a position rejected by both political parties. As a result, Bush increased duty, work permit and offshore sector fees in order to balance the 2009/10 budget and bring the finances back in line with the guidelines of the PMFL and secure permission from the UK to borrow.

The problem now, however, is that the budget brought to the House in October 2009, which, with the various fee increases, was set to bring in a small surplus and boost government reserves, is looking at a deficit of over $62million, and if government is unable to sell any public assets the reserves, or the government’s cash balance, will also fall below the required amount of 90 days operational expenses.

It is expected that during the London discussions this week the UK is likely to return to its position that the Cayman government must introduce a new broader based form of taxation.

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A synopsis

| 08/03/2010 | 14 Comments

The young children in our society are crying for attention and proper upbringing. The parents and the community are ignoring them! They go to school – the teachers have so many on their hands, they are unable to meet them one-on-one, yet we want to cut their salaries.

They go home – and the parents don’t want to listen to them, but shun them away to watch the television or do homework, or just relieve themselves from not having to be responsible. They don’t want to devote quality time – too busy or stressed out by societal demands. Fathers are out with their girlfriend at the bars and clubs. Mothers are caught up in their own make-up and world. So caught up with their jobs, they have forgotten what being a mother is!

So as a result of not minding the little things of life, these youngsters find their families elsewhere. Not being able to make it in society and achieve those grades necessary to find societal meaning in life, these very youngsters find meaning and purpose in the cunning hands of the drug leaders on this Island. These serpents have made the young feel important about themselves by filling their heads with a mixture of truth, honey, and lies. The “leaders” bring them into a family, they go out to clubs, learn to sell – well done, and go to parties. “You talk like a real Caymanian, you act like a real Caymanian, this is being a real Caymanian,” they say. On top of that, they identify themselves with a name, like “Wolf Pack.” When parents are sleeping, the youngsters play in the night, boys meet girls, and at a young age they become sexually active. Then they are initiated into a family on “wheels.” You can’t see the faces, who is with who, because the cars are tinted. “Not my daughter,” the ignorant parent would say. “Not my son!” These parents actually believe that there sons and daughters have perfect genes and thus would never do stupid things.

Then these youngsters, given the feel of big money, have to do something brazen against the law to be initiated – like rob a store, or just cut someone up behind Cox Lumber, or kill a man or shoot a woman. They have to be a ruffian to be accepted. So they must dress a certain way, listen to the same music, and talk a certain way. Meanwhile, the leaders at the top, indoctrinate these youngsters, and paint a negative image of our society. Police are branded as "Babylon." The god of money and drugs is the goal of life. The leaders on the street, using the young Caymanians as carriers and to do their dirty work, know very little about the top leaders who are pulling the strings, hidden in the financial industry.

Why these shootings? This is my opinion, but you might disagree. It started when someone or some group interfered with another group’s drug market. Some group has crossed another’s territory or has interfered with another’s goods. New groups have formed and started their own thing, interfering with former groups. This whole fiasco has to do with drugs in the hands of young leaders who are now creating conflict in the field. These young people (many who could still be attending school) are given guns along with drugs that are brought here on canoes at night or through our borders with some inside help.

It is a sad and serious situation for the Cayman Islands! We are now seeing the fruit of our negligence – not paying attention to the little things of life, but so preoccupied with our own minds, affairs and relationships. This is so sad, and it is inevitable that such crimes should arise. What can we do to fight it when certain in high positions are involved in this drug business? A small community like ours is growing larger every year with more and more displace young people who can be used. The guardians of society have allowed drugs, money, music, and sex, to sweep the young people of their feet to lead them astray.

No legislation has ever ERADICATED drugs and never will! It is only Rehab, Right Education, and God that can help us, and forever change human nature from destruction!

Peace

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Opposition calls for unity

| 08/03/2010 | 54 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news(CNS): The leader of the opposition has called on the premier to release the Miller Report to the public and sit down with the opposition to present a united front for his visit to London this week to discuss its contents and address the expected deficit for 2009/10. Kurt Tibbetts told McKeeva Bush that he had missed an opportunity for members of the legislature to come together and thrash out a joint plan which included working with the opposition and the independent member, but says there is still time for a consensus approach and for Bush to take advantage of the experience of the opposition bench before meeting the UK.

“Despite your stated view that you have no confidence that the opposition has anything to offer,” Tibbetts wrote, “I suggest to you that the members on the opposite side of the House from the Government bench do have much to offer.  Five of the six members have served as ministers in the past, one for three terms. Collectively, there is much experience and interest on the part of these members and we all wish to assist with resolving what is probably the most serious challenge this country has ever faced.”

In the wake of recent announcements that the government needs to make dramatic cuts in public spending as revenue has fallen more than $70million short of predicted expectations and that the Miller Report has recommend a dramatic downsizing of the civil service, Bush is heading to the UK this week to meet with FCO officials. He has recently said that, despite calls from the independent member for North Side Ezzard Miller for an emergency Finance Committee meeting, that he would not be calling the committee together until he felt it was necessary. Bush has also stated that he believes the opposition has nothing to offer as they are to blame for the financial crisis.

The premier will be addressing the public on television on Monday night and is expected to reveal more on the proposals to reduce the salaries of government workers from 5% to 15%, depending on earnings, as well as asking them to contribute 50% of their health care costs and take a pension holiday.

The opposition leader told the premier in his letter that government and the opposition should present a concerted front given the issues at stake. “This is not only important in improving the Cayman Islands’ position in our dealings with the United Kingdom, but also in providing the kind of reassurance that the people of this country and those who have interests here desperately need.  We who are elected must work together and appear to be working together, especially on this issue, or we risk failure – a failure the cost of which we dare not even contemplate,” Tibbetts stated.

He wrote that getting the country’s finances back in shape would inevitably involve real sacrifices by everyone and that the people would make the sacrifices if convinced that they are an essential part of a plan that could succeed, which is supported by community leaders and has the UK’s blessing.

“Government and Opposition must try to come together and get behind such a plan, recommend it to the country, and persuade the UK.  This is not something you can achieve by yourself,” Tibbetts warned. “It is absolutely critical that a plan to manage our fiscal challenges be hammered out before any serious discussions with the FCO begin and that such plan has broad basedsupport both of elected members and the broader community. “

Tibbetts also said he and his colleagues were prepared to travel to the UK as part of the delegation to support whatever consensus was reached between government and opposition.

Bush has, however, already rejected the offer and is scheduled to leave for London with backbench MLA Ellio Solomon and other non legislative advisers.

Bush will be appearing after the news on CITN on Monday evening and the opposition PPM will be holding a public meeting at 7:30pm on Tuesday evening in Savannah.

Download full letter to McKeeva Bush

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World hears about Cayman’s gang violence

| 08/03/2010 | 35 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman gang violence(CNS): One of the world’s largest news agencies has now picked up on the escalating gang violence that is plaguing the Cayman Islands. A short Associated Press news piece reports on the latest shooting, which took place in downtown George Town on Friday afternoon, literally yards from the offices of some of Cayman’s leading offshore businesses. The independent news agency is the oldest and one of the biggest news houses in the world, and according to its website, on any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news of some kind from AP. The stories are picked up by thousands of daily newspaper, radio, television, and online news providers across the globe.

At a time when Cayman is struggling to attract both inward investment and tourism to boost its revenue and lift the flagging domestic economy, the news article illustrates one of the many major concerns in the local community about the damage this continued and persistent escalation of violence is doing to the jurisdiction’s reputation.

The short piece reported on the four incidents on Grand Cayman involving firearms in less than twenty four hours, from Thursday evening in West Bay, where two men were injured in separate shooting incidents, and then on Friday afternoon, when a woman was shot while at a bar in Mary Street.

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