Archive for June 26th, 2010

Fuel duty increase too much, says Chamber

| 26/06/2010 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Although the Cayman Islands Chamber of commerce has offered its support to government for its key strategies in its three year plan it has raised concerns over this year’s budget. The business body said the 25 cent import duty adjustment on a gallon of fuel was a significant burden and was disappointed that MLAs had rejected the 20% pay cut. The chamber said its council was still reviewing this year’s budget and will release its full findings to the community when the assessment  was complete. The chamber called on government to create a favourable environment for business and address ineffective and outdated bureaucracy. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Based on a preliminaryreview, the Chamber said it supported the five key strategies that the Government has committed to implementing over the medium term — public sector reform, limits on new borrowing, broadening the revenue base of government, reducing operating expenditures and creating public/private finance initiatives.
The Chamber said it recommended and supported these strategies during talks with the Premier in September and pointed out that the private sector has already begun cost cutting in order to endure the economic difficulties.
“Our country is facing the kind of challenges that it has never faced before,” said Stuart Bostock, Chmaber President. “Although the Budget Address looks at many necessary issues, we must not lose sight of the long term economic strategy that must create a business welcoming environment for our future prosperity. One or two years from now when the world is once again looking to invest we have to be ready.
“We must put the necessary legislation in place that will give us a competitive advantage in what will be a very hungry market, and we must make sure inward and internal investment is encouraged and not hindered with ineffective and outdated bureaucracy We must remove the uncertainty from investors’ minds and present ourselves as a viable and stable option for global business,” he added.
The Chamber said the cut to public sector salaries by 3.2% and the 10% cut to the premier and opposition leader’s salary was a step in the right direction but the failure to extend "greater reduction in salaries across the elected government is very disappointing," it added.
Offering its support to the completion of the ongoing reviews of government departments which it has  assisted, the Chamber said it hoped these efforts were not in vain.
“We look forward to learning whether any of the recommendations have been accepted by Cabinet and are incorporated in the 2010/11 Budget for implementation,” the Chamber said.
Opposing any additional revenue measures increasing the cost of doing business, the Chamber raised the fear that with so many increases in place, in particular, work permit fees, port fees and import duties that the impact on many small businesses has been too severe and these businesses need immediate relief from these recently imposed costs.
“The import duty adjustment on fuel of 25 cents per gallon, whilst generating an estimated CI$10.3 million in additional revenue for Government, is another significant burden that will drain the resources of many local businesses and the community at large,” the Chamber added.
The majority of Chamber members are small businesses and a recent survey as well as its Be Informed series has revealed very real concerns among them. “Medium and long term plans are absolutely necessary but we know that many of our members are looking for some immediate reprieve,” the chamber stated.
The business lobbying group also said it supported the development of cruise berthing and despsite its claim to environmental credentials the chamber is supporting the development of a mega yacht facility which will require extensive dredging of the North Sound and the relocation of the cargo dock.
“We welcome the news that the Memorandum of Understanding between the Cayman Islands Government, the Port Authority and DECCO was signed for the construction of two cruise ship berthing finger piers. The Chamber continues to urge Government to consider the relocation of the cargo facilities, medical tourism development, convention facilities, waterfront redevelopment in George Town and the attraction of the reinsurance and captive insurance sectors and additional private trust businesses as additional long-term revenue opportunities,” it stated.
The Chamber also announced that in support of government initiatives, it had begun work on the development of a Future of Cayman Forum; an economic development initiative that will bring together key industry associations, businesses, public sector representatives and government leaders. Forum participants would identify key drivers considered to be essential to build a sustainable economy.
 

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Developers offered use of public land

| 26/06/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Changes to the Development and Planning Regulations 2006 to allow developers to pay to use parcels designated Lands for Public Purposes are now in effect. One of a number of amendments to the planning regulations this gives developers of subdivisions the option of using the five percent of the site that they were previously required to set aside for public purposes such as parks, playgrounds and, importantly, rights of way. The regulation changes have also significantly increased fees for after-the-fact planning applications to deter people from building without planning permission,government officials said.

 Land parcels that would have been designated LPP can now be built on as a result of this change. A release from the premier’s office, as planning and development now falls under his ministry, said the changes were as a result of the failure of LPP to be managed.  
“While LPP sites remained in the name of the developer, the law did not speak to who was responsible for the building and maintenance of such facilities. As a result, the vast majority of LPP parcels were left undeveloped and became overgrown,” the release sated. “Some LPP parcels have become havens for rodents and illegal activity.”
Some LPP sites however, have been put to good use as in some instances, the Central Planning Authority (CPA) made a requirement as to how the LPP site was used. This was the case with the Governor Gore Bird Sanctuary and the public launching ramp at Cayman Islands Yacht Club.
The recent amendment to Section 28 of the Development and Planning Law now gives subdivision developers the option of paying government a fee equal to the value of the LPP parcel which can then be utilized commercially. There is an application process that includes a valuation of the property and the release said the revenue from the “buy back” of LPP property is earmarked for the development of parks, playgrounds, sports fields and public rights of way.
The statement did not reveal however, how rights of way will now be guaranteed on sites where a developer builds on LPP that is also an access way for other land.
Another amendment in the regulations addresses the construction of buildings or other structures started or completed without planning permission, increasing fees by ten times.
“One of the problems with projects that are built without planning permission is that they often violate some aspect of the regulations or code,” the release stated. “When an after-the-fact application is made and the CPA requires a change, the owner then claims undue hardship, creating a dilemma for planning regulators. The after-the-fact application fee is increased from two times the regular fee to ten times the regular fee. The aim of the increase is to act as a deterrent to building without planning permission.”
The new fee only applies to buildings started after the amendment came in to effect.
Other amendments establish an Elevator Certification Permit, fees for repetitious submissions, an administrative fee for submissions withdrawn before a decision is taken and fees for electrical modification and customized reports.

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Cash prize unclaimed at Crimestoppers ‘shoot out’

| 26/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Despite the fact that no one won the big $1m prize a good time was had by all at this year’s Cayman Crime Stoppers golf fundraiser. The Cayman National Million Dollar Shootout Golf Tournament helped boost funds for Cayman’s crime fighting volunteers. With crime on the increase the NGO said it was crucial to raise cash for and the profile of the organisaiton. The event took place on Friday 4th June at the North Sound Golf Club and was supported once again by long time partner, Cayman National, which was the platinum sponsor of the event.

 
Eric Bush, Crime Stoppers Chair, said, “It was another good turnout and really helped to maintain the profile of Cayman Crime Stoppers, which was the main objective of the event,”
Eric Bush, Crime Stoppers Chair, said. “Although nobody won the million dollar jackpot everybody had a great time and our sincere thanks go to Cayman National and all our sponsorsfor their overwhelming support. It is vital that we continue to raise the profile of Cayman Crime Stoppers amidst growing crime rates in Cayman and we look forward to next year’s tournament.”
 
Stuart Dack, President and CEO said Cayman National continues to be a proud supporter of Crime Stoppers and the good work the programme does within the community. “Keeping Cayman a safe place to live and work is a priority for Cayman National and it was encouraging to see that the importance of Cayman Crime Stoppers is highly valued amongst local businesses,” he said.
 
The Million Dollar shootout gives golfers of all abilities a chance to win a million dollar jackpot. Players can earn a place in the shootout at the end of the day depending on their performance. A hole-in-one wins the seven figure prize. A plethora of other prizes and giveaways, donated by local supporters, were given away on the day. The funds raised for Cayman Crime Stoppers contribute towards promoting the programme locally and encouraging members of the public to report crimes anonymously.
 
Cayman Crime Stoppers is a means for the public to help combat crime without fear of any personal reprisals. Callers can receive a reward of up to $1,000 if their tips lead to the successful resolution of a case. The Cayman Crime Stoppers tips line is: 800 TIPS (no ‘1’ in front of the 800).
 

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Cayman breaks bikini world record

| 26/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association’s (CIASA) has broken the Guinness World Record for a Bikini Parade. The event held on 17 June attracted more than 331 women in bikinis beating the record of 323 set by a team in Japan. CIASA flawed the record of 250 for a swimwear parade with 385 men and women in total. Starting the journey at Tiki Beach the bikini-clad woman and men made the one-mile trek along Seven Mile Beach. The parade also raised funds for swimming association. (Photo by Dennie Warren)

Chloe Hill of X107.1 the emcee for the event said expectations were exceeded with the two records. With an abundance of prize categories from most creative bikini and most recycled bikini to oldest and youngest bikini babe – a 76 year old and a six-month old respectively – many participants went home with prizes.
CIASA’s Dr. Sook Yin said everyone went home a winner now that Cayman is an official world record holder as she offered her congratulations and thanks to sponsors and everyone involved.

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Spain investigating 3000 Swiss bank accounts

| 26/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(Swissinfo): Spanish tax authorities are investigating 3,000 accounts at HSBC bank in Switzerland over possible unpaid taxes, the Spanish finance minister has confirmed. Swiss authorities say they were investigating the information published this week by Spanish newspapers El País and Expansion about up to €6 billion hidden in Swiss accounts. Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado said owners of the accounts had been notified to clarify whether they had declared the money in the accounts. "The account holders have been advised. They have to put the accounts in order with the Treasury and of course they will receive the corresponding sanctions and penalties," Salgado said.

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Access to country’s laws enters 21st century

| 26/06/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): GIS Marketing and Communications (GIS) has launched a Cayman Islands Gazette website that it says simplifies and modernizes access to the official government publication. The government department said the new site is practical and user friendly. The GIS boss Angela Piercy said not only did the site break new ground this first phase was completed ahead of schedule. The site it’s expected to provide the Cayman public with direct access to all the country’s new bills and laws once they are gazetted.

 
“We are pleased to announce that phase one of the new user-friendly www.gazettes.gov.ky is now complete. With this, we believe we have taken a giant step forward and trust that the public will find the site practical and accessible,” said GIS Chief Information Officer Angela Piercy. “On a professional level, I am certainly proud of this project because through dedicated teamwork we have broken new ground. Moreover, we have managed to complete the project ahead of schedule.”
 
The site was designed using open-source software, which kept costs down. A helpful search function allows users to enter a key word or phrase such as ’land notice’ to find related Gazette material.
 
“Together with other useful features, the search function will make the website experience less daunting and will improve access to important information such as new laws and bills,” explained Piercy.
 
She specifically thanked Graphic and Web Designer Garth Humphreys who led the development, as well GIS Executive Officer Donnalee Walton and Information Officer Cornelia Olivier for their contributions to the project.
And while the launch represents the completion of the first phase, there are still more improvements to come. “All things considered, we expect the total redesign to be on board within the next 15 months,” the Chief Information Officer concluded.
 
The website has only recently been transferred to a new server and will therefore take some time before all computers can access http://www.gazettes.gov.ky/. GIS is recommending that people access the site without the ‘www’ and instead type http://gazettes.gov.ky. The website requires that you have the latest version of Flash Player (http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/).

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Cayman tops traveller’s polls for beaches

| 26/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With the tourism market still a tough one the news that the Cayman Islands has entered the top ten list in several categories by Trip Advisor’s 2010 Travellers Choice Awards has been welcomed by the country’s tourism department. Cayman scored high in Best Beaches, Relaxation & Spa, Outdoor & Adventure, and Romance destinations. TripAdvisor.com represents the world’s largest travel community and its awards are based on over 10 million unbiased and honest traveller reviews.  In its second time on the list Cayman was praised for its pristine beaches, unique attractions, affordable accommodation, dining and more.

“We are delighted to have been chosen by travellers in this poll,” said Shomari Scott, Acting Director of Tourism. “Those of us who live here know that our famed Seven Mile Beach is among the best in the world but winning an accolade of this calibre is a huge testament to the beauty, quality and service that visitors experience when they visit our islands. This award highlights how special our beach and resort community is and we are thrilled that the Cayman Islands have received this international recognition.”

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Canada becomes Cayman’s 19th tax partner

| 26/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands has now entered into its nineteenth tax deal following a new tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) with Canada this week. The country’s premier, McKeeva Bush signed the agreement with Canada’s HighCommissioner to Jamaica, Stephen Hallihan in George Town on Thursday. Bush pointed out the long and deep relationship between the two countries and that the new TIEA would have benefits for both Canada and the Cayman Islands. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

 “The signing of this important bilateral agreement marks a significant milestone in the long-standing relationship between the Cayman Islands and Canada,” said Bush at a ceremony held at GIS.  “It is well known that Canada‟s top financial institutions have had retail and institutional operations in the Cayman Islands for more than 45 years, but the ties our two countries share go far deeper. They extend to educational opportunities for Caymanian youth, professional experience for Canadian practitioners and a mutual admiration that has brought together many Canadian and Caymanian families.”
The premier outlined future opportunities for mutual growth and development between the Cayman Islands and Canada associated with the agreement, specifically mentioning that the TIEA will result in favourable tax treatment for active business income earned by Cayman subsidiaries of Canadian companies.
“Many Canadian firms rely on the Cayman Islands’ stable, globally-connected, tax-neutral platform to help reach their business goals,” he said. “We look forward to more successful Cayman-Canada business for years to come.”
The Cayman Islands is on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) „white list‟ of jurisdictions that substantially implement international tax standards and has 19 bilateral arrangements with the following countries for the provision of tax information: Aruba, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom. Copies of the agreements can be found via the following link: www.tia.gov.ky/html/arrangements.htm.
 
 

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Government urges people to get free HIV tests

| 26/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands will be marking HIV Testing Day on Monday, 28 June focusing on the importance of knowing ones HIV status. The Health Services Authority (HSA) is offering free testing at all clinics throughout the morning. No appointment is necessary and waiting time is around ten minutes. People wanting a test or counselling need to indicate to the registration clerks that they would like to register for free HIV screening. The results will be available in three working days. HIV is no longer a death sentence and officials say learning one’s status can help infected people to live long healthy lives.

 
Minister for Health, Mark Scotland urged people to take advantage of the free testing: “While the Cayman Islands has a low incidence rate, we cannot discount the fact that the Caribbean as a whole has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS sufferers in the world,” he said. “Early diagnosis and treatment can prolong and improve the lives of persons living with HIV and AIDS and therefore we all have to take it as a personal responsibility to get tested regularly.”
 
Health Services Authority’s HIV/AIDS Coordinator Valerie Noble Myrie echoed the importance of getting tested: “If you know your HIV status, you can take the necessary steps to increase your chances of remaining healthy.”
 
The free HIV testing will be available on 28 June from 9 am to 1 pm at all district health centres on Grand Cayman, Faith Hospital on Cayman Brac and the Little Cayman Public Health Clinic.
 
The testing procedure involves a quick and simple blood test. No appointment is necessary and the waiting time for testing is usually no more than ten minutes. Persons seeking testing or counselling need to indicate to the registration clerks that they would like to register for free HIV screening.
 
The results will be available in three working days. The results will be given to the patient only, who must return to clinic where the test was taken to get the results.
For more information about HIV Testing Day, contact AIDS Programme Coordinator Valerie Noble Myrie at 244-2631, or valerie.noblemyrie@hsa.ky or Health Promotion Officer Therese Prehay at 244-2632 ortherese.prehay@hsa.ky  
               
Using condoms and having a sexual relationship with only one uninfected person, who is having sex with only you and not sharing any kind of needles are the most basic methods of remaining HIV negative.
 
The HIV test looks for antibodies in a person’s blood. When HIV (which is a virus) enters a person’s body, special chemicals are produced. These are called antibodies. Antibodies are the body’s response to an infection.
 
HIV negative means that antibodies to HIV were not detected and in almost all cases this means the person is not infected with HIV. Most people develop the antibodies within three months of infection. In rare cases it can take up to six months. It is good for the test to be repeated three months later and even at six months, just to be extra sure.
 
The time between infection and the development of antibodies is called the window period. In the window period people infected with HIV have no antibodies in their blood that can be detected by an HIV test. The test is only accurate if there are no other exposures between the time of possible exposure to HIV and testing
 
A positive HIV test means the virus antibodies have been detected and the person is infected, except in infants of HIV- positive mothers, who may retain the antibodies after birth for several months.
 
HIV infection is no longer a death sentence as there are drugs that can help control the virus and behaviour that can help those who are infected remain healthy to avoid developing full blown AIDS.
HIV is a viral illness which affects the immune system making it less effective in protecting the body from illnesses that it could otherwise fight off.  HIV infection crosses all social barriers and places everyone not practicing safe sex, using shared needles or exposed to potential medical infection through transfusion or working in health care situations at risk.
 
Knowing your HIV status is a necessary precursor to positive action and being positive does not have to change a person. The 2010 theme is “HIV does not change who you are” focuses on the importance of knowing your status in order to take action. A diagnosis of HIV does not change the person but that it can impact the person’s life in either a positive or negative way. Knowledge of how to adjust to this illness, as one would have had to adjust to any other chronic disease could lead to a positive outcome.
 
Through research, care givers now view HIV as any other chronic illness and manage it as such. Research has allowed for different modes of treatment including strict adherence to antiretroviral drugs and proper nutrition. This intervention has seen HIV infected persons enjoying healthy, long lives. They are able to continue in their different spheres of employment thus allowing them financial independence.
 
In the Cayman Islands, provision is made for the treatment of all of its residents. The entire treatment process is conducted under one umbrella at Health Services Authority.
                               

 

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Local firm to address “disturbing” teen attitudes

| 26/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): One of Cayman’s big four accounting firms has partnered with Junior Achievement to establish a new business ethics programme for high school students, which will be available in schools during the next academic year. JA said the inaugural programme aims to address what it described as a troubling contradiction regarding what behaviour is appropriate in order to succeed in business. Many teens driven by the pursuit of success resort to cheating, while others feel that physical violence is acceptable — a disturbing picture for their future employers. JA Business Ethics, an in-classroom ethics programme will be offered in high schools in the upcoming school year, 2010-2011.

The aim is to provide teens with ethics education and decision-making tools. Junior Achievement and Deloitte LLP in the US collaborated to create the initiative and the Cayman office is now sponsoring the programme locally to provide teens with a practical tool to assist their personal success.

“It is more common now than ever that teenagers who think they are fully equipped to make ethical decisions display a troubling contradiction regarding what behaviour is appropriate in order to succeed,” JA organisers said in a release. “Many teens driven by the pursuit of success resort to cheating and plagiarising. Others feel that physical violence is sometimes, often or always acceptable. This paints a disturbing picture for employers who will be relying on this age group to fill the pipeline in their future workforces.”
 
The programme was developed in response to the needs of high school students and uses hands-on classroom activities and real-life applications designed to foster ethical decision-making in students as they prepare to enter the workforce.
 
Students will learn to recognize, analyse, and apply basic terminology, theories, and concepts common to the study of ethics. They will explore their own ethical values and philosophy, establish ethical priorities, recognize key ethical issues, and learn to evaluate their decision-making process.
 
Business ethics have been inthe spotlight over the past decade, especially as examples of wrongdoing are regularly announced by the media. As new technologies, international competitive opportunities, and competitive pressures continue, the vital question is, Is it possible today to be successful in business and still grow in an honest and ethical manner?
 
“Junior Achievement and Deloitte believe that with training, practical tools and role models teens will better understand how to make the right choices and that their choices impact them and the organisations they join,” the programme organisers said.
 
To learn more about the Business Ethics programme contact Tara McField at the Junior Achievement office, 949-4306 or jacayman@candw.ky.

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