Archive for July 6th, 2010

Students warned make grade

| 06/07/2010 | 65 Comments

(CNS): In a number of statements made to the Legislative Assembly this week the minister with responsibility for education has warned students that they will no longer be awarded scholarships and certificates unless they make the grade. Talking about what he said were poor standards in higher education, Rolston Anglin said that while government was committed to the development of human capital as demonstrated by the record $10 million set aside for scholarships in the budget, it was determined to improve standards at UCCI and ensure that those receiving scholarships maintained their grades.

“Students are graduating with degrees that barely make the grade. The government must act decisively and swiftly in order to raise standards,” he said, adding that graduates were finding it difficult to get work because of poor performance in university. 
He said that a review had now been completed of the scholarship system but as the finished report was some five months later than planned it was too late to implement all of its recommendations during this current round of scholarship awards. However, he said two new staff members had been recruited into the secretariat to monitor the performance of students on scholarships both overseas and at UCCI.
He said he would also be implementing new eligibility criteria so all future scholarship applications would be sent to the Education Council and they would no longer be awarded based on acceptance to an institution, as has been the case in the past. He announced changes to the funding of A’ levels, which he said were disproportionately expensive, and said the government would begin offering both the International Baccalaureate and the new Advance Placement programmes at a fraction of the cost of ‘A’ levels at Cayman Prep and St Ignatius.
The report and draft guidelines currently being drawn up by the Education Council regarding scholarships and changes to higher education would be circulated for public consultation, the minster said, before policy changes would be made.
Anglin also noted that he intended to improve standards at UCCI as simply stamping applications and putting people in lecture halls was not good enough; qualifications had to be real.
“It is unacceptable for employers to find graduates of UCCI who cannot do what their certificates and degrees document they should clearly be able to do,” the minister told his parliamentary colleagues. “There will be no games played on my watch where we hand out diplomas just because a student showed up for class … the certificates and diplomas that are awarded must make sense for our economy.”
He noted that there was no point in running a fashion design course unless we had a fashion industry and that the country had not coordinated its industry skill needs with its skill development. “UCCI must remain focused on the skills and practical competences that the workforce needs.”
The minster said government had to ensure that the people were skilled enough to compete on an equal footing with their piers in the global workforce. “We must have a broader segment of our society participate at higher levels in our economy,” he added.
Anglin warned that good jobs for the people of Cayman could not just mean working for the civil service. “For one thing the civil service cannot afford to employ all Caymanians,” he said, pointing to the need to supply the private sector with qualified people and to create the entrepreneurs of the future.

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OffshoreAlert raises concerns about KYC in Cayman

| 06/07/2010 | 77 Comments

(CNS): A Miami based offshore watchdog has run an in-depth story that raises question about a Cayman Islands based firm and how well local financial companies are confirming to the principle of “know your client”. OffshoreAlert has revealed that a broker with a long history of complaints for dishonesty from regulators, customers and former employees in the United States has moved his operations to the Cayman Islands, leaving behind substantial unpaid corporate and personal debt. The article also reveals that despite Section 44 of the Companies Law. OffshoreAlert was refused access to the respective register of members for the new operations.

David Marchant, Editor of Offshore Alert (above), said this raised concerns for Cayman, given that officials have been keen to promote transparency in the financial sector recently as a result of international pressure.

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Pension’s office still operational says ministry

| 06/07/2010 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Although the minister with responsibility for labour has announced plans for a major change to the department of employment relations and the National Pensions Office, officials have said that the changes are not yet in place. The ministry said yesterday that both the DER and NPO are still functioning under the current relevant laws. The realignment planned announced by Rolston Anglin will not take effect until discussions with various stakeholders regarding its implementation are finished and the necessary legislation is amended. Last week, Anglin said he planned to separate the job placement functions at the DER from its enforcement role which would merge with the NPO.  

Speaking in the Legisaltive Assembly last week, Anglin described the DER as “dysfunctional” and said there were plans to begin a realignment of the department to completely separate the two functions of assisting people into work and enforcing the labour laws.
He explained that the pensions’ law would have to be revised and then the intention would be to create a one stop shop with regards employment enforcement and where premises inspections would cover all aspects of the laws relating to employment and labour issues.
The Human capital development agency would then focus on getting the growing numbers of unemployed people into work through training to pudate skils as well as liaising with the work-permit board and better communication with the local business community, the minister stated.

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Brits to bring ‘visa clinic’ to Cayman

| 06/07/2010 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Foreign nationals living in the Cayman Islands that want to apply for a UK visa will have the opportunity to do so later this month without leaving the islands. The governor’s office has confirmed that the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) department is coming to Grand Cayman this month to offer a bio-metric services clinic to enable applicants to deal with this element of the application process locally and avoid the need to travel to Jamaica. The first clinic will be on 27 July atthe Smith Road Centre.

“The UKBA recognises the logistical challenges that face their customers in the Caribbean, in regards to the biometric capture part of the UK visa application process. To date, anyone wanting to apply from the Cayman Islands for a visa to the United Kingdom has had to attend an appointment at the Visa Application Centre in Kingston, Jamaica in order to have certain biometric data captured,” a statement from the governor’s office read. .
On 27 July 2010, the UKBA will run the first monthly mobile biometric clinic in Grand Cayman.  The clinic will be held in the lobby of The Smith Road Centre which is located on Smith Road in George Town. People who wish to attend the clinic should apply online by visiting and then book a biometric clinic appointment by visiting 
The biometric clinic service fee is US$150 per applicant.
Please note that this relates to applicants applying for visas for the United Kingdom only and not the United States. For more information on the upcoming clinic please visit and select Cayman Islands.     

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Local lawyers lauded for insolvency work

| 06/07/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Mourant Ozannes has been voted ‘Insolvency Law Firm of the Year in the Cayman Islands’ by Corporate INTL magazine a trade publication focusing on corporate, market and international business issues. According to a release by the law firm the awardees are selected based on in-depth research and a judging process undertaken by an independent expert panel that includes international business leaders, lawyers and accountants. Neal Lomax, Head of Mourant Ozannes Cayman Islands office, said he was delighted that the Cayman team had been recognised.

“Winning this accolade further emphasises the firm’s strength in depth and industry knowledge, as we strive to be consistently recognised as the leading law firm offshore,” he added.
According to Mourant Ozannes the Awards recognise excellence amongst advisers and financiers in different practice areas and countries around the world, particularly at firms that have been active over the past twelve months and demonstrated expertise and outstanding levels of service during a difficult economic downturn.
Peter Hayden, Head of the Cayman Litigation and Insolvency team said the local litigation and insolvency team had been very busy working on a number of complex and specialist restructurings and liquidations. “We are delighted to have won this award, which recognises the efforts and expertise of our partners and staff,” he stated.
On 1 June 2010 Mourant du Feu & Jeune and Ozannes, two of the leading law firms offshore, merged tocreate Mourant Ozannes. Mourant Ozannes draws on the heritage of two market leaders and has approximately 200 fee-earners and 50 partners practising from offices in the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey and London.

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Masked robbers hit GT store

| 06/07/2010 | 28 Comments

(CNS): Police are now investigating an attempted robbery at Wendy’s in Savannah last night followed by an armed robbery at the Reflections 24-hour store in George Town early this morning. Two masked men, both armed with guns, got away with around $600 from Reflections on Godfrey Nixon Way at around 12:25am, while the two robbers at Wendy’s left empty handed at around 10:40pm as the restaurant was closed and they were unable to gain entry. Police have made no arrests and were unable to say if either of the incidents was connected. No one was injured during the robbery or the attempted robbery, though one of the men at reflections was believed to be carrying a shotgun. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Police said that officers on patrol attended the Reflections store after a member of staff alerted them that two masked robbers had just fled after gaining entry into the store as one customer was leaving. The men demanded cash and threatened to shoot staff before taking off on foot with the money.
Both men were armed, one with what appeared to be a shotgun the other with a handgun. One of the men was described as around 6feet with a brown complexion and wearing blue jeans and a black top. The second robber was wearing brown pants and a black top and was around 5 feet 9 inches, also with a brown complexion.
Police have no descriptions of the men at Wendy’s, who they say attempted to gain entry to the store that was already closed by knocking on the door with a hand gun, when none of the staff came to the door the two men fled in a dark coloured car.   
Police are appealing for witnesses to either incident and are asking anyone with information to call George Town CID 949 4222.

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Anglin slams McLaughlin

| 06/07/2010 | 48 Comments

(CNS): In four statements delivered over two days the current education minister took his predecessor to task in the Legislative Assembly last week. Rolston Anglin accused Alden McLaughlin of failing to address a number of administrative issues and accused the former minister of being on a four year joy ride. When it came to scholarships, the education minister claimed he had “inherited a disaster” while at the DER, McLaughlin had left a “dysfunctional” operation and at UCCI the former minster had “wreaked havoc.”

The current minister said that the opposition had lost all moral authority to talk about the development of the country’s work force as a result of the problems he found when coming to office over one year ago.
Criticising the mismanagement of the scholarship secretariat, which manages over 700 scholarship recipients at present, he said it was unfair that the previous minster had not increased the staff and left only one person to run the entire system. “The PPM went on a spending and hiring binge for four years, yet they did not see it important enough to adequately staff the scholarship secretariat,” Anglin said.
He accused the former minister of artificially bolstering numbers at the UCCI, failing to address the fallout from the Hassan Syed fiasco, and suggested that McLaughlin did not care about improving the life chances of Caymanians.
Citing a number of administrative issues at the university such as an absence of formal policies; disorganised campus security, a problematic student registration, unfair faculty contracts, a communications vacuum among staff, and irregular management accounting, among others. The minister also suggested entry requirements were lowered to bolster enrolment.
Reading the list of what he said were problems at UCCI to his legislative colleagues, Anglin said it was not exhaustive, merely “meant to provide a flavour of the mess left ” by his predecessor.
However, the minister said he was focusing on turning things around and that he would improve standards at the university and focus on giving Caymanians the skills they needed to enter the workforce.  He said there was a need to rethink the role of higher education in society and ensure people were better skilled, as being Caymanian was not enough. The future workforce had to be “Caymanians with merit”, he observed.
“We must ensure that at least 40-50% of the youth who are now in primary schools will earn a college degree,” the minister said in one of his statement. However, he pointed to the need to raise standards and noted in his statement regarding scholarships that the standards to enter an A’level course at St Ignatius — five IGCSE/CXC passes — were higher that the standards required to enter the UCCI on an associate degree programme – only 3 IGCSE/CXC passes.
Following the minister’s statements McLaughlin, the former education minister, pointed out that the standards of entry into UCCI were not lowered during his term in offices. “The admission requirements for the associate degree are exactly what they were when my predecessor and now President of UCCI, Roy Bodden, demitted office in May 2005,” McLaughlin told CNS noting the irony.
McLaughlin also said that criticisms about the administration of scholarships had been greatly exaggerated by the minister. The opposition member pointed out that when he took office the scholarships were dealt with by whoever was available in the education ministry, which was the reason he set up the scholarship secretariat, which he acknowledged was still a work in progress.
He said the first priority of the new secretariat had been to ensure students received their funding as that had been a problem in the past. Once that area had been tackled, the former minister said plans were in place to develop a more effective system for review.
McLaughlin pointed out that he had not been able to defend himself in the House against any of the minister’s criticisms, as none of these issues had been raised in the context of a debate, but as statements which prevent the opposition from responding.
“The minister is grossly exaggerating to paint me in as bad a light as he can but he needs to get past his insecurities in the post and get on with the job. The next election is still three years away,” McLaughlin said. “I want him to succeed. The development of our young people is why I am still here,” the former minister added, referring to the passion that he still holds for education.
McLaughlin pointed out that the country’s education system was still his main concern as he said all of the ugliness, the current ills in our society and all the wider social problems come back to the same root that without major improvements to the education system from the beginning and throughout, the people of Cayman would not be equipped to participate fully in the economy.
“Everything I did from the much maligned schools to the overhaul of the entire education system was about improving outcomes,” he added.

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