Archive for May 30th, 2011

Last call for WB council

| 30/05/2011 | 25 Comments

(CNS): The people of West Bay have just four more days left to nominate possible candidates to be appointed to the West Bay Advisory District Council which will offer direct advice on local community needs to the four MLAs, including the premier, who represent the people of the district in the country’s Legislative Assembly. According to a release from the premier’s office two public meetings have already been held to take nominations and they will now close on Friday 3 June. Once the nominations are in the Cabinet will consider the suggestions made by the public, district MLAs and the opposition leader when it makes the decision on who will be the first people to serve on the new district council.

The councils were established under the Cayman Islands 2009 Constitution and were shaped by recent legislation that said the councils would be appointed and not elected. As a result the members of Cabinet will have the final decision on the make-up of the committees.

With only four days left residents in the district wishing to suggest possible candidates to advise McKeeva Bush, Rolston Anglin, Cline Glidden and Captain  Eugene Ebanksmust ensure their nominations reach the Office of the Premier at PO Box 102, Grand Cayman KY1-9000 or to any other individual West Bay MLA or the West Bay MLA Office, no later than the close of business on Friday.

The premier’s office said the nominations must be accompanied by confirmation that the person nominated is willing to serve as an Advisory District Councillor and a short biography of the person highlighting their suitability to serve in that capacity. It has been suggested that the written nomination be countersigned by the person nominated, in affirmation of their willingness to serve.

The qualification of an Advisory District Councillor called for in section 4(3) of the law reads as follows: “A member of a Council shall be a person who lives in the relevant electoral district and who is by reason of his special qualifications, training, experience or knowledge of the district suitable for appointment to a Council.” 

 

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JGHS students to represent Cayman at world forum

| 30/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Three students from John Gray High School are on their way to the United States to represent the Cayman Islands an international conference for young leaders. Nijel Powery, (left) Nordania Stewart and Catherine Ebanks have been selected by their teachers to attend the prestigious Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC) in Washington, D.C. and New York City in July, where they will spend 12 days discussing concepts surrounding communications, diplomacy, law, human rights, peace, security, economics and the role of the United Nations.

The students will also visit embassies, the US Department of State, the United Nations Headquarters, Washington D.C. memorials, the Smithsonian Institute, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and will participate in a New York City cultural expedition.

Supporting the students in their endeavours, the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment has donated$3,000 towards their trip expenses. Noting that the three are among John Gray’s top academic performers, Education Minister, Rolston Anglin said he was confident that the students would make the Cayman Islands proud.

Deputy Head Boy Nijel Powery, who has dreamed of representing the Cayman Islands at a global forum, said he was “absolutely amazed” to hear of his selection to attend. “I know what to expect from this conference due to friends who’ve been in the past,” he said. “I’m really excited because it’s an opportunity to get the Cayman Islands out there and to represent my country while building confidence and leadership skills.”
Fellow student Nordania Stewart was also looking forward to the conference and making new friends from around the world as well as learning more about global issues. “I’m hoping to share some of my own opinions ondifferent topics, and I’m also grateful for the ministry’s donation, because without it, my attendance would be impossible,” she added.

The GYLC is a unique leadership-development programme that offers outstanding young people from around the world opportunities to explore the diplomatic, social and economic lessons of the past. Attendees also debate current policies and prepare for future positions of national and global leadership.

Participants also learn from and exchange ideas with some of the world's top business leaders, policy officials, lobbyists, journalists, diplomats and academics. The venues are the challenging and dynamic environments of Washington, D.C. and New York City; Vienna, Budapest and Prague; or Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai.
Each conference session is designed to educate, inspire and motivate students by allowing them to explore cultural differences firsthand, and absorb diplomatic skills daily, while building confidence and enhancing decision-making skills.

Developed by Dr. Marguerite C. Regan, a former high school teacher and social science department chairperson with a doctorate in political science from Purdue University, the curriculum provides a unique approach to leadership training.

Details on the Global Young Leaders Conference are available at www.cylc.org/gylc .

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Local insurance firm retains A rating

| 30/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Island Heritage Insurance Company, Ltd based in the Cayman Islands, has been given a stable outlook with ratings of A- (Excellent) for financial strength and issuer credit rating of “a-” by ratings agency AM Best. The firm said Monday, that the affirmation reflected its solid level of “risk-adjusted capitalization, favourable operating results, experienced management team and local market expertise.”  The firm said that despite being located in the Caribbean and facing the inevitable risk that come with hurricanes the losses from these inevitable natural events have been kept at a manageable level.

In a release in the wake of its positive ratings the firm said it was down to Island Heritage’s solid underwriting results and historically positive investment income, which have led to organic surplus growth in four of the last five years, as well as a strong five-year average combined ratio.

The firm boasted that its management team has extensive knowledge of each island and maintains effective risk management strategies. The company focuses on the unique needs of the Caribbean property owner and designs its programmes to provide the depth of cover needed.

In addition, the firm said its level of catastrophe risk is mitigated by its reinsurance program, which was enhanced significantly following the severe events of 2004 and 2005. The revised reinsurance structure protects the company’s capital from both the frequency and severity of events in a relatively more efficient and effective manner,” it stated in a release.
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Island Heritage CFO Jon Coleman said the AM Best ratings and outlook recognised the strengths of Island Heritage’s solid level of capitalization and enhanced reinsurance protection against severe and frequent catastrophic events. “On behalf of our management team I would like to thank our valued customers, esteemed business partners, supportive shareholders and dedicated staff for making Island Heritage Your Caribbean Insurer. With Island Heritage, Strength Delivers,” he said.

Island Heritage’s geographic concentration, substantial dependency on reinsurance, the competitive market and local regulatory risk offset some of the positive outlook but the firm said despite this losses are manageable because of the company’s extensive reinsurance program.

Although Island Heritage is heavily dependent on reinsurance, this risk is partially mitigated by the reinsurance capacity available from its majority owner, Flagstone Reinsurance Holdings SA.

 

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Students want change for scholarship drive

| 30/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): People are being asked to give up the small change in the pockets and purses this weekend in order to kick off the International College of the Cayman Islands ‘1 Cent Scholarship Fund’ drive. The goal is to help fund education for those in financial need and although the ICCI students are only asking for a few cents if everyone chips added together the small change can amount to an opportunity for learning for some students that otherwise could not afford to go to college.

“Most people have some spare change lying around their house, cars, or the bottom of their purse,” said student Weston Williams, explaining if most people donated their spare change, it can add up to a significant contribution for the scholarship fund. “Through this small effort, we hope to raise at least $500.”

Some 30 students from the International College are expected to participate in the 1 Cent Scholarship Drive, starting at 6.30 am and continuing through the afternoon this Saturday. The studnets will be visiting supermarkets and other high traffic areas across the island seeking donations. 

The 1 Cent Scholarship Drive is one of three class projects in a sociology class at the International College with a focus on community service at the grassroots level. Assistant Professor Rick Singer, who teaches the Social Problems class, explained that he challenges students to take action in a tangible way towards social change.


 

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Fire service top brass faces damning report

| 30/05/2011 | 70 Comments

(CNS):A damning report by Premier HR Management Solutions found that the leadership of the Cayman Islands Fire Service has been severely lacking in basic management skills. The report, compiled in September 2009, was kept under wraps for more than 18 months and only released as a result of a ruling by the information commissioner following an FOI application that had originally been denied. The independnet report was commisisoned by government following a sexual assault on a female fire officer in Cayman Brac. Despite the report’s findings, on the wide level of poor management skills at the top of the service, action has only been taken in connection with four employees.

Details of the “varying levels of disciplinary action” against those officers is still secret asthat information, along with numerous other specific personnel details about those involved in the sexual assault, was redacted from the report as directed by the information commissioner.

The victim had reported sexual abuse at the hands of two of her male colleagues back in February 2007. Eventually, following a police investigation just one officer, Dorian Hunter, was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison some two years after the indecent assault had taken place.

During the police investigation government ordered an independent review to determine if there should be any changes at the top level of the fire service with regard to responsibilities or compensation.

The report called for an “urgent need of a curriculum of Management & Leadership training in areas such as: Leadership & Management; Recognition Management – handling reward & promotions” among many other areas of management skills training. It also recommends that the chief fire officer should have more senior professional involvement in conferences, societies and networking.

The authors of the report examined the working environment and interviewed fire service employees throughout the whole service and found staff believed there was a power struggle and role identity confusion among senior managers, while management was perceived as “non-responsive” or slow to respond and sometimes ignore issues.

Staff reported that complaints were ignored or were disbelieved and there was the perception of favouritism, double standards and discrimination when dealing with performance issues among the employees of the service.

In particular, the issue of sexual harassment among female staff was poorly dealt with. Staff commented that there seemed to be a lack of recognition or definition of sexual harassment, including how to deal with email, insinuations or innuendo. Some female staff said they were reluctant to report inappropriate behaviour or harassment for fear of being stigmatised and their work-life being made uncomfortable. They had no confidential outlet to whistle blow and their human resources department was perceived as representing management’s interests. 

The situation was so bad in Cayman Brac that female staff felt uncomfortable using the lunchroom and resorted to their car to eat their lunch. 

Even though gender awareness training had been introduced into the fire service, employees said things had not changed much and there was still a prevailing atmosphere of sexual harassment towards female staff members. The report found that there were “strong indications of other inappropriate behaviour” and incidents of sexual assault but staff were afraid to give specific details.

Staff stated that while the authors of the report were around asking questions staff behaved in a way that “looked good to them” but once they left officers said they expected that the old behaviours would return.

The report makes almost forty recommendations, including the development of strategic selection and recruitment policies and the introduction of a more robust and structured reference and background checking protocol. It also suggests that a new and more user-friendly performance management set up should be installed at the fire service, along with the development and introduction of training and skills development policy.

In dealing with sexual harassment, the report suggests that the service make outlying district fire station’s facilities female compliant and adopt a customised policy on gender, harassment, misconduct, discrimination and other related grievances. It also concluded that the fire service must make the working environment more suitable for the six female officers it currently employs.

Premier HR Management Soloutions report part 3

Premier HR Management Soloutions report part 4

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Royal tiffin on the Brac to raise cash for NT

| 30/05/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The Cayman Brac District Committee of the National Trust is offering Brackers a chance to dress up in their finery (including hats) for a bit of a royal do. The committee is hosting a ‘High Tea’ in celebration of the queen’s official birthday at Heritage House in North East Bay, on Monday, 13 June at four o’clock. The tea party will include a silent auction and art show. A variety of finger foods and delicacies will be provided along with a chilled soup and a refreshing assortment of iced teas. 

Cost of admission will be $5 adults and $3 for children under the age of 12.  All event proceeds will benefit the Cayman Brac District Committee of the National Trust and its mission to conserve and preserve of our natural and cultural resources.

The Silent Auction will be ongoing with the last bid at 6:30 PM.  Auction items include a day’s accommodations in Grand and/or Little Cayman, a variety of artworks, airline tickets, gift certificates for local and Sister Island shopping or entertainment and many more unique and diverse items.   To contribute auctions item kindly contact Bonnie Edwards at bracbooks@gmail.com.

Simone Scott, local National Trust Member and representative of the National Gallery is arranging for gifted local artists to showcase their talents.   “The theme for the Art Show will be Local Nature and our Cultural History,” said Scott.  “While you are keeping a close eye on your favourite bids, enjoy the works of local artists.”  If you are interested in submitting an artwork for the show, contact simones@candw.ky

For more information contact Kathleen Bodden-Harris 916-3960 or aloha@candw.ky

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Youngsters compete for musical accolade

| 30/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): One of the Cayman Islands’ talented young musicians will besingled out this weekend with the fourth annual young musician of the year award at the Harquail Theatre on Saturday evening. A production of the National Children’s Festival of the Arts and sponsored by Butterfield, the award, organisers said, not only recognises excellence in music but aims to give competitors a platform to showcase musical talent. In addition to awarding the young musician of the year, this year’s event will also feature cash prizes for the first and second runners up as well. Performances start at 7pm and the event is open to the public with free admission.

“Arts and cultural programmes bring together community members in a positive way by sharing the talents of diverse groups, by supporting the development of individual artists and by giving the public a greater appreciation of different cultural perspectives around them,” said Sheree Ebanks, a director at Butterfield. “Supporting the development and aspirations of young people is important to us, and we are excited once again to sponsor the Young Musician of the Year.”

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Supermarket shark stays close to home

| 30/05/2011 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Since she was tagged as part of a collaborative marine research project a shark sponsored by Foster’s supermarket has been staying pretty close to home. Coco the tiger shark is one of several sharks that the DoE is following in an effort to learn more about the habits of these important marine predators. Unlike, Tina and Luiza two other sharks also tagged off Grand Cayman, Coco has remained near home. However experts say she is likely to head further afield soon. The sponsorship of the young shark came from the money Fosterscollected from introducing a charge for plastic bags at its stores.

Coco was tagged in late April in collaboration with Foster’s, the Department of Environment (DoE), the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) and Marine Conservation International (MCI), as part of an Overseas Territories Environment Programme grant to provide information and raise public awareness about Cayman’s sharks, whales and dolphins .

Woody Foster was excited with the tagging. “We named the tiger shark Coco after our trademark clown to promote the importance of shark conservation for our seas to remain healthy,” he said. Foster explained that the initiative was made possible from the sale of plastic bags in which the store had we promised customers all proceeds would be used for a “green” initiative.

Dr. Mauvis Gore of the MCI explained how important sharks are to the local marine environment. “Tiger sharks are key marine animals that help to keep our seas healthy, much like orca do.”

Tiger sharks can reach over ten feet in length, but Coco has a bit of growing to do yet. Like most sharks, tiger sharks tend to be solitary and despite their name, they hunt for turtles, fish and squid. They do look for food in shallower seas, but they undergo seasonal migrations by moving to cooler waters in the warmer months.

Tim Austin, Deputy Director at the DoE said that Coco was likely to be thinking about moving on shortly but the project would be able to keep up with her travels as a result of the tag.

Oliver Dubock another member of the MCI team is also asking for assistance with the work. “Any sightings of shark, whale or dolphin is of significance,” he said adding that reports can be made to the DoE at DOE@GOV.KY or on 949-8469.

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CIMA reveals state of fund sector in 2009

| 30/05/2011 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) released the 4th annual Investments Statistical Digest, Friday which compiles data of approximately 7,000 regulated funds in the Cayman Islands for2009. The information which is now more than sixteen months old is described by CIMA as providing a snapshot of the industry’s response to the global financial crisis. CIMA said the report revealed that for funds that filed a 2009 FAR there was a 147% increase in net income, from a net loss of US$429 billion in 2008 to US$203 billion in 2009, a positive development for the sector.

“The Digest demonstrates an increasing stabilisation in the market during 2009,” the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority said. “It shows an uptick in positive returns and an aggregate ending net asset value of US$1.561 trillion for the funds captured in the Digest.”

The Digest draws data from the Fund Annual Return (FAR) submitted to CIMA by 6,938 funds that had a financial year-end falling within the 2009 calendar year. This was almost three-quarters of all funds regulated in the Cayman Islands as at the end of 2009.

The statistics for 2009 showed some of the negative effects of the crisis that continued in that year. The US$1.561 trillion aggregate ending net asset value was 8% less than the ending net asset value for 2008. Total assets, at US$2.176 trillion, were 13% less than for 2008. The 20% decrease in redemptions from 2008 reflected a slowing of the number of investors leaving funds, but this was not enough to offset the 41% fall in subscriptions, which reflected investors’ continued caution in 2009.

Commenting on the data, CIMA’s head of investments and securities division, Yolanda McCoy, said that 2009 was a turnaround on 2008. “Collectively, Cayman-domiciled funds were successful in 2009, turning around some of the negative results from 2008. Although asset values and subscriptions were down, the strength of the industry is seen in the significant increases in net income and return on assets. Overall, Cayman domiciled funds remain resilient, with performance rebounding as anticipated,” she added.

Among the aspects unchanged was the low proportion of funds having to suspend trading  which stood at 7% in both 2008 and 2009. Following trends seen in all years of the publication of the Digest, two investment strategies, Multi-Strategy and Long / Short Equity, remained dominant, attracting 37% and 22% of assets, respectively.

Only two strategies showed an increase in the net assets allocated to them: Global Macro, which saw a 21% increase in net assets, and Distressed Securities, which saw a 22% increase. The dominant operating structure remained the Master/Feeder, whilst under the legal structure the Exempted Company continued to be the structure of preference.

“This aggregate statistical data that we are able to collate and publish in the Digest provides invaluable information,” said Cindy Scotland, CIMA’s Managing Director. “Not only does it give us as regulators a better understanding of the viability and developing trends of the industry as it evolves year to year, it extends the transparency of the industry to all stakeholders who have a vested interest.”

The 2009 Investments Statistical Digest can be downloaded in its entirety here

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Captured croc becomes turtle farm performer

| 30/05/2011 | 24 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Turtle Farm has revealed that a nine foot long crocodile which was captured in 2006 in North Side has become a permanent exhibit at the facility, allegedly entertaining visitors at feeding times. “Smiley”, as the female crocodile has been called, is now being housed alone in a purpose-built enclosure, named Smiley’s Saltwater Lounge. The farm said the creature “has proven very popular” since being introduced last month to the facility’s wildlife encounter. The croc is believed to be a mix of Cuban and American crocodiles and therefore was unsuitable for release back into the wild.

The farm said that visitors are able to watch three weekly feeding shows where Smiley rises out of the water to snare the food dangled above her. Cayman Turtle Farm Managing Director Tim Adam said the animal programmes staff had worked hard to get to know “this fascinating creature" over the four-plus years since Smiley had been captured and taken to the farm before becoming an exhibit.

“She is quite a character,” Adam said. “Now visitors to the Turtle Farm can experience a bit of her behaviour first-hand and up close.”

Over the years there have been, and continue to be, several sightings of crocodiles in the Cayman Islands. Although the original indigenous caiman is believed to be extinct, there appear to be at least two crocodiles living here in the wild.  Smiley was first spotted and eventually caught inthe waters off the Queen’s Highway in North Side at the end of 2006.

Once it was discovered that Smiley was a mix of the American and Cuban crocodile, the Cayman Turtle Farm offered her a home because, it said, environmentalists consider it undesirable to release hybrid animals into the wild. Since Smiley was moved to the farm she has been the subject of study by staff, who have also been training her, and she has now become an official exhibit.

In a release the farm said she can follow a pole target and launch out of the water to jump for her food.  The enclosure affords onlookers a great view through Plexiglas panels that keep the visitors safe only a few feet away from the crocodile. A sign at the enclosure also offers information about Smiley.

Geddes Hislop, the Curator for the Terrestrial and Education Programme at the Turtle Farm, offers visitors a short presentation on Smiley and crocodiles. “We hope that this new exhibit, which offers a great opportunity to watch Smiley, will both entertain and educate visitors as we highlight the significance of the crocodile in Cayman’s history,” Hislop said.

The islands’ name “Cayman” is an Anglicised version of the word Caiman, the Spanish word for crocodile which was derived from the language of the indigenous peoples that inhabited Cuba and the Bahamas. Because of the abundance of sea turtles at the time of discovery in 1503 Columbus named the islands “Las Tortugas” but the islands were re-named “Caimanes” as far back as the 1530’s due to the large numbers of these crocodiles reported by colonial explorers in those days.

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