Archive for June 1st, 2011

Surplus falls short of target

| 01/06/2011 | 36 Comments

(CNS): Although next year’s budget has not yet been finalized, civil servants tell CNS that the public purse is likely to end this year with a small surplus but still short of the premier’s $15 million target. Despite instructions from McKeeva Bush, as minister of finance, to senior government officials to rein in spending during the last few months of the year, CNS has been told that the final core government surplus is likely to be around $4.5 million — more than ten million less than the premier had asked for. However, the final result is still an improvement given that the original predictions for this financial year was for a deficit of over $30m.

In a memo circulated to senior government officials last month the premier had said predictions of a $5 million deficit at that time were unacceptable and he said he needed a $15 million surplus. Bush explained that he would be using $5 million to pay down debt, another five to meet pension liability payments and the last five million would be used towards next year’s operating expenditure.

However, with some ten million dollars less to play with than he had hoped, Bush will need to decide whether the government loans, the pension issue or next year’s expenditure needs the small surplus most.

Speaking on Cayman 27 earlier this week  Bush said that next year’s budget was still in the hands of the UK and the OT minister  Henry Bellingham  who is said to be concerned over personnel costs. The premier will not be able to present government’s spending and earning expectations for the next financial year until the FCO gives its approval.

Bush also confirmed recent speculation that next year’s spending plan calls for a total deficit of around $8 million, despite the original goal as agreed with the UK of a $10 million surplus. According to the three year plan which was agreed between the FCO and the CIG government in May 2010, prior to the start of the 2010/11 financial year government was expecting to deliver a budget surplus for the forthcoming financial year, after an anticipated deficit this year of around $30 million.

However, Bush told the TV station that he was not able to make any more cuts on personnel expenditure, the area where the UK wants Cayman to cut its spendin, as that was in the hands of the governor or the deputy governor.

The latest civil service head count is around 3,600, which, despite entrenchment and recruitment freezes, is still a less than 10 percent cut on the service’s peak figure of 3,900 people in 2008. 

CNS has contacted the deputy governor’s office in connection with what, if any, cuts will have to be made to public sector personnel cuts in the next financial year, but so far there has been no response. The Cayman Islands Civil Service Association recently confirmed that it has not been informed about any new cuts in salaries or benefits in relation to the concerns of the UK. Nor is it clear if the portfolio intends to make head count cuts over and above natural attrition or the existing recruitment moratorium.

According to the three year plan (posted below) personnel costs were to have been reduced by 7 percent for the 2011/2012 fiscal year and byfurther 3 percent in the 2012/2013 fiscal year. It said that the targets would be achieved through a combination of divestment or restructuring of departments as well as through discussions between the governor’s office and the civil service.

The plan had called for personnel costs to come down from the 2010/11 figure of $228,647 to $212,642 during 2011/12 and then a further fall to $206,262 in the last year of the plan, when government is expected to have achieved a surplus of more than $60 million.

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Cops arrest visitor for fraud

| 01/06/2011 | 25 Comments

(CNS): A US citizen who was attempting to sell property along Seven Mile Beach that didn’t belong to him has been arrested for fraud. Police say that the 65-year-old man, who was visiting the Cayman Islands from Colorado, is currently in custody in connection with the suspected fraud offences which relate to an attempted property sale scam. Officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Financial Crime Unit arrested the man around 4:20pm yesterday, Tuesday 31 May, following an operation in the Seven Mile Beach area, where the man was trying to sell a condo worth around USD$500,000. 

Police said that the operation was conducted after officers received a report that the man had attempted to sell property on Grand Cayman, at the Poinsettia condos, which did not belong to him and without the owner’s authority.

He was arrested on suspicion of uttering false documents and attempting to obtain property by deception and he remains at the George Town police station while enquiries continue.

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LIME hosts global maintenance forum on GC

| 01/06/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Technicians from all over the world that help keep the international lines of communication open will be visiting Grand Cayman next week for a specialist conference. Fifty members of the Atlantic Cable Maintenance Repair Agreement (ACMA) representing over 36 companies from all corners of the Atlantic Region are coming to discuss the crucial work that this not for profit organization does and to ensure it can keep doing. Local telecommunications firm LIME which is a member of the ACMA is playing host at the Marriot from Monday for the four day conference.

Donnie Forbes, Head of Service Support and Delivery, is LIME’s representative and the organizing host for the event. “For 45 years LIME has been keeping the people of the Cayman Islands connected to the rest of the world.  Technology has allowed our two core pillars of industry, tourism and finance to grow and develop into the world class businesses that we know today.  LIME is delighted to welcome all the ACMA delegates not only to discuss business, but also to give us the opportunity to showcase our beautiful Islands,” he said.

ACMA is a cooperative agreement among more than seventy companies on four continents. It is run by its member companies for the benefit of the cable owners. Its goal is to provide the highest quality repair and maintenance service availableanywhere at the lowest possible price.

Specially-designed cable ships, each with its own dedicated ROV, with experienced crews and the most modern equipment, are available at strategically located base ports throughout the Atlantic Ocean to undertake repairs, wherever and whenever needed. Because of its asset- and cost-sharing methodology, it offers unparalleled service at a fraction of what it would cost to provide to individual systems. And because of its not-for-profit nature, 100% of all savings is shared among the member companies.

The Cayman Islands relies almost totally on submarine cables to keep it connected to the rest of the world.  LIME officials said that the firm continues to invest in submarine cables and just this year a new major submarine cable was brought on line.  The “East-West” cable links Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in the west of the Caribbean to the British Virgin Islands in the east and lands in the Dominican Republic, one of the key markets in the Caribbean region.

“For businesses and residents alike there’s nothing amusing about an undersea cable break,” LIME said. “After an earthquake of Central America several cables in the Gulf of Mexico were damaged which affected some of our voice and internet traffic.  With downtime and restoration costs running as much as $10 million a day on some systems, faults have to be located and repaired swiftly.  This requires experience, expertise and state of the art vehicles – all of which are standard with ACMA.”

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Kane acquires HSBC’s insurance arm

| 01/06/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The insurance management operations of HSBC have been acquired by the specialist risk and insurance management services company Kane. The firm announced the completion of the deal on Wednesday stating it had received approval from all the relevant regulatory bodies. As a result of the acquisition, the company is now the largest global, independent insurance manager. Stephen May, Group CEO of Kane, said it was a fantastic achievement to successfully unit the two companies to create a truly international platform. “Our aim now is to enhance our existing customer relationships, create new ones, build on our range of world-class services, grow our industry-leading team and seek new opportunities to strengthen our leading position in the insurance management arena,” he said.

Kane has appointed Keith Tozzi as Group Chairman and Roy Fellowes as Global Managing Director of Kane Insurance Management.Tozzi has held numerous chairmanships of public and private companies, and has a strong track record in leading companies through periods of structural change. Fellowes was formerly CEO of HSBC InsuranceManagement (HIM) and in his new role will be responsible for driving the Group’s global strategy. Further appointments will be announced shortly the company said in a release announcing the acquisition.

Keith Tozzi said it was an exciting prospect to lead Kane at a time when it is on the brink of significant growth and development. “The purchase of HIM represents the first in a series of steps as Kane looks to expand its capabilities and I look forward to working with Stephen and the rest of the team as we see this through to fruition,” he added.

Fellowes said significant time and effort had been devoted to ensuring the smooth integration of HIM into Kane. “The company unites our breadth of expertise, comprehensive service offerings, global reach and unparalleled reputation for client satisfaction and I look forward to playing my part in the ongoing success of our organization,” he said.

Following the deal the Kane Group has now expanded to include: Kane (Bermuda) Ltd; Kane (Cayman) Ltd; Kane (USA), Inc; Kane (Guernsey) Ltd and Kane (Malta) Ltd. The company said it now provides an extensive range of services, including: Captive Management, Insurance-Linked Securities Administration and Life, Pension and Investment Administration.
 

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Touched in the sun

| 01/06/2011 | 0 Comments

(CRFU): It was a busy day under the hot sun last Saturday as the 2011 touch rugby season kicked off at the South Sound Rugby Ground.  Twenty-four teams, and over 200 players turned up for the opening Seeding Day, a day to determine which of the three Divisions the teams would play in over the course of the next three months.  The start of any season is a chance to meet new team mates, brush up on rugby skills, renew rivalries from years past and lay down a marker for the new term.  Each team was slated to play three games with the results being analyzed by the Competition Directors to determine the league fixtures for the year.  Photos Caroline Deegan

The opening match saw Genesis Five Nations, resplendent in their figure hugging shirts, pick up where they left off last year with a thumping 5-1 win over Appleby, although it looks like the close season has not been too kind to some of the men-folk, and a quick trip to the sauna to lose a few of those winter pounds may berequired.  See you in the gym boys!

Last year’s Division 1 Champions, Maples 1, started their campaign with back-to-back wins.  New recruit Jo Ziegler put in some fine performances, capped off with a great solo try against PWC.  Captain Marty Livingston was happy with their general play but said improvements in defence would be needed if they were to emulate their triumph of 2010. 

A notable entry to Division 1 is the newly formed Team LIME.  With a mixture of experienced rugby guys and girls and a few new faces to the sport they put up some credible performances and managed a great win over the southern hemisphere dominated Harmonic team.  However, they have been handed a baptism of fire in their opening fixture of the league with a game against the holders Maples 1. 
Walkers Blue Iguanas, last year’s undefeated champions of Division 2, were slow out of the blocks and were handed a couple of heavy losses in the early part of the day.   A victory in their last game, plus last season’s form, has managed to secure them promotion to the top tier, but they’ll have to improve if they are going to mix it with the big guns.

There were notable victories by Happyfish Ticklers, DMS and KPMG 1, the latter managing two 7-try hauls to earn them plaudits for top performances of the day.  KPMG 1 play fast, attractive rugby and should be fighting for honours at the top of the second division. 

Last year’s Division 3 champions, the Trident Titans had a great day winning all three games and conceding only one try, a performance good enough to earn them promotion to Division 2 where they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.  Also moving up from Division 3 will be the Happyfish Ticklers and Dart.

As the day wore on, the heat sapped the players’ strength and lowered energy levels, but the crowd was treated to a thrilling late game between Appleby and PWC with the former coming out winners in an epic 7-6 battle.   If these teams can take this form into the season they’ll be tough to beat and make for great viewing.

Queensgate Grizz’s Old Fellas had a sterling return to form and lost all three games, managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a “classic” encounter with UBS.  Despite the Old Fellas leading on three separate occasions, a calamitous missed touch in midfield, by the mercurial Mikey Johnston, gave UBS a breakaway try and a lead they never looked like losing. It’s back to the drawing board for the Old Fellas… or is it just back to the bar? The dream continues…
This year caymanrugbytv.com will be showing a selection of touch rugby games each week.  Fans can also become friends of Cayman Rugby on Facebook to see player profiles, interviews and get an inside look at the world of touch rugby.

The season starts in earnest on June 6th, with games taking place on most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the South Sound Rugby Ground starting at 5.30pm.       

Division 1
Appleby
DMS
Genesis 5 Nations
Walkers Blue Iguanas
Maples 1
Ogier
PWC
Team Lime

Division 2
Campbells
DART
Happyfish Ticklers
Harmonic
Maples 2
Trident Titans
UBS
KPMG 1

Division 3
Credit-Suisse
Deloitte
Ernst & Young
GCM
Island Heritage
KPMG 2
Queensgate Grizz's Old Fellas
Rawlinson & Hunter

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Government encourages people to get fit

| 01/06/2011 | 24 Comments

(CNS): As Cayman joins the region in marking Caribbean Nutrition Day first designated on 1 June 1 in 2005 by the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute, health officials are highlighting the benefits of healthy eating and an active lifestyle. With diseases related to unhealthy lifestyles placing the greatest pressure on the country’s healthcare systems the authorities are sending out the message of eating right and keeping fit. There are many physical, mental, and social benefits to a physically active lifestyle, including stress management, improved heart health, lower body weight and body fat, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of diabetes, some cancers and osteoporosis, or brittle bones.

The theme for this year’s nutrition day is theme “Healthy Eating and Active Living: Do a Variety of Physical Activity Today and Every Day” is in line with the “Be Fit Cayman” wellness campaign. This theme encourages all sectors of the Caribbean population to be physically active throughout a variety of leisure time, occupational and household activities, transportation, sports and structured exercise.

Physical activity is any movement produced by skeletal muscles that uses energy. It varies by intensity (e.g. light, moderate, or vigorous), duration, frequency, and type of activity. We will differ in our needs for physical activity depending on our age, health condition, and personal goals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults exercise aerobically at least 30 minutes most days of the week in addition to strengthening muscles. When it comes to kids, experts recommend an accumulation of 60 minutes of structured activity daily to help develop motor skills, such as practicing throwing and kicking a ball, dance, gymnastics, or learning to ride a bike or swim. This should go along side at least 60 minutes and up to several hours of free play daily (running, jumping, skipping, climbing,chasing etc.). Except when sleeping kids should not be inactive for more than 60 minutes at a time

Kids over six and into their teens should also be engaging in 60 minutes aerobic activity daily, including muscle strengthening activity such as gymnastics, push-ups, and bone strengthening activity like jumping rope, running three times per week.

People aged 18 to 64 are encouraged to take at least 2 ½ hours per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, including muscle strengthening or 1 ¼ hours per week of vigorous intensity aerobic activity such as jogging, swimming, cycling including muscle strengthening lifting weights, resistance training) 2 days per week. For those over 65 experts say if they can manage the two and half hours they should also undergo the same type of exercise or as much physical activity to improve muscle strength and balance 2 or more days per week as they can manage.

Meanwhile, eating fresh health food is vitally important and for the first time this weekend Little Cayman will be showing off its home grown produce at the inaugural Little Cayman Agriculture Show.

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Former Cayman judge to head up new law office

| 01/06/2011 | 5 Comments

(CNS): Corporate and commercial law specialist Smeets Law has opened an office in the Cayman Islands. According to a report in the industry magazine FinAlternatives, Kipling Douglas, a former Grand Court Judge of the Cayman Islands will be leading the firm’s new office. Janet Francis will be a partner in the firm’s investment funds, corporate and commercial group. “Cayman has been chosen as the Network’s Caribbean base because we have confidence in these Islands,” GCA Smeets Law Network founder Gerard Smeets said. 

“Our confidence has been bolstered by continuing strong demand for client focused Cayman legal services from the alternative investment industry worldwide. Here we can provide and service a dependable product in a stable environment,” he added.

Smeets, which specializes in advising investment managers, family offices and service providers,is a member of the GCA Smeets Law Network of independent law firms established in key jurisdictions in the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe. Following the launches in Cayman and Uruguay, another member firm will shortly commence operations in Asia. The Asian firm will focus on providing advice on Cayman and Luxembourg structures.

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Cruise port still in question

| 01/06/2011 | 28 Comments

(CNS): Government officials are still tight lipped about the current situation surrounding plans for cruise berthing facilities in George Town, although it is understood that the premier will be heading to Miami later this week to meet with the Florida Cruise Association. Since McKeeva Bush wrote to GLF Construction in April cancelling its exclusivity deal with the Port Authority and the Cayman government, he has yet to reveal his new intentions for that development. The opposition leader noted the irony this week when he pointed out government’s focus in the Throne Speech on the proposed East End cargo dock, which no one wants, contrasted with a complete absence of comment regarding the cruise town dock, which everyone does.

Although, as was revealed by CNS that the government has been in discussion with the Chinese firm, China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd, headquartered in Bejing, it has still not signed any deal with the potential new partner.

The premier said in a televised address on 9 May that he would be revealing his new plans not just for the George Town cruise port but another two projects, believed to be a new pier at the Turtle Farm and the redevelopment of Owen Roberts airport, the following night at a UDP public meeting. However, the premier again remained quiet, stating that he would reveal the details before the end of the month.

However, as May drew to a close no statements were released from the premier’s office and officials on the Port Authority Board are now directing all enquiries regarding the cruise port to the premier.

With the budget expected to be delivered sometime next week, the premier may be planning on delivering details of the latest development projects during the next Legislative Assembly meeting, but no date has been set for when the local politicians will be coming to parliament again.

Speaking at a public meeting in East End on Monday evening, where residents of the district were discussing their fears about, and objections to, the proposed East End Sea Port project, opposition leader Alden McLaughlin said government was wasting time focusing on the wrong development.

“One of the great ironies about this is that we really do need a port; we’ve been needing it for a long time,” he said, as he pointed to the George Town cruise port and the failure of government to get berthing facilities that can accommodate the new class of cruise ships. “Instead of the government focusing on getting the necessary port working up and running in George Town, it continues to waste time and resources on a project that is completely unnecessary.”

Compared to many of the other projects that government has proposed, or chewed over, since it came to office more than two years ago, the cruise berth development in George Town is the one that has the least opposition and the widest cross section of support. There is no political opposition and although there are still environmental concerns, even those who have opposed the idea because of the potential risks to Seven Mile Beach have been less vocal than with many of the other project proposals.

Although the UDP has said it is fully committed to developing cruise berthing facilities, the project seems to be floundering as a result of the negotiating difficulties coming out of the public-private sector approach.  Government had first turned to the Dart Group as its potential partner but those negotiations reportedly collapsed as a result of wrangling over the length of time the government was prepared to lease the facility to the developer in order for Dart to recoup its investment. However, this has never been officially confirmed and there have been indications that Dart had other concerns.

Although GLF said recently that it was fully prepared to start work by this summer and had the financing in place ready to be released once government signed a master agreement, the premier made a decision to pull the plug, it appears, as a result of wanting to explore other options with other developers.

Since government parted ways with GLF, it is understood that China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd had drawn up a potential MOU to set out the parameters for talks but the premier has reportedly not yet agreed to sign that proposed deal.

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Teen killed in car smash

| 01/06/2011 | 67 Comments

(CNS): Update with victim details – Police have now named the teenager who was killed after the car he was driving ran off the road in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Police said the victim who was driving the car was 19-year-old Jamie Evans from Prospect. A woman was also admitted to hospital with non-life threatening injuries as a result of the smash. Police said they received a report of the single car crash on Esterley Tibbetts Highway at around 12:18am. The incident happened when a silver Honda Civic, driven by Evans was travelling north when he apparently lost control of the car and left the road.

The car flipped over and landed in the parking lot close to Foster’s supermarket at the Strand. Emergency services arrived on the scene and the driver was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town, where he was pronounced dead.

The female passenger was admitted to hospital where she is under observation for her injuries. The road was closed in order to allow traffic management to investigate the cause of the fatal collision, which officials said involved only one car.

Police said that enquiries into how the accident happened are continuing but the road has since been opened.

The teenager is the fourth person to be killed on the roads in the Cayman Islands this year.

(Photos by Dennie Warren Jr)
 

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Busy season forecast

| 01/06/2011 | 2 Comments

(CNS):  Premier's message attached There was a small area of low pressure about 200 miles off the coast of Florida moving west-southwestward at around 20 mph when the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season opened this morning. The hurricane centre in Miami was giving the system a 30% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next couple of days. Predictors are calling for a stormy season this year because of warm seas with most long term forecasters saying there will be around 12 to 18 named storms with winds of 39mph more. Six to ten of those could become hurricanes with winds of over 74mph and experts says three to six of those could be major hurricanes reaching category 3, 4 or 5 with winds topping 111 mp.

Meanwhile, local weather forecasters were calling for cloudy spells Wednesday with isolated showers over Cayman for the rest of the day as a result of an upper level trough over the northwest Caribbean but aside from a few potential thunderstorms, residents have nothing to worry about yet. However, although last season most of the storms were steered away from the Caribbean this year experts say more systems will likely be forming in the region. 

“In addition to multiple climate factors, seasonal climate models also indicate an above-normal season is likely, and even suggest we could see activity comparable to some of the active seasons since 1995,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Centre said last week.

The first named storm for 2011, when it comes will be Arlene and local experts were warning everyone to ensure their safety and emergency preparations were complete so when they are ready when the first storm watch is issued.

While long term forecasting remains an inexact science being located in the hurricane belt the Cayman Islands is always at risk throughout the season and more so when forecaster are calling for above normal storm numbers.

This season the NHC in Miami plans to stretch its forecasting abilities as it experiments with six- and seven-day track forecasts which if they work will eventually offer people even greater preparation times. Right now the experiments will remain out of the public view until the experts are sure that the information will be helpful but the centre said it was part of its long term goal to provide better

Although the public might be eager for six- and seven-day forecasts, the errors are expected to be too large for them to be useful NHC officials have said.

For more information on hurricane preparedness go to www.caymanprepared.ky

See message from premier on hurricane preparedness below
 

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