Archive for July, 2011

Parties battle over CHEC deal in Jamaica

| 29/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(The Gleaner): Accusing the People's National Party of carrying out a campaign to derail Chinese investments amounting to more than US$1 billion in Jamaica, the Bruce Golding-led administration says thousands of jobs are now under threat as a result of "spurious aspersions" by the Opposition. In a swift response yesterday, Opposition Spokesman on Transport and Works Dr Omar Davies dismissed the Government's assertion as propaganda. Transport and Works Minister Mike Henry charged yesterday that"concerted efforts" led by the PNP to discredit the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme and China Harbour Engineering Company were threatening a number of major Chinese investments earmarked for Jamaica.

Rubbishing the claim, Davies said: "The PNP has never in its history, nor does it now, take positions that will affect genuine foreign investment." However, the PNP spokesman contended: "We will not let this sort of propaganda deter us from carrying out our task which is to ensure that, whatever money is being spent by the Government, the country receives value in return."

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Summer camps on Cayman Brac

| 29/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Brac Department of Sports has organised a basketball, football and swimming camp for this year’s summer holidays. The camps run from between 8 – 26 August and will be at various locations around the island. The camps are free and refreshments will be provided. Registration forms can be received and completed on the day of each camp.

The basketball camp will run from 8 – 12 August from 8:30AM – 12PM. The camp will be coached by Daniel Augustine & Redver Ebanks. The camp is for those between age 7 and 17 and will be at Layman E. Scott Sr. High School.
The football camp will run from 15 – 19 August from 8:30AM – 12 PM. The camp will be coached by Ernie “Gillie” Seymour & Dion Brandon. The camp is for those between age 7 and 17 and will be at the Bluff football field.

The swimming camp will run from 22 – 26 August from 8:30AM – 9:30AM for Infants / Beginners, 9:30AM – 10:30AM for Advanced Stroke and 5:30PM – 6:30PM for Water Babies. The camp will be coached by Paula Swaby-Ebanks at the Government Pool.

For more information regarding the camps, contact the Brac Sports Department Office at 948-8382.

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First deputy governor retiring

| 28/07/2011 | 73 Comments

(CNS): Donovan Ebanks, the Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service will retire in the first quarter of 2012 on reaching retirement age, and an open recruitment process will be undertaken in August/September 2011 to choose his successor, the governor has announced. Ebanks has had a long and distinguished public service career, for which he was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen during her visit to the Cayman Islands in 1994. He joined the Public Works Department in 1975, and at the young age of 30 he was promoted to Chief Engineer and was subsequently promoted to Deputy Chief Secretary in 1994. In 2009 he became the islands’ first Deputy Governor.

In the mid nineties, as Deputy Chief Secretary, Ebanks led the reform initiative, which was named “Reinvention of the Public Service”, which transitioned into the financial management initiative and the personnel reforms. During his time as Deputy Chief Secretary he led a number of salary and pension initiatives and was instrumental in the review of immigration laws and procedures.

Ebanks has been a member of the former National Hurricane Committee (now the National Hazard Management Council) since its inception in the mid eighties and chaired the committee on many occasions. At the time of Hurricane Ivan, Ebanks not only chaired the National Hurricane Committee, but was also in operational control before, during and after this catastrophic event in Caymans history.

More controversially Ebanks was a member of the oversight committee for Operation Tempura, called the Strategic Oversight Group, the bungled investigation into alleged corruption within the RCIPS by officers from the Metropoitan Police. 

Recently Ebanks, as Deputy Governor, has spearheaded the Review of Public Services which has identified substantial savings in government expenditure. Ebanks has also been instrumental in implementing the new Cayman Islands Constitution and is leading the process for implementing the Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities.

This month (July) Governor Duncan Taylor tasked Ebanks with taking the lead in preparing an urgent response to the auditor general’s damning assessment of the procurement procedure and the concerns of political interference. Taylor said at the time that Ebanks would draw up an action plan to address the shortcomings that had been identified.

His Excellency the Governor, on receiving notice of Ebanks’ retirement stated that he was sorry to see him leave the public service as his local knowledge, experience and advice had been invaluable to him since he had taken over as governor in January 2010. He wished Ebanks a well-earned, long and happy retirement.

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Adam: Gender bill ‘necessary’

| 28/07/2011 | 92 Comments

(CNS): Despite objections by the Chamber of Commerce and the Law Society, the Ministry of Community, Gender Affairs and Housing (CA&H) maintains that the Gender Equality Bill, which it will present during the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly, will pave the way for the Cayman Islands to join the 187 countries around the world that have ratified the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In response to objections by the Chamber, Minister Mike Adam has said that the spirit of the law was to promote non-discriminatory practices, rather than to impose any kind of hiring quotas on businesses, and business owners just have to ensure they do not discriminate.  

A cornerstone of CEDAW is the principle of equality between men and women and as such, it mandates the prohibition of discrimination of the rights of men and women as a step towards equality.

The ministry explained in a release Thursday that the Bill will provide protection from gender discrimination in employment, training, and hiring for both sexes. It also prohibits discrimination on the grounds of marital status and pregnancy. Other provisions stipulate equal pay for equal work, categorise sexual harassment as discrimination, andprovide for equal treatment in related matters such as the provision of goods, services, and facilities.

Minister Mike Adam said officials had noticed that the term ‘gender’ is often incorrectly assumed to mean women, or to reference only women’s issues. Therefore they believed it was important to ensure that protections in the law extended to both men and women.

“For this reason the bill defines gender as ‘the cultural, economic, social and political characteristics, roles and opportunities through which women and men are socially constructed and valued’. It is undeniable that discrimination against women is a feature of the modern Caymanian workplace,” the Minister continued. “Less noted is the kind of discrimination that men face, as an example in terms of the kinds of jobs and other employment opportunities for which they may be considered, or inequitable treatment based upon their marital status.

“Our objective with this Bill is to address and redress the inequalities that so many women face, but also to ensure that in the future there are equal opportunities for our sons, as well as our daughters.”  

He further noted that in 2008 the National Assessment of Living Conditions (NALC) found that women were overrepresented among the poor and underemployed and called for an end to strict classification of jobs by sex.

While the Bill extends to all Cayman Islands employers, including government, it does provide various exemptions for private households, private educational authorities, charities, and religious bodies. It also specifically prohibits discrimination by professional partnerships, employment agencies, training agencies and qualifying or accrediting bodies.

Last week the Chamber of Commerce claimed that the bill was too onerous for business, and together with the Law Society, called on government to withdraw the bill so that amendments could be made to it before it becomes law. The Chamber has said it wants to see the law revised to make it more practical, easier and less costly for employers to implement.

However, Minister Adam explained that the spirit of the law was to promote non-discriminatory practices that lead to equality, rather than to impose any kind of hiring quotas on businesses. Since there is virtually nothing that businesses have to do other than ensure they do not discriminate, there really are no compliance costs.    

Stating that there was also a strong business case for promoting gender equality and diversity in the workplace, he noted that international research showed that companies, and, by extension, wider economies that have a higher percentage of women in the workforce, and as senior decision makers, are more productive and more profitable.

“It has been said many times here that Cayman must compete with the wider world, both for business and for its workforce. My ministry strongly believes that if we are viewed as a jurisdiction that is actively striving towards gender equality, then this law will assist in enhancing our image as an attractive place to work and do business,” he explained. “At the same time, we are aware that it entails a new way of thinking and doing business. As such we are committed to carrying out a wide-ranging public education campaign to ensure that businesses and the public are ready for the new law before it comes into effect.”

The minister adds that an article on the Cayman Islands’ diverse workforce in the most recent Chamber magazine asserts that although the country has a history of prominent women in the workplace, the new legislation will encourage gender diversity, by giving men and women equal opportunities, in all but a few jobs. In addition the publication recognises that diversity in work and social environments is essential to enhancing local quality of life.

“My staff and I have been particularly encouraged to note that the civil society organizations and NGOs that have been commenting on the law in the media concur that gender equality legislation is necessary. “We look forward to working with these groups over the next several months to ensure that the spirit of this law – which we all agree is so important – realizes its full potential during the implementation process,” Adam concluded.

CEDAW is the only core international human rights treaty still to be signed by the Cayman Islands. As such, the United Kingdom, in keeping with its commitment to modernize governance in its Overseas Territories, has for some time actively encouraged the country to adopt the convention.  

The proposed Gender Equality Bill will also further cement the provisions against discrimination contained in the Cayman Islands Bill of Rights which is scheduled to come into effect in November 2012.

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Hospital needs regular blood donors

| 28/07/2011 | 28 Comments

(CNS): The overwhelming response of Cayman residents to an emergency request for blood in June, which helped to save a young man’s life, also points to the need for an improved network of regular donors. An urgent call in June for blood for Stephen Ebanks, who was undergoing emergency surgery for a ruptured spleen, led to almost half the number of donors that usually give in a month donating at the Cayman Islands Blood Bank. The message quickly spread through social media and word of month, leading to long queues of potential donors. Due to the large turnout, staff were actually forced to send some people away, since it was clear they would be getting enough supply.

By the end of the day, 33 units of O positive blood were donated, compared to an average of 70 that the bank receives in a typical month.

According to Judith Clarke, Laboratory Manager at the Health Services Authority, it was hard to accurately gauge the response because not everyone got the chance to donate. “Some prospective donors and regular donors were asked to return for signing up or donating at a later date, thusmaking it difficult to get a correct figure pertaining to the response,” Clarke explained, adding that 18 of the 33 units collected that day came from new donors.

The official number of registered donors, as of the beginning of this year, is 1,116, which would be acceptable for developing countries whose requirement is 1% of the population, but short of Cayman’s needs. Clarke said that for Cayman, the World Health Organization sets a target of 5% of the population, or about 2,700 registered donors.

On World Blood Donor Day on 14 June, only 11 people donated – four of them new – and that was celebrated fewer than two weeks after the emergency call for blood. “World Blood Donor Day is really to thank voluntary unpaid donors for their life-saving contribution. The emphasis is usually on saying thank you, but a few organizations might choose to lend their support by organizing a blood drive,” Clarke said.

World Blood Donor Day fell on a holiday last year and on a weekend in 2008 and 2009, but in 2007, there were seven donors, four of whom were new.

At the moment, there is no immediate shortfall of blood, though in general AB negative is the rarest type, with O positive the most common, at 50.5% of the donor population in Cayman, said Clarke.

“But donors of all blood type are always encouraged to sign up,” she said, calling on people in Cayman to come forward as regular donors. “Without your donation, in the event of an emergency, there will not be safe, fully screened blood ready for use. You can make a difference between life and death.”

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Model Workshop & Casting Call

| 28/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Fashion aficionados and would-be models have just two more weeks until the Cayman Fashion Solstice 3-day workshop. Produced by Guavaberry Marketing, “The Making of a Fashion Model”, which runs from 15 to 17 August, is not just for models, both male and female, but is for anyone interested in the fashion industry and how it works — models, photographers, make-up artists and stylists and generally anyone interested in working or understanding the industry. Models come in all shapes, sizes and ages — Print, Runway, Magazine, Fashion, Glamour, Petite and Plus-size modeling –and the workshop will help them to understand their potential, how the industry works and how to get access to their dreams.

At the “Making of a Fashion Model” workshop, persons interested in modeling will get the opportunity to work with top stylists, photographers, modeling agency’s representatives and runway coaches within the international fashion industry.  

“The workshop idea came as a direct request from the public based on the success of the 2011 Solstice event and the need for formal training of our local models” said Cindy Rosan-Jones, Managing Director for Guavaberry and producer of Cayman Fashion Solstice. Some of the classes scheduled for the workshop include: runway training, working with a photographer, go-sees & casting, grooming and healthy dieting and exercise and proper make-up application.

The cost of the workshop is CI$175. Registration information can be picked up at Guavaberry Marketing (#210 Regency Court, above Havana Club).

The climax of the workshop will see the annual Casting Call for this year’s Cayman Fashion Solstice event.  At the Casting Call, male and female models have an opportunity to present themselves as potential models for the show.  The Casting Call is scheduled for August 17th at Royal Palms, poolside.  The Model Workshop will be extremely helpful to hopeful models who wish to share the runway with the international models at the 2011 event.

Requirements ask that girls be 5’8 and taller and guys be 5’11 – 6’2. The age range for girlsis 16-28 and for males 17-28. Participants under 18 will need their parents’ permission.
 
For more information view the Facebook Event “Cayman Fashion Solstice Casting Call” or email info@caymanfashionsolstice.com or you may visit us on www.caymanfashionsolstice.com.

The Casting Call is an open event and absolutely free and all are encouraged to come out and take part or just come and support Cayman’s potential models. 

“The Casting Call is an opportunity for our local models to come and try out for an opportunity to take part in the 2011 Solstice event.  Taking part in the workshop is so important to helping you secure a position as you undergo a lot of training valuable to your career and how to present yourself at such opportunities” said Jones.

She went on to say that the Casting Call is absolutely free to attend and potential models and the general public as well are invited to be there.

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MOU on Cayman’s Future

| 28/07/2011 | 36 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government and the Chamber of Commerce have signed a memorandum of understanding to support the Future of Cayman economic development initiative. Implemented by the Chamber, the initiative is a public-private partnership aimed at improving both the quality of life and the economic environment. At a briefing Wednesday at which Chamber CEO Wil Pineau outlined the initiative, Premier McKeeva Bush told government and business leaders that the Future of Cayman was especially important in the context of the new world order. (Left: Premier McKeeva Bush and Chamber President-elect David Kirkaldy)

“Without a vision for the future by which we can navigate through uncharted economic waters we may very well meander aimlessly,” Bush said. “Through the private and public sector partnership created in the Future of Cayman forum, we can work together to a Cayman Islands that fosters a superior quality of life and prosperity for the generations that follow us.”

Since the first forum in November 2010, a steering committee comprising representatives from the public and private sectors identified five key drivers necessary for economic development and sustainability, and how to achieve them: develop talent, create a business-friendly climate, diversify the economy, enhance quality of life and build a smarter infrastructure.

Bush said that through these drivers Cayman can develop a sustainable 21st century economy. “We cannot do that by sitting down and doing nothing,” he said, adding that challenges shouldn’t prevent action.

“The alternative is to stagnate and that to me is no alternative at all.” If similar economic crises affect the world in the future, he said,  “I am determined … that our islands will be able to withstand the kind of negative impact that affects us today because we took these steps to plan to bring in investment to our shores.”

Pineau outlined how the Future of Cayman initiative was developed and the way forward. “We are trying to promote this initiative and get people involved in the process,” he said, explaining that there are sign-up sheets for the various subcommittees and that co-chairs will be actioning items under each driver.

In addition, the just-launched Future of Cayman website will enable users to monitor the progress of the initiative, access a social network link to follow developments and allow organizations to endorse the plan.

Pineau stressed that the website will only offer good news. “It is intended to be a positive website that’s going to promote Cayman positively to the world. We see a lot of blogs out in Cayman and a lot of sites that are very negative about Cayman.This site is intended to be positive. It’s going to celebrate our diversity. It’s going to celebrate our infrastructure. It’s going to promote us as a people and a reason why people want to invest in this country. It will not include negative blogs and write-ups which really do nothing to raise up this country.”

However, he added, “We will have a blog but it will be monitored by our office.”

Among the points agreed toin the MOU, government and the chamber will increase awareness, participation and support of the initiative; promote and endorse the initiative in public addresses; and improve the quality, timeliness and simplicity of public-private sector communications.

Bush warned those gathered that unless people wanted to return to life in the ‘40s. ‘50s and ‘60s where there was little education, too many mosquitoes and wealth in the hands of a few, “we can take the steps to do something or we can listen to the radio shows and do nothing. And talk and criticize and do nothing.

“Not me. If the Cayman Islands are to have a bright future then we must open our minds and our hearts to accept change and have people from outside who can work with us for our best interest…Those who go about promoting an ‘us and them’ mentality should be ignored. We must find the common ground and reach out to each other to build an island home that is vibrant, dynamic and full of opportunity for its people.

The premier added: “If you remember nothing else that I say today, remember that change we must if we are going to survive. The world is not waiting on us, no matter how grand we feel we are. The world is not going to wait.”

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New York kids get a breath of fresh Caribbean air

| 28/07/2011 | 5 Comments

(CNS): Ten youngsters from the Big Apple are enjoying a week in Grand Cayman thanks to an independent non-profit organisation that provides children from New York City with free summer vacations that will enable them to experience new environments and cultures. The Fresh Air Fund (FAF) kids arrived on Grand Cayman Monday 25 July and are staying with host families on the island. Before they leave on Sunday they will be visiting various tourist attractions and will be involved in various activities. The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and Cayman Airways partnered with FAF in 2007, with the goal of supporting a charity that Caymanians could have an affiliation with. 

In 2010, FAF hosted five Caymanian children between ages 10 and 12 at their camps in Fishkill, New York. The kids were selected on the basis of good academic achievement, involvement in extra-curricular activities in their schools and communities, along with positive attitude and willingness to apply themselves.

During their trip on Grand Cayman, the FAF kids group have learnt about the local environment at the Ambassadors of the Environment programme at the Grand Cayman Ritz-Carlton Hotel and toured the Stingray Sandbar. On 27 July the group attended a presentation by Cayman Traditional Arts, toured the Cayman Turtle Farm and visited the Black Pearl Skate Park.

The rest of the week will be filled with a tour Pedro St. James Castle, a visit to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and Blue Iguana Sanctuary, a presentation by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, a tour the Cayman Islands National Museum, plus a tour on the Atlantis Submarine, followed by a farewell dinner at the Wharf Restaurant.

 

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Emerald Sound development

| 28/07/2011 | 56 Comments

When the PPM were the elected government in 2007 the proposed Emerald Sound development complete with canals, relocation of the South Sound Road, dredging of the marine replenishment zone in the South Sound, and development of single family homes and apartments was proposed and a meeting was held in the South Sound community center at which Mr Burns Connolly gave an outline of the proposal.

The meeting was attended by about 80 concerned residents many of whom spoke passionately against this proposal objecting to the whole concept of a canal that would breach the natural storm ridges along South Sound and leave both the inland residents and the marine environment in South Sound vulnerable to flooding and pollution.

Since then Caymanian residents island wide have continued their objections stating many reasons for these objections. These reasons have been recently outlined in the DoE report of July 2011, in letters to the CPA, letters to the newspaper and concerned residents voicing their objections on the radio.

These reasons include but are not limited to:

  • Risk of flooding
  • Damage to the marine replenishment zone
  • Pollution of the South Sound water with swamp water and sewage flowing into South Sound
  • The setting of a dangerous precedent
  • The moving of scenic coastline road solely for a developers benefit
  • No benefit to the Cayman Islands except the very short term gain
  • Concerns about water circulation and waste management, with particular reference to the outflows and problems in Randyke Gardens
  • The inability of all professionals consulted to date to come up with a consistent view of the the true impact a development of this sort would have on the land and marine environment
  • Loss of property value for current property owners
  • Lossof the use of South Sound for all who swim, fish or just enjoy the unpolluted beauty of the waters
  • Lack of a cost benefit analysis to establish net benefit to the country as a whole

It appears that our objections are not being listened to. This is borne out by the fact that the CPA has chosen not to change the date of the hearing for this proposal despite repeated requests by the objectors asking for a date only four weeks later than the August 3rd hearing in order to allow for people away on vacation to be present. Surely in a democracy all sides should have the chance for a fair hearing. As it stands the CPA is clearly favoring the developer by refusing to change the hearing date so that more concerned people can attend.

Please listen to your concerned people, please listen to your elders who have already objected to this, please do not ignore the need for democracy and a free and open hearing for all concerned.

There is a public meeting Thursday evening (28 July) at 7pm at the South Sound Community Centre to discuss the Emerald Sound Development.

 

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Deputy premier in London

| 28/07/2011 | 42 Comments

(CNS): With Premier McKeeva Bush just back from British Virgin Islands, where he attended the 2011 Pre-Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC) meeting, CNS has learned that Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly is also on another overseas trip, this time to the UK, where she is attending the 57th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in London, which started on 21 July and ends tomorrow, 28 July. However, there has been no release from government with details about the trip, such as who is accompanying her or if her itinerary includes stops to any other countries. The official opening took place on Day 5 of the conference (Monday 25 July) by Princess Anne at Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament.

According to the UK parliament website, more than 600 foreign dignitaries from 170 national, state, provincial and territorial parliaments attended the ceremony, where HRH The Princess Royal read a message from the Queen, “welcoming the delegates of so many parliaments and the significance of the theme of the conference ‘Reinforcing Democracy’.”

While the deputy premier’s itinerary at the conference is unknown, there was an opportunity to attend a session which focussed on discussions about nurturing democracies, youth leadership and citizen involvement, which raised the idea that small nations should consider putting a compulsory service limit on their politicians to encourage young blood and a greater turnaround of representatives.

Maldives delegate, Dr Abdulla Mausoom, said “mature” politicians were stultifying parliaments at the expense of young people with fresh ideas and should be only allowed to serve a set number of terms. “Without voluntary retirement of mature politicians there will be no seats for youth,” he said, adding that it would also open greater opportunities to encourage women to participate and win seats in parliaments. We see it in the United States where thePresident can only serve two terms and we see governments overturned after a period in office because they become stale. Politicians should be the same.”

Dr Mausoom said that while youth leadership training is a “buzz topic” placed on the agenda of many democratic debates, including within the Commonwealth, it leads nowhere if parliaments cannot be refreshed regularly. “The political stage does not welcome them. Young people don’t have the resources, political backing or finance to compete with mature [politicians].”

The CPA contributes to the flight costs of delegates based on the cheapest, most direct and economical return fare available. The CPA UK is also paying for basic single occupancy bed and breakfast at the newly opened and state-of-the-art Park Plaza Westminster Bridge for delegates for the duration of the conference when the delegates attendance is necessary.

 

15-year-old CNS summer intern Joshua Dilbert contributed to this article.

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