Archive for November 1st, 2011

Prince Charles gets secret veto on public policy

| 01/11/2011 | 0 Comments

(Guardian): Ministers have been forced to seekpermission from Prince Charles to pass at least a dozen government bills, according to a Guardian investigation into a secretive constitutional loophole that gives him the right to veto legislation that might affect his private interests. Since 2005, ministers from six departments have sought the Prince of Wales' consent to draft bills on everything from road safety to gambling and the London Olympics, in an arrangement described by constitutional lawyers as a royal "nuclear deterrent" over public policy.

Unlike royal assent to bills, which is exercised by the Queen as a matter of constitutional law, the prince's power applies when a new bill might affect his own interests, in particular the Duchy of Cornwall, a private £700m property empire that last year provided him with an £18m income.

Neither the government nor Clarence House will reveal what, if any, alterations to legislation Charles has requested, or exactly why he was asked to grant consent to such a wide range of laws.

Correspondence seen by the Guardian reveals that one minister wrote to the prince's office requesting his consent to a new bill about planning reform because it was "capable of applying to … [the] Prince of Wales' private interests".

In the last two parliamentary sessions Charles has been asked to consent to draft bills on wreck removals and co-operative societies, a freedom of information request to the House of Commons has revealed. Between 2007-09 he was consulted on bills relating to coroners, economic development and construction, marine and coastal access, housing and regeneration, energy and planning.

MPs and peers called for the immediate publication of details about the application of the prince's powers which have fuelled concern over his alleged meddling in British politics.

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Industry keen to play part in new tourism school

| 01/11/2011 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Following the premier’s announcement in the Legislative Assembly in September that government will be establishing a hospitality school the private sector has put in place plans to develop its own education and training committee through the Cayman Islands Tourism Association. The association anticipates working in tandem with government to ensure the school fits the needs of the industry. Trina Christian-Savage, Executive Director with the CITA said the association is currently forming an education and training committee headed by Ritz-Carlton General Manager Mark Langevin and Marriott Beach Resort General Manager Enrique Tasende.

“We have just redefined the mandate for the committee,” she stated. “The new education and training committee will provide guidance to the government with regard to the development of policy as it related to training and education within the tourism industry.”
Christian-Savage said it was important that the private sector be part of the process and provide input along the way, becoming involved in issues such as when the ideal time is for a young person to be exposed to the industry.

“We feel it is important to get young people involved as young as possible. The earlier they gain exposure the earlier they may realise that this is an industry for them. In this way we can find those passionate students who would be well-fitted to a career in tourism,” she said, adding that the sector hoped the school will provide students with the tools that fit the industry.

West Bay MLA, Cline Glidden said government had planned to work closely with the private sector. “In terms of the practical elements of the courses, government also intends to extend the partnership to include hotels and restaurants that would be willing and able to offer a learning environment in support of this programme. I am confident that at the appropriate time the private sector will step up in this regard and we look forward to working with them to turning this long awaited initiative into a reality,” he said.

In his recent announcement to the Legislative Assembly Bush stated that the hospitality school was long overdue and the tourism department was working with UCCI and members of the private sector to put plans in place to get it established. He also revealed that it would be utilising Treasure Island as the main location for practical training.

Explaining the details of how the school would work, Gina Matthews from the Department of Tourism said themission of the hospitality school was to provide technical training at an international certification level for career opportunities in the hospitality industry. 

The school will be implemented in two phases over 7 years.  The first phase (1-3 years) would offer a City and Guild certification and associate degree programme with international partners such as Cornell University and Johnson and Wales, offering accredited certification for skilled level and associate degree programmes in the areas such as food preparation, food and beverage, front office operations and spa services.

The second phase would establish degree programmes (3-7 years) and identify new core areas of study, such as for careers as a rooms division manager, Maître D, spa director and watersports/dive instructor.

It is also anticipated during this second phase of development that the school would identify partnerships with international universities for Bachelor degree programmes. It would also partner with Ministry of Tourism scholarship programme as a means of financial support for students as well as attract international students to enrol in the UCCI hospitality school.

Matthews explained that an advisory council will be appointed for the hospitality school to assist with the administration and to ensure the school achieves its overall mission and objectives. Its membership will be made up of individuals from the UCCI, the government (Tourism and Immigration departments), the Chamber of Commerce, private sector members from restaurants and accommodation as well as a representative from the financial services sector.

See related story Tourism school planned for local and foreign students


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Premier’s office confirms trip to China

| 01/11/2011 | 39 Comments

(CNS): The premier’s press office issued a release on Monday confirming that McKeeva Bush has led a delegation to China. The office said that the group had gone to the Far East to present the Cayman Islands business case “to top financial intermediaries and high net worth individuals” at a special conference there. It was described as a “private event” involving guest speakers and panellists from prominent private sector firms as part of the China Offshore Summit in Shanghai on the 26 and 27 October. As well as government officials the delegation included representatives from Ogier, Maples and Calder, Walkers Global, Ernst & Young, PricewaterouseCoopers , dms Management and others.

“They offered strong validation for the country’s leadership position in the financial services sector and explained why Cayman structures are so highly sought after,” the premier’s press office stated.

According to the release, the presentation was part of a conference organised “to educate investment advisors, venture capitalists, private equity firms and other financial institutions on the ways they can benefit from the unique asset management and corporate product offerings available in leading offshore financial centres,” and attracted over 500 delegates across both days.

The Cayman Islands’ function was, the premier’s office said, “the most subscribed segment of the private event” and included updates relating to Cayman’s General Registry and its ability to now register companies in a foreign script which was said to be well received. Cayman officials also dealt with inquiries regarding requirements for establishing what the premier has often termed “a physical presence” here in Cayman.

“It was noted that this type of investment decision was becomingly increasingly attractive as Chinese tax authorities are moving towards a regime that promotes more substance over form,” the release stated.

Bush was reportedly pleased with the positive response to the Cayman Islands’ presence at the conference.

“China’s aggressive growth rate has been nothing short of impressive,” the premier said. “Its foreign exchange reserves grew by over 2 trillion from 2006 to 2010, hitting the $3.2 trillion mark by the third quarter of 2011. This means its capital build up continues to surpass expectations.”

Although the exact numbers on the visit to Shanghai which has included other stops have not been revealed the premier justified his latest travels because of possible investment opportunities.

“We made this trip because the country represents such a compelling case of increased business potential it simply cannot be ignored,” he stated.

The overseas mission has also included a meeting with China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd, the company currently in talks to construct Cayman’s proposed cruise berthing facilities, to view its capabilities firsthand. The premier’s office stated that the delegation was also making preliminary investigations to determine the feasibility of establishing a Cayman office in mainland China.

“There has been mounting evidence to suggest that companies are bypassing Hong Kong and making a direct move into China and with Shanghai being the commercial capital, it was important to assess the possibilities while there,” the release stated.
The final leg of the trip will involve meetings with private sector firms in Hong Kong,the office added, to provide updates on current and pending changes to financial service legislation and to get feedback on what the jurisdiction can do to further support the industry and facilitate growth.

The premier’s office said that there was “resurging acknowledgement in business circles that evoking the personal touch when conducting business is vital to success despite the numerous advances in technology that have enhanced global communications,” as it sought to further justify the trip.

The premier’s office added that the presence made the jurisdiction “tangible” to investors and face-to-face contact “builds trust and familiarity” which were described as important to working relationships. Conference organisers and attendees said the premier's presence lent “substantial emphasis” to efforts to attract investment, the office indicated.

Other jurisdictions in attendance at the Shanghai offshore business conference included the Isle of Man, The Bahamas, Belize and the Cook Islands.

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