Archive for November 24th, 2011

Immigration reveals key statistics

| 24/11/2011 | 42 Comments

aDSC_3385 (261x300).jpg(CNS):  One hundred and sixty- four people have been approved as key employees this year, while 96 have been turned down, according to the latest figures published by the immigration department in an effort to be as transparent as possible. Despite remaining the largest group of workers, only 18% of workers designated key are Jamaican, with the largest group of key employees being British at 20% and more than half of all key employee are in professional or management jobs. There were 19,691 work permit holders in Cayman in September, only slightly higher than the 19,058 foreign workers on island before Hurricane Ivan seven years earlier.

The report also says that there are currently 1,176 people waiting permanent residency applications or an appeal and that the department collected over $70 million in revenue.

The Immigration Department has published the first of what will be on-going detailed statistical reports about its complex work, heralding a new era of transparency in anticipation of its significant FOI requests, the department has said.

The report reveals an array of statistics and data, including the 7,357 annual work permit applications processed so far this year and another 8,398 temporary ones. It also shows that there are 911 non-Caymanians working for government and that while well over 7,199 Jamaicans still make up the largest group of permit holders, at 2572 workers from the Philippines are the second largest group and the British the third with 1,719 permit holders.

The 53-page report gives statistics on border control and visas as well as the work of the immigration staff that has handled 7,000 people and answered well over 30,000 calls so far this year at the Elgin Road office. Their colleagues at the airport have processed 697,427 air travellers and the passport of office issued 3,020 Cayman Islands passports and 4,461 visa-waivers.

“It is one of my key objectives to try to be as transparent as possible about what we do and as our department receives a substantive number of Freedom of Information (FOI) request these statistics will prove helpful going forward,” Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans said.  “We also hope to expand the number of statistics we can make available.”

Commending her officers and administrative staff for the workload they undertake she said, “It is evident that my staff is processing and producing an inordinate amount of transactions of various types. I thank them, and their dedication to their tasks is matched by my own commitment to keep them motivated to continue offering excellent service.”

See the complete document on the website www.immigration.gov.ky or posted below.

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UK wants territories to be proud of being British

| 24/11/2011 | 39 Comments

6394875469_f5ab3a0583_o (234x300).jpg(CNS): The UK government ‘s vision for its Overseas Territories is for vibrant communities “proudly retaining aspects of their British identity” the FCO minister with responsibility for the territories said at the close of this year’s OTCC. Henry Bellingham the Conservative minister who hosted the Council in London said the coalition government had made good progress this year in developing its approach to the OTs stating that the UK was investing heavily in the Territories that need the most assistance and was working on restoring the principles of good governance and sound financial management to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“This government has a clear vision for our overseas territories to be vibrant and flourishing communities, proudly retaining aspects of their British identity and generating wider opportunities for their people,” Bellingham said in an FCO release. “I had bilateral meetings with the Territory leaders on Tuesday and chaired my second Overseas Territories Consultative Council on Wednesday and Thursday. I was pleased to welcome over 250 guests to a reception that I hosted in honour of Territory leaders. Our discussions at the Consultative Council have been wide-ranging and constructive.”

He said that the global economic challenges and how the UK and territories are taking action to strengthen public financial management and diversify economic development were topics of discussion during the two day event.
There were also discussions on the new Overseas Territories strategy and forthcoming White Paper, as well as sessions on aviation safety; financial regulation, financial crime and taxation.

“We also discussed with Territory leaders ways in which we can build a stronger partnership, including by enabling the Territories to access UK public sector expertise and training – especially through secondments; and by strengthening links and engagement with the Commonwealth and EU,” he added.

Bellingham said that nine of his colleagues from across the government also attend the council which he described as a “clear demonstration that the UK government as a whole is supporting the territories,” and it wasn’t just an FCO issue. “We will continue to work closely with the territories as we prepare for the publication of our White Paper on the Territories next year.”

According to the FCO release the leaders of the Overseas Territories present, which included the Cayman Islands premier, had welcomed the inclusion of other UK Government Departments in the consultations and expressed appreciation for the support they offered, “especially in these difficult economic times.”

The council was opened by the British government’s foreign secretary William Hague who said that the Overseas Territories are a priority for the UK Government

“My Ministerial team in the FCO and my colleagues across other Government departments will work tirelessly to ensure that our partnership promotes the best interest of all our citizens and a bright and successful future for the Overseas Territories,” Hague said.

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Shetty buys land for hospital

| 24/11/2011 | 37 Comments

shetty 2_3.jpg(CNS): Despite widespread speculation that Dr Devi Shetty’s plans to build a health city in Cayman were on hold, the internationally renowned surgeon has completed the purchase of 200 acres, according to his local project director, signaling that the project is still on track. Gene Thompson said the documents have been signed and the Indian doctor has bought 200 acres of land at High Rock in East End from land owner Joseph Imparato for the future Narayana hospital. The local representative also revealed that Imparato will be involved in developing the supporting elements of the planned site.

“This is a large step forward for the project,” Thompson said regarding the completed land transaction. “We are beginning our survey work as well as the initial mechanical design work, which will include energy-efficient technology throughout.”

The High Rock land was recently earmarked to become a commercial seaport but when the proposal failed to gain local support, Imparato revealed that he would be willing to sell the land to Shetty for his health project. In total Imparato owns around 600 acres in the area, which is one the highest elevated sites on Grand Cayman offering natural protection against flooding and storm surges.

Under this deal the doctor has acquired only a third of the land but Thompson said he has an option to purchase more as needs demand.

Imparato will serve as co-developer of the overall site with Dr Shetty, Thompson revealed. City Services (Cayman) Ltd, which is Imparato’s firm, will be working in conjunction with the heart surgeon and his team on site preparation and the long-term development of the project.

Although City Services will not construct the buildings that will actually make up the medical complex, Imparato said, it will participate in developing support facilities, such as hotels and residential accommodations.

City Services is working closely with Dr Shetty’s Cayman team on a master plan for the project to ensure an integrated, attractive and well-coordinated healthcare community, according to a release from Shetty’s spokesperson.

Shetty’s plans to kick start medical tourism in the Cayman Islands have been on the drawing board for more than two years. The doctor signed an official MOU with the local government in April 2010 requiring a number of legislative changes in order to facilitate his vision for the health city in exchange for the investment.

Government has since passed the health practitioners bill and a medical compensation law to limit damages in order to help Shetty keep insurance costs down and in turn the cost of the health care to be provided at the facility. The land purchase is the first major commitment on Shetty’s part, demonstrating that the planned hospital could become a reality.

The first phase is expected to be a small hospital but over the next 10 to 15 years Shetty has said he plans to roll out other elements, including a tertiary-care hospital, an educational facility, an assisted-care community and a biotech research center.

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Fugitive now wanted for burglary

| 24/11/2011 | 4 Comments

Charlton EBANKS (240x300).jpg(CNS): Police said Thursday that they are still on the hunt for twenty one-year-old Charlton Ebanks (left) who escaped from the Cayman Islands hospital while under police guard last week. Since Ebanks went on the run detectives said that he is now wanted in connection with a string of burglaries. Police said the burglaries occurred in the days before he was arrested and since his arrest, and subsequent escape, information has come to the attention of investigating officers that makes the fugitive a suspect in these crimes that took place in both the George Town  and Snug Harbour areas.

Ebanks, who was arrested on Wednesday 16 November in connection with a road-traffic offence and an outstanding warrant, escaped from his police guard at the hospital on the morning of Thursday 17 November. Despite extensive enquiries with his friends and family there is still no trace of Ebank, an RCIPS spokesperson said as the hunt continues.

Police said last week that the circumstances of his escape were also under investigation but no details have yet been revealed on how Ebanks managed to get away from his law enforcement guards.

The fugitive is described as being 5’ 11’ in height with brown eyes, dark complexion, black hair and of slim build, is not believed to be a danger to the public. However, anyone who sees this man or knows of his present whereabouts is urged to contact their nearest police station.

Anyone with any information about his present whereabouts is asked to contact their nearest police station or the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777.

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Air tax unfair to Cayman, Bush tells UK

| 24/11/2011 | 0 Comments

6390942783_1122abf0dc_o (209x300).jpg(CNS Business): In the face of an expected hike in the UK’s Air Passenger Duty, Premier McKeeva Bush has sent a last-minute plea to the British Chancellor George Osborne to think about the unfair discrimination the tax brings to the people of the Caribbean and Overseas Territories. Bush acknowledged that it was very late in the game for asking for furtherconsideration on the Air Passenger Duty amendments, as the consultative period had already closed and the Chancellor was about to make his decision on the increase. Nevertheless, Bush stated that he was compelled to write to Osborne to point out crucial areas of concern to the Cayman Islands government and its people. Read more on CNS Business

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Cops crack down with operation Christmas cracker

| 24/11/2011 | 12 Comments

_DEW3815-web.jpg(CNS): The seasonal police road safety initiative codenamed Operation Christmas Cracker begins on Monday, 28 November and has a wider remit this year. Senior RCIPS officers said that last year the disregard by road users for safety during the Christmas holiday period fuelled some of the new safety measures that have now been included in the Traffic Law passed by in the Legislative Assembly last week and expected to come into force by January. The police are also encouraging everyone who drives and has a phone to but a hands free set at the top of the Christmas wish list in preparation for the law’s enforcement. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

“Last year we were so disappointed by the blatant disregard that people showed for safety on our roads that we called for a multi-agency national road safety strategy to be developed,” said Superintendent Adrian Seales.

“Since then the working group has worked closely with Government and we’re pleased to say that many of the recommendations we made to make Cayman’s roads safer have been passed in the new Traffic Law. We’re particularly delighted that the cell phone driving epidemic is being addresses. That’s why we are calling for people to be responsible and use Christmas as an opportunity to give a gift that could save a life this year.”

Outlining the plans for the holiday safety campaign, Seales said that all aspects of safety and security will be addressed.

“People are well used to us launching our festive road safety initiative in November,” he said. “But this year we’re taking a slightly different approach. Road safety will still be pivotal to the campaign, but we will also be looking at personal safety, home and business security and safety at sea.

“It’s a much more rounded campaign where, through our programme of education and enforcement , we hope to reduce the opportunities for criminality and make people much more aware of the role they can play in making the Cayman Islands’ festive season a safe and crime free one for everyone.”

Chief Inspector Angelique Howell, the operational commander of the initiative said that throughout the five week period safety and security will be actively targeted every day and night. “Each week of the campaign will have a dedicated theme where we will raise awareness of the simple steps people can take to stay safe,” Howell said.

“The first week of the campaign sees road safety at the forefront and we will be out in force getting the safe driving and don’t drink and drive messages out there. High visibility patrols and road checks will be commonplace. These checks not only help us to detect offences, they also give us another opportunity to search for illegal drugs, guns and other weapons.”

Operation Christmas Cracker will run from Monday, 28 November until Wednesday
 

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No charges as UK cops leave

| 24/11/2011 | 35 Comments

_DEW9181.jpg(CNS): The police commissioner has confirmed that twelve of the UK officers who came to assist the RCIPS in the wake of five murders in just over a week in September have already left Cayman. As the officers go home following the end of their six week term agreed with the forces in the north west of England there have been no further charges in the gang related shootings. David Baines said that they had, however, helped to speed up lines of enquiry, eliminated some and focused attention on others. Since the spate of gang violence the police have arrested three men. One was charged with the murder of Asher McGaw in East End but two others arrested for the killing of Andrew Baptist have been released on police bail. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Although most of the officers had left Cayman by Wednesday, Baines said that eight officers will remain in Cayman until 10 December to allow them to complete the specific actions that they have been involved in.

"The further period of their deployment has arisen due to the continuing lines of enquiry that have been revealed and progressed jointly with the RCIPS detectives,” the commissioner said. “Their efforts have complimented and supported their RCIPS colleagues, with whom an obvious camaraderie and professional rapport has been established, with each benefiting from their collective effort, sharing of experiences and training.”

The deployment was always intended to be only a temporary situation to assist local officers in the early stages of the investigation with the workload and not to take over the enquiries.

"The injection of experienced detectives to an overstretched investigation team, faced with five murders simultaneously, has enabled all lines of enquiry to be progressed expeditiously, some to be eliminated quickly and others to be the focus of our attentions,” Baines said.

The commissioner thanked the forces and officers involved for the assistance provided to local RCIPS officers which he said had “worked and continue to work unstintingly to bring those responsible for the violence to justice,” he added.

Since the UK officers arrived in October the RCIPS have also arrested one man for the murder of Kerran Baker, a 25-year-old Jamaican dental practice nurse who went missing in July. The man was arrested last Thursday but no charges have yet been brought in what is now believed tobe the first murder of 2011.

The gang related violence began in West Bay on the night of 13 September when Robert Bush (28) was shot in the head by at least two gun men while sitting in a blue Honda civic at the junction of Capts Joe and Osbert Road in the Birch Tree Hill.  Less than 48 hours later Andrew Baptist (24) was shot multiple times by two masked gunmen while he was sitting in a yard in Sand Hole Road. Then Preston Rivers was also gunned down by masked men in Anderson Road in the district on Saturday 17 September.

The next two victims were shot while sitting in a van in the Crewe Road area teenager Jason Christian who was shot in the head and body was killed at the scene while his friend Keith Montague survived multiple gunshot wounds and was able to stagger to a nearby police patrol car for assistance. 

Asher McGaw (21) who was gunned down in East End as he walked along John McLean Drive was dead when an police patrol car found him in the early hours of Thursday 21 September the last of the victims in the spate of gun violence. Police charged 18-year-old Chakame Jamelle Scott who was arrested before the arrival of the UK officers with McGaw’s murder in October. Two suspects were arrested by police in targeted operations in West Bay and Newlands on 2 November but both men have since been released on police bail.

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Diver dies near Kittiwake site in West Bay

| 24/11/2011 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Police have confirmed that a 54 year old diver was pronounced dead yesterday afternoon at the Cayman Islands hospital. Emergency services received a report at around 3:25 pm on Wednesday afternoon that  John O’Sullivan, of Laporte, Texas, who had been pulled from the water was unconscious and had been taken aboard the vessel Cayman Sky, which was in the vicinity of the Kittiwake Dive Site. The Texan diver who was visiting the Cayman Islands was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Detectives from West Bay CID have started an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death.

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Dart in talks over golf course with Ryan

| 24/11/2011 | 0 Comments

golf north sound.jpg(CNS Business): Dart Enterprises, the Cayman Islands’ largest developer, has not confirmed signing any deals with the Ritz Carlton’s developer over the future of the North Sound golf course but the firm has admitted to being in talks with Michael Ryan about investing in the facility. Mark VanDevelde, CEO of Dart Enterprises, said that the developer recognized that golf facilities were “very important, if not a necessity, to a tourism destination” and said they wanted to provide visitors and future home owners with a course. But the CEO pointed out the economic issues for a small jurisdiction where it would be difficult to make a golf course profitable. Read more on CNS Business

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Trouble over trash

| 24/11/2011 | 54 Comments

The Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free is again asking the government to unconditionally cancel the agreement with Dart to move the George Town garbage dump to Bodden Town.  For Dart, moving the dump means that they can further extend Camana Bay and develop their “Future Residential Area”, which faces the present dump.  But a new dump would threaten the integrity of historic Bodden Town, challenge an already inadequate infrastructure, and threaten the central wetlands.

The Dart public relations machine is trying to mislead us into believing that the dump must be moved.  This is not true!  What is true, as repeatedly made clear by Dart, is that once they hand the new site over to the government, they’ll have absolutely nothing to do with its management or the operation of any recycling facility, leaving this to the same governments which have grossly mismanaged the present dump.  We urgently call on the Government to do what’s best for the people of Bodden Town, and not what’s best for the profits of a private company.

Selecting Bodden Town as the site of a new garbage dump ignores all common sense precautions and considerations:

Dumps should be located in an industrial area, like the present site — not in a residential or farm area. The agreement would require the rezoning of Midland Acres;

A dump should be located as close as possible to the source of the waste (George Town, West Bay and Seven Mile Beach), and the present site is ideally located;

A dump should be as close as possible to major transportation links (air, ship, highway), as is the present dump in George Town;

The site should have immediate access to a major roadway, and the George Town dump borders on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway;

A dump should never be near nature and animal preserves, but Meagre Bay Pond, one of the island’s key bird sanctuaries, is less than 1500 feet from Midland Acres;

Areas of cultural and historic value should be avoided.  Bodden Town is the original capital of the Cayman Islands, and home to Pedro Castle, the Mission House, Gun Square, Slaves Wall, the Guardhouse, and several historic homes;

Wide open areas vulnerable to natural disasters (like hurricanes) are to be avoided.  Imagine how far afield the garbage from Midland Acres would have been after Hurricane Ivan;

For both supply and possible resale of recycled power, a dump should be as close as possible to the energysource, and the present site is about 1500’ from CUC;

A dump should be as close as possible to the public sewage network, and the sewage plant is next door to the George Town dump;

More importantly, a dump should be located where property owners and residents have prior knowledge of the proximity of a waste disposal facility;

At the very least, the population of Bodden Town should be asked for their prior consent – and no such consultation seems forthcoming;

But, the cardinal rule is never relocate a dump, don’t contaminate a new site, exhaust all conceivable avenues allowing the dump to remain where it is; any new and improved waste management technology touted for a new site should be implemented (and tested, risk-free) at the existing site.

Relocating the dump to Bodden Town makes no sense at all.  In fact, among the countless solutions put forward since the dump in George Town was established in 1983, moving the dump anywhere was never proposed by anyone – not until Dart wanted the George Town dump removed from sight and smell of Camana Bay. 

No one ever claimed that the present dump had to be moved until the idea was floated last year by a group called WISE, claiming to be a “non-profit advocacy group”.  According to the Caymanian Compass of October 4th 2010, the group admits that its proposal was based on “research” it commissioned from Apec Consulting Engineers Ltd., and Apec’s major client is Dart and Camana Bay.  One of the key WISE spokespersons is Pilar Bush, head of AtWater Consulting and a paid spokeswoman for Dart and Camana Bay. 

This group may be “non-profit”, but we suspect that it’s far from objective – that the “need” to move the dump is pure fiction invented by the Dart PR machine.  And, cynically calling the proposed Bodden Town garbage dump an “Eco Park” is another PR trick, like calling a cemetery an amusement park.

In October 2010, the Government invited tenders to redevelop the GT landfill and create a waste-to-energy facility.  Proposals were specifically limited to dealing with the landfill on the current site.  It is understood that the only proposal to move the dump to Bodden Town, submitted by Decco, Dart’s construction company, ended up in 6th or 7th place, and did not even make the Central Tenders Committee’s “short list”. 

It did not meet the parametres of the Request for Proposals, and there were “concerns about the potential environmental impact of locating a new dump in the central wetlands area”.

The tenders procedure ended with the government announcing in December that the winning bid was submitted by Wheelabrator Technologies to build and operate a hi-tech waste-to-energy facility on the present site, which would sell the energy created to CUC. 

What changed all this?

Along came the spinmasters from Dart with the need to move the dump, while its executives admitted that the present dump was the “single most commonly stated hurdle for potential purchasers of various residential units at Camana Bay”.  There we have the only reason for moving the dump!

We are not against new development, but moving the garbage dump to Midland Acres offers no jobs or economic growth.  Quite the opposite.  It will be an immediate obstacle to new businesses being established in the district, and to new residential developments.  Bodden Town will face a major increase in truck traffic, noise and pollution, along a main road already critically dangerous and overtaxed.  While Dart’s real estate will increase in value, Bodden Town will likely suffer a decrease in property vealus. 

Bodden Towners will be exposed to possible toxic air emissions, a stench which, with winds from the East, could easily extend well beyond the village of Bodden Town towards the west, the risk of fires and explosions, disease through rodents and other pests, potential contamination of the water table extending into the central wetlands, and a possible disaster in the event of a major hurricane.  Who would want to “Go East”?

Don’t Dump on Bodden Town!  Keep BT Dump Free!  No to rezoning Midland Acres!  Not a single vote to any candidate who supports a dump in Bodden Town!  The proposed dump must be stopped!

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