Archive for January 4th, 2012

Locals need to lead recovery

| 04/01/2012 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The increase in government revenues over the last year is down to the investment of Cayman based firms in local development and not external investors, the independent member for North Side suggested this week as he reflected on the premier’s New Year message. Ezzard Miller said any advancements or recent success in the local economy were not down to foreign investors or the major projects that he said the premier has been pushing over the last two years but to local construction companies and developers who are taking the chance and going ahead with commercial and residential projects.

As he looked forward to the next twelve months, Miller said it was all about the economy and that Cayman’s economic recovery would depend on local developers and local businesses, which government should be encouraging. He said that whatever gains the treasury made in the last few months were down to Caymanians.

“These developers are going ahead with different projects across Grand Cayman, despite the tough times, and they are doing it with very few incentives and concessions which the premier is offering to other projects led by external investors that have not yet started the work,” Miller told CNS Tuesday, adding that government needed to incentivise local people to invest collectively in the islands' recovery.

In the premier’s New Year message on Sunday he said that government would be extending the reduction on construction materials as it had produced an increase in the level of goods being imported and had been “an effective economic stimulus initiative.”

In his own New Year’s message to the people of Cayman, the country’s only independent member said he believed that the major task for 2012 was getting “Caymanians who are unemployed to work and not creating more jobs for imported labour through the approval and selective solicitation of huge projects that will by their very nature provide limited job opportunities for Caymanians even if it provides great profit to the foreign investors.”

Miller told CNS that he firmly believed government must begin to focus on Caymanian businessesto fuel the economic turnaround. The independent member said he was glad to see that McKeeva Bush was at least still thinking about the economy of the country in his most recent message to the people, However, Miller said the projects that Bush is depending on so heavily would not provide much relief for most local people. “With the exception of those players directly involved, very few Caymanians will derive much benefit from any of this projects being heralded by the premier,” he said.

Cayman cannot rely on foreign investors for an economic turnaround, Miller said, because in most cases where the major projects were concerned the investment coming in would leave when it became profit, rarely benefitting the local people.

“We need to encourage Caymanian entrepreneurship and local ownership with the sorts of concessions currently only reserved for foreign investors and stop depending on or hoping external conglomerates will create jobs and wealth for us,” Miller said.

With more than 19,000 people on work permits, Miller pointed out that Cayman did not have a shortage of jobs; the problem, he said, was that Caymanians are not considered capable of holding these jobs by the boards, which continue togrant work permits in the face of rising unemployment among Caymanians.

See Miller’s New Year Message below.

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Invasive lionfish arrive in Barbados

| 04/01/2012 | 7 Comments

lionfish (225x300).jpg(Caribbean Journal): Barbados is urging seafarers to report any sightings of the invasive lionfish species, which has been spreading across the Caribbean, from Jamaica to Cayman. The recent capture of a specimen off the west coast of Barbados was the first confirmed sighting of the fish in the country, and what could mark a slow increase in their numbers of the coming months, according to the Fisheries Division. The country is now implementing the second phase of the Lionfish Response Plan, which was drafted by the Natural Heritage Department earlier this year in collaboration with several other agencies, including the University of the West Indies.

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Cops called to Pedro as more teens seen jumping

| 04/01/2012 | 71 Comments

pedro cliffs.jpg(CNS): Teenagers were once again congregating at the Pedro bluff Wednesday morning for more cliff-jumping stunts, despite the tragic deaths of two young men in the area over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Police from Bodden Town police station were reportedly called to the location after more youngsters were seen at the location, some of whom were said to be jumping into the rough seas. Even though the dangers of diving into the ocean from the bluff were brought into sharp focus by the deaths of 16-year-old Justin Henry and 21-year-old Adam Rankine, the teens seem unperturbed by the obvious risks.

Yesterday the RCIPS said they were in discussions with the Port Authority to erect signs at the location to warn people of the potential dangers of diving into the ocean during rough weather.

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Tortuga sells majority share

| 04/01/2012 | 0 Comments

TortugaRumTruck.jpg(CNS Business):  Specialty foods company Jamaican Producers Groups has bought a 62% holding in the newly consolidated Tortuga International Holdings as part of a push to make the rum cakes born in Cayman a $100 million global brand. Tortuga interests in the region now all fall under Tortuga International, run by the founders of Miami-based Tortuga Imports — Marcus Simmonds as CEO and Monique Hamaty-Simmonds as Chief Marketing Officer. Robert and Carlene Hamaty, who started the Tortuga Rum Company in 1984, will continue to own Tortuga Rum Company in Grand Cayman and maintain the exclusive distributorship for all Tortuga-branded products in the Cayman Islands. Read more on CNS business

 

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Stephen Lawrence killers get life sentences

| 04/01/2012 | 0 Comments

_53801148_dobson_norris304_cps.jpg(BBC):Two men found guilty of the 1993 racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in south east London have been jailed for life. Gary Dobson, 36, will serve a minimum of 15years and two months and David Norris, 35, 14 years and three months. The pair was sentenced at the Old Bailey as if they were juveniles because both were under 18 when the black teenager died. The judge, Mr Justice Treacy, described the crime as a "murder which scarred the conscience of the nation".

Norris and Dobson were the first people convicted over the fatal attack on Mr Lawrence by a group of white youths near a bus stop in Eltham in April 1993.

Speaking outside court, Stephen Lawrence's mother Doreen said the minimum terms were quite low but she recognised "the judges' hands were tied" and thanked him for his sentencing remarks which recognised the stress the family had suffered for 18 years.

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Lions take festive cheer to essential workers

| 04/01/2012 | 0 Comments

911.jpg(CNS): As people unwrapped presents and tucked into turkey this Christmas break those employed in essential services were at their posts as usual. The Lions Club of Tropical Gardens (LCTG) brought some season’s greetings many of them on Boxing Day morning (December 26), as club members set out to deliver 25 baskets filled with goodies to the staff of the Health Services Authority, Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital, Maple House, Middle Road Home, police and fire stations, the islands’ prisons, retirement homes as well the Immigration Office at the airport and the 911 emergency services centre.

The delivery of Christmas Baskets has become a tradition for the Lions Club. The idea behind these deliveries is to show appreciation to the workers at all the essential services who oftentimes have to work throughout the holiday period. 

Lion Caroline Roberts, Chairperson of the Social Services Committee, stated that many of these workers missed out on having Christmas with their families because they are working so the LCTG want to show that their appreciation and thanks with the baskets.

 

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Activists not giving up

| 04/01/2012 | 60 Comments

dartswbroad_1.JPG(CNS): Despite the disappointing response from the government, and in particular the governor, to their petition to preserve the West Bay Road, local activists say they will be continuing to campaign this year in the hope that they can still prevent its closure, as well as on a number of other issues that they believe are threatening the Caymanian way of life. Alice Mae Coe, one of the organisers of the campaign and a founding member of the Concerned Citizens, said that despite the set-back, the activists would be continuing to try and save the road. The local campaigner said the group still had a number of ideas and plans for the year ahead and would not give up in their efforts.

Coe said the activists would continue to persuade government to consider the wider population in their decisions “rather than pandering to special interests groups without thought about the long term detriment to the Caymanian people and way of life,” she said. “It seems to get easier each day for them to forget that it is not just big developers and a few others they've been elected to represent.”

After submitting a petition of wellover 4000 signatures, which included a significant percentage of registered voters as well as residents and visitors, to Duncan Taylor he passed the petition to the premier as he said the issue of development is in the hands of the elected officials. Less than four days later McKeeva Bush signed an agreement with Dart to close the road.

The Concerned Citizens had joined with Save Cayman and the West Bay Action Committee to circulate the petition to “preserve the existing West Bay Road in its entirety in perpetuity as public vehicular roadway for the people of the Cayman Islands”, and while the 4000 names represented a mixed group of people, the campaigners say the premier was wrong to dismiss the signatures as people who were misinformed. Well over half were registered voters – two thirds of the number required to trigger a people’s referendum.

Captain Bryan Ebanks, a member of Save Cayman, explained that there was simply not the time or manpower for the activists, many of whom are also trying to balance busy lives and keep their heads above water in these tough economic times, to go door to door and collect the necessary 3500 plus signatures required to force a national ballot.   

Government has not yet passed the necessary legislation that would govern the parameters of a people’s referendum provided for in the constitution, so it is not clear how long a group would have to raise the required number of register voters signatures.

Although the petition submitted to the governor did not reach the 25% of the entire electorate required for the referendum, Ebanks said given the number of signatures it was still almost impossible to believe that the government could have dismissed it so easily. He said he was extremely disappointed that the governor just passed the petition over. “It’s clear that the mother country doesn’t care what we think,” Ebanks added.

Having only recently begun to get involved in grass roots activism, Ebanks said he believed the only thing that may make the premier think twice was a mass march of people. “I believe if we could get three or four hundred people to come out and show their opposition to this and the many other issues that we know people are concerned about the premier would be forced to think again,” he said.

The sea captain said however that he was pessimistic that the campaigners would be able to attract the numbers necessary to make the government sit up and take note.  He said people were generally apathetic about what was happening to them and their country as they simply don’t believe they can make a difference and are focused on the day to daystruggle of trying to make ends meet.

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Injured man conscious as cop car ran him over

| 04/01/2012 | 0 Comments

manderson.JPG(CNS): A West Bay man who was run down by a police vehicle after he was suspected of drinking and driving last week says he intends to take legal action as a result of the injuries he sustained when the police vehicle knocked him down. Ricky Manderson Jr told Cayman 27 that he watched the engine of the car as the vehicle literally ran him over and as he screamed at the police not to reverse back over him at the end of a high speed chase. Manderson admitted he was speeding and driving dangerously but he said when he stopped his car and got out with his hands up there was no need for the police to run him down.

“If I come out of my car and turn around to face you with my hands up, that means I have stop running right?” Manderson asked rhetorically during his interview with the local television news station. But the West Bay man said the police car just kept coming and before he knew it he was under the police car.

“When they ran over me I actually could see the engine and I was screaming. I said please don’t reverse the car. Please don’t reverse.”

Manderson suffered a number of injuries as a result of the incident, including a broken pelvis. He suffered his injuries in Rossett Close off Mount Pleasant Road after police had chased him in his black Honda Toreno from the Ritz Carlton on the West Bay Road.

Police said that officers in a marked patrol Ford SUV became suspicious of the black vehicle and began the chase when the driver refused to stop in response to the blue lights. The high speed chase covered several miles from along the West Bay Road into the heart of the district before Manderson pulled over and got out of the car. A spokesperson for the RCIPS said that the man had run into the path of the oncoming police vehicle.

The man was arrested on suspicion of DUI and dangerous driving and the RCIPS said that an enquiry is underway into the chase and all of the circumstances surrounding the man’s injuries.

See Cayman27 interview here

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Struggling home owners can now apply for cash

| 04/01/2012 | 51 Comments

Underwater-House.jpg(CNS): Government officials confirmed Tuesday that the finance ministry is now taking applications from Caymanian homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages under the “Save the Mortgage” programme which is being financed from cash donated by the Dart Group as part of the West Bay Road swap. Application forms are now available on the government website and qualified people can submit their completed forms to the ministry to be considered for up to $20,000 of assistance to save their homes. Almost anyone who is more than three months overdue with their mortgage payments and whose lender is willing to restructure their loan can apply.

Government has $2.5milllion to distribute to Caymanian homeowners to a maximum of $20,000 per home owner which means government can assist around 125 home owners with the funds at its disposal.

Bush revealed in his New Year’s message that a committee has now been established to administer the programme and with assistance from banks holding the home loans the committee will assess the applications and “for those which merit assistance” Bush said an initial $12,000, with the possibility of subsequent assistance for up to three further mortgage payments will be made. The maximum amount an individual home owner will be able to collect from the progamme will be $20,000.

The premier has also stated that the money will go directly to the financial institutions holding the mortgages and not the homeowner.

Applicants will need to ensure that their bank or mortgage lender agrees to the additional charge which government will take on the property as the award is a long term interest free loan to be paid back over fifty years. The money for the home saving project is part of a $5million cash donation made by Dart last month when government entered into a formal agreement to give the developer a 2500 foot stretch of the West Bay Road in exchange for the financial contribution, the construction of the Esterely Tibbetts by-pass extension into West Bay and associated road expansions in the district.

See mortgage programme application form below.  The completed application and relevant documentation can be submitted to Kristy Watler (kristy.watler@gov.ky) in the minister of finance at the GAB.

Also see government press release on programme below

 

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