Archive for March, 2012

LA to meet 4 months after last adjournment

| 29/03/2012 | 16 Comments

P5270066.JPG(CNS): Legislators are finally set to meet in the country’s parliament next month after a four month break and for what will be the first time in 2012. A meeting of the Legislative Assembly has now been called from 4th to 13th April but because of the Easter holidays and other scheduled meetings the politicians are only likely to be in their seats for a few days. Law makers have not met since last December when the House was adjourned by the premier sine die. No business agenda for next week’s meeting has yet been set but several issues remain outstanding from the last meeting.

In the wake of the news that the country’s MLAs would finally be attending parliament Ezzard Miller, the independent member for North Side said the timing made no sense given that the Easter holiday fell in the middle of the planned session meaning that the meeting would be for no more than a few days.

He pointed out that a meeting with MLAs and the visiting UK politicians was also scheduled for Wednesday afternoon which was likely to cut short the first days sitting. Then as Friday and Monday are both holidays and Cabinet on Tuesday the parliamentary meeting was already looking short lived.

Miller accused the premier of disrespecting the democratic process with the cavalier attitude towards meetings and adjournments and no proper planning or management of Legislative Assembly.

He said however, he had taken the opportunity to file a motion for the meeting to abolish the compulsory retirement age to enable people that wanted and needed to work to be able to do so.


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Teams needed to clean up the Cayman Islands

| 29/03/2012 | 0 Comments

Mourant ED 2011.jpg(CNS): The Chamber of Commerce has issued an ‘APB’ for teams in preparation for this year’s clean-up. The 15th annual Earth Day Roadside Clean-Up will take place on Saturday, 14 April, along roadsides and beaches. With over 1,500 people expected to take part, the Chamber has T-shirts, water bottles and tote bags for the first 1,000 people who sign up. One of a number of green initiatives spearheaded by the Chamber, this year new sponsors are coming on board, Wil Pinneau, the organisation's CEO, said. “This is a great outcome for our Islands and we just hope that our message of keeping Cayman clean and green is getting through to the community as a whole,”  he said.

“We are a tourism destination blessed with a unique natural beauty that we should both respect and cherish. Let’s not limit ourselves to the month of April for these types of activities, let us keep let us keep our environment at the forefront of our minds all year round," he added.

The Chamber said this year’s T-shirt sponsor is Deutsche Bank; BritCay Insurance has sponsored the Water Bottles; Walkers, Island Heritage and Royal Bank (Cayman) Ltd sponsored the tote bags.

The Department of Environment Health will provide garbage bags and latex gloves and the Recreation, Parks, and Cemeteries Unit’s team of 20 staff and 7 pickup trucks will collect all the trash bags on Monday 16 April. Clean-up crews are also invited to a free brunch at 10am as a ‘thank you’ for the hard work, courtesy of LIME.

The T-shirts, water bottles, tote bags, garbage bags and latex gloves will be distributed to crews the week of 9 April at the Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Centre in Governors Square.

Drivers are asked to be extra vigilant on the day of the event as clean-up crews will be on the roads from as early as 6am.

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Techy zone offers no guarantees for local jobs

| 29/03/2012 | 0 Comments

techy zone.JPG(CNS Business): Caymanians will not be guaranteed jobs within the new Special Economic Zone but government will look at the best ways to ensure opportunities for employment for them via mentoring, scholarships and training, Dax Basdeo, Chief Officer, in the finance ministry has said. Speaking at last week’s UCCI 50/50 conference he said government considered the Cayman Enterprise City and the Shetty hospital projects to be good choices for diversifying Cayman’s economy as they were both areas of industry that would fulfil current global needs. Although the project is predicted to boost local economic growth by 5 to 15 percent, Basdeo conceded this could be lower and that the benefits would mostly come from the consumption by the people employed in the zone. Read more on CNS Business

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Sailors paint scoreboard at Optimist Championship

| 29/03/2012 | 1 Comment

Florence Allan - Cayman sailor finished 2nd overall and also first female overall (275x300).jpg(CISA): Cayman’s youth sailors have done the Cayman Islands proud with a fabulous overall result at the inaugural 2012 Race Cayman Optimist Open & Western Caribbean Optimist Championship hosted by the Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC). The youth competitors representing the Cayman Islands finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 8th overall and 1st female after the three day championship held over 15th – 18th March 2012 in the North Sound in Grand Cayman. USA sailor Jordan Wiggins – who just a few weeks earlier narrowly missed out on a place on the American Optimist team – was the overall winner with a dominant performance, winning 11 of 15 races.

It was not as easy as the score line might suggest. There were some very close finishes in every race with Florence Allan (Cayman), (pictured above), Evan Langford (Jamaica), Tyler Cartwright (Bahamas) and Allena Rankine (Cayman) all pushing Jordan but his experience paid dividends in the end.

Cayman sailors Florence Allan (first female), Pablo Bertran, Allena Rankine and Finley McDougall came in second, third, fourth and eight respectively – results which the Sailing Centre coaches are extremely proud of considering it’s only their second regatta against international completion.  Andrew Moon, the Commodore of the Sailing Club said, “All the hard training paid off. The kids showed huge dedication in the pre-championship training programmes and the results speak for themselves. We really have some very talented youth sailors in the Cayman Islands”.

The regatta took place about 150 metres off the sailing club dock in Red Bay – which meant that parents, family and well-wishers could all eye ball the intense action. The regatta was over three days (Friday – Sunday) with winds speeds of up to 19 knots in the gust at times. This did not make racing any easier for our light and relatively inexperienced local racers. Head coach Raph Harvey said, “At times I wished the wind would just drop off (if only just for the upwind legs) a few knots, to make it a bit easier on their tiny frames, but they dug deeper and got on with the task-at-hand, and for efforts like that you can ask for no more. I am very proud”.

The regatta was a major success and the CISC is already looking forward to Race Cayman 2013. All the competitors were raving about what a good time they had (both on and off the water) and can’t wait to return next year. “This is a world class venue you have got here – we will be spreading the word back home” said Bill Wiggins (Jordan’s dad and avid sail boat racer).

The Sailing Club and National Sailing Centre would like to thank the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sport & Culture, and HSBC for being major sponsors. Without their support this championship would not be possible. Flowers bottled water continue to support the racing team in their development.

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Burst pipes in capital causing traffic delays

| 29/03/2012 | 1 Comment

_DEW0780-web.jpg(CNS): Two water pipe line breaks earlier this morning in central George Town are likely to cause traffic problems in the capital this morning as the Water Authority – Cayman repairs the pipes and cleans up after the early morning spill. This work is taking place on Elgin Avenue near the Piccadilly building and on Shedden Road near the Royal Bank of Canada building.  Motorists are asked to drive with caution and obey all traffic signs. The Water Authority appreciates the patience and understanding of the motoring public as they continue to provide services to all of their valued customers and apologizes for any inconvenience.

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Shot fired in 7MB robbery

| 29/03/2012 | 119 Comments

polcie car_0.jpg(CNS): Updated 12:45: A  visitor to the Cayman Islands and two residents became the victims of an early morning robbery Thursday at a West Bay Road condo, police have said. Officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service have begun investigating the home-invasion at an apartment at Seagull Condominiums in the heart of the tourist district in Seven Mile Beach, which happened at around 4am. Two of the men were reportedly tied up with duct tape during the incident while a third was said to have slept through the ordeal. A shot was fired inside the condo, police said, but no one was injured. Three robbers are said to have entered the unsecured apartment armed with a handgun. They reportedly escaped with an Apple Mac laptop, an iPod and cell phones.

Officers decribed the robbers as tall black males of slim build, one of whom was around  6’ 3”, and all of the men were wearing hoodies and denim jeans with their faces covered.


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Unrepresented robber found guilty by judge

| 29/03/2012 | 4 Comments

_DEW1072-cns(2).jpg(CNS): A West Bay man who chose to defend himself in a judge alone trial for robbery and possession of an imitation firearm was found guilty of the crimes by Justice Seymour Panton on Wednesday afternoon in the Grand court. Ryan Ebanks was convicted of stealing just over $520 from the Three N's grocery store in Batabano Plaza in West Bay last March. Although he was wearing a bandana and a hood when he entered the local shop and demanded cash, Ebanks was identified by a customer, the cashier from the store and an anonymous witness by his voice and walk.

The robbery, which occurred on a Saturday evening at around 7:30pm, was one of four robberies that had happened that week. Police arrested Ebanks shortly after the crime based on information received from witnesses at the scene as he was a regular customer at the store.

During his trial Ebanks denied his part in the crime, however, saying he was not the robber but that he was the victim of a malicious plot by the police and the witnesses, who did not like him and wanted to see him convicted of a crime he did not commit.

The judge rejected this claim and despite some discrepancies he accepted the evidence of the various witnesses. He said that because Ebanks did not have an attorney he had been given a considerable amount of “elbow room” in conducting his own defence.

Justice Panton explained in his verdict that he had allowed him every opportunity to robustly cross examine the witnesses even though this had led to the defendant repeatedly asking the witnesses the same questions several times over.

Ebanks had dismissed his attorney as he accused the lawyer of not doing what he had asked. As a result, the West Bay man had opted to defend himself as he wanted a speedy resolution to his situation, believing that he could defend himself, despite the seriousness of the charges.

Following the conviction, Ebanks’ sentencing hearing was set for Friday.

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CIMA chair calls for ‘two tier’ per capita income

| 28/03/2012 | 33 Comments

cash.JPG(CNS): Cayman’s perceived high per capita income in comparison to the rest of the Caribbean does not help this jurisdiction when it comes to receiving post-disaster funding or subsidised borrowing rates, says the former Financial Secretary and chairman of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, George McCarthy. Calling on the Finance Ministry to look at the way the per capita income of residents in Cayman is calculated, McCarthy believes a fairer system could be put in place that would properly represent the population and give a true reflection of the income of all residents. He called the method by which the per capita income is calculated in Cayman “crude” and said that when he was the country’s financial secretary it had always been a concern for him.

McCarthy was speaking at last week’s UCCI 50/50 conference, after a presentation given by Dax Basdeo, Chief Officer (Financial Services) in the Ministry of Finance, on the Special Economic Zone. McCarthy said that Cayman was penalised after Hurricane Ivan – the deadly category 4/5 hurricane that devastated Cayman in 2004 – because a country with such a very high perceived per capita income had difficulties in getting assistance.

He said the method of calculation for per capita income was to put a value on the accumulation of all goods and services, use this as the numerator in the calculation and divide this by the number of people residing on island. However, there is a distinction between what he termed the transient population and the indigenous population.

If the per capita income, which came out at around $47,000 to $48,000 per year, typified the average annual salary of someone who worked at the Westin, for example, McCarthy said this was a fallacy. He said he worried that this high per capita calculation would send out the wrong signal to the world – that even the poorest person in Cayman had a swimming pool in their back garden.

The CIMA chairman said the issue needed to be looked at because when the Cayman Islands had to engage in borrowing it had to do so at the market rate, with no subsidy. McCarthy said he hoped something could be developed that would cover this two tier per capita income – creating one calculation for the transient population and one for the indigenous.  

Deanna Lookloy, former director of government’s Children and Family Services department, also gave the view that she was concerned that Cayman “was looking so prosperous”. She spoke of the time after Ivan when the high level of Cayman’s per capita income did not really reflect the true economic state of the islands and in some ways prevented Cayman from getting the assistance that it should have received.

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Segoes creditors get 1% of total claim

| 28/03/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Seven years after the process to place Segoes Services Ltd into liquidation, a Cayman Islands Grand Court order expected today (28 March) will officially dissolved the company. Fifty-two creditors will then recieve US$112,000 – just 1% of their total claim – to be divided between them after the liquidators and their legal counsel have been paid. In thefinal document prepared for creditors, liquidators Krys & Associates (Cayman) Ltd said that total claims made by creditors amounted to US$9.8 million but during the course of the liquidation, the value of assets recovered was just US$4.07 million. Fees incurred by the liquidators and legal counsel for the seven years’ work amounted to approximately $4.7 million, though they agreed to take just $3.64 million, since this was not covered by the amount recovered. Read more on CNS Business

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CCA issues warning over port

| 28/03/2012 | 51 Comments

cruise ship at port_0.JPG(CNS): The Cayman Contractors Association is the latest group to come out publicly with its concerns over government’s decision to enter into a deal with China Harbour Engineering Company to build the cruise berthing facilities. The cost of the project, the dangers to the local construction industry the inflated CHEC proposal and the environmental damage it may cause are just some of the concerns the industry body has raised. In a four page letter to Ellio Solomon, the backbench MLA appointed by the premier as lead negotiator on the project, the contractors list several points they urge government to consider if it presses ahead with a main agreement with CHEC.

The contractors say that evidence from around the region gives cause for concern regarding CHEC because they have a pattern of promising to hire local labour and companies and buy goods locally but once a deal is inked they find reasons not to meet those commitments.

“The typical method that has been documented in government and media reports indicate that once an agreement is signed, CHEC will later state that all the local bids are too high, local labour is too expensive, local materials are too costly,” the CCA writes in its comprehensive correspondence (posted below).

“Invariably, workers from China are brought in and are housed and fed in owner supplied housing and cafeteria facilities (work camps). Materials are imported from China directly, thereby reducing further any economic advantages to local businesses," the letter states. "If this same practice is allowed to occur, CCA warns this will cause irreparable damage to the local work force and suppliers and will cause project cost escalation, of which there is no control.” 

Describing this as an unacceptable arrangement for the industry and the people of the Cayman Islands, the CCA warns that its members cannot compete with CHEC if it stays in the country and bids on local jobs.

“CHEC is owned and financed by the People’s Republic of China, with access to preferred lending arrangements than is available to us, they are so large and strong financially that we are effectively introducing a Killer Whale into a pond of minnows,” the letter, which issigned by CCA President Kris Bergstrom, states.

The builders' group recommends restricting the cruise port facility to two piers to facilitate the current class ships and one Oasis class ship, with minimal or no additional retail.

“This will be a smaller and more cost-effective facility and will result in repayment of the loan in considerably less time than the 49 – 51 years proposed. In addition, any negative effect on the adjacent environment, including Eden Rock, Cheeseburger Reef and Seven Mile Beach will be significantly reduced," the contractors write.

The group also notes that for over 20 years it has been trying to get a Builders Law enacted to stop foreign contractors such as the Fleur Daniels, the Tom Jones, the China Harbours from “walking into Cayman and taking on our large projects” before setting up shop to compete for the smaller jobs too.

“We have a large, capable community of excellent builders locally, who make a commitment each and every day to the Cayman Islands financially. We are the employers that drive one of the largest sectors of the country’s economy. It is vitally important that the already approved Builders Law become enacted and implemented,” the CCA said.

The contractors appeal to government to consider seven recommendations before signing any deal with the Beijing-based firm, including a commitment that CHEC will de-mobilise and leave after the facility is completed, and that it will bring only managerial, supervisory and specialist personnel to Cayman and will hire all other workers locally and not set up its own work camps, and will rent from available local housing.

The contractors also ask government to ensure CHEC adopts the rates supplied by the CCA and exclusively subcontract all MEP and non-marine works to local contractors, as well as using up all local equipment, trucks and materials before importing from abroad.

The CCA is the latest local organisation to raise major concerns over the government’s choice of partner to build the George Town cruise berthing facilities as well as the growing size of the project and its possible negative impact on local business.

Although there is widespread support for the development of cruise piers, as more information emerges about the possible deal between the Cayman government and CHEC, the partnership is becoming increasingly unpopular. However, the premier has stated on a number of occasions that the cruise facilities are desperately needed and despite the growing opposition to the Chinese firm, CHEC offers the best deal for Cayman.

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