Archive for April 9th, 2012

UK Lord says he has ‘mini ambassadorial’ role

| 09/04/2012 | 4 Comments

lord blencartha (222x300).jpg(CNS): The British peer who was appointed as the Cayman Islands representative in London says his primary goal is to defend the interests of Cayman’s financial services. Lord Blencathra described himself has being a "mini ambassador" for the Cayman Islands. He said there was a need to view the London representative role differently in the post financial crisis world as the Cayman Islands, along with other offshore financial service centres, were now under the spotlight. Blencathra said his job was to represent Cayman’s finance industry in the UK and in Europe in an increasingly hostile environment.

Speaking at a press conference at the end of a packed visit to the Cayman Islands last week, along with two of the three MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) who were also visiting, Blencathra said that he had been appointed because of his 27 years of experience in the UK parliament and government aswell as his knowledge of both the British and European political landscape. He said that his title was Director of the London Office and was, therefore, designated as the official London representative.

Although people might ask what it was it that he knew about the Cayman Islands, he said, he had many other people to help him with that, but he was in a very good position to defend Cayman’s interests where it was needed. “I have not been employed to be an expert on Cayman,” he said as he explained his goal was to promote the quality of the financial services industry.

He warned that in Europe in particular there were plans for the introduction of various regulations that could threaten it and it was in that arena where there was work for him to do.  The peer said he could open some doors to get Cayman’s voice heard on the technical matters relating to such initiatives. 

He noted that all of the initiatives that have been written about in the international press, from those impacting fund management to solvency issues, could, if interpreted strictly, pose a threat to this jurisdiction and may limit the ability of Cayman-based firms to compete and sell their products in Europe.

He said Cayman had to guard against the threats and negotiate in the right places and all of this was against a backdrop of threats coming from the United States as well.

Graham Brady, chairman of the Cayman Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group, added that there was a mismatch in the popular imagination in Britain about the Cayman Islands with the reality that they had encountered during the visit and it was clear people needed to know facts about Cayman.

He added that during the packed schedule the MPs had met people from government, CIMA, the stock exchange, the voluntary sector and the private sector and had been impressed with the level of regulation and transparency in the financial sector. The conservative MP said that they had been told that, despite the cost to achieve the levels of compliance that exist in Cayman, it provided companies here with a competitive advantage.

Brady said the three MPs had come to Cayman because members of the APPG felt that the relationship between the UK and the overseas territories was sometimes neglected and they all wanted to see greater friendship.

Vice chair of the group, Brian Donahue, said it had been a very interesting week and he looked forward to seeing projects, such as the planned Dr Shetty hospital and the airport redevelopment, come to fruition. Neither of the MPs said they wanted to comment on the more controversial project proposals, such as the George Town cruise berthing facilities or the ForCayman Alliance, but they did meet with local activists groups opposed to those projects.

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High hopes for Shetty hospital and economic diversity

| 09/04/2012 | 9 Comments

shetty 2_0.jpg(CNS): The premier has said he does not need a $500,000 consultant to tell him that the project proposed by Dr Devi Shetty for a medical tourism facility in the Cayman Islands is a good idea. Speaking at the signing of a deal between the Indian doctor and an American health care company last week, McKeeva Bush said the project would bring significant benefits to the Cayman Islands. The hospital, which is scheduled to get underway this summer, is seen as the first step in the much hoped for diversification of the islands’ economy. Bush said the “eyes of the world" would be on Cayman as the project unfolded and the islands emerged as a medical destination of choice.

Welcoming the partnership that Dr Shetty’s Naranyana Group have entered into with the Missouri-based US health care company, Ascension Health, he said that with the advent of this project Caymanians would have access to medical care at home instead of having to travel overseas.

“With the addition of a new state-of-the-art hospital and ancillary facilities Caymanians will have access to world class health care without having to travel abroad,” he said.

Welcoming many aspects of the development, he said this was one of the most important elements, given the money government spends on overseas medical care for its people, and it would come about without the need for income tax or property tax. “The fact that our islands will have local … access to this kind of tertiary level care means a tremendous amount to the government and to the people,” he said.

Bush pointed to the jobs that would be created as well as training and educational opportunities for Caymanians in the health care field.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” Bush said. “This project will generate significant revenue in direct and indirect spinoffs. Many business sectors stand to gain, from hotels and restaurants to tourist attractions and transport. There are other benefits … it will result in extra revenue collected from duty, employment for local contractors and other opportunities for Caymanians and an increase in tourism.”

With a long list of what he said would be benefits, Bush described the project as his “kind of business” — not income or property tax — and said that the economy could grow this way. “This visionary project will result in new industries and new opportunities.”

Bush said that medical tourism was a growing business and Cayman has the right environment for the Shetty project.

Thanking those involved in bringing the project together, he pointed out that bureaucracy could be overwhelming and difficult as he once again called for red tape to be cut in order to save money.

“I didn’t need a five hundred thousand dollar consultant to tell me that this project was good and that we were doing the right thing; I didn’t need to do that,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Health Minister Mark Scotland said that a tremendous amount of work and negotiations had gone into getting to the stage where the project was now. He said the project would not only contribute to the wealth of the economy but it would contribute to the health of the country as well.

Although it would primarily be a medical tourism destination, it would also provide a level of tertiary care for local people currently only available overseas. He said a considerable amount of money is spent every year by both government and private health insurance companies on accessing overseas health care. And while the Shetty project would help save money, it would also save time, which, Scotland said, was often even more important when it comes to health because saving time can save lives.

He said that in the first phase the project would require as many as 600 employees and Caymanians would be trained for many of these jobs. He said the UCCI had already begun working on a nursing degree course ready for this coming academic year and the Narayana group was also committed to training local employees and encouraging people to go into the health care profession.

See related story here

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End of Easter camping feared

| 09/04/2012 | 106 Comments

easter camping.jpg(CNS): Local activists say they are fearful that the Cayman tradition of camping on the beach during the Easter holidays may soon come to an end in some popular locations. Although many people took their tents down to the remaining strip of Seven Mile Beach where there is still space and access to set up camp this holiday weekend, the proposed deal between government and the Dart Group may mean this area won’t be accessible next year. Representatives from the various community action groups opposing elements of the ForCayman Investment Alliance also fear that access to parts of Barkers beach may be lost in future as well, leaving hardly any beach space for the Easter camp at the western end of Grand Cayman.

Activists say that the beach land that Dart has acquired along Seven Mile Beach, which is proposed to form part of  a new five star resort running parallel to the stretch of the West Bay Road that the developer plans to close if the deal goes ahead, is one of the few remaining access points for camping.

“This may be the last Easter when people will be able to camp at this beautiful spot,” a spokesperson for the West Bay Concerned Citizen Group and the West Bay Action Committee said at the weekend.

The community groups also have very real concerns about the situation in Barkers as the boundaries of the proposed national park appear to have changed. The activists fear that access to the land now in the hands of Dartat the location along the beach front areas may well be lost. Although Dart has proposed to trade some Barkers land with government for the West Bay Road land, this is not beachfront but swamp land, which is expected to form part of a planned nature reserve in the area.

The activists say that the details of the land owned by Dart at Barkers and the proposed national park location differ widely from the original plans posted on government websites in the past, leading to some confusion about the area and what will actually be preserved and what could be at risk of development. The local groups worry that Dart may also choose to develop areas that it owns along the beachfront of Barkers that will not fall into the proposed conservation areas, blocking off public access to some of the last natural and unspoiled beach areas on the west side of Grand Cayman.

“If government does go ahead with this deal with Dart, it is likely to further undermine the already limited access local people have to their own beaches because of the massive development in Grand Cayman on beachfront property,” the spokesperson told CNS on Sunday.

Last year the activists met with Dart after posts had been erected along the strip of Seven Mile Beach it now owns just before the Easter holidays, which had triggered the first concerns about the potential loss of access. Since then the details of the proposed deal with government that have emerged suggest that the closure of the West Bay Road will undermine the level of access that people have to this area of Seven Mile Beach and likely to put an end to a long held Easter tradition.

The controversial deal with the islands’ largest investor has not yet been finalized but the government, Dart and the NRA have already signed a preliminary agreement involving the closure of around 4,000 feet of the West Bay Road between Raleigh Quay to Yacht Drive. Dart has already begun work on the Esterley Tibbetts bypass, which will allow access to the district of West Bay once the current road is closed.

It is still not clear how much of the beachfront property now owned by Dart will form part of the resort development, but the group has proposed developing a second public beach at the northern end of the property it owns in the area as part of the overall deal, which includes the enhancement of the existing public beach area as well.

See more about the proposed projects on the ForCayman alliance website

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Rundown cast rehearses comic capers

| 09/04/2012 | 0 Comments

Rundown release (263x300).jpg(CNS): The cast of this year’s Rundown are rehearsing hard to get the comic antics and capers ready for this week’s opening night. The much loved comedy review, now in its 21st year return’s to the stage with a fundraising evening for George Town primary school PTA on Thursday as part of Cayfest – the Cayman Islands National Festival of the Arts – and plays for two weekends, Thursdays through Sundays.  It then returns for its finale over the weekend of 4 – 6 May. Photo ‘Congregation, this yard is not at Emotional Sea-level!’ – Leroy Holness as Rasta Pasta rehearses a scene in Rundown 2012.

For more about Rundown visit the CNCF website or see flyer here

 

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Bodden Town ramp ready for boats by month end

| 09/04/2012 | 0 Comments

Coewood beach 4 apri b (220x300)_0.jpg(CNS): Ministry officials said last week that the boat ramp, curbing and sidewalk works are already complete at Coewood Beach Enhancement Project in Bodden Town. Although the full project is not expected to be finished in June, project manager Niasa Ross has said that boaters and fishermen should be able to launch boats by the end of April. The estimated cost of the entire project is $500,000 but this current phase is around $200,000. Work on the market stalls will be carried out by Public Works Department and is expected to start once the Planning Department has given approval. The minister with responsibility for Works, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said the people of Bodden Town have been ready for this boat ramp and it will be good for tourists and families.

“This site is popular with local fishermen and will also be well-received by recreational boaters, especially now that summer is coming. When the project is complete, it will be a much more enjoyable place for families and the community,” Mark Scotland the local MLA and minister added. “We are grateful for the funding from DAWL&A Ministry and the Hon. Deputy Premier, which allowed us to renovate and enhance this site for the people of Bodden Town.

 

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COs asked to cut costs and increase revenue

| 09/04/2012 | 23 Comments

government building.JPG(CNS): In latest short record of the meeting of civil service bosses with the deputy governor the minutes record that the civil service is examining cost reduction strategies used by other British Overseas Territories to see if they could be relevant to Cayman. Ahead of the budget for the 2012/13 financial year, cost cutting in the public sector is likely to remain a key factor as government strives to balance the books. The minutes also revealed that chief officers are being asked to develop revenue increasingideas as well as cuts. According to the meeting’s record, public sector bosses had also met with Lord Blencathra, head of Cayman’s London office, who explained the office’s role as a resource and information centre.

During his visit to the islands he had also encouraged chief officers to contact the office on any issues where input from a member of the UK civil service or government may be needed. The London rep also spoke about local students in the UK and asked that they register with the London Office before leaving Cayman Islands.

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Local researcher to reveal problems of acidic oceans

| 09/04/2012 | 1 Comment

science-academies-save-oceans-carbon-dioxide-acidification_1.jpg(CNS): The problems of increasing ocean acidity and its impact on regional marine life will be the subject of the first of a free lecture series hosted by the CCMI and Little Cayman Research Centre later this month. Emma Camp who is currently working on her PhD with the University of Essex and who works for CCMI as a researcher and lab manager will share her specialist knowledge on the subject and the day to day discoveries in the field. The oceans have absorbed excessive CO2, which has resulted in changes to the chemistry of surface seawater. As a result of increased ocean acidification, the future of a variety of critical species and ecosystems is in doubt an important factor for Cayman’s reef life.

The change to surface seawater's chemical makeup not only increases acidity but also reduces the availability of carbonate ions to a variety of organisms. The means that animals, such as plankton, corals and mollusks (e.g. mussels and oysters), which use calcium carbonate to build their skeletons and shells may form thin and/or deformed shells, and are hard-pressed to build or maintain their protective or supportive structures.

The lecture will be held at CBlu, which is located by the waterfront at Rackams in George Town at 7pm.

 

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Woman committed suicide at George Town apartment

| 09/04/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The police have now confrimed the body of a 43 year old woman found at the Sunrise condo complex, Old Crewe Road, George Town on Saturday morning was Leja Godenzi. A police spokesperson stated that at this time there is nothing to suggest foul play. Police found the woman at about 11.55am on Saturday when a concerned citizen at the Sunrise complex called the emergency services after reportedly smelling a strong odour coming from one of the apartments. Fire and police officers attended, where they gained access to the apartment. The body of the deceased woman was seen hanging from a bedroom door, an RCIPS spokesperson stated.

"There is nothing at this time to suggest any foul play. However, the RCIP is awaiting the results of a  postmortem to determine the cause of death," a police spokesperson stated. "Ms. Godenzi's family has been notified of her passing. The RCIP extends its condolences to her family. Enquires into this matter are continuing."

Godezi was an Australian citizen who was resident  in the Cayman Islands with her husband and children.

 

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96 year old wine merchant dies on Easter Sunday

| 09/04/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Representatives from local wine merchants Jacques Scott issued a notice on Monday announcing the death of the founder of the firm. Anthony Jacques Scott was said to have died peacefully at home in Coral Gables, Florida on Easter Sunday, 8 April, at the age of 96. Tony Scott, or “Scottie” as he was known locally, will best be remembered in the Cayman Islands as the founder of Jacques Scott & Company Ltd. He is survived by his wife, Pat. The firm’s representative stated that a memorial service will be held in Grand Cayman at a date to be announced.
 

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Dictionary author uses social media to spread word

| 09/04/2012 | 0 Comments

caymanology.JPG(CNS): Kevin Goring the man behind the Cayman Islands Dictionary and the creator of the Caymanology Collection says social media is spreading the News about his book around the world. Having promised two of his friends who are studying in the UK and the USA complementary copies of his unique dictionary if they could boost the ‘likes’ and ‘members’ on the website, Goring says the Cayman word is spreading. "I find it so ironic that I'm currently promoting Caymanology online via college students,” he said explaining the idea for Caymanology started back when he was in college in 1999.

At that time he had started the 'You Know You Muss be From Cayman' email series, and the 'Gapseed' email newsletter to reach out to his friends overseas. “That's when I began compiling Caymanian words and phrases that are now included in the Cayman Islands Dictionary. I'm really happy that everything has come full circle and I hope that Caymanology will continue to make a positive impact on the community," Goring added.

Emily Bodden, a student at City College of New York (New York, USA) and Brianna Wilson, a Caymanian student at Sheffield Hallam University (Sheffield, United Kingdom) have both helped to drive others to the Facebook page and boost interest in the book which is the first publication in a broader project aimed to promote and preserve Caymanian culture.

Based on a philosophy that all things Caymanian should be studied, preserved and promoted, Caymanology is a movement towards heightened cultural awareness and native pride in the Cayman Islands. Through specialty products and programs, Caymanology  seeks to educate, entertain, inspire and empower Caymanians in an effort to promote authentic Caymanian culture to residents and visitors. For more information on upcoming projects, interested parties can become a fan of the official Caymanology

Facebook fan page, follow ‘@Caymanology’ on Twitter, text to 345.929.8949 or email: info@caymanology.com.

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