Archive for April 10th, 2012

Customs tariffs harmonized under new law

| 10/04/2012 | 5 Comments

new mobile scanner.jpg(CNS): A new customs law facilitatingthe use of a harmonized coding system was passed in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday. The law will help government make more informed policy decisions in future about levels of duty as well as making the country’s imports and exports more efficient. Presenting the new law to the parliament, the premier, who has responsibility for customs, said that no duty levels were changed in the law but the customs department would be adopting an internationally recognised system that would provide more detailed information for assessment on the goods which the Cayman Islands imports and exports.

“The current system used for classifying imports and exports is not detailed enough to provide useful information to the government,” McKeeva Bush explained, adding that the law provided description codes that are applied internationally.

He said the current system has 221 commodity groups under 22 tariff codes and the vagueness of the codes makes it difficult to report the volume and value of specific items imported and exported. Bush noted that this prevented government from getting proper policy guidance on duty levels. He said there was a need to track things more specifically so government could in future calculate what would happen to the public purse if itwas to take a policy decision to change duty levels up or down on any item.

The premier stressed, however, that with this law government was not increasing duty on anything under the existing customs tariff, and although goods would have new codes, the duty levels at present will remain the same.

The harmonized international standardized system which the country will now adopt is maintained by a world body, Bush said, that covers 172 countries and comprises 5,000 commodities.

It places goods in categories that are the same around the world with relevant codes in a harmonized system and classifies things more clearly and specifically. Bush told his legislative colleagues that adopting the system would bring many advantages to government and the trading community, including more transparency and the opportunity to target protection, and it would assist government in making better economic decisions.

In addition, the system would make revenue collection more efficient and provide much better statistics for international comparison and local use, he said.

The premier revealed that although duty levels weren't changing, a new flat fee of $100 per container was being introduced to pay for the new scanner recently acquired by the customs department that can examine every container. He said he was confident that it would serve as a positive crime prevention measure and deter smuggling, but it had cost $3 million in addition to annual running costs.

Bush said the bill was long overdue, as he commended the customs department for the work they had put in to finally implement the new law and system.

See new Customs Law here

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PR simplified for investors

| 10/04/2012 | 45 Comments

immigration.jpg(CNS): A poor response to recently created categories of residency certificates for wealthy non-Caymanians and direct business investors has led to further amendments to the immigration law, which was passed in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday. As well as reducing property investment amounts required to get PR for life for people of independent means, it also makes it easier for those with a direct business investment to gain residency as well. The new bill has also addressed a number of other immigration issues, from removing the need for residency for descendants of Caymanians living overseas to get status to the introduction of a short business visa.

The Immigration (Amendment No. 5) 2011 address a long list of issues as well as simplifying the immigration and customs clearance for recreational sports fishermen going on long-range fishing expeditions. It tidies up some anomalies in the law for care givers certificates, the functions and make-up of the Appeals Tribunal, as well as other administrative issues, such as who in the immigration department can issue student visas.

Presenting the bill to his legislativecolleagues on Thursday, the premier said it was part of the continuing review of, and changes to, the immigration law that were required to try and attract investment in the current global conditions.

The law creates a new immigration category for foreigners who have a substantial business presence in the Cayman Islands and will enable people of independent means to apply for permanent residency for life rather than 25 years when they have invested $750,000 in a property and have an income of over $150,000 per annum. The law also provides for some people of independent means to apply for a work permit after being granted PR.

Explaining the changes McKeeva Bush said earlier amendments to the immigration law last year designed to encourage investment turned out to be “too onerous”, so the requirement of minimum investment amount in a business was being changed and the number of employees in the business that need to be Caymanian has been reduced from 50% to 30%.

The PPM opposition supported the passage of the bill but the independent member for North Side raised a number of concerns. Ezzard Miller said that while he supported several elements in the amendment, he could not support the changes regarding new categories of permanent residency, noting that he did not believe the changes in this area would lead to any noticeable inward investment.

“There are more negatives in the community to attracting business than how people are granted permanent residence,” he said, adding that he was also concerned about the changes that would now provide people granted PR under independent means the opportunity to be allowed to apply for a work permit. Miller said that Caymanians continued to have a hard time competing because of immigration laws and the fact that they were not being properly enforced.

As he closed the debate on the new bill, Bush said he didn’t expect any better from that member because his modus operandi was to castigate government and employers about work permits as he tried to make people believe he only wants Caymanians working here, and described him as a hypocrite.

The premier said the immigration department was hounded and cursed by all because people expect to have a high standard of living without having people from outside. Bush said these expectations were why there were so many problems surrounding immigration and why there had been so many changes to the law. “It is always problematic but can this country get along without people on work permits? No,” he said.

Bush noted that despite the problems and opposition to the amendments, there were more changes that had to be made that people might not like but his government would make those changes.

See new amendment which has now been passed into law below

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Two arrested over stabbing

| 10/04/2012 | 38 Comments

netcam1.jpg(CNS): Two men are currently in police custody in connection with a violent, possibly gang related attack which took place at Million Dollar Run boat race party on Seven Mile Beach on Easter Monday. Police said that a 28-year-old man is currently recovering in hospital following a stabbing at Royal Palms in the afternoon of 9 April. The incident occurred at around 4:10pm when police received a report that a man had sustained stab wounds to his body in the beachside bar. The man was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital, George Town, where he is currently in a stable condition with wounds that are not believed to be life threatening.

The two men who were arrested in the wake of the stabbing on suspicion of attempted murder are aged 18 and 24 years. Police said they remain in police custody while enquiries continue.

The officer in charge of the enquiry, Detective Sergeant Joe Wright, said the bar where the stabbing took place was very busy on Monday afternoon because of the Million Dollar Run event.

“The stabbing took place on the beachside patio area of the bar. Anyone who was in the area and saw the stabbing, or indeed any kind of a disturbance take place, is urged to contact the police as soon as possible. Information can be given in confidence. In addition, if you have any video footage or photographs which were taken in the bar area yesterday we would be keen to view those,” he said

Police confirmed that one line of enquiry being followed was that the attack was not random but that it may have been gang related.

Anyone with information which could assist the enquiry should contact George Town police station on 949-4222, the RCIPS Tip-line on 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477(TIPS).

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Deputy Governor facing ‘plateful’ of issues

| 10/04/2012 | 5 Comments

Deputy Gov sworn in (231x300).jpg(CNS): The opposition leader said Thursday that the new deputy governor, Franz Manderson, was facing a "plateful" of issues when  took up his official role in the Legislative Assembly. As the premier and PPM leader Alden McLaughlin welcomed and congratulated Manderson on his appointment, McLaughlin pointed to some of the hard decisions that he would have to make in his new role and the issues he now faced as head of the public service. “There is much modernisation necessary and many, many matters at the operation level which can do with some real insight and improvement,” the PPM leader said, adding that he felt Manderson had the will “to make right a number of matters that were not right at all.”

McLaughlin pointed in particular to the problem of discipline in the civil service. He said the country could not go on with senior civil servants on what was termed as “required leave” while investigations into why they had supposedly been removed from office dragged on interminably. The opposition leader said that this not only cost the government money but it was also undermining the self-esteem of the service and bringing the whole system into disrepute.

There were many other pressing matters too, he said, regarding the management of the service which were reflected in the Miller-Shaw report. McLaughlin pointed to the issue of civil service benefits which, he said, “everybody seems to tiptoe around because nobody wants to make the really hard decisions,” but he expressed hope that Manderson was the man for the job.

“Mr Manderson has more than a plateful of major issues confronting him immediately,” McLaughlin said. “I believe with his wealth of experience, education, sound judgement and compassionate nature he is well placed to deal with all of this things.”

McKeeva Bush also had lots of praise for the new civil service boss and said he brought “a breath of fresh air” to the post. Bush added that his demeanour would lead to better relations all around and that he had the support of the civil service.

“I believe the civil service … is moving forward into a good era and Mr Manderson as the leader of the civil service with new chief officers who are young and eager to move forward and carry through government policy, this bodes well for the country,” Bush said. The premier added that he was very pleased that Manderson was taking up the post, not least because he was from his district of West Bay and because he was a good Caymanian who was well deserving of the appointment.

Manderson thanked everyone for his welcome and said that since his appointment he had received tremendous support from government, the opposition and the independent member and he was confident that those good relationships would continue.

He said he was taking accountability across the civil service seriously and would be looking to drive down costs. Manderson also revealed that as part of the fourth phase of the review of the civil service there would be a comprehensive review of the various reports that have been done about the changes needed in the public sector.

Rather than going off and doing more reports, he said, he wanted to review what there was already, such as the Miller-Shaw report and others, and work towards getting those recommendations implemented. The deputy governor said there would be a rationalisation of the civil service to see where services could be amalgamated in future.

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Stewards of our land

| 10/04/2012 | 12 Comments

Having had the pleasure of a wonderful evening spent at Mr Joel Walton’s Plantation House this past Saturday, an annual event put on by the Slow Food movement, enjoying fabulous company and spectacular food, sourced from Joel’s garden and prepared by the Brasserie, I was most impressed by my surroundings and Joel’s generosity in opening his home but also in sharing his knowledge from his many successes (and perhaps a few failures) in making a fruitful and productive garden on rocky ground that would at first seem to be inhospitable to most plants.

(For your own garden tour it is worth noting that the Plantation House is open to the public every Sunday from 2pm – 5pm.)

One of the things that really got me thinking was Joel’s description of himself as being simply a steward of this land as his father was before him and as his children will be in the future.  This is precisely how we should be looking at our surroundings whether we live in a house with a few acres of land or in a condo complex with just a patio with perhaps room for a few pots of fresh herbs.

It has become obvious that our government is not about to do anything about the mounting problem of recycling or lack thereof.  This is not to say they don’t wish to take on this battle but, to be fair, they have an enormous amount of other (perhaps more) pressing issues and this is just one of the many they are facing.

I’d rather leave the government to deal with the more pressing issues that can’t be solved by the private sector (like fighting crime) and suggest that for issues such as this one, the private sector should lead the way.  It won’t be the first time the private sector has instigated a positive change – the fact that the supermarkets are now charging for plastic bags is another small step in the right direction that was initiated by the private sector.

Although not addressing the issue of plastic and glass, which I agree does need to be addressed at some point in the not too distant future, my suggestion for the start of a solution is simply that those people in apartment and condominium complexes ask their executive committees and/or their strata management companies to think about placing a compost bin on the property along with some basic composting instructions (see top 10 tips below).  Those complexes that have gardens maintained by a local company can involve the gardening company, which can use the compost for the plants on the property. Those in privatehomes can also easily do this as well and I’m sure most, if not all, of the gardening and landscaping companies on island would be happy to provide advice on how best to do this.

This may not be the solution to all our issues but it would be a step in the right direction for becoming more responsible stewards of our surroundings. Next up: plastic and glass!

Top 10 Composting Tips to get you started:

  1. Gather all grass clippings and green yard waste but be sure to mix with the "brown" materials like leaves and shredded paper to add carbon. You will need both, but if you only add grass clippings your pile will compact and start to stink.
  2. Do not compost meats or pet droppings. Stick with food scraps and yard waste only.
  3. Avoid all pesticides and/or herbicide treated material.
  4. If you add weeds to your pile make sure your pile is good and hot. It should be steaming hot, not just warm otherwise it may not kill the seeds.
  5. Turn your pile as often as you can. Each time you turn it will speed up the process.
  6. Keep your compost damp but not wet. As you add material to your pile make sure that each layer is moist as it is added. During the dry months your pile will dry out and the composting process will slow down.
  7. Got too much material to compost? Make a second or third pile. Stop adding material to a pile that is underway and start a new pile. This will insure you get a chance to use the compost this season.
  8. Add compost to your garden a few weeks before you plant. Let the compost have a chance to work into the soil. Try to mix it in and let it sit before you plant.
  9. Worms and most bugs are ok. No need to go crazy trying to keep bugs out of your compost.
  10. Since the compost process works best at temperature between 120 and 150 degrees composting in the warmer months is easier to do, if this is your first attempt at composting best to try in the summer.

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Crisis centre undergoing renovation

| 10/04/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The only safe house in the Cayman Islands that offers sanctuary to women and children at risk of domestic violence and sexual assault is being renovated with the help of local sponsors. The charity makes good use of the current space as some 16 beds are housed in the three bedroom bungalow which has two bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a dining area, and a laundry room as well as the charities offices. Allison Clark the fundraising committee chair said aside from providing shelter the home needed to provide hope and as such the renovation was important. From 1 January to 31 December 2011 the centre received 131 crisis calls and sheltered 30 women and 35 children, including providing them with meals, clothing and other daily essentials.

"While providing a safe place that offers shelter from abuse is our primary objective, we also believe that the Crisis Centre should be comforting, welcoming and a place of hope, inspiration, and healing and the home was in need of some basic upgrades,” said Clark.

Global Directories, publishers of the Cayman Islands Yellow Pages, is a major sponsor of the Cayman refurbishment project that is due to start this week. “We are grateful to organisations like the Cayman Islands Yellow Pages that help us to realise our vision of providing light and optimism in the lives of these people who need it most,” Clark added.

Eileen Keens, Market Manager of Global Directories said the firm was delighted to support the work of the Centre. “Their efforts to end domestic and sexual abuse continue to make a tremendous difference in many lives and have also helped raised community awareness about prevention and intervention through their various programmes".

For more information on how you or your company can assist the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, please contact Allison Clark at aclark@investors-trust.com, by calling 749-3340 or visiting www.cicc.ky.

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Library launches initiative to encourage reading

| 10/04/2012 | 0 Comments

summer-reading-kid-1dfd0ag.jpg(CNS): A nationwide initiative to encourage parents and children to read together was launched on Tuesday in which Cayman’s library services will recommend books each month for kids and teens to read. “Cayman Reads” programme, was described by officials as the first of its kind in the country. The selection of books has been chosen from the Caldecott Award whichis given annually to the most distinguished picture book for children and the first ever children’s literary award the Newbury. Each of the monthly book selections will be outlined in a booklet available in all libraries and on the website: www.cipl.gov.ky. 

The booklet also provides suggestions of other books by the winning illustrators and authors for parents and their children to explore. 

“I hope the Cayman Reads programme inspires a love of shared reading between parents and children,” said the Director of Public Libraries KC Williams. “It is my wish that every child in Cayman reads and shares stories with someone they love.”

The books selected for each month will be available in all public libraries and government schools will also have copies available in their own school libraries. Programme supporters The Book Nook and Books & Books will also have the books available for purchase should persons want to add these books to their personal collections.

The education minister, Rolston Anglin gave his full endorsement of what he said was an exciting programme. “The Cayman Islands Public Library Service and Ministry of Education are encouraging and helping parents and caregivers to develop a love of reading in the young children and teenagers under their care,” he said.”If we build a love of reading in children from the time they are very young, it will continue far beyond this stage. A love of books is no less important once children become adolescents.”

As a former English teacher, Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues said the power of a well-written story could “kindle curiosity, awaken wonder and engage our emotions.” She added, “Through the launch of the “Cayman Reads” programme, we will be empowering all parents and caregivers of young children and teenagers to experience this joy of reading.”

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Cayman loses nail biter to Jamaica

| 10/04/2012 | 0 Comments

(CRFU): Cayman lost aheartbreaker to Jamaica on Saturday April 7th in Kingston Jamaica 19-18. The loss, a far cry from Cayman’s 36-24 win over Jamaica last year on home soil sends the Cayman Islands crashing down 7 places in the IRB world rankings and marks the first loss to Jamaica that the Cayman Men’s team has suffered in over a decade. The Cayman team struggled to get their game going at all. The Jamaicans, clearly putting their 68-14 hammering by Mexico in late March behind them were big and physical and took the game to Cayman with some huge confrontations.

Cayman were clearly thrown off with Jamaica taking a 13 to 0 lead in the first five minutes. The Cayman team set up some great opportunities but squandered them all before Venassio Tokatokavanua scored for Cayman and Morgan Hayward converted to bring the game to 13 to 7. Hayward then slotted a penalty to take the half time score to 13 to 10 Jamaica.

In the second half Ben Blair crashed over to take the score to Cayman 15 and Jamaica 13. Jamaica came straight back with a penalty to make the score 16 to 15 to Jamaica. In the last 8 minutes Cayman were awarded another penalty which Hayward slotted giving the Cayman side and 18 to 16 lead. With the last play of the game Cayman won a line out and simply needed to get the ball out of bounds to win, there was a mix up and the resultant penalty to Jamaica was kicked and the international test won with the last play of the game 19 to 18.

So after the first round of matches the Standings are as follows

Team     Played Won Lost Bonus Total
Mexico   1           1       0      1            5
Jamaica 2          1       1      0           4
Cayman 1          0        1     1            1

Moving into the last game in the pool stage for round 1 Cayman play Mexico at the Cayman Big Game 1 www.caymanbiggame.com at Truman Bodden on April 21st.

Cayman must beat Mexico by a margin greater than seven points while not allowing Mexico to score four tries. This will tie up the table at 5 points each but Cayman will then go through by the tournament rules so the Cayman Big Game is all or nothing to Mexico and Cayman while Jamaica are out of the RWC 2015.

 

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Jeweller to develop George Town craft market

| 10/04/2012 | 0 Comments

craft market.jpg(CNS Business): The government has agreed to lease the Craft Market, a parcel of crown land off Cardinal Avenue in George Town, to a local jewellery company, which will be redeveloping the site into a new market. The deputy premier said during Thursday’s meeting of the Legislative Assembly that the site was in dire need of renovation but government did not have to money to carry out the project. As a result, proposals for the rejuvenation were invited via the Central Tenders Committee and Magnum Jewellers had been selected to lease and redevelop the site. Tabling the report as required by the Vesting of Lands Law, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said there would be benefits to George Town and the tourist sector. Read more on CNS Business

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