Archive for June 26th, 2012

Habitual offender gets more jail time for handling

| 26/06/2012 | 8 Comments

Prison gate (232x300).jpg(CNS): Justice Charles Quin stretched a 20-year-old man’s existing jail time Monday when he handed down a three year sentence for handling stolen goods. The Grand Court judge ordered that Devon Wright should serve one year concurrently with his existing sentence for burglary but two of the three years would be consecutive with his current four year sentence meaning that two years will added to his time at HMP Northward. In his ruling the judge pointed out that Wright had a string of offences to his name, despite being only 20, and had committed this latest offence while on bail awaiting trial for another crime.

The judge noted that Wright did not appear to want to break from his habitual criminality but if he did not do so he was likely to spend most of his life in prison. Wright has eleven convictions recorded between 2009 and 2011, nine of which are for burglary, a previous conviction for handling stolen goods and one for damage to property.

Wright was convicted on this occasion after a judge alone trial in May of handling stolen goods but not guilty of two counts of burglary. The goods in question were two laptop computers with an estimated value of $1,890. With sentencing guidelines calling for a period of imprisonment for the offence between 12 months and four years, Wright’s previous convictions and persistent claims of innocence led the judge towardsthe three years he handed down.

The judge said Wright was described in the social enquiry report as bright and full of potential but was at a 100% risk of re-offending. The judge said the findings made for “depressing reading”. Justice Quin also noted  the young man’s drug habit as he said he had been smoking ganja since he was twelve years old and was smoking around 12 and 15 spliffs a day.

But the judge was mostdisturbed by the failure of Wright’s family to take an interest in the young man.

“What is particularly disturbing is that despite attempts to contact the defendant’s parents they could not be reached to verify or supplement any information,” the judge stated referring to the report undertaken by officials. “It has been said before but it still bears repeating: it is the apathy and total lack of concern for the welfare of their children that is one of the major reasons for the high level of serious crime committed by young persons over the last two or three years."

However, the judge added that Wright was now 20 years old and had to take responsibility for his own actions and, despite the best efforts of his lawyer, the defendant had not made  his task an easy one.

Speaking directly to the defendant after his ruling, the judge added that he should put his intelligence and talents identified by the social workers to better use and move away from his criminal behaviour.

As the young man looked away from the bench, the judge added, “Perhaps I’m wasting my breath.” 

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Stepping stones trample over five nations

| 26/06/2012 | 1 Comment

week1a (204x300).jpg(CRFU): This summer of sport just gets better and better. The Euro 2012 Championships, the Olympics, Wimbledon Tennis and now to cap it all the Cayman Summer Touch Rugby League has kicked off in style. Twenty-six teams and over 350 players will compete in three divisions for honour, for pride, for glory, for trophies and to “touch” immortality. The opening game of the new season confronted the old with the new. The old in the burgeoning girth of the venerable Genesis Five Nations, the new in the form of the slim and trim young upstarts from Stepping Stones.  Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of two of last year’s best Division 1 teams, Stepping Stones have amassed a powerful squad to challenge the omnipresent duopoly of summer touch that has been Maples1 (the Champions) and Genesis Five Nations. (Photo  Caroline Deegan)

This “new kid on the block” will no doubt have a significant bearing on the title this year but only time will tell if they are to be the Jordan Knight (the handsome one) or the Danny Wood (remember him – the useless one?) of touch rugby.

Genesis Five Nations rely on a tried and tested formula of straight up hits mixed with a bit of Venassio Toketokevanua magic. However, as the match progressed and after an early Phil Fourie score for them the Stones defence started to get on top. Riley Mullen, as if a cross between a whippet and a bloodhound, was on Toketokevanua’s trail and followed his scent all over the park. Tenacious and resolute in his task, Mullen blunted the Five Nations’ main strike weapon forcing the great man down blind alleys and into increasingly desperate plays.

In attack, Stepping Stones started to get their shift together. Ray Galletly began to dictate play. Strutting like a modern-day Napoleon, he promenaded in front of the Genesis Five Nations defence, parading the ball before them as if itwere the spoils of war.  Goading them to break their ranks he would tease and torment them and, ably supported by his trusty henchman Steve Henshaw, then burst through the defensive line causing chaos.  One particular cannonball-like pass out of the back of his hand nearly took Mullen’s head off who did well to catch the ball and dive over the line for the score.

However, the try of the game came from Genesis Five Nations’ Caroline Deegan. Like Moses, but without the beard, she parted the Stones defence like the Red Sea. Showcasing her customary outrageous show-and-go dummy pass, Deegan sent defenders to the left and defenders to the right. By the time the gap had closed she’d already crossed the line, put the ball down and was jogging back to the halfway line, taking the plaudits from her teammates and the crowd alike.

As Genesis Five Nations pressed the game to catch up on the scoreboard uncharacteristic handling errors started to show. This was quickly followed by some characteristic heated in-house deliberations on their defensive failings. In the end, they ran out of puff and ran out of ideas as Stepping Stones ran out worthy 6-5 winners.

Maples1 start the season in defence of their title. A winner for the last three years, their mantelpiece is awash with silverware however Captain Marty Livingston has made some notable changes to his squad. The return of key playmaker Mike McGrath will no doubt be a boost. The champions looked ring rusty in the early exchanges with balls going to ground a little too often. But as the game progressed the wizened old heads of seasoned campaigners such as Livingston and Jo Ziegler, coupled with the whizz of Jyoti Choi and the fizz of McGrath, they started to achieve some fluidity and moved the ball around with increasing zip.

KPMG1 are a work in progress with many players mere fledglings in touch rugby terms. Commendation must go to their leader Neil Montgomery. Like a 5’6” Duracell Bunny but with slightly smaller ears, this man singularly drives his team forward and keeps them going. He runs, passes, dummies, side-steps, passes, runs some more and scores all day long. He pulls the strings and packs the punches. It is exhausting just to watch him such is the effort he puts in. His teammates cannot be faulted for their efforts either but experience is essential and they were just out-manoeuvered and out-played. A three-try haul for Choi, with extras added by Livingston, Ziegler, Joan Murphy and Marc Fagan, Maples1 recorded an 8-2 result to start the campaign with a win.

DART have stepped up a Division this year and it will be a steep learning curve for this team of valiant triers. For their first game against Maples2 they added some sage wisdom to their ranks and some beef to their bones with new recruits Marcus Cumber and Mat Bishop. The loss of last season’s top try scorer, Neal Ainscow to long term injury, will be a massive blow to their fluidity in attack and scramble defence but it gives the others a chance to shine and take on the burden of responsibility. Similarly Maples2 have found themselves elevated to Division 1 but in their case they have a few more experienced touch players who, whilst lacking in sonic pace, have sound basic skills mixed with a sprinkling of space dust.

The first half was a tight affair with both teams trying to find a rhythm but the deadlock was broken by a cheeky inside-out break from Mark Robson who sliced through the DART defence like a cold knife through butter. DART picked up the pace and Bishop, unsurprisingly, popped up on the right wing to equalize. Sophia Dilbert and Marc Randall stretched the Maples2 lead at the break but the standout try came from Marcus Cumber who, straight from the restart, ran through the entire Maples2 defence to score in the corner. Stung by this defensive lapse Maples2 started to exert more pressure both in attack and defence and added further tries from Joan Murphy, Randall and Finn Hegarty.

The final score 7-2 to Maples2. 

Trident Titans started the season with a good win over a much depleted Ogier team. Highly mobile and with good handling Trident Titans put on a tryfest, a veritable avalanche of scores. Dean Curtis, Brad Stephenson, Phil Fourie, Nic Swartz, Riley Mullen and Lisa Bird all scored in a 12-1 rout.  Jacqui Davis of the Trident Titans was given the MVP award for an outstanding performance.

DIVISION 2

New to Division 2 this year is Broadhurst. Their first match-up was against the Heineken Light Maidens. Resplendent in purple and accompanied by matching 80’s style purple headbands, Broadhurst took to the field looking like the illegitimate offspring of a drunken one-night threesome involving Olivia Newton-John, Mark Knopfler and Prince. Miss Newton-John would be proud of her progeny as they aerobicized their way around the pitch working up quite a sweat. Playing touch rugby as if “Let’s Get Physical” was their melodious mantra they defended the Heineken Light Maidens attacks with exuberance and enthusiasm whilst working out some nice moves themselves.

The Heineken Light Maidens, an all-female troupe of touch lovelies, know a thing or two about how to handle a rugby ball. All are vastly experienced and know exactly how to manipulate an opponent to the point of both delirium and confusion. And so it was with Jo Ziegler, Lisa Kehoe and Sharlee Henshaw. Sweet interplay and passing had the headbanded Broadhurst defence in dire straits, pulling them from one side to the other creating space for overlaps and try scoring opportunities.

On more than one occasion the try scorer simply had catch the pass and touch the ball down as the Broadhurst defence had retreated beyond its own try-line. This defensive naivety is to be expected for a new team and they eventually showed signs of improved co-ordination – not just in the matching shirts and headbands but between players too.  Jason Scarff and Richard Lewis made some telling line breaks but it was Roz Glanfield who shone on her season debut. She seemed omnipresent in the Broadhurst defence and contributed to the attacks achieving the first MVP award for her team. Eventually the

Maidens ran out 7-3 winners.

When quizzed after the game, Broadhurst Captain Kate McClymont said, “We are a new team and everyone is very keen. We’ll only get better and the headbands give us a team unity that can make a difference. Say it loud, we’re purple and proud!”

Campbells beat Rawlinson & Hunter 5-4. Jerry Beck made an effervescent debut and big Jonny Lewis made a couple of telling breaks that resulted in crucial scores. Beck, along with Marcus Cumber, Nicky White and Karen Hart made the vital touchdowns. For R&H the Proud family, Conrad and Julie, did their team …erm… proud by scoring 3 out of their 4 tries, Alex Pineau adding the fourth.

Deloitte and Walkers Blue Iguanas shared a 3-3 draw. Playing with four girls and two guys, Walkers Blue Iguanas held their own against a lively Deloitte team who had Al Lum at the heart of their best moves. The Iguanas try scorers James Melen (2) and Perry Levy (1) was answered by one a-piece from Lum, Lawrence Usher and Dave Acutt. MVP Vikky Piaso was inspirational in her never-say-die approach to touch rugby.

Harmonic demolished an understrength DMS 11-0. Having gone all of last season without a single victory Harmonic had more players available this time than ever before. When they have a full team out they can trouble many teams in a higher Division with the likes of Tim Rossiter, Rob Aspinall, Brad Cowdroy and Scott McCarty on show. DMS will have to have a fresh look at their roster to see how they can improve otherwise it will be a long season for them.

In the late game, UBS and Island Heritage played out a gritty if not pretty 2-2 draw. MVP Brandon Smith and Wayne Morgan scored for Island Heritage, Stuart Reed and Jimmy Aiken replied for UBS.

DIVISION 3

Delta Force lived up to their name with a special ops assassination of Grizz and his gay (as in merry) band of pink shirted Old Fellas’. Chief marksman was Justin “deadly” Vasquez who crossed the white-wash a walloping six times. Admittedly the target on an Old Fellas’ shirt is getting bigger year on year, but this Mossad-style “Raid on En-tubby” was a quick and clinical kill. Christian Victory showed that the Good Lord does work in mysterious ways as he scored twice in reply – Victory that is, not the Good Lord – He just gets the assist. Other Force scorers included Jyoti Choi, Frank Butterworth, Eric St. Cyr, and Chandra Friesen. Final score 12-2 to the Force.

Zolfo Cooper, newbies to the Summer Touch Rugby community, opened their account with a close 3-2 win over GCM. Katherine Maw was outstanding in her ball handling and defence and rightly won the MVP award. Tries from Tom Eliot and two from Marc Randall, were answered by one each from Colin Travers and Adam Cullen for GCM.

KPMG2 took on LIME in a close fought game where the final result was in doubt right up to the end. However, it was the pace of Ian Roberton (3) and guile of Miguel Lopez (2) that squeezed the juices out of LIME. With another added by Andrew Edwards, KPMG2 pipped LIME 6-5. Eamon Wilson, Barnaby Richardson, Jeffrey Robinson, and Eva Hartnett scored for LIME.

In the final game, Credit Suisse relied on “Beauty and the Beast” or rather “Beauties and the Beasts” to see off a gallant Ernst & Young team 8 to 5 – the former in the shape of Erica McDonald and Stacey Ottenbreit with one try each, the latter in the bulk of Dave Bailey (3), Ben McDonald, and Mick Kehoe (2). Jonny Lewis and Ronan McCarthy replied for Ernst & Young.

Photo: Liam Welfar of the Delta Group tries to outfox Stacey Otenbriet of DART.

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Cop on trial over allegations of arrest brutality

| 26/06/2012 | 0 Comments

rabe welcome.JPG(CNS): An officer from the RCIPS who is currently suspended from duty has finally gone on trial in connection with an alleged assault that occurred at a gas station in June 2009. Rabe Welcome is charged with wounding a man at the Red Bay Esso on Shamrock Road during an arrest that he and other off-duty officers made at the gas station. The four-day jury trial presided over by Justice Alex Henderson opened on Monday morning in court five, more than three years after the alleged incident of police brutality took place. Meanwhile, concern has also been raised over another accusation of assault by a senior police officer on a junior cop, which may now pass the time limit for charges to be brought. (Photo courtesy of Cayman27)

An unnamed officer has reportedly been investigated for an assault on a young officer in the RCIPS, which is believed to have occurred outside the George Town court house. Sources close to the incident tell CNS that the file was passed to the legal department, which was believed to have advised that charges could be laid

However, no charges have been filed against the senior officer, and as the incident occurred in February, the six month time limitation for bringing charges in category C offences once a complaint and an accused has been identified may mean the case is never brought to court. The RCIPS has refused to comment on the incident and CNS has learned that the officer in question has remained, up until Monday, on duty.

Welcome was, however, suspended immediately following the allegations of assault made against him, along with another officer who was present during the reported case of brutality. Charges against Adrian Clark were dismissed by the magistrate following a successful 'no case' submission by his attorney in summary court in 2010. A third off-duty officer present who was involved was eliminated from the police enquiry into the alleged brutality at an early stage.

When the assault happened, the victim, who is the now chief prosecution witness, was also accused of being armed with a machete. He received a broken arm when he was placed under arrest by the off-duty cops in the early hours of the morning on suspicion of threatening violence and possession of an offensive weapon. The man sustained a number of injuries during the incident, including a laceration to his face, and was released by police without charge.

Officials from the RCIPS said at the time that it takes incidents “of this nature extremely seriously” and although police officers do find themselves in situations where the use of force is necessary, they are required to justify that use of force,showing that it was proportionate and legal, and that there was, at the time, an absolute necessity.

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Police make arrest in attempted murder case

| 26/06/2012 | 4 Comments

CS tape.jpg(CNS): Officers from the RCIPS have arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder in connection with a serious and violent stabbing last week. The man was arrested yesterday evening (Monday 25 June) following a police operation in the Windsor Park area and he is currently in police custody while enquiries continue into the case and as the victim’s condition has been revealed to be critical. The man was assaulted in Hawkins Drive, Windsor Park, in the early hours of Thursday morning at a party. Police are appealing for anyone who was at the house in Windsor Park that morning to contact them.

The officer in charge of the enquiry, Detective Inspector Joseph Wright, said he was disappointed that, despite the number of people who were at the gathering, no one has yet come forward in response to that appeal.

However, officers have been conducting extensive door-to-door enquiries in the area and would ask anyone who has not yet been spoken to by the police to contact them on the following numbers: George Town CID 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477(TIPS).

The 34-year-old man who was stabbed in the neck was admitted to the Cayman Islands Hospital and it was then that police were alerted to the incident. Enquiries revealed that the victim had sustained the injury while attending the party sometime around 3:15 am.  It is suggested that around 50 people were at the house when the stabbing took place.

The victim remains within the Cayman Islands Hospital and his condition is now described as critical.

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Health conference to focus on patient centred care

| 26/06/2012 | 8 Comments

carry~on~doctor~2_0.jpg(CNS): Cayman’s third annual free National Health Conference has been set for October 18-20 at the Ritz Carlton and will focus on “Patient-Centred Care:  Achieving Quality Outcomes". Officials said that the conference is not just for professionals and experts in the field but for everyone and urged the public to attend and seize the opportunity to participate in defining the health policies that will affect them and generations to come. HSA Director Lizzette Yearwood said a patient-centred approach was integral to the new objectives laid out by the Board of the Health Services Authority.

“The HSA was proud to report that the 2012 survey resulted in 85% of respondents rating services received at the HSA as good or excellent,” she said.

Speaking at a press conference announcing the dates of the event, Health Minister Mark Scotland said expectations were high as each annual conference helped move Cayman that much closer to the vision of optimal health and wellbeing for all. He encouraged the medical community, the business community, stakeholders, patients and individuals to attend.

“Once more, we are expecting an impressive lineup of speakers. This list includes Barbara Ficarra, an award-winning journalist, medical blogger, media trainer and health expert. She is the creator, executive producer and host of the 'Health in 30' radio show and writes for the Huffington Post,” he said.

Also presenting is Cynthia Hastings-James, co-founder of Cookson James Loyalty, whose mission is to help evolve consumer health behaviour and thus change the face of healthcare in Canada. As more speakers and topics are confirmed, officials said, further announcements would be made.

A new feature has been added to the event where participants will be able to work together looking for solutions to specific health care issues. Working groups will be set up to address three key areas of healthcare — paediatric health, oncology and corporate wellness — ahead of the conference. These groups will then make presentations at a two-hour moderated breakout sessions on the second day and delegates will be invited to offer feedback. The group leaders will also be scheduled to address two sessions for the conference as a whole.

“We are excited about the possibilities of the new break-out session format and look forward to hearing the results from these brain trusts,” Scotland added.  

It was also announced that sponsorship packages have been revised this year, offering more variety and options for potential sponsors.  Package details can be found on the website at www.healthcareconference.ky.

Last year, the conference was underwritten by local and international sponsors. The ministry is once again hopeful for the same in 2012 as this allows them to host the event at little cost to the ministry and offer it free of cost to every single resident of the Cayman Islands.

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No complaint about UK lord

| 26/06/2012 | 14 Comments

Blencathra.jpg(CNS): Despite reports from the UK that the House of Lords standards commission may be looking into the appointment of Cayman’s representative in London, the commissioner, Paul Kernaghan, has stated that he has received no complaints about Lord Blencathra on possible conflicts of interest. Although some UK MPs had questioned the Tory peer’s role as the director of the Cayman Islands London office, Kernaghan said he had received no complaint and was not conducting any investigation relating to him breaking the House of Lords Code of Conduct. Last month, when tensions between Premier McKeeva Bush and Governor Duncan Taylor in Cayman escalated, Bush also accused Taylor of trying to block his appointment of the British peer.

Sources tell CNS that the FCO had, in fact, wanted to check that the appointment would not pose any conflicts orfall foul of any standards and regulations regarding the British government or the UK’s upper house before Blencathra was formally appointed and the announcement made.

However, the premier went ahead and signed a contract with the peer during his visit to London in November, before the FCO had checked the appointment. It is understood that Bush wanted Lord Blencathra in his camp when he met the OT minister, Henry Bellingham, to sign the Financial Framework Agreement.

In his attack on the governor in May, when he listed what he believed were the UK government representative’s shortcomings, Bush stated, referring to Taylor, “He didn't support me hiring Lord Blencathra.”

Aside from FCO questions, however, the appointment was criticised by the opposition Labour party and in the press.

Since the complaints were raised in the UK parliament about him, Lord Blencathra took the initiative and contacted the UK Commissionfor Standards in Public Life, supplying various documentation, which he said demonstrated there was no conflict of interest and he was not breaking of the code of conduct. Paul Kernaghan wrote back to the peer confirming that no complaint had been made and therefore there was nothing for him to investigate.

The question of conduct arose when the UK’s daily newspaper The Independent printed a story stating that Lord Blencathra sits as a peer in the House of Lords, while also holding the post of London Office director for Cayman.

“On 17 April, they print a story saying that I may have broken the rules and should be reported,” said Lord Blencathra in a release from the Financial Services Secretariat. “Then on 18 April, they print a story saying that there have been demands for me to be investigated, without pointing out that they were the only ones making the demands.”

The peer said Cayman has been under attack in the UK press for years, ever since John Grisham’s novel, The Firm, used the islands as the backdrop for a fictional story of financial corruption. The novel was made into a popular movie starring Tom Cruise, much of which was filmed here in the Cayman Islands and featured many familiar faces as extras.

“There are some reporters and editors who are stuck on that 1993 movie, and who do not report truthfully about the quality of the Cayman Islands as an international financial centre,”  said the Tory peer, who is drawing CI$19,000 from the public purse to defend Cayman’s image and interest in London and Brussels.

“Unfortunately, this means that the public cannot move forward either – unless they are aware of positive reports written about the Cayman Islands, prepared by global oversight bodies such as the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes; the Financial Stability Board; and International Organisation of Securities Commission (IOSCO).

“These reports, and many others, speak well of the Cayman Islands’ financial services legislation, regulation, court system, and industry overall,” he added.

Lord Blencathra said that, as the London Office director, it is his job to tell the public about the jurisdiction’s achievements and strong reputation in the global financial community.

"It is a fact of life that I, or anyone else who speaks up for Cayman, will be criticised. If people like me stay silent then there is no chance of the true financial status of Cayman being fairly reported. I will continue to defend Cayman, and no doubt some reporters will continue to attack us," Blencathra warned.

See related story:

Miller calls on CIG to dismiss UK lord

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TCI business community fights back at VAT

| 26/06/2012 | 23 Comments

regattaIMG_1353a_0.jpg(CNS): The UK government’s proposal to implement VAT in the Turks and Caicos Islands to plug the public finances has been meant with concerted opposition from the business community. A new pressure group, the Turks and Caicos Independent Business Council (TCIBC) has been formed by a broad group of concerned individuals from all sectors of the economy and business community to campaign against the move which it says is inappropriate for the islands’ economy as they accused the British bureacrats of imposing a cookie cutter, tax system that won’t work in the Caribbean territory. Some 3000 people have already signed the petition and the TCIBC said the UK could not impose a tax that was rejected by the community.

“We have a common purpose in that we are all unified in our opposition to the introduction of VAT in the Turks and Caicos Islands,” a spokesperson for the new private sector pressure group stated. “We send a clear warning to Chancellor George Osborne that we represent the interests of all the leading businesses in the country and indeed it can be said that our views are representative of virtually every business concern.

“We are deeply concerned about the expected negative effects of the hasty introduction of VAT into the island’s tax structure.  As business professionals we do not have a problem with taxation and recognize the need to fund government.”

The TCIBC said it did have a major problem however with VAT because of “its inappropriate nature” for the Turks and Caicos Islands and its unique economy and point of development.  “We believe that the recent gains in economic sustainability will be lost with the imposition of this "boiler plate", cookie cutter, tax system,” it stated in a release. “This new VAT tax is not driven by a "grass roots" initiative, but is a politically driven tax imposed upon us by distant bureaucrats based in Europe without effective due process and regard to our specific economy and its future development. One size does not fit all.’

The business group said it intended to continue the debate on VAT through wider public education and dissemination of information. The group made it clear that it would oppose and resist the introduction of VAT through whatever legal mechanisms it could use including public consultations and education through the press, TV and radio.

“This task has already begun with over 3000 people having already signed a petition opposing VAT. Many more are joining us daily, “the group revealed. “This is not a done deal as many think. No government or administration can impose any policy upon a community if that community refuses to accept the policy.

TCIBC’s newly appointed Chairman, Clive Stanbrook, a local businessman and Queen’s Counsel, said the group was sending a clear message to the British Government. “t is the view of virtually the entire business community in the Turks and Caicos that a VAT tax is inappropriate, costly, cumbersome and unnecessary at this stage in the development of these Islands. In the short term it is clear that the existing taxation systems can be relied upon to raise such extra revenue as may be needed," he added.

Last week officials from the TCI interim government defended the VAT proposal as a way to plug the hole created by the previous government’s alleged corruption and mismanagement of public money.  Chief Financial Officer Hugh McGarel-Groves said Introducing VAT would strengthen the country’s fragile recovery with a simpler, equitable and stable source of government revenue.

Hitting out against those opposing the tax McGarel-Groves asked what alternatives there were to the benefits of VAT and suggestedthe opposition came from those who are currently paying no tax at all.

“Given the difficulties endured by the TCI economy since the collapse of the last government, it is in the best interests of the entire community to ensure that government finances are secure and that it can continue to develop expenditure plans in line with local peoples’ priorities,” the chief financial officer said.

He added that VAT was a proven system across the Caribbean and would be straightforward to administer as a single form of taxation replacing the five different sets that are currently levied in the UK territory.

 

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Minister urges survey input

| 26/06/2012 | 41 Comments

_DEW3263-web.jpg(CNS): The health minister has vehemently denied any political agenda or any other sinister ulterior motives on the critical health survey currently being undertaken by the HSA officials. Mark Scotland told CNS Monday that the UDP is not attempting to get into people’s homes for political manipulation as some commenters have suggested but it is to get essential data about the health of the nation and to enable his ministry to focus limited resources where they are most needed. Cayman has a paucity of information regarding non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and needs to know much more about what it is that’s making people sick.

Speaking at a press briefing on Monday morning, Chief Officer in the ministry Jennifer Ahearn said that the officials who are undertaking the survey, which selects households and those to be interviewed in each household randomly, had met with some problems. As well as people not being home they have also met with refusals and as a result it was taking longer to get the critical information needed. However, she said, the enumerators are pressing on and she urged people to take part as the information was confidential.

“If you are selected please do participate; the results are completely confidential,” Ahearn assured the public. “I know there is some concern and speculation about what we are going to do with the data, who we are going to give it to, and whether it can be identified as being your data. You will get the information for you, but once aggregated it will be aggregated confidentially.”

She explained it was very important that the ministry collected the information so it could target its ever dwindling resources for a healthier nation.

The first ever health survey of its kind, which began in May will continue through into July, and although some preliminary results and indictors will be revealed at this year’s National Health Conference, the full results are not expected until November.

The health statistics will be used for planning and implementing health policy and the minister has said Cayman cannot afford to neglect the growing epidemic of chronic diseases as he criticised comments made in the CNS Forum that he said were raising unfounded suspicions of the survey. He said that healthcare was never an area that had been politicised and the survey was critically important.

He said that measuring the risk factor data was crucial for predicting the future burden of chronic disease on the local population and to identifying potential interventions to reduce that burden.

Last week, the minister also presented the completed National Health Policy and Strategic Plan for the Cayman Islands to stakeholders, which will now be presented to Cabinet before being tabled in the Legislative Assembly and becoming a public document.

“While there are many good things about healthcare in the Cayman Islands, we are facing many challenges, including increasing costs and the need to ensure equitable access,” Scotland said. “The National Health Policy and Strategic Plan will provide the much-needed over-arching policy framework to help us address the challenges that we face, as well as helping us to capitalise on the opportunities that we have to enhance and promote health and well-being for all in the Cayman Islands. I want to thank all those who contributed their knowledge and expertise to come up with this document.”

He described it as a simple and straightforward document that gives a clear-cut vision and objectives for health with a focus on preventative and pro-active healthcare.

“People must take more responsibility for their health and I believe this policy lays thegroundwork for a culture of pro-active healthcare where we move away from sick-care to wellness care,” he added.

See more details about health at: www.ministry of health.gov.ky/healthy nation

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Vote has possible 3rd result

| 26/06/2012 | 4 Comments

vote here 2.jpg(CNS): The referendum on one man, one vote (OMOV) and single member constituencies which will take place on 18 July could have a third outcome that may still influence government even if the ‘yes’ vote doesn’t carry, elections office officials said Monday. The deputy supervisor of elections said the vote will only be binding with a 50% plus one vote result for either ‘yes’ or ‘no, but the third outcome, in which neither the ‘no’ vote nor the ‘yes’ vote reach the threshold set by government, would not be a wasted message. Colford Scott explained that the number of votes cast in the referendum can still serve to advise government on the mood of the people towards single member or multi-member constituencies.

If the ‘yes’ vote falls only marginally short of the target set by government and wins the majority of the turnout, it may well decide that the Cayman Islands is ready for single member constituencies at the next election. However, if the 'no' vote wins the majority of the turnout at the polls it could set back the OMOV campaign for some time. The magic figure for a binding result is 7,582 as the total electorate for the referendum is 15,161.
Scott pointed out at a press briefing about the national vote that, whatever the result of the referendum, it would not be a wasted exercise.

With the elections office now in full swing, mobile voting starts a week Friday in Little Cayman before it begins its tour around Grand Cayman, where hundreds of voters will be polled ahead of Referendum Day.

Mobile voting is made up of two elements: the first is the ‘in home’ or institution voting where election officials go the Pines and other retirement homes, the hospital  and people’s own homes to allow the elderly and infirm to cast their vote. The second is a mobile voting unit which provides early voting for the hundreds of workers who will be unable to go to the polls on Referendum Day because they are emergency service personnel or involved in the election itself.

Already 135 postal ballots have been issued and several more applied for and election officials said they expected a higher than normal number of postal ballots because of the referendum being in July. The deadline for making an application for an absentee ballot is 6 July but the completed forms can be received by election staff up to 6pm on Referendum Day.

Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez said that as a result of the anticipated postal ballots, the formal result of the full national vote probably won’t be announced until the morning of Thursday 19 July. He explained that counting postal votes takes longer because of the necessary verification.

For those voters who will be casting their vote on Referendum Day, the polls open at 7am and, with three exceptions, voters are required to go to the same district polling station where they voted in the last general election.

In West Bay three of the usual locations were unavailable and, as a result, voters in West Bay East will cast their ballot at a tent on the vacant lot opposite Fosters Repulix, those in West Bay South at a tent on the vacant lot at 88 North West Point Road, and those in West Bay North will vote at the Presbyterian Church on Boatswain Bay Road.

Throughout the voting day information will be updated on the number of voters coming out to the polls on a two-hourly basis, which will give an indication of whether enough people have voted for a possible binding result. If less than 7,582 votes come out to the poll then Cayman will know when the polls close that the result won’t be binding. With a constant update on numbers, though, campaigners on both sides of the debate will be able to continue encourage voters to go to the polls in order to get the sort of turnout that could influence government even if a binding result is not achieved.

With real time updates once the count begins, the media will be able to convey a running tally of votes throughout the night, keeping the country informed if the magic figure is achieved, one way or another. The counts will also take place in the districts and government will be able to see which of the existing electoral districts support or do not support the democratic principle one man, one vote. 

The elections office confirmed that the usual rules and regulations governing a general election will apply to Referendum Day, and campaigners on the yes or no side will not be allowed to campaign directly but only to encourage people to go to the polls. Officials also confirmed that all liquor licensed premises, including hotel bars, must remain closed until 7pm in the evening.

For full details on postal ballots, mobile voting, district polling stations and other information visit the election website and be sure to keep glued to CNS on Referendum Day for full coverage and instant updates.

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