Archive for July 3rd, 2012

Unusual duty waivers granted

| 03/07/2012 | 106 Comments

fourth-slide-fireworks1.jpg(CNS): An open records request has revealed an array of unusual duty waivers granted by government over a period of six months, including T-shirts, souvenirs, guns, heavy equipment, an elevator and even fireworks. The duty waivers have been granted not just to charities or schools but to a number of private companies and retailers, according to the partially redacted list supplied under the freedom of information law following an application by independent MLA Ezzard Miller. The list also shows that 26 of the waivers have been granted directly by the premier. Close to $200,000 of duty was waived, the document shows, between 1 July and 31 December last year.

Miller pointed out that this was just a snapshot of the waivers that appeared to be getting pushed through, not just because of government policy or at the discretion of the customs department, but also at the request of the premier. The independent member questioned the validity of waivers, at least on some of the items, at a time when the public finances are facing such dire consequences that government has been unable to produce a budget for the next financial year.

“I can’t see why we would be giving duty waivers on imported fireworks,” Miller said as he noted a more than $7,000 waiver for Cayman Firepower. “I find it incredible that, at a time when government is so short of revenue, it can give away so many duty waivers, some of which are for significant amounts of money.”

The MLA also noted that, according to the Public Management and Finance Law, McKeeva Bush can only give the duty waivers in his position as finance minister and not as the country’s premier. 

Miller said that while they may be one and the same person, it was important to remember that the offices are two separate and very different entities in the law.

He also raised concerns that not all of the names on the request had been revealed, so the public could not be sure exactly who or what was in receipt of the waivers, in particular those given by the premier, and why.

Many of the waivers are given as part of government policy, such as solar and other eco-friendly equipment. Some on the list also cover equipment being bought by government itself or statutory authorities and government owned companies, but a considerable number of the items on the list have been waived without an obvious explanation.

Given that the list only covered one sixth month period, Miller said that considerable revenue could have been lost over this financial year if similar waivers were given over the last six months.

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Researchers keep up fight against dengue fever

| 03/07/2012 | 3 Comments

Dengue mosquito survey.jpg(CNS): Experts from the Mosquito Control and Research Unit are warning that levels of the pests are higher than usual this year and asking people to help keep the numbers down. Dr Angela Harris, Senior Research Officer MCRU explained that the early May rains delayed the seeding of the mosquito’s grounds but the unit is now on top of the aerial larviciding campaign across all three islands. “The early rains this year brought out high numbers of mosquitoes for a while – it’s not a record year, but the mosquito numbers are higher than average," she said. The scientists are also remaining vigilant regarding the Aedes aegypti mosquito to ensure the pest does not start to carry dengue fever as it does elsewhere in the region.

“We do everything we can to keep the Cayman Islands free from Dengue Fever. Last year there were two cases of Dengue — one from a traveller returning from a trip to the Bahamas,” said Harris in a government release. "It is a testament to the hard work and organisation of our department over the years that we are the only country among our Caribbean neighbours that does not have endemic Dengue. However this doesn’t mean it’s not possible that we will get it, and we must remain vigilant. This is where the MRCU asks the public for help.”

The Dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti) is a domestic mosquito that loves to be around people. It breeds close to homes in any standing water it can find — from tarps, to disused vehicles and boats. It's favourite piece of junk are tyres, but a discarded can, bottle or coconut shell that holds water next time it rains is just as good.

“Whilst we concentrate specifically on the swamp and Dengue mosquitoes (Aedes taeniorhynchus and Aedes aegypti), we also want to remind the public of the importance of preventing any kind of mosquito breeding. It is therefore important to check out septic tanks and sewage systems for any tiny holes that mosquitoes might get into. Any standing water left long enough can be a breeding ground," Dr Harris said.

It is a misconception that this mosquito is only found in ‘dirty’ yards. Whilst it loves junk, it will breed in clean rain water. So drums, bird baths, ornamentals such as conch shells and even animal bowls and troughs can also provide a home for breeding Dengue mosquitoes. Stored water should be fitted with screens and plant pots and animal bowls emptied out at least every seven days, officials advised this week in the release from the ministry.

For more information on mosquito control the public is invited to go to www.mrcu.ky or www.facebook.com/mrcu.cayman or on the Brac www.facebook.com/mrcucyb where they can find information on the Unit, spraying schedules and control methods employed or send an email to info@mrcu.ky

MRCU’s five strategies for mosquito control:
1. TIP. Reduce standing water to eliminate possible mosquito breeding sites, including those in children's sandboxes, wagons or plastic toys; underneath and around downspouts, in plant saucers and dog bowls. Other hot spots include tarps, gutters, and flat roofs. 
2. TOSS. Dispose of trash correctly; bottles, cans and fast food containers provide an excellent breeding ground if thrown in the bush, put them in the trash can or recycle if possible
3. TURN. Turn over larger yard items that could hold water like children's portable sandboxes, plastic toys or wheelbarrows.
4. REMOVE TARPS. If tarps stretched over firewood piles, boats or sports equipment and grills aren't taut, they're holding water.
5. TREAT. Using a regular fly spray around the house which will kill adult mosquitoes, for an evening spent outside use repellent containing ingredients such as DEET and picaridin and cover up at peak biting times (dawn and dusk).                    

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Heineken brew crew touch glory

| 03/07/2012 | 1 Comment

finals1 (246x300).jpg(CRFU): The season finale of the National Touch Rugby Championships ended last Saturday with teams battling in the Play-Offs. Every game played thus far has been building to this moment – a time when a player can stand on the very verge of history – to be a hero or a villain. By “verge” I’m referring to that grassy bit next to the pavement on the side of the Road of Real History of course but you get my drift. Anyway, this is what happened. Photo by Caroline Deegan: Ray Galletly of Team Black almost escapes Chandra Friesen on Team Maples.

5th and 6th Place Play-off  – KPMG v. Walkers Blue Iguanas
KPMG and Walkers Blue Iguanas have both toiled long and hard all season and their play-off for the “Wooden Spoon” (the hypothetical and humorous prize for coming) was an entertaining affair. As a pre-amble to the main events of the day they played out a compelling game where tries were traded back and forth. In the end Walkers just pipped it 11-8 but both teams contributed massively to the season. They will come back next season wiser, stronger and ready to battle their way up the rankings.

SEMI FINAL 1 – DART v. HEINEKEN BREW CREW.

In blistering heat for the first semi-final, Heineken Brew Crew were red-hot favourites to beat a plucky DART team that have been improving all season. Suffering from depleted numbers in their match day squad, DART valiantly put up a fight but the Heineken team were fortified by the arrival for his first game of the season by the Fijian flyer, Venassio Toketokevanua. A sterling first half performance from DART saw them trail just 3-1 at the break however, they ran out of steam in the second half and Heineken ran in tries from all over the field. In the end it was a bit of a rout and Heineken Brew Crew advanced into the final on the back of an 11-1 victory.

SEMI FINAL 2 – TEAM BLACK v. MAPLES
The second semi-final was a closer affair. Both teams were packed with experience and although Team Black had edged their meetings in the regular season this was not to be a walkover. Giving Maples the respect they deserved, Team Black took to the field with a determined and resolute look that screamed that it was business time. No time for mistakes, they desperately wanted to be in the final to meet Heineken Brew Crew and avenge their own defeats of the season. They raced to a 3-0 lead with tries from Scott McCarty and two from James Waters.

Maples were shocked but drew on their reserves and with Simon Crompton tip-toeing his way around the outstretched grasp of his opponents they came back into it with tries from Chris Palmer and Crompton himself. It was 3-2 at half-time and it looked like an upset might just be on the cards. Team Black is nothing if not clinical at times and in response they rose to the challenge running in tries from Mike McGrath (2), Simon Raftopolous and Waters again. No matter how hard Maples tried they could not seem to get a foothold on the scoreboard and in spite of two further tries from Crompton they eventually were defeated 7-4.

The3rd Place Play-Off – DART v. MAPLES
Third place play-offs are a strange affair – both teams disappointed by missing out on the final but still with some pride to play for. Played in an excellent sporting spirit, the players entertained the crowd with some “Concho y Toro” rugby – not champagne stuff but decent enough and reasonably priced! As the game progressed DART found themselves in front mainly due to the superb efforts of Riley Mullen who sprinted in with two tries and great defence from Stacey Ottenbreit, Fiona Brander, Debbie Strassburg, Kelly Fiebig and Sonya Sherman.

Maples contributed to proceedings with some great play but could not get the vital scores to break DART. Al Lum scored on the final play of the game to make the score a shocking 4-2 to DART. It must be reported that the island-wide rumours of Mark Robson dropping a massive clanger whenhe crazily fumbled the ball over the line during the act of scoring without an opponent within 20 metres of him are true. D’oh! Taxi for Robbo!!

THE GRAND FINAL – HEINEKEN BREW CREW v. TEAM BLACK
And so to the main event. The two best teams in the league came head to head in the final. This was the first time that Team Black had been able to put a full strength team together against Heineken and they were keen to avenge their two defeats of the season to this adversary in the league programme.

The game started with the sort of intensity reserved for modern day sporting warfare and the first blitzkrieg attack from Heineken saw Will Heyward burst through a gap to score inside the first thirty seconds. He quickly followed this with a second that rocked Team Black on its heels.

Heavily influenced by the South African one-touch philosophy, Team Black started to move the ball around quickly and replied with two tries of their own from Simon Raftopolous and Etienne Duvenage, who took a lovely inside pass from Sharlee Henshaw. It seemed that the game was well and truly on. After trading two more tries, Heineken started to exert a pressure to which Team Black simply could not respond. Like a crocodile pulling its prey under the water and performing a murderous death roll, no matter how hard Team Black thrashed they could not free themselves from the deadly vice-like grip that Heineken exerted.

Will Heyward added a fourth for Heineken before a controversial penalty try was awarded to them by referee Dan Twist. The confusion on the pitch and in the stands knocked Team Black out of their stride and it appeared as if they were beginning to panic as the scoreboard started to get away from them. The pressure started to show as both Mike McGrath (Team Black) and Dave Bailey (Heineken) were sent from the field to sit on the Naughty Step until they could behave. Team Black still had the majority of possession and probed and prodded all over the park but the final telling pass would not stick. At the half-time break they trailed 7 – 3.

As the second half began, it was time for one of Heineken’s other young bucks to shine. Just as Will Heyward had done in the first half Iain Currie did in the second. Running fast and direct and able to side-step off either foot he made two quick breaks that punctured the heart of his opponents. 

Team Black responded well again and time after time they drove at the Heineken defence but like waves crashing on granite cliffs they were repelled, either by a stubborn and swarming defence or by choosing the wrong option for the final pass. When they did score through Wiki Hitchman and Raftopolous, Heineken responded with tries of their own from Toketokevanua and Biannca Johnson. The crowd watched the ball ping from one end to the other as if they were seeing Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic pummeling each other on Wimbledon Centre Court.

Stuart Geddes and Duvenage again crossed the whitewash to reduce the deficit to two. For all their endeavour, of which there was plenty, they simply couldnot close the gap enough to cause Heineken to truly panic.  Buoyed in the knowledge that their youthful contingent could run all day, the Heineken oldies increasingly stayed on the sidelines as the young guns closed the game out. In the dying embers of the match Toketokevanua jinked and jived his way through in typical Fijian fashion to bring the final score to 11-8 to Heineken Brew Crew.

In reflection Team Black will look back on some missed opportunities either through dropped or missed passes but Heineken Brew Crew, with their potent mix of young and old, have been unbeaten all season and were deservedly crowned Cayman National Touch Rugby Champions 2012.

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4th arrest in bank heist

| 03/07/2012 | 6 Comments

019 (265x300).jpg(CNS): Updated 5:15pm – Police said Tuesday evening that a fourth person has now been arrested in connection with last week's bank robbery. A 29-year-old West Bay man who was arrested on Friday evening in the wake of the heist at Cayman National Bank in Buckingham Square was charged in court today with armed robbery. Police have made fast progress in the investigation following the early arrest. No details on the age or sex of the four people arrested have yet been revealed. Sources say the robbers took some $100,000 during the hold-up but police are believed to have recovered around $25,000, which was dropped by the suspects as they fled.

Three masked armed men held up the bank at around 9:40am, but as they attempted to make their escape the getaway car collided with an armoured cash van outside the bank. The crash blocked the robbers escape so they fled on foot towards the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, dropping some of the cash as they ran.

Anyone who has any information regarding this latest robbery should contact George Town police station on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477(TIPS).

 

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War of words heats up over VAT in TCI

| 03/07/2012 | 11 Comments

hugh.jpg(CNS): Following accusations by the newly formed Turks and Caicos Independent Business Council (TCIBC) that the territory's governor’s office has circulated “gross inaccuracies and wildly misleading information” in connection with the proposed introduction of VAT, Hugh McGarel-GrovesChief Financial Officer  said as business people the council should understand the importance of stable cash flow. TCIBC Chairman, Clive Stanbrook, QC said that there had been no consultations over the implementation of VAT and questions had not been properly addressed. “The accepted rules of governance have been ignored,” Stanbrook said last week.

“The consultative bodies that they themselves have set up have been treated as a mere rubber stamp. They have been given less than two weeks to consider and assess complex legislation of a type that will have a profound impact on the economy of the Islands.

“To make matters worse, in this crucial period the Governor is taking a holiday. The Interim Government's claim to have consulted the people of the Turks and Caicos is a complete sham and provides no respectability for rushing through important legislation for the restructuring of taxation in the TCI against the wishes of almost everyone in the community," the chair of the body campaigning against VAT stated.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday McGarel-Groves said the IBC seemed to be set against people benefitting from “planned, sustained and regularised income” which would enable government to invest in, essential public services.

“Government revenue has fluctuated wildly over the past few years. VAT helps prevent this. What do we do if revenue drops again without VAT – close schools?  More than anyone else, business people should understand the importance of stable cash flow.”

The UK official said the group was presenting a “partial picture of what has gone on in other Caribbean countries,” particularly Barbados where the challenges of that country are not as implied by IBC solely down to VAT.

“VAT was introduced in Barbados in 1997 and the country enjoyed a number of boom years immediately afterwards,” said McGarel-Groves who is behind the drive to implement VAT in TCI. “The IBC claims ignore wider economic issues and do not take into account that both income and property taxes are payable there, and elsewhere in the Caribbean, in addition to VAT. That TCI has neither of those taxes here, and has proposed the second lowest rate and the highest VAT threshold in the Caribbean, we believe offers the country an ongoing significant competitive advantage.”

The UK public finance officials said it was not true that the government had failed to consult the people and the issue has been up for discussion since 2005.

“The Green Paper – intended to generate discussion before decisions were made – was distributed widely to the Advisory Council, Consultative Forum, numerous business Associations, individual businesses and members of the public. We held more than 30 sessions with various groups. The accusation that we could not provide all of the answers is also misleading as many of these answers could only be provided after consultation in the White Paper, such as dealing with Strata corporations, which is the factual statement of Government policy and published today,” he said.

McGarel-Groves claimed that the white paper published Tuesday shows local considerations have been taken into account. “VAT is a replacement tax, prices should not rise; we have made a large number of items zero rated or exempt from VAT to help both the consumer and the construction sector, for example; we have carefully considered how to implement VAT and to ensure effective compliance,” he added.

The Turks and Caicos Independent Business Council (TCIBC) began a full scale campaign against the proposed VAT last month which they say is inappropriate for the islands’ economy. It has accused the British bureaucrats of imposing a cookie cutter, tax system that won’t work in the Caribbean territory. Some 3000 people have already signed a petition and the TCIBC believe the UK cannot impose a tax that will be rejected by the community.

 

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Local runners inspired by Olympic spirit

| 03/07/2012 | 0 Comments

DSCN0433 (218x300).jpg(CNS): Over 150 competitors came out to compete in the Olympic Day 5K Run recently. Runners and walkers living in Cayman from 28 countries took part in the 3.1 mile road race which started at the Truman Bodden sports complex. Many racers were decked out in colourful attire and carried their country’s flags in celebration of the Olympic spirit. Olympic Day was introduced in 1948 to commemorate the birth of the modern Olympic Games on 23 June 1894 at the Sorbonne in Paris.  The goal was to promote participation in sport across the globe regardless of age, gender or athletic ability. Celebrated all around the world: hundreds of thousands of people – young and old – get moving and participate in sporting activities. 

Over the last two decades, the event has helped to spread the Olympic ideals to every corner of the world. Here in Cayman David Shibli Sr. led the way to the finish first with a time of 19:23 with Leon Barracks close behind grabbing 2nd place in 19:37 minutes and J.P. Hanekom claiming the final men's podium spot in a time of 19:40.

Marlene West who finished 19th overall was the fastest lady of the day, crossing the line in 23:21, while Shelley White clocked a time of 23:41 minutes for 2nd and Lauren Nelson was the 3rd female with a 23:52 posting.

Individual results may be viewed at www.caymanactive.com
 

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Foreign spouses need to renew certificates

| 03/07/2012 | 50 Comments

immigration office_13.jpg(CNS): Foreign nationals holding Residency and Employment Rights Certificates (RERC) issued to them as spouses of Caymanians in April 2005 need to renew their expired certificates, officials from the immigration department said this week. In order to maintain the right to work and other privileges granted by the RERC holders need to make representations to the department as once a certificate expires so do all of the rights associated with it. RERCs are issued under Section 30 of the Immigration Law and are valid for seven years but they are renewable at the discretion of the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board.

Spouses of Caymanians who were issued RERCs are urged to check the Issue date of their certificates to ascertain the expiration date. Affected persons should make immediate arrangements to submit renewal applications, or seek legal counsel or an immigration consultant to determine how to regularize their immigration status.

Officials warned that people not complying with the law may not be able to work and they could face implications to travel plans for everyone concerned – including dependents. Holders of RERCs which have not yet expired, and who have submitted applications for consideration, may continue to work until such time as the Board’s decisions have been made.

Applicants, as well as spouses or employers of such persons, may contact the Department of Immigration (949 8344) for additional information.
 

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Missing evidence leads to quashed drug conviction

| 03/07/2012 | 18 Comments

court good.jpg(CNS): A Grand Court judge overturned a conviction for drug dealing on Friday morning as a result of missing evidence, among other things. Eduardo Swaby-Gutierrez was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment last October after a magistrate had found him guilty of possessing 21 grams of cocaine with intent to supply.  However, that conviction was quashed following Friday’s appeal hearing and changed to a lesser charge of possession. Swaby was given a new sentence of seven months, which amounted to the time he had already served since being convicted and the prisoner walked free from the courts. According to Swaby’s defence lawyer, the magistrate had relied on evidence that did not exist to convict him. 

During the Summary Court trial the chief magistrate, Margaret Ramsey Hale, had depended on particles of cocaine to convict Swaby of dealing. These particles were, however, never submitted for analysis or actually handed into the court as evidence. Local attorney Peter Polack, who represented Swaby in the hearing, submitted fifteen grounds of appeal, eight of which were conceded by the prosecution before the start of the appeal.

Justice Alex Henderson said that this was only the second time he had seen so many grounds of appeal on a case. Despite the number, the decision turned on the reliance placed by the former magistrate on the two items referred to in her judgment as “particles of cocaine”, which Polack noted were never submitted for analysis by the police.

Swaby and another person were arrested on 29 December 2009 after a police raid at his place of work in West Bay. The officers searched a back room, used to store stock, and were said to have found small particles of what appeared to be cocaine on a table, along with a scale, foil paper and a knife, on which police said were visible traces of the drug. Officers also found cocaine in Swaby’s truck, which at trial he said he had not used that day.

Swaby had claimed to have lent the truck to his friend. This friend had told the court in his testimony during the summary trial that while he borrowed the truck he had picked up a confessed crack addict. The addict also gave evidence and told the court that he had stolen drugs that day and said he believed he may have left the cocaine in the truck. The magistrate, had rejected all of this evidence, stating that it was unconvincing, and convicted Swaby of dealing.

However, the lead officer in the case never testified at the trial and no notes of the search made by her were available. No one at trial sought to raise the issue with the magistrate that the evidence of cocaine particles had not actually been submitted or included in the original charges. The whereabouts of the missing evidence has never been revealed, the defence attorney noted.

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Police charge man over serious stabbing

| 03/07/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 40-year-old man from George Town has been charged with attempted murder after he allegedly stabbed another man in the neck at a party in Windsor Park. Police said Tuesday that the man was expected to appear in court regarding the incident, which happened on 21 June. The man who received the stab wound remains in hospital in a critical condition. He was stabbed in the early hours of the morning and police learned about the serious wounding after the 34-year-old victim was admitted to the Cayman Islands Hospital. The man was reportedly stabbed in Hawkins Drive during a social gathering, where around 50 were in attendance.

Anyone with information about this or any other crime in the Cayman Islands is asked to contact the police on the following numbers – George Town CID 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477(TIPS).
 

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$300m ‘Ironwood’ development for East End

| 03/07/2012 | 0 Comments

digger EE project_0.jpg(CNS Business): A town centre and residential community, including an 18-hole golf course, is slated to begin construction in East End later this year and will target both locals and North American retirees looking for their island paradise retirement homes. The $300 million development “epitomises the vision of the Go East initiative”, according to a spokesperson for the project and will be open to locals, tourists and community residents alike. (Haymon Ebanks of Haymon Ebanks Equipment excavating the road to what will be the Town Centre)

The developer of the project is Eagle Assets Management, a local real estate development company that is comprised of local and international investors, will not be asking for import duty waivers or other concessions from the government regarding this project, she said. 

Read more on CNS Business

 

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