Unusual duty waivers granted

| 03/07/2012

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.

Category: FOI

Comments (106)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    can you imagine? I'll bet there are some lucky people that get free gas, no duty, and unvetted contracts …. the TRIFECTA! 

  2. Likkle Yute says:

    Once again… Mr Bush abusing his power. Surprise Surprise. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    ok, seriously I'm going to start a list of the funky-smelling actions taken by McKeeva and his UDP MLAs – kind of a report card before elections

    cuz you know how short-memoried Caymanians can be

    to be thorough and fair, I will do one for PPM too but they have been vocal on  a select number of issues and otherwise quiet

    …I weep for my country

    the quality of candidates are so poor – and then the naive electorate loves personal attacks, soap opera antics, scriptures and rhyming slogans, follows like good sheep and "vote straight"

  4. Anonymous says:

    The headline should read:

     

    "Usual duty waivers granted"

     

    This has been going on, in many different forms, for a long long time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe "the usual behind the curtains waivers"  would be even more accurate. And "the corruption large and small has been going on a long, long time."

  5. Anonymous says:

    That us why the country is broke because of you doing favors for your $$ friends and broken the country, customs is collect the most tax $ in this country and that Is where our $$ been leaking through you and buddy buddy $$ people friends!! Thanks for breaking this country I hope the smart west bay people put you back in so you can give away their houses next instead of their roads & beaches!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Medical supplies and medical wear are not excluded. My daily existence depends ot it, and I can't buy it here on island. What a shame.

  7. cow itch says:

    yaaahooooo!  thank you mac for the fireworks… can't wait to see ezzard at camana bay enjoying the mac-dart spectacular events :))>)

  8. Anonymous says:

    My only question, what is the ass of Karen Griffiths building nowthat it needs a duty waiver?

    • Anonymous says:

      With the country in such an economical turmoil, why would firearms to anyone have the duty waived.  I want someone to explain a company that is making money with the contract for CCTV's should be waived their duties…this is plan insane and everyday that the governor doesn't come up with why the premier has three investigations against him, Cayman is going to go into a bigger and bigger hole!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

         

        I can see waiving duty on forearms imported for lawful law enforcement purposes. Not much point in Customs charging duty to its own Customs enforcement or the RCIP.  Possibly waive duty for the airport personnel who do shoot to scatter the birds – better a few blasts to scare the birds away than a jet going down. 

        And perhaps… maybe… possibly…  waiving duty for importation of firearms for Olympic level competitive shooting. That would be a political policy judgement, but one I could support.

        But any such waivers should be clear. There shouldnot be any blacking out of information. It is no secret that law enforcement have firearms. There is no justification to hide a legitimate waiver.

         

        As to CCTV – there is no point.  The customer is government. The full cost of any duty will just be passed directly on to government.  Paying the left hand with the right does not leave us with more money overall but does waste administrative time and resources.

        Suppose there is no duty waiver.  Customs bills Security Centre the extra $7618.50 for camera equipment for the national CCTV system.  Security Centre installs that equipment for the CCTV system and bills government a higher price, reflecting the duty paid.

        Remember, their bid on the contract to begin with was with the understanding that duty would be waived. They, and every other bidder for the contract, would have  adjusted their bids upward if they knew duty would not be waived.

        The Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs has to give the 911 center the extra $7618.50 to cover the duty. The 911 center pays the invoice to Secuirty Centre reflecting the higher duty with money it got from PIEA.  Where did PIEA get the money? From general revenues, mostly customs duties.

  9. Anonymous says:

    As has been said by others, the elephant in the room is corruption.

    • Donkey Face #45239 says:

      Funny thing though, is that EVERYBODY is talking about this elephant. Signed, Donkey Face #45239

       

      PS – Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder, XXXX. I lke my face.

  10. NHB says:

    I don't see a huge amount of abuse here, most of these items look like either charity imports, the bleachers and stuff along with products that were bought by companies for the C.I. Goverment in the first place, why should we pay duty on or own purchases, the only thing that would happen in that case is the supplier would have to mark it up more to resell it back to the goverment.

    We need to be looking at other overspending issues, and the many local indivuals not able to get jobs, the treatment of the locals in the jobs they hold, of low wages, roadblocks been placed aginst them getting a better education, the unfair compensations of one class of employee compared to another just because of their origin and the many discriminations taking place in the workplaces in these islands.

    That is what all these politions need to look into.

    Caymanians Fedup we want to live the Cayman Dream too.

    • Sorry to say says:

      11:04 sorry to say but this is just the usual digging and throwing up mud looking for gold and finding cow dung.  Where is the problem.  Read the information and tell me.

      • Anonymous says:

        I can't read…. can you?

      • Anonymous says:

        Cow dung is right. That is exactly what we're getting from our precious gowerment.

      • Anonymous says:

        It really is such a crying shame that we NEED to dig considering the reports we have been getting from people who KNOW what is going on such as our Auditor General, and although this is certainly not the UDP's first term that we are getting these reports it does seem to be growing steadily worse. Keep digging Ezzard. God bless you. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Its the names that you cannot read that is the issue!

    • Anonymous says:

      I like the item on the list called calibrated "termometers'  Is this used to indicate that the politician is cooked and his term is up?

    • Devil's Advocat says:

      Then why hide the names of the beneficiaries?

      • Tink Boutit says:

        Most of the hidden names are for the weapons imports – doesn't it occur to you that perhaps publishing these would be a road map for thugs and theives to break in and steal them???

    • Anonymous says:

      And your Premeir does not see ANY abuse here.  Most of your fat and lazy but rich MLA's also see nothing wrong here.  No big secret that any of the many who are benefiting from the NOT SEEING are also not seeing.  We all see this.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I don't see anything concerning in this particular list.  All consessions appear to be either charity / art / tourism / education etc related or for the government themselves.  The blacked out names are because you would be risking the chance of left of the fire arms and valuable sporting equipment if you named the buyers.  Come on people, I'm all for making government accountable but let's not make a mountain out of a mole hill for this particular list.  I would however like to see the last 2 years worth of waivers to make sure they are also legit.

    • Let's get this straight says:

      Agree that this should ALL be open to the public – every year.

      Even AvComms waiver is propbably equipment for the RCIP.  Not much jumped out as naughty (except 3M products?)….but again, these local businessmen will just have to show good cause for the waivers if indeed for a good reason.

      Good job and let's keep the pressure on!  Big Mac needs to realize the years of cronyism are over.  This goes for you too PPM.  I don't care WHO is in power, I will not stand for another dime of waste or favourtism. 

    • Anonymous says:

      then make the FOI request yourself. lazy-bones: stop expecting people to do the work for you AND to convince you if its a problem of government accountability or not…tsk!

  12. Anonymous says:

    "With great power, comes great (financial) responsibility"

  13. Anonymous says:

    There is always corruption but this is another RED Flag. As a small business owner and trying to make my business survive, I could not get ANY waivers.  It didn't matter if it was a $1.00.  And as Premier should not be giving waivers to anyone, shame@!  Cayman is going down and very fast, sad to say…….But if nothing is done and soon CAYMAN will not be a place anyone would want to go to.  

    • Anonymous says:

      If you want waivers, go live in West Bay. If you are a voter, just ask and you shall receive.

       

      It also helps to go to the right church.

  14. Anonymouse says:

    I can guarantee that this has been going on since the dawn of time for customs collection. Many are justified but many more are 'back scratchin'  (you scratch mine, I'll scratch yours)

    Not fair for those of us who don't know the right people or who just have higher morals. Personally, I'd rather pay than owe that man anything. Would feel like I was selling my soul…

    But GUNS??? And fireworks?? WTH? And the redacted bits just make you curiouser and curiouser.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard, and anyone else so inclined, please take note that the Constitution provides at s.19 that:

    19.—(1) All decisions and acts of public officials must be lawful, rational, proportionate and
    procedurally fair.
    (2) Every person whose interests have been adversely affected by such a decision or act has the right to request and be given written reasons for that decision or act.

    It is clear that whenever a duty waiver is granted then the rest of us have to pick up more of the burden and are thereby adversely affected. Some of us import things and pay duty while others are granted "special favours".  That is not procedurally fair.

    All of us therefore have a right not only to the redacted information but also to written reasons for each of the questionable duty waivers. Please demand both the unredacted information and written reasons for each waiver.

  16. Anonymous says:

    If it walks like third world and talks like third world…………..

  17. Anonymous says:

    Why are automatic and semi-automatic weapons being imported by anyone in a clandestine manner let alone duty free. Guess someone is getting really prepared for garrison politics.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why is it all firearms where the names are redacted?

    Also, gotta love one of the final ones for "Karen Griffiths Ass"….too funny.

  19. Anonymous says:

    So its a Caymanian thing not a Bush thing.  Obviously OK in the past.  Not going to be OK when the UK has to take over to save the people from the Caymanian government.

  20. Anonymous says:

    You gettin cash or an extra big frig to submit this cr@#?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Well perhaps that just shows how valuable it is to have a good real estate consultant.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Ezzard. Please appeal the redactions to the Information Commissioner and bring the hidden names to the light of day.

  23. Anonymous says:

    These waived fees are what is bringing our country down financially.  We need to look at what needs our people are requiering locally before giving more breaks to companies who walk in the door with 10 dollars and walk out with 10 million plus pocket change.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its not the waived fees that are brining our country down financially. To generate business concessions are given by many countries. However, I will grant you this, it should be policy and not the Premier's personal doing. Having said that, the real reason our country is declining financially is that we spend more than we earn. All the nice new buildings come at a cost. I don't want to here these are capital expenses and don't count as spending. These capital expenses cost money to own, insurance, electricity, maintenance, etc. In contrast, had we purchased gold, many years ago, there would be little to no recurring expenditure on this capital purchase. Plus it would have appreciated significantly. Can we say that about our real estate ever since the introduction of the rollover? The bottom line, every fiscal problem we have is created internally. Lack of accounts, lack of understanding, lack of wanting to make sacrifices, lack of accountability. We have no one else to blame but ourselves.

       

    • Anonymous says:

      The misallocation of public resources is not limited to duty waivers, but they do share a common denominator.  The $10mln in "Nation Building" and reams of other predictably opaque 7-8 digit line items all originate from the chair of one "beyond reproach" Finance Minister.

      • Anonymous says:

        seems there may be another $30m in the new budget for "nation building"?

  24. Anonymous says:

    I don't get it. You need duty waiver grants to stimulate the economy. If you just increase duties on everyone, that will increase the cost of living. Here folks, Ezzard appears to be correct, but appearances is all that is. 

    • C'mon now says:

      You're right you don't get it. He is giving duty waivers to special friends, rather than setting and applying Government policy on duty across the board.Why the special treatment? Are you really so dense you cannot see this is wrong?

    • jsftbhaedrg says:

      is that you Mac?

    • Chris says:

      Thank you!

    • Anonymous says:

      How much does a Duty Waiver cost? Is it a flat rate or is there a percentage that needs to be paid? Whatever it is, this article is great advertising for the seller.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear Mr. Lazy, the report has a column (D) which sets out how exactly much $ duty waiver was valued.

    • Anonymous says:

      Based on your post, why not waive duties for all?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Yawn! Governments have been doing this for years. Jim Bodden was especially "guilty". It doesn't make it right but it should not ONLY be laid at Bush's door.

    • Anonymous says:

      That's right. Let's lock Jim Bodden up too.

    • Solja Crab says:

      I usually support the PPM group as well as a couple decisions and allegations made by the independent leader of North Side. However, to simply support someone simply because of who they are isn't right.

      So I have to say, regardless of the amount of "thumbs down" I receive, that these current allegations made by Ezzard are quite obviously a ploy for votes.

       

      If anyone knows anything about the waiving of duties; and if you don't then you shouldn't be commenting on this news article; then you would know that firearms are one of the most occuringly waived items. BECAUSE, most applications for firearms are in fact made by registered farmers. And if you haven't caught on yet, then let me make perfectly clear. ANY ITEMS FOR AGRICULTURAL PURPOSES CAN BE WAIVED OF DUTIES. Which also could include that excavator on the list.

       

      Information like this should be made clear by Ezzard before he goes swinging his bat everywhere. This is how people get confused and misled.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don't think a Glock is the firearm of choice for any farmer, with the exception perhaps of someone farming coca leaves or high grade marijuana.

      • Anonymous says:

        Could you point me the way to the "last chance souvenir farm" please, been looking around for it

      • Anonymous says:

        To Solja Crab on Wed,07/04/2012 10:25  Perhaps most applications for firearms are made by farmers ( Idoubt it ) but you will find that the majority are imported by CI Gun Club Members who seem to get preferential treatment .

    • Anonymous says:

      If Jim Bodden did it it probably WAS in the best interests of the country. THAT is what makes all the difference in the world.

  26. Michel says:

    And here we go again ? Nauseated anyone ? But you know what ? Time is longer then rope ! Even if the time is critical" God's Will" and the people shall prevail. Mr. Miller keep digging, that's what I call doing your job for the people of the Cayman Islands :o).  Thank you. Alden I know that you feel like youre banging your head against the wall but don't give up and keep doing what an opposition is suppose to do in this situation is that is to oppose vocally and continue takling this man @ every opportunaty. We need some encouragement here and anyone honest that loves is Country and People first who wish to come out of the closet and give us a taste of what we have to look forward to as far as future candidate would be a little uplifting as we need to do our homework also. Some of us are a little politically gun shy at this time. My fellow Caymanians have a Blessed Day never the less and we ALL know by now how bad the situation is. Question ? Who's going to do something about it ? Let's keep our focus on that. Keep the pressure on to your legislators to help do something about this man. As I have learned many years ago that :" NO ONE is irreplaceble and God don't like ugly ….! " Chris we are proud of you and yes some of us are listening, I just  wish the right people would. God Bless. Michel Lemay. Those comments are from ME and involves NONE of my family members for the record. There quite capable of thinking for themselves. My duty is to make certain they vote.

  27. GR says:

     

    Interesting that Stematix, "an adult stem cell products and therapy company with a simple goal: to make regulated adult stem cell products and treatments available to patients as soon as possible" (taken directly from their website) was given a waiver.  I didn't realise stem cell research (and hence products) was regulated here.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think that it is regulated under the Code of Conduct of real estate consultants who like Vegas.

    • Anonymous says:

      To  GR  on Wed,07/04/2012-06:55             I read somewhere that certain doctors from the USA     have been coming to Cayman with patients to do some of this stem cell treatment.I am uncertain as to whether or not this can be done legally in the US.Also I don't know iwhat facilities were used or if C.I.Govt was aware that this has been happening >I believe this might have been an article on medical tourism.

    • Anonymous says:

      Gotta wonder what the Churches will have to say about this, now that it's out…

  28. WestBayer says:

    Thank God for FOI!!!

    Everytime I go on a Miami/Tampa shopping trip, I have to calculate my receipts and submit anything over CI$350 to customs and I have to pay. I don't believe in cheating my country out of its finances and to see favours granted to companies/persons by the premier to this magnitute.  This is only 6months, can you imagine how much more waivers he has done in the last 3 years. I can only imagine the favours he has granted on land deals too XXXX. This man is a walking time bomb for Cayman.  He is using the Cayman finances, as if it was his own money.  McKeeva remember, this is the people's money, not yours.  He needs to be removed immediately.  To think he is professing to be known and called a Christian?? Huh Huh Huhhhhhh!

    • Anonymous says:

      Side note: It is easy to be generous with other people's money.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you are probably a rare case in being honest with customs after a shopping trip to the States. I believe the majority don’t claim the full amount they purchased.

  29. Anonymous says:

    You folks need to get some laws AND some law enforcement, or just suck it up and continue to live in the old ways.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Imagine what how much has been waived in the last 3 years and what will be waived before Election Day.  I wonder if the names that were redacted are those of his big supporters????  Enquiring minds want to know…  He could paid for this out of the"slush" fund.

    • Anonymous says:

      00:46

      As I said earlier, be careful what you ask for! you might just find out that most of these are PPM waivers. And why ask for  3 years, why not 7 years and lets see the trend in Government's policy.

      You all trying everthing in the book to remove Mac, but you wasting your time. you have no power over the people's choice. this is all your greed for power. We are very happy with Mac's rule. 

  31. Anonymous says:

    While we are at it about the wasting of money, I would like to ask a question. What time will Cayman Brac get piped water? Long over due. From Mr Linford Piersons tenure we thought that it would come. Poor guys dont get a break even on weekends for delivering water. Please dont come with anymore of not delivering on weekends when there are children in almost every yard. Instead of the Hylton Hotel we should have piped water.

  32. SKEPTICAL says:

    ” NOBODY KNOWS YOU’RE SWIMMING NAKED UNTIL THE TIDE GOES OUT ” – Warren Buffet’s comment when the American banks started collapsing in 2008/2009 – possibly a very applicable comment in the context of the various situations in which bush now finds himself.

    • Anonymous says:

      thanks a lot.. I was just eating breakfast when I read this, now I have the thought of big mac naked! I feel a sick day coming on….

  33. hmm says:

    Shouldn't this also be subject to an audit?

     

  34. Anonymous says:

    Too much scrutiny of public purse so he gives it away before it gets there.

    • Anonymous says:

      After all, All this duty wasn’t factored into the budget so no need to collect it.

      Well, guess what? Neither is what’s payable on the one-two bags I bring in from FLA this summer either.

  35. SKEPTICAL says:

    For about the third time – for me at least – what is the status of the three “known” investigations

  36. Chris Johnson says:

    Well done Ezzard in looking into this. One needs to also look into waivers of stamp duty on land sales. This will not stand up to scrutiny. Auditor General, you are on notice. Any help, just let me know.

    • SKEPTICAL says:

      Who could be stupid enough to give a ” thumbs down ” to Chris Johnson’s comment – they can’t possibly have any specific information on the point he has raised that would justify refuting it – another blind UDP supporter knee jerk comment.

  37. Anonymous says:

    That’s it, Ezzard. Keep the pressure on.

  38. Sancho Panza says:

    There goes my chance of getting some donkey-face masks imported duty-free for halloween!

  39. Stiffed-Necked Fool says:

    Why the "cover-up"?

    Why are certain names blackened out?

    Where is the transparency?

    Typical UDP!

  40. Stiffed-Necked Fool says:

    Come on now man, this really is going too far! Not for the "lucky" recipients of the duty waivers but for the not-so-lucky Caymanians who are suffering just because we are not one of Mac's buddies. Do you know how badly Cayman needs $200,000.00 if it could be put where it is needed and not into buddies pockets!

    The "lucky" ones Cannot outnumber those of us that are suffering so I am begging the tens of thousands that have suffered under this administration in the last 3 years, dont be fooled by the tricks & gifts that will be coming your way shortly, to try and get you back on their side try and get your votes – just remember the 3 years of suffering while they prosper, and vote them out starting on July 18th by voting YES for the referendum!

  41. BORN FREE says:

    More trouble for the premier. Very suspicious behaviour! I wonder if most of these persons or companies are closely connected with the premier or the UDP! Very very suspicious again.

  42. Knot S Smart says:

    Unusual indeed!

  43. Pick & showel says:

    I have looked at the duty waiver list, and I would like to know what about it that should cause alarm.  I think it is fitting, and the places have goverment interest.  So what is the big deal Mr Miller.

    I dont know who else is tired of the fault finding  digging up but I am too.

    • SKEPTICAL says:

      Too lazy to bother about important issues affecting Cayman ?

    • Your head is in the sand and your hand in politician' pocket says:

      What is the big deal?!?

      Theft is theft and this country should hold up proper ethics.  Office supplies to free gas, to duty waivers and we wonder WHY our children grow up to rob banks?  They were taught that breaking the rules "Is no big deal"….but it IS!!!!  An very big deal.  It is wrong on so many levels.

      Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, 

  44. Anonymous says:

    Busted again?  but hey…so what? no one will do anything.

  45. Donkey Show says:

    Banga langa langa!

  46. V says:

    Son of a…

    OK this must be enough evidence of abuse of office.

    And forget about the fireworks… who on earth got duty-free GUNS? GUNS McKeeva!?

    McKeeva… you suck on a level of epic proportions. In the entire history of the Cayman Islands there has been no one to surpass sucking at their job to the level at which you suck.

    You, McKeeva are a Connoiseur of Sucking!

    You suck. Plain and simple.

  47. Anonymous also says:

    I think we have to listen to the "Donkey Faces" when it comes to corruption.

  48. Anon says:

    Not the least bit surprised. Business as usual in Cayman. Only the honest get screwed.

  49. Thunder Storm says:

    Personal favors, possibly?

     

    I would imagine our deficit is now at $118mm or either $181mm.

     

    Either way, we are falling / sinking into the pit of debt which this type of management.

     

    God help us if May 2013 doesnt cone quickly.

     

     

     

  50. deepdiver says:

    To know the 'Overlord'

    is to love the 'Overlord'…

    …wish I did, 'cause my business is suffering and I have to compete with those who

    solicit and accept these favors. Nice level playing field…right!?!

    Me? guess I'll just have to bend over and accept all the new 'tax' increases…

  51. Anonymous says:

    Is this, finally, the smoking gun?