Archive for July 27th, 2012

CIMA investigates HSBC Mexico scandal

| 27/07/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) has admitted to an “the apparent breakdown of anti-money laundering (AML) procedures” at the Cayman Islands branch of HSBC Bank Mexico (HBMX) in the wake of revelations by a US Senate committee that tens of thousands of accounts at its Cayman branch had possible links to organized crime and were poorly regulated. As the regulator of financial services institutions in the Cayman Islands, CIMA officials insisted they are taking this seriously, as the authority announced that it is investigating whether the bank breached any local laws or regulations. Earlier this week Mexican regulators imposed a fine of nearly $28 million on HBMX for not having sufficient anti-money laundering controls. Read more on CNS Business

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Miller poses tax alternatives

| 27/07/2012 | 195 Comments

ezz and alden.jpgCNS): In a broadcast address to Cayman on Friday night Ezzard Miller posed a number of alternatives to the premier's plans to tax foreign workers. The independent member for North Side said direct taxation would “kill the goose that has been laying the golden eggs for Cayman” and offered a number of other ideas. Miller suggested McKeeva Bush scrap his Nation Building Fund, introduce a legalized lottery and to take 2 cents from the spread on US-CI transactions. He also said that Bush should address the culture of dependence and reassess the 8,000 people collecting government welfare.

Miller called on the premier, once again, to re-centralize government functions with amendments to the Public Management Finance Law and the Public Service Management Law to cut operational expenses. He accused Bush of failing in his role as minister of finance and suggested he re-assign that ministry to Rolston Anglin.

But as well as criticising the premier's performance and his latest tax idea, he offered a number of solutions. The independent member said the problem with the budget wasn't the sustainability of revenue but the un-sustainability of the patterns of expenditure.

“How can you possibly rationalize the selling of the police helicopter, without consultation with law enforcement, to save $1.5 million while retaining your $4 million Nation Building Fund to influence votes,” he said. “I believe most Caymanians would prefer to use one third of your Nation Building Fund to fight crime rather than give it to churches to build edifices unto themselves at great cost to our local social environment.”

Answering Bush's complaint that the opposition benches don’t offer any solutions he proposed that government reduce the 4 cents spread introduced by banks in 1968 on the US-CI dollar exchange to 2 cents and collect it from the banks into governments revenue.

“This will have no negative effects on the local economy or  personal income streams, if anything it could have a small positive effect by reducing the cost of living by 2%,” he said. “The government will collect much more revenue from this than from your community enhancement fee with no additional cost or further increase in the civil service numbers.”

He also suggested legalizing the local numbers lottery game and charge a 25% license fee, which would, Miller said, also generate much more income than the community enhancement fee and not require additional civil servants to administer.

Miller called on Bush to find the hitherto lacking political will to cut the civil service by amending both the public finance and the public service management laws to re-centralize government finances to reduce the number of human resource staff.

“Mr premier, don’t continue to dismiss these cost reduction suggestions on the weak allegation that Caymanians will loose jobs. There are adequate jobs in the private sector occupied by work permit holders that these Caymanians can get if you are willing to cancel the work permits,” Miller stated.

He added that the short term loss in work permit income would be outweighed by the long term gain in the reduction of the civil service and improved administration, accounting and management.

Miller called on Bush to return to the drawing board over the budget and the new pay roll tax, as he pointed to unjustified expenditure as the source of the government's problem, and not revenue sources.

See Miller's full statement below.

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Clamp down on rogue drivers

| 27/07/2012 | 70 Comments

road check 1.jpgCNS): Drivers who don't have insurance, vehicle registration, licenses, road worthiness certificates, or who have obscured license plates or excessive tints are the target of a new island-wide, two week police clamp down on rogue drivers as well as crime suspects who may carrying drugs or guns. With some 30 road accidents every week on Cayman's roads and in excess of twenty five percent of drivers not following the law, in one way or another, the RCIPS says from Monday there will be no more warnings as officers will be  issuing tickets on the spot. In partnership with the vehicle licensing department police say the campaign aims to make Cayman's roads a safer place for all drivers.

Launching the campaign with a major road block on Linford Pearson Highway on Friday morning which saw traffic tailing back along Shamrock Road and holding up drivers heading into George Town,  Superintendent Adrian Seales said that the police hope to raise awareness about the importance of road safety.

The RCIPS will now be setting up random blocks both day and night at selected locations over the next two weeks in all districts cracking down on those who break the traffic laws and drive unlicensed vehicles. Static road checks, marked cars, unmarked cars and random traffic stops will all form part of the operation, police said. DVDL staff will also be assisting at the scene of checks by carrying out roadside vehicle inspections to uncover any addition traffic offences, the police said warning drivers that vehicles that fail the inspection will immediately be taken off the road.

“An average of 30 road crashes are reported every week in Cayman -for a country of this size that is an outrageous figure,”Superintendent Adrian Seales, from RCIPS Operations, said. “Too many people are being killed and injured through dangerous driving, drink driving and the use of unroadworthy or unlicensed vehicles which are often uninsured.”

Seales also pointed to the  second reason for the road block which was to root out local criminals.

“We are all acutely aware that some vehicles in the Cayman Islands are used for criminal activity such as the transportation of drugs and firearms or as getaway cars following criminal incidents. All too often vehicle windows are tinted and license plates are obscured to intentionally hinder police investigations or in an attempt to prevent vehicles being identified in CCTV images.”

Seales said that drivers do not have long to get their vehicles in order. “During the first few days of the crackdown drivers who are stopped will be instructed to remove the tints or license plate covers. If they don’t they will be ticketed,” he said.

“From Monday 30July they will not be given that option. They will immediately be ticketed, there will be no discretion used. However, let’s be clear, if arrestable offences are detected at any time during the crackdown then people will end up in the police cells and their vehicles could be seized.”

Courtney Myles, Assistant Manager, Department of Vehicle and Drivers' Licensing, who estimated that more than a quarter of Cayman's drivers are non-compliant with various laws said obeying traffic regulations was about safety.

“The aim is to continue our working partnership with the RCIPS to ensure road safety and provide tips on how to make our roads safer. The police are primarily responsible for enforcement and we are responsible for regulating the Traffic Law. At the end of the day we all have our role to play and that is why we adopt the motto, “Safe driving is everyone responsibility.” With this multi-agency approach, we want the motoring public to be well informed of safe driving.”

The two agencies hope that together the two week campaign will encourage more drivers to address their compliance will all road traffic legislation.

“There will be some disruption to travel as a result of the checks so we would ask drivers to allow a little more time for their journeys,” Seales added. “We will attempt to keep disruption to an absolute minimum. But would ask the many law abiding motorists to remember that these road checks are all about making the roads of the Cayman Islands safer for them, their families and their communities,” he said.

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Caymanians promised Shettyhospital work

| 27/07/2012 | 29 Comments

(CNS): With the much anticipated Shetty hospital project due to break ground in East End on 27 August, the local partners have promised that the bulk of the construction work on the first phase of the140-bed hospital will go to Caymanians. Speaking at a public meeting in Bodden Town to update the people in the districts most affected and offer an opportunity for construction workers to sign up, Gene Thompson confirmed the project was going ahead, in contradiction to the persistent rumours that the development was stalled. He said the planning application would be submitted very soon and considerable work had been done on preparing the site at High Rock in East End.

Construction of the $50 million project is expected to take around 14 months and Thompson said he would be monitoring the construction phase to ensure local workers get the jobs. He said one of the main benefits of Health City Cayman Islands, which will be the name of new medical facility, was the work it would bring for local people.

At the first meeting in East End over one hundred people signed on for the project and dozens more turned up at the second meeting in Bodden Town. A third meeting has been planned for next Wednesday in North Side, as Thompson says there will be work for as many as three hundred people.

Thompson said developing the full scale 2,000-bed hospital project, including an assisted living facility and teaching hospital, would be spread over the next 15 years and bring many benefits to Cayman, from state-of-the-art medical care to numerous employment opportunities, both before and after the project is complete.

Dr Devi Shetty, the world renown Indian heart surgeon, is expected to return to Cayman next month to see the groundbreaking on the first phase of his project, which should be open by the end of 2013. Shetty's goal is to attract overseas patients from the Caribbean and United States who are seeking affordable but high quality specialist health care. The Cayman government has agreed to give Shetty a number of concessions, including duty waivers and tax breaks. However, foreign workers there will be subject to government's new income should it be implemented.

The government has also changed the health practitioners law to enable doctors and medical staff qualified in India to practice at the new facility and has also changed the laws relating to medical compensation. It has also agreed to pass a law allowing human tissue and organ donation and transplant. This new legislation is expected to reach the Legislative Assembly before the end of the year.

Both the developers and government hope that Health City Cayman Islands will kick-start a third leg for Cayman's economy of medical tourism. Land owner and developer Joseph Imperato also has plans to develop supporting resort infrastructure in tandem with the project, which, if it reaches the stated goal of 2,000 beds, will be attracting visitor numbers to Cayman the likes of which the island has never seen before.

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