Archive for July 31st, 2012

Tax protest moves to GT

| 31/07/2012 | 74 Comments

nick.JPG(CNS): Activists behind the social network movement Caymanians and Expats United Against Taxation have rescheduled their rally against the premier's proposal to introduce expat taxes in the interests of peace and safety. Nick Pitman, the group's creator, told CNS that in the face of increasing intimidation it was more sensible to hold the rally in central George Town next Monday evening. The group had originally planned to go to West Bay on Wednesday, where the premier had rescheduled his first public meeting on the proposed tax after canceling his Monday night meeting at the eleventh hour. Pitman said the rally was about peaceful protest but given the premier's comments about the 'disquiet', which was nothing to do with the new social media group, he did not want to fuel further misunderstandings.

The group had originally organised a peaceful protest on Monday night outside the Mary Miller Hall where McKeeva Bush was meant to be hosting his first public meeting about his proposal to introduce a 10% tax on the salaries of work permit holders earning over $20,000 per annum. However, at the last minute the premier stopped the meeting as he said the protesters were creating “an ill-temper abroad that suggests we would not get the calm and measured discussion” he claimed he wanted. Bush then rescheduled the meeting for Wednesday evening in his own constituency of West Bay.

Pitman said that the group had initially planned to follow the meeting to West Bay. However, after concerns were raised byseveral group members of increasing intimidation the decision was taken to organise a meeting in front of the Legislative Assembly in Heroes Square on more neutral ground for next week to send a clear message that the group is about peaceful protest and collaboration and not, as implied by the premier, disruption.

“We believe that holding the meeting in front of the country's parliament, the seat of democracy, on Monday will be more effective,” he said. “We are concerned about the intimidation being experienced by some of those who have joined the group and people are uncomfortable about the situation. As a result we intend to hold a more organised, peaceful rally against the expat tax, where we hope to offer alternative solutions to the economic difficulties faced by government.”

Pitman, who is a social media expert, said the goal was to get the premier to listen to the group's concerns and he did not want the movement to be labelled as disruptive. He denied it was either divisive or encouraging hate but was all about the people of the Cayman Islands uniting against poor and discriminatory government policies that would hurt the entire community.

“This isn't just about direct taxation on expats,” said Pitman. “This proposal is just a first step — foreigners today, Caymanians tomorrow — and we must come together to protect the islands that we love, regardless of whether we are born here or not.”

He said he believed the rapid growth of the Facebook group in a matter of days demonstrated that the so-called divide between locals and expatriates that some would like to promote does not exist. The younger generation, Pitman said, is far more united, regardless of where they are born, and recognise that their political leaders are failing them.

“This movement is about the community joining forces to address the problems faced by everyone,” he said. “The government cannot target work-permit holders as the scapegoats for its mismanagement. There are many solutions on offer which the premier doesn't seem to want to listen to, many of which have been cited in the Miller-Shaw report and many more are being posted on social media sites on a daily basis by young Caymanians and people who call Cayman home. We hope to make him listen.”

He said that many of the members of this new group have been involved in several of the activist movements that have emerged in Cayman over the last few years as people begin to recognise they are not powerless. But there were people joining the Caymanians and Expats United Against Taxation now that had never had the courage to stand up to the powers-that-be before.

“It is encouraging to see people posting under their names in this group and emerging from the shadows to express themselves,” he said. “There are, however, many more still who are afraid to speak out but those of us that are privileged enough to be in a position to do so must speak out on their behalf. It’s not just about my pocket, as it won't be affected as much as those on lower pay. Those of us that can must speak for them.”

Pitman added that he and the other organisers would continue to use Facebook to galvanise everyone in the community to join the peaceful rally next Monday and send an unequivocal message to the premier that this latest discriminatory proposal is unacceptable and that there are other solutions.

Local MLA Ezzard Miller lauded the young activists and said the movement was another demonstration of people-power that had been used to stop the commercial dock in East End and was continuing to protest the closure of the West Bay Road and would now hopefully stop the plan to tax expatriate workers.

“Politicians fear people power,” Miller said. “Not least because it works.”

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Fraser brothers miss out on Olympic freestyle final

| 31/07/2012 | 18 Comments

200m%20semis%20%20%20%2031%20%20jul%2012%20031 (250x300).jpg(CNS): Brett Fraser was seventh in his 100 metres freestyle semi-final at the London Olympics on Tuesday and did not advance to the finals. His brother Shaune was eighth in the same race. Brett's time was 48.92 seconds and Shaune's 49.07. The swims put the brothers in 15th and 16th place overall in the world, quite an achievement for swimmers from such a small country as the Cayman Islands. In the heats on Tuesday morning, Brett, 22, swam 48.53 seconds and Shaune 48.99. Brett also reached the 200m freestyle final on Sunday, finishing 14th overall. Shaune was 20th in the 200m free. Both 100m swims were just outside the Cayman Islands national record which left Brett a little disappointed.

“But I gave it my all and I’m pretty happy with my overall performances so far,” he said.
Australia’s James Magnussen, the world champion, was the fastest qualifier for the final in 47.63 seconds.

“I have the 50m freestyle on Thursday morning and I’m just going to put all I have into that.
“I’m happy to have made two semi-finals and hopefully next time I will do even better. “To have another Caymanian and especially being my brother in the semis with me, is quite a moment to share and as we train together and to have shared our successes and failures together has been great.”

Shaune, 24, said: “The semi-finals were okay but we would have liked to have made it on to the finals but we went out and gave it our best and that is all that we can ask for.
“I was a little faster in the Pan American Games last year but there were a couple of mistakes I made and you cannot afford to do that in the Olympics.

“I’ve decided not to do the 100m butterfly on Thursday because the 100m and 200m free were my best two events which I concentrated on.

“Overall, this has been my best Olympics because I’ve been totwo before and never made it to a semi-final and when you make a stamp on the sport that you do it definitely makes the experience more enjoyable.”

 

 

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Waiting for Josephine hospital magazine appeal

| 31/07/2012 | 3 Comments

Josephine pic.jpg(CNS): When Carol Hay’s domestic helper of 21 years (Josephine) was diagnosed with cancer in February this year, the roles reversed and Carol became her caretaker, accompanying her to all her doctor and testing appointments at the Cayman Islands Government Hospital. After many hours spent in various wait areas of the HAS, Hay noticed that there was no reading material and made a promise to do something about it. She called this new charitable venture “Waiting for Josephine” after spending countless boring hours in waiting rooms with her beloved helper.

Hay contacted the Health Services Authority (HSA) and spoke to Sharaine Chin, the Information Manager. After getting the approval of the hospital’s CEO, Hay and Chin approached Books & Books and the Cancer Society for their help.

Now in her quest to supply the HSA with a constant supply of reading material, Carol is appealing to the public to donate all their old magazines to the drop off points at Books & Books in Camana Bay and the Cayman Islands Cancer Society’s office on Maple Road (beside the hospital). In Cayman Brac, Connie Godet at the District Administration will be heading this magazine drive.

“I feel this magazine appeal is being given wings by a higher power as everyone I’ve spoken to has been onboard with this much needed project,” Hay said. “Having Books & Books and the Cancer Society behind this project will result in a successful campaign.”
CEO of the Hospital, Lizzette Yearwood added,”we are extremely grateful to Carol for this much needed initiative, which many other families and visitors will benefit from in years to come.” 

The public is encouraged to drop off their magazines in assigned bins at Books & Books and the Cancer Society. From there they will be taken to the hospital and sorted into piles for weekly distribution. There are over 15 wait areas in the George Town Hospital alone. Add the district clinics, the dental and vision centres and these amount to a lot of waiting areas that would benefit with a constant supply of magazines. Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac will also receive magazines on a regular basis. 

“Because a lot of people take the magazines in the waiting areas, it is important that they receive a constant and plentiful supply,” Hay noted. “Most of us subscribe to at least a few magazines, and we may also occasionally purchase one at the store. We read the articles, clip the recipes and file any important information – and then we're left with a pile of old periodicals sitting in the corner. 

“Don’t toss them out, the ‘Waiting for Josephine’ project wants them and it is also a great way to recycle. Please support this hospital magazine appeal by donating your magazines once you are finished with them,” she said.

(Josephine Lindo passed away unexpectedlyfrom complications related to her illness on 17th July – just a few days before the launch of this appeal.) 

For more information contact:

Carol Hay: chay@britthay.com or 526-6932
HAS: sharaine.chin@hsa.ky or 244-2857
Cancer Society: info@cics.ky
Connie Godet (Cayman Brac): connie.godet@gov.ky

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Sister Islands tourism body pans payroll tax

| 31/07/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): In contrast to the restrained reaction to the premier’s planned expat payroll tax by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), the tourism body representing Cayman Brac and Little Cayman has issued a robust statement on behalf of its members, claiming that the proposed tax would be a significant detractor in attracting the qualified staff that tourism businesses on the Sister Islands need “to contribute to the quality tourism product for this industry in the future”. Reminding government that the Miller Commission Report of 2010 advised against direct taxation, the statement issued on behalf of Sister Islands Tourism Association (SITA) members, which includes MLA Moses Kirkconnell, also notes that the tourism ministry has failed to address other pressing concerns, such as the invasion of lionfish. Read more on CNS Business

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Training centre aims to get young people in jobs

| 31/07/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A new privately managed apprenticeship college has opened its doors in George Town with the goal of equipping young people with specific skills that can get them into the workplace. The Community Vocational Training Centre is the brainchild of Allan (Ha Ha) Moore and is funded primarily via private sector support as well as a grant from the premier’s nation building fund. Currently offering training in Electrical Apprenticeship, Air-c conditioning training and plumbing, the new centre is training around 50 students and with the help of local companies offering job placement in the community.

“The CVT has partnered with established service providers, who will assist by way of offering job experience for the students.  After successfully completing the course work and job experience, students will be eligible for full certification,” a spokesperson for the centre stated in a release this week.

The training centre also has plans are to offer other short, specialty courses that will include Preparation for Wireman examination and the Journeyman examination,  Truck Driver and Heavy Equipment operator,  OSHA Safety Course, Front Office Procedures & Customer Service Excellence,  Job Interview Preparation, Career Counselling and even bar tending and disc jockey courses.

The centre had its official opening ceremony last week at the C & M Building in School Lane when McKeeva Bush offered his support to the centre via the nation building fund. Bush spoke of the importance of skills training and told the students to work diligently and warned them to be aware of the company they kept, according to the release.
Mike Adam, the minister responsible for community affairs also offered his support and for much needed community programme.

Moore listed several members from the community who have been involved in one way or another with the new training project.

“Well known community members such as, Dale Ramoon, Walling Whittaker, Renard Moxam, Rennie Barnes, Burns Rankin, Graham Rankin, Bradshaw Watson and others have all played a key role,” he said. “In every community there is work to be done, so let us all work together as a team, regardless of our religion, colour or nationality, to make our Community a better and more prosperous place to live in, especially for our elders and our children, who are the future of the Cayman Islands,”   Moore, added.

Lorna Bush, Administrator and Public Relations Officer at CVT said it was already in need of more premises to set up satellite branches.

“Since our courses are all held in the evenings from 6pm – 9pm, we may be seeking out spaces in existing schools,…where traditionally the classrooms are not occupied at that time,” she said.  “Cayman has plenty of buildings that are under-utilised after 5:00pm; we do not need more buildings, what we need is better utilization of what is already in place.”
 

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Cayman golfers optimistic for Caribbean tournament

| 31/07/2012 | 0 Comments

golfball.jpg(RBC): Led by Team Manager Bob Slatter, the Cayman Islands team will tee off in fierce competition against eight other teams from countries around the region at the RBC 56th Annual Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships (CAGC) set to take place in St. Kitts from August 6 – 12. Commenting on the team’s chances in this year’s tournament Slatter was optimistic, saying that the team is adequately prepared for both the course and the competition. The team will have to rely on the individual skills of its players as they strive to cop trophies in six categories. For the 2nd consecutive year, RBC is the title sponsor of the Championships. The bank's support comes in large measure from an overall strategy to promote, as well as integrate golf into the wider community. 

Jason Waters, Area Vice President, RBC Cayman Islands reinforced the Bank’s commitment to the event, golf and the region. “RBC is proud to once again support the CAGC,’ he said. “Our decision to get on board is driven by our desire to elevate the game in the Caribbean much in the same way that we have in Canada and the United States through our parent company RBC.”

Making its return, is one of the most anticipated attractions of the Championships, Birdies for Charity – RBC’s social responsibility initiative in collaboration with the Caribbean Golf Association (CGA), where RBC will contribute a maximum of USD 45,000 to the nine teams who can earn up to a maximum of USD 5,000 each to donate to the charity of their choice.

Speaking on the team’s donation to Cayman HospiceCare and The Caring For Life Foundation, CIGA President Jason Perras said:

“We are delighted to be able to play our part through this donation to two exemplary charities in the Cayman Islands, Cayman HospiceCare and The Caring For Life Foundation. We truly believe these organizations are full of energy and commitment in everything they do. They have amazing groups of people that perform invaluable services to the national community as well as for those children and adults who benefit from their hard work.”

The RBC 56th Annual Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships, hosted by the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club, will once again bring out the best in the competition over an 18-hole, Par 71 course at 6,900 yards from the championship gold tees. The extraordinary layout also boasts water hazards on 10 holes, 80 bunkers and a multitude of coconut palm trees along the Atlantic Ocean.
St. Kitts has hosted the Championships in previous years and is regarded by many regional players as one of the best conditioned and most scenic golf courses in the Caribbean.

Competition Categories:

– Men’s Open Competition Hoerman Cup (Jason Lovelock, Adam Nashed, Jason Perras, Philip Wight, Paul Woodhouse)
– Men Over 50 Years Francis and Steele-Perkins Trophy (Eustace Jeffers & Tracy Moore)
– Men Over 60 Years   Higgs & Higgs Trophy (Richard Jones & Andy Newton)
– Men Over 35 Years   Ramon Baez Trophy (Joel Dodson & Michael Wight)
– Ladies’ Open Competition George Teale Trophy (Isabel Lawson, Emily Ribbins, Samantha Widmer)
– Overall Team Championship Arthur Zaide Trophy (Cayman National Team)

For more information visit the CGA’s website at: www.cgagolfnet.com or The Royal St. Kitts Golf Club at www.royalstkittsgolfclub.com or Like the Championships on Facebook, Keyword: RBC 56th Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships.
 

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Mac calls off tax meeting

| 31/07/2012 | 126 Comments

mac 3 (236x300).jpg(CNS): Monday night's meeting at which the premier had planned to talk to the public about the expat income tax was call off at the last minute in the face of a peaceful protest. Citing the disquiet in the community about the issue, McKeeva Bush cancelled the meeting, suggesting the protestors were being influenced by those that “meant the country no good”. The meeting has now been moved to his own constituency in West Bay on Wednesday evening, where Bush will be hoping that he can round up enough of his own supporters to undermine the planned rally by the protest group which has emerged in a matter of days via social media.

The Facebook group Caymanians and Ex-pats United Against Taxation was created by Nick Pitman in the wake of the premier’s announcement last week that he intended to tax the earnings of work-permit holders earning more than $20,000 per year by 10%. When CNS posted the story on its website, it got a record 800 comments as shockwaves over the suggestion ricocheted across the islands.  

The growth in internet use in Cayman in recent times was further illustrated when Pitman’s page had reached some 9,000 members by the weekend. With foreign and local workers coming together, this has sent a clear and unequivocal message to the premier that this form of income tax is a step too far.

The group now has more than 10,200 members, and in the face of the planned protest that could have attracted thousands the premier cancelled the Monday evening meeting at the eleventh hour. In a short statement released from his office Bush said that after consultation with his Cabinet colleagues he had decided to postpone the meeting, which was meant to inform the public about this controversial move.

“There appears to be an ill-temper abroad that suggests we would not get the calm and measured discussion that these issues require,” he said. “There is too much influence being exercised on people’s minds by those who mean the country no good. Hopefully the disquiet they have generated will lessen enough that in a couple of days we can have a proper public reception and discussion of what we have to say."

The meeting will now take place on 1 August at the Sir John A. Cumber school hall at 7:30pm on Bush’s home turf. 

However, members of the social media group intend to move their planned peaceful protest to the district in an effort to dissuade the premier from introducing the tax, which would be a fundamental shift for Cayman.

Although the tax is currently only targeted at foreign workers, it is clear most people recognise that it is merely step one and that once introduced direct taxation could quickly spread to all, including Caymanians, which would not only hurt the community directly in its pocket but could undermine the entire financial services sector.

Sources tell CNS that the premier hopes to raise some $50 milllion through this tax to plug the deficit in his government’s budget. However, many believe his estimates are far wide of the mark and that there are numerous other options which could bring in more revenue without resorting to direct taxation, such as a legal lottery or taking 2 cents from the US-Cayman dollar exchange.

Although Bush has pointed the finger at the UK pressurising him to introduce direct taxation, the governor’s office has sated that the UK has not yet approved this budget. In addition, London sources also state that theFCO’s economic advisor to Cayman has asked for further reductions in operating expenses and has not demanded payroll tax or any other tax but a form of sustainable revenue.

Although Bush persistently blames the opposition for the position the country is now in, the reason why the UK still needs to approve the CIG budget is because, despite promises over the last three years to reduce borrowing and operating expenses, the premier has continued to borrow in each and every budget and increased spending on public services.

Bush had said over and over again this year that the UK will not permit the Cayman government to increase its borrowing levels. Nevertheless, he submitted a budget to them for approval in June which not only included an overdraft facility of $27 million but around $50 million more in long term borrowing as well.

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Jamaican official stands up to contractor’s threats

| 31/07/2012 | 5 Comments

Greg-Christie_w370.jpg(CNS): In his battle to fight corruption in Jamaica, Greg Christie the contractor general has been threatened by general contractors who appear not to appreciate his efforts. However Christie said yesterday that he would not submit to the threats and ultimatums as he does his job. The contractors issued the threats to Christie and his staff at a meeting this weekend of firms that have been denied re-registration by the National Contracts Commission because of suspected corruption. Contractors who have been interviewed by Jamaica’s fraud squad and dropped from the official list for government work called the meeting and issued an ultimatum to Christie’s office.

Threats of violence were also made and an OCG staff member was warned to get police protection by the contractors. 

The Office of the Contractor General in Jamaica said it has been contending with rampant corruption in the NCC’s Government Contractor Registration process for the last three years and has taken several decisive and deliberate steps to root it out from the Contractor Registration Process.

“The OCG, as a matter of necessity, has also instituted a 100% Zero Tolerance Compliance Audit of all Works Contractor Re-Registration Applications that have been submitted to the NCC,” Christie said in a statement in the wake of the threats. “These measures have resulted in roughly 60 contractors being investigated for major …. irregularities.”

As a result the OCG passed information to the Fraud Squad and delisted a number of companies from getting government work. “The ….regulations, which are developed and promulgated by the Government and the NCC – and not by the OCG – are clear and unambiguous in their terms,” the OCG general’s office stated.

“Many of the contractors that were in attendance at Saturday’s meetings would prefer if the referenced Regulations – which are intended to ensure that Government Contractors are suitably qualified, experienced and resourced to perform the Government contracts which they bid on – are relaxed,” Christie said as he vowed not to be intimidated.

“The OCG ………., will not be intimidated by ultimatums or threats of violence, which emanate from any person, contractor or contractor group, from diligently and dispassionately discharging its lawful responsibilities under the Contractor General Act,” he said adding that a report had been filed with the police.

 

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Fraser brothers make 100 metre semis

| 31/07/2012 | 9 Comments

200m%20%20%20%2029%20%20jul%2012%20033.jpg(CIOC): Updated —  Both the Fraser brothers have qualified for the 100 metre men's freestyle semi-finals at the London Olympics. The two Caymanian swimming stars will now swim for a place in the finals at 1:30pm local time today, which, given Brett's time, is a real possibility for him. Brett was third in his heat in a time of 48.53 seconds and Shaune was fifth in his heat coming in at 48.99 seconds. Brett was sixth fastest overall and if he can keep up the pace this afternoon he could find himself in the final line-up at London 2012. The news comes on the heels of Brett's personal best and national record on Sunday.

Brett is elated that he has set a new Cayman Islands national record in the 200 metres freestyle at the London Olympics and elevated himself to 14th best in the world in the process. Fraser, 22, swam brilliantly to set the mark of 1 minute 47.01 seconds in the 200m free semi-final on Sunday. His brother Shaune, 24, also did well to come in 20th overall in the same event. “It gives me a great deal of pleasure setting a new record for Cayman in the 200m freestyle,” Brett said. “It’s always good to know that you’re progressing more and more each year. That was great.”

The Frasers were looking forward to their 100m heat on Tuesday. Brett also goes in the 50m freestyle this week and Shaune in the 100m butterfly.  “I was really tapering for the 100m free so I’m pretty excited and if it’s anything like the 200m was I’ll be pretty happy with that,” Brett said. “I have the 50m on Thursday which should be pretty good as well but the main events I was focusing on were the 100m and 200m.

“In training for my other races I’m just taking it easy in the pool, keeping it long and smooth and putting the right nutrition into my body and getting rest.”

Brett added: “The overall standard of the swimming at the Games is just as smooth as in Beijing. Things ran a bit more smoothly in Beijing but things are just as good here, everything is top notch and pretty overwhelming and they are doing a good job.”

The Frasers have seen Ryan Lochte, their friend and training partner in Florida, become the new king of the pool, usurping the legendary Michael Phelps in the process.
Brett expected the handover of supremacy. “I’m not surprised that Lochte is doing well. I’d be more surprised if he wasn’t because he’s trained hard and prepared for this for a very long time.”

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