Archive for August 1st, 2012

RCIPS drug interdiction caught on camera

| 01/08/2012 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Police have released video footage taken from the RCIPS helicopter when a marine patrol came across a boat packed with drugs off the coast of Grand Cayman last November. Five men were arrested and the 32-foot boat seized when it was discovered about two miles south of Pedro Bluff carrying more than 600lbs of ganja. The police had sneaked up on the drug canoe, which was travelling between Jamaica and Honduras, despite the fact that it was hidden in the dead of the night. The Marine Unit boat turned on its lights and the canoe speeded up but as it turned it collided with one of the police vessels. 

Caught red-handed, the men eventually pleaded guilty and were recently sentenced to various terms from 38 to 43 months as they had previous offences in Cayman.  All five were also given concurrent sentences for immigration offences. 

See video footage on Cayman27

 

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Tropical Depression Five heads to Windward Islands

| 01/08/2012 | 0 Comments

TD5 x1.jpg(CNS): An area of low pressure, located about 850 miles east of the Windward Islands, has become better defined and environmental conditions are conducive for tropical cyclone formation and could become a tropical storm tonight or tomorrow, according to the National Hurricane Center. The system has a 70% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours as it moves west-northwestward at near 20 mph. At 5pm AST the centre of TD5 was located near latitude 12.2 north, longitude 49.0 west.

The depression is moving toward the west-northwest near 18 mph and a west-northwestward to westward motion at about the same forward speed is expected over the next 48 hours.  The NHS says the center of the tropical cyclone should be near the Windward Islands on Friday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph with higher gusts.  Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours.
 

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Tax threshold may go to $30k

| 01/08/2012 | 111 Comments

(CNS): According to government sources, it is likely to be the country’s immigration department that will collect the expat tax proposed by the premier, though it is not clear how. CNS also understands that government could be rethinking the level of pay at which the 10% tax on the earnings of foreign workers could kick in, raising the starting point to salaries above $30,000 and not the $20,000 that Premier McKeeva Bush had said when he first announced the controversial move last week. However, sources tell CNS that the only thing that appears to be certain is the uncertainty surrounding this tax and the current budget situation for government’s 2012/13 spending plans.

Bush is scheduled to meet with the public Wednesday evening, at which time, he has said, he will offer more details on what he has called a “community enhancement fee”, which is, in reality, a form of income tax of work permit holders. During a radio broadcast to the nation he suggested this tax would be 10% ofthe earnings of all work permit holders earning $20,000 or more, but those employees, as well as their employers, would no longer have to make a contribution to their pensions.

Since that announcement, the idea has received criticism from every corner of the private sector but gained what appears to be very limited support from Caymanians. The outrage of large sections of the community has been reflected mostly on Facebook and in the online media, where the vast majority of commenters, particularly on Cayman News Service, have made it clear that they do not support the tax.

Many locals believe that the imposition of direct taxation, once implemented, is unlikely to remain confined to expatriates and that it would represent a fundamental shift in Cayman’s economic fortunes.

The collection of the tax has also been slated across the island, not least by those in the offshore sector, who have pointed out that even before government has even established a secure mode of getting the revenue in, experts here will have created myriad financial vehicles to help workers avoid the tax.

The suggestion that immigration will be charged with collecting the fee suggests that it would be linked to work permits, which may means the tax will have to be paid annually, creating particular hardship for lower paid employees, or that the department will need to create a new enforcement arm to collect on a more regular basis.

It is not yet clear how immigration would check that the salary figure an employer says he is paying an employee is correct.

Check back to CNS later tonight for the latest news on the controversial expat tax.

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Director’s tax alternatives rejected

| 01/08/2012 | 2 Comments

250924_406086482776923_1658141844_n.jpg(CNS Business): Local financial expert and director of one of Cayman’s largest business conglomerates, Don Seymour, is the latest person to wade in on alternatives to the premier’s direct tax proposals, many of which appear to have been ignored. Seymour has proposed an infrastructure fee based on miles driven that could bring in some $40 million, as well as directorship fees, boat licensing fees, garbage fees attached to water bills and a liquidator fee. However, despite the premier’s calls for solutions, most of Seymour’s ideas have been rejected. Warning that government will not collect on the payroll tax, Seymour is mystified why government has not consulted anyone on such a critical issue. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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OMOV campaigners spent only $33,000

| 01/08/2012 | 9 Comments

IMG00455-20120224-1246 (240x300)_0.jpg(CNS): Activists in favour of one man, one vote in the recent referendum spent only a fraction on campaigning to win the vote compared to government who spent over $100,000 of public funds. The OMOV group collected $29, 483.30 from private donors and spent $33,816.26 on advertising t-shirts, brochures, and meeting room rental, according to financial statements released on Wednesday. The deficit of $4,334.96 was made up by committee members from their own pockets for the referendum that returned a vote more than two to one in favour, in most districts, of the democratic principle.

Despite winning the referendum with 5,631 ‘yes’ representing some 65 per cent of the 8,676 persons who voted. With only 57.23 per cent of registered electorate actually voting, the referendum fell short of the high 50 per cent plus one bar, of registered voters, set by government, for single member constituencies to be implemented.

The release of the financial documents (posted below) is in keeping with the committee’s promise to be transparent with the public about its funding. The statement, as at 24 July, shows that the campaign received a total income of $29, 483.30, with the majority of that — $21,683.30 — coming from individual contributions. Expenses totalled $33,816.26, leaving a deficit of $4,334.96. The bulk of expenses represented direct advertising to the tune of $25,299.50, with the rest covering items such as t-shirts, brochures, and meeting room rental.

Although the referendum returned a ‘yes’ majority the government has also refused to accept the result as advisory but the premier recently announced that a bi-partisan group was to be established to look at Cayman’s voting system and announced the possibility of changing it to ‘two men, two votes’ with the introduction of nine double member constituencies in order to accommodate the three new seats which are required in order for government to implement the constitutional provision of a sixth minister in Cabinet.

See financials below

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Activists confident over cops

| 01/08/2012 | 16 Comments

police sign_0.jpg(CNS): Local activist groups campaigning against various government policies, in particular relating to the Dart deal, are calling on everyone, including the newly formed Facebook group Caymanians and Expats United Against Taxation, to attend the premier’s public meeting tonight and not to be intimidated. The veterans of protest said that they were confident that the RCIPS would protect their right to assemble as they had done in the past and the premier could not intimidate everyone. McKeeva Bush will be hosting the first public meeting on his proposed 10% expat tax on Wednesday in his own constituency of West Bay, where he is expected to give more details on the controversial plan to balance the budget.

The founder of the social network group Nick Pitman announced yesterday that the planned protest by the group against the proposed tax would be held next Monday evening on the more neutral ground in George Town. However he too encouraged everyone to still go to West Bay to hear what the premier and to say and ask questions before joining the rally next week.

“Although we made a decision to postpone the protest itself because of the intimidation members were facing and the concerns raised by some of our members we are still keen to see as many people in our group as possible attend this critically important meeting this evening where hopefully we can be more accurately informed about the precise nature of this discriminatory tax the premier intends to impose,” Pitman told CNS.

“We are aiming for a full scale peaceful protest next Monday in front of the Legislative Assembly in which we have also asked other concerned groups to join as well as members of the LA when all of us will hopefully be better informed about the Mr Bush’s plans.”

The Truly4Cayman group which includes the Concerned Citizens Group, West Bay Action Committee, Keep Bodden Town Dump Free and the Save Cayman Group called on the Facebook group to join them tonight as well before the meeting starts at 6:30pm outside John A Cumber primary school.

“Mr Premier, you may be able to scare some of the people, some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time,” truly4cayman said in a statement released on Wednesday morning. “We are confident that as the RCIPS protected our right to assemble before, they will do so again in West Bay.

Referring to the intimidation suffered by the coalition of groups over its objections to the ForCayman Alliance Truly4Cayman said it too had been disparagingly labelled disruptive and even destructive despite being quite the opposite and dedicated to preservation – not least the preservation of the West Bay Road and other areas of Grand Cayman for the long-term benefit all people. The group called on Bush to fulfil his pledge to protect and defend the best interests of all of Cayman, which could not be achieved while his government focused special interests groups.

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Expat tax flawed say local lawyers

| 01/08/2012 | 0 Comments

egg-broken.jpg(CNS Business): The Cayman Islands Law Society is the latest private sector group to oppose the premier’s idea of a 10% payroll tax on expatriate workers, describing the idea as "flawed". The group, which represents those that sustain the country’s so-called ‘golden goose’ of offshore finance, say the proposal will cause long term damage to Cayman’s entire economy without addressing the fundamental problems of public spending. Government needed to understand that the group it proposed to tax was mobile and a tax on people that can leave was not sustainable, the society said. It also criticized government’s failure to understand the economic principles that had sustained Cayman the last 30 years. (Read more on CNSBusiness)

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Inmates pass through rehab programmes

| 01/08/2012 | 0 Comments

Prison gate (232x300).jpg(CNS): As part of the goal to improve prison rehab service a number of inmates recently completed a number of behaviour modification and drug-education programmes government officials have said. Described as self-enhancement opportunities these programmes are said to be offered on an on-going basis at HMP Northward in areas such as education, technical-vocational training, as well as stress- and anger-management. The intervention groups involve prison staff as well as external agencies such as Cayman Against Substance Abuse (CASA) and the Department of Community Rehabilitation (DCR).

Other services include twice-weekly Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Job-placement and rehabilitative programmes are also available at the female prison, HM Prison Fairbanks.

Deterrent measures also underway include making presentations to local high school students. In addition inmates completed the Interpersonal Relationship Enhancement and Awareness Programme and the Stress Management Programme a 12-15 week initiative allowing participants to explore their personal experiences of stress, then identify and develop sustainable coping strategies and action plans.

The Interpersonal Relationship Enhancement and Awareness Programme is comprised of 14 psycho-educational sessions which help participants to explore themselves, improve communication and relationship skills, while enhancing their understanding of healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Speaking at a recent informal ceremony at the prison the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs’ Acting Chief Officer Kathryn Dinspel-Powell said: “To see you functioning well in society would be the best indicator that we’re doing our job successfully. We have a responsibility to prepare you for the way forward, so you don’t come back here,” GIS reported in a release.

Prison Director Dwight Scott described the programmes as a “restructuring process” to help the inmates reflect on how they ended up in prison where they are going and how to change course.

The prison’s Forensic Psychologist Davina Aidoo said that rehabilitation is dependent on the interest and involvement of each inmate: “The objective is reducing recidivism, by addressing interpersonal-issues which need attention,” the expert stated.

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Community enhancement or division?

| 01/08/2012 | 35 Comments

Handing over more money (in the form of tax dollars) to this government feels a little like asking a crack addict to mind your money and expecting it to be put to good use. This may sound a little dramatic but until we are told what the government proposes to do in order to tighten their belts and curb their spending, the people have to be opposed to handing over any more money — all people, expats and Caymanians.

As much as we can all agree that the premier’s proposal is constitutional in that there is a provision to allow discrimination in the matters of immigration and taxation, we all have to ask ourselves is this really the most sensible solution.

Sadly, whether this goes ahead or not, what’s been said cannot be unsaid and this has become a very divisive issue — interesting therefore that the proposed tax is to be called “Community Enhancement”.

There are many people, expatriates and Caymanians, who would welcome the opportunity to provide positive ideas in an attempt at finding solutions to the predicament we find ourselves in. Many people (myself included) are angry because there really is no good reason that we find ourselves in the position we’re in — we got here only because of ‘our’ greed, arrogance and perhaps ignorance. We had rainy day money that we spent on sunny days and here we are.

And yet, despite feeling that I had no say in how we ended up in this position of poverty, I am absolutely prepared to tighten my own belt in order to help us get out of this but I want to see our leaders leading by example; it’s simply not right to expect everyone else to tighten their belts with no intention of doing the same.

I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “How can I be broke when I still have cheques left?” and I believe it’s time to take the cheque book away and get ourselves educated as to the actual position we’re in — no more clever accounting, just the facts. 

We have some brilliant minds here and it’s time the government acknowledged the expertise of these brilliant minds and formed a sensible group of people who might actually have some ideas to get us through this without the need for direct taxation and without the divisiveness that we’re currently witnessing.

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Agency steps in to help young parents

| 01/08/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Family Resource Centre (FRC) is providing local young parents with training to get them into work and help with their parenting skills.  The youngsters have been working towards gaining computer certifications, engaging in character development sessions, as well as receiving individual psychological and emotional support from the centre’s facilitators and counsellors. The programme works at addressing potential risk for child abuse and neglect, while boosting other facets of the parent’s life. HSA and other partners provide additional educational elements and once certain criterion is achieved, the young people become eligible for work experience.

“It has been wonderful to see our young mothers blossom and make positive steps at becoming more competent mothers,” FRC Programme Coordinator Miriam Foster said.

Realizing the importance of acquiring both theoretical and practical skills, minister responsible for community affairs, Mike Adam, said, “These fundamentals are crucial for any society and will help motivate our young people to become productive citizens.”

He expressed his appreciation to allcompanies who have opened their doors to train these young women.

Under the programme, the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman, has paired up with FRC to allow participants an opportunity to gain work experience throughout various departments.

“Through monetary and food donations, the Ritz has always been there to assist in minimizing the costs of our events,” said Foster. “Private sector stepping in and providing clients with an opportunity to gain confidence and self-worth through work experience or providing families with a meal not often shared allows us to enhance the services FRC can provide.”

To become a sponsor of any of the programmes and services offered at FRC, companies are encouraged to contact Miriam Foster at 949-0006 or email frc@gov.ky.

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