Archive for August 9th, 2012

Mothersill ‘dejected’ over failure to run in Olympics

| 09/08/2012 | 14 Comments

l4629652.jpg(CNS): Commonwealth gold medal winner and Cayman’s most successful sprinter has said that she is both “disappointed and frustrated” over the injury that prevented her from competing in the women’s 200-metre heats at the London Olympics this week. Cydonie Mothersill, who is 34 years old and suffering from an ongoing tendon injury said that she was deeply saddened by her inability to perform in what was very likely her last appearance at an Olympic games. While battling the persistent problem in her left foot, she nevertheless told interviewers she had blocked it from her mind and would compete. However, in the end she was absent from the start-up.

Mothersill had been preparing to compete on Monday, 6 August, but after consultations with her coaches and the team physiotherapist, who conceded she would do more harm if she competed, she elected to withdraw, ending her Olympic career.

“This was my fifth, and very likely last, Olympics," Mothersill said. “I came to London to compete and to represent my country and was very disappointed that I was unable to line up. I did everything possible to give myself a chance but it was not to be.”

According to a press release issued on Thursday, Mothersill was said to be deeply dejected but had accepted the move had been necessary.

“I wish it could have been otherwise, as I know the country was looking forward to seeing me compete and I was crushed that I could not deliver. However, I want to extend my gratitude and thanks to my family, friends, the CIOC, the CIAA, the Cayman Islands Government, sponsors, the many people who prayed and the countless supporters in the Cayman Islands. Sadly, while it was a difficult decision, I know that it was the right one,” she added.

Donald McLean, President of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, expressed his own disappointment but said the decision had been “in the interests of the athlete's long-term health”.

Mothersill formed part of one of the best teams that Cayman had ever sent to the Olympic Games but was not the only one who did not compete. Fellow sprinter Kemar Hyman, who qualified for the semi-finals in the men’s 100 metres, also said he was facing an injury on the afternoon he was set to line up alongside the fastest men in the world.

Shaune Fraser was scheduled to compete in the 100m butterfly but he too pulled out of the race after reaching the semi-finals of the 200m freestyle. Meanwhile, his brother Brett competed in three races.

Ronald Forbes, who was also coming off a season plagued with injury, competed in his heats for the 110m hurdles. Forbes said that despite his troubles, nothing was going to stop him from running.

“I don’t care if my leg is dropping off, I’m going out there to represent. I did not work this hard to see beside my name ‘did not start’.” he said after his heat.

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Former CI attorney general to join Court of Appeal

| 09/08/2012 | 25 Comments

Image.jpg(CNS): A former Cayman Islands attorney general has been appointed to the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal. The decision was based, for the first time, on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, established by the new Constitution introduced in November 2009. Governor Duncan Taylor announced the appointment of Sir Richard Ground as Cayman's newest appeal court Judge following an open recruitment process, in which the commission advertised the post locally and overseas throughout June and July.  Sir Richard currently serves on the Turks and Caicos Court of Appeal and is due to join the Bermuda Court of Appeal in January next year.

During the recruitment process the potential appeal judges were short-listed to four and Sir Richard was selected.

Prior to his recent retirement, Sir Richard was the chief justice of Bermuda, a post he held for eight years, and before that he was chief justice of the Turks & Caicos Islands for six years, and a Puisne Judge in Bermuda for six years.

He was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1975 but has spent most of his career in the region. Between 1987 and 1992 he was attorney general of Cayman and he received an OBE in 1991 for services to the Islands. He was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List earlier this year for his services to justice in Bermuda.

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Seventh depression of season forms in Atlantic

| 09/08/2012 | 1 Comment

gordon1.JPG(CNS): The National Hurricane Center in Miami is reporting on a newly formed weather system in the tropical Atlantic that could become a tropical storm by Friday. The depression which formed this afternoon could be in the Cayman area next Tuesday, night according to the centre’s forecast of the system's potential track. At 4pm on Thursday tropical depression seven was about 1155 miles east of the Windward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 35 MPH.

The system is moving at 20 MPH towards the west and forecasters said this general motion was expected to continue for the next 48 hours. The NHC said slow strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours.

If it becomes Tropical Storm Gordon, it will be the season's seventh named storm.

See NHC for more details

 

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CS cuts will create burden

| 09/08/2012 | 173 Comments

GOAP (243x300).jpg(CNS): Cutting too many jobs from the civil service would create further burdens for government coffers because the private sector would not be willing to give up enough work permits, the premier has said. As the debate rages in the community about 'big government', McKeeva Bush pointed out that it would still be the public sector that would have to foot the bill for the growth in unemployment with welfare costs if significant jobs were lost. But he pointed out that the cuts would also impact spending in the economy. Bush berated those who are calling for over 500 jobs to go from the civil service, stating that it would do untold harm to many families.

Speaking at a public meeting about the budget at the Mary Miller Hall Wednesday night, the premier denied that his refusal to cut CS jobs or other major spending areas of government, such as scholarships, the Nation Building Fund or veterans' payments, was vote buying but said it was about helping Caymanians.

Bush said that as a result of the pressurefrom the UK, Cabinet had already slashed public sector spending this year but he was not prepared to allow any job cuts. In any event , the premier continued to insist that it was not his job to cut the headcount in government as the elected members of Cabinet did not have the power. Once again, he pointed the finger at the governor as the one responsible for what many considered the inflated size of the public sector.

Duncan Taylor has stated on several occasions that while the supervision of the civil service is his responsibility through the Deputy Governor's Office, jobs cannot be cut unless the elected arm of the administration indicates its policy priorities and areas where it would be willing to reduce services. The governor still requires policy direction so the civil service management can work out where job losses should be made.

The premier made it abundantly clear, however, that he would not approve any major job losses in the public sector as it would be too damaging to too many people. He said that there were already concerns about the impact the cuts that have been made to benefits would have.

Bush said that in this budget the government had reduced spending considerably as a result of slashing the marketing budget for tourism, a fall in spending on consumables, a decrease in equity investments, the proposed sale of the helicopter, the reduction of the police housing allowance down to pre-Ivan levels and the removal of free health benefits for civil servant's dependents, whose cover will now need to be paid for. He described a policy sea-change that would require all new recruits to the public sector to contribute to their own pensions and their health cover in future.

Acknowledging the demands for still more cuts in operational expenses, he said there was a need for greater recognition by the private sector of the civil service's role in the Cayman Islands' well-being.

Bush said it was impossible to make thecuts to satisfy everyone and people had to be aware that if public sector workers lost their jobs and were unable to find employment in the private sector they would still be a burden on the public purse as government had an obligation to take care of its own people. “These are humans who have been given a contract,” he said, also pointing out the loss of spending power in the economy.

With pressure from the private sector mounting to acknowledge that the problem with Cayman's budget was not revenue raising but spending, Bush pointed to other costs in government that he did not support but was forced to find the money for.

He complained about the costs associated with the implementation of the bill of rights and legal aid spending. He said government had to find $1.8 million per year so that the person “who killed the baby in a car” could have the best QC, and while prisoners had access to better healthcare than civil servants he was not prepared to make cuts on hard working Caymanians.

Bush berated those who said he should cut things such as the money to veterans, the Nation Building Fund or scholarships. He said there was too much hypocrisy as only certain people in the past had got scholarships to go to high school or college and too many Caymanians were left out.

Bush also defended the money going to churches as he said it was to help them build hurricane shelters, which was cheaper than government funding those projects, and added that the Nation Building Fund was about the future of young people and keeping them out of jail.

Related articles:

Bush appeals to employers

Range of fees to plug budget

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The Elephant in the Room

| 09/08/2012 | 16 Comments

It occurs to me that with all this recent discussion regarding the increase in revenue we are still rather successfully managing to avoid the elephant in the room that is growing bigger with every ‘nation building’ project and every paycheck that’s written to those in charge, whose only agenda seems to be plundering the public purse for their (hopefully) last few months in office.

I am of course referring to cutting expenditure and not necessarily putting a bunch of civil servants out of a job.  As much as a ‘nation building fund’ is a wonderful idea – it is hardly appropriate to be exhausting the public purse to increase the pride of a nation that seems to me to be in this mess because of an inflated pride to begin with.

Just a couple of the recent expenses that could have been avoided:

  • The Premier’s ‘jolly’ to Jamaica to celebrate their independence – let’s not forget at the time he flew to Jamaica we were potentially expecting the arrival of a hurricane
  • The massive delegation of Cayman Airways representatives who flew to Cuba to discuss Cayman Airways – could this have been discussed in Cayman?  Could local businesses have benefitted?
  • Panama Inaugural Flight (in excess of $70k)
  • Awards ceremony at the Westin in order that our premier can keep the title ‘honourable’ for perpetuity. With respect to those who may be deserving of this honour, it’s hardly the time to be concentrating on what some might consider to be frivolous matters.

These may seem minor but they are literally just the tip of the iceberg – and looking at the expenditure cuts (minimal as they are) that the premier is proposing, most if not all affect the ‘ordinary’ Caymanian he claims he’s trying to save. This seems to indicate that he doesn’t consider himself to be an ‘ordinary Caymanian’ because I don’t believe he will be affected (at least not directly) by any of these cuts.

We are told (by both parties) that politicians need their inflated salaries because the politicians find themselves having to pay electric bills for those who can’t afford to pay their electricity. As generous and kind as this sounds, it is a fool’s game and reminds me of the saying, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day but teach a man to fish and he will feed his family for life.”

I say to our politicians (with respect to those with very real struggles out there trying to meet their commitments) that there are better ways to spend your inflated salaries if you are trying to do good for your country.

If you are simply taking more money than the job is worth so you can keep your people poor and helpless, then you are doing an even greater disservice to this country than abusing your positions by taking free vacations.

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Range of fees to plug budget

| 09/08/2012 | 116 Comments

broken-piggy-bank-large_1.jpg(CNS): The financial services sector will bear the brunt of the fee increases that government will impose to replace the controversial expat tax. However, ordinary businesses will also face increases in work permit fees, starting at 5% on permits between $1,000 and $3,000 and 10% on those in the next category, increasing gradually to 20% on the most expensive management permits. Premier Mckeeva Bush said Wednesday that he hoped to raise over $44.3 million from a combination of fees with $7.8 million coming from the permit increases. Bush announced a list of fee increases, from tourism room taxes to licence fees for boats over 30 feet, to plug the budget but most of the revenue will come from the finance industry.

Speaking at a public meeting on Wednesday evening at the Mary Miller Hall for more than two hours, the premier waited until the last moment to reveal the package of new revenue measures he hopes will satisfy the UK's demand for a "sustainable and credible" budget for the 2012/13 fiscal year.

These include an increase in tourism room taxes from 10% to 13%, a departure tax increase of $10, a rise in stamp duty on some insurance policies, as well as stamp duty increase on real estate, new traffic fees, licences for boats over 30 feet that will increase incrementally on the size of vessels, fees on tobacco products and ten cents on beer bottles and cans. He said the details of the measures would all be revealed when the budget was approved by the overseas territories minister and presented to the Legislative Assembly.

The majority of the new revenue in the revised budget will come from increases on the finance industry, which Bush described as a national asset. There will be director fees, fees on master-funds, which he said would raise over $2.3 million, and an increase in the fees of limited partnerships, which should bring in around $9 million.

Together the fees will mean that the so-called 'community enhancement fee', which was a proposed tax on the earnings of work permit holders, would be scrapped. The u-turn on the contentious proposal came as a result of various groups approaching government with alternative suggestions and members of the business community making a commitment to take on more fees.

Bush said he was against taxation and that fee would have been a last resort. He said he had no intention of introducing taxes on profits, incomes, property, death or inheritance and that he had fought hard not to introduce direct taxation.

It was, he said, his intention to present the revised budget to the UK shortly and he hoped to have a favourable response next week, which would allow him to present the budget on  Monday 20 August.

Although cutting things fine, this would allow the legislators ten days to debate the budget, scrutinize the spending plans and cuts in public spending and pass the appropriations bill before the government's stop-gap budget passed in June expires on 31 August .

During Wednesday night's public meeting Bush did not allow a question and answer session and there was no debate or discussion. He received some applause at times but the presentation, which was a rehash of his speech at the West Bay meeting last week, was made before a smaller and more subdued audience. Although he railed against the opposition and the press, the premier reigned in his criticisms of the governor and other public officials.

He did, however, accuse CNS and The Caymanian Compass of creating an international media feeding frenzy with their 'hysterical headlines'. Bush seemed to think that it was not the proposals to introduce a form of direct taxation to the jurisdiction that had attracted the international attention but rather the “irresponsibility” of the local media.

Although the premier was as scathing as ever about CNS, which he described in an email earlier this week as a "wutless scandal sheet", he also took aim Wednesday night at the owner of the Compass. Being the only print media, the owner was abusing his position and being irresponsible, Bush said, adding that he would be writing to the paper in response to the "licks” the local newspaper had given him this week.

Bush denied the accusations made against him of vote buying and said what he did was because he had a passion to do good. “I  am trying to help people at a time when businesses are not concerned and don't understand that there are people who can't pay their electrical bill,” he said, adding that these people end up on the doorstep of every politician, including the opposition.

Given the difficult times, Bush appealed to employers to take on Caymanians and told them not to refuse people because they were over qualified. He pointed to the local unemployment problem and asked how there could be 20,000 work permits and an unemployment rate of over 8% among Caymanians.

Bush said he was introducing an additional fee that employers would pay on certain categories of work permits that were for jobs that could be taken by Caymanians and hoped this would encourage people to take on local painters, among other similar categories of workers.

Related articles:

Bush appeals to employers

CS cuts will create burden

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