Archive for August 20th, 2012

Unapproved budget this PM

| 20/08/2012 | 40 Comments

Budget Address(2)_2.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier is persisting with his intention to deliver the 2012/13 budget statement this afternoon but he is doing so without the approval of the UK’s overseas minister.  In a short statement in his capacity as acting governor, Franz Manderson said that the premier would be presenting the government’s spending plans while negotiations continue with the FCO and without the UK’s agreement. He said that discussions between the Cayman Islands and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the budget were ongoing and OT Minister Henry Bellingham may not agree to the plans the premier will present.

Manderson said the UK was still asking the government to ensure its budget proposals were credible, sustainable and consistent with the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility signed by the Premier in November 2011.

“The Honourable Premier intends to present the 2012/13 Budget to the Legislative Assembly today.  If so, he will be doing so in the knowledge that the Minister for the Overseas Territories has not given, and may not give, his approval to these budgetary plans,” Manderson said an hour before the LA was due to convene.

“In any event the FCO will wish to continue to work closely with the Cayman Islands Government to develop budgetary plans which are in the best interests of the Cayman Islands for the future,” he added.

It is understood that Deputy Governor Manderson, in the absence of Governor Duncan Taylor, who is currently overseas, will be delivering the Throne Speech as the FCO has offered no objection to that presentation being made.

Check back for more on the budget story and the consequences of the delivery of a budget that does have UK approval.

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Cops investigate sudden death

| 20/08/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Updated 1:25pm: RCIPS officers are currently investigating the sudden death of a 46-year-old woman. Police attended the scene in Patrick's Avenue, in the Prospect area of George Town, this morning (Monday 20 August) after the woman's body was found outside her home at around 8:15am, an RCIPS spokesperson said. Although the police have not yet revealed any of the circumstances in connection with the suddendeath, the spokesperson confirmed that the death is being treated as unexplained and a police enquiry is now underway. Check back to CNS later for more on this latest news story.

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Mac aims to try again

| 20/08/2012 | 22 Comments

mac 3 (236x300).jpg(CNS): Updated LA rescheduled to 4:15pm:  There is still no official word from government on whether the UK has approved the latest budget submission but sources have told CNS that the two sides are still in discussions. The premier has re-scheduled today's meeting of the Legislative Assembly from 2:30 to 4:15pm in the hopes of being able to finally present his government’s spending plans for this administration’s last year in office. Cancelled at the 11th hour on Friday, McKeeva Bush, as minister of finance, is now facing another emergency as the clock ticks on the need to appropriate money in order to keep government in business once the stop-gap funds approved by the LA in June run out on 31 August.

Even if the UK offers its approval by noon today, the Legislative Assembly will once again be forced to rush through the scrutiny of the spending plans in less than eleven days.

Once the Throne Speech is presented on Monday afternoon, followed by the premier’s budget address, the leader of the opposition is usually given a day or two at least to consider the government’s budget before making his reply. That is followed by a debate in which all members of the House have the opportunity to present their own take on the spending plans. Once that’s done, the legislators are expected to scrutinize the details of the budget with the relevant government department heads during a meeting of Finance Committee before the vote is taken on the appropriations for this financial year.

The Finance Committee stage was traditionally a process that members spent weeks on rather than just days in order to examine the credibility of government’s projected revenue collection and its spending. 

However, over the last three budgets, since the UDP government changed the Public Management and Finance Law to remove the requirement that a budget should be prepared and brought to the Legislative Assembly before 30 April, the process has been forced into an ever-shrinking timeframe as the premier has presented each budget later and later.

This year the budget is already two months late. Government was forced to bring a motion to the Legislative Assembly in June as a result of its failure to present a proper spending programme after the UK refused to give approval to the government’s original budget which included a borrowing requirement of almost $60 million.

Over the last two months government has been endeavouring to create a budget with a surplus of more than $76 million, while at the same time covering a whopping government spending plan of some $650 milllion.

The controversial suggestion of a tax on expatriate earnings was dropped recently and replaced with a number of new revenue raising measures, which had received the support of the private sector.

Last week the premier listed some of fees he intended to impose to “further improve government’s revenue” for the next financial year. These include a proposed new licensing system for fund and corporate directors and an annual fee increase for exempt companies of $100.

“Proposed amendments to the Companies Management Law will create and implement a new licensing system for fund and corporate directors. At present, these directors are not licensed or regulated,” Bush said. 

Issuing of certificates for a company, filing of a company document, company certification and express service for certificates, certification, filing and registration and re-registration are also to see increase of $25.

Annual fees for directorships under the Companies Law will see significant increases. Securities and investment businesses will increase by $500; regulated entities by $300; and all other directorships by $100. Company managers and trust services are both listed for increases of $100. A variety of Cayman Islands Monetary Authority fees are also among the proposed fee increases, ranging from $100 to $800. 

“These measures are in addition to the revenue measures that replaced the Community Enhancement Fee, namely increased bank and trusts license fees, work permit fees, tourist accommodation tax, departure tax, master fund registration fees, traffic regulatory fees, exempted limited partnerships, imposition of a stamp duty on certain property insurance policies, reverting to the 7.5% stamp duty on land transfers, and implementing fees for non-commercial boats,” the premier revealed.

“In all, these revenue measures and those measures that replaced the Community Enhancement Fee are expected to earn the government some $90.46 million during the 2012/13 fiscal year,” he stated.

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Civil service bosses still filling top jobs

| 20/08/2012 | 28 Comments

goab34.jpg(CNS): Despite the problems faced by government’s growing public sector wage bill, the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs has announced that two top posts have been filled. The portfolio’s chief officer, Eric Bush, said that existing civil servant Wesley Howell had been appointed as the deputy chief officer for security and public safety and Briana Ebanks, who comes from the private sector, was the new chief human resources manager. "I am happy to have both positions filled with such talented and professional Caymanians," Bush said in a statement released in the midst of news that the UK wanted to see further cuts in government’s operating expenditures.

The revelation that the two senior posts had been filled comes against the backdrop of a major budget crisis, with the UK asking for a further $20 million in cuts and still holding out on its approval of the Cayman government’s already much delayed 2012/13 budget.

The Legislative Assembly meeting scheduled for Friday afternoon, when the premier had wanted to deliver his annual spending plan, was cancelled at the last minute as there was still no approval from London because of the continued dispute over spending reductions. McKeeva Bush, who is also minister of finance, has told the UK that his government can go no further when it comes to spending cuts and he has refused to cut civil service jobs.

There was, however, meant to be a moratorium on new recruitment, with the exception of teachers and it is not clear how the two senior top paying jobs have managed to avoid the public sector recruitment freeze.

Eric Bush said that both positions were advertised and received several applications and after an initial short-listing, qualified applicants attended a day-long assessment, which tested their relevant skills, knowledge and experience. The top three candidates were then interviewed.

For the DCO post, the panel consisted of Alistair Walters, Managing Partner of Campbell’s; Chris Duggan, Senior Manager at Butterfield Bank; and Eric Bush. The panel for the HR position included Bush; Kathryn Dinspel-Powell, Deputy Chief Officer for Corrections and Rehabilitations; and Peter Gough, Strategic Advisor to the Deputy Governor.

Howell now assists Bush with the overall management of the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs – in particular, the Security and Public Safety Division.

As deputy chief officer, Howell is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of the RCIPS, Immigration, Hazard Management and Public Safety Communications (911) and provides strategic policy advice on border control and immigration’s internal operations, crime prevention, response and prosecutions, as well as hazard mitigation, management and disaster preparedness, a release from GIS stated. For the past two decades Howell has been at the core of government’s Computer Services Department (CSD). He was promoted to Deputy Director of CSD in 1999.

Meanwhile, Ebanks will provide professional advice as an “internal consultant” to PIE’s senior management, while simultaneously improving the HR activities throughout its departments. This includes ensuring compliance with legal and policy requirements, contracts and performance management.

Prior to joining government, she worked in the corporate and non-profit sectors. For five years she was development manager for the National Trust for the Cayman Islands. Following that, she worked as HR manager for a major local retail/service company, and then spent almost a decade in management/consulting with a leading offshore law firm.

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Dutch Soccer Camp improves technique & tactics

| 20/08/2012 | 1 Comment

2012 Dutch Camp Players Action (257x300).jpg(CNS): This year 83 young would-be soccer stars aged between six and seventeen took part in the Dutch Soccer School, led by Coach Roy Wilhelm. For the fifth year running, the Dutch footballing expert worked with young Caymanian footballers for one week giving them instructions and a different coaching approach to help with their development. The players had technical and tactical classes covering all fundamentals of the game and also played different types of small games to implement the drills and techniques they learnt. At the end of the camp, Coach Wilhelm said the players showed technical and tactical improvements.

Although he pointed out that this was very good, he advised that the young footballers still need to work more on their tactical awareness.

"We watched them playing a game and the concern is the tactical discipline,” Wilhem said. “These players need to understand that the game is not only based on their individual techniques but also understand the positions they play and the transition from the defence to attack."

When asked about the performance of the Academy Sports Club youth team that recently travelled to Europe to play games, Coach Wilhelm said that they did very well and only lost the last game to a professional youth team and that they showed good skills comparing to European players.

Jeffrey Webb, FIFA Vice-President, CONCACAF President and CIFA President said he was thankful to the Dutch coaches' for their contribution to the camp and to the development of the young players.  He said that it was import for the future of the local game to have this sort of exchange program, in order to provide our young footballers with a better understanding of different techniques and tactics.

"As in prior years, the CIFA Dutch Camp was a huge success," said Webb. "The quality of our young players is improving tremendously from year to year. It is important that we teach the basics at a very young age, in order to ensure that these kids have the proper foundation."

The camp was held at the Cayman International School, Camana Bay, and everyone received a t-shirt, certificate and a football.

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Expert says lifestyle can replace by-pass surgery

| 20/08/2012 | 0 Comments

Coronary_artery_bypass_surgery.jpg(CNS): A cardiac expert says bypass surgeries could be replaced with lifestyle changes and proper medication. With 41% of deaths in the Cayman Islands heart-disease related, Dr Michael Ozner believes that if local physicians take a preventative approach with the  right treatment at the right time  cardiovascular disease can be eliminated from the local population.  Speaking at a conference last Friday to discuss his Six Week Cardiac Makeover. Dr Ozner, a renowned advocate for heart disease prevention, offered advice and strategies to a group of local and international healthcare professionals

With new developments to help beat the deadly disease, Dr Ozner is promoting alternatives to the increasingly popular by-pass surgery as a solution to Cayman’s growing weight problems. In the past, doctors have measured patients’ cholesterol levels to determine the risks of heart attacks and strokes but warned of the shortcomings with this approach.

“We were measuring the wrong thing,” he said. “We should have been measuring the particles that carry cholesterol.” He urged the public to get frequent medical check-ups when healthy. “Don’t wait until you’re sick,” he added

Mark Scotland, the local health minister who has also been a strong advocate of healthier lifestyles as a way of dealing with the country’s increasing health bill, said Cayman was continually looking for ways to improve medical resources.

“Our nation’s primary asset is our people, and the health of our community should take priority in everything we do,” he said.

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Heart fund continues fight in war on weight

| 20/08/2012 | 0 Comments

istock_fatscales.jpg(Cayman Heart Fund): The Cayman Heart Fund War on Weight kickoff event was held at Full of Beans on Thursday, August 16, 2012.  The annual War on Weight challenge, also known as the WOW challenge, is funded by the Cayman Heart Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to the reduction of heart and circulatory disease in the Cayman Islands. Every year the challenge battles Cayman's bulge and transforms the lifestyles of its lucky contestants.  War on Weight has helped over 40 contestants lose over 1,000 pounds and learn the essentials to a permanent healthy lifestyle since its launch in 2008.

The WOW program educates participants on diet and fitness, and most importantly instils the disciplines to maintain weight loss after completing the program. Past contestants have continued to steadily lose more weight with the skills obtained in the program.

War on Weight normally runs from late August up until a finale celebration in mid-December each year. During the sixteen-week contest, participants are committed to obtaining optimal results by dedicating at least eight hours a week to compulsory exercise, meetings, bi-weekly consultations with a dietician, health screening, blood testing and monitoring by physicians and, group counselling sessions by an approved professional.

This year’s lucky contestants are: Delocita Pope, Sheredan Coulburn, Sandra Catron, Sheryl Harris, Shakira Diaz, Maritza Taylor, Sarah Chambers, Salema Solomon, Raquel Solomon & Orlando Mason.
Cayman Heart Fund would like to congratulate the 2012 contestants and wish them good luck.

Please follow and support the WoW challengers online at www.wowcayman.ky or, if you wish to sponsor the CHF WoW challenge; please email wowcayman@yahoo.com or caymanheartfund@gmail.com.

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Forfeiture becomes focus in explosives case

| 20/08/2012 | 0 Comments

question-3109789.jpg(CNS): The degradation or forfeiture of the shipment of blasting materials seized by officials could turn out to be a far greater punishment for the firm’s owner than any the court might impose, regardless of whether or not he is found guilty, and have implications for the local economy, the court heard Friday. Blasting caps and various explosive chemicals allegedly imported without the correct paperwork by Prasad Suresh is worth more than half a million dollars and its condition is deteriorating fast. Defence attorney Nicholas Dixey pointed out that even if his client, who he said was innocent, was found guilty, he faced a maximum fine of only $1000.

However, if the shipment was allowed to go to waste or confiscated by the authorities, the financial punishment could have serious consequences, not just for his client and the  company Midland Acres Ltd but for the local economy as well, he said.

The loss of the shipment, which Dixey is still arguing is not necessarily explosives as defined under the law, could have a much wider impact than the question of his client’s guilt. The lawyer argued in Summary Court Friday that his client was only in the position he now found himself in because he was part of a much "bigger picture".

Dixey stated that the paperwork oversight on cargo designed for legitimate commercial use would have serious implications, not just for his client but for the road project that the fill was designed for and the workers at the firm.

The lawyer asked the court to intervene on the issue of the cargo, claiming that as each day passed the quality of the material imported was in jeopardy. He also pointed to the issue of the disproportionality in the financial punishment for a paperwork oversight if his client were to lose his cargo, compared to the fine laid out in the regulations.

Prosecuting counsel Candida James argued on behalf of the crown that the shipment did not necessarily have to go to waste even if it was forfeited, pointing out that it could still be used by the NRA for the benefit of the community. 

With the explosive nature of the shipment still in question, James also noted that the preliminary reports from the crown’s expert indicated that at least one of the chemicals examine was defined as explosive under the law and that the issue would be part of a trial argument.

The magistrate, who was specifically sitting on Friday to hear the increasingly complex case, noted that he would have to see some legal precedent about whether the local Summary Court did, in fact, have jurisdiction to make any kind of ruling in relation to the forfeiture of the shipment.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday in order to allow both sides to discuss the way forward on the future of the blasting materials.

See related story:

Explosives in legal question

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Police arrest burglar following restaurant break-in

| 20/08/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): One man was arrested in the wake of a morning break-in at a George Town restaurant on Friday. Police said that at around 9am the 911 emergency call centre received a report that the La Dolce Vita Restaurant on North Church Street had been broken into. A golfclub, Trek sporting bike, an undisclosed quantity cash and some alcohol were reported stolen. The break-in came hours after a thief stole money and medals from the Cayman Islands Brewery in Prospect. Police said one man was in custody in relation to the restaurant break-in but did not confirm it he was also a suspect in the CIB burglary.

Anyone with information regarding these crimes should contact the Criminal Investigation Department at the GTPS on 949-4222.

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Garveyism goes on Jamaican school timetable

| 20/08/2012 | 26 Comments

damgarvey1.jpg(Caribbean Journal): A new civics education in Jamaican schools will include the teaching of Garveyism, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites announced. Thwaites said the teaching of Garveyism is about “building value systems in the schools.” “Today, resolutely and over all the grades of schools from pre-primary up to grades 11, we say as a people, that we honour our own and that we will uplift the values and attitudes of our people,” he said. “We will remember one amongst us who struggled so that we could have that second emancipation which is our right and our heritage.

” The Minister, who was speaking at the Marcus Garvey Technical School in St Ann’s Bay, said the government’s education objectives transcended test results.

“We want students who are conscious of themselves, who know their place of dignity, of worth, who understand their rights and their responsibilities as citizens of Jamaica,” he said.
The new curriculum, which launches Sep. 3, will include Garveyism as a mandatory part of the curriculum of every grade in schools in Jamaica.

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