Archive for August 27th, 2012

UK asks for overdraft cut

| 27/08/2012 | 36 Comments

tighten belt.jpg(CNS): Although the UK has allowed the Cayman Islands government to temporarily more than double the $27 million overdraft it had appropriated under the two month stop-gap budget in June to a whopping CI$66 million, the director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said it must be dramatically cut within less than six months. Colin Roberts told the premier by email that the temporary borrowing must be reduced down to $15 million by 1 February of next year. The premier read out correspondence from Roberts to the Finance Committee on Friday afternoon, in which he confirmed that the UK had finally accepted the CIG’s budget for 2012/13.

Bush said the terms and conditions that came with the budget approval were not new as the government was aware that it would be conditional on these four requirements, though he did not state why he had not revealed this prior to the announcement on Friday afternoon.

In his email to Bush, sent on behalf of OT Minister Henry Bellingham, Roberts points tothe need for the Cayman government to follow the agreement. “I would like to reiterate the importance the minister attaches to the delivery of the fiscal plans,” Bush read from Roberts' email.

“We all knew the hard work that had to be done and our strategy in bringing the budget has paid off,” Bush said as he hit out at his critics who had said he should not have brought the budget until he had UK approval.

Before Finance Committee started, the deputy premier lauded Bush for what she said was his “exemplifying leadership role” during what she described as “the most strenuous and trying and complexing time.”

Speaking, she claimed, on behalf of the government members as well as her constituents and what she said was the wider public, Juliana O’Connor Connolly said it would be remiss of her not to express admiration and congratulations to the premier for following his gut feeling and delivering the budget.

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IT key to Shetty hospital

| 27/08/2012 | 52 Comments

shetty ground brkg (222x300).jpg(CNS): The renowned Indian heart surgeon behind the planned development of a health city in the Cayman Islands said that information technology would play an important part in making the hospital one of the best and safest in the region. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of the project at High Rock in East End on Monday, Dr Devi Shetty said that he hoped the facility would be the first paperless hospital, where technology would be used to assist with diagnosis and to allow remote monitoring of patients from India during the night shift in Cayman. Dr Shetty told the group of dignitaries and guests gathered for the official start of the medical tourism project that hospitals in general were not very safe places and even in the west people died due to errors. 

He said that when health staff use iPads instead of paper, the mistakes can be cut by half.

The doctor said that in less than ten years software would be common place everywhere in the diagnosis of patients alongside doctors, reducing the margin for error, but the plan would be to introduce that type of technology at the Cayman Islands hospital as soon as possible. The use of technology, he said, could also help monitor the machines keeping people alive in an intensive care unit in Cayman at night by day shift staff that would be fresh and awake miles away in India. 

While the goal of the Shetty hospital is to reduce the cost of health care compared to North America, the hospital would become well known, not because the care was less expensive but because it was the safest and the best quality of care, according to Dr Shetty, who will perform the first surgery at the new facility.

Describing the benefits of the health city, the Indian surgeon said local people would have access to high quality care at a reduced cost locally, saving lives. Shetty said people usually die from a heart attack within the first hour and for people in Cayman that is more often than not when they are on the air-ambulance on the way to a hospital to save their lives.

While some 300 workers are expected to be involved in the construction part of the project, Shetty spoke about the medical vacancies that would existin the future as he promised those young Caymanians who were already studying or wanting to study medicine a job at the hospital.

He said that the medical visitors that wouldl be attracted to the facility would stay longer in Cayman and spend more money than regular tourists, benefitting the local economy. While people think about water sports now when they think about the Cayman Islands, he said, in future they would be thinking about Cayman when they have chest pains or creaky joints.

The groundbreaking event marking the start of the project was for a 140-bed tertiary care hospital due to open in November 2013. A joint venture between Shetty’s Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals of India and Ascension Health Alliance, a non-profit healthcare organization in the United States, the goal is to bring high-quality, low-cost healthcare to Cayman.

A US$2-billion project of the 2,000-bed health city is to be built in phases over 15 years on a 200-acre site and will eventually include a tertiary-care hospital, an educational facility, a biotech park and an assisted living community. The multi-specialty hospital will provide services not widely available in the region, such as open-heart/bypass surgery, angioplasty, heart-valve replacement, cancer treatment, bone-marrow transplant, nuclear medicine, organ transplant, and orthopaedics.

Clan Construction, a Cayman-based construction company, was hired earlier this year as the main contractor on the project and up to 300 local workers will be needed for the construction of the first phase of the $50 million project, which is expected to take 14 months to complete.

As well as the groundbreaking, an official website about the project has also been launched which gives details about the work available.

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Suspect drunk-driver arrested after hit & run smash

| 27/08/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  A driver who reportedly drove away from the scene of a road smash on Sunday evening was arrested by police on suspicion of DUI shortly after the incident a short distance away. An RCIPS spokesperson said that at about 7.50pm on 26 August two Honda motor cars were being driven North on West Bay Road. As one of the vehicles attempted to negotiate a right hand turn into Galleria Plaza, it was struck from behind by the second Honda. The driver and passenger from the first car were taken to hospital for treatment but later released.

The second car drove away from the scene of the crash but it was traced by police and the driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI. He was subsequently released on police bail while enquiries continue.
 

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Police seek witnesses to street stabbing

| 27/08/2012 | 0 Comments

CS tape_4.jpg(CNS): A 20-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of GBH following a stabbing that took place at a George Town bar early on Saturday morning and is currently in police custody. Police said Monday that they are looking for witnesses in connection with the incident that occurred sometime after midnight on Shedden Road in the vicinity of Archie’s Bar. An RCIPS spokesperson said that shortly before 12.30am on 25 August an injured man attended the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town suffering from a number of stab wounds but was released from hospital following treatment. 

Anyone who was in the vicinity of Shedden Road and has any information which could assist the enquiry is asked to call George Town CID on 949-4222.

 

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West Bay men on canoe heading for Jamaica missing

| 27/08/2012 | 30 Comments

Cayman Canoe.jpg(CNS): Three West Bay men and possibly two Jamaican nationals are missing at sea after leaving Grand Cayman on Sunday 19 August in a canoe heading for Jamaica. Police said the purpose of the trip has not yet been established. On Thursday 23 August, when the men had not returned to Grand Cayman, family members of James Michael Ebanks, Sidney Henry Ebanks and William Miguel Bush raised the alarm and reported the matter to police, since when the RCIPS Air Operations and Marine Units have been involved in an extensive search for the missing canoe. The RCIPS have made contact with the US Coastguard and Jamaican authorities and informed passing vessels to be on the lookout for the missing vessel.

Police said that two Jamaican nationals may also have been onboard, but this has not yet been confirmed.

The sea and air search has extended from Cayman Brac towards Jamaica. The canoe may have been sighted by the crew of a passing cargo ship late on Wednesday evening (22 August) approximately 17 miles south of Cayman Brac but it has not been established if this sighting was of the missing canoe.

The air and sea search was suspended over the weekend due to worsening weather conditions but resumed this morning.

An RCIPS spokesperson added that the delay in informing the public was down to a number of operational reasons. "On receipt of the report welaunched an extensive air and sea search as well as making partners in other jurisdictions and vessels in the area aware. The decision as to when to release details to the media is anoperational matter based on the circumstances and information available at the time,” she said.

    EBANKS James Micheal (216x300).jpg  BUSH William Miquel (254x300).jpg       EBANKS Henry Sidney.jpg

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Restaurant reviews – an honest appraisal?

| 27/08/2012 | 77 Comments

Have you ever walked out of a Cayman restaurant unsatisfied thinking you won’t be back in a hurry or not back at all? And yet in the review you read last week everything sounded perfect – why is that? Are Cayman restaurants offering value for money or is it just puffery? Living on such a small island, the reason could be that restaurant reviewers don’t want to offend anyone or don’t know much about food or the owners are well connected to the owners of the publication.

This does not improve the situation or do restaurant goers any favours. I’ve been living here for 8 years and I’ve never read a bad review, or even a slightly critical review, about any restaurant in any publication. Every review is always overflowing with praise for the food and the service. After a while, you come to believe, rightly or wrongly, that there are no objective restaurant critiques in Cayman.

I think people would sooner just appreciate an honest review than visit the restaurant with high expectations and walk out disappointed. You never read about the eggs that get served half cooked, the burnt lamb dinner, the server with the “well that’s how we serve it” attitude or the 15% gratuity that gets added onto your bill for take-out. Because restaurant reviews keep being written with it all sounding peachy, maybe some restaurant owners are not motivated to innovate or to raise their standards.

When a restaurant opens its doors typically the food tastes great, the service is excellent. But how long does it last? As time goes by things start slipping – the food doesn’t taste fresh, the staff are less motivated. Could it be that staff get bored cooking and serving the same thing over and over again? Or that the owner and investor has put too much emphasis on décor and not enough on food quality or staffing? Making renovations and changing a restaurant layout is not going to make the food taste better. And why do we find that restaurants don’t change their menus very often? The “mahi mahi” special might be new to the tourist but not very exciting for locals.

Perhaps some restaurants should focus on a decentchef, trained servers and fresh ingredients. To illustrate my point, whilst on a diving vacation in Sinai, I had dinner at the Sinai Star in El Fanar.  The restaurant had plastic chairs, plastic tables and not much of anything else. But, they served a huge tray of fresh seafood for 5 quid and people were lining up out the door. 

Another good experience was when I visited the island of Rhodes in Greece.  Through trial and error, I now tend to avoid restaurants on a main square right in the middle of the hustle and bustle but am willing to walk a little further along the backstreets in search of a quieter restaurant setting. After a 5 minute stroll I found a lovely family run restaurant with outside seating and a grape vine overhead. I ordered something simple – a Greek salad and fried calamari. To this day, this was one of the best olive, feta and calamari meals I’ve ever eaten. When the owner came over to my table to ask if all was OK, I asked him where he’d found the olives. He replied that it took him about two years to find the quality he was looking for. 

Certainly, there are a few restaurants in Grand Cayman that have a high standard and maintain that over time. We locals all know who they are. But this is my wish list for 95% of the other restaurants on this island:

1.  Change up the menu once in a while
2.  Bring in some talented overseas chefs with fresh ideas
3.  Have special theme evenings

And perhaps just once we could read an honest review! 

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Stafford wins silver in Tobago

| 27/08/2012 | 6 Comments

cameron.jpg(CINSA): Cameron Stafford, 20, claimed a silver medal in the 20th Annual Caribbean Squash Championships in Trinidad, which ended Saturday. Part of a delegation of two representatives from the Cayman Islands, Stafford, who was ranked 5/8, dispatched the number 2 seed, Richard Chin of Guyana, in the quarterfinals. Having reached the semis, Stafford had already made a personal best at these games, advancing past the quarterfinals stage. In a nail-biting semi-final match against close friend Micah Franklin of Bermuda, Stafford, who was down by 2 games, roared back to triumph over the Bermudian in 5 games, winning 3-2.

In the finals, however, Stafford's ‘seeding busting’ came to an end as the tournament’s defending champion, Chris Binnie from Jamaica, overpowered Stafford in straight games to claim his gold medal for the third time. Stafford lost 11/7, 11/6, 11/4 but achieved his all-time highest Caribbean ranking in his career at #2.

Stafford is set to play in his next professional event in Caracas, Venezuela, in September against World #27 of Colombia, Miguel Angel Rodriguez. Stafford also hopes to step up his game by commencing an altitude training programme in Cartagena, Colombia, with former Caribbean and Canadian Squash National Champion, Maxim Weithers from Guyana. 

2012 proved to be a successful year for Caymanian Squash. Julian Jervis claimed the first of many Caribbean Junior Championship titles in Kingston, Jamaica. And formidable Caymanian squash players, Eilidh Bridgeman and Kristina Myren rank at #3 and #4 respectively in the Caribbean Junior Rankings for U19. 

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Mac stripped of finance job

| 27/08/2012 | 136 Comments

mac talking (231x300).jpg(CNS): The conditions imposed on the Cayman government’s 2012/13 budget by the UK have essentially removed most of the functions of the finance minister from the premier, the opposition leader has said. Speaking in the wake of news that the FCO had given conditional approval to the current administration’s final budget, Alden McLaughlin said that the four stringent conditions, in particular the establishment of a ‘budget board’ headed by the deputy governor, would mean that the role of the finance minister established by the Cayman Islands 2009 constitution has been handed back to theofficial rather than the elected arm of government.

Among the four conditions laid out by the Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham was the creation of a board or committee that will manage and oversee future budgets, with the deputy governor, not the finance minister, at the helm.

Bellingham also required that the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR) agreement signed between himself and Premier McKeeva Bush last November be passed into law before the end of September; that the FCO’s economic advisor who established the framework for this budget (and who Bush complained about, claiming that he moved the goal posts throughout the process) be allowed to review the state of public finances every quarter; and that there be no supplementary budget.

The conditions will remain in place for the next three years when the Cayman government, according to the latest financial three year plan, should be back in line with the five principles of sound fiscal management as set out by the Public Management and Finance Law.

These changes have pushed the office of the Ministry of Finance to one side, McLaughlin said.

“It was inevitable, given what has transpired over the last four budget cycles,” the PPM leader added. “The UK gave the premier every opportunity to make a start on improving the fiscal situation but with every passing year things simply got worse.”

He said the government’s persistent failure to take any steps to address the fundamental issues and the decision to “keep presenting pretend budgets” have resulted in the present circumstances.

“It is going to be very difficult for any future minister as the UK have clawed back more power over the budget than they had with the old constitution. There was plenty of warning, but the warnings were ignored,” McLaughlin added. “The sad thing is that Cayman’s fiscal challenges were not insurmountable; they still aren’t but the problem is they can’t simply be ignored as they were by this government.”

The opposition leader said the impact of this move by the UK would see expenditure being reigned in over the last nine months of this administration. Not entirely convinced that the revenue raising measures in the budget are necessarily credible, McLaughlin said it was going to be a challenge for public servants to deliver government policy and without the possibility of a supplementary budget if the earnings don’t go according to plan.

The opposition leader said he believed that the enactment of the FFR agreement into law would make it “virtually impossible” for the premier to get some of the projects he has heralded as Cayman’s future economic saviours off the ground. The proposed cruise berthing facility in George Town in its current format would not be able to go forward, he said, adding that he believed it may force changes to the ForCayman Investment Alliance as well.

following recipt of the conditional nod, Bush congratulated himself for beginning the budget process without agreement.

Speaking at a limited press conference from which CNS was barred Friday, the premier said he was justified in having started without the agreement as he complained about the independent and opposition members’ criticisms of the decision. In the face of the stringent conditions, Bush blamed the opposition but admitted that the loss of economic sovereignty would put the country back on a sound economic footing.

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Safehaven captains evicted

| 27/08/2012 | 20 Comments

IMG-20120825-00224 (221x300).jpg(CNS): The Port Authority has now issued an eviction notice effective from Friday evening (24 August) to the remaining boat captains and tour operators who still have boats moored at the Safehaven site, as developer Michael Ryan begins work on a new marina. Although several captains have raised concerns about the temporary location, the legality of the deal between Ryan and government, as well as the size of the new facility now being constructed, the Port Authority posted notices on cars and around the old site on Friday telling the captains they must move their boats or face legal action.

Several captains had remained at the site since a notice was posted in the local press and on at the old marina by the developer as they had a number of concerns.

In the first instance, they believed that the temporary site would not be able to accommodate all of the boats and the turning circle is too small for some vessels.

Secondly, there are concerns that there are no guarantees that the developer will complete the new public marina as promised, leaving them with nowhere to dock.

Thirdly, the original deal with the developer was between Fujigmo Ltd & Cesar Hotelco (Cayman) Ltd and the Port Authority. The captains say that the first company does not appear to be registered in Cayman and that Cesar is now owned by receivers as it was one of the firms owned by Ryan involved in the development of the Ritz-Carlton.

As a result, the captains question the legality of the entire deal, which was related to Ryan’s proposed development of Dragon Bay that involved government giving Ryan’s companies fill from the site, the excavation of canals for the hotel access and land swaps on Port Authority property in return for the development of a replacement public marina in which local operators could moor their vessels.

The majority of the local captains say they have been concerned that the marina would never materialise and if it does, based on the current plans, it would not be suitable.

However, last week Ryan began work at the site while several of the operators were still moored there and before the captains had received notice from the port. A number of captains did however choose to sign new licence agreements with Ryan and move to the temporary site.

On Friday the port issue a notice to those remaining captains stating that their concerns had been addressed and that there was still room at one of two temporary sites where the captains could move their vessels.

“The Authority believes that the current arrangements address the perceived concerns of those water sports operators who believe they may be negatively affected by the construction of the Proposed Marina, after having explored the legally remaining options with DBL. The Authority believes that all reasonable concerns have now been dealt with,” port officials said in a notice of eviction.

The port also believes that the deal is legal as Fujigmo Limited is now Dragon Bay Limited, which is a registered company of good standing and the company which is leasing the Port Authority land. The officials said the remaining boat operators needed to leave as they were now an impediment to the development of the new marina.

“With appropriate notifications having been posted on the Old Site since 13 August and published in the local newspaper, construction on the Proposed Marina is already underway, with major earthworks, including the use of demolitions to excavate the marina basin, scheduled to commence imminently,” the port stated.

“However, the continued presence of the remaining vessels on the Old Site, which now comprises property held by DBL … but also Authority property, have become an unlawful impediment to DBL's performance of its obligations under the Agreement resulting in considerable delay to the further progress of the Proposed Marina. Further, the Authority is becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of the public, including the visitors to the Island being catered to by the remaining tour operators who are being loaded and unloaded in what is becoming a hazardous construction site.”

Port officials added that owners of the boats still at the old site must move them to the interim sites provided or elsewhere, otherwise it would be considering all remedies available including legal proceedings.

After the notice was posted around the old Safehaven marina on Friday, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller encouraged the captains to remain at the old site until the legal issues and other problems were addressed as he still had real concerns about their rights. He said that he had approached the Attorney General’s Chambers for assistance in relation to the problems and had been asked to submit his concerns in writing, which he said he intended to do.

“The problem is that the process is not being properly followed here and the captains have a right to be concerned as there are no guarantees for their future and their livelihood is at stake,” he added.

On Saturday seven of the operators who have been using the site for more than 20 years remained at the old Safehaven dock. After contractors at the site cemented the gate closed and advised by their lawyer to stay, one of the captains told CNS that they would now have to swim to get to their boats.

See notice issued to captains below.

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Defence queries crown evidence in murder case

| 27/08/2012 | 0 Comments

brian borden_0.jpg(CNS): The defence attorney representing a 27-year-old West Bay man charged with the murder of Robert Mackford Bush questioned the source of the crown's evidence against his client. Nick Hoffman, representing Brian Borden, who was charged with murder earlier this month, asked the court Friday for further disclosure from the crown and in particular the circumstances under which a witness statement was given to police by a man who has now been convicted of armed bank robbery. Borden was originally arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of Bush in West Bay almost a year ago but was later released.

Hoffman said he needed to see more details on why the police now believed his client was the killer. Warning that there were also legal issues with the wording of the indictment against Borden, Hoffman said that if the crown intended to build its case on a statement that has “appeared out of the blue” from an alleged witness who has admitted his part in a bank robbery, it needed to re-word the indictment.

Hoffman said that all of the other statements he had received relating to his client were more than nine months old and appeared to have been taken at the time of the shooting, which, he noted, the crown did not think had mounted to a case against Borden. Therefore, he needed to know what it was about this latest statement that had led to his client being charged.

Asking for all relevant material pertinent to the case to be served as soon as possible, Hoffman requested an adjournment until 7 September. Borden was remanded in custody to HMP Northward.

The West Bay man is accused of being one of two gunmen that the police believe shot Bush in a gang-related killing in September last year. He was sitting in his vehicle at the junction of Capt Joe and Osbert Road and Birch Tree Hill, West Bay, when two gunmen reportedly opened fire. The killing triggered a spate of gang-related killings, in which Andrew Baptist, Preston Rivers and Jason Christian also lost their lives.

Keith Montague, who was with Christian when he was killed off Crewe Road, was also shot multiple times but survived after he flagged down a passing police car and was taken to hospital.

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