Archive for January 3rd, 2013

Comment sought on proposed new strata law

Comment sought on proposed new strata law

| 03/01/2013 | 14 Comments

2-br-oceanfront-condo (248x300).jpg(CNS): The Law Reform Commission is circulating a discussion document and a draft bill on behalf of government to amend the strata titles registration law. The proposed legislation and consultation paper provides a full review of the existing law and suggests a number of significant changes. Based on the feedback from consultation with the public and special interest groups in 2011, the draft bill includes provisions relating to the management and administration of schemes, their termination and, among other things, resolution of disputes. It also addresses leasehold strata schemes, such as the Residences at the Ritz Carlton and Villas of the Galleon. Currently, unlike other jurisdictions, there is no specific regulation of leasehold strata schemes in Cayman.

The commission received responses from a wide variety people, including the legal associations, the Bankers' Association, CIREBA, individual real estate agencies, strata owners, executive committees, the Water Authority and the Cayman Contractors Association.

Matters dealt with in the Strata Titles Bill 2013 include the creation of strata lots and common property, management and administration of stratus schemes, phased development of strata schemes, the regulation of leasehold and vacant land strata schemes, protection of purchases, termination of schemes and resolution of disputes.

The schedules to the bill provide model management statements to be used in mixed strata schemes and revised model bylaws for residential schemes.

The commission is inviting comments on the bill in writing by 11 March to the director of the Law Reform Commission 1st floor DMS House, Genesis Close or via email to

See discussion paper and draft bill below.

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FOI hung on GLF payment

FOI hung on GLF payment

| 03/01/2013 | 62 Comments

(CNS): Documents that took almost one year to be released by the Port Authority reveal that keeping records relating to the termination of talks with GLF Construction over cruise berthing facilities under wraps formed part of the settlement agreement. According to the agreement, which has now been released by the authority, clause 6 required GLF to withdraw an FOI request for all the government notes, documents and minutes of meetings relating to the project and GLF made by the firm’s solicitors. A binder of information which was released to CNS last month shows the $2.5 million settlement paid for from the public purse was directly related to the former premier’s decision to terminate the talks.

Following the withdrawal of GLF’s freedom of information request in January last year, CNS immediately requested the same and additional information, which triggered what turned out to be the longest battle CNS has undertaken so far to gain access to any records. These records cover elements of the controversial termination of the negotiations between government and GLF construction regarding the cruise berthing project in George Town.

Since May of 2011, documents relating to the port project, which government authorities have been keen to keep secret, have gradually leaked into the public domain, but the latest batch of information which was finally released by the Port Authority last month shows just how keen the Cayman government and the authority was to keep the information away from the public eye.

Having placed clause 6 within the deal in which government agreed to pay GLF the $2.5 million to settle outside of court, it comes as no surprise that the authority then spent the last twelve months fighting not to release records relating to the entire fallout of the former premier’s decision.

The documents show that after McKeeva Bush’s move to terminate the framework agreement with GLF, the port and the Cayman government, the board members believed this was a breach of contract and had significant concerns about their own culpability in GLF’s claim. The minutes from the meetings also record that during one board meeting in June at which then premier Bush was present, the members apparently unanimously backed his decision to negotiate with China Harbour Engineering Company over the cruise project, only to change their minds at the next meeting, where he was not present, when they voted to return to talks with GLF.

The binder, which contains over 250 documents including emails, minutes of meetings and the settlement agreement, makes it clear that the settlement with GLF was as a direct result of Bush’s move in April 2011 to stop the GLF talks and move towards an agreement with CHEC. Bush then spent a further 18 months talking with the Chinese until those discussions were also terminated by the former premier following pressure from the UK over the need to follow international best procurement practices.

The records revealed to CNS contain just two emails between Bush and GLF’s solicitors, in which the premier makes allegations against the company over leaked documents and warns the lawyers that he would not be threatened or pushed into returning to talks with GLF and that the Cayman government was willing to defend its position.

The documents also show that the director of the Port Authority, Paul Hurlston, appears to have been kept completely out of the loop during the entire process. In correspondence with the premier’s chief of staff, Leonard Dilbert, Hurlston notes that he was “not privy to any discussions that may have taken place leading up to the ultimate termination of GLF”, and the director writes that he was “in the dark” on the whole matter.

The released records track the developments regarding GLF from the point they were selected by the board following the breakdown of talks with DECCO, the company owned by Dart which was the first choice of the board.

The documents include reports, progress updates and the work undertaken by GLF, their request to move to a full agreement and then the sudden termination by the premier. They also record the concerns of the board about that decision, as well as the premier’s decision to remove some board members, while others stepped down. It shows when government began negotiations with GLF to make a financial settlement to avert court action and the continued struggle to try and stop documents being released, as well as the actual final settlement agreement.

However, the records reveal very little new insight into the premier’s decision to terminate the GLF talks and move to negotiations with China Harbour. While the decision cost the public $2.5 million, the motivation for the move remains elusive. While the premier claimed that GLF failed to demonstrate it had the financial ability to progress with the project, the documents reveal another story.

See ICO decision on the release of the documents below:

CNS would like to thank everyone who responded to our appeal for help and offer special thanks to the person now assisting with the scanning. We hope to be able to post the released documents next week.


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TCI’s new parliament faces lesson in good governance

TCI’s new parliament faces lesson in good governance

| 03/01/2013 | 14 Comments

(CNS): The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the TCI House of Assembly are hosting a post-election seminar next week, in the Turks and Caicos Islands to help locally elected politicians with parliamentary practices and procedures. The governor’s office said that experienced parliamentarians from other similarly sized UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies will be arriving in the island to discuss these issues with their TCI counterparts at the special forum. The Delegation will be led by the Speaker of one of the world’s oldest parliaments, the 1,000 year old Isle of Man’s Tynwald, Stephen Rodan and Clerk Roger Philips.

“This seminar is an excellent way for the new Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands to reacquaint itself with goodwill, experience and support of the UK’s other overseas territories, crown dependencies and the wider Commonwealth,” said Acting Governor Anya Williams. “This is a practical example of how the UK is continuing to support the on-going development of the TCI. There is genuine international warmth and affection towards the TCI and a real desire to see it once and for all put the previous maladministration truly behind it and become one of the most accountable and transparent democracies in the Caribbean.”

The Isle of white parliamentary experts will be joined by a minister from Gibraltar, Joe Bossano and the three men will meet with the TCI’s speaker of the assembly, its premier and opposition leader as well as other ministers and politicians. Permanent secretaries and members of constitutional bodies, including the integrity commission, will also be participating.

The seminar will cover 2012 Public Finance Management (PFM) Ordinance and Regulations, women in Parliament, ministerial responsibility, the role and functions of ministers, giving direction to ministries, plenary sitting and how to use questions, motions, plenary procedures, the scrutiny of legislation and committee matters including expectations of apublic accounts committee and what other scrutiny committees might produce.

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C4C reveals political position ahead of endorsements

C4C reveals political position ahead of endorsements

| 03/01/2013 | 52 Comments

IMG-20121119-00329 (242x300).jpg(CNS): Although the group still says it isn’t a political party, a recent release from the Coalition for Cayman has given local voters an indication of its political position. The group said it would be endorsing candidates based on certain principles but expects them to vote their conscience on individual issues. However, the C4C has now made it clear that the coalition does hold specific right of centre political views. On the list of its ‘Founding Principles’ the group declares that it believes government should be limited to the responsibilities which cannot be discharged reasonably by the individual and that people have a right to pursue self-interest. Going beyond the mantra of ‘Country First’, the coalition said it needed to define what it stands for before endorsing candidates.

The coalition has also stated in its latest release that it hoped its “unwavering advocacy” would spur a move toward a responsive government.

“As we move forward with endorsing candidates for the Mayelections, it is important to define what we stand for, and to let voters know what they are getting when they support the candidates that we endorse,” a C4C spokesperson said. “Our Founding Principles are based on refocusing our government on the citizens it exists to serve. The candidates we endorse will have agreed to base their governmental decisions upon these Founding Principles however, as Independents they will each be voting their conscience on individual issues.”

The group, which has taken aim at the parties rather than the policies pursued by the politicians, continued to criticise the two-party system, which C4C believes has led to governments being defined by winners and losers, with each party beholden to its own agenda.

Despite that position, the group has now defined its own agenda, which it said it would expect the candidates it endorses to follow.

“Just as we are all united under one flag of Cayman, it’s time to unite behind one set of guiding principles that serve the best interest of all Caymanians,” the group said.

According to the coalition’s release, the principles are as follows:

  1. A belief in the supremacy of a democratic parliament and the rule of law.
  2. A belief in the right of Caymanians to direct government by the democratic process.
  3. A belief that a responsible government must be fiscally prudent and should be limited to those responsibilities, which cannot be discharged reasonably by the individual or others.
  4. A belief that the government must ensure the safety of the public. Offenders should be punished for their offending and, where possible, rehabilitated and required to make good the losses they have caused.
  5. A belief that good and responsible government is attentive to the people it represents and has representatives who at all times conduct themselves in an ethical manner, displaying integrity, honesty and concern for the best interest of all citizens.
  6. A belief in the value of life, individual privacy, the freedom of the individual (including freedom of speech, conscience, worship and assembly) and the right to defend one’s self and property, while recognizing the need for the comity of society as a whole.
  7. A belief that the best guarantors of the prosperity and well-being of the people of the Cayman Islands are: A climate in which individual initiative is rewarded and excellence is pursued; The freedom of individual citizens to pursue their enlightened and legitimate self-interest within a competitive economy while ensuring their actions do not contravene the best interests of the country; The freedom of individual citizens to enjoy the fruits of their labour to the greatest possible extent while also contributing in a meaningful way to the well-being of the country; The right to own property.
  8. A belief that it is the responsibility of individuals to provide for themselves, their families and their dependents, while recognizing that government must respond to those who require assistance and compassion.
  9. A belief that the natural environment and resources of the Cayman Islands should be used responsibly ensuring that future generations inherit an environment that is clean and safe
  10. A belief that all citizens should have reasonable access to quality health care and education.

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Jamaican watchdog calls for prosecution of Cabinet

Jamaican watchdog calls for prosecution of Cabinet

| 03/01/2013 | 5 Comments

Craig-Beresford.jpg(CNS): Jamaica’s contractor general has referred the country’s entire Cabinet to the public prosecutor for criminal prosecution over the government’s failure to comply with several statutory requisitions relating to four major projects which his office has been investigating. The watchdog for Jamaica’s public purse said Cabinet has failed to give the office the information it needs in order to carry out its legal mandate to monitor critical public projects. Acting contractor general Craig Beresford said he was “exceedingly concerned” over the lack of transparency. Given the gravity of the issue and Cabinet’s seeming disregard for the law he said he has no alternative but to push for prosecution.

“The OCG considers the Cabinet’s non-compliance to be tantamount to an obstruction to its Office, as it seeks to faithfully discharge its mandates and obligation to the People of Jamaica by ensuring that Government contracts, inclusive of licences and permits, and the divestment of State assets, are awarded/granted impartially, on merit and in circumstances which do not involve impropriety or irregularity,” Beresford  stated in a release from his office Wednesday.

He accused government of using the court action against his office by the transport minister as a basis for not complying with the OCG request. However, he said until the courts restrain the OCG from proceeding with its lawful work the failure by the government to comply with his requests is a violation of the rule of law and is under section 29 of Jamaica’sContractor General Act, a criminal offence.

The acting contractor general indicated that some of the information he needs to see relates to the systems and mechanisms that the government intends to put in place to ensure that all contracts relating to the $423 million Economic Agreement between Jamaica and China, are awarded impartially, on merit, and in circumstances which do not involve impropriety.

“The OCG remains perturbed by these unprecedented and unfortunate sequence of events which undoubtedly seek to challenge the OCG’s authority as a Commission of the Parliament of Jamaica and begs to question the rationale which could legitimately account for the failure and/or refusal of the Cabinet to comply with the lawful requirements of a Contractor General – an institution which was established by the Parliament of Jamaica to act as a layer of checks and balance to, amongst other things, provide greater levels of accountability, transparency and probity in the Government contracting process,” he said.

Vowing to battle corruption in Jamaica, which was ranked as the 87th most corrupt country in the world from a list of 180 in last month’s Transparency International’s corruption index, The former contractor general Greg Christie  led the call for anti-corruption measures against public officials. Beresford is currently acting as the contractor general until Christie is replaced. According to the Jamaican press Senior Deputy Director of Public prosecutions Dirk Harrison has been tipped to become the next contractor general there.


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