Cabinet says veterans’ benefits not at risk

| 16/05/2013

ship.JPG(CNS): Over the last few months the community affairs ministry has been urging those people who collect veterans' or seamen's benefits as a result of past service at sea to contact the ministry so it can verify that the people concerned are still alive and living here in Cayman. Speaking at Thursday’s press briefing, the current Cabinet said that, contrary to rumours, the monthly payments from government were not at risk. Meanwhile, on the campaign trail the PNA members of the minority Cabinet have been hammering home the message that these and all other social  payments come from central government coffers and are not dependent on McKeeva Bush being in office.

Health Minister Mark Scotland said that John Douglas, a former member of the CINICO board who had been removed, had been spreading “erroneous” information regarding seafarers' cash and health benefits. Scotland said that along with the $550 payment that former mariners and their spouses receive, the veterans are also covered by CINICO with a co-payment of 10% co-pay.

“Government has done nothing to reduce or eliminate those benefits,” Scotland said, following the comments that were made on Radio Cayman and other media this week. “It is all still in place," he added, noting that the numbers of seafarers receiving benefits had increased in the last four years,with up to 200 people now getting the payment.

Scotland said that the idea that the payments would decrease as people passed away was wrong and in reality more and more former sea veterans have been added to the list of those receiving the payment from the public purse. However, the minister said government was committed to ensure all veteran continue to receive the payment and had been trying to improve the health benefits so government covers the 10% co-pay as well.

Rolston Anglin echoed the sentiment and said everyone in government, despite what was happening next week, was committed to the benefits, which have cross-party support. He added that it was not a pension but a direct benefit to seafarers, given more than a decade ago to honour that category of Caymanians.

Dwayne Seymour, whose ministry is responsible for distributing the payment, said Douglas’ comments about the benefits were political, and since taking the ministry he had been involved in the process of trying to get information on all seafarers.

“There is no effort or move to remove the benefit or cut off anyone during my tenure,” Seymour said, adding that his staff said the review was to ensure everyone who was getting the benefit was entitled to it and they were trying to establish that the money was going to people who were still alive. He said there were some 60 to 70 veterans on the waiting list who were not receiving benefits yet because of budget constraints and they could only be added when someone else dies. “These are austere times. That’s the reality of things,” he added.

On the campaign trail PNA West bay candidates Cline Glidden and Rolston Anglin have both raised the issue of what they said was the dependency culture fostered by the former premier. They have been at pains to stress that these benefits or any others, such as help from the department of social services or scholarships, all come from public coffers and are not dependent on McKeeva Bush being in office. The men stated categorically that Bush does not control these purse strings and he cannot take away any legitimate financial entitlement from any Caymanian receiving any official government pay-out.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    After reading the various comments I sympathise with the child who born in such an unfortunate situation that she hates her parents who were apparently drug addicts and never showed any love to her. You seem still so sore at them for the unpleasant childhood you grew up in, but I pray you will someday forgive them and move on with love in your heart for you own children. Step on your childhood curse and tell yourself you want a better life for you and your children. Regardless of the hurt you have to honor your parents in order to get along well in this world. About the seamen's funds, I wish to remind families that government is not the source of this money, they were only the trustees to ensure only seamen receive these funds. To some just come ya, don't know but it is written downin history that Caymanian men were renouned for their ability as seamen and when the owner of the ships they sailed on Southwell Shipping Lines passed away I understand his wife came to Cayman and carried out his wishes and set up a fund for "Caymanian Seamen Only". The incident where an old gentleman divorces his Caymanian wife who were left behind here to keep his family together through many rough and tough times should be entitled to his monies, not a no nation who perhaps has came to our shores and mashed up the marriage just to stay and enjoy the benefits of what Caymanian women who kept this little rock afloat when the men were at sea. And about adding another 60 names to the list awaiting the death of some old seaman, this is absurb! Caymanian men has stopped sailing the seas many years ago, perhaps 12-15 years. No additions are in place in this matter and I trust this is not another "loophole as Social Services" where every  Tom. Dick and Harry, grandma, grandpas from every part in the world without our without  status is beating the system to death "overloaded" let the bastards  WORK. They can find money to weave hair, smoke cigs. do nails, rent cars, play numbers and on and on yet government must hand them out money when others have to toil so hard to make  ends meet.  We really have a lot of work to do in order to get Cayman back to honestly and intergerity.

  2. Anonymous says:

    They aren't "veterans".  They are retired merchant seaman.  Big difference.  Former armed servicemen served the people.  Merchant seaman served companies, themselves, and, if lucky, their families.  The second group should not get any special treatment.

    • Anonymous says:

      They served these Islands with their remittances. How little you understand about our past.

  3. Moneyman says:

    End this outdated handout once and for all.  No-one and I mean, no-one, should be added to this program.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Veterans get no pension from Government. The stipend that some Veterans get comes from the CIVA Poppy Appeal every October/November not from Government. (From a member of CIVA)

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, this is just not true. Many members of the Veterans Association do get the "pension" awarded to the Seamen and Veterans associations (different organisations)

      • Mr Pibb says:

        Never forget the power of believing something that is completely made up.  You see it a lot on CNS. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    How about enforcing the Maintenance law?

    • Anonymous says:

      First, let me say that I believe that taking care of the elderly is the right thing to do. However, we need to get something straight here.

      NO CHILD in the world has asked to be brought here, no matter the circumstances. People who bring children into the world ARE RESPONSIBLE for nurturing them and taking care of them physically and emotionally until the children are able to go out into the world on their own.

      It is the custom of poor, impoverished societies to bring children into the world, either because of lack of planning or free labor. THAT IS ACCORDING TO THE U.N. not me!!!

      In Cayman it was and is no different. Children are brought into the world and are thrown into some terrible conditions (especially emotionally).

      I am one of those children who was brought into this world, by parents who not only lacked the financial means but also the emotional ability to raise me with love. I grew up with beer bottles and drugs all around. My parents didn't give a rats ass about my or my brothers!!!

      Life was hard for us as children, but we managed to drag ourseleves out of it over the years and have managed to surpress the emotional scars that have been imprinted on us forever.

      THERE IS NO LAW on this earth that will ever force me to take care of a set of people who brought me into this world, not by plan but as the result of a drunken, drug filled night!!! Who did absolutly nothing to encourage us or love us.

      It is a pitty that we focus on children having to take care of parents, especially when they were worthless, instead of parents taking proper care of children.

      A young child is at the mercy of adults, a young child has to deal with whatever adults dish out at them. We expect a unfit human to breed a child into the world, raise it like it is a burden; then expect the child to turn around and eat crap politely with a fork?!!

      I think not!!!! If I had parents who did right by me or at least tried, I would feel obligated to take care of them until the day they die. But, in Cayman there has always been this culture of depending on those who are not obligated to take care of us is the norm.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why should I drive an old  Toyota and through no fault of my own have to take care of your crappy parents while you drive a new BMW and contribute, at best, the same as me?  

  6. Anonymous says:

    Who took away the 91 yr old womans pension from her husband seamans grant? Then on the other hand John John is saying that there are some 60 to 70 on the waiting list just waiting on some to die to get theirs, because of the lack of funds. So please tell me how can ju ju then promise the Seamen a raise to $800 . Where will the moneys come from? Is this campaign talk or is she going to tax us heavier in order to find this money?

    • Anonymous says:

      "Who took away the 91 yr old womans pension from her husband seamans grant?"

      If he ran off with a younger woman (even though his ex-wife may have supported him throughout the years), once he leaves (divorces) her and marries someone younger the new wife gets the benefits.  It isn't fair, I am just saying that is how the process works.

       

  7. Anonymous says:

    This shoudl be at risk.  Very few of the recipients of this money are veterans, they are simply retired merchant seaman or their family.  No non-armed served "veterans" should be ever added to the list, so that this waste of money can be effectively eased out over time.

    • SSM345 says:

      Or Mac can just wire them $1M from New York, that should tidy them over for bit, no?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I can understand that veterans who served in the war should receive a benefit but really why should the ordinary merchant seaman who in many cases only went to sea for one or two years receive these extraordinary benefits? Didn’t the farmers who stayed home and fed the people do just as good a job?

    This benefit to seamen was brought in when money was flowing like flood waters into this little tax free island but we just can’t afford to pay this anymore to seafarers who are not in need of this money. Some of these men and their families have plenty of money to survive without ths drain on govt funds. Shame on those of you who are taking monthly payments for only having been seamen for short periods of time. Those of you who have indeed spent many years at sea in addition to be truly in need of assistance should be the only ones in these difficult monetary times to receive benefits. I heard who i think was mr. Douglas on Radio Cayman yesterday describe his monthly payment as “pennies” – how grateful is that?

    There should be a means test for all those receiving and if they do not need to receive, they should be cut fom the list. Also, wouldn’t it be interesting to see a list of all the recipients….Freedom of Info request please. Perhaps some of these quite well off seamen might be embarrassed enough to take themselves off the list so that the money can go to a more worthy cause.

    • Anonymous says:

      You all really need to learn the facts of the seamen pension. It is their money, government is not giving them anything! Millions of pension dollars was given to the government around forty years ago from the shipping companies for these seamen, the government invested the pension money in this country now the seamen needs their pension so government is paying it back!

  9. Anonymous says:

    So the many seaman who are multi-millionaires may continue getting  government benefits that the country can ill-afford to pay