Archive for July 5th, 2013

Public Management and Finance Law

| 05/07/2013 | 40 Comments

I closely followed the implementation of the the Public Management and Finance Law. I'm also familiar with what happened in New Zealand specifically and the push for a "Whole-of-Government" approach or "Reintegration of Government" on the heels of "New Public Management". NPM can potentially work in certain situations, but not here in Cayman.

Both the Cayman Islands Public Management and Finance Law (PFML) and Public Service Management Law (PSML) were based largely on similar laws in New Zealand and are part of what is referred to as "New Public Management" (NPM) reforms (the "new" is a bit outdated at this point, as the movement began in the early 80's and that term was coined in the early '90s, but the name stuck).

New Zealand was an early and enthusiastic adopter of NPM reforms, and to quote a speech by the Financial Secretary in May 2005 (linked below): "When we began this process there was very little experience within the Caribbean region for us to draw upon. We therefore looked at experiences elsewhere in the world – particularly the financial management approach adopted in New Zealand. From that we developed our own reform design – which we called the “Cayman Model”.

The Miller Shaw Report also notes: "Our attention has been drawn to a comparison with New Zealand in part because the Government‘s finance department studied that country‘s financial management reforms, and the Principles of Responsible Financial Management incorporated into Cayman law are based on their experience and systems."

Wikipedia sums up the ideas behind NPM quite well: "Some modern authors define NPM as a combination of splitting large bureaucraciesinto smaller, more fragmented ones, competition between different public agencies, and between public agencies and private firms and incentivization on more economic lines. […] A 2003 [OECD] paper described the characteristics of the new public management as decentralization, management by objectives, contracting out, competition within government and consumer orientation."

This is what we did here in Cayman, with the creation of many "new" units, agencies and statutory authorities to achieve specialisation in the delivery of goods and services that had previously been done at the department/ministry level; contracting out; strict rules for tendering; identifying "outputs" that are "purchased" in order to draw down funds that are budgeted; decentralising finance and accounting; decentralising human resources functions; introducing more competition in the hiring processes by requiring open recruitment for every post (with very few exceptions, so now many posts are advertised even if they would have previously been considered promotions in line with succession plans, and many "advertisements" are not truly open because the post is already designated for a specific persion — not unlike some work permit advertisements …); introducing performance management; etc.

By adding new measures meant to promote efficiency and effectiveness, the size of the public service did, in fact, increase. By quite a lot. The creation of new agencies and decentralisation of finance and HR required many additional personnel. Not all of the 800 persons who were added to the civil service (most in the 2005-2008 time period) were a result of these changes, but the vast majority of them were.

New Zealand abandoned those reforms just as we were taking them up in the mid-2000's.

To quote a scholar who has studied New Zealand through NPM and beyond: "Public sector reform has persisted for a sufficient length of time in several countries to examine patterns over the longer term. Australia and New Zealand are both early and long-term reforming countries that display distinctive features as well as being Anglophone countries identified with new public management. As third generation reformers, the products of more than two decades of reform activity are becoming clearer: the starker manifestations of new public management have less prominence now and a set of distinctive trends has emerged with commonalities across the two countries. The synthesis of elements in the third generation suggests that system integration and performance are central to the prevailing approach and that an emergent model is best represented in the mid-2000s as integrating governance."

Another scholar on the same subject: "In the recent generation of modern public sector reforms — those following two decades of New Public Management (NPM) reforms — there has been achange in emphasis away from structural devolution, disaggregation, and single-purpose organizations and toward a whole-of-government (WG) approach. This trend is most evident in the Anglo-Saxon countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, once seen as the trailblazers of NPM, but it is also occurring in other countries, such as the United States, under the heading of collaborative public management."

The fact is, our Government did not have much in common with the governments that explored NPM in the 80's and 90's. And we have stubbornly stuck with it despite being, really, the last bastion. It sounds great on paper, but it just doesn't work.

We need to have the courage to say we tried it, it didn't work in practice (and not just because our finance persons are not capable — though, to be frank, many are not), and we're going to change while still committing to the same objectives of efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability. I think the Hon Deputy Governor has the right motivations, but I disagree with himon the future of these two laws.

Sources and further reading.

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Joey denies 17 charges

| 05/07/2013 | 0 Comments

joey (225x300).jpg(CNS): Joey Ebanks, the former MD of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, has formally denied all of the charges against him relating to theft and fraud. Appearing in Grand Court on Friday morning, the former political candidate in North Side pleaded not guilty to seventeen counts, all of which relate to his time as the boss of the local authority, when it is alleged that Ebanks committed a number of criminal acts. Ebanks is accused of a catalogue of offences, including altering cheques, signing cheques without authority and stealing iPads and iPhones valuing some $70,000.

Ebanks faces the following charges:

Count One:  Obtaining Property by deception: On 7 November, 2012 – 13November, 2012 CI$5,201.74 belonging to ERA claiming that the funds were for official ERA travel expenses to Canada.

Count Two: Obtaining a Money Transfer by deception: 23 November, 2012 US$1,957 claiming that the funds were for official ERA travel expenses to Canada.

Count Three: Obtaining Property by deception: 26 February, 2013 CI$67,950 belonging to ERA  – -provided a cheque to Cayman MAC Store.

Count Four, Five and Six: Making a Document without Authority: 29 January,2013 with intent to do fraud, signed a document on account of another (being the ERA) CI$24,240 to Cayman Mac Store and on 22 & 25 February.

Count Seven: Obtaining property by deception on 20th December, 2012 CI$2,000

Count Eight: Obtaining property by deception: 21 December, 2012 CI$1,200 belonging to ERA presented a cheque as good and valid order for payment.

Count Nine: Forgery: Made a false document signed in the name of Luis Boucher.

Count Ten: Obtaining property by deception: 6 January, 2012 CI$1,024 belonging to ERA

Count Eleven: Obtaining property by deception: 7 January, 2013 CI$375 belonging to ERA

Count Twelve: Obtaining Money by deception: 18 January, 2013 US$1,200 requesting funds required for official travel expenses.

Count Thirteen: Forgery: 28 January, 2013 signed ERA cheque in the name of Luis Bucher.

Count Fourteen: Obtaining property by deception: 2 January, 2013 CI$5,000 belonging to ERA

Count Fifteen: Obtaining property by deception: 22nd February, 2013 CI$2,500 belonging to ERA

Count Sixteen: Obtaining property by deception: 1st September – 31st March obtained Apple iPad and iPhone products valued at CI$67,944.

Count Seventeen: Transferring Criminal Property: 1st September – 31st March obtained Apple products.

 

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Officials begin work on national disability policy

| 05/07/2013 | 29 Comments

disability discrimination wheelchair employment law florida.jpg(CNS): More than four years after the legal sub-committee submitted its report to the previous PPM government on the legislative environment in Cayman relating to people with disabilities, the administrative arm of government has turned its attention to the issue again. According to a release from the Cabinet Office, a national policy for persons with disabilities is in the works. The document, “Ensuring persons with disabilities live with dignity, are respected and participate fully in society”, is said to be the vision of stakeholders involved who are now meeting to develop guidance on addressing challenges facing the disabled. Officials said a draft policy is expected to be presented for public consultation by the end of summer, and a final version sent to Cabinet before the year end.

The policy group includes four people with disabilities and representatives from the special needs community and other public officials. The policy is being developed largely by impacted stakeholders, including representatives from Sunrise Adult Training Centre, Special Olympics, Lighthouse School, Sunrise Caring Association, Harmony Learning Centre, parent representatives, as well as those with disabilities. The stakeholders are also supported by a legal representative, ministries with responsibility for education, health, community affairs and the Cabinet Office.

The group already completed goals and strategies speaking to the needs of people with disabilities for quality education, equal employment opportunities, the highest standards of healthcare, independence, as well as full inclusion in society. A final goal calls for routine collection, analysis and distribution of information on people with disabilities to inform policy, legislation and services.

The Cabinet Office said it was assigned the task of coordinating the development of the policy toward ensuring a comprehensive approach by private, civil society and public stakeholders. Director of the Policy Coordination Unit of the Cabinet Office, Robert Lewis, is leading the policy development process on the Steering Committee, assisted by Policy Subcommittee Chair Shari Smith and Legal Subcommittee Chair Myrtle Brandt.

“We are converting and updating previous reports into a national policy intended to provide guidance on full inclusion of persons with disabilities in society,” said Lewis. “We also hope that the document will be an example of policy development and implementation best practice going forward. To this end – among other matters — the policy will include targets, phasing plans, provisions for policy monitoring, evaluation, review and change. The new policy will draw heavily on documents drafted locally since 2007, including reports by the ‘Planning the Future for Persons with Disabilities in the Cayman Islands Steering Committee'.”

Officials said the policy, which will need to respect the Bill of Rights in the Constitution and ensure equal rights for persons with disabilities, is a national imperative that will lead the way for a much need bill covering legislation for persons with disabilities. 

A legal subcommittee has also been tasked with covering this area, chaired by Myrtle Brandt. The membership includes Sonji Myles (Deputy Chair), Vaughan Carter, Keith Parker Tibbetts Jr, Kimberly Voaden, Charles Brown, Tommy Ebanks, Kimberly Kirkconnell, and Sheila Alvarez.

Finita Ebanks said that, as someone living with a disability, it is of great interest to her to be a part of the country’s efforts to meet the needs of the disabled community.

Keith Parker also said it was important that those with disabilities contribute to the policy development in an area in need of strong community support. Parker pointed out the diversity of experiences of those with disabilities in the local community but emphasised the point that the disabled are people first.

“I am a normal person who happens to be missing a leg, and that is how I should be treated,” he added

Sixteen-year-old student Branden Rivers and former Global Messenger for Special Olympics, Leonardo Bodden, agree that as young Caymanians with disabilities, they also want to “do their part” for the disabled community.

The Special Olympics representative on the committee, Antoinette Johnson, said the participatory approach that the process has taken so far towards persons with disabilities is in keeping with her organisation’s philosophy.

“Special Olympics believe that with sports training and competition, athletes with disabilities lead fuller, more self-sufficient lives, and are able to achieve success on and off the field of competition. So we are very pleased to be part of the process of developing a policy for the Cayman Islands that will ensure that persons with disabilities can enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms and have full inclusion in our society,” she added.

The 2010 National Census found that the two top disabilities in the Cayman Islands are sight and lower limb disabilities. Further statistical information about persons with disabilities is available from the Census, which can be found online at www.eso.ky

Anyone who would like to share their thoughts on this subject is invited to contact Robert Lewis (244-3602) at the Cabinet Office or Shari Smith (949-3330) at Sunrise Adult Training Centre.

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Ozzie continues rounds in new ministry

| 05/07/2013 | 0 Comments

Min in lab (300x234).jpg(CNS): Following his visits with the various health related agencies in his new ministry, Osbourne Bodden who is the minister for youth, sports and culture as well as health, has visited more of the departments and agencies for which he is now responsible. One his second round of tours Bodden visited the Health Regulatory Services, Mosquito Research & Control Unit (MRCU), Department of Sports and the National Gallery to discuss the day-to-day operations, including improvements for each unit.

Bodden, who is serving as a minister for the first time after spending his first term in office between 2005 and 2009 on the back benches, commended staff for their hard work and commitment shown over the years.

Other upcoming visits are: Department of Environmental Health (both Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac offices), Youth Services Unit, Cadet Corps, National Museum, Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF), Cayman Islands Museum, as well as Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac.

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Woman claims self-defence in stabbing case

| 05/07/2013 | 0 Comments

court good.jpg(CNS): A 21 year old West Bay woman went on trial Tuesday in the Grand Court before Justice Mettyear, accused of stabbing a man twice in the chest in December 2011. Bianca Vega is charged with woundingwith intent and is represented by local attorney Lucy Organ. Vega admits that she stabbed the victim but claims that she acted in self-defence against the complainant who is said to have tried to attack her with a chair. Vega claims that the man had approached her in an aggrieve manner with the chair and she had simply reacted to the threats by stabbing him with a three inch blade, twice in the chest.

When she took the stand Vega told the court that she had gone to her friend's house on North West Point Road in West Bay to console her due to a family matter at around midnight on 18th December. Vega said her friend left to go to buy some food from a nearby restaurant while she went to wait outside with a few people who were outside.

A few men were in the yard at the time consuming alcohol while listening to music and playing dominoes. Vega said she then heard the complainant shouting profanities inside the house. She claims that he approached her in an aggressive manner, questioning her about why she had been talking about his sexuality and insulting her.

Vega told the court that after the complainant threatened to bust her face with the chair she stood up to walk away but that she was afraid he would hit her if she did so. She admitted telling him to get out of her face and refused to leave because she was waiting on the return of her friend. It was after the victim faked a striking motion that the defendant said she reacted almost instantly and stabbed him twice in his chest with the three inch blade and discarded it in the sea before handing herself over to the police.

During questioning by the Crown Counsel, it was put to Vega that she was not acting in self-defence but instead had intended to stab him because she lost her temper. The prosecutor suggested Vega stabbed him in the chest because she knew it would cause more damage and that no chair at all was involved.

Vega denied these allegations and stated:  “I'm not wronging myself for defending myself. I wrong myself for hurting him.”

The judge alone trial continues in court one

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Purple Dragon students celebrate black belt success

| 05/07/2013 | 1 Comment

382758_277058409010886_2106788576_a_0_0.jpg(CNS): Five Purple Dragon students were recently honoured at a ceremony held at the Purple Dragon Cayman dojo June 1st. Celebrating their success at the grueling Black Belt Grading held May 11-13th 2013 in Florida, Lance Jefferson, Steffen Pitta and Cathy Williams each earned their first black belt. Mario Dadal earned a second degree black belt, three purple stars and was awarded the distinguished title of Instructor. In addition, Instructor Leonard successfully achieved fourth degree black belt ‘renshi’ status and was notably awarded title of Sensei, as he explained:

“Obtaining the title of Sensei is an incredible honour, made possible only by the support of everyone at the dojo, especially Sensei Floyd, Sensei Karen, Sensei Geddes and Sensei Antonio. The continuous encouragement from friends and family has made this challenging path incredibly rewarding. A special thanks to Professor Jacob, for his leadership and continued inspiration throughout my years as a Purple Dragon warrior.”

Revered Professor Don Jacob, founder of the Purple Dragon Martial Arts system, recently migrated to Florida and welcomed a large number of international Purple Dragon martial art students, including a number from Cayman, to take part in the grueling three-day grading and seminar. Grading is the process by which karate students of varying levels are tested by Professor Jacob before they can progress to the next level of their training, which is indicated by an exchange in their belt color.

This was the second time Professor Jacob hosted a Black Belt grading event and seminar in Florida. Previously, all Black Belt grading took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Over 51 international participants were evaluated in fighting, forms, self-defense, breakfalling and weapons as well as their knowledge of Martial Arts history.  The grading marks the culmination of years of dedication by the students to improve their skills and enhance their fitness, both mentally and physically.

Cayman Islands Purple Dragon Martial Arts instructor, Sensei Floyd Baptiste, was very happy with how his students performed. “The recent success achieved by Purple Dragon students in Florida is a testament to the hard work and dedication within the Cayman Islands Purple Dragon family.  Watching the students achieve such esteemed levels of distinction is a rewarding moment for all involved at the dojo. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for Purple Dragon Cayman.”

Purple Dragon is the longest running Martial Arts school in the Caribbean, with 45 schools in over eleven countries, and thousands of students worldwide. 

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DART U19 sets sights on third championship

| 05/07/2013 | 5 Comments

165951_10150909209137314_1380054637_n.jpg(CRC): On Monday, 1 July, twenty two young men in the DART U19 squad flew to Trinidad and Tobago with their coaches, Garry Southway & Noel Phillips. They are spending the week in training to defend their U19 regional championship, which they won in Mexico in 2012. Many of the players in the squad also represented the team in 2011, which was won in Cayman, following their peers who also won the championships in 2008 and 2009. 

In recognition of the amazing feat of four championships in five years, the North American & West Indies Rugby Association ("NACRA") permanently awarded the trophy to Cayman and will start a new trophy at the 2013 tournament.

The team faces Jamaica on 8 July and then Bermuda on 10 July. Final results will determine if they make the final on 13 July. Strong opposition is expected from all teams this year, as the region recognizes the importance of their U19 programs to feed their senior sides over the next few years.

Director of Rugby, Richard Grizz Adams, expects the team to do well again at this year’s tournament. "The guys have not been together much this year, as seven of them are attending school overseas, which makes practicing as a team very tough," Adams said. "However, many of the guys that are away are playing an extremely high level of Rugby and will bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. The coaches have done a great job with those players in Cayman from the Maples youth academy, and they had some great results against the touring sides that have come to Cayman to play this year.

"It is the oldest team we have ever had in terms of age, with the vast majority of players either 18 or 19 years old, and only a couple still under 18, so that will definitely be of benefit in terms of physicality," Adams added. "Our guys here also play in the senior leagues and one or two are in the full national senior XV and VII’s squads, so they will not be intimidated by the opposition, which will also help. I think as long as they listen to their coaches, who are both very good, and stick with what they do well, they will definitely be in with a better-than-average chance of bringing home a 5th championship and the new Trophy. I will be there delivering a couple of conferences on ‘Building Small Unions’ and ‘How to Develop An Ideal Union in a Small Island Setting’ on behalf of NACRA and the International Rugby Board, which will give me a chance to see most of the practices and all of their games."

Adams is currently scouting on behalf of the new High Performance Sevens and Fifteens programs, now firmly established within Cayman, and expects to be able to identify at least ten potential players to make that step up immediately upon the U19 team's return to the Cayman Islands. With the NACRA Sevens being hosted in Cayman from 9-10 November, he feels that some will have a real chance of playing in that tournament as well.

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Mac tried more loan deals

| 05/07/2013 | 54 Comments

mac signs japan_1.jpg(CNS): Despite the controversy surrounding the former premier's failed attempts to cut a deal on government's debt outside of the tendering process with Cohen and Co in October of 2010, documents released following an FOI request have revealed that McKeeva Bush made further efforts in his last months as premier to re-finance the public debt. Bush selected the assistance of a local finance expert to seek possible refinancing deals outside of the tendering process and signed at least one engagement letter without the knowledge of the financial secretary or approval from the UK. None of the potential deals resulted in a re-financing package but they could have cost the public purse at least $300,000 in fees. (See CNS note)

According to partially released documents following a request by CNS, email correspondence between the finance ministry staff shows that Bush had initiated talks with local attorney Wilton McDonald of FINAB Legal Ltd, who in turn solicited the services of various financial institutions in efforts to cut a new loan deal. Between June and November, the correspondence indicates that government made preliminary arrangements with Morgan Stanely and Caledonian Bank onthe instructions of the premier to examine the possibility of re-financing a significant portion of government’s debt currently held in bonds.

This led to Bush signing an engagement letter in September with Caledonian Bank which proposed to undertake a bond offering at an interest rate of not more than 4% for up to $400 million to replace the government’s current bond. The former premier did so without the knowledge or approval of the UK or local officials and without going through a tendering process, despite the advice offered later by technocrats.

Although none of the proposals ever resulted in a successful re-negotiation of the government’s debt, Caledonian issued an invoice of $300,000 to the public purse based on the letter signed by Bush for the work it had undertaken in pulling together possible deals. The agreement had also provided for the bank to claim additional expenses where appropriate, although there was no indication from the documents released that any further funds were claimed or paid.

The correspondence shows Bush had mentioned the possible re-financing plan to the UK in a meeting with Overseas Territories Mark Simmonds but the proposal to repackage the financing was not shown to the FCO formally until after Bush had engaged and signed up with Caledonian.

Despite telling Caledonian and McDonald that he had already received approval from the UK to re-issue the bonds and repackage the public debt, it became apparent from the internal communication that this was not the case. While Bush had mentioned the matter to Simmonds at a London meeting in 2012, ahead of his trip to Greenland, it was said to be merely “in the margins of the meeting”, according to the documents, and not on the agenda. The engagement letter and proposal was not shown to the FCO until later in October.

However, the redacted records imply that Bush had still engaged Caledonian for a retainer fee of $300,000 and a success fee rate of 1.7% of the value of the bond offering. The deal appears to have been scuppered by the UK as a result of the premier’s decision to circumvent the official process, but because the ministry has withheld certain documents in the FOI response, it is not clear when the FCO pulled the rug or on what grounds.

The records released also show that Caledonian had agreed to establish an educational trust fund in Cayman with a seed donation of $500,000.

Following what appears to be the refusal of the UK to support the deal, Caledonian made a further offer in November, in which the bank cut its success fee from 1.7 to 0.75%. However, some two weeks later, the premier was arrested in connection with various offences, which are now proceeding through the courts, and it is not clear what action was taken on the revised proposal or if the local authorities began a process to refinance the current debt via an open competitive tender.

While McDonald appears to have acted as the introducer and some form of agent in the process, it is not clear if government paid any additional fees to the local lawyer.

CNS has made a request for an internal review regarding the request to include further correspondence to the UK among other documents which have been withheld and redacted.

CNS note: The finance ministry confirmed Monday 8 July that an invoice sent to government for $300,000 for that bank’s services, as per the engagement letter signed by Bush, without the knowledge of the UK or local ministry officials, was never paid. Wilton McDonald also contacted CNS and stated that he had taken no fees for his services in arranging the negotiations with Caledonian.

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Victim critical following hit and run in GT

| 05/07/2013 | 0 Comments

IMG-20130701-00028.jpg (242x300).jpg(CNS) Updated 10am: The RCIPS has confirmed that a 27-year-old woman was struck by a vehicle on Monday evening at around 8:20pm in a hit and run incident along North Church Street, George Town. The woman, who was walking along the road close to Cash Wiz and Dolce Vita when she was hit, is understood to have received serious injuries and was taken to hospital in a critical condition. Police said that one man was arrested following the incident after a Dodge Caravan was later discovered in West Bay with front windshield damages. The male driver was arrested on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident as well as suspicion of DUI. The man has since been bailed pending continued police investigations.

Other sources told CNS that the woman, who is a kindergarten teacher, is still in a coma and the RCIPS confirmed that officers are in contact with the victim's family. She was airlifted Thursday night to Jacksonville, USA, for treatment and remains in a critical condition.

Police are appealing to anyone who was in the vicinity at the time to contact PC Jameson at the George Town Police Station at 949-4222

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Cops nab suspect booze burglar but two more flee

| 05/07/2013 | 4 Comments

548526_531569110190212_731926111_n.jpg(CNS): The RCIPS is currently investigating a burglary at the Cabana restaurant and bar on the waterfront in George Town following a break-in at 2:53 this morning, when thieves attempted to steal a significant haul of booze. A police spokesperson said a report was made to the 911 emergency centre when the burglary was in progress at the location, which was formerly Hammer Heads. Police units responded within minutes, the spokesperson stated, and on the officers' arrival, three suspects fled. The police gave chase, however, and one suspect was arrested in connection with the burglary.

Despite the arrest, the two other men believed to be involved were able to escape from the officers. Most of the property, including a large quantity of alcohol, as well as gloves and a mask, were recovered near the scene and the matter is now under investigation by George Town CID. 

Anyone with information about this or any other crime is asked to call 949-7777 or the confidential Crimestoppers line 800 TIPS.

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