Archive for December 2nd, 2013

LIME completes 4G rollout across Cayman

| 02/12/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): LIME became the first local telecommunications firm to complete its rollout of the superfast 4G LTE mobile data service across all three Cayman Islands on Friday. The new technology will offer customers speeds of over 100Mb/s which is equivalent to having fibre optic cable capabilities through a mobile device anywhere on the island.  Described by LIME as one of the fastest LTE rollouts anywhere in the world, the firm said that this latest generation of mobile technology designed to supercharge data connected mobile devices would eliminate buffering. 4G LTE delivers a massive step change in functionality and provides a new battleground for mobile operators as they promise greater functionality and connectivity on the move.

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Government silent on FCIA

| 02/12/2013 | 23 Comments

(CNS): After more than six months in office the government appears to have made no significant advance in the talks with the Dart Group on the future of the ForCayman Investment Alliance and the so-called NRA agreement signed by the UDP administration in December 2011. Although CNS has submitted a number of questions to government regarding the current situation, there has been no response to those enquiries from officials. It is understood, however, that government has made little headway on changing the details of the NRA Deal, despite the questions raised in an independent consultants' report about the value for money for the public purse. The government has objected to the proposed 50% from tax concession in the deal but has not found an agreeable replacement concession.

In the immediate wake of the elections, Kurt Tibbetts, the minister with responsibility for roads, had indicated that the PPM government had begun talks with the developer and that their goal was to renegotiate the deal. The focus, he said, would be on the 50% room tax reduction offered to the group on all Dart-owned tourist accommodation for a period of ten years on anything it buys or builds for the next three decades. Tibbetts described that element of the deal as “unacceptable” but sources tell CNS that the developer is reluctant to lose such a generous concession and has pressed for significant other concessions to replace it.

Despite the promises made by the PPM on the campaign trail before the May election to find some way of creating an access through route in the area of the West Bay Road, which has now been closed, the minister indicated at an early stage that the road closure was a done deal. Instead, government would focus on other parts of the agreement.

So far, the stretch of West Bay Road between Raleigh Quay and the new by-pass junction at Yacht Drive remains open to the public and has not yet been handed over to the developer as per the agreement. It is not clear if government has yet taken possession of the land in West Bay which was promised under the deal or what has happened to the cash donations from Dart, which were also included

In addition, a law suit filed in the Grand Courts earlier this year challenging the legality of the NRA deal is scheduled for trial next week.

Dart is, however, pressing ahead with the hotel development on the former site of the Court Yard Marriott. Under the current NRA agreement, which is already signed, the developer will receive the 50% concession on all parties staying in both the 10-storey hotel and the 10-storey condo tower being built alongside.

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NCL on final road tour

| 02/12/2013 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Minister Wayne Panton and officials from the Department of Environment will begin what is expected to be the final round of public discussions regarding the much debated National Conservation Law Monday in West Bay. It was dubbed by Panton as the ‘National Conversation Law’ because for more than a decade successive governments attempted to accommodate everyone’s opinions on how Cayman can protected what remains of its dwindling natural resources. However, when he was appointed as the environment minister after the elections, Panton committed to passing the law before the end of this year and it is scheduled for debate in the Legislative Assembly next week.

Despite a sustained campaign by the Cayman Islands' only daily newspaper against the law, the minister is confident that the majority of Caymanians support the legislation. However, he is extending an open invitation to all to attend one of the six meetings over the next week to ask questions about the bill and air any final concerns ahead of the debate in the LA.

Although the opposition leader and the independent members have indicated they will not support the law, the bill should pass through the parliament following its acceptance by Cabinet and given the support of the PPM and the C4C on the campaign trail ahead of May's general election.

Once passed into law, for the first time in local history the array of unique indigenous land flora and fauna in Cayman, many of which are listed as endangered or vulnerable, will have some protection in law. The environmental impact on any development will also need to be considered alongside the socio-economic impacts currently influencing the decisions of Cayman’s planning authority. In addition, government will have the ability to create protected habitats on the land that it owns. And unlike the powers it has to force people to sell land for roads, in this case the arrangement would be entirely voluntary.

The need to preserve habitat is critical to preserving unique local species, such as the silver thatch and the banana orchid, both of which have been in massive decline despite being national symbols.

“This bill, as it is now, is the place to start. It is a sound, rational and reasonable thing to do,” said Panton. “I know there are people on either side of the issue, but this is something we must put in place now.”

Panton said the meetings this week will include a short review of the law but the bulk of the time will be reserved for questions. People planning on attending are urged to read the law and raise any points or issues on which they are not clear.

As a result of the Gimistory schedule, the DoE has swapped some dates to prevent a clash in the districts and as a result the meeting scheduled for East End at the civic centre will now take place on Monday 9 December while the George Town meeting will move to Thursday 5 December at the Peace Hall. All of the district meetings will start at 7:30pm and will be held in the relevant civic centres.

See revised meeting schedule.

Vote in the CNS poll: Should the Legislative Assembly pass the National Conservation Bill into law?

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Murder trial set in LC killing

| 02/12/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  A 28-year-old woman from Little Cayman accused of the murder of her lover, 54-year-old Perry McLaughlin, will stand trial in March. Elsy Calderon De Ortega Barralga, who has pleaded not guilty, hung her head as she sat quietly in the dock during her court appearance Friday morning when the trial date was set. Baralga, who is alleged to have stabbed McLaughlin during a domestic dispute at his home on the Sister Islands, was remanded in custody to Fairbanks. The court heard that the police are still investigating the circumstances of the killing and are waiting for key forensic evidence in relation to the murder weapon. Baralga was arrested on the day of the killing and charged shortly after with murder. 

The body of McLaughlin, a well-known local businessman on Little Cayman, was found by one of his employees at around 7am at his home in Gazebo Lane.

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