Archive for January 20th, 2014

Chamber urges government to make more cuts

| 20/01/2014 | 39 Comments

(CNS): The Chamber of Commerce has lauded the savings made by the finance ministry with the renegotiation of the interest rates on some of government’s loans. However, the non-governmental organisation that represents hundreds of local businesses is urging the government to go much further and seek out more savings in all of its ministries. Commending the work of Finance Minister Marco Archer, the new Chamber president, Johan Moxam, said other ministries also need to look closely at where they can make cuts and offer better value for money for the public purse. He said theChamber was also helping with civil service cost cutting.

The Chamber council said it backed such initiatives, which will help in delivery more cost effective government services, and was working with the deputy governor’s office on phase 5 of the review of public services, “Cutting Red Tape/Digital by Default".

Archer has renegotiated the interest rates of five of government’s loans, which account for around a fifth of the government’s debt. The renegotiation will save more than $6 million over the next 10 years for the government coffers.

“Minister Archer and his staff deserve praise and commendation for saving the public purse more than $6 million over the next 10 years in loan repayments,” Moxam said.

“This is a significant achievement and demonstrates his ministry’s commitment to reduce its operational costs. While more work needs to be done to reduce the cost of government and to determine which services can be delivered by the private sector, Minister Archer’s action should be used as an example for other ministries to follow.

“Every aspect of Government must be evaluated to determine if the services that are provided can be delivered more cost effectively by government or privatised entirely. There is a need for a proper performance system to ensure that each ministry, department and agency of government is getting value for money from its employees,” Moxam added on behalf of the Chamber Council.

“The Chamber hasactively participated in each step of the government reform process to date, which has led to millions of dollars in savings. It is a role that we embrace enthusiastically with the ultimate goal of reducing the operational costs and improving service and efficiencies so the government can ultimately pass on the savings to the business sector by way of lower fees and duties,” he said.

The president also revealed that the Chamber met with Employment Minister Tara Rivers last week and will be meeting with Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton and Director of Commerce and Investment Ryan Rajkumarsingh this week to discuss small business and commerce matters in an effort to develop a proactive action agenda to address items of mutual concern and interest.

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Murder trial adjourned in face of legal issues

| 20/01/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The chief justice dismissed the latest jury panel Monday with orders to return to the Grand Court on Wednesday for selection in the anticipated trial of Brian Borden for the murder of Robert Mackford Bush in September 2011, but not before fining several jurors from the pool who failed to show up $500. Borden, who has been remanded in custody since his arrest almost 18 months ago, has had two trial dates adjourned as a result of legal issues surrounding his case and further legal issues were heard by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie in the absence of the jury Monday. Although the start of the case was pushed back again, at this point the anticipated four-week trial is currently set down to open on Wednesday.

Borden is alleged by the crown to have been one of two men that opened fire on Bush as he sat in a car at the junction of Capt Joe and Osbert Road and Birch Tree Hill in West Bay in a gang-related killing.

The crown recently also charged a second man with the murder. David Tomassa, who the crown says aided and abetted the killing, will not stand trial with his alleged co-conspirator and is currently expected to have his case heard in the summer.

Tomassa, who has denied any part in the shooting, appeared in court Friday but did not submit a plea in the case at his attorney’s request as a result of discussion the defence team is now having with the crown.

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Rivers leads team to London for education forum

| 20/01/2014 | 16 Comments

(CNS): Backbench government MLA Alva Suckoo has been appointed temporary minister for education and employment minister this week, working alongside his brother, Christen Suckoo, the deputy chief officer in the ministry who will be acting chief officer, in the absence of Minister Tara Rivers and Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues. They, along with Ministry Councillor Winston Connolly and Deputy Chief Officer Dr Tasha Ebanks-Garcia, are all in London attending the Education World Forum. Rivers and her team will be in the UK until 26 January in order to participate in a number of meetings with ministers responsible for education and employment there and to visit a number of high performing schools and Jobcentre Plus locations. 

Rivers will also host a reception at government’s London office in order to meet and greet Caymanian students in the UK.

Officials said Rivers was invited by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office through the governor’s office to attend the forum, which runs until Wednesday. In a release the education ministry said the Education World Forum provides the opportunity for ministers with responsibility for education at all levels to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced in their education systems. 

“As the Education World Forum is in London it provides a good opportunity for us to visit high performing schools in the area and learn first-hand of the employment initiatives of the UK Government," Rivers said ahead of the trip. "The Ministry is currently reviewing the governance model of public schools in the Cayman Islands in an effort to explore methods to improve local education and raise standards. 

“We are also trying to develop the services provided by the National Workforce Development Agency, and are interested in reviewing similar agencies operating in the UK in an effort to better inform ourselves of the successes and ways to avoid the potential pitfalls of programmes geared towards addressing the issue of unemployment,” she added.

The delegation will visit high performing schools known as academies in England, which are publicly funded but independent schools. These schools must follow the law and guidance on admissions, exclusions and special education needs and disabilities like fully maintained public schools but they benefit from greater freedoms. These include: being independent from local authority control, having the ability to set pay and conditions for their staff, deciding how they deliver the curriculum and having the ability to change the length of their school terms.

The Jobcentre Plus location they will visit is the UK governmental body that assists in helping people find jobs. The plan is to spend time at a centre and meet with relevant senior staff to get a thorough understanding of the work that takes place through a Jobcentre Plus, both from an operational and from a policy perspective, officials said. 

Officials did not state who was paying for the trip or how much it would cost the public purse.

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Players wanted for flag football youth league

| 20/01/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Organizers of the local flag football association are looking for young would-be players aged between seven and seventeen to join the start of the sixth season of The Security Centre Youth Flag Football League due to start in February.  Both boys and girls are being invited to register to play this year and no experience is required. Games are played on Saturdays and the season kicks off on the afternoon of Saturday 1 February.  Players are only required to pay a nominal registration fee of $10 but spaces are limited so to parents interested in registering their kids are encouraged to dos so as soon as possible. The league is also looking for volunteers so anyone interested in should complete the volunteer form on the website.

Online registration is now open at www.ciffayouth.com

So far around 180 children have been involved each season and organisers said that the league created to introduce young people to the game has been a great success.

The league is organized by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association (CIFFA) a non profit organization dedicated to expanding the sport of flag football in the Cayman Islands. It offers an opportunity for children to get active in a fun and safe atmosphere and is made possible as a result of the generosity of its corporate sponsors. 

 

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Diver’s tank found in sea

| 20/01/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS) Update Monday 4:45pm: Divers involved in the search for 57-year-old David Byles, who was reported missing during a dive off Seven Mile Beach yesterday, have recovered an item of his clothing from the sea. The item was located by police and volunteer divers around 1.20pm today, approximately 135 feet off the Barracuda Wall, where Byles had been diving. At about 10:10 this morning volunteers and police recovered his BCD and diving tank at around 110 feet off the same dive site. Police say the search has been stood downfor the day and will resume on Tuesday morning at 8am. Inspector Ian Yearwood is appealing for specialist divers, those who are experienced in depths of at least 135 feet, to join the search tomorrow. 

Anyone who is available and has the requisite diving experience is asked to contact him on 649-7803 or 526-3159.

Byles, a visitor to Cayman from North Carolina, was reported missing following a dive off Seven Mile Beach on Sunday morning, 19 January.

According to the police, he was diving with his wife as part of an organised boat dive at the Barracuda Wall, off Seven Mile Beach. They both surfaced and began swimming towards the Sunset Divers boat, which was approximately 100 yards away. On reaching the boat it was discovered that he had disappeared from view. A search of the immediate area by the boat crew failed to trace him and a police operation was launched.

Police from the air support and marine units as well as uniformed officers resumed the search for him this morning with the help of local boaters and divers. 

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Sea search continues for missing diver

| 20/01/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): As the sea search for the diver who was reported missing off Seven Mile Beach yesterday resumes, the police have now named him as David Byles (57) from Pine Hurst, North Carolina. RCIPS police divers, Marine, Air and Operational Support Units, the Department of Environment and port security are involved in the air, sea and land search today, police said. Several members of the public have also volunteered to assist and the officer in charge, Inspector Ian Yearwood, is currently working with them to ensure that all search activity is coordinated and under the direction of the RCIPS.

According to the police, around 10:20am yesterday, Sunday 19 January, Byles was diving with his wife as part of an organised boat dive at the Barracuda Wall, off Seven Mile Beach. They both surfaced and began swimming towards the Sunset Divers boat, which was approximately 100 yards away. On reaching the boat it was discovered that he had disappeared from view. A search of the immediate area by the boat crew failed to trace him and a police operation was launched.

The search continues today and further updates will be provided in due course. Any boat owners or divers who wish to assist in the search must make contact with the Marine Unit on 649-7803 or Inspector Yearwood on 526-3159.

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Police officer makes bid to reduce firearms charge

| 20/01/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A serving police officer who has been charged with the illegal importation of firearms is fighting to have those charges changed. Alexander Carballo-Kelly, who has been suspended from duty, appeared in Grand Court on Friday morning but he did not enter any pleas. His lawyer asked for an adjournment as he said his client was being charged with the importation of a firearm when the items in question were not guns but parts. Carballo-Kelly is accused of importing and possession of a 12 gauge shotgun magazine in December 2012 and evading customs duty. He was bailed to appear on 31 January.

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USA takes U20 title without conceding one goal

| 20/01/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): As expected the United States U20 ladies team came out on top Sunday with another emphatic win when the ladies beat Mexico 4-0 in the CONCACAF final at the Truman Bodden Sports complex. The team stormed through the tournament to the final without conceding a single goal to gain an easy spot in the World Cup finals in Canada in August. Mexico will also be joining the USA at the finals as the tournament runners up along with Costa Rica which managed to steal a victory over Trinidad and Tobago in extra time in the losers’ play-off on Sunday.

Despite the ease with which the US girls qualified, scoring 29 goals during the competition,  they had to work a little harder Sunday evening in the final against Mexico in a relatively close game.
However, the team which scored three of the four goals in the second half took the CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship for a third straight time with a perfect 5-0-0 record.

In the losers playoff however things were a little different Costa Rica rallied from a two-goal deficit in the second half against Trinidad and with the score line at 3-3 at the whistle forcing play into extra. Trinidad had been less than 20 minutes away from becoming the first Caribbean side to qualify for a FIFA Women’s World Cup at any level, when the Central Americans started a rally to recover from the deficit with a final score of 7-4.

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Local pregnant woman denies firearms charges

| 20/01/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Chanel Faith-Ann Ebanks denied trying to smuggle an unlicensed gun into the Cayman Islands when she appeared in Grand Court Friday. The 24-year-old woman, who is expecting a baby next month, pleaded not guilty to possession and importation of an unlicensed firearm following the seizure of a .45 pistol at Owen Roberts International Airport in May of last year. She was arrested by customs officers on arrival from Miami when her bag was selected for x-ray and an object that appeared to be a firearm part was detected.  Officers were said to have found firearm parts, which when assembled revealed a completed handgun. A trial date has now been set for December of this year as a result of Ebanks' pregnancy. 

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Women denies over $2M theft

| 20/01/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 52-year-old woman denied stealing more than $2 million from a local resident when she appeared in court Friday. Michelle Bouchard faces 12 counts of theft and other related charges from James Handford between June 2010 and September 2012 but she pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. A Canadian national, Bouchard is understood to have been in a relationship with the victim of the theft. According to the charges, Bouchard took the money from various accounts held by Handford without his authority and transferred them to her own accounts or credit cards. She is also charged with buying a four carat diamond ring worth over $200,000 with his credit card.

Bouchard will face trial in August of this year in what is believed to be one of the largest ever allegations of theft against one individual. Although a Canadian national here on a student visa, Bouchard, whose assets have been frozen and passport seized, was bailed to appear for her trial date and ordered not to have contact with the complainant.

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