Archive for July 22nd, 2014

Chikungunya transmitted locally in BT

| 22/07/2014 | 23 Comments

(CNS): Public health officials have confirmed that a patient from Bodden Town who has tested positive for the chikungunya virus has no travel history to countries reporting any outbreaks, suggesting that the virus has arrived in the Cayman Islands. Although some 29 countries and territories have reported cases of chikungunya in the Caribbean region, Cayman has confirmed just four positive cases from the seven samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). The total number of confirmed cases around the region has now reached 5,749 and since the last update on 14 July there has also been one new case and a blood sample has been sent for testing. The suspected blood sample was taken from a patient in a West Bay.

From results received by local health health officials so far, from the seven cases tested four have come back positive and three negative. Of the four confirmed cases, three had a travel history to countries reporting an outbreak, while one had no travel history, suggesting chikungunya was acquired locally. One of the positive cases was in a George Town resident, two were in Cayman Brac and the first local transmission was in a patient from Savannah. All others were acquired overseas.

Local officials recently confirmed that should Cayman face its own outbreak, health officials are prepared and ready to treat patients. There is however, no real cure for the mosquito-borne disease.

For regional updates and more details visit the CARPHA website on http://carpha.org/What-We-  Do/Public-Health-Activities/Chikungunya.

In addition United States updates are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  

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$90m for ORIA over 20 years

| 22/07/2014 | 70 Comments

(CNS): The development of airports on all three Cayman Islands can be accomplished with funds that the Cayman Islands Airports Authority has in hand or with expected income, without the need for borrowing, and is estimated to cost around $122 million over 18-20 years, which includes $40 million for maintenance. The expansion of the terminal at Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman is a priority and has been divided into 4 phases, which can be done as funding allows and would make the terminal 2.2 times bigger, attendees at the first public consultation meeting Monday night heard. Phase 1 of ORIA will cost around $50 million and would increase the terminal footprint by about one third.

“Our goal is to break ground on this terminal in 2015 and to put our tourism product back in the position where it has infrastructure that compares to our competitors in the region,” Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell told about 130 people gathered at the Mary Miller Hall Monday evening.

He noted that the current terminal on Grand Cayman was built to accommodate 500,000 passengers per year but now has to cope with one million, double its intended capacity. As well as needing a better facility to accommodate residents, friends and family, Deputy Premier Kirkconnell noted, “We do not have a big window to build repeat guests.”

The Strategic Business Case and the Outline Business Case have been approved by Cabinet and the current stage for the project is the stakeholder and public input. When that is completed it will again go to Cabinet for final approval and Kirkconnell said that they hope to have construction start in April or May of next year and move forward as quickly as possible. One part of the development, the walkway to the arrivals lounge, has already begun.

Bernhard Schropp from WSP Canada, the technical consulants on the project, told the audeince that the estimates for spending on ORIA, the priority airport, in the first five years under the proposed plan is just over $50 million. During this period the expected spending on the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport (CKIA) on Cayman Brac would be about $2.5 million and the Little Cayman Airport about $1 million. Building the new airport on Little Cayman would take place in the medium term (6-10 years) and cost an estimated $20 million, while $3.2 million would be spent on CKIA and about $18.8 million on ORIA.

Costs in the long term (11-20 years) would be $21 million for ORIA, $5.8 for the Brac and nothing for Little Cayman. The total cost over 20 years is estimated at $122 million, and the breakdown is $90.1M for ORIA, $11.6M for CKIA and $20M for Little Cayman.

Simon Connolly of PricewaterhouseCoppers, the financial consultants, explained that, because finances are an issue, they recommend expanding and renovating the existing terminal at ORIA, although he said a new terminal would be required at some point, maybe 20, 30 or even 40 years in the future.

The project might move quicker with a public private partnership (PPP), he said, but that these types of arrangements generally work better for new projects and they did not recommend it for this one. He also noted that a wholly government owned project would be better suited to take advantage of the flexibility built into the master plan. For example, they have not recommended that the runway be extended at this stage to accommodate long haul flights because there appears to be no immediate requirement from the airlines, but this is included in the master plan so if the need or financial situation changed, this could be done at any time.

Because the government faces borrowing constraints, PwC has recommended the pay-as-you-go financing, meaning that the facility would be built as funds become available. Under the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility agreement that Cayman has signed with the UK, this will still require UK approval but Kirkconnell indicated to CNS that the Cayman government is confident that this will be forthcoming.

The schematic for the new ORIA terminal is below (see more details). The red dotted line indicates the current footprint, the yellow block is the proposed extension in the first phase and the green is a future proposed extension. The outline below is for the second floor of the terminal.

See all Airports Developments documents

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Allegations of assault against cops reach civil court

| 22/07/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Some five years after she was arrested, a civil claim made by Clover Powery against the police for assault when she was being taken into custody is beginning its journey through the courts this week. Powery filed a suit against constables Damian Anderson, Kayla Levy and the Attorney-General in connection with injuries she says she sustained while in the hands of the local cops. Powery's case is set for a closed door hearing Wednesday before Justice Williams but the matter is expected to go to trial. Although details of the case have not yet been revealed Powery is looking for damages as she says she was assaulted by the officers and then handcuffed while her arm was injured.

 

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Duke of Edinburgh awards call new & old awardees

| 22/07/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Officials from the Cayman Islands arm of the Duke of Edinburgh's award are looking for those who have been awarded certificates and pins to make contact so they can update the information on Caymanians participants in the global programme. They are also calling on any young people to get in touch to find out about how they can take part in what is described as a "rewarding experience". Cayman's latest gold medal holders are Allison McDonald, Jose Ardila and Mia Burke, who received their awards during the Queen’s Birthday Awards Ceremony last month. The trio completed a five-day Bahamas Expedition as their final stage, after being engaged over several years in challenging activities, skills and community projects.

In order to get her medal Allison sang in a choir, served on the executive board for a church's youth department, and had got down to some serious jogging in her leisure time. Jose earned his award by offering tutoring services, undertaking spinning classes, and doing community service at the Humane Society's Book Loft.  Meanwhile Mia attended a gym boot-camp, assisted with a church after-school programme, and became a qualified SCUBA rescue-diver.

anyone who thinks they would like to up their game and take part in the programme that requires young people to engage in worthwhile and positive pastimes is asked to contact local organisers. In addition, anyone who has already gone through the programme and received a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (gold, silver or bronze) is asked to help the group up-grade its computer records by sending in their names, level of award and the year. 

To provide personal details or details about joining the programme please email National Chairman Katherine Jackson at dukeaward68ci@gmail.com

 

 

 

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Ministry begins survey on mental health system

| 22/07/2014 | 13 Comments

(CNS): With the Cayman Islands facing a woefully inadequate mental health system, officials have turned to the World Health Organisation for assistance in beginning a survey to assess the problems and gaps Cayman has when it comes to dealing with people suffering from mental health problems. Devora Kestel, the mental health regional advisor for PAHO/WHO visited the Cayman Islands last week to help the local Mental Health Commission (MHC) with the WHO's assessment instrument for mental health systems (WHO-AIMS) survey. The shocking limitations of Cayman's mental health care provision has been prevalent in the courts recently and all too often mental health patients are jailed rather than treated.

The survey will, officials say, help collect essential information on the local system to improve the situation. The project is merely a first step, however, on what will be a long road for Cayman when it comes to mental health care provision.

"With the collection of the information, as a country we will be better able to develop appropriate policies and plans for mental health, and identify our strengths and weaknesses," health officials said in a release from GIS. "The report when completed will give us a clearer picture of gaps in our mental health system, providing us with the knowledge to make the necessary improvements as needed."
 

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Miller: UK office needs local

| 22/07/2014 | 49 Comments

(CNS): Following the apology in the UK's House of Lords last week from Lord Blencathra (David McLean) over the Tory peer’s contract with the Cayman Islands Government, Ezzard Miller has pointed to the importance of the Cayman government securing a local to head up the London office. The independent member for North Side, who had persistently criticized the appointment of the British peer as the London office boss, said he had been vindicated as he always said it was inappropriate. Last week Lord Blencathra told his upper house peers that he was wrong to have signed the £12,000 per month contract in which he agreed to lobby his fellow peers, MPs and ministers on behalf of the Cayman government, which he described it as a misjudgment.

Although the peer always denied that part of his job was to lobby the Lords, he has said that the contract gave the wrong impression. At the time of his appointment Miller had raised his concerns and said he was the only one that found the situation objectionable and he was criticized for it but now it was time to find a Caymanian for the job.

"I have been vindicated as I was the only one who ever questioned that appointment and now he has been forced to apologise as it was wrong,” Miller told CNS.  "We now need to put a Caymanian back in charge of that office to properly fulfill the role of advocating on our behalf in the UK."

He pointed out that the job was not just about the financial sector but about taking care of the needs of Caymanians living in the UK, including the many students there, as well as promoting the tourism sector. Miller said any new Cayman boss there should also try and encourage more local youngsters to study in the UK, as it is not only cheaper for overseas territories citizens but the standards of college education and the institutions precautions are often higher than most US colleges.

He said he sincerely hoped that Caymanians would apply now the post was being advertised and that the right local person for the job would be found quickly. Then the whole episode regarding Blencathra could be put to rest and someone with all of Cayman's interests at heart could be placed in what he said was a very important post.

Lord Blencathra was the first non-Caymanian to hold the job as director of the London office as it was believed he could ‘win friends and influence people’on behalf of the financial services sector, which continues to have a poor reputation in the UK, regardless of the effort to change the lingering image of offshore piracy and tax dodging.

However, Miller always said he believed the appointment of the Tory peer, far from tackling that problem, actually attracted more negative attention. Nor was he alone. The FCO had also raised concerns about the decision by the former premier Mckeeva Bush to appoint Blencathra. 

Once concerns were raised in the UK media and parliamentarians complained, an enquiry by the Lords Standards Commissioner led to a change in the code of conduct and ultimately required the peer to say he was sorry. Lord Blencathra had always said he may have lobbied government but he never had any intention of lobbying Parliament on behalf of Cayman. However, his contract had indicated otherwise.

“I misled myself into thinking that, since it was understood that I would not be making representations in reality, then the wording did not matter. But words do matter; I was wrong and I apologise to the House for that misjudgement,” he told the House of Lords last Thursday.

The Standards Commissioner, Paul Kernaghan, accepted that the peer did not intend to lobby when he signed the contract, which is why a harsher punishment was not handed down.

This has prompted Labour MP Paul Flynn, who made the original complaint to table an early day motion arguing that the Lords is not fit to discipline its members.

“The failure to suspend Lord Blencathra from the service of the Lords will further deepen public cynicism on the conduct of parliamentarian,” the motion says.

Read related story on CNS Business:

Blencathra to apologise to House of Lords
 

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Mac won’t back OMOV

| 22/07/2014 | 54 Comments

(CNS): Although the opposition leader had an opportunity to make some political capital over the government's U-turn on its election promise for the introduction of ‘one man, one vote’, McKeeva Bush still doesn't back the voting change. He told CNS that the people of West Bay whom he represents don’t back it and he believes it would create significant problems for Cayman in the future. He said the matter should be decided by the people and there is no certainty that the return of a PPM government was a vote for OMOV, as he stands by the results of the July 2012 referendum. Bush said that the ballot was decided in accordance with the constitution and not hi-jacked by him, as has been suggested. and Cayman voted against it.

Bush said the campaign for OMOV in single member constituencies began against the backdrop of a "disastrous" global economic downturn.

"The PPM's wanton disregard and understanding of the situation after its … mismanagement of our local economy, with huge projects and no money, yet leaving the largest loan bill the country ever faced – the country could not continue with a protracted ‘campaign’ and that's what was going on then," he said as he recalled the events of 2012 which led him to call the referendum.

Insisting that the referendum wasfair, he said that although the petitioners had asked for a November referendum it was still a people-initiated ballot. He said that calling elections in November in the midst of the rainy season, which plagued past elections, would have cut voter numbers.

Convinced that the petitioners had collected enough signatures to meet the constitutional mandate for a referendum, he said he had moved quickly to deal with it as they wanted. He said the referendum put even more pressure on him and his then UDP administration at a very difficult economic time, and whether the vote had been in November or July, it was initiated by the people and the requirement to have more than 50% of register electors vote 'yes' before it passed was a constitutional hurdle that had nothing to do with him.

"I had asked them (the campaigners) to wait and take the OMOV question during the election in May 2013," Bush said, as he defended his actions over the ballot. "They would not understand, nor did they care about what the country was going through, and would not agree. They said no and then asked for November, roughly 6 months from the 2013 election. That was unreasonable."

Bush insisted that it was a people-initiated referendum, regardless of the dates, and he followed the constitution, which had been crafted by the current premier, who, he said, had "put in that foolish benchmark!"

"If people had come out to vote, my reading was they would have voted against it. And if they went and voted for it, you would not have heard one squeak about which process was used," the opposition leader said. "The proposal is to change our democratic voting system. This a matter that ought to be voted on to be agreed by the voters of this Island. Changing the democratic franchise should not be done without more serious thought given to it."

He said while people may say that the present system is not fair, it is a democratic process still practiced successfully for various kinds of systems of governance in Commonwealth countries.

"It has worked for us for over 180 years and I don't believe our people are worse off for it.
What is being proposed will bring many problems that Cayman won't hurdle in years to come. Those who propose it now have got caught in their own trap and now feel that once they put it in their manifesto it must go ahead. While they crucified me for the OMOV, as they think it will get rid of me and those who run on my ticket, no one knows if they were elected because of the OMOV proposition," Bush added.

But, he said, whatever the outcome on this issue now, he believes that some people will not be elected again.

"There are those who will suffer at the hands of the voter for misleading them and doing nothing for them," the opposition leader stated.

During the last debate on the issue Bush was absent from the chamber and did not add his vote to the government's, which was one of a chain of events that saw the government face a tie on the vote of the private members motion brought by Arden McLean, the independent member for East End, in the face of the PPM government's sudden about face on an issue that many believe did get them elected.

With a number of Cabinet members mysteriously absent from the chamber at the time of the vote and the support for the motion from Bush's two West Bay colleagues, Bernie Bush and Captain Eugene Ebanks, his eastern district fellow independent Ezzard Miller, as well as the government's own Bodden Town backbenchers Anthony Eden and Alva Suckoo, the vote came down to six no’s, six yes and several absentees. The speaker then cast the deciding vote to defeat the motion.

However, the issue is far from dead. While McLaughlin seems steadfast now that the system will not change in this administration because he doesn't have the full support of his non-PPM government members, others are not willing to let the issue go away.

As pressure from the community as well as organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce mounts on government to fulfill the promised to change the electoral landscape before the 2017 election, backbencher Al Suckoo has committed to bringing a motion to the House that he believes will show the there is considerable support from the government benches, flying in the face of his leader’s claims. Arden Mclean has said that the issue if far from resolved and he too is planning another private member’s motion.

As a result the two men could be in a race to see who gets this issue back on the parliamentary agenda first. Either way, however, once the topic hits the floor of the LA again, either the government front bench will be hanging their future political careers on its failure or the motion will pass, forcing the premier to come clean regarding the real stumbling blocks.

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