Archive for August 8th, 2014

Onerous customs coding to be simplified

| 08/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Responding to continued complaints about the time importers  are spending at the customs department as a result of the new coding system, the government is not only drastically reducing the number of codes but for a small flat fee of $5 customs officers will now take care of the coding for them. At a press briefing Thursday, Premier Alden McLaughlin said that importers can use the same form for declaration of invoices and leave the coding for customs, which will take place in a back office. They can produce this document, pay duty and then walk away, he said, and then customs officers will go through the “tedious exercise” of coding each item. Read more on CNS Business

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Customs to launch online registration of devices

| 08/08/2014 | 77 Comments

(CNS): Registering electronic devices when leaving the Cayman Islands is not mandatory, the premier stressed at a press briefing Thursday, and said that there were other ways to prove to customs when residents re-entered the Cayman Islands that devises such as iPads, iPhones and laptops were not new, such as data sent, received or stored before the traveller left the islands. However, registration would provide the owner with proof of when it was purchased if they were questioned by a customs officer, he said. Following the press briefing, the collector of customs told CNS that the customs department will be offering an online submission of the process to register items effective next Monday, 11 August. 

The modification of the current form to allow for registration will be completed over the next couple of days, according to Collector of Customs Samantha Bennett. She said the new form will list the locations where it can be submitted for those who choose to do the process manually and it will also outline the process to submit electronically. 

When the process is in place, people submitting forms electronically must also provide two pictures one of the item to be registered and the other picture of the serial code on the item (if applicable). However, Bennett said that customs will require that the electronic submission to be done 24 hours before travel to allow for processing. A confirmation will be emailed back to the owner from customs once the item has been processed and registered, she explained. 

“Again, we want to reiterate that the registration processes outlined above are not mandatory,” Bennett said. “However, it will be up to the passenger to prove to a customs officer (if asked) upon their return to the Island that duty is not applicable.”  

The link of the modified process will be available here. The form will outline several customs locations for people to submit the form with the item and these include: 

  • Airport: 6am-11pm (everyday)
  • Courier Section, Post Office, Seaport, Headquarters: 8.30-4pm (Monday to Friday)
  • Collections Office: 8.30-4pm (Monday to Friday) 8.30-12pm (Saturday)
  • Cayman Brac Airport: 6am-11pm (everyday)

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ICTA reveals vicious circle

| 08/08/2014 | 108 Comments

(CNS): A report into the recruitment practices at the Information and Technology Authority (ICTA), triggered after a Finance Committee hearing last year that resulted in the early pay-off of the ex-managing director, has revealed the vicious circle government has created for local people when it comes to top level posts. The report by the board into what happened over at least two jobs at the ICTA followed a now notorious meeting in parliament last October when MLAs were exposed to the extent of the barriers faced by Caymanians trying to get work, not just in the private sector but in government as well. The report shows that the experience and qualifications required for some government posts make it virtually impossible for local people to fit the bill.

With requirements for people to have ten years experience in an ICTA environment when the agency itself is barely that old and for all regulators to have law degrees and be called to practice at the local bar as well as the professional and technical qualifications, the chances of Caymanians ever being able to qualify appear slim at best.

The fact, however, that local telecomms expert Alee Fa'Amoe is now at the helm of the ICTA as a result of the chain of events, demonstrates that it is possible to find the right man for the job at home. But government's own regulations and stipulations appear to make fitting a Caymanians into these types of position a distant possibility, fuelling assumptions that these jobs must go to foreigners and leaving government bosses paying mere lip service to proper recruitment practices.

The vicious circle is further fueled by the lack of resources for training and encouraging young Caymanians into entry level positions, where they can begin to gain the experience while also taking their necessary technical and academic qualifications.

The report (posted below) which was released to CNS via an FOI request focuses on how two senior members of staff were recruited from overseas for the ICTA and contracts sent and signed by the would-be foreign employees before the requirements to try and recruit a local were ever met. The scandal blew up when Ezzard Miller, the independent member for North Side, probed the former MD over how jobs could have been promised to overseas workers before the deadline for application submissions locally had passed.

The issue raised concerns among MLAs that job advertisements were being tailored for specific candidates and that the proper processes were being circumvented to cherry pick people. While allegations of such practices have been widespread in the private sector it was a rude awakening for the politicians that this was also happening in the public sector.

While the former MD, David Archbold, has categorically denied any such practice, he had mislead the Finance Committee about the chain of events over the recruitment process concerning two jobs. Whether or not those jobs were tailored for specific candidates may always remain an open question but the ICTA report illustrates the barriers that government is putting in place for certain posts and creating the assumption that locals can never be qualified.

The report was compiled by Dale Crighton, the ICTA board chair, and it reflects concerns about criteria. Pointing to recommendations about recruitment practices, especially what he calls the "questionable" practice of issuing conditional contracts to potential employees before the local recruitment routes were fully exhausted, Crighton also laments the requirements of some jobs.

He points out that now that the telecomms industry has evolved in Cayman there are potentially more people who are capable of doing the job and that some of the restrictive criteria has to be addressed. "…[W]e have now been operating under the ICTA law for in excess of ten years and have proof of a vibrant open market in operation," Crighton writes in his report to the minister, Kurt Tibbetts.

"This begs the question: Does the Authority still need the same overseas resources that were required when the ICTA Law and open market was being created? The board is of the opinion that a needs assessment and subsequent review /update of relevant job descriptions be carried out by an outside entity as the current requirements make it very difficult for Caymanians to qualify for senior posts in the ICTA," the chairman adds.

See full report below.

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Robbery went horribly wrong

| 08/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The crown’s key witness in the trial of Raziel Omar Jeffers, who is accused of murder in the shooting of Marcos Mauricio Duran on Thursday, 11 March 2010, gave evidence about what Jeffers, her lover at the time, had told her about the events during and after the death of Duran. Meagan Martinez told the court that when faced with three masked gunmen, the ‘numbers man’ had first tried to get back into the apartment he just left, but her Aunt Rickie, who lived there, wouldn’t let him in. So he turned and faced his attackers, but as he tried to wrestle with “Pinga” for one of the guns, it went off, shooting Pinga in the leg, Jeffers had told her. “Patchie”, another of the gunmen, had then shot the numbers man, she said.

But at the time Jeffers did not know what had happened. According to her evidence, he later told Martinez that he had been in her aunt’s apartment and was in the living room with her watching TV when Duran arrived on his rounds selling 'numers'.

Jeffers sent a messages to his “soldiers”, who were waiting under the stairs leading up to the second floor apartment, when Duran arrived and again when he left, so they knew when to rob him, Martinez said. When Jeffers left the apartment he saw the “poor numbers man” slumped over by the door, with blood from his head dripping down the staircase and he had to jump over it to get downstairs, the witness said. As he left he heard her aunt screaming.

Martinez was still at the hairdressers, where Jeffers had dropped her earlier that evening, and he called her there sounding panicky and told her to ask her cousin, the hairdresser, to drive her to where he was in Ebanks Road to pick him up, which they did. She said that later he told her that this made her an accessory so he now owned her, and if he went down, everyone went down, including her and her Aunt Rita.

Thursday night after the murder he tried to contact “the boys”, Martinez said, and told her it was urgent that he spoke to at least one of them to find out how everything got so messed up, how the plan had gone so horribly wrong. But he couldn’t get hold of them.

But the next day, she said, Jeffers learned what had happened and he told Martinez about it that Friday night. Jordan Manderson (Pinga), who had been shot, was taken by the others in what was supposed to be the getaway car driven by Craig Johnson to his father’s house. He and Johnson spent the day that Friday cleaning Pinga’s blood from the back seat of the car with H7 bleach, but they had washed the whole car so it didn’t look suspicious that only the inside was clean, Martinez said.

Jeffers told her to call her aunt and tell her that she had heard it was the “Logwood guys”, members of the rival West Bay gang, who were the robbers, Martinez told the court. But she hadn’t done so because her aunt was still really upset.

Martinez said she knew that by this he meant Robert Bush, Jose Sanchez, Andy Barnes and others. She said the boys that Jeffers had recruited to rob the numbers man – Jordan Manderson, Joshua Ebanks (Patchie), Austin Jackson, as well as the getaway driver, Craig Johnson – were part of the Birch Tree Hill gang.

She said she knew that the guns used in the shooting were Jeffers’ because he had told her that he had supplied the weapons. She had also seen him with one of them, “the .44” several times, including once at his mother’s house, and he had told her it was “his favourite toy”.

The court also heard from Aaron Hydes, who on the night of the shooting had gone to the house where his cousin, Pinga, lived. As he arrived he saw a white Honda Accord pull up outside the house. He recognized the car because it belonged to his sister and the driver, Craig Johnson, because he was the father of his sister’s children. Pinga was helped out by Johnson and another man, who then got back into the car and drove off. Pinga was clearly badly injured and Hydes said he could see the bone sticking out of his leg.

His father came out and Hydes said he overheard Pinga tell him that he had been shot by Andy Barnes. Pinga’s father called an ambulance but a lady pulled up in a car and took them both to the hospital, Hydes said.

Meagan Martinez will continue giving evidence in Grand Court Friday.

Related story on CNS:

'Numbers man' murder trial

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FCO scholarship for master’s degree

| 08/08/2014 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Future leaders of the Cayman Islands are urged to apply for the UK’s prestigious Chevening Scholarship Programme the UK’s flagship scholarship programme funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Chevening team are particularly interested to hear from applicants in the Cayman Islands who wish to study Good governance, Financial management, Public administration and law, Commercial / economic development or Environment. Awarded to outstanding individuals with leadership potential, a Chevening Scholarship offers financial support for a Master’s level degree beginning September 2015 at one of the UK’s leading universities.

Applicants have until 15th November 2014 to submit their application.

Awards are typically for a one-year Master’s degree, in any subject at any of the UK’s leading universities.

To be eligible for a Chevening Scholarship, you must be a citizen of a Chevening-eligible country and intend to return there after your studies; hold a degree that is equivalent to at least an upper second-class honours degree in the UK; have completed at least two years’ work or equivalent experience before applying for a Chevening Scholarship; be able to meet the Chevening minimum English language requirement; be able to obtain the correct visa, and receive an unconditional offer from a UK university.

A Chevening scholarship usually offers a monthly stipend, travel to and from your country, a thesis or dissertation grant and tuition fees.

Applicants should read the online guidance and be able to demonstrate how they meet the Chevening selection criteria before submitting an application. Further details of closing dates and priority subject areas are available at www.chevening.org/apply

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Students get taste of government career

| 08/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Lucille Williams-Fernandez (18) and Taylor Clarke-Wint (20) were trying out life working for government at the health ministry this summer. The government sector interns are both at university, one studying marketing and the other integrated health, and both have been rolling up their sleeves and getting into the thick of it. As minister responsible for youth as well as health, Osbourne Bodden said it was imperative to have the input of young people in government. "We must place young people in positions where they can be mentored, gain valuable employment in their field of study and let their voices be heard."

Lucille is a junior student at Stetson University in the USA and currently pursuing a major in Integrative Health Science. She said she enjoyed her experience at the Ministry, where her duties included lending support to the human resources and finance sections along with other projects within the Ministry.

“As a student looking towards a future career in medicine, my most memorable experience was attending a meeting on the Adolescent Health Study Report and being able to offer my opinion as a young person growing up in the Cayman Islands,” she said as her time drew to a close. “Being at the Ministry for the past month has taught me that not everything is as simple as it seems. There is a process for everything! I have also witnessed first-hand how the Ministry works for the people of the Cayman Islands – always keeping their best interest at heart.”

Meanwhile, Taylor who is enrolled as a third year student at Southampton Solent University in the UK with a major in Marketing with Advertising Management started this week said she was looking forward to understanding more about what the ministry does and how they go about contributing to society.

As a way to enhance employment opportunities for the Cayman Islands’ youth, the Ministry plans to continue these internships now and in the future. Both interns said they are grateful to government and urged other young people to take advantage of future internship opportunities.

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