Archive for October 16th, 2014

Cowboy builders face new law

| 16/10/2014 | 53 Comments

(CNS): The government is taking aim at cowboy builders and has announced plans to review the builder’s law which was passed more than seven years ago by the previous PPM administration but which was never implemented. Premier Alden McLaughlin said the legacy of Hurricane Ivan has left an array of contractors in Cayman some of which are not up to scratch and despite significant numbers of unemployed locals in the industry there are more than 2000 active permits in the sector. In an effort to clamp down on the many infractions the revised bill will require builders to demonstrate their ability and to be licensed in their area of expertise. 

The premier said that there was a proliferation of construction companies after the 2004 hurricane by people who knew little or nothing about building, as he delivered his address at the recent Chamber legislative lunch.

“This was and is still possible because all that is required to become a building contractor in Cayman is a Trade and Business Licence,” he said, adding that many of these small building firms hold numerous work-permits. According to immigration there are currently 2091 active permits in the industry.

Some of these firms, he said, operate without paying pension, health insurance or other benefits and engage in other serious employment law and immigration infractions.

“They are able to underbid companies that comply with the statutory requirements. Others don't operate at all, but simply farm out their work permit holders. The result is that there are currently some 2,091 work permits held for construction workers at a time when a number of Caymanian tradesmen and labourers are unemployed. Contrary to common belief, the vast majority of these permits are not held by the large construction companies, but by smaller operators,” he added.

McLaughlin also said that there has been public concern about the quality of workmanship by contractors and cases where customers are left with incomplete or poor quality projects.

“This is in part because many contractors don't practice within their expertise. Often their inexperience in project and construction management leads to a mismanaged job and a consumer that is out of pocket,” the premier said.

Having consulted with the various building contractors' groups, he revealed that government is moving forward with amendments to the 2007 law, which will be returned to the LA.

He said in future builders will need to demonstrate their ability to get a license to practice in their specific area of expertise.

“It is expected that this law will reduce the number of unqualified contractors in the market and the abuse of work permits thus creating more opportunities for Caymanians.

With government depending on a catalogue of private sector developments as well as the five public sector capital projects it hopes to get off the ground during this administration Cayman will need to improve the regulation of the industry to ensure local people benefit from this anticipated new phase of major development.

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British aristocracy grizzle over banking rules

| 16/10/2014 | 23 Comments

(CNS): Members of the UK House of Lords are complaining that banks are treating them like "deposed dictators or political pariahs" when they try to open accounts or conduct financial transactions. According to reports in the British press the peers are moaning about being caught up in money-laundering regulations because banks classed them as high-risk "politically exposed persons".

This makes them, and their relatives, subject to extra due diligence checks.

Treasury Minister Lord Deighton told the BBC that banks were acting "disproportionately".
He said UK parliamentarians were not currently classed as politically dependent persons, which are restricted to members of foreign governments, but added that new global standards "will require that they are treated as such".

Liberal Democrat Lord Clement-Jones said even before the new Money Laundering Directive had come into force, his son had been unable to access a cash machine.
Other complaints included a member whose 12-year-old daughter was asked to provide a utility bill and her drivinglicence to get a savings account in her name, and another’s sons were turned down by banks when they found out who their father was.

Lord Deighton said UK parliamentarians should be “treated exactly the same” as he encouraged members to complain to the Financial Ombudsman. He called for a balance so "terrorists and criminals" were targeted, leaving "the rest of us free to go about our business".


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