Archive for August 15th, 2008

Cyclist dies following collision

| 15/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A cyclist who was seriously injured in a collision on the evening of Tuesday, 5 August, died in hospital today (Friday, 15 August). Artes Lopez Manalang, a Filipino national residing in Grand Cayman, had been cycling past Kirks Supermarket on North Church Street at 9:20 pm when the collision with a red Honda civic occurred.

Traffic Management Unit officers conducting the investigation are continuing to appeal for witnesses to the collision to come forward. Anyone who can assist should contact the Traffic Management Unit on 946-6254 and ask for Sergeant Ivan Wedderburn. The RCIPS sends its condolences to the victim’s friends and family.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.
 

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Trinidad speeds up offshore centre plans

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(Jamaica Gleaner):  Port-of-Spain has announced initial agreements in principle to kickstart its offshore centre business, but sees the greatest opportunity in the Middle East where US$1 trillion is at play. Minister of Finance, Karen Nunez Tesheira, said Trinidad and the Dubai International Financial Center, have already formalised a partnership. Got to article

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Global warming will do little to change hurricane activity, according to new model

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(Science Daily): In a study published in the July 2008 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, Drs. David S. Nolan and Eric D. Rappin from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science describe a new method for evaluating the frequency of hurricane formation in present and future tropical climates.

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Liechtenstein to join fight against tax evasion

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(Daily Telegraph): Alpine tax haven Liechtenstein is expected to announce a crackdown today on wealthy foreigners whohide cash in its banks. Prince Alois, the ruler of the tiny state that is sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria, is due to reveal plans for greater transparency in its banking system in a national speech. Go to article

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Contractors impatient for Builders Board

| 15/08/2008 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Contractors Association (CCA) has received increasing input from contractors that they are impatient to get registration in place for a Builders Board, a key provision of the Builders Law passed in March 2007, and has been working with government accordingly. “Creating an entirely new Board is a slow process,” said CCA President Steve Hawley (left) on behalf of the Association.

“A Chair must be found who is regarded by all as being responsible, impartial, organized, good at understanding Law and prepared to work hard for the sake of the community. That’s a lot to ask and such individuals are invariably very busy people. It can take months to secure a Chair. After his appointment, the Chair works with government to fill the positions of the other Board members. Both the CCA and the Builders Bill Committee have offered to assist in this. Both bodies have already offered lists of recommendations and alternates.”

The CCA has asked government to resolve the appointment of the Chair by September, Hawley said. “If we all work together on appointing the other members, we may be able to create a Board in as little as a month. It’s important to bear in mind that the first choice for each position may well be too busy and even if he is prepared to consider it, he may need some time to make up his mind. In the meantime, an alternate cannot be pursued. It is easy for the process to take quite an extended period of time, if it is not followed up on diligently.”

As to the initial functions of the Board, Hawley said that, with an entirely new Board, members could not rely on the previous year’s members to educate them as they go along. Therefore, the first task would be to educate the entire Board in the Law.

“The Builders Board Committee has, thankfully, offered to educate them. It will take several sessions for the new Board to understand the intent of each and every clause in the law, in addition to its actual wording,” he noted. In addition, the Board will need to create all the forms to be used. Hawley said the Committee had drafted forms that the Board might consider, and that hopefully, these would be adequate. The Board would also have to offer the approved forms for distribution to potential applicants, he said.

“Following distribution, it may take the average contractor two to three months to secure all the relevant references and other paperwork. Only then will he be ready to make his application. This means that no applicant will actually be approved by January first, 2009. If the Board is appointed, say, in October, we may see the review of the first applications in March,” Hawley pointed out.

The CCA has been advised by government that the Board has not been appointed as yet because they were waiting until they could secure premises for the Builders Board before dealing with the other needs. “Although this has taken a long time, apparently premises are now secured and the Board will soon be appointed,” he said.

“Hurricane Ivan demonstrated that if we, as contractors, are performing work that is beyond our knowledge, beyond our financial or infrastructural capability, or if we are otherwise irresponsible, the public suffers. Many people lost their life savings to irresponsible builders following Ivan. The Builders law exists to protect the consumer. Without this Law in place, if we have another Ivan, the public will be victimized once again,” Hawley explained.

“As it is written, it is a tough law, but a fair one. It has taken into account all the concerns of all parties. It is balanced and, as such, has received the praise of the construction industry and the public alike. This is a direct result of the present government partnering with the private sector in the drafting stage. The method of drafting this law is a model for responsible future legislation,” he said.

The CCA is expecting that there will be those who will apply for licenses for which they are not qualified at the level they are seeking. “If the Board is a just one, they will award the license that is appropriate to the experience, finances and infrastructure of the company in question.” He said some applicants would be disappointed and some might even be angry that they did not get whatever they wanted.

“Again, if the Board is a just one, it will offer advice to applicants as to how they can advance their position in the future. The Board should only restrict contractors as much as necessary for the public good. It should then exist to encourage young, up-and-coming Caymanians in the industry to advance when they have proven they are ready.”

While Hawley said he generally presents the collective view of the CCA, on a personal note he said the Builders Bill Committee was the best committee he had ever served on.

“Each member of the committee dedicated himself to the task at hand. Each was impartial and no member brought a personal agenda to the committee. It was particularly rewarding that all members were so conscientious with regard to smaller builders, for whom the business world is usually new and intimidating. The committee took a great deal of time to provide a law that would be encouraging to young Caymanian entrepreneurs,” Hawley said.

The Builders Law will come into force on a date set by Order of the Governor, and different dates may be appointed for the coming into force of various provisions of the law.

 

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A liberal wish-list?

| 15/08/2008 | 2 Comments

Once the Universal Declaration of Human Rights gets past all the basic, fundamental rights that nobody could seriously object to, it starts on less important concerns. It becomes more of a liberal wish-list.

Social security, full employment, decent wages, paid holidays… Those aren’t fundamental rights like the right to life, liberty, freedom of speech and freedom from torture. At least, so some commentators believe.

But that claim overlooks the theme that runs through the entire Declaration – namely, the ideal of an existence worthy of human dignity for all people. No one of the declared rights stands in isolation; the same theme connects all of them. Some rights are more important than others, but it is only a difference of degree.

The right to marry and have children may be less vital than the right to life; freedom of expression may beless valued than freedom from torture. But the Declaration is not in the business of drawing distinctions; every one of its Articles is concerned with protecting people’s right to dignity – giving them respect. It’s not enough just to let them live.

The Declaration – a statement of ideals – sets implied limits on the exploitation of individuals within the respective jurisdictions of United Nations member-states’. Article 24 declares that people shouldn’t be made to work every waking hour, for a wage that barely keeps them alive. They shouldn’t be tossed away to die in the street, when they are too sick or too old for productive employment. They shouldn’t have to sell their children into prostitution or some other kind of slavery.

Those are pretty fundamental concerns, not to be dismissed as a liberal wish-list.

It is worth noting that employers are not parties to the Declaration, or any of the human-rights Conventions. The UN is not some kind of World Government. It puts the onus on its member-states to keep their corporate citizens in line, as well as individuals in a position to exploit other individuals.

The UN doesn’t tell its members what specific action to take, and it doesn’t set precise standards. It wouldn’t make sense to fix an international minimum wage that was applicable in both Sweden and Haiti, for instance. All the Declaration says is: do your best.

If the government of one member-state thinks paid employees should not be required to work more than forty hours a week, or eight hours a day, that’s fine. If the government of another thinks the limit should be eighty or ninety hours a week, well, that’s acceptable though maybe not "fine". How many hours should a goat-herder have to work in Kenya? Who knows?

There are some security guards in Cayman, and some live-in helpers, who work eighty or ninety hours a week. That’s acceptable to the FCO – maybe they even think it’s "fine". Who knows?

How much is a fair wage? It varies from place to place, and depends on the culture. Article 23 sensibly refers to "remuneration", not "wage". Low-paid workers in Cayman may receive a reasonable wage, but is it high enough to pay their airfares to and from Manila or Bombay if they lose their jobs after a year? One wrong step, one protest about unpaid wages – maybe even one call to meet with the Chief Immigration Officer – and they could be out five thousand dollars in unreimbursed airfares. It’s not really that far from slavery, is it?

The FCO’s policy of allowing the exploitation of migrant workers in Cayman is disgraceful by any objective standard. That our MLAs condone it, goes a long way to explaining the disrespect in which they are held by those of us who believe in the moral need to preserve the inherent dignity of all men and women.

 

 

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UK firms face migrant work fees

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(BBC): Businesses who use skilled workers from outside of the EU will need to pay between £300 and £1,000 from later this year, under new immigration rules. The Home Office’s Border Agency is launching a TV ad campaign alerting employers to immigration changes. The charges are part of a continuing and major overhaul of the UK’s economic migration system.

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Fresh air and fun for inner city kids

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(CNS): Kids from some of New York City’s most disadvantaged communities, who have excelled in school, were given an opportunity to seelife differently from what they are used to with a trip of a lifetime to Cayman. Nine inner-city children and their chaperones stayed with five host families here for one week as the Department of Tourism and Cayman Airways teamed up with the Fresh Air Fund.

Between 28 July and 3 August the kids experienced true Caymanian hospitality, encounters with Cayman’s wildlife anda little dose of local history and culture. The first trip was to the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, allowing for a morning of flora and fauna. A mock archaeological dig was arranged through the Mission House and Pedro St. James, where they delved into Cayman’s rich history through a tour of the “castle”. Additional activities included a visit to Stingray City and Rum Point, a trip on the glass-bottom Oculus with the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, a cultural dinner and cooking demo with Cayman Traditional Arts, a visit to Boatswain’s Beach, and of course enjoying our beaches and snorkelling in our pristine waters.

 The kids also took to the air in a Cayman Airway’s twin otter headed for Little Cayman where they toured the small island and feed the green iguanas at Mahogany Estates as well as visiting the Central Caribbean Marine Institute and the Booby Pond.

 “Joining forces with the Fresh Air Fund is an amazing partnership that not only acts as a means of community outreach but also acts as a tool to market our islands to the city of New York, and ultimately, the United States,” said Department of Tourism’s Acting Director, Shomari Scott. “The Fresh Air Fund chose these kids because of their outstanding achievements in school and we are happy to welcome them to our home as a result of their hard work. Leaving a lasting impression on them is the best marketing tool we could ask for and we look forward to hosting them again in subsequent years.”

 Last year, Fresh Air Fund brought eleven children between the ages of 14 and 16. The first of an annual trip to take place, it was received very well by the local community and two host families from last year were chosen again to host kids this year.

 Again this year, many industry partners joined forces with the Department of Tourism to provide complimentary services or gifts for the kids, including movie tickets, beach bags, t-shirts, ice cream and island activities. This year’s sponsors included Red Sail Sports; Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort; Westin Casuarina Resort and Spa; Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman; Dairy Queen; Boatswain’s Beach; Camana Bay; National Trust, Grand Cayman; National Trust, Little Cayman; Little Cayman Beach Resort; Pedro St. James; and Say Wha’ Designs.

 

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Clifford hits back in tender dispute

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(CNS):  In the wake of denials yesterday, 14 August, by Caribbean Marine Services (CMS) that they had ever been consulted over the new port development, Charles Clifford, Minister for Tourism and Environment, hit out last night with a direct attack on the CEO of the parent company of CMS, Atlee Bodden. Clifford said he was disappointed that Bodden would deny having had a discussion on the proposed introduction of berthing facilities.

In a brief statement the Minister said he had discussed the idea with Bodden at the FCCA conference in St Kitts in 2005 and had reiterated the government’s intentions to establish berthing facilities during the FCCA conference hosted by the Cayman Islands in 2006 and on many occasions in the media since then, and trusted Bodden would not deny that.

He said he was willing to work with him and those currently involved in tendering but that there would be hundreds of jobs and small businesses which stood to loose their livelihoods if the cruise sector was allowed to stagnate.

"Clearly the welfare of many must take precedent. Change will also present new opportunities. I took the step of highlighting how this cruise tendering business, which will be most directly impacted by the introduction of berthing facilities, might work with the industry to prepare for and benefit from the necessary infrastructure enhancements,” the Minister said. “Whether Mr. Bodden wants to acknowledge this spirit of cooperation some three years ago, I trust he will do so now.  The offer remains.”

In a statement issued to the media on Wednesday evening, 13 August, from Caribbean Marine Services, the firm responsible for the tendering of cruise ship passengers from ship to shore said that despite the Minister’s claims, “At no time did any meeting take place between the Directors of Caribbean Marine Services and the Honourable Minister, in relation to the berthing facilities or tendering services in the Cayman Islands, during the FCCA conference in St Kitts, 2005.”

The statement said that CMS had requested a meeting, in writing, with government in July 2007 but that CMS had not as yet received a response. CMS said that Clifford’s statements had led stakeholders to belief that Caribbean Marine Services has been involved and briefed on, the development of the Port.

“This is not the case,” the firm said. “Caribbean Marine Services has had no meetings with, or received any information from, the Government regarding the development of the Port, but obviously we would be extremely pleased to be included in any future discussion of the proposed pier projects.”

The government officially announced it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Atlantic Star Limited (ASL) to formalise negotiations for the development and management of the Island’s cargo and cruise port, on 31 July. At the presentation Clifford indicated that the tender pilots had been involved in discussions and suggestions had been made to them about how they could diversify the business including the idea of them becoming water taxis.

 

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Mobile polling to become a reality

| 15/08/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): First raised during the debate of 2004 in the Legislative Assembly , mobile polling stations will now be available to eligible voters  with the passing of the Elections (Amendment) Law, 2008. Mobile stations will assist electors who are unable to go in person to a polling station. This will make the election process easier for the elderly and infirm those who are housebound or in hospital that still want to vote and reduce the number of postal ballots.

“That elector is entitled to have his vote taken at a mobile station if, in the prescribed manner and within the prescribed time, he applies to be treated as an absent elector voting at a mobile station and if his application is allowed by the registering officer,” one of the amendments reads.

Mobile voting will also make the process easier for those counting the votes because it will decrease the number of people who are eligible to cast postal ballots, which are often viewed with suspicion and are an additional burden for those involved in the count. The various processes for casting a postal ballot are very time consuming, and the implementation of mobile polling stations would cut down on man hours of election officials. "It would definitely make my job easier," Kearney Gomez, the supervisor of elections said when the idea was first discussed back in 2004.

Postal voting will not be eliminated, however, and among the other changes to the new law is the provision for eligible people to be registered as absent electors, allowing them to cast postal votes. Passed in the Legislative Assembly on 30 June and assented to by Governor, Stuart Jack, on 5 August, the Elections (Amendment) Law, 2008, will be published on 18 August as supplement no.3 to the Cayman Islands Gazette, no. 17.

When the Draft Bill for amendments to the Election Law were debated in the LA, the then opposition People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) had objected to the lack of provisions for mobile polling stations which had been in the original proposals. “Postal ballots have proven a source of suspicion in the past, particularly in the district of West Bay,” said Alden McLaughlin, now Education Minister. “The Government has given no credible reason why mobile polling stations, which would reduce the number of postal ballots, would not be a useful addition to the Elections Law.”

Although it has been in use in Australia and Canada for many years, it is still far from common. The US Government Accountability Office is currently studying polling accessibility. Some US senators have begun to support and promote the idea and a number of local elections are utilising mobile pollers in some US states.

 

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