Archive for September 4th, 2008

South Church Street traffic diverted this evening

| 04/09/2008 | 1 Comment

Motorists are advised that between the hours of 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm today, 4 September, all South bound traffic traveling along South Church Street will be diverted into Goring Avenue, as the left lane from the junction from Goring Avenue to Warwick Drive traveling South will be closed.

North bound traffic will flow as normal along South Church Street from the direction of South Sound. Traffic entering South Church Street from Warwick Drive is requested to only make right turns.This road closure is to facilitate an event in the vicinity of Hard Rock Café.

All motorists traveling in the area are asked to drive with extreme caution.

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Police helicopter no use

| 04/09/2008 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Even before the long awaited police helicopter has arrived in the Cayman Islands, the government has announced that the machine will not meet local requirements. Minister Arden McLean put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Stuart Kernohan. “That Commissioner of Police misled us into believing that it would do what we needed it to and I am extremely disappointed. I was not elected to waste people’s funds,” said McLean.

The announcement that the helicopter was not equipped to fulfil the government’s original remit as laid out in various policy documents  was made at the weekly post-cabinet press briefing by the Leader of Government Business, Kurt Tibbetts, who said government had just learned the bad news.

“We were told all along that this helicopter would meet the policy needs but we have only now discovered that the government was misled,” said Tibbetts. He explained that the purchase of an aircraft was part of the $50 million commitment that the People’s Progressive Party (PPM) government had made to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) soon after coming to office in order to make Cayman more safe and secure. He said however, the policy requirement from the beginning had been that any aircraft acquired would serve all three islands and be able to operate on or offshore, day and night.

“We have now learned that the aircraft which was acquired cannot fulfil these fundamental requirements as it currently stands,” said Tibbetts. “Efforts are underway to ascertain the practicalities, costs and time scales of modifying and or equipping the unit to meet these fundamental requirements. Once this information is determined we will take a decision on which way to proceed.”

He said that it was also possible that the helicopter would be sold and the search would begin again. All three ministers at the briefing, which also included Minister Charles Clifford, expressed their disappointment over what they said was misleading information given to them by those involved.

Tibbetts said the government had heard, at the very least, six updates from the Commissioner about the helicopter and were never once told that the machine would not meet all the requirements. Minister Mclean also said that not only had they found out, after the government kept probing with the Portfolio of Internal Affairs to find out what was happening, that the helicopter could not function fully at night, but also that it could not be fitted with flotation devices to save the crew in the event they needed to bail out.

Reacting to accusations that rumours had persisted that there were serious problems with the helicopter for some time now, the ministers all said that while they were being told by their technical advisors time and time again that all was well, and they had no reasons to disbelieve the Commissioner who they said was very much at the helm of the project.

“The Commissioner misled me,” said McLean. “Stuart Kernohan did not give us the proper information.” The government said that the problems had finallycome to light since new people had taken over the project and eventually discovered the various problems. Tibbetts said that so far around $2.8 million had been spent, and although he did not believe the money was missing, he believed that the money had been spent on a helicopter that simply was not up to the job it would be required to do. He also explained that the announcement was being made now because the government had discovered the problem and wanted to see if they could mitigate the circumstances before things went any further.

The Ministers also emphasised the constitutional problems highlighted once again by the system of government that keeps elected officials out of police business. The government said that as they are not responsible for the operating issues surrounding police work and only responsible for appropriating funds and directing policy, their hands are tied when things go wrong.

Minister Mclean made it clear he would like to see Kernohan, who currently remains on suspension from his post pending an external investigation, removed from office. Kernohan is still on full pay while the investigation by Metropolitan Police officers from London, led by Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger who is on contract to the Governor’s office, continue their enquiries into allegations of corruption within the RCIPS. Tibbetts said that the helicopter debacle did not form part of the independent investigation currently being conducted by Bridger and his team.

CNS is continuing to make efforts to contact the Acting Commissioner David George, Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis, Suspended Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and the Governor’s office for comment.


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CUC earnings down, looks to wind

| 04/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): CUC’sfirst quarter 2009 earnings declined significantly over the same quarter last year due to the reduction in consumer rates given as part of the negotiations for new licences, according to Richard Hew, CUC President and CEO. Grand Cayman’s power company also affirmed its earlier announcement that it is seeking expressions of interest from qualified developers to construct up to 10 MW of wind generation.

In a release Hew said, “The recent escalation in fuel costs means that wind generation may now be economically viable. With the recent execution of our new licences, we now have a basis on which to pursue both non-firm alternate energy options such as wind and solar as well as continue our quest for firm alternate energy options that may have a meaningful impact on consumer rates.”

Net earnings for the three months ended 31 July 2008 were $5.3 million compared to $7.8 million for the same period last year. Earnings on Class A Ordinary Shares for the quarter were $4.7 million, or $0.19 per Class A Ordinary Share, compared to $7.2 million, or $0.29 per Class A Ordinary Share, for first quarter fiscal 2008. The 32% decline in net earnings was principally due to the January 2008 removal of the Hurricane Ivan Cost Recovery Surcharge (CRS) to customers as agreed with the Cayman Islands Government in December 2007.

The CRS had been scheduled to be fully recovered in August 2008. The 3.25% rate reduction, implemented in January of 2008, and increased depreciation and maintenance expenses of $0.4 million each, were also contributing factors. General and administrative expenses were down $0.5 million over the same quarter in fiscal 2008. Total operating expenses increased 41% to $47 million, driven by increased fuel costs.

Total electricity sales for the quarter increased 5% to 149.1 million kiloWatt hour (“kWh”) from 141.8 million kWh for the same period last year. Total customers as at July 31, 2008 were 24,167, an increase of 5% over last year.

“System demand peaked in June at 92.9 megaWatts (“MW”), and was reliably met by our 136.6 MW of installed generating capacity,” said Hew. “In September of 2009, we will add an additional 16 MW of capacity to meet the continued growth on the island.”

During the quarter, the Company provided recommendations to the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) regarding Customer Owned Renewable Energy purchase rates and renewable energy policy and submitted its Capital Investment Plan which forecasts additional investments of $255.0 million over the next five years including $80.0 million of generation investment which will be subject to competitive bid and will only be expended by CUC if it is the successful bidder.

In the release, CUC reminded shareholders that the Annual General and Special Meeting which was adjourned on Friday, 29 August due to the threat from Hurricane Gustav would be held this Friday, 5 September, at the Marriott Beach Resort Hotel. The meeting will start at noon.

CUC also wishes to provide local shareholders with its unaudited results for the first quarter ended 31 July 2008 (all figures in United States dollars) for the benefit of those who were pre-occupied with preparations for Hurricane Gustav.

The Company also announced that it would change its year-end from 30 April to 31 December, with the first full fiscal period under that change being the calendar year ending 31 December 2009. In 2008, the Company will report interim results for the six months ending 31 October 2008 based on the 30 April fiscal year end with the transitional eight-month period being1 May to 31 December 2008. The change in year end will align CUC’s financial reporting periods with industry peers to better allow interested parties to compare financial results with those of other companies in the same industry.


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Climate change brings storms

| 04/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(AHN): Global warming is the main reason behind stronger storms particularly in the North Atlantic, says a study by the Florida State University. The basis of the finding was a 25-year analysis of satellite data from the North Atlantic and five other ocean basins where tropical cyclones originate. According to the analysis, the top 30 of each year’s storms from 1981 to 2006 intensified by about 5 mph. Go to article

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Outlook for airline industry bleak

| 04/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The International Air Transport Association (IATA) have announced a revised industry financial forecast that would see the global airline industry post losses of US$5.2 billion in 2008 based on an average crude oil price of US$113 per barrel (US$140 for jet fuel). “The situation remains bleak,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

"The toxic combination of high oil prices and falling demand continues to poison the industry’s profitability. We expect losses of US$5.2 billion this year," he added.

Cutbacks have become the norm throughout the industry with the price of fuel expected to rise to 36% of operating costs, up from 13% in 2002, according to the IATA. North American carriers are expected to post losses of US$5.0 billion in 2008 making them the hardest hit by this industry crisis.

At the same time Asia Pacific is expected to see profits shrink from US$900 million in 2007 to US$300 million this year; European profits will tumble seven-fold from US$2.1 billion in 2007 to US$300 million in 2008; Middle Eastern profits will drop by US$100 million to US$200 million; and Latin American and African carriers will see losses deepen to US$300 million and US$700 million respectively.

“While there has been some relief in the oil price in recent months, the year-to-date average is US$113 per barrel. That’s US$40 per barrelmore than the US$73 per barrel average for 2007, pushing the industry fuel bill up by US$50 billion to an expected US$186 billion this year,” said Bisignani.

In its initial outlook for 2009, IATA said the difficult business environment is expected to continue. Most economies are expected to deliver even weaker economic growth next year, which will negatively impact air travel and freight. With an expected oil price of US$110 per barrel (US$136 for jet fuel) and continued weak growth, industry losses are expected to continue at US$4.1 billion. The 2009 fuel bill is expected to rise, as hedging offers less protection, to US$223 billion comprising 40% of operating expenses.

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Spirit cuts Cayman flights

| 04/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of local reports that Spirit Air is pulling out of the Cayman Islands market CNS has learned that the airline intends to reduce its operations to a seasonal service. A spokesperson from the airline said that from this month flights would cease until next year.

“Spirit is suspending its Cayman service as of 1 September and plans to resume in March 2009 during the high season. Spirit plans to operate seasonally unless we see changes in the demand for more service,” the official said. Although rumours had suggested that Spirit Air would be cutting its Cayman route altogether at this stage, the airline said it intends to continue operating during half of the year only.

Spirit Air flew its inaugural flight into Cayman on 9 February 2006, and arrived promising to cut fares between Cayman and Florida by half and maximize journey options to travellers. At the time of the airline’s arrival, the Chief Marketing Officer, Barry Biffle, said Spirit would carve its own niche in the market with its fares and multiple journeys.

Aiming to carry locals as well as visitors, the airline was hoping to capitalized on its position as a low fare carrier in the Caribbean. “We are not trying to kill Cayman Airways; we have our clientele that will travel to the Cayman Islands. And we are offering many more connections to other major cities in the US and elsewhere,” he said at the time.

The Fort Lauderdale-based airline is one of the leading low cost carriers to the Caribbean. It started life in 1980 as Charter One, a Detroit-based charter tour operator providing travel packages to entertainment destinations such as Atlantic City, Las Vegas and the Bahamas. In 1992 Charter One brought jet equipment into the fleet and changed its name to Spirit Airlines.

In November 2001 Spirit inaugurated service to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and over the years added flights to the Bahamas, Jamaica, the US Virgin Islands, and then to the Cayman Islands. In June the airline began a service to Trinidad and in July it became the first ultra-low cost carrier to offer daily service between Fort Lauderdale and Bogota, Colombia. While the airline continues its expansion to other Caribbean and Latin American destinations, Cayman seems to be falling out of favour.

In response to rising fuel prices in July, Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza said the airline could not just sit back and hope for fuel prices to fall but that the airline had to attack the challenge by adapting its business to the structural change in fuel prices. “We are in a better position than any other carrier in the Americas to succeed in this environment. By becoming more aggressive than ever on non-fuel costs, raising non-ticket revenues and continuing to grow our Latin America network while trimming lower performing flights, we will win.”

Spirit has cut flights to Turks & Caicos Islands and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, as well as Cayman.

Cutbacks have become the norm throughout the industry with the price of fuel expected to rise to 36% of operating costs, up from 13% in 2002, according to the International Air Transport Association. North American carriers are expected to post losses of US$5.0 billion in 2008 making them the hardest hit by this industry crisis.

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Fighting crime goes online

| 04/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Crime Stoppers now have a new tool for fighting crime with the launch of a new web portal for submitting tips online, and because tips are sent through an encrypted system, people submitting them are able to remain completely anonymous, just like those using the established telephone hotline.

“Anonymity is the key to the whole Crime Stoppers programme,” said Stuart Bostock (left), Cayman Crime Stopper’s Chairman.“We have to be able to guarantee callers that they will never be identified, especially in a small community such as ours.”

Tips to Cayman Crime Stoppers, which have leaped in number over recent months, have traditionally been submitted by telephone to the programme’s tips line, 800 TIPS (no ‘1’) and answered by call-center operators in Miami to guarantee callers’ anonymity. Tipsoft, as the online tipping software is called, now allows – for the first time ever in Cayman – for tips to be submitted securely via the Internet. It does not however, replace the existing telephone tips line, which remains a completely secure method for anyone to share information about a crime without revealing their identity.

Tipsoft allows Crime Stoppers to keep those giving tips online completely anonymous, Bostock said. “Just as people are realizing that our telephone tips line guarantees that a caller’s identity is completely protected, so I think they will now be quick to trust that Tipsoft does the same.”

“Tipsoft is as secure and anonymous as you can get and is hugely popular with both the police and the public these days”, says Kevin Anderson of Texas based Anderson Software, which specialises in providing secure web applications for the Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Management sectors.

Tips can be submitted online via the recently launched Cayman Crime Stoppers website at By clicking on the ‘report a crime’ button and filling out a simple form, anyone in the Cayman Islands, with access to the internet, can submit information, which could help prevent or solve a crime. Whilst tips submitted online are received securely by dedicated operators at the Royal Cayman Islands Police, Tipsoft’s encryption system ensures that the information’s originator can never be identified. Kevin Anderson explains, “When a webtip is submitted, it get’s delivered right into TipSoft via secure etransfer, just as if it had come from the call-centre in Miami.”

Anderson Software reports that some of its Tipsoft users, predominantly Crime Stoppers programmes, are already reporting a doubling in the total number of tips they are receiving monthly, with two programs surpassing their monthly phone-call volume now with the software. Boulder County Crime Stoppers in the United States claims that Tipsoft increased the number of tips it received by 300%, whilst Nova Scotia’s Crime Stoppers programme reported the receipt of more than 540 tips in its first two years of providing the online tipping service.

Bostock says, “Tipsoft is tried and tested, and the evidence that it works is irrefutable. Tipsoft’s success in other programmes over recent years is largely due to it being so secure.” He adds, “As the Internet increasingly dominates the way people communicate, especially younger people, Tipsoft was clearly a must-have for Cayman Crime Stoppers. We are delighted to introduce this new service into the community and we are confident that it will prove to be a very effective tool for helping us keep Cayman safe.”

The launch of Cayman Crime Stoppers’ new website,, puts a whole host of additional crime-prevention tools at the finger-tips of Cayman’s security-conscious. Visitors to the site will find crime prevention tips and links to useful resources, as well as be able to easily join the growing membership of the programme and keep-up-to-datewith its news and events. Users can also delve into a veritable trove of information about the Crime Stoppers programme, including its background, global structure and perhaps most-inspiring of all, its international performance statistics. The site also caters to its corporate visitors, who will find easy ways to get involved in this unique community service and offer their support, which, as the website reminds us, is the lifeblood of the programme.

Cayman Crime Stoppers was formed in 1993 by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce to provide a vital service, which helps protect the community from crime. Working in close partnership with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), the community and the media, it has become one of the most effective crime solving tools available to local law enforcement agencies. Cayman Crime Stoppers provides a safe and secure means for anybody with information about a crime to share it freely whilst protecting their identity. It could also earn them a reward of up to $1,000.


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Geo-Conference Concludes

| 04/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Real-world advances in geo-technology were the focus during the recent weeklong Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Caribbean Conference, hosted by the Cayman Islands’ Lands and Survey Department/Cayman Land Info. Scientist Dr David Maguire delivered the keynote address. “A little bit of science goes a long way in making a difference in the lives of millions of people,” he told delegates.

“This dynamic field is emerging as an important platform for spatial data analysis and modelling,” a government release reports him as saying.

Following talks on topics such as probability models, data ’mash-ups’ and neo-geography, the event concluded a day short but richer in real-life experience. The realities of Gustav-related weather had reinforced the importance of using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology for weather and climate-change forecasting, amongst a range of other applications.

Condensed to four days, activities included plenary sessions, special presentations and networking, prior to delegates departing for their respective countries early on Friday morning before Hurricane Gustav’s anticipated arrival.

Participants represented Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as many other Caribbean countries including Cuba, plus the US, Canada and the UK. There were also exhibition booths featuring the latest in related technology and applications.

In addition to Cayman Land Info, sponsors include International Land Systems, HP/KirkISS, Re/Max, CIREBA, Cayman National Banks and Scotia Bank and exclusive telecoms sponsor Digicel, as well as a range of engineering, computing and real estate companies – from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts welcomed guests at the opening ceremony on Wednesday, 27 August. Also present were Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson, Ministry of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing Chief Officer Kearney Gomez, and Deputy Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn.

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Women offered free health check

| 04/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Thanks to a partnership between the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, the Health Services Authority, Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital and private physicians, women in Cayman without the appropriate health care coverage will be able to collect vouchers for free pap smear screening as part of the observance of Female Cancer Awareness Month during September.

During the month the Society will be presenting a number of awareness sessions across Grand Cayman and on Cayman Brac at which residents will be able to collect the vouchers for the health check. Women without insurance will also be able to collect the vouchers from the Cancer Society office which is located in Suite 4 of the MCR Building on Eclipse Drive (off Eastern Avenue).

During September Dr Maria Diaz from the Cleveland Clinic Florida will be in the Cayman Islands and she will be taking part in the awareness sessions. Dr Diaz will be making presentations to corporate entities and travelling to Cayman Brac to make the awareness session there. She is the Head, Section of Ambulatory Gynecology at the clinic.

During the awareness campaign the Cancer Society said that presentations this year will focus on ovarian and endometrial cancers but will also discuss cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV). At least 1 in every 2 sexually active young women has had a genital HPV infection. Any sexually active person—no matter what colour, race, gender, or sexual orientation—can get HPV. HPV is s a group of over 100 different kinds of viruses, mainly spread by sexual contact. HPV infection is believed to bethe cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer And at any given time as much as a third of women in the United States aged between 14 to 59 are infected with at least one type of HPV.

For more information on these presentations and on obtaining a voucher for a free Pap smear please contact the Cancer Society at 949-7618 or email Presentation are as follows:

Cayman Brac: 17 September at 7:30pm at Biggie’s Conference Room.

George Town:  18 September at 5:30 Womens Resource Centre

Savannah: 22 September at 7:30 Savannah Primary School Hall

George Town:  23 September at 7:30 St George’s Anglican Church Hall

East End: 24 September at 7:30 pm East End Civic Centre

West Bay: 25 September at 5:30 pm John Gray Memorial Church Hall

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Brits job hunting in Cayman

| 04/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Jobs in the Cayman Islands are emerging as a top alternative choice for job-hunters in the UK as the credit crunch continues to bite and makes switching to a new position more difficult in London’s Square Mile. Recent research by Morgan McKinley has shown than job-seekers in the UK financial services industry must wait 58.8 days to find a new role — up from 42 days in June last year. But Cayman can do better than that, says one local recuiter. (Left: Steve McIntosh of CMLOR)

However, with Cayman’s offshore sector going from strength to strength, and despite the hurricanes and the rollover policy, which limits overseas workers to a seven-year term, Grand Cayman is attracting a regular flow of prime job-seeking talent from the UK. Steve McIntosh, Chief Executive of CMLOR Recruitment, says he has seen the number of applications rise in recent months, which in turn is fuelling the recruitment firm’s growth.

"We are continuing to expand on the back of increasing demand," he said. "Anyone looking for a financial services position should seriously consider legal or accounting jobs in the Cayman Islands. If you hold the right qualifications and experience you will certainly not have to wait almost two months for a job."

The lucrative tax-free salaries, a high standard of living and, of course, a great sub-tropical climate, together with Cayman’s position as a leading international financial centre, combine to make it an attractive option for Brits fed up with the drudgery of London. Accounting and legal jobs in the Cayman Islands have always attracted interest from UK job-seekers, and this is set to rise as the UK market becomes more competitive.

CMLOR said that as the world’s largest offshore specialist recruitment consultancy and temping agency offering, it is the preferred supplier to some of the offshore world’s most prestigious financial services and law firms.

“Every year we help hundreds of professionals continue to develop their successful careers in jurisdictions around the world,” said McIntosh.

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