Archive for September 18th, 2008

McAlpine gets school contract

| 18/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The contract to develop the third government high school has gone to McAlpine and is worth a little less than $48 million. Part of the plan to overhaul the country’s education system, the Beulah Smith High School campus in West Bay is one of three educational facilities, along with the Clifton Hunter campus in Frank Sound and the re-development of the John Gray High School in George Town, that the government has commissioned.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts announced today, 18 September, that a notice to proceed had been issued to McAlpine. “Our commitment to delivering equity in terms of secondary education facilities across the districts of Grand Cayman is firmly on track for thestart of the 2010 academic year,” said the LoGB at the weekly Cabinet press briefing.

Work on the other campuses, whose contracts were awarded to Tom Jones International at $58.9 million and $56.7 million, is now well underway.

“If you have had the opportunity to pass by the Clifton Hunter campus in Frank Sound recently, you could not have failed to notice the great progress that is being made there and that one of the buildings, the Global Learning Centre, has now risen to two stories,” he added.

He also gave details on the new George Town Primary School project, saying that planning permission has been obtained and the tender for the site works had been advertised. “The construction contract will be tendered in October as well, with actual construction slated for the start of next year,” Tibbetts said.




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Counter-attack on chopper

| 18/09/2008 | 4 Comments

(CNS): In a detailed statement countering the claims of Stuart Kernohan over the helicopter debacle, the Leader of Government Business today laid out the full process of the helicopter’s acquisition. He detailed the original government requirements of the acquisition versus the state of the helicopter now procured, as well as outlining each step of the process and the fact that the Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority has said it will not license the craft as it stands.

Kurt Tibbetts, the LoGB, said that he was not prepared to enter in to a war of words with Police Commissioner Kernohan (even if he has the benefit of full salary with little else to do) but that the government must set the record straight. In a long address to the media and on live television today (18 September) Tibbetts outlined the chain of events surrounding the helicopter’s acquisition, the estimated costs, the advice given to government and the actions taken as the process moved along.

 He said that from the outset the government had insisted that any helicopter the country purchased would need to have certain capabilities, and Kernohan was well aware of this. The capabilities included border control, police pursuits, long-range deployment of resources in quick time for all three islands, surveillance and drug interdiction, among others.

The LoGB said government was advised that any helicopter it acquired would need to be fitted with certain role-specificequipment, such as air-to-ground and marine communications, a night-sun searchlight, a public address system, night vision, forward-looking infrared and a winch, to meet the remit.

On 29 November 2006 Tibbetts said that government gave approval to the commissioner for the establishment of a dedicated air-support unit for the RCIPS and for him to establish, then report back, whether it would be better to buy or lease. “There was definitely no lack of clarity on ourpart as to what we wanted to be able to do with the helicopter, what kind of helicopter we needed and what it was felt it would cost,” added Tibbetts. “And we certainly felt that we had no reason to believe that it would not have been possible for the Commissioner of Police with his professed knowledge of helicopters and eagerness to see such a unit established to take the matter forward and report back to us.”

The LoGB explained that on 13 March 2007 Kernohan confirmed that purchasing a helicopter was the best option and he had found one that he believed was suitable. “At no time did the Commissioner of Police advise us that the aircraft lacked any of the capabilities that we had agreed it should have, or lacked the potential to be modified,” he said.

The LoGB also stated that Kernohan had advised that costs were in line with those that had been anticipated: around $1.8 million to buy it  plus around $0.4 million to fit it out with the necessary equipment. He said government authorised Kernohan to pursue the purchase subject to getting a professional market assessment on the price.  Tibbetts emphasised again that at this point the commissioner never gave any indication that the helicopter might not meet all of the requirements.

In April 2007, Tibbetts said, Kernohan told government that there was a problem with the helicopter’s  tracking and balance and a maintenance check was being run but again, said the LoGB, no questions about capabilities were raised. Next, the LoGB said, government were informed on 17 Jul 2007 that the craft was likely to cost more than had been anticipated.

The original estimate of $2.2 million was looking more like $2.5 million due to extras such as finders’ fees, inspections, airfreight, a paint job, reassembly and numerous other add-ons which amounted to $166,200. There were also two major piece of equipment that needed to be fitted — low skid gear with pop-out floats at $126,000 and a rescue hoist at $70,000.

“We had anticipated some of these costs, such as that of the winch, and gave our approval,” said Tibbetts. “But this was the first time we had been advised of the need to add the pop-out floats but took it that these were required.”

At this point, however, the government suggested that consideration should be given to any possibilities of reducing costs, but not if it meant a delay or a reduction in capability. However, in November 2007 costs mounted again when cracks were discovered in the helicopter’s skin after it had been sanded down in preparation for painting.

“We were advised it was mandatory that they be repaired,” said the LoGB, who said the cost was estimated at $10,000. At the same time, he said, the government was also informed that the winch (or hoist) had  gone up in price from $70,000 to $200,000. He said government was then advised that the RCIPS was recommending that the money set aside for the "low skid gear and pop-out float" should be deferred to allow for the purchase of the winch. Tibbetts said the commissioner was asked twice what impact, if any, the omission of the "low skid gear and pop-out float" would have on the capabilities of the chopper and he did not indicate it would have any. However LoGB said that Cayman’s CAA has indicated that without the flotation devices the helicopter is restricted to 10 minutes’ flying over water, making flying to the Sister Islands impossible.

The CAA has also noted that the craft is not equipped for flights under instrument flight rules where there is no visual reference to the surface, so it can’t fly in poor weather or at night if establishing a horizon is unattainable.

The LoGB also said that Kernohan took eight months to come to government with his proposals for the storage, maintenance and piloting of the craft once on island. The commissioner eventually said government should approve a proposal it had received from Cayman Islands Helicopters and that Cabinet should tell Central Tenders Committee of the decision. The LoGB said government made it clear they would not circumvent the CTC process and, while they had no issue with the local firm, the matter should still be dealt with by the CTC in the interest of accountability and public scrutiny.

Adding that the government was still committed to securing helicopter services for the RCIPS, Tibbetts said it continued with its assessment of the time scales and costs involved to modify this helicopter, which is currently in Louisiana, or whether selling the unit and starting again would be the better option.

LoGB also added that the process of events surrounding the helicopter issue was well documented in black and white and had nothing to do with notes that were or were not taken by Cabinet as suggested by Kernohan.





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New jets on hold

| 18/09/2008 | 7 Comments

(CNS): Tourism Minister Charles Clifford announced today at the Annual Tourism Conference that Cayman Airways’ plans to acquire two Embraer jets “have been eliminated for this season”. However the airline is looking at two other options for aircraft. Speaking at the Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa, Clifford said that Cayman Airways intends to expand routes in Central and North America, and that the airline was engaged in medium and long-term assessment of the network.


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CUC line crews in Turks & Caicos

| 18/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Caribbean Utilities Company, Ltd (CUC) is providing assistance to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, following the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, which devastated Grand Turk and damaged portions of Providenciales, Middle Caicos and South Caicos.Six of the Company’s linemen are currently on the ground in the islands helping to restore power, a CUC release said.

On Monday, September 15, Linemen Albert McLean, Ronald Minzett and Damian Barboram departed Grand Cayman enroute to Providenciales to assist with efforts on the islands of Providenciales, Middle Caicos and South Caicos. On Tuesday, September 16, Linemen Michael Powell, Christopher Ebanks and Andrew Wood travelled to Grand Turk as part of the CARILEC (Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation) contingent assisting with restoration efforts.

CUC has been a Full Member of CARILEC since 1994 and as such, contributes to the CARILEC Hurricane Action Plan, which provides for the assembly, dispatch and coordination of emergency teams of linesmen on loan from member utilities to assist in the restoration of transmission and distribution systems after a hurricane strike. CUC has previously assisted CARILEC with hurricane restoration efforts in Anguilla, the Bahamas, Belize and Bermuda.

Commenting on the task ahead, Lineman Foreman and Team Leader Albert McLean, who has assisted with three previous restoration efforts, added, “Based on our previous experiences with relief efforts, we have come to expect the worst in terms of damage. We have seen first-hand the kind of damage a storm such as Hurricane Ike can inflict on communities. We will take it day-by-day, do our jobs as effectively, efficiently and safely as possible and help our neighbours get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

On hand to wish the two groups well on their travels were Richard Hew, CUC’s President and CEO, and Gary Whittaker, Manager Line Operations.

Hew stated, “ I am pleased that CUC is able to lend this level of support to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands at this critical time. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan we received much needed assistance from teams from around the Caribbean and North America so we are happy that we can now lend assistance to our brothers and sisters in the Turks and Caicos. Our linemen are up to the task at hand and I know they will do the Company proud. I look forward to their safe return to Grand Cayman once they have accomplished their mission, which is the restoration of electricity.”

Photo top: Pictured with Gary Whittaker, CUC’s Manager Line Operations (left) and Richard Hew, President & CEO (right) are Linemen Albert McLean, Damian Barboram and Ronald Minzett, who travelled to Providenciales to assist with restoration efforts.

Photo 2: Pictured with Richard Hew, CUC’s President & CEO (left), and Gary Whittaker, Manager Line Operations (right) are Linemen Michael Powell, Andrew Wood and Christopher Ebanks, who travelled to Grand Turk to assist with restoration efforts.


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Thieves smash glass doors

| 18/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) is investigating a series of burglaries after five glass office doors were smashed overnight in Pasadora Place, Smith Road. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at 5:00 am today, Thursday 18 September, from a member of the public reporting that a glass door was smashed at Derek E Bogle and Associates Insurance Ltd.

Police responded and found a further four glass doors had been smashed in the complex. Offices affected were Doctor Caudeiron, Doctor Richard Vernon and Doctor David Stadtlander, Doctor Addleson and Cayman Physiotherapy Ltd. Two of the offices have reported small amounts of cash missing, police say.

Later this morning at 6:40 am, a further report of a smashed window was received from staff at Cayman Clinic on Crewe Road. Officers attended and were told that nothing had been taken from the premises.

A third incident occurred at Mega Systems Ltd on Dorcy Drive. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at 2:45 am reporting that a break-in was occurring at the property and the security alarm had been triggered. Officers responded and found that entry had been gained through the front door and an undisclosed amount of money had been taken.

Scenes of crime officers attended all locations and detectivesfrom George Town CID are investigating the break-ins. Anyone who witnessed anything suspicious overnight is asked to contact George Town CID on 949-4222 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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CIO says honesty pays

| 18/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson has urged business operators to be truthful when applying for employee work permits. Speaking at the Immigration District Evening in East End last week, Manderson disclosed that there have been cases where companies submit work permit applications for lower-level jobs in order to avoid paying the requisite fees which the senior-level positions attract, a government release reported.

He was expanding on his recent announcement that the Immigration Department collected some $90,000 in fines, including from businesses in violation of work permit rules.

“There are companies which we have investigated and fined after finding out that the positions for which they advertised and applied for the permits were not ones that actually existed. For example, a company might need to hire a mason but instead apply for a permit for an assistant mason; or may need a manager and apply for a permit for a clerk,” Manderson said.

He pointed out that such actions do not pay off as fines imposed are often more than twice what permit costs would have been for the senior position. He added that in addition to attracting heavy fines, failure to be honest will reduce an employee’s chances to qualify for key employee status at the end of his or her term limit of seven years.

This is important, Manderson said, because an employer may make an application to the Business Staffing Plan Board or the Work Permit Board to nominate a worker as a key employee because of a particular expertise in his field and skills which are not readily available in Cayman.

“But when it comes time to apply for key employee status the Boards are going to wonder why an assistant mason is a key employee. So a company may end up losing a valuable member of staff because it was not truthful in the beginning,” he said.

Manderson also noted that dishonesty might deny a Caymanian the opportunity to apply for a post because of being misled by advertisement content. “In short, it always pays for companies to operate above board,” he concluded.


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Caribbean nations on Bush drug list

| 18/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(Bahamas Press): US President, George W. Bush, has named four Caribbean nations as major drug transit countries. Bush, in the release of the ‘Major Drug Transit Or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries For Fiscal Year 2009,’ report, again identified The Bahamas, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica in the Caribbean as the key transit points for narcotics into the US. Go to article

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Captivating the insurers

| 18/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Insurance supervisors from 18 jurisdictions are in Grand Cayman this week to learn more about the regulation of captive insurance entities. The regulators have joined their counterparts from the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) for the Captive Insurance Supervisors Workshop, which began on Monday, 15 September 2008 and which runs until 18 September, a release from CIMA says.

The CIMA-hosted workshop is organised by the Offshore Group of Insurance Supervisors (OGIS), the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), and CIMA. OGIS and IAIS provided the funding with additional support from the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC), an IMF regional training centre.

The workshop has been put on for members and observers ofOGIS and the IAIS. It aims to increase regulators’ understanding of the principles, and the regulatory issues surrounding, sound corporate governance, internal controls, and risk assessment and management for captive insurance entities. (“Captive insurance” is insurance or reinsurance provided by a company that is formed primarily to cover the assets and risks of its parent company or companies. A captive is essentially an “in-house” insurance company with a limited purpose and is not available to the general public.)

Focus has also been placed on ensuring that workshop participants understand the requirements of the Insurance Core Principles (ICPs) dealing with corporate governance, internal controls, and risk. The ICPs are the international standards promulgated by the IAIS for the supervision of insurance entities.

The presenters include both regulators and industry players. They are: Ms. Caroline Bradley, the Guernsey Financial Services Commission’s Assistant Director of Insurance; Mr. Steve Butterworth, Insurance Regulatory Consultant from Guernsey; Mr. Dean Wickens, CIMA’s Deputy Head of Insurance Supervision; Mr. Gwyn Hopkins, Director of Forensic Services, Kroll (Cayman) Limited, and Mr. Dan MacLean, Managing Director of Aon Insurance Managers (Cayman) Ltd. and the Immediate Past President of the Insurance Managers Association of Cayman. In addition to the CIMA delegates, the workshop has attracted 31 participants. They represent Guernsey; the
Caribbean jurisdictions of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Curacao, Grenada, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; as well as Samoa and Vanuatu in the South Pacific.

Founded in 1993, OGIS is a grouping of regulators representing domiciles from the Caribbean, Europe and the Pacific regions engaged in the supervision of international insurance business. IAIS, formed in 1994, represents insurance regulators and supervisors of some 190 jurisdictions. CIMA is a member of both organisations.

Photo: Guernsey Financial Services Commission’s Assistant Director of Insurance Caroline Bradley (left); Insurance Regulatory Consultant Steve Butterworth (centre), also from Guernsey, and CIMA’s Deputy Head of Insurance Supervision Dean Wickens were among presenters at the Captive Insurance Supervisors Workshop.

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Love dilemma for Caribbean people

| 18/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(BBC): In May this year, the chief of an ancient Caribbean people came up with a drastic solution to protect their heritage – and their future. Chief Charles Williams of the Carib – or Kalinago – people of Dominica said they should not marry non-Kalinago people. "The impact of colonisation has been so strong on us that if we do not take steps to protect the race, it will be soon extinct," he said. Go to article

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Police enforcing gambling law

| 18/09/2008 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Another two women have been arrested on gambling related charges, the second arrest in a week, and according to the current Police Commissioner the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service will be enforcing the law with regard to the illegal numbers game and other forms of gambling. “The fact is, the ‘numbers’ game is illegal and can often be linked to other forms of crime,” said David George.

“In addition, any place that carries large sums of cash, and is known to carry it, increases their risk of becoming a victim of serious crime. This is a holistic approach to crime prevention; through tackling the selling of numbers, we hope to prevent crime from taking place and demonstrate a proportionate response to crime,” he added.

The latest arrests occurred on Saturday, 13 September, following an operation at McRuss Grocery store when the 46- and 49-year-old women were arrested on suspicion of selling illegal lottery tickets. One of the women was also arrested on suspicion of using a place as a common gaming house. The women have been released on police bail pending further investigations. On Saturday, 7 September, police arrested a 32-year-old woman on suspicion of illegal gambling in George Town.

Suspended Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon is currently facing charges which relate to his role in releasing two men without charge who had been arrested on Cayman Brac under the gambling law, in June 2003. Dixon had reportedly asked Reginald Branch, the Chief Inspector at the time, to release the men as, he said, it was not police policy to prosecute people for gambling offences. The incident occurred several months after the United Democratic Party administration had established a commission to look into a legalised lottery for Cayman.

The charge, Doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, has been made against Dixon following investigations into police corruption by the independent enquiry headed by Martin Bridger .

Dixon has previously voiced his thoughts publicly that for the police to actively pursue illegal gambling the service would also have to consider pursuing church raffles and other games of chance used to raise cash for local charities.

While gambling does remain illegal in the Cayman Islands, there has been a tendency for the police not to pursue this particular crime, and there have been very few arrests or prosecutions in recent years. The possibility of repealing the law is a frequent subject of debate among politicians, the local community and members of the church, even more so in recent times with the explosion in Internet gambling sites, which enable people to gamble freely in their own homes.

Moreover, rumours have long circulated in Cayman that there are a number of people in positions of authority who are actively engaged in the illegal gambling business, which has been estimated to generate millions of dollars every week.

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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