Archive for October 3rd, 2008

UK wants power balance

| 03/10/2008 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The Leader of the UK constitutional delegation, Ian Hendry, has said that contrary to some suggestions the UK does not view the constitutional proposals put forth by the Cayman Islands Government as a giant leap towards independence but he said the key issue was establishing the appropriate balance between the aspirations of the elected government and the reserve powers to be retained by the UK government.

Speaking at a live televised press briefing to update the public on the progress of the first round of constitutional talks held this week Hendry said that the UK understands the desire for more decision making power by the elected government, but while the Cayman Islands remained an Overseas Territory which was what the Caymanian people desired then the UK retained ultimate responsibility on the international stage. He said there was work to do in the negotiating process to try and makes sure that the balance of power remained acceptable for both sides and that the outcome was a workable one.

“One of the key areas of this negotiation is the balance between the powers that should reside with the governor and those that reside in the elected government it is a balancing exercise,” he said.

Although he said he did not want to go into the particularities he used the example of the governor’s position currently of being solely responsible for external affairs and internal security. He said during the talks they were examining whether some shared responsibility would be useful and appropriate and acceptable to both sides in both those fields. He noted that some power sharing has been established in other territories.

“This week we have begun to feel our way towards possible solutions in these areas we are not there yet as they are complicated and difficult,” said Hendry. “There are several elements to this and we will come back to them with an open mind but both of these areas are sensitive.”

He explained the sensitivity was on both sides –locally because of the expectations of the electorate and for the UK because when things go badly wrong then the UK is still expected to carry the responsibility for the Cayman Islands. Hendry did his best to explain that the negotiations centred around recognising the perfectly understandable desire by Cayman for more autonomy and decisions making set against the UK’s need to retain reserve powers to protect their responsibility for the territory.

Minister Alden McLaughlin said he was optimistic as the UK had not rejected outright any of the government’s proposals. However, when asked if the UK had agreed to the idea of the Attorney General being outside the Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly, Hendry would not be drawn on specifics but said that the office of the AG was very, very important. He said it was crucial he or she be both independent and in a position to give objective legal advice.

“The advice that the Attorney General gives to the Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly is avital part of the work of those bodies,” he added. “What we will be discussing and will continue to discuss is an acceptable and appropriate way of ensuring those functions can continue. It is still under discussion we will have to come back to that.”

Leader of Government Business  Kurt Tibbetts said the talks had gone well and the government hoped between now and the first week of December when the next round of the talks convene again, the government and opposition will have reached further consensus enabling the parties to get closer to a finished draft constitution by the second round. Tibbetts said he wanted to see a draft constitution ready by January in order to give the country time to study the finished document before it was put to the referendum.

“We are all going to want to go back to who we represent and talk them through the document,” he said. Before that point however the LoGB said he it was critically important for the opposition to have the will to sit down and talk things through so Cayman could get as close a compromise as possible so London is not confused by the signals.

“After four days of initial talks we have a pretty good feel for what the UK will accept and what they won’t accept. We will now have the benefit of that with any future talks between the opposition, other stakeholders and ourselves. I see absolutely no reasons why we can’t come together to get something that is satisfactory for all,” said Tibbetts.


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Rotarians hear Bolivia project

| 03/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Lizzy Haines, daughter of Rotary Club of Grand Cayman President Derek Haines, recently spoke to the club about her experience on a literacy project in Bolivia. Lizzy, a medical student, was the interpreter for the team from the University of Bristol in the UK that traveled to Bolivia in July. The students raised US$25,000 in sponsorship for the venture through their UK registered charity ‘Challenge Bolivia’ (

All funds went to the project as the team members travel was self funded, a release from Rotary said. The challenge segment of the trip was to climb five 6000m peak in the Bolivian Andes in just five days. Four were mastered, with the fifth peak deemed too dangerous due to winds and snow just as the team was about to make the summit.

On the literacy segment of the challenge, the team visited16 schools and almost 1,000 students. “We were able to provide backpacks that contained a tracksuit, hat, gloves, socks, towel, sanitation supplies, pens, pencils, and a geometry set to each student”, said Haines. “Each school received textbooks, dictionaries, song books, footballs, basketballs, an air pump and educational posters”. The area of distribution was very remote, with some areas impassible by off road vehicles and in some instances the teachers had to come to the team.

“The goals of Rotary International this year include reducing child mortality and improving literacy,” said Present Derek. “I am proud of the achievement of my daughter and her fellow students, and for her being involved in community work at this level. This is the prefect example of our Rotary Motto ‘Service Above Self’.”

In other Rotary news, President Derek Haines of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman recently inducted two new members into the club.

Dr Grey Hoeksema was sponsored into the club by Rotarian Dr. Ajit Ambekar. Dr. Hoeksema is the Medical Director of the Health Service Authority of the Cayman Islands. Prior to jointing the HSA he had a distinguished career with the US Navy, retiring with the rank of Captain. He has served with the US Naval facilities worldwide, concluding his service as the Chief Operating Officer at the Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan. He is board certified in sports and family medicine. .

Cameron Rasmussen was sponsored into the club by Rotarian Lorna Hampson. Cameron is a consultant with the DMS organization and is from Sacramento, CA, and previously worked in the financial service sector. Both Greg and Cameron look forward to Rotary service as members of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman.

The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman was the first service club in the Cayman Islands, receiving its charter on January 28th, 1966, having been sponsored by the Rotary Club of Boston, the seventh oldest club in the world. The club is part of Rotary district 7020 which now encompasses 57 clubs, which is part of Zone 34. The Club has sponsored the Rotary Club of Cayman Brac, Grand Cayman Central and the Sunrise Club which received their charters in 1981, 1986 and 2002 respectively, and has provided 4 District Governors.

Major projects of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman have included the construction of the Bonaventure Boys Home and the Frances Bodden Girls Home, and major annual events organized by the club include the Senior Citizens Party, downtown Christmas Tree Lighting, and active participation in Batabanoo which was originally started by the Club, and the Meals on Wheels programme which was started and continues to be actively supported by the Club. With approximately 100 members, the membership of the Club is a fair representation of the business community in Cayman with members ranging in age from their 20’s to their 80’s.

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Mitigating impact of US financial fallout

| 03/10/2008 | 0 Comments

(St. Maarten Island Times): The St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce President Glen Carty recently sounded the alarm bell about the potential impacts the economic situation unfolding in the United States (US) can have on our nation’s tourism economy. He added that the situation should be monitored and stakeholders should come up with a "plan B" in the event that the situation worsens. Go to article


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No room for eco objectors

| 03/10/2008 | 7 Comments

(CNS): The recent planning meeting to hear the application of Lorenzo Berry as White Rock Investments (WRI) to quarry the Lower Valley Beach Bay forest revealed that there is no room for private citizens to object to planning applications that threaten the local environmental resources, including critically endangered species of endemic and native flora and fauna.

The only people, according to the law, allowed to object in person at planning meetings are those who live or own property within a 1500-foot radius of the planned development. However, according to the Department of the Environment (DoE), it has submitted a number of recommendations to the Central Planning Authority for consideration on various occasions where environmental issues have arisen as a result of a proposed development.

“We have provided advice to the CPA on a number of occasions and they have acted on that advice in the past,” said the Director of DoE, Gina Ebanks-Petrie. Without the National Conservation Law on the statute books, however, she did confirm that there is no legal requirement by the CPA to consider points raised by the DoE.

The problem of objections with regard to environmental and ecological issues was caused after the Planning Law was changed in the late 1990s, at the behest of a major developer who was facing island-wide objections over the removal of mangroves. Since the change in the law to limit objectors, only those within the stipulated objection zone can attend meetings. Concerned citizens and people who want to see their local natural resources protected have no real form of redress other than to rise up and make their feelings known in public forums, as was the case with the recent campaign to save the Ironwood Forest in George Town.

While the country waits for the Minister with responsibility for the Environment, Charles Clifford, to table the proposed National Conservation Bill, which will force environmental considerations into law, the fate of endangered species, such as the White-shouldered Bat and other flora and fauna at risk of planned development, is in the hands of the CPA. The law has been waiting in the wings for two years, and the minister has said on numerous occasions that the bill was due to be tabled in each parliamentary session that has come and gone. In his last comment regarding the bill, he said it would be brought tot he Legislative Assembly for vote in October.

The forest which Berry plans to level from its current height of around 30 feet to about ten is believed to be home not only to the White-shouldered Bat, which is almost extinct in Cayman, but also the banana orchid and the ironwood, broadleaf and silver thatch trees. There are at least 50 and possibly more red-listed species in a slice of local forest environment which is fast disappearing.

Yesterday Jean Ebanks, one of the residents in Mahogany Estates, who noted that many local residents purchased their properties because of the proximity to the forest and the natural landscape it provides, said she was hopeful that despite there being no actual environmental law yet, the CPA was wise enough to acknowledge the importance of DoE advice.

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Media exclusion in FOI week

| 03/10/2008 | 2 Comments

(CNS): In the week when the Freedom of Information Unit launched its campaign about the forthcoming law which will allow public access to government information, it was ironic that the media faced a number of exclusions from key events of public concern. Constitutional talks, a special reception for UK delegates and a planning meeting all remained closed to the Cayman press corps.

The week’s media exclusions started on Monday morning when the doors of the constitutional talks closed on them. This was closely followed on Wednesday by a planning meeting to decide the fate of the Lower Valley forest, which the media were also asked to leave. Then on Wednesday evening the press corps seemed to be overlooked from the invitation list for a constitutional reception described by Government Information Services as including “interested parties".

While most local journalists agreed they considered themselves to be interested parties in the constitutional talks, none received an invitation. According to arelease from GIS, the cocktail reception saw the visiting delegates from the closed-door constitutional modernisation talks “meet with local officials and citizens who have a special interest in the talks".

There has been much public outcry that the talks were completely closed to the community at large and the press, and at no point have there been any opportunities for the press to question the delegates. Reports are that McKeeva Bush reverted to singing on the radio during the course of the week in order to reveal some of the details of the talks, which have reportedly seen the UK officials refuse a number of the government’s key proposals relating to the balance of power.

The media are, however, scheduled to meet with Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and Education Minister Alden McLaughlin, as well as Professor Jeffrey Jowell and the FCO representatives, at GIS this morning for a televised briefing.




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