Archive for October 28th, 2008

Blacklist threat part three and four

| 28/10/2008 | 2 Comments

UPDATED: There are now two more wake up calls for Cayman. First, the announcement on 28 October 2008 that Australia and the British Virgin Islands have entered into a tax information exchange agreement (TIEA).

Second, the rather opaque comment made by the Jersey director for international finance that behind the scenes Jersey is in a “different position than the headlines suggest”, i.e. it is also busily negotiating TIEA’s.

What can we glean from these two events? First, other competitor jurisdictions are apparently rather ahead of Cayman in recognising the clear and present danger of OECD blacklisting (and possibly other prejudicial action). Second, they are actually doing something about it in a timely fashion. Third, they are getting results that should stand them in good stead.

The well-documented threats from the USA are real, but Cayman can do nothing to stop the likely changes to US domestic tax laws should Senator Obama be elected President. On the other hand Cayman can and must do something about the threats from the EU and the OECD. That is where the focus of the Government and private sector A Teams should be right now.


The final wake up call to Cayman came Wednesday with the very public and photographed signing of a tax information agreement between the British Virgin Islands (one of our key competitors) and the UK at the OTCC meetings in London. It is an extreme embarrassment to Cayman for such an obvious message to be delivered by the UK in such a public way. The community should be asking its Government how much longer does Cayman have to wait for real action and real results in the international arena? Time is fast running out.


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Government freezes jobs

| 28/10/2008 | 9 Comments

(CNS): In the face of the global financial crisis and economic slow down and its impact on the government budget, Cabinet has asked chief officers to restrict the hiring of new staff and filling of vacant posts to be reduced to the absolute minimum required. A statement from Government Information Services (GIS) said that government revenue would fall short of predictions by some CI$15 million in the 2008/2009 fiscal year.

(CNS): In the face of the global financial crisis and economic slow down and its impact on the government budget, Cabinet has asked chief officers to restrict the hiring of new staff and filling of vacant posts to be reduced to the absolute minimum required. A statement from Government Information Services (GIS) said that government revenue would fall short of predictions by some CI$15 million in the 2008/2009 fiscal year.

In a special meeting with chief officers on Thursday, 23 October, Cabinet advised senior civil servants of the circumstances and asked for the staffing freeze. The measures will apply to all public service entities, including statutory authorities and Government owned companies, GIS stated.

Chief Officers were also reportedly instructed to take measures to reduce their approved operational expenditure by 6 percent over the course of the present financial year. "This Government is committed to fiscal prudence, particularly in these difficult and unpredictable times," said the Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts.

 "By law, the Cayman Islands Government cannot incur a budget deficit and we are taking steps early to ensure that this does not occur.  We are doing so not in a reactive way, but by restricting the growth in the size of the public service and by reducing operational expenditure."

Chief Secretary and Head of the Civil Service George McCarthy, OBE, described the measures being taken by the Government as "prudent action".  He said it was hard to predict the full impact of the global financial crisis and economic slow down on the Cayman economy and specifically on Government’s finances but early action was key to minimising its impact.

Acknowledging that a total ban on all government hiring is not possible or advisable McCarthy noted that "inevitably there will be instances where recruitment is still necessary.”

In order to address these exceptional situations, appointing officers will have to make application with detailed justifications to the Head of the Civil Service who may authorise recruitment on behalf of Cabinet in their ownership role, if justified. Statutory authorities and government companies will make submissions to Cabinet via their respective ministers.

McCarthy said the restriction on government hiring will not inhibit the appointment of necessary and essential personnel such as policemen, doctors, nurses and other specialised positions.  He also reportedly gave assurances that this measure is not a precursor to job cuts in the civil service.

"I encourage all chief officers, appointing officers and managers to find creative ways to minimise expenditure and conserve Government’s strong cash position,” McCarthy added.

“As such, I have tasked the Portfolio of the Civil Service and all other government agencies to identify ways in which the public sector can reduce operational costs."

Addressing the government’s substantial capital works programme, the Leader of Government Business said all major government construction projects which are underway will continue.  These include the new Government Administration Building and the new schools.

“In times like these it is important that government takes the lead in ensuring that the economy continues to be stimulated.  These major government construction projects are providing employment to hundreds of workers and are injecting millions of dollars directly into the local economy on a monthly basis," Tibbetts said.   

In relation to capital works projects for which contracts have not yet been awarded, however, Tibbetts said those were under review to prioritise projects based on importance, affordability and their potential positive impact on the local economy.

Tibbetts said he is confident that with continued careful management and enterprise the Cayman Islands will successfully navigate these troubled times. 

"The Cayman Islands has a proven track record of sound financial management.  We have every reason to be confident that with God’s grace and our own efforts we will weather the present global storm and emerge from it stronger than ever," he added.

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Windsor Park scene of major fight

| 28/10/2008 | 3 Comments

(CNS): What appears to have been a mob disturbance or a possible gang fight resulted in a number of arrests this weekend in Windsor Park. Police said that on Friday, 24 October, at around 3:45 pm officers arrested three teenagers on suspicion of threatening violence and being in possession of an unlicensed firearm in the Oak Lane area.

Later that night same night at around 1:00 am officers were alerted to another disturbance in the Windsor Park area. This time when they arrived police arrested 11 people aged between 14 and 20 for various offences including unlawful assembly. A number of weapons including a machete, a razor and some wooden clubs were seized. Police said that follow-up investigations and house searches resulted in implements believed to be used for preparing drugs for sale being located and seized. Some of the men have been released on bail while some remain in custody.

Police said that two of the men, aged 17 and 18 arrested on Friday afternoon have been released on bail pending further investigations but the third, a 16-year-old, remains in police custody. Some of the eleven men arrested in the earlier hours of Saturday morning have also been released on bail while some remain in custody.

In a separate incident on Saturday, a further arrest was made. A 53-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft and disorderly conduct.

“Criminal activity will not be tolerated in George Town,” said InspectorBennard Ebanks, second in charge of the district. “We hope that our swift action and positive arrests send a strong message to those involved in crime that they will not get away with it.”

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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Elderly man dies in his prison cell

| 28/10/2008 | 6 Comments

(CNS): According to HMP Northward a 74-year-old man died in his prison cell in the early hours of Saturday morning (25 October).  Windell Dilbert, who was on remand on a murder charge was reportedly found by the night-shift officer who was checking cells.

Although offering few details the prison said that Dilbert had been unwell for some time, he had visited hospital frequently and was recently hospitalised for a few days.

The night-shift officer, on one of his routine checks, noticed that Dilbert seemed to be sitting on the floor of his cell. The officer found him unresponsive and called the shift supervisor, who attended and then called 911.

Medics and police officers attended the scene and pronounced Dilbert dead. The prison said the cause of death will be the subject of a coroner’s inquest, which is standard practice for deaths in custody.

The department said that it extends its condolences to Dilbert’s family.

According to news archives Dilbert was on remand waiting trial regarding the murder of former RCIPS officer Michael Ebanks in the home the two men shared on Courts Road, George Town, on Friday 1 June 2007 at the government-owned affordable housing site.



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Driver kills rare duck

| 28/10/2008 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Just a few months after Cayman Wildlife Rescue placed a sign along the Linford Pierson to caution drivers about a family of West Indian Whistling Ducks nesting along the busy stretch of road one of them was mowed down by a vehicle on Sunday and Alison Corbett, Project Manager of Cayman Wildlife Rescue is appealing to the public not to feed the birds nesting by roads as it encourages them to nest in dangerous spots.


“The ducks have nested here for many years and each year some of the young were reported to be killed by oncoming traffic,” said Corbett who explained that she had seen many people feeding the ducks along the highway and pleaded with them to stop.  “Unfortunately feeding wildlife roadside has deadly consequences.  I think one of the reasons why the ducks choose this unfavourable site is due to this factor.” 

By the end of September the five young were fully fledged and would have been able to leave the wetland area but in October they were found still habituating the dangerous wetland and were still being fed by the public.  “Sometimes when people think they are helping the situation they are in fact making it worse. It deeply upsets the volunteers of CWR and we hope that the public will learn from this mishap.” 

Cayman Wildlife Rescue strongly advises the public never to feed wildlife along the roads.  This act is dangerous not only the wildlife, but also very dangerous to people themselves.  “I would like to thank everyone for their concern and for keeping wildlife in mind when driving.  Being an active driver and keeping your eyes on the road and roadside is not just a safe driving practice for people, but will also benefit our wildlife,” Corbett added.”CWR would like to see more signs installed along deadly stretches of road, which are proving to be fatal to wildlife. Cars continue to be one of the major killers of wildlife and unfortunately most of the animals we have brought in due to cars are usually euthanasia cases.  Wildlife and traffic don’t mix.  We ask drivers to please keep an eye out for the feathered, furred and scaled friends we share the road with.” 

Corbett said the sign was a joint project between Vision Marketing & Signs of Paradise.  The support from the public was outstanding and CWR received many calls & emails from members of the community concerned about the duck family.

Most residents only became familiar with the West Indian Whistling Duck after Hurricane Ivan, when it ventured out of the wetlands and into urban areas in search of food.  It is also a nocturnal bird, roosting in the mangroves during the day, flying out to feeding grounds in the evening, and returning to roost just before dawn.  There are now several private individuals around the island who feed them on a regular basis.  According to Patricia Bradley’s “Birds of the Cayman Islands” (Caerulea Press, 1995), the West Indian Whistling Duck is listed as an endangered species and is protected on the island. 

If members of the public find injured wildlife, they can call the 24 hr Wildlife Emergency Hotline 917-BIRD (2473) where dedicated volunteers will provide emergency service & support. For your own safety and that of the animal, members of the public are requested to not attempt to rescue or care for the animal themselves – rather call the hotline and trained volunteers will attend to the animal. Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a programme of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.  This project is staffed entirely by volunteers with other full time jobs, and is financed 100% by donations from the public.  If you would like to help by donating funds or volunteering time, please contact Alison Corbett at


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Catron pursues offender’s list

| 28/10/2008 | 9 Comments

(CNS): As a result of the continued delay on the government’s part to introduce an official sex offenders register, local activist Sandra Catron plans to circulate a petition which will be handed to government giving them until May 2009 to set a number of initiatives in motion in order to tackle the issue of child abuse within the Cayman Islands community.

Catron is calling for  the mandatory reporting of sexual offenses; the implementation of a comprehensive sex offenders registry that includes convictions from the past 10 years with full public access; longer and stricter sentences for offenders; a requirement for offenders to provide current addresses and updated photos subject to five years imprisonment for non-compliance and to work with international agencies like CEOP Centre based in London to make sure that all visitors/residents are subjected to both domestic and international policing and checks. If these regulations are not implemented Catron says she intend to establish her own register online that she will, if necessary, host offshore.

 “I dare say that with the next general election around the corner we need to now exercise our power as voters and demand a sexual offender registry law be put in place before May 2009. It is unacceptable for politicians and senior civil servants to stand by and do nothing while our children continue to be preyed upon by the vilest of our society,” she said.

At last week’s post Cabinet press briefing the government said it had not seen the details of the police plan to introduce a formal offenders register and therefore it could not offer an opinion on the subject. However, the Minister for Education, Alden McLaughlin, offered a word of caution as he said that identifying the perpetrator in small community like Cayman, not least because the perpetrators were often family members, was tantamount to identifying the victim.

 “Although we haven’t taken a position as a government, I personally have pointed out in the past that it is understandable — we all want people who perpetrate these crimes held up to public criticism. But the concern I have is that in a place as small as Cayman to identify the culprit means to identify the victim,” the Minister said.  “So we have to ask ourselves, how do we strike the balance? But as a country we certainly need to do what we can to protect ourselves from sex offenders and hold them up to public outrage.”

He also noted that while government would support tougher sentencing measures, he felt mandatory sentences tied the hands of judges. In the recent controversial case over an alleged light sentence handed down to a sex offender, the perpetrator actually has a serious mental illness.

“You have to be careful in meting out full justice that you don’t place the courts in a position where they can’t consider all the circumstances” he added. “There is no point in sending someone with a mental illness to HMP Northward. Our problem is we don’t have adequate facilities to deal with these people.”

Catron dismisses the comments regarding the identification of victims. “The people in the Cayman Islands have been subjected to a continual veil of secrecy that has and will continue to destroy our children, families and communities,” she said.  “I am baffled by the lack of political willpower to demand a sex offender registry.”

Catron argued that the idea that a register would be detrimental in a community of our size because it exposes the victim is nonsensical, political doublespeak. “We all know that given the size of the community we normally know information about both the victim and the abuser almost immediately,” Catron added. “Over the years I have had many victims and mothers of victims contact me because they are often at a loss of what to do. In one case, a local offender is now driving a school bus.”

She said that while our politicians sit back and look for reasons not to support this initiative, our children are being directly put in the line of sight of these known abusers who pose a very unique and different risk to the most vulnerable.“ Community supervision and oversight has proven to work,” Catron said. “The usefulness of this registry cannot be underestimated and I stand by my contention that the government has failed us in this respect. A sex offender registry should ideally be a government initiative that is both mandated and maintained by them.”


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