Archive for January 23rd, 2009

Governor uses reserve powers for Henderson case

Governor uses reserve powers for Henderson case

| 23/01/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS) : The need to finance damages awarded to Justice Alex Henderson because of his unlawful arrest by the Special Police Investigation Team has seen Governor Stuart Jack call on the UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband for permission to use his reserve powers. The move to appropriate the funds from the Cayman government coffers comes as a result of the elected members of Cabinet refusing to authorise any more cash.

Several weeks ago, the elected government ministers first indicated that they were unwilling to continue funding SPIT and have now taken an official stand. Government ministers have said recently that the entire investigation has been mismanaged and revealed little if any evidence of corruption, but its costs were mounting at a time when every other government department was forced to make cuts.

Explaining why he had to use his reserve powers, the governor said he had been told on Tuesday of this week by the ministers that they were not prepared to continue to finance the investigations and had also declined to authorise the attorney general to negotiate or conclude discussions with Judge Henderson over his damages or to fund those damages.

“As Governor, I have to see the matter differently. There are two issues at stake.  The first is about the Rule of Law.  Sir Peter Cresswell has directed us to try to agree damages with Justice Henderson. He has trusted the Cayman Islands Government to act in good faith. And we must do this, whatever the unfortunate circumstances that led to the question of damages,” the governor said in a statement.

Cresswell ordered the damages as a result of Henderson’s unlawful arrest by SPIT, led by SIO Martin Bridger who  employed by the Governor, which Cresswell described as a fundamental policing error and a gross misuse of the process. However, the Governor has persistently defended Bridger’s actions despite the current situation.

In Friday’s statement he continued to state that the investigation was valid when he said the issue of good governance was at stake. “I know that there are many people on this island who are worried about the police investigations, particularly about what they are costing, about the time they take.  I know that many people wish that the whole issue could just disappear overnight. But we live in the real world. Allegations – serious allegations – don’t just disappear. Court judgements can’t simply be ignored,” he added though he did not indicate which serious allegations he was referring to.

He said he knew when he embarked on this path it would be difficult although he admitted not quite how difficult and added that he knew it was a commitment for the long haul. “I have a duty to everyone in the Cayman Islands, but at the moment, my duty seems strongest to the people who contacted the investigations team, of their own accord, to report instances of police misconduct. These people were brave, and cannot be let down.  I need to make sure that the investigations are given the funding they need to be completed,” he added.

He said given the economic climate he sympathised with the difficult decisions that Government have had to make and he applauded their stated intention to be responsible towards public money, but he said he was still going to get the money as the FCO had said he could. This means the funds will still come from the Cayman Islands Treasury and not the UK.

“I feel that it is important that we see these investigations through, for the good of people here in the Cayman Islands and for the reputation of the Islands. That is why the Foreign Secretary has given me approval to use these powers to authorise a financial allocation to the special investigation against the advice of Cabinet and to authorise the Attorney-General to seek the best possible financial settlement with Justice Henderson.”

He said the action does not change how the United Kingdom views its relationship with the Cayman Islands on virtually every other issue, and he said that he enjoys an open and co-operative relationship with Cabinet. He added it was a disagreement and he wanted to be open and honest about that, and despite the disagreement his commitment to the Cayman Islands is as strong as ever.   

Gillian Merron, Minister for Overseas Territories in the UK, also issued a statement on Friday afternoon on behalf of the UK secretary of state giving approval to the governor to act against the advice given to him by the Cabinet, in order, it said, to ensure that the Cayman Islands government meet its responsibilities in a local court judgement and to adequately finance a police investigation.

“The Governor has my full support in this action. I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm to all the people on the Cayman Islands that the close and co-operative relationship the UK shares with your Islands remains unchanged. Sometimes countries in close partnership disagree. This is one of those occasions. But our deep, historical ties still bind us. I look forward to welcoming a delegation from the Cayman Islands next month to discuss a Constitution that will take us into the future,” the statement said.

Continue Reading

UK holds back on tax havens

UK holds back on tax havens

| 23/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(Guardian):  The UK has not joined a new international crackdown on financial secrecy and tax havens by more than 50 countries, including Germany, France and Spain – part of a package of measures to restore the world’s economy to health. Campaigners argue that the UK’s seeming desire to protect the City of London threatens to isolate Britain as international momentum for fundamental changes to tax secrecy grows. Go to article.

Continue Reading

Governor says Cayman needs to look outward

Governor says Cayman needs to look outward

| 23/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With speakers from around the world and a rare public face off between the countries two political leaders against the backdrop of a global crisis Cayman Business Outlook drew a significant crowd this year. In opening the event the governor Stuart Jack told delegates that Cayman is an important player on the global financial stage and it must look at what it can offer the world in today’s climate.

The Governor said he was   a strong supporter of the conference because of the, “….invaluable opportunity to hear from leading experts and thereby broaden our own outlook, see what is happening to our own islands in a broader context.”

He noted that at last year’s conference Nouriel Roubini, predicted the current crisis and said that this year’s conference came at a time of perhaps unprecedented global economic turmoil.

“But the conference – and I hope all of you participants – is doing something noteworthy. You are daring to look ahead to recovery. The challenge for this conference is to try to identify what role the Cayman Islands has, not just in its own recovery, but in the global recovery.”

He said that some people may say that Cayman is too small to influence the machinations and decisions coming from the US, the EU, the G20.

“But this view is wrong. It ignores two important facts:  Fact number one – this economic crisis has its roots not only in the US but also in the international system and the solutions will also be found in the US and the international system. This brings me to fact number two. Cayman is a – not unimportant – part of the international system. On every count, it is a major financial centre. The economic challenge for the Cayman Islands in 2009 is to acknowledge both its global dependency and its individual characteristics in terms of the international economic crisis.”

He told the audience that by looking outwards at what is happening across the world and reminded everyone that Cayman started life because an abundant population of turtles attracted European sailors looking for food. “In short, because it was useful to the rest of the world,” he added.

Because Cayman has continued to anticipate the demands of the outside world the Governor said it has remained successful.

“Today, more thanever, we need to think about what we can offer the world. And we should start with our near neighbour, the most powerful country on earth, the United States,” he said. “

Speaking about the inauguration of Barack Obama the Governor said Cayman must understand the impact on the US economy of the global crisis as Much as Obama does.

“The two largest sectors of the Caymanian economy, financial services and tourism, are dependent on the US economy. So we too must understand the magnitude and the effects of the downturn in the US,” he added.


“Cayman is filled with some of the sharpest legal and financial minds on this planet. They helped build the current economic system. And now they must start work to identify and anticipate the new economic system. They must understand the new realities facing the world’s major financial institutions and the fears sweeping over ordinary people across the continents,” the Governor said adding that as the crisis isn’t going to just fade overnight, with a quiet return to the old days, there will be big changes.


“The Government here is having to make hard choices about public spending. It has had to freeze schools and other new projects; and impose cuts on recurrent expenditure.  And unlike larger economies, such as the UK, here in Cayman we do not have a tax base to justify greater public borrowing, we will need to keep in line with strict borrowing levels,” he said.


He also cited his own ‘boss’ Gordon Brown when he said that the UK Prime Minister had said there was a new progressive era breaking across the world. “I hope that the men and women here today can consider how the Cayman Islands can be part of this new progressive era,” the Governor stated.

“Cayman needs to continue to position itself as up among the most compliant and ethical financial centres,” he said. “The leadership of the country – politicians, public servants and businessmen – need to work closely together to chart a way through the current crisis. That means being flexible and quick-moving – to deal with problems and take opportunities as they arise. And there will be opportunities. It means thinking about the longer term, not just short term political or commercial gain.”


The Governor also questioned Cayman’s green credentials and said the country could not afford to ignore the growing demands from tourists and our own people for better environmental standards. Or fail to plan for climate change.


Continue Reading

Under-11 World Champions

Under-11 World Champions

| 23/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Stingrays Under-11 team won the Kick-It 3v3 Soccer World Championship at Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando Florida on 17 to 19 January, beating teams from all over the world. The six boys on the Cayman team were Ryan Burke, Coilin Flynn, Cline Glidden, Jagger Hope, Anton Nelson and Daniel Smith, who represented three club teams and schools and are all veterans of the 3v3 format. The team was coached by Cline Glidden and Coach ‘Cheeky’ both from West Bay.

Continue Reading

Latest constitution draft available to public

Latest constitution draft available to public

| 23/01/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): There will be no need for leaks regarding the latest draft of Cayman’s proposed constitution as the UK has agreed to the document’s public circulation. This draft available at will form the basis for the final roundof talks taking place in London during the first week of February chaired by Gillian Merron.  The document contains the changes and compromises agreed at the end of the last round of talks but there are still some ten points at issue which will be discussed in the UK. 

The Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the draft was already in the hands of the stakeholders in the constitutional process for their consideration, as preparations were made for the final round of negotiations.  “He said the document was not the final constitution. But the latest draft and subject to further changes during the third and final round of negotiations.

“This crucial round will take place in London during the first week of February,” said LoGB at the weekly media briefing. “The UK minister for overseas territories, Hon. Gillian Merron, will be participating in the process for the first time.  Her input will be crucial as it will contribute to a final determination of some of the outstanding issues.”

He explained that once agreement is reached, a final draft of the proposed new constitution will be produced and Caymanians will then be given an opportunity to study the document and say whether they approve in a referendum planned for 20 May.

“After languishing on the back burner for several years, the process of constitutional modernization has surely made a giant leap forward during the past 12 months. Today, our country stands on the threshold of an exciting new chapter in its constitutional evolution. We have before us the promise of an era with a modern structure of governance relevant to the country’s changing needs, an era in which Caymanians will have a greater say in their affairs,” he said.

He said that the additional progress achieved in the recently-concluded second round was truly remarkable and saluted the spirit of compromise which was so evident among the stakeholders.

“It shows what is possible when we work together in pursuit of a noble cause,” he said. “We have come too far to turn back now.  We must now complete the task in London.”

He did not mention that the Human Rights Committee had rejected outright the move to make the right to non-discrimination only within the confines of the constitution but he said that there were 10 remaining issues to be resolved which were for the most part of a technical nature and related in some cases to choice of language.


Continue Reading

Leaders hint at new policies

Leaders hint at new policies

| 23/01/2009 | 7 Comments

(CNS): The much anticipated debate between the country’s two political leaders on Thursday evening offered few surprises. However, the leader of the opposition indicated he would be looking at a new approach to immigration where one size does not fit all, and the leader of government business confirmed the current administration’s desire to start an ambitious $150 million waste to energy programme, as soon as funds permit, to address the George Town dump.

The face-off between McKeeva Bush and Kurt Tibbetts, hosted by Cayman Business Outlook at the Ritz Carlton, turned out not to be a debate in the strictest sense but saw the two leaders asked different questions, which they had not previously seen, on a range of subjects, from the economy to the environment. Speaking without the benefit of prepared speeches, the two were articulate and on occasion humorous, giving some hints at where the campaign between their two parties may head once it gets underway in the coming weeks and months.

The issue of Immigration came up in a number of questions when the men were asked about growing Cayman’s population and how to tackle this crucial subject to enable local business to flourish. Tibbetts defended rollover, saying the system allowed people to come here and move towards settlement and Caymanian status, which increased the population in an orderly fashion and did not make the indigenous people feel like they were being smothered.

However, Bush disagreed and said that rollover had seen jobs lost, especially back office work which had gone to other jurisdictions. He noted that an across the board immigration policy may no longer be suitable and that a new policy was required that treated industries according to their different needs.

“No one in this day and age should expect the financial services industry or the tourism Industry to work with the same policy that construction industry works with. There needs to be some changes. Immigration is not working. We would, must use immigration law to remove glass ceiling but preaching nationalism doesn’t work for us,” he said, adding that financial business in particular needed a policy that could help it recruit and retain the very best people available.

Although moderator Gary Linford commended the government on its infrastructure improvements, he asked why nothing had been done over the infamous George Town dump. Tibbetts said that the scientific data had been collected and as well as a recycling programme the government wanted to launch a waste to energy project.

“The government had planned to begin a recycling programme and then move into a phased effort regarding waste to energy but funds won’t allow us to begin that yet. Conservative estimates suggest it will take $150 million to do it. This issue needs to be addressed, it will have to be done but given the revenue stream we have to prioritise,” the leader of government business said.

The two men both defended the country’s Christian heritage when asked if Cayman should be a secular society with rights for all, which received wide applause, and they both agreed that Cayman’s political landscape was by and large an honest one where politicians followed thecode of ethics.

They disagreed on the economy, and Bush criticised Tibbetts for his failure to address the needs of the financial service sector and to see the recession coming. Tibbetts defended the government’s record and said it had a committee that engaged with the private sector over the economy and what was needed. He said the capital project programme, in which government had invested, was an important injection for the local economy.

Both men were asked to write each other’s obituary, which gave an amusing diversion, but when each was given five minutes to say why they should be elected to office at the next election it was back to the politics. Tibbetts defended the PPM’s record and said the government was being prudent but at the same time keeping the economy active. “In times like these it is a fine balance between spending and doing nothing,” the LoGB said, adding that his administration was getting it right.

However, Bush pointed to the increase in unemployment every year since the PPM came to office and said the country needed to see policy changes and fiscal changes. “We need more than a committee that is monitoring the situation. The immigration framework has resulted in jobs being exported to other country and we need a plan to put the country back on track. This is not just a global crisis, it is a local crisis,” he said.

Continue Reading