Archive for March 26th, 2009

Home school kids go behind the police scenes

Home school kids go behind the police scenes

| 26/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): While officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service are regular visitors to Cayman’s schools as a result of a number of initiatives, home school students don’t come into contact with police officers quite as much. As a result PC Gaunett Harvey recently spent time with a group of 8 youngsters who are outside the school system and gave them an inside look at life at George Town Police Station.

The RCIPS said that it is keen to reach out to all young people in the community and students who are tutored at home do not normally get the chance to interact with police in the same way children attending established schools do the special session was organised.

The youngsters completed a tour of George Town police station and were introduced to some of the different police departments including Scenes of Crime, K9 and CID. “This was a great opportunity to make connections with children who do not come into contact with the police through the regular channels such as the DARE programme,” said PC Harvey. “We got chance to talk about the vital role police officers play in society and the children were allowed time to ask questions about areas that interest them.”

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) is eager to reach all sectors of the community and welcomes any requests for police visits or talks. Residents are encouraged to email or contact their neighbourhood officers at their local police station for advice.

Anyone with information about crime takingplace 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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Affordable Housing finance comes through

Affordable Housing finance comes through

| 26/03/2009 | 22 Comments

(CNS): The government said, Thursday, that the Central Tenders Committee has approved the issue of the US$14.5 million bond to be used for low cost housing on Grand Cayman. Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said that this is the second tranche of financing to the National Housing Development Trust (NHDT) and it will be used for completing site preparation and constructing of the affordable homes in all of the districts of Grand Cayman. (Left: an affordable home on Cayman Brac)

Speaking at the weekly media press briefing, Tibbetts announced that the NHDT was making arrangements with Bank of Butterfield for the award of the bond. “Today, NHDT authorities will be holding discussions with the bank to discuss the agreement further, reporting back to the CTC to ensure that all criteria of the bond arrangement are met,” he said.

Despite the confirmation of the next tranche of money, Tibbetts said it did not affect the government’s net debt ratio as the expectation to guarantee up to $28 million had been made at the very start of the project in 2001 and was therefore already accounted for in government guarantee borrowing, despite the fact that the money had not yet been borrowed.

Gaining access to financing would now however, allow the development of the much-needed affordable housing to proceed immediately on a number of sites around the island as there are currently 752 applications registered with the NHDT.

In East End, 59 single family lots are planned in Phase I on the 9.38 acre site off John McLean Drive. In West Bay. Tibbetts said a second site near the Lighthouse has been vested to the NHDT covering 8.5 acres, where a total of 50 single and multi-family lots are proposed. Meanwhile in Bodden Town, planning approval is being sought at the site where 55 single and multi-family lots are being proposed and in George Town, planning approval for the 71 lot subdivision for the Fairbanks site has been received and final survey work is now underway.

He also said that the existing affordable homes have not stood the test of time, and need to be replaced with new concrete structures. “The first site slated for this phased redevelopment is the Eastern Avenue site,” Tibbetts explained.  “Planning approval will be submitted tomorrow (Friday, 27 March) for multi-family apartments contained in three-storey units. Tendering for construction is anticipated by July.

In North Side he said an eight-acre parcel of land had been identified, but because the owner is untraceable there will have to be a compulsory purchase order made before work on the homes as well as a planned seniors’ home can begin.

“We recognise that in these troubled economic times the need for affordable housing will become more urgent than ever, so the approval of the bond is very timely indeed.  I look forward to seeing the new affordable homes under construction in fairly short order, and, perhaps more importantly, as these homes are completed, I look forward to seeing the families moving into their new affordable homes,” he said.

Over on the Sister Islands, he said construction of the first four homes in Cayman Brac was completed in December 2008. Since then, the CTC has awarded the contract for Phase 2 to DSS Contractors for four houses more houses. He said the Sister Islands Affordable Housing Development Corporation (SIAHDC) has so far received some 44 applications.

SIAHDC is a government-funded non-profit company that manages the affordable housing programme on the Brac and is a separate entity to NHDT.

Tibbetts said that other housing initiatives were also going well, in particular the Government Guaranteed Home Assisted Mortgage, or “GGHAM” programme. “The demand for the programme was so great that the initial $30 million that the banks agreed to lend over the first 5 years of the programme was used up in just one year,” he said, adding that the commitment from the banks had been doubled. “To date, close to 150 Caymanian families have been the beneficiaries of this programme, with some 60 applications pending.”

 He also said that the Build on Your Own Property Programme continues to receive applications from those who own their own property but need a bit of assistance in getting their home built.  “Two homes have been completed under this programme, and there are five more pre-approved applications which will be proceeding in short order,” LoGB added.

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Cops in court class

Cops in court class

| 26/03/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) said that it is making the most of its new training centre at Governor’s Square. With assistance from the Legal Department a course relating to case file completion and statement writing for the courts is currently underway for regular police officers. This course aims to refresh and update officer’s knowledge on the important work needed for the court room to help with successful prosections.

 “We have a great training facility here at Governors Square and we’re taking full advantage of it,” said Inspector White head of the Training Department.  “We’re doing everything we can to reach all staff, including carrying out courses on evenings and weekends so that it fits in around officers working hours.”

Auxiliary Constables who work at the Court House recently took part in a week long course that covered all aspects of conflict resolution. Inspector White said the course was designed to help staff meet the day to day challenges of working in an atmosphere which can be subject to areas of potential conflict. The course contained scenarios and role plays relevant to their roles and examined potential situations that could occur and the appropriate courses of action that could be taken in such a situation.

Anyone interested in a career with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service should visit the police website at

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Government says no decision over civil service benefits

Government says no decision over civil service benefits

| 26/03/2009 | 20 Comments

(CNS): Nothing has been finalised regarding the escalating cost of providing health care benefits to  more 3,800 civil servants, as well as pensioners, indigents, veterans and seamen, the leader of government business has said. Despite recent headlines and accusations on the campaign trail that civil servants will have to start contributing to their health care benefits, Kurt Tibbetts said that discussions were underway but absolutely no decisions had been made to make government workers contribute.

He admitted that meetings were taking place about how to deal with the growing burden of providing free health care to so many people but he said there were no plans in place to start cutting benefits or taking contributions.  

“A meeting was held recently with the chief secretary to discuss the escalating cost of health care in order to stimulate discussions for proposals,” he said. “The Cayman Islands Civil Service Association was there and it will be aware that the process is ongoing and no decisions have been reached.”

He said all of the facts needed to be aired before any review of how benefits are offered takes place and absolutely no outcome has been determined. “I can assure all civil servants that their voices will be heard before any decision is reached,” Tibbetts added.

However, the LoGB said government was providing health benefits totalling CI$64 million per year.  “We need to find ways and means for health benefits to come in at a lesser cost,” he added. Tibbetts explained that over 90 percent of the  overseas medical care being paid for was dealt with in the United States and government needed to investigate other jurisdictions that could provide as good, if not better, health care in the region for less cost. He said there was a need to, review what was being provided and look at the entire picture.

Minister Alden McLaughlin reassured existing civil servants that government would be unlikely to take away any of their benefits as they formed part of their employment contract but that the plan would be to look at the package offered to new civil servants. He said in the same way that the full pension benefit had been addressed some ten years ago, the package for new recruits as oppose to existing staff could be changed.

“If the civil service continues to grow at the pace it has, combined with a very narrow tax base and increasing pressure on government revenue, we are going to have to do something about that,” he said. “But I would not support changing arrangements with existing civil servants as that would be a breach of contract.”

According to media reports, website comments and those on the hustings, members of the Civil Service Association are already protesting any move to make them contribute to benefits. The Association President James Watler has said any changes would be unacceptable.

“When we came on with the civil service, it was with the understanding that the medical care was free, with a portion of dental and a portion of optical. Now they have put a cap on it, but no one has given them permission. We contest this, we say it’s illegal. They are trying to cut benefits and we said to them you can’t,” Watler told Net News this week.

However, while civil servants are likely to want to protect their benefits as much as possible into the future, how much sympathy they will garner in the wider community remains to be seen as most regular workers in the private sector are expected to meet half the cost of their health care benefits. As the government goes into ever deeper budget deficit and CINICO, the health care provider for civil servants, continues to run at a loss, future public sector workers are unlikely to enjoy the benefits of those already in the service.

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Finance cops still warning on text scams

Finance cops still warning on text scams

| 26/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Despite the seemingly endless warnings over email and text scams, the Financial Crime Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) said it has received further reports from the public. As a result, once again residents are being urged to be on guard. “If you receive an unsolicited email or text informing you that you have won money in a competition you have never heard of and certainly never entered you should consider this a scam,” said Detective Constable Adrian Neblett.

He said people should not enter into communication with the sender as they will undoubtedly try and trick you out of personal information or your hard earned cash. One of the most recent scams in circulation involves people receiving text messages on their cell phones informing them that they have won substantial amount money in a competition. It’s not unlike the email scam, which also informs the recipient they have won cash.

Other types of scams seen in circulation recently include the inheritance scam, which involves people receiving emails claiming that someone has died, there is an inheritance to collect and that the recipient might be eligible for the money. Another email in circulation asks the recipient to act as a go-between for money transfers. The email asks the recipient to open an account to receive money and asks that it is forwarded to a third party.

“All these types of emails should be ignored,” stressed DC Neblett. “If you respond you put yourself at risk. The best thing to do is delete it and not give it another thought.”

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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McCarthy to retire early

McCarthy to retire early

| 26/03/2009 | 18 Comments

(CNS): UPDATED – The acting Head of the Governor’s Office Alan Drury has confirmed that Chief Secretary George McCarthy is retiring six months ahead of his due date. Drury explained that as a senior civil servant, he is entitled to apply to the governor for pre-retirement leave. "This he has done, and the governor has agreed that pre-retirement leave will begin on 1 July," he said. With no official announcement CNS discovered that the top civil servant was leaving his post through an advertisement  on the government website.  Appointed by the governor the post carries a salary of between CI$165,144 to CI$182,292.

Among the responsibilities of the CF, as the islands grapple with a series of violent crimes, is to address crime and improve policing.

McCarthy entered the civil service some 35 years ago in the Internal Audit Department and has served as chief secretary since November 2004 when he took over from James Ryan. Prior to holding the position of First Official Member of the Legislative Assembly, he sat as Third Official Member as Financial Secretary for twelve years.

The successful applicant to replace him will be the most senior civil servant in the Cayman Islands who also deputizes for the governor when required, including acting as governor when he is off-island. The CF, who is an official member of Cabinet, also has responsibility for the Civil Service, Hazard Management, Public Sector Reform, Immigration, Prison, Fire, 911 Emergency Response, Legislative Department, Cadet Corps, National Archives, Immigration Appeals Policing and Security Matters, and a variety of boards and committees relating to security, immigration, and aviation.

According to the job description, the Chief Secretary and Head of the Civil Service is tasked with direct accountability for the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs and the Portfolio of the Civil Service, and takes the lead on all public sector reform. He or she is accountable to the governor for achieving the broad and specific outcomes of the Cayman Islands Government. In addition, through managing the performance of chief officers, he/she will support his Cabinet colleagues to achieve these outcomes.

The specific outcomes relating to the post holder are to: address crime and improve policing, improve education and training of civil servants, support the economy by improving immigration policy and administration and delivering open, transparent, honest and efficient public administration.

Candidates for this position must be Caymanian; possess a graduate qualification from a recognized institution or equivalent; be or have been a public servant and still eligible to hold public office; have a thorough knowledge and experience of working with the executive and legislative arms of government; have experience of leading a public sector change management process; possess public management competencies including strategic, financial and human resource skills; be a leader of leaders who commands wide respect within government and Caymanian society.

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Primary athletes compete

Primary athletes compete

| 26/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A large crowd of spectators turned out to watch the second staging of the CNB Relays held on Saturday, 21 March, at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. There was good representation from the government primary schools as they fielded teams of some of their best runners. With the Inter Primary School Sports only days away, coaches and teachers took the opportunity to expose some of their athletes to the competition and also to use it as a tune up for the annual event. Teams from Red Bay Primary, John A. Cumber, Bodden Town, George Town, Prospect, Triple C took to the track and did not disappoint their respective supporters.

According to a release from the CI Athletic Association, Red Bay emerged as the overall Schools champions but the other teams provided intense competition which indicates that there is no clear favourite for this year’s meet.

In the Club section Hy-Tech Tigers was the most outstanding, while Tuesday Running a team from USB took honours in the corporate division. Old School was 2nd followed by a team representing the sponsors CNB, traded their pens and calculators for tights and spikes took the 3rd position in this division.

Results are as follows:

School’s Division – Girls

1st – Red Bay Primary School – 41 points
2nd – George Town Primary – 20 points
3rd – Bodden Town Primary – 16 points
4th – John A. Cumber Primary – 8 points
5th – Prospect Primary – 3 points

School’s Division – Boys

1st – Red Bay Primary – 40 points
2nd – John A. Cumber Primary – 30 points
3rd – Bodden Town Primary – 14 points
4th – Triple C – 10 points
5th – George Town Primary – 9 points
6th – Prospect Primary – 4 points

Club’s Division – Girls

1st – Hy-tech Tigers – 20 points

Club’s Division – Boys

1st – Hy-tech Tigers – 56 points
2nd – Mustang Track Club – 20 points

Corporate Division

1st – UBS Tuesday Running – 18 points
2nd – Old School – 10 points
3rd – Cayman National Bank – 8 points

The Cayman Islands Athletic Association would like to thank Cayman National Bank for sponsoring the Meet, in addition to all schools, clubs, corporate, athletes, volunteers, officials and spectators.

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Emergency training in LC

Emergency training in LC

| 26/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The smallest Cayman Island and the only one without a hospital is now more prepared for medical emergencies after 44 Little Cayman residents were fully certified or re-certified in various areas of first aid and life saving techniques during a a multi-agency training session held at the Little Cayman Beach Resort. Organized by the RCIPS, the course saw participants trained in CPR, AED (defibrillator training) and first aid, under the instruction of EMT Brian Burchell from Cayman Brac and Mary-Ellen Cutts, the Little Cayman Nurse.

“In a small island community where medical resources are limited it is important that we have as many people as possible trained in life saving CPR and general first aid skills,” said PC Darren Coles. “I am really pleased that so many people turned out. As community officer on the island, I continue to strive to make Little Cayman an even safer place to live and am delighted that the community came together on this venture.”

The course was held over a three day period at the Little Cayman Beach Resort. Special thanks are sentto Jason Belport, General Manager and Marc Le-Blanc Operations Manager for providing the venue free of charge.


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UDP defines the campaign battle lines

UDP defines the campaign battle lines

| 26/03/2009 | 55 Comments

(CNS): Rallying the troops and aiming to recruit more, the battle lines along which the United Democratic Party UDP will fight its campaign have been laid down, and while the entire People’s Progressive Movement will be in the firing line, it is apparent that Ministers Alden McLaughlin and Charles Clifford are the main targets. Opening its political road-show in Bodden Town and not in its heartland of West Bay, the UDP still managed a turn out of around 500 people for its first meeting. (Left: Jonathan Piercy UDP George Town)

With no manifesto yet printed, the first two meetings (Bodden Town on Tuesday and George Town on  Wednesday) were big on rhetoric and political clichés as the new candidates Dwayne Seymour, Mark Scotland, Pearlina McGaw-Lumsden, Jonathan Piercy, Mike Adam and Ellio Solomon took to the party hustings for the first time.

Despite actual, defined policies being thin on the ground, political veteran and party Leader McKeeva Bush did reveal some of the UDP’s political goals that will appear in the anticipated manifesto. Bush spoke of a review of teacher’s salaries; an overhaul of the police service and an economic recovery plan. While the manifesto is still to come, the party ‘tunes’ were playing loud and clear on Tuesday evening. The lyrics of the new UDP song, which has already been recorded, sum up the party’s campaign direction – “Until the UDP get back their full power, we are gonna suffa, gonna have a big feast when the PPM get defeat,” rang out across the Newlands area.   

Endorsed and Introduced by former Education Minister Roy Bodden, Dwayne Seymour in his first political speech said he stood on the hustings with a heavy heart as, although he was excited about running for offices, he saw many challenges ahead. He spoke about offering counselling to poor families and instigating job placement training schemes to get more Caymanians back to work.

Mark Scotland who is on his second attempt to gain a seat with the UDP and came fourth in the last election, beaten out by Osbourne Bodden, accused the PPM of promising miracles but in Bodden Town producing a disappearing act.

Talking about the economic problems, and in particular government debt, Scotland said McKeeva Bushhad rescued Cayman’s finances before and he would do it again. Taking aim at Charles Clifford and the Commission of Enquiry, he said it was disgusting that he was running for office again when he had been found guilty of wrongdoing.

When it was Bush’s turn to take to the podium there was no denying a visible lift in the crowd as he built a vintage ‘Mac’ performance. Lamenting unemployment figures, which he said were at 3500, Bush said the PPM policies had put Caymanians out of work. He said tourism was in the doldrums, crime was out of control and the standard of living was at an historic low. He criticised the leader of government business for comments about planting Cassava, but saved his worst criticisms for Charles Clifford and Alden McLaughlin, whom he accused of building castlesand neglecting teachers, as well as ignoring the needs of the financial services industry. Calling on Bodden Towners to vote for Scotland and Seymour, he said, “You only renew a contract if you get good service the first time. If you get worthless lousy service you don’t renew,” he exclaimed.

On Wednesday evening, as the nominations for the general election 2009 closed, even more people gathered outside the UDP HQ in George Town to hear the four new George Town contenders make their pitch. The results in both George Town and Bodden Town are likely to be key to the overall outcome of a future government. With West Bay, East End and the Sister Islands considerably more predictable, the UDP is likely to concentrate its resources on these two districts.

However, this evening the party will be turning its attention to home as the full eleven members are expected to be warmly welcomed at Beulah’s Yard, North West Point Rd in West Bay at 7:30pm when the four district incumbents start their bid for re-election.

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World media turns attention to Cayman

World media turns attention to Cayman

| 26/03/2009 | 7 Comments

(CNS): With the G20 summit only one week away, the Portfolio of Finance is gearing up to meet the international press. According to a memo, the government has been notified that a few international broadcast media organisations have contacted the office regarding their intention to arrive in the Cayman Islands this week and next, to prepare stories on the upcoming April 2 G-20 Summit in London. Warning of the probability of unscheduled visits by these global news hounds, the portfolio is advising members of the financial services sector to, “remain calm and pleasant.”

The memo, written by the Public Relations Unit Director Ted Bravakis, indicates that the members of the press have stated that the focus of these visits is to get reaction from the Cayman Islands on the G-20 agenda in relation to offshore financial centres (OFCs).  To that end and as part of government’s media policy towards international journalists, the PR Unit is assisting by coordinating government statements about regulation, cooperation and transparency of the Cayman Islands, as well as providing general background information/orientation about the industry,” it reads.

He did not say which news organisations would be coming but warned that the press will more than likely visit private offices with camera crews and journalists as well. Bravakis noted that the private sector firms must individually decide whether or not to speak to media. For those that do the PR Unit has offered some timely advice and guidelines to consider which may help avoid “surprise” or uncomfortable encounters:

Bravakis says remain calm and pleasant not to put ones hands over ones face, push cameras away or make physically aggressive movements. 

He warns too of concealed cameras or recording equipment left running when the interview has ended and advises people to assume the camera is on at all times.

Cameras may be small, home camcorder-type devices or even mobile telephones,” he said.

Bravakis also advises how to avoid getting caught off guard and to use what he described as bridging statements in response to inquiries: “We are not in a position to meet right now, but would be happy to take down your questions and get back to you with answers,” which can then be provided in writing.  It’s OK to repeat this sentiment – ideally, varying the phrasing: “I’m not the best person for this topic but…” the memo says.

Bravakis, however, also notes that media exposure can also be a positive thing and said if there are any  members of the private sector who wish to know more about any on-island international media opportunities to contact the unit.

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