Archive for March 29th, 2009

Comment wanted on controversial register

| 29/03/2009 | 20 Comments

(CNS): The government is urging the public to submit comments regarding its proposed Sex Offender Registry Bill 2009, which has already caused controversy because of the intention is for the register not to be open. Local children’s advocate and independent candidate for Bodden Town, Sandra Catron, has claimed that unless the public at large have access it defeats the purpose. One of the government’s own back benchers, Alfonso Wright, also recently stated that the register should allow communities to know who is living among them.

With just under a month left for public consultation on the bill as it is now stands, the Ministry of Health and Human Services said it seeks to establish a register of sex offenders.

The ministry said sex offenders who are prosecuted in the Cayman Islands and eventually released back into the community need appropriate supervision to help ensure the safety of victims and communities, increase accountability for their crimes and reduce the risk of re-offending.

“Through this public consultative process, my ministry welcomes greater collaboration with government and non-government agencies as a means of raising awareness of this social issue that is threatening the stability of our families,” said Minister of Health and Human Services Anthony Eden. “I therefore urge all residents of the Cayman Islands to obtain a copy of the draft bill review it and provide written comments.”

The bill states: ”Subject to subsection (2), access to the Register shall be restricted to the Registry. The Registry may, where it is in the interest of the due administration of justice to do so, grant to an approved authority access to the Register. The Governor in Cabinet may by Order, prescribe a list of approved authorities for the purposes of this section.”

Catron recently told CNS that to have a closed list completely missed the point of the register in the first place.

“It only codifies what is currently occurring and in my viewpoint this is a complete waste of time,” she said, noting that the proposed register is intended merely for the use of agencies and departments involved, ones that already have access to information such as the police and the Department of Children and Family Services. “It simply does not make any sense,” she said.

Catron said that the goal of the campaign which she started has been missed. “The register has to be very clear. The aim and objective is to warn people of offenders who have committed an illegal act of rape or sexual assault.”

As well as having a groundswell of grass roots support for her position, government back bencher, the fourth elected member for George Town, Alfonso Wright, also stated in the Legislative Assembly recently that a public register was needed.

Speaking during the debate on the Children (Amendment) Bill (2009), Wright said that the register of sex offenders must move forward and said it must inform the community when offenders lived among them. “People must know who they are so we do not leave our children with neighbours not knowing,” said Wright.

Any input should be in writing and delivered to: The Ministry of Health and Human Services, Government Administration Building, ATTN: Debbie-Ann Whittaker/Sophy Broad. Please address the envelope: “Comments on Sex Offenders Registry Bill”.  Alternatively, comments can be sent to or  The Sex Offender Registry Bill, 2009 was tabled in the Legislative Assembly 16 February 2009 for a sixty day public consultation period.  The deadline for recommendations is 17 April 2009.

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Referendum result expected on afternoon of 21 May

| 29/03/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): As all eyes turn to the General Election, the people of the Cayman Island will also be voting on the proposed constitution which was agreed in London in February on Election Day—Wednesday 20 May. According to the elections office while the General Election result should be known by the early hours of Thursday morning, the count for the Referendum ballot will begin at 10 o’clock that day with a result coming sometime in the afternoon.


Speaking on nomination day Kearney Gomez explained that the referendum count will take place at the Family Life Centre, off Walkers Road and start in the morning the day after the poll to give his team time to rest following the election count. However, he predicted the result of the constitutional referendum will be known by around 3pm on Thursday 21 May. He said that the count was a national poll but it would be counted on a district by district basis.

Gomez said that on Election Day, which is a public holiday, the polling stations would be designed to allow people to flow through them with the optimum efficiency. With 660 minutes of polling time in each station he said the logistics were such that only a few minutes were available to each person to cast their vote in order to allow every registered voter the opportunity to exercise their democratic right.

He said therefore voters will enter the station show their IDs and first get their election ballot and cast one, two, three or four votes depending on the district. “We estimate around three minutes per person for the election as people often still needthinking time when they arrive at the station,” he said explaining that voting can sometimes be an intimidating experience and people need time to think in the privacy of the booth.

He explained once they have cast their votes for their representatives they will place that ballot in the box and move through the referendum area where he said they will be given the ballot paper regarding the constitution where the question will be: “Do you agree with the Draft Constitution which was agreed by the Cayman Islands Constitution Delegation and the Government of the United Kingdom on 5th February, 2009 and tabled in the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands on 11th February, 2009.”

Having only a yes or no choice Gomez said people will probably only need around a minute to decide on that answer. Once the yes or no vote is cast he said electors then drop that ballot in a separate box and leave the station.


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Chief Secretary also denies changes to health benefits

| 29/03/2009 | 7 Comments

(CNS): Echoing comments made by the leader of government business at last week’s media briefing, Chief Secretary George McCarthy has also told civil servants that nothing has been decided at this time to change either the coverage or the contributions paid to government’s health insurance provider, CINICO, on behalf of civil servants. He said an internal review of the escalating costs of healthcare and alternative courses of action was recently undertaken by a range of stakeholders.

“But this is not unusual,” McCarthy added. “Government routinely examines costs and revenues. However, no decisions have been made, nor have any firm alternatives been presented to Cabinet for their consideration.”

He said that if in the future changes are deemed to be necessary to civil servants’ health care coverage, broad consultations would take place and employees’ input would be sought before making any final recommendations to Cabinet.

His statement and that made by LoGB Kurt Tibbetts came in the wake of comments by the leader of the Civil Service Association James Watler, who has reportedly said any changes would be unacceptable to the members.   

“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 last week.

However, the subject of escalating health care costsand who will pay for it is becoming a hot topic and Minister Alden McLaughlin has already said that even if existing public servants retain their benefits it is unlikely to remain the case for new recruits in the future.

The government is currently spending some CI$64 million per year to pay health cover for civil servants, pensioners, veterans and indigents.

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Cabbie! Cayman please

| 29/03/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The Department of Tourism is taking a new approach to tempting Londoners to come visit the Cayman Islands with a black cab depicting the destination. As the UK capital’s travelling public hail the famous taxis, some will be getting into one that will take them miles away from the London drizzle. Although branding a Cab as a marketing tool has been available for some time, the DoT said it was the first time that a Cayman cab has been commissioned in almost ten years. The department said that the cab idea comes at a time when the profile of Cayman is comparatively high following a number of PR successes and a high impact advertising campaign.

Donald McDougall, the Department of Tourism’s regional manager, Europe said in the past the popularity of cab advertising had priced it out of the realms of possibility for many tourism organisations. However, he said that the Cayman Islands DoT has entered a co-sponsorship deal with Dial-a-Flight that has made it a very cost-effective marketing tool.

“Our Cayman cab is definitely an eye-catching vehicle and will not go un-noticed either by its passengers or passingtraffic, and is already causing some comment. By coincidence, the colour scheme of the cab’s black paintwork works seamlessly with our use of black in the background of our advertising creative,” McDougall added.

The cab is a joint marketing venture between the Department of Tourism and Dial-a-Flight, part of the Lotus Group, one of the UK’s largest travel companies. Dial-a-Flight operates a fleet of cabs on the streets of London and the Cayman Islands has secured a one year partial sponsorship deal with the company, enabling it to co-brand both the interior and exterior of one of its taxis. The deal comes with renewal options for years two and three.




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Fraser breaks swim record

| 29/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(Swimming World Magazine): Cayman’s Shaune Fraser broke 1:41 barrier, and lowered his NCAA record in the 200-yard fly to head into the diving break. Fraser touched out Georgia’s Mark Dylla, 1:40.75 to 1:40.85, in one of the closest finishes in the event in NCAA history. Notably, Logan Madson rounded out the top three with a 1:41.70. Rainer Kendrick of Texas holds that record, however, with a 1:54.97 to 1:55.00, triumph over Jayme Cramer of Stanford in 2004. Fraser’s effort eclipsed his NCAA record of 1:41.17 set during prelims, while Dylla joined Fraser and Michael Phelps (1:39.70) as the only swimmers under 1:41 in the history of the event.

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Who will tax, who will cut?

| 29/03/2009 | 3 Comments

One of the most unusual things about politics in the Cayman Islands is that, while we may have some forty-three people planning to contest the General Election on 20 May, it is hard to define what any of them really believe in.

Whether they are People’s Progressive Movement members, United Democratic Party candidates or Independents, no one offers the electorate a distinct political ideology but instead hopes you will vote for them because you like them. In most other jurisdiction there is a political spectrum ranging from the far left to the far right where voters can define their politicians and understand by and large how they would approach an issue according to their political colours.

For instance, if we were to take Cayman’s current $29 million budget deficit and place it in an imaginary Cayman Islands where the politicians have specific political definitions, we would see how a specific party or independent would deal with it. If a party on the left were to win, for example, than the deficit would be addressed through increases in taxation, especially on the rich, and if a party on the right of the political spectrum were to win they would likely cut taxes to stimulate spending but also cut public services to the wire.

In most countries raising revenue through direct taxation or cutting public services are the tools that respective administrations use to manipulate their economies and appeal to the electorate. This is, of course, because most countries don’t have such a huge outside source of revenue as Cayman does both through the offshore financial services sector and tourism. However, as we have seen, as a result of the global recession the revenue earners that Cayman has depended on for so long have shrunk considerably while spending has increased. This means that whoever is elected will have to make a decision for the next budget to increase government revenue and cut spending.  The problem is that because there are no clear political definitions the Cayman electorate will go to the polls on Wednesday 20 May without really knowing where the candidates will strike that balance.

Which political party will introduce new taxes and which will cut spending, which independent candidates support more revenue raising measures and which ones think cutting public services will address the problem? These are the questions that the left and right of politics usually defines for voters. People know just by looking at the political party name how a given group of politicians will behave once in office from an ideological point of view.

Right now as the campaign begins most of the noise coming from the hustings is all about change, strong leadership, reviews, better ways forward, doing what it takes, working together, getting down to the issues and other familiar rhetoric. However, who will cut and who will tax remains a mystery.

While some candidates have stuck their heads above the parapets and suggested, for example, a national lottery to raise revenue, one independent has even suggested a direct income tax on ex-pats earning over $5000 pcm, most have talked simply about efficiencies and better management of what we have got. Realistically, none of these policies would be sufficient to raise the necessary revenue that the public purse now needs.

At the end of the day, government is about taxation and spending. For thousands of years, from the kings of the European courts to African tribal leaders, those who rule doso from a political position which informs how they raise and how they spend money or allocate commodities. While there are of course many, many issues that fall outside the way revenue is generated, such as prayer in school, crime and punishment, protecting the environment and others, how a politician approaches these in the first instance comes from how he or she raises the money to pay for or promote a moral position.

 A government cannot function without a budget and cannot make moral or ideological decisions about any issue until it has made the fundamental decision about how it raises money and where it will save it.

With personality dominating Cayman’s political scene, the electorate may well be voting for who they like come 20 May but will they be voting for what they believe in regarding how revenue should be raised and where it should be saved?  There is only one way to find out and that is for the voters to ask their would-be political representatives – what will they do, tax or cut?

Given the precarious situation that the country’s finances are now in, decisive political ideology is important. Whether taxing or cutting is the right way forward is, in a democracy, for the electorate to decide but in order to do that they need to know who will do what. The electorate needs to demand more of their would-be 43 rulers and ask them to reveal their political colours before they place the X on the spot this time around. 

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New rules on tax havens

| 29/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(Wall Street Journal): The 20 largest economic nations in the world are expected to produce a new set of rules for oversight, transparency and conduct for offshore tax havens next week as part of a broader effort to overhaul the regulatory structure of the world economy, White House officials said Saturday.The new "rules of the road" for Caribbean and other tax havens will be included in a communiqué issued by the Group of 20 nations at a much-anticipated London economic summit on Thursday, said Michael Froman, a deputy White House national-security adviser for international economic affairs.

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Fraser swims personal best

| 29/03/2009 | 4 Comments

( Junior Shaune Fraser (George Town, Cayman Islands) swam a career-best mark and UF record in the 200-yard freestyle (1:31.70) to capture the first individual national championship title of his career. Fraser’s title was the second of the 2009 NCAA campaign for Florida. Following day two of competition in College Station, the Gators are in sixth place in the team standings with 225 points. Fraser’s 200 free title was Florida’s third title in the event, the last won by former Gator Adam Sioui at the 2002 NCAA Championships. (Left: Brett and Shaune Fraser, photo by Shurna Robbins)

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UK finance minister hid money in Jersey

| 29/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(Times Online): Lord Myners, the minister in charge of the government’s assault on tax havens, has used a blind trust to conceal £250,000 of his own money in an offshore shelter. Details of the secret holding have been obtained by The Sunday Times as G20 leaders gather in London pledging to stamp out tax abuses. Myners transferred 500,000 of his own shares in the Ermitage hedge fund, based in Jersey, into a blind trust when he became a minister in October.

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UK PM wants to punish tax haven users

| 29/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(Times Online): Gordon Brown will urge G20 leaders meeting in London this week to back a crackdown on tax havens, asking them to agree new rules to punish multinationals that use offshore shelters to dodge revenue bills. The move is likely to provoke a furious response from British business leaders, who have clashed with Brown over tax, leading to some companies moving offshore. City sources said last night that they viewed the move as headline grabbing rather than a serious attempt to tackle the economic crisis.

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