Archive for April 21st, 2009

Action on climate change

Action on climate change

| 21/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Still without a National Conservation Law to help it protect Cayman’s natural resources the Department of Environment is doing what it can to promote awareness of climate change and point people in the right direction despite the lack of legislation. In observance of Earth Day 2009 the DoE has launched an information pack containing materials designed to inform the general public, business and government on the issues associated with climate change.

The materials deal specifically with climate change in the UK Overseas Territories and the Cayman Islands DOE had considerable input on the production of the information pack, which consists of two books, a pair of videos (available on DVD), a PowerPoint presentationand four pamphlets which deal directly with the science, evidence and causes of climate change, its potential impacts in the Overseas Territories, and the actions we can take to adapt to these impacts and to do our bit to combat the causes of climate change at an individual, organisational and governmental level.

Director of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie explained that she served as a member of the steering and editorial committee working on the publications and colleagues Tim Austin and Lisa-Ann Hurlston-McKenzie had considerable input. The materials also focus on the particular challenges facing the Overseas Territories in addressing and adapting to climate change, as the potential impacts are expected to pose risks that will be keenly felt by small islands such as the Cayman Islands, for example risks to property, infrastructure and communities from rising sea levels and increased intensity of tropical cyclones, which could lead to greater storm surge, flooding events and storm damage.

All the materials offer practical steps for different stakeholder groups to take to adapt, and to reduce the cause of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions. One message that is brought home in the information pack is that the sooner we act and prepare for the consequences of climate change, the less costly the impacts will prove to be in the future and the more resilient the islands will become.

Petrie described the materials as a valuable resource, which the DOE are promoting to raise awareness of the issues associated with climate change in small islands. ”I would recommend that the public go to the website to download the materials or contact the DOE, who can provide copies – this is information that all residents of the Cayman Islands should make themselves aware of,” she added.

All the materials – videos, books, presentation and pamphlets, can be downloaded from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website at Alternatively, hard copies can be requested from the DOE, which will also be handing out copies at the Green Generation Fair, after the Chamber of Commerce Earth Week beach clean-up on Saturday 25th April, 10.30am at West Bay Road Public Beach.

The DoE said the materials were prepared by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute for the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee, in consultation with the Overseas Territories Governments and funded jointly by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Department for International Development.

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Driver arrested following early morning smash

Driver arrested following early morning smash

| 21/04/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Police have arrested a 24-year-old man on suspicion of reckless driving following a crash in which he appears to have run another car off the road at around 3:00 am this morning (Tuesday, April 21). Police said that following investigations the 24 year old driver was involved in a dispute earlier in the night with the driver of the Honda Integra who ended up in hospital along with his passengers after colliding with a wall.

Police said that the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call reporting that two vehicles had crashed on the Linford Pierson Highway in the vicinity of Halifax Road at around 3:00 this morning. Police and medics responded to the scene and found that a Honda Integra had collided with a wall. The second vehicle alleged to be involved in the crash had left the scene. Two of the men who were travelling in the vehicle were taken to hospital by medics, a third passenger attended hospital and on his own all three have now been released.

Following investigations by the Traffic Management Unit the 24-year-old man who was driving the car which left the scene was arrested later today and remains in police custody.

Police said they believed the two drivers had been involved in an earlier dispute which occurred at the rear parking lot of LI Lounge. Police were alerted to a report of a fight taking place at around 2.25am. Officers responded to the scene but found nothing of note in the area when they arrived.

Anyone who witnessed an altercation taking place behind the nightclub or the traffic crash on Linford Pierson Highway is asked to contact the Traffic Management Unit on 946-6245 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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Candidate blames foreigners

Candidate blames foreigners

| 21/04/2009 | 224 Comments

(CNS): The murder rate, rising unemployment and even traffic congestion are all down to too many foreigners in Cayman according to one independent candidate running in the district of Bodden Town. In the second Chamber Candidates Forum in the district, where audiences have still not matched those seen so far in East End and West Bay, four of the ten candidates running in General Election 2009 for Bodden Town discussed tourism, construction, national energy, financial services revenue raising measures and immigration.

PPM incumbent MLA Osbourne Bodden and UDP member Mark Scotland, on his second attempt at a seat in the LA, lined up next to two newcomers to the politics game, independent candidates Justin Woods and Vincent Frederick. During the evening’s debate the candidates answered the ten set Chamber questions which they had not seen, the chamber emphasised, as well as a random selection from the audience.

Of all the subjects debated during the evening, however, with a few notable exceptions such as the gully and flooding problems in the district, it was immigration that seemed to get the audience’s attention. The panel answered two questions on the topic, one relating to the rollover policy and another asking if Cayman’s social harmony was in jeopardy.  All of the panellists seemed to agree that rollover was not working. However, none of them were prepared to say it need to be revoked. The fundamental problem was clearly articulated by Woods, who said that because Caymanians were not stepping into the posts at the seven year point as intended, the roles were simply being filled with a different work permit holder.

“The rollover policy has not worked as intended,” said Woods. “We have replaced a worker we have known for seven years for one we know nothing about and then a year later we end up with two as the first one comes back. The policy’s only accomplishment has been to change the mindset of our expatriate workers to spend as little as possible in our local economy. I’m not advocating its removal but the way it is being enforced and utilized needs to be look at.” He said, “…we have the expatriate worker coming in but we don’t have the trained Caymanian to replace him…”

Frederick said that employers were finding loopholes to keep them from employing Caymanians and were replacing foreigners with more foreigners and it had to stop. When it came to issues of social harmony among its 120 nationalities, where the other panellist felt social harmony was a very important element in Cayman’s success, Frederick was far less concerned and made it clear he didn’t care about the harmony of foreigners. He said it was the foreigners that were doing all the murders and undermining the harmony. “Foreigners enjoy everything but Caymanians don’t,” he said. “I am not here to protect the foreigners. We come first, they come second. If we can’t get jobs what are we living in this country for?” he asked.

Concerned greatly about the impact foreigners are having in Cayman in general, Frederick spent a good deal of time during the evening lamenting the problems associated with foreign workers, foreign companies and foreign contractors.  As well as blaming them for all the murders, he also put traffic congestion clearly at their feet. 

Answering a question about improving public transport he said, “There is too much traffic on our roads because there are too many foreigners,” adding that Caymanians were spending money on roads just to cater to the foreigners. Frederick said foreigners should be made to use public transport instead, and if elected he would introduce a law to prevent foreigners importing cars but if they want to own and use a vehicle he would make them pay more – at least double.

The other candidates took a rather more measured approach to reducing traffic congestion, with Scotland saying it was very difficult to get people out of their cars and there are not many ways to make it work, but he said it would be betterto decentralize. Had government built satellite offices in the outer districts instead of one new government administration building in town, he said, it would have eased the congestion. Bodden felt the existing transport system needed to be improved in terms of reliability but he also agreed decentralisation was a consideration for the future as Cayman could not keep building roads to address the congestion problem. Woods suggested a co-op for the bus transport system to encourage drivers to work in non-peak hours and still receive a fair share, and he felt utilising modern technology might help them run to a schedule.

When it came to revenue raising measures Frederick once again felt the foreigners were the best target and said he would introduce what he called an infrastructure fee (what would be more correctly described as income tax) but just on foreign workers. He also said he would tax commercial buildings by the square foot.

Scotland took a more conservative approach when he said that we needed to enhance current revenue sources in tourism and financial services rather than introducing new measures such as direct taxation, selling government assets or introducing a lottery or casinos. Bodden said while it took a lot of money to operate the Cayman Islands budget, revenue was not a serious issue yet and the focus should be on doing better on expenditure and making government more efficient. He did however suggest that in future a small fee could be introduced on overseas remittances but he didn’t think it was necessary yet.

Woods agreed with that idea and said because so much money left Cayman, the fee would not need to be very high to raise considerable revenue. However, he said diversifying Caymans economy was an important goal and suggested further developing our education sector. Building on the success of the medical/ vet school and the Cayman Islands Law School, he saw an opportunity to develop UCCI and to invite other international education establishments to come to Cayman.

Asked what would be their first private members motions if they were elected, Bodden said it would be for the development of a young offenders institute, which was desperately needed given that young offenders were learning at the hands of hardened criminals by being held in an adult prison. Woods said he would bring a motion to do something to tackle the flooding in Bodden Town, while Frederick said he wanted to address the penal code and make the sentences stiffer. Mark Scotland said it would relate to education in some way but he did not say specifically what it is he would want to change in the recently passed education law.

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Armed robbery foiled

Armed robbery foiled

| 21/04/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): Residents in a house in George Town foiled an attempted armed robbery on Sunday following a struggle that led to the offenders running away empty handed. The RCIPS said they are now investigating the incident which occurred during the day in Windsor Park. Police have since recovered the weapon which was dropped at the scene — a loaded semi-automatic pistol — and one of the victims suffered some minor injuries during the struggle.

At around 1:20 on Sunday afternoon, 19 April, a gentleman attended George Town police station to report that shortly before an attempted armed robbery had occurred at an address in the Windsor Park area of the district. Police responded to the location and found that three people, two men and a woman, had been in the house when two men entered, one of which was carrying a handgun. The men demanded money from the occupants who refused and a struggle ensued causing the offender to drop the weapon.

The two offenders ran from the house empty handed and police say they have recovered the weapon which was  a loaded semi-automatic pistol. One of the victims suffered some minor injuries during the struggle and police have warned victims to be careful when tacling offernders.

Chief Inspector Peter Kennett said that although the victims in this case were extremely brave people need to always put their safety first. "No two people will react the same in these types of situations and it’s likely that instincts will take over when confronted in a serious or violent situation. However, your safety should always be your number one priority. If confronted, we advise people to hand over the money or goods, it’s not worth risking injury or worse for what can always be replaced,” Kennett added.

Police are now appealing for anyone with information about this crime or who may recognise the offeners to cocontact DC Orlando Mason at George Town CID on 949-4222 or call Crime Stoppers. One of the offenders is described as 6ft 5ins very slim built in body with a dark brown complexion and around 30-31 years old. He had a long slim type face, black low cut hair, no facial hair, broad bulging nose and had a white towel draped over his head and was wearing a checkered style short sleeve shirt and long jeans type pants. The other offender was described as around 5ft 11ins with medium body build at about 28-30 years old. He has a round type face, no facial hair and was wearing a blue short sleeve shirt.

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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Story telling welcomed back

Story telling welcomed back

| 21/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Gimistory returned to the Cayman Islands this week as part of the Cayfest celebrations after missing its traditional appearance last year. The much loved entertaining festival for all the family has for years been scheduled in December, however, the decision to bring the festival under the CNCF’s annual cultural and arts festival means Gimistory will now be presented each year in April. The first performance for 2009 was in West Bay last night which included veteran teller Ken Corsbie (left)  and making his first appearance Belize teller Brad Pattico as well as local acts.

Despite competing with election meetings and campaign fever across the island it opened to a full house on the public beach and saw Pattico reveal his interpretations of traditional Belize folk songs as well as Corsbie do what he does best — make people laugh. The story telling festival which is free to enter continues throughout the island this week with the tellers visiting Pedro Castle this evening, East end public beach on Wednesday , North Side at Capt. Ned Miller’s yard on Thursday and then on Friday the story tellers split between Smith Cove in South Sound and Cayman Brac.

This year’s line up includes local tellers Auntie V, Nasaria Suckoo–Chollette, Twyla Vargas & Friends, Michael McLaughlin, Divine Bush and Priscilla Pouchie. Musical storytelling will be performed by guests from around the region including David Bereaux & Friends and Black Sage of Trinidad. Alongside the stories comes the traditional fried fish, fritters and swanky but this year the chefs will be competing for what is sure to become the coveted title of Best Fry Fish, Best Frittas or Best Swanky. The winning districts will be highlighted on Best of Cayman’s website and branded Best of Cayman at the entrance to the district.


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Hamil is top scorer

Hamil is top scorer

| 21/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Theresa Hamil scored 153 points to be named top scorer in the 2009 Cayman Islands Basketball Association (CIBA) National Women’s League. Despite Hamil’s herculean efforts, her team – Esso Blazettes – did not win this year’s title. In a release from CIBA, she said of her award, “The league has a lot of talented and skilled individuals and it didn’t enter my mind that I would have come out as top scorer. (Photos by Tara Bush)

Twenty-eight-year-old Hamil is employed at the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, in the Investments and Securities Division. She began playing during her first year at John Gray High School, when friends invited her to play with the team.

A talented sports woman, Hamil has earned a reputation for being on top of her game in other sports. She also played in the Cayman Islands Women’s National Football League a couple years ago with the intention to return in the future. Hamil, who plays both as a goal keeper and a field player, received a football scholarship to Webber International University, from which she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance.

Hamil also collected a couple of awards while she attended university. In 1998, she broke the record for having the most shut-outs (lowest number of goals scored in one year) and was awarded Defensive Player of the Year for the 1998-1999 season.

Receiving her top scorer award, she said,“I received this award very humbly. I want to thank my team mates and my coach, Shawn Pitterson, for the support they gave and most importantly I want to thank God for giving me the strength and allowing me the privilege to go out and play because without God none of this would have been made possible,” she added.

Hamil also praised her team. “The persons I play with truly meet the definition of team mates. On the court and on the bench they displayed a lot of team spirit and gave a lot of encouragement,” she said.

The top scorer says she would like to encourage the youths to channel their energies into something positive as playing sports had a positive influence on her life. “While learning basketball as a teenager, I was blessed with the opportunity to train with the national team, under the leadership of Victor “Voot” O’Garro, the National Technical Director of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association. As young persons growing up, we learnt a lot from Coach Voot both on and off the court and the experience was great. I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Coach Voot for all of his hard work and dedication that he gave to the programme over the many years,” Hamil said.

Hamil currently trains with the Women’s National Basketball Team under the coaching of National Women;s Basketball Coach Redver Ebanks where she is in training for upcoming international tournaments.


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Foot concedes Cayman’s role

Foot concedes Cayman’s role

| 21/04/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): On the eve of the British government’s budget which will be presented by the Chancellor Alistair Darling tomorrow, the leader of the team reviewing the UK’s offshore financial centre territories Michael Foot has issued a progress report in which he acknowledges the contribution of the Cayman Islands and other British OFCs to the UK economy as well as the importance of the industry to Cayman’s own domestic product and employment levels.

The UK’s independent review of offshore financial centres was instigated in the wake of Darlings pre-budget report last year when questions were being asked about how much of a part offshore centres had played in the economic crisis despite the fact that the economic credit crunch was a result of the behaviour of onshore lending practices. Foot and his team visited Cayman last moth to assess the jurisdiction with regards to its terms of reference which included assessing the long-term opportunities and challenges facing the British Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories as financial centres.

Foot does not refer specifically to Cayman in the progress report save to list the jurisdiction’s dependence on the sector. The report talks in general terms about all of the offshore financial centres, (OFC) but notes the significant differences in the size of the jurisdictions, the nature of the business being conducted, the reason why the centres have developed in certain ways and the standards of regulation.

On receipt of the progress report the Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said today, that the government welcomed it and would continue to work with Foot as he moved towards the completion of the full report.

 “The Cayman Islands welcomes this progress report and its observations relating to the importance of the Cayman Islands financial services industry, our commitment to upholding international standards and the interdependent relationship between the financial services  sectors of the Cayman Islands and the UK,” he added. “We look forward to working with Mr Foot and his team to support the completion of this review, expected before the end of 2009.”

The report summarises the economic contributions of the Cayman Islands financial services industry, attributing 36 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and 21 per cent of total employment to the sector. It also recognised the favourable reviews that the Cayman Islands have received from the International Monetary Fund and the [Caribbean] Financial Action Task Force.

During his visit to Cayman Foot and his team met with a cross-section of public and private sector representatives from the financial services sector. The Cayman Islands government said it assisted the review team prior to the visit and will continue to provide assistance for the duration of the review.

In this progress report Foot continues to ask for input from interested parties regarding issues such as the projected short to medium term outlook for the financial centres and the implications of downsizing. He also asked for comment on whether more should be done to strengthen regulatory co-operation between the UK FSA and the OFC”s local regulators.

The review is also focusing on the risks that the OFCs face flowing from the current and forecast macro-economicenvironment and revealed that Bermuda has increased its debt ceiling beyond its immediate needs to give the option of a strategic response to any problems in the financial sector that pose a systemic threat or risks to its economy. Gibraltar has a compensation schemes for depositors and investors consistent with the requirements of European Directives and the Isle of Man has had a bank deposit protection scheme in place for some. It also stated Guernsey has recently moved to introduce one.“The other financial centres covered by this Review do not currently have ‘safety nets’ in place, but some are actively considering whether to introduce them,” the report stated. Cayman does not have any kind of policy requiring insurance coverage for the deposits held in its retail banking system.

With the renewed focus on tax transparency and tax avoidance the progress report notes this will have implications for the financial centres covered by the Review.

“…the growing focus on tax avoidance and the emergence of national initiatives such as the US Stop Tax Haven Abuse Bill will continue to shape international opinion in the short to medium term. Each centre will need to take this into account in balancing the real or perceived competitive advantages of current tax regimes with the need to generate sufficient revenue to support its domestic economy,” Foots report states.


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Independent covets Education Ministry

Independent covets Education Ministry

| 21/04/2009 | 55 Comments

(CNS): Lyndon Martin has spent the last four years since losing the election in 2005 studying the social and economic issues facing the Cayman Islands, and a particular eye-opener was the 15 days he spent in Northward Prison. “That’s where Caymanians are in the majority,” he said. “Some of the brightestyoung minds are locked away and locked into a cyclical system, and we cannot afford to write them off.” At a party at his parents’ house  in The Bight on Saturday night to celebrate winning his court appeal, Martin told CNS that he is not only looking to regain a seat in the district but has his eye on a ministry position. (Left: Martin and Quincy Brown perform a skit at the event)

Martin, who was arrested in connection to the Special Investigation by Metropolitan police officers and remanded in custody in April 2008, said of the inmates, "We have failed to address the issues that got them there in the first place, and noted that there is still no halfway house for released inmates to support their reintegration into society. "We have a rehabilitation programme that is extremely impressive on paper but lacks the will and commitment to truly transform the lives of the inmates,” he said.

He said we have to address the family structure in the community and the breakdown of extended family tradition in the Cayman Islands, which created social and economic issues and made the nucleus family more important

“Within the community I live in – Cayman Brac – and in the greater Cayman Islands alcohol and drugs are resulting in serious crime. Gangs are very formalized and gang structure is very entrenched,” he said, claiming that he has been able to build a rapport with people in gang areas and understands their desire to recreate the family structure that is otherwise missing in their lives.

It’s very possible that neither party will have adequate numbers after the election to form a government without the inclusion of independents, Martin noted. He said that if he found himself in this position of leverage he would align himself with whichever party would give him a ministry position and, given his political and life experiences, the one he wants is a possible Ministry of Youth, Education and Rehabilitation Services.

“Many people have asked if I still support the UDP,” said Martin, a founding member of the party now in opposition, but claims he supports any party that serves the interest of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Nonetheless, he went on to say that the UDP had proven that they had “a better grasp of the issues in Cayman Brac and greater concern for the people of the Brac.”

Both incumbents, Julianna O’Connor-Connolly and Moses Kirkconnell, are very strong but have proven their inability to work together, he said noting this is not a new observation but something he has been pointing out since 2006 and has been repeated over and over to him by constituents.

The records of the Legislative Assembly show that from Day One there has been disunity between them, that throughout the 4-year term no joint motions have been sponsored in the LA by the two representatives, and that there have been no joint public meetings to update the constituents on initiatives on Cayman Brac.

Admitting that the relationship between him and O’Connor-Connolly had been “less than perfect” when they both represented the district between November 2000 and May 2005, he noted that during their term they had had eight public meetings together and he had supported her nomination for a ministerial position, so the relationship had been “productive”. He said, “It would be better this time because we have both developed politically and have accepted we have different views but respect each other’s position.”

Martin also claims he could work well with Kirkconnell, and their skills would complement each other, with the PPM incumbent “a successful businessman and comes from a well-established family” and Martin, who “comes from a humble background with a greater focus on social aspects of the community rather than strictly dollars and cents.”

Martin said he fully supports the party system. “However, the party system in the Cayman Islands is going through growing pains and lacks political maturity.” Having represented the district for one year as an independent and three as a party member, he said he has the benefit of comparison.

As for the draft Constitution, Martin said he would be unable to support it since it failed to require a Cabinet seat for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, and because it “bastardizes the voting system”.

Turning to the Sister Islands economy, he said there was a need to rework the current concessions on import duty. Rather than give it up front , which in many cases is not passed on to end users, he suggests a rebate system whereby after a purchase of the concession items residents can go straight to the Treasury Department with their receipt and get an instant rebate.

He also wants to see a duty concession applied to basic food supplies similar to the reduction in St Kitts and Nevis. In order to make up the shortfall in revenue for government, he would join other independent candidates in a call for a national lottery.

In addition, he wants to address pensions and remove the requirement for pension contributions for work permit holders, which would ease the burden on small businesses and reduce the cost of living.

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Candidates declare contracts

Candidates declare contracts

| 21/04/2009 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Two of the candidates contesting the forthcoming general election have revealed interests in government contracts as required by the constitution. The list of interests reveals that in the district of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman MLA Moses Kirkconnell has interest in Brac Information Centre, among others, which has agreements with several government entities and candidate for George Town Burns Conolly reveals his business also has a considerable number of diverse government contracts.

As well as Brac informatics Kirkconnell also listed retailer Kirkconnell Ltd. where government entities might also purchase products; Cayman Brac Power and Light which provides electricity to the Sister Islands; and Moses Kirkconnell/Mabry Kirkconnell which rents office space on Cayman Brac to government.

Conolly reports his interest in his firm the Burns Conolly Group Limited which has design and engineering contracts for the Summary Courts building and the Law School; a design architect contract with APEC for new MRCU aircraft hangars; and outstanding fees due from the Port Authority on a 2002-2005 project management contract. He also lists his interest in Secure Cayman Ltd. which does locksmith works for various government entities, although no specific contracts are in place.

According to section 19(1)(g) of the Cayman Islands (Constitution) Order 1972 no one can stand for election if they do not first declare what interests they have with government publically. It states: “No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the Assembly who…is a party to, or a partnerin a firm or a director or manager of a company which is a party to, any contract with the Government of the Islands for or on account of the public service and has not, in the case of a contested election, caused to be published, at least one month before the day of the poll, a Government Notice setting out the nature of such contract and his interest, or the interest of any such firm or company, therein;…”

Both candidates made the deadline as their interests have been published in the 20 April government gazette. Any candidates that have forgotten to declare or have chosen not to reveal possible government interest will now be breaking the law if they continue to run for office.


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