Archive for April 28th, 2009

Baines gets top cop job

Baines gets top cop job

| 28/04/2009 | 7 Comments

(CNS): In a decision likely to come as a surprise to the local community James Smith the Acting Police Commissioner has not been given Cayman’s top cop job. The post has gone to David Baines, who will commence his job as the new permanent Commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) on the 1 June. A British national, Baines has had a 31-year career in the United Kingdom with additional cross-border experience in a number of European countries. Making the announcement today, Governor Stuart Jack said the selection process had been very thorough and had involveda great deal of background research and he was looking forward to working with Baines.

I am confident that he has the skills and experience to see through the modernisation of the police service and meet the needs of this community, he said. The governor also paid tribute to Acting Commissioner Jim Smith, who missed out on the post for the second time.

"Commissioner Smith has done an excellent job under very difficult circumstances,” Jack added.  “His professionalism and dedication to the task set for him, particularly in relation to Operations Tempura and Cealt has been a tremendous benefit to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and the community.”

Speaking about the selection process, the governor said the private and public sectors had been involved with some thirty community members from all walks of life participating in a series of focus groups, which provided input to the recruitment panel members on the current challenges facing the RCIPS and the selection criteria for recruitment. Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Deputy Chief Secretary, Donovan Ebanks, who served as deputy chair of the selection panel, praised the new recruitment process: “The participation of private sector and community representatives worked extremely well and is a model for similar processes in the future.”

Baines, who is 49 years old, comes to Cayman from his most recent post as Assistant Chief Constable with the Cheshire Constabulary.  In Cheshire he commanded 2,200 officers responsible for delivering the full range of policing services to the public in line with Cheshire’s annual and three-year policing plans. These services include major crime investigation, organized crime investigation, an economic crime unit, public order, and firearms/counter-terrorism capabilities. His work has involved close cooperation with criminal justice partners, in particular the Crown Prosecution Service, the Courts and Probation in order to deliver victim-focused services to the community.

Prior to his work with the Cheshire Constabulary, Baines was Chief Superintendent with the Greater Manchester Police. Here he was recognised for developing a new model of community-focused policing that re-established the trust and confidence of ethnic and inner city communities in the local police in challenging areas such as Oldham and Salford, following the worst race riots experienced in the United Kingdom.

As Superintendent in Greater Manchester, Baines was Head of Corporate Performance. He was responsible for setting annual performance targets for the force based on feedback from the public and local stakeholders. He has built on this experiencein recent years to develop, in partnership with KPMG, a special programme called “Quest”, which has successfully improved efficiencies in the Cheshire Police and has been recognized by the Home Office as a model of its kind in the UK.

Before that Baines spent three years in the National Crime Squad (the forerunner of the Serious Organised Crime Agency) as a Branch Commander responsible for three specialist teams of officers totalling 75 detectives. During this time he dealt with major investigations focusing on international fraud, money laundering and corruption within the UK and other European countries.

He began his career as a Police Cadet at the age of 16 and has taken numerous general and specialist training courses in aspects such as firearms, public order, and diversity. In 2005 he was one of the top graduates of the National Strategic Command Course – the leading course for senior police officers in the UK. He will shortly complete the Master of Studies course in International Relations at Wolfson College, Cambridge.  He has said that he sees education and training as vital and has recently developed with Chester University a university level training programme that provides a foundation course for new police officers.

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Candidates still in question

Candidates still in question

| 28/04/2009 | 78 Comments

(CNS): Despite what is written in the Constitution, Mark Scotland has insisted that both he and Dwayne Seymour are qualified to contest the election. “We believe we are now in compliance with the requirements of the Election’s Law and the Constitution and are proceeding in that regard. We have had communications with the Elections Office and they concur with that statement,” he said this morning on radio. However, the Elections Office has confirmed to CNS that no one from there has concurred with any statement as it is not a position to do so.

Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez said this is an issue for the Grand Court and not the Elections Office. Attorney General Samuel Bulgin has also confirmed that this is an issue for the courts.

In an emailed response to various questions placed to him by CNS, the country’s top attorney said the questions could only be conclusively determined by the Grand Court after hearing all the facts and considering the relevant law(s). 

Joining Charles Clifford, however, for a candidate’s debate on this morning’s (27 April) edition of Rooster’s Crosstalk hosted by Austin Harris, Scotland said it was not the case that he and Seymour were disqualified.

“We have been duly nominated in accordance with the relevant laws of the Cayman Islands,” he said, adding that it was an oversight that the contracts were not declared within the deadline but they had now both published the details. “To our knowledge based on our legal advice both here and the UK, we believe now that we are in full compliance with all requirements under the Constitution and Elections Law.” As a result, they were now able to contest the election and be elected come May 20, he stated, and said the decision should be made by the voters of Bodden Town.

Clifford said he believed that the failure was an oversight but he was not sure that changed the legal consequences, but it was not for him to decide. “This is a matter for the Elections Office, the governor and the attorney general,” he added. “Those three offices owe it to the country and … the people of Bodden Town to make a public statement on this matter and to do so as quickly as possible in relation to what their thoughts are … I think the people of Bodden Town certainly deserve that well in advance of Election Day.”  But he said that whatever their thoughts are and regardless of it being just an oversight, as he understood the Constitution the candidates were currently disqualified from holding office.

The attorney general told CNS that his office could not offer an opinion at this juncture as it would be mere conjecture, which would not be very helpful and lead to more questions. So it is unlikely any public statement will be made on the issue before 20 May from either Bulgin’s office or that of the governor.

Gomez and Colford Scott from the Elections Office also noted that this is not a matter for them. While the candidates were in compliance with the Elections Law on Nomination Day, this is a constitutional matter, they both said, which has emerged since that date and it could only be decided by the Grand Court. Gomez confirmed that no one at the Elections Office has been authorized to make a statement on the matter as there was no provision in the law for them to offer an opinion or take action as this does not concern the Election Law.

Scott said no one from the office had concurred with the position as stated by Scotland. Gomez however, explained that under the Elections Law they could not be challenged until after Election Day as they had already been nominated. Scott confirmed that the Elections Office would play no part in this and the only way the Election Law would apply is that it gave provision for a candidate to withdraw under Section 31 if either candidate were to voluntarily step down before the poll.

The Bodden Town candidates that have spoken to CNS have confirmed that they will challenge either Scotland, who at the last election polled almost 41% of the vote and came in fourth, or Seymour if either were to gain enough votes to be elected because it is a serious constitutional matter, and despite the fact that it may have only been an oversight, they all said that it is fundamental to the principle of the Constitution which must be upheld and cannot be dismissed as a technicality.

Any challenge will be defended by either candidate if they garner enough votes to be elected, according to sources close to the UDP. However, so far legal opinion remains divided on what would then happen. Most local advocates prepared to offer comment stated that they believed the challenge would be upheld because of the clear nature of the disqualification, but opinion diverged over the question of whether or not there would be a by-election or whether the fourth elected candidate would be awarded the seat. Further questions have also arisen on whether Scotland or Seymour could then run in that by-election. Three of the legal experts who spoke with CNS said that there was no precedent for this issue in the Cayman Islands, and consequently the judge would be directed to look at precedents in Jamaica to help determine a decision.

One of the three said the question of the by-election may well come down to the question of whether "voters have definite knowledge of the facts that disqualify a candidate from being eligible at the time of the election.” He stated that if due to news reports and public awareness the voters understood the consequences of the law, votes cast for the disqualified candidates would be considered void and the next valid candidate would be considered elected. This was based on a recent case from the Jamaica Supreme Court which addressed that very issue and would be regarded as persuasive authority here, the lawyer noted.

Steve McField, a well known local attorney who said this was not just a mere technicality but a breach of the constitution, added that the issue would definitely have to be decided in the courts and he had strong opinions on what he believed would be the decision and the consequences.

However he was particularly concerned that the candidates were ignorant of the Constitution and were still running for office. “How can you stand for election in a sophisticated jurisdiction such as this and not know the Constitution?” he asked, noting that at the very least all of those contesting for the office should know that document.

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Walkers helps the Blues

Walkers helps the Blues

| 28/04/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The National Trusts’ Blue Iguana Recovery Programme (BIRP) received another financial boost from local law firm Walkers, which has donated another CI$20,000 – the third cheque presented by the firm to the National Trust in the past three years. These donations followed Walkers’ commitment in 2006, as a Gold Sponsor of the Trust, to donate CI$60,000 to BIRP, which has been used to fund its operational costs.

"This is the third year that Walkers has helped fund the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme in this way," said programme director Fred Burton in a Walkers release. "Corporate sponsorships like this are absolutely key to the ongoing operation of our programme. Now we are entering a new and exciting phase of operations with a new protected area, I also hope that Walkers’ example may inspire others to join in helping us secure the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana’s future for the long term."

Earlier this year BIRP received a major boost from the government’s decision to protect a large area of Blue Iguana habitat in the east interior of Grand Cayman. This newly protected area provides almost 200 acres more capacity for the project, to add to the 85 acres of good Blue Iguana habitat which had previously been available.

"The achievements of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme are nothing short of remarkable and have helped ensure the survival of this species, which had been so close to extinction just a few years ago," commented David Byrne, chief marketing officer with Walkers. "Walkers is proud to have supported the Programme and we were delighted to hear that the new protected land brings into sight their ultimate goal of releasing a thousand blue iguanas to the wild."

To date, 290 Blue Iguanas have been released into the wild as a result of the programme, according to Burton, the majority of these having been released in the Salina Reserve. "The remnant wild population in 2002 was estimated at less than 25, so we are making progress in the right direction," Burton added.

The Blue Iguana has been a favourite symbol of Cayman for the staff at Walkers for a number of years, the release noted. In 2003, Walkers had a custom designed blue iguana stuffed toy made in order to promote the firm and the Cayman Islands at overseas conferences. The toys were so popular that they have become an important part of the firm’s global marketing effort. Many of these toys are donated to the gift shops at the National Trust and the National Gallery, with profits from their sale helping to support local educational and arts programmes.

Walkers’ staff also made a direct contribution to improving security for the Blue Iguanas last year, raising money through the firm’s ‘Dress Down’ programme, after a number of blues were killed in 2008. The CI$6,476 collected in July 2008 was the largest sum that the National Trust had ever received from a corporate dress down event.

(Left to Right): BIRP Director Fred Burton, Trust GM Frank Balderamos, Blue Iguana warden John Marotta, Walkers chief marketing officer David Byrne, and Stanley the Blue Iguana.


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Issue-led political forums fail to draw crowds

Issue-led political forums fail to draw crowds

| 28/04/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): With so many other events competing for the attention of residents last weekend from the Chamber’s Earth Day clean-up to the Batabano Junior parade the political events “Breakfast with the Candidates” and the “Youth Mixer” organised by local activists were both poorly attended. While candidates turned up in force potential voters were thin on the ground. However, with the big day only four weeks away the candidates did not pass up the chance to get their message out both on addressing sexual violence and how to meet the needs of the communities young people. (Left: Eddie Thompson)


Hosted by the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre (CICC), in partnership with the Estella Scott-Roberts Foundation (ESRF) “Breakfast with the Candidates” at the Family Life Centre on Saturday morning gave candidates an opportunity to tell voters what they intended to do if elected to address the increasing violence and abuse against women and children in the community.

The first speaker of the candidates present was Sandra Catron who was due to attend her sister’s funeral that morning but as a long time outspoken advocate on these issues made time to offer her thoughts before leaving for the service. Calling for an open sex offender’s register and the immediate implementation of gender legislation she said waiting around for cultural and behavioural change would not protect women and the children. “We have to move the moral compass with legislation,” she said. “We cannot wait for people to adjust their attitudes and I will demand the much needed legislation.” She said Cayman lags behind the region in implementing necessary laws. Catron criticized the current administration for talking about implementing laws but not actually doing it. She said she would work towards a definitive sexual offences act which included treatment and punishment and covered the issue of internet predators.

Theresa Lewis –Pitcairn who was unable to attend sent a message from overseas to the forum through Ellen Peguero, in which she indicated her concern about the gender violence and child abuse and said whether elected or not she would continue to give priority to these issues and called for education to extend to boys as much as girls and mandatory counselling.

Most of the candidates called for similar things including a cultural shift in attitudes, a challenge to existing myths, the need for sexual crimes to be equated to violent crime and transparency. The only other candidate to support Sandra’s call for an open sex offender’s register was Eddie Thompson who also pointed the finger at the church. Although speaking from church premises he still criticised the many churches on island for not speaking out as loudly as they should about both gender violence and sexual abuse. “I have advocated against it for years,” he said and lamented the failure of government agencies and the ngos to communicate. He also spoke about transparency and said he himself came close to becoming a victim of a perpetrator who was abusing boys in a sports club he belonged to in the past but when reports were made instead of the perpetrator being properly investigated and charged he was quietly removed from the island and no more was said about it.

Burns Conolly agreed that transparency was crucial and went across the board and said that it was time to stop covering up for those in authority or high offices who were also accused of these crimes and that no matter who was involved this crime would only be addressed through disclosure.

Perlina McGaw Lumsden also spoke from genuine experience of abuse in her own family when she was young and later sexual harassment as an adult. She said the UDP would attack the issue through comprehensive educational programmes and establish a public/private partnership. She also noted the need for co-ordination of existing agencies and resources for the crisis centre.

Gilbert McLean, Walling Whittaker, Bernie Bush, Dr Frank McField, Alfonso Wright and Ellio Solomon also attended and offered heir support for future legislation, increased transparency and expressed their desire to truly tackle the problem.  After being challenged to really put their money where their mouths were by activist Marilyn Connolly, all the candidates agreed to take the Darkness to light seminar offered by the Crisis Centre which educates individuals on the issues surrounding the identification of abuse. Anthony Eden the minister with responsibility for gender affairs did not make the forum as a result of other commitments.

Later that day the same candidates were also crowding on to a platform at the former Marquee Cinema for a youth forum organised by Luigi Moxam a youth activist and local entrepreneur. Sadly however, there were very few young voters there to challenge them. Given a microphone and a platform however, the candidates pressed on regardless offering their thoughts on the issues affecting young people. Bernie Bush, independent candidate for West Bay who has devoted most of his life to dealing with youngsters noted that getting young people involved in the political process was an important issue and he knew how to engage young people. He said aside from the need for physical facilities for young people in West Bay a sense of belong was important but adults had to show young people respect and understand their needs.

Dr Frank McField raised his concerns over the fact that the gang issue in Cayman was not being addressed which he said had been festering for years. He said the gangs now control the schools and there was a need to recruit from those gangs people who can help address the problem but there are no quick solutions to the social problems facing young people which had developed over a long period and could not addressed over night. “We need preventative policies we don’t have people working with the gangs,” he said adding that people ignore these things until they are impacted and then they complain. He also said, “There has to be a real strategy to address the alienation of young people which the courts and police have helped to intensify.”

Most of the candidates said restoring the strength of the family and the disconnect between the youth and the community were important goals.

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Wolves lead the pack

Wolves lead the pack

| 28/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Wolves, the most popular team in the Dominos Pizza Men’s Basketball League, is ranked number one in the standings, after 10 weeks of play, the Cayman Islands Basketball Association report. With a wealth of talented players and one of the largest fan bases among local men’s basketball teams, Wolves is strongly rivalling last year’s champion, George Town Sports Club (GTSC) for the honour of most-liked team. Coach of the Wolves, Duran “Trini” Whittaker, attributes his team’s large fan base and popularity to its attitude towards the game. “It’s all about basketball and having fun, while giving the fans what they want – good, hard-fought basketball,” he said. (Photos by Tara Bush. Left: Collin Anglin adds another two points to the board )

Since its inception three years ago, Wolves have made it to the playoffs twice, only to lose in the semi-finals. In the top spot this year, the team is once again poised for a shot at the championship. Coach “Trini” says his team is going all the way because of his secret weapon – Dwight O’Garro — one of the leading players in the league. O’Garro is backed by a roster of other good players, including Gary “Butcher” McLaughlin, Earl Allen and Carson Fagan.

Whittaker said one of the biggest decisions he has to make on game day is who to start and which two players he will not register for the game. Despite Wolves’ enviable position as the league leader, Coach “Trini” knows only too well that the real battle is for the league title. Right: Osmer Miller (#15 Colombia) takes the shot while Sebastian Sache (15 Shaolin) reaches for a rebound.

Defending champions GTSC have lost four games and may find it difficult to make the play offs. Tarheels are going through a rebuilding year and Shaolin has lost three games. Columbia, the team that moved up from Division Two, are in the number three position.

Esso Blazers are in second place, and by all accounts, are in the best position to take the league this season, because they have a deep bench. Like GTSC, Esso Blazers are waiting for their college players to return, but are in a better position with enough skilled players to take them through the season. Silver Bullets, who have a weak bench but five very good players, are in sixth position.

National Basketball Technical Director, Victor “Voot” O’Garro, said the tournament is a toss up this year.

“This is the most balanced men’s league we have ever had. There are no clear winners and while fans may have their favourites it will come down to the last point in the last game before we can determine the dominant team,” he noted. Coach O’Garro explained that the strength of this year’s league be partly attributed to the dismantling of Juniors, which is comprised of U-19 players.

So who will get a chance at the playoffs? Which of the four teams – Wolves, GTSC, Shaolin or Columbia — will take the championship trophy?

With the skills amongst the players and coaches on an equal level, it comes down to the X factor – who wants the championship more.

The Dominos Pizza Men’s League games continue every Sunday and on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 6:15 p.m. at the courts off Eastern Avenue.

Photos: Osmer Miller (#15 Colombia) takes the shot while Sebastian Sache (15 Shaolin) reaches for a rebound.
colombia vs shoalin 2
Collin Anglin adds another two points to the board.


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Florida to outlaw human smuggling

Florida to outlaw human smuggling

| 28/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(SunSentinel): For a state that is a hub of human-smuggling operations, up to now Florida has had no state statute outlawing such activities. That is set to change, with the Senate poised to approve a law making human smuggling a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail for each person smuggled. The new state law is hoped to act as a deterrent preventing tragedies at shore and sea where numerous Haitians, Bahamians and Cubans — including pregnant women and children — bound for the United States drown each year.

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Anglin backs constitution

Anglin backs constitution

| 28/04/2009 | 38 Comments

(CNS): The second elected member for the district of West Bay, Rolston Anglin, is the first United Democratic Party candidate to declare his support for the new constitution at the Chamber district forums. So far his colleagues have said that the UDP has taken a conscience position with some of them saying they are voting ‘no’ and others simply refusing to say how they will vote. However, last night Anglin said he would vote ‘yes’ as he believed the proposed constitution was a genuine collaborative effort.

Speaking at the second candidiate forum in West Bay at the John A Cumber Hall last night, (Monday 27 April), where he gave an impressive and articulate performance, Anglin told voters to inquire and question the Constitution but he believed it was advancement on the current document and he was going to support it.

“What is there is truly a compromise document. It is no one’s document in particular. It is the result of a collaborative effort between the government, opposition  and the NGOs,” he said adding that the UDP has taken the view internally that all members will exercise a conscience vote but he would be voting for the constitution.

His fellow panellists for the evening were Pauls Rivers and Lana Mae Smith, who are both running for the first time as independent candidates in the district but sharing the same platform on the campaign trail. Smith said she too would be voting yes to the constitution as it was the “bible of the land” and long overdue. Rivers however, said he was still deliberating over it as he had concerns that section 16 in the bill of rights was not a free standing right. Explaining his own situation, he said his own son had disabilities and did not want to see him face enshrined discrimination. However, he said there was room to improve the document at a future date so he was thinking he may in the end support it.

During an evening that saw the candidates discuss crime, unemployment, the failure of Caymanians to share in the economic success of the islands, the failure of the Turtle Farm and the needs of West Bay, Anglin showed the benefit of his experience when it came to understanding the future needs of Cayman’s economy when he noted that there was a need to attract the investment management firms behind the development of the hedge fund sector.  

“The movers and players would then be actually located in Cayman,” he said, adding that not only would this generate fees and income directly, it would have a knock on effect to other areas of the economy provide work for lawyers and others as well as more scholarships and opportunities for Caymanians.  The other two candidates both cited local produce and developing cottage industries as possible third pillars.

Anglin, however, noted that given the modern global situation it was not sensible for small nations such as Cayman to try and rely on export industries. He explained that around the region sugar and other export and manufacturing industries had been wiped out by the bigger nations and that Cayman should focus on the service sector. He suggested that Cayman was well placed to develop the airport because of the UK aviation regulations which would enable it to become an air gateway for US airlines to link passengers to other South American destinations.

Anglin also noted that it was not that serious that the country was running a deficit when asked about balancing the budget. He said everyone was aware that the United States was currently running a massive deficit, and while he did not advocate anything like that, it was not necessarily bad for government to run a deficit in hard times. He said while government spending was a concern, it was not the time to cut jobs and there was a need to get confidence back in the economy and develop public private partnerships to help deliver services. Smith and Rivers both said they would cut salaries for senior civil servants and MLAS.

When it came to environment Smith said she wanted to see the National Conservation Bill passed and it was the most important piece of legislation which was overlooked during this administration, and she said there was a need to enforce the existing litter law. The dump was described as a major problem by all three and Anglin noted the cross party work that has been done on developing a waste to energy programme as a solution.

Rivers spoke passionately about how development has left Caymanians behind and the very real need to take stock of how Cayman was developing and for whom. Anglin however, noted that not everything foreign was bad and said inward investment into the financial services had resulted in that sector’s economic success. He did, however, note that Caymanians needed to enjoy the opportunities presented by the sectors success. He also agreed with his fellow candidates that it was time for non-Caymanians civil servants to also face a rollover policy.

The three candidates debated in front of another sizeable West Bay crowd which could not resist enthusiastically applauding the candidates for their comments, despite Chamber President Wil Pineau’s request for them to wait until the end before showing their appreciation.

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Balancing the budget

Balancing the budget

| 28/04/2009 | 6 Comments

It’s becoming clearer by the day that most of the world is in the grip of a deep and long economic recession. This looks like the real thing – a severe enough recession is called a Depression.

Cayman has just begun to be affected, and there is worse to come. Back during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Cayman was poor. Caymanians might not have noticed much difference in their lifestyles. This time Cayman is rich, and the difference may shock us. Our MLAs have warned of a decline in Public Revenue, but the eventual decline may be as much as thirty or forty percent of last year’s total. They haven’t warned us about that.

Let’s face it: their modest financial skills can barely cope in times of plenty; how will they manage when the cashflow dries up? Thriftlessness in good times is poor training for the self-discipline that’s needed in bad times. They have two basic options for balancing their Budgets. They could turn to the taxpayers for a bailout, or they could cut expenses.

There are three main kinds of bailouts that the taxpayers could be called on for. First, new or higher taxes, and user-fees for government services. Second, stealing the assets of the private-sector Pension Funds. Third, a state lottery. All dangerous ideas. Let’s look at them briefly.
Raising taxes or fees is not practical. We taxpayers all have our own books to balance. We aren’t in a position to hand over any more of our money to the tender care of professional politicians. Their fat pensions are safe; our thin ones are not.

We have already been hit by large falls in the values of our savings. We’re in no shape to make good a shortfall in Public Revenue from any decline in tourism and tax-haven operations.
Fewer construction projects mean less Revenue from Work Permits, and less Import Duty from all the things that migrant workers buy. Already, imports of construction materials are way down; imports of everything else are bound to follow.

Pension Funds are a convenient source of bailout money, and a tempting one for politicians desperate to preserve their bureaucratic empires. All that’s needed is a change in the Law to require that a large percentage of the assets and future contributions be invested in Cayman Islands Government Bonds.

What could be simpler? What could be more patriotic? After all, our present Pension Funds have lost 30% of their values by being investedin overseas stocks and bonds. Surely our MLAs couldn’t do any worse. At least they could guarantee we’d get our money back. Well, it sounds good – as long as we can trust our rulers to treat it as a repayable loan.

However, the trouble with allowing politicians anywhere in the world to get their hands on people’s savings is that they don’t always give them back. What they usually do is spend the money on pet projects that don’t produce any profit – and then, as each person’s pension comes due they pay it out of current Public Revenue – that is, current tax receipts.

But unless they have built up a reserve fund, the current receipts will never be enough. So either existing taxes have to be increased or new ones have to be introduced. In effect, the Pension Funds are nationalized. The pensions become state pensions, and the extra tax-levies needed to pay them usually become an Income Tax.

The Chamber of Commerce twenty years ago beat back an attempt to do this exact thing. These days the Chamber is just part of “The Establishment”, but it is thanks to the extraordinary far-sightedness of Chamber Presidents Nick Duggan and Tommie Bodden and their Councils, that we all aren’t paying Income Tax today. God forbid their victory should ever be betrayed.

As for lotteries – they are universally recognized as being a tax on the poor and financially naive. Yet those are the very people who are always the first victims of economic hard-times. That’s why casinos in poor countries are always closed to local residents; it’s for their own protection. If we ever get a casino in Cayman, no Caymanians will be allowed to play the tables, and no immigrants either. Rich retirees living here might be allowed in, I suppose, and maybe some of the well paid expats – but certainly not the low-paid migrants. So why encourage the most vulnerable among us to fritter their hard-earned money away on lottery tickets?

A state lottery would be yet another boondoggle. There’s a bumper-sticker on the Island that says it all: “Crime wouldn’t pay, if the government ran it”. Tax all the existing raffles and numbers if we have to, but please don’t let’s vote for a state lottery. No, when you get right down to it, the only practical way for governments to balance their budgets in a recession is to reduce Public Expenditure.

Something like two thirds of our Public Expenditure every year goes on state employees’ salaries and benefits, and that’s where the bulk of the savings will have to come from. If our representatives had been prudent enough to put some cash away for a rainy day, they could spend that; but they didn’t.

There is plenty of fat that could be cut. The Turtle Farm may have to be closed down for a while. MLAs may have to fly Economy on their overseas junkets. Post your suggestions online.

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Message in a bottle from hell

Message in a bottle from hell

| 28/04/2009 | 1 Comment

(BBC): Builders working near the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp have found a message in a bottle written by prisoners, museum officials say. The message, written in pencil and dated 9 September 1944, bears names, campnumbers and home towns of seven young inmates from Poland and France. At least two survived the Nazi camp, an Auschwitz museum official said. The bottle was buried in a concrete wall in a school that prisoners had been compelled to reinforce. The school’s buildings, a few hundred metres from the camp, were used as warehouses by the Nazis, who wanted them protected against air raids.


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