Archive for August, 2009

Police investigate BT airgun incident

| 31/08/2009 | 8 Comments

(CNS): A woman was shot on Sunday by what police said was probably a BB gun or an air gun. At around 3.30pm a man reported to Bodden Town police station that his wife had been shot while hanging out the laundry at their home in Daffodil Street, Bodden Town. Police and medics responded to the scene and the woman was found to be suffering from bruising and swelling on her arm. The RCIPS said that Detectives from Bodden Town are investigating the incident and have issued a warning on the dangers of all guns — air weapons, imitation weapons and replicas.

“BB guns and air weapons are not toys and can be extremely dangerous,” said Head of the Uniform Support Group, Inspector Ian Brellisford. “In addition they are also illegal.”

Residents need to be aware of the dangers of owning BB guns and air weapons and the level of fear and intimidation they can cause to others.

“If you own one of these weapons, chances are you will be arrested,” Brellisford warned. “Imagine that officers are responding to a report of a person with a firearm, armed officers will be deployed who may believe they are dealing with a life-threatening situation. From any distance these weapons look and have the characteristics of a real weapon and until handled and examined by trained officers, it is impossible to tell the difference. We have to treat them as a real threat for the safety of the community and the police officers.”

Anyone in possession of an imitation weapon, BB gun or air weapon, who is unaware of the law, is urged to hand it into their local police station. Under these circumstances, no action will be taken by the police. Under the Firearms law (1998), airguns and BB guns are illegal.

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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Dump fire under control

| 31/08/2009 | 8 Comments

(CNS): A fire that started yesterday (30 August) around 6:00 pm at the George Town landfill is now under control. However Department of Environmental Health (DEH) officials say that it is still generating significant smoke.Both the Fire Services and DEH staff worked throughout Sunday night to control the blaze. This morning (Monday), the fire officers and DEH staffers are working towards completely extinguishing all remaining hot spots. Unfortunately, this process does create significant smoke, a condition that is expected to continue throughout the day.

“In the past, landfill fires have been caused by spontaneous combustion in the landfill itself, but preliminary investigations suggest this one was sparked by hot coals or similar items entering the landfill’s drop-off area,” said DEH Director Roydell Carter.

Due to its proximity to public areas, the department does have procedures in place to minimize landfill fires. However, in this instance, it was public action that likely started the blaze.

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Jamesette is crowned Miss Teen

| 31/08/2009 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Jamesette Anglin from West Bay, sponsored by Weststar TV, was crowned Miss Teen Cayman Islands 2009 at the Miss Teen pageant Saturday 29 August at the Lions Community Centre. According to the profile of the candidates on CITN’s Daybreak show, Jamesette is sixteen years old and wants to be a social worker and a music artist. She is a performer who enjoys nothing more than writing songs but also plans on studying music business management and want to build a music school for kids in Cayman. (Photo courtesy News 27)

Watch the News 27 coverage of the crowning

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Keep kids safe on roads

| 31/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): All students at government schools return tomorrow and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) is urging road safety. Drivers should always allow children to get in and out of the vehicle on the pavement side rather than the road side and parking spots should be chosen carefully – do not park on areas marked out for ‘no parking’ and do not stop in the middle of the road, police say. Students should cross roads with care and other drivers should slow down and pay extra attention when in the vicinity of a school.

Many facilities now have 15mph zones in operation during certain times of the day and these need to be adhered too. If a school bus stops to allow children to board or disembark, you must stop and wait, regardless of which direction you are travelling in – do not attempt to go around the bus.

“Traffic on the roads is set to increase again this week and all road users need to be responsible,” said Sergeant Kim Ramoon of the Traffic Management Department. “Parents and guardians in particular have a huge role to play in ensuring the safety of their child or children on their journey to and from school. All passengers need to be suitably restrained with seatbelts or child seats and everyone needs to stay strapped in until the vehicle has come to a complete stop.”

The Traffic Management Department, in conjunction with patrol officers from each district, will be keeping an eye on all the roads to ensure the start of school runs smoothly. “It will come as no shock that roads will be busier in the mornings and afternoons,” added Sergeant Ramoon. “We want everyone to stay safe so give yourself extra time for your journey, allow for delays and be patient.”

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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Costly trial opens as government faces cash crunch

| 31/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As government faces the music over the country’s dire financial situation, yet another costly chapter in the Operation Tempura investigation opened in Grand Court five this morning. Former Sister Islands MLA and Cayman Net News reporter, Lyndon Martin, faced charges for falsely accusing a police officer and perverting the course of justice.  Seven women were selected for the jury and twelve witnesses were listed to appear. The Crown’s opening statement will be made this afternoon at two o’clock by Andrew Radcliffe. Martin is represented by Trevor Burke QC and Ben Tonne. Justice Anderson is presiding.

Check back later this evening for full coverage of this afternoon’s proceedings

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Bush supports Brac marina

| 31/08/2009 | 32 Comments

(CNS): Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush told Brackers at an economic forum on Friday that he intended to approve plans for Salt Water Pond to be dredged and turned into a marina and also for the development of West End Cemetery Pier (Scotts Dock) to accommodate cruise tourism, and would waste no time helping the developers to get it done. “I promise you that when those things come before my desk, as it will come before the Cabinet, it will have my go ahead. Not in the way distant future but as soon as you can do so, we will support it,” he said.

At the forum, held at the Aston Rutty Civic Centre on Friday morning, 28 August, Cleveland Dilbert, who opened his new Alexander Hotel, located next to the pond, in June, said he and others had formed a company a year ago and submitted plans and asked permission to dredge Salt Water Pond to build the marina. He said they had tried to control the smell of the pond but were fighting a losing battle. He couldn’t imagine “any real Bracker” objecting to his plans once they looked at the impact the marina would have on the Brac, and said if Bush would give him permission, he would do it.

Bush noted that they would have to “shift road a bit, chase away a few Whistling Ducks, but so be it, that’s common law. If I had my way today … I would sign that document today and say to those gentlemen that proposed it, go ahead and get it done.”

He went on, “We must allow Mr Dervyn Scott to complete his dock because it holds the best opportunity for the development of sustainable cruise tourism business. I believe that if he wants to develop that dock and a marina there on his property, it should be explored and allowed.”

Dilbert also brought up problems encountered with getting flights to and from the Sister Islands on the Cayman Express, that people were frequently told the flight was full but when the plane left there were often a number of empty seats. The new CEO of Cayman Airways, Fabian Whorms, said the booking policy, by which passengers were able to hold the flights, was the problem and that the solution they were looking at was to mandate paying for flights at the time of booking.

Dilbert also said that he had been promised (by the last administration) that there would be a new aircraft to service the Brac. However, both Bush and Whorms, said that the purchase of a new aircraft was dependent on the Little Cayman airport.

Currently, aircraft landing on Little Cayman do so on a privately owned landing strip, which cannot at present accommodate all aircraft. There have been plans to build a new airport on the island for more than 15 years that have been opposed by conservationists and stymied by lack of funds.

The LoGB said if they couldn’t build new airport on Little Cayman, perhaps they could get support to extend the present runway so that they could bring in a Dash 8 or similar aircraft to service the two islands. “Extension of the airport is key. We can’t afford to run three different types of aircraft,” he said, adding that when he left office in 2005 they were heading towards plans to run the Jet and Dash 8. However, without the new airport they would have to continue using the Twin Otters (which are suitable for the short runway on Little Cayman).

Opposition MLA Moses Kirkconnell stressed the need to also look at the short term plansand make sure that visitors could get to the Brac for the coming winter season when more rooms would be available. In the recoveryof the island’s tourism product after Hurricane Paloma last year, Kirkconnell said that having direct air service into Brac from Miami in next tourism season was critical and that the private sector, Cayman Airways and the Department of Tourism must work together.

Whorms said direct flights were being considered and this was very possible. Cayman Airways was also looking at the option of direct cargo flights from Miami to Brac. And in the longer term, he said they were looking to see which of the airline’s functions could be relocated to and operated from Cayman Brac.

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Tax evasion to top agenda

| 31/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(Times online): Finance ministers from the G20 nations will discuss tax evasion during their meetings in London next weekend. The need to recoup unpaid tax earned by savers sheltering their money offshore has become even more pressing as the global recession has ravaged many countries’ finances. Jeffrey Owens, head of tax at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said: “Governments recognise that there are new demands on their revenue base and they need to counter offshore tax. Clearly, [tax havens] are one of the things the finance ministers will look at in London.”

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Minister calls for peace

| 31/08/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Joining students for the unveiling and planning of Cayman’s first Peace Pole in the George Town Dart Park last week, Minister of Community Affairs Mike Adam has called on residents to come together to sow seeds of peace in homes, on the job, at school and in the wider community. He said Cayman needed a national movement to restore the order and strong sense of community which once prevailed locally. The pole was the brainchild of five students who had participated in the Empowerment and Community Development Agency’s (ECDA) summer film project which looked at discrimination.

Speaking at the event on 26 August during the peace pole ceremony, a prominent international symbol of harmony, the minister said “We have to stand up for peace-promoting principles such as cooperating with the police and becoming our brother’s and sister’s keepers. Let us commit to joining these students in taking a stand for harmony and saying no lawlessness and violence.”             

ECDA’s Programme Officer Miriam Foster explained that the students decided to take their own stand for peace after participating in the summer workshop. “They watched the movie Freedom Writers during the programme. It was a film about activism for peace and it motivated them to take their own steps to bring about freedom from strife,” Foster said.   

Inara Myles, one of the students who spearheaded the peace pole planting, saidthat there are over 200,000 peace poles planted around the world.              “The pole symbolizes the oneness of humanity and our common wish to have a peaceful world. It reminds us to think, speak and act in the spirit of harmony,” she added.

Fellow-student Daniel Connolly-Foster explained that  Cayman’s first peace pole has the message ’may peace prevail on earth’ written in English, Spanish, Taggalo, and Hindi, representing some of the key languages spoken in Cayman.

The remaining students involved in the project, Ana Olson, Jenna Munruddin and Megan Ebanks read a peace poem they had written and led the audience in the songs Send it On and Heal the World. A video produced by the students as part of the summer film project and entitled Stop Discrimination was also viewed before the unveiling.

“This is a powerful reminder in the midst of the negative events that have recently beset our community that our best hope for a bright, peaceful and prosperous future rests with our young people,” Adam stated.

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Recovering addicts to step into spotlight

| 31/08/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Those who are working hard to overcome addictions will be celebrated in September when the Department of Counselling Services (DoCS) joins other countries in marking Recovery Month. Although no statistics have been provided it is widely accepted that Cayman has a significant number of people struggling with addiction and focusing on those that are winning the battle is expected to raise awareness that drugs and alcohol can be beaten.

“Recovery Month draws attention to the positive aspects of overcoming addiction,” said Department Director Judith Seymour. “Rather than focus on negatives, we use the month to pay tribute to our clients and others in Cayman who are taking that bold step to get on the path to healthy lifestyles.”

She added that it is also a way to celebrate the counsellors, families and community members who provide support to loved ones dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. Seymour said the campaign will help the DoCS to engage the wider community, enabling persons to better understand addiction and thereby provide greater encouragement to recovering substance abusers. The department will be conducting a public awareness campaign and each week will focus on a different aspect of recovery.

“The first week in September will focus on recovery and the family, followed by an emphasis on women. Week three will concentrate on children, while the final week will celebrate recovery in general,” Seymour added.

For further information on Recovery Month and DoCS, call 949-8789 or visit their offices on the third floor of the Flagship Building on the George Town waterfront.


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Ridley proposes property tax

| 30/08/2009 | 127 Comments

(CNS): In response from demands from the UK, Tim Ridley, the former chair of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority and a founding partner of one of Cayman’s most successful offshore law firms, has made a strong argument for the introduction of property tax across the islands. A levy of just 0.25%, which would have a relatively low impact on the taxpayer, Ridley said, could add as much as $50 million a year to government coffers. He noted that it was the sort of local tax, or “community service charge” as he called it, that people who own property are accustomed to paying.

Speaking at the Ritz meeting on Thursday, where Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush told an audience of private sector stakeholders and civil servants that Cayman needed to present a plan to the UK demonstrating new ways of generating sustainable income for the treasury, Ridley said the UK had sent a clear message that Cayman needed to adopta permanent revenue solution.

After Bush shared a letter from the new Overseas Territories Minister, Christ Bryant, with the audience, (see UK tells Cayman to levy taxes) Ridley said, “The worrying message in that letter is long term sustainable revenue. There are very limited options to what might be palatable here.” Dismissing income tax and sales tax, he added, “One area I do think we are going to have to look at is property tax.”

Ridley went on to explain that packaged as a community service charge, if it was fair and equitable and levied on an annual basis it would represent a commitment from the Cayman government that the UK should find attractive. He noted that, given what the UK was saying about the islands’ over dependence on the financial services sector, the government needed to find ways of funding its operating budget that placed a fair burden on the community.

Ridley said he had advocated for a property tax in the past, and while he was well aware that it would make him few friends in the real estate business, it could make government a lot of money. He estimated that there was anything from $10-17 billion of real estate across the three islands and that just ¼ percent rate could raise a consist $50 million. He said that even allowing for concession on low value properties and people unable to pay, it was significant and in line with OECD recommendations that property taxes should trigger around 8-12 % of government’s annual revenue.

“Those of you with ½ million dollar properties would only pay $1,250 per annum, likewise $3 million $7,500 per annum,” he added, arguing that to say that would be unattractive to foreign investors was unrealistic given the kind of service and strata fees they pay to private sector management companies and resorts.

Ridley said people who own property overseas are used to paying local tax charges. He said in many areas local governments send bills with a breakdown of where the service charge goes, such as emergency services, police and garbage management. Ridley suggested an incentive was to combine the charge with a long term reduction of stamp duty, as any losses would be offset by the advent of a sustainable annual income.  “This is what the UK is asking for,” he said.  “The UK is saying, you cannot continue to exist on one-off up front transaction fees that are dependent on an ever decreasing economy.”

Bush noted that Ridley’s suggestion received loud applause, but when he asked if the audience would support a property tax he said it was less convincing. Bush told CNS after the meeting that for him, any kind of new tax would be a last resort and he would want to see wide support for it before considering such a levy.

The real estate sector has already raised objections, and James Bovell of Remax noted that there could be considerable ramifications and hoped the LoGB would consult with the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association before making any decisions. He warned that the industry was down and that the potential loss of investment had to be considered, as well as the accepted fact that once a new fee or tax is imposed it’s very easy for successive governments to keep increasing it.

Following the meeting, JC Calhoun of Coldwell Baker also voiced his opinion in an email sent to stakeholders and noted that Caymanian families maynot be able to afford to continue to hold onto their heritage if they had to pay tax on property. He said it would also be an added expense for those leasing property, making rents higher and more difficult to get a positive return.  He said foreign investors have been OK with the stamp duty because after several years it’s better than holding property somewhere with an annual property tax. “Foreigners who currently buy and hold land inject money into our system, and take nothing.  They rarely use our schools or hospitals,” he added.

Calhoun also argued that in order to sell a property as an investment, it would need to generate even more income to cover the property tax. “Right now, with most of the world’s investors skittish and being very careful with their money, rental and lease rates are falling,” he said. “What you would gain by property tax, you will probably lose in stamp duty.” He also said the rate would inevitably be raised. “When that happens, there will be so many people scrambling to getout of property that the values will drop dramatically,” he said.

Noting the profession’s reaction, Ridley told CNS that no one likes additional taxes but the Cayman Islands has probably maxed out the traditional ways of paying for the government services people expect and alternatives such as income tax, sales tax, salary tax were less appropriate and more difficult to implement  and that people should not be dismissing the community service charge.

“Those who immediately push back on the suggestion of the community service charge should consider the matter carefully and separate out their own narrow short term interests from the greater long term good of these Islands,” Ridley said. “It can be a win-win for all.”

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