Archive for August 10th, 2009

Scooter rider has broken leg after collision

| 10/08/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): A woman faces prosecution for three traffic offences, including careless driving, after the brown Toyota Soarer she was driving collided with a scooter along West Bay Road in the vicinity of Peppers Night Club on Saturday night, 8 August. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre were notified of the accident at 10:03pm. Police and medics responded to the scene and found that a 26 year-old man had been knocked to the ground from the scooter and sustained injuries to his right leg. Police were told that the Toyota, which was travelling north along West Bay Road, collided with the scooter when the driver of the car made a right turn into Snug Harbour.

The victim was taken to hospital where he was treated for a broken leg; he remains in hospital at this time.

Anyone with information on this incident should contact Sergeant Lenford Butler on 917 4697. 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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Government to tackle youth unemployment

| 10/08/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): With some 35 percent of 15 -19 year olds being unemployed  according to the latest Economics & Statistics Office Labour Force Survey, government has introduced a youth employment strategy designed to make young people more employable. The National Employment Passport Programme is being run by the Department of Employment Relations (DER) and is a combination of education, training and job placement support.

DER Director Lonny Tibbetts said today that the challenge, as ever, is that young people were unable to find work because they had no experience and then they can’t get that experience unless they find work

“At the core of this initiative we are trying to bridge the gap between employment opportunities and the skills required,” Tibbetts noted adding that it was also about helping young job seekers understand key issues such as workplace discipline, cultural empathy, business attire, writing and other communication skills and a commitment to work.

Tibbetts also said they wanted to encourage young jobseekers to pursue careers in fields that they like as this improves retention issues. He explained that the DER has been collecting data from employers and we continue to see a divide between the skills young people have going into the workplace and the skills that employers need. He said a task force has been formulated and the DER has engaged with the Chamber of commerce as well as other stakeholders.  

“The feed back is that the initiative is being quite well received and we intend to work with industry to assist with putting young people in a combination of work placement and college attendance along with employability workshops.

Tibbetts said that they hoped to have the initiative ready to go by the end of August.

DER will be working with the ministry-assembled youth employment taskforce, which includes representatives from the Ministry of Education, Department of Employment Relations (DER), Department of Education Services, University College, RCIPS and John Gray High School. 

 The Director also noted that as a cost saving measure, the programme will exploit existing resources so training will be offered through UCCI, the Chamber of Commerce, British Red Cross and other local institutions and individuals.

Speaking before he was hospitalized the Minister for Labour Rolston Anglin said the strategy will ensure that young people have employable skills and that employers can find in them the skills required to support their businesses. “For many years we’ve invested millions in our infrastructure because we can see immediate results. “The results of investing in our people may take longer to materialise, but we must ‘up-skill’ our entire workforce if we hope to remain competitive,” the Minister added.

Meanwhile it was reported today (Monday 10 August) that Anglin is feeling much better after his admittance to hospital for high blood pressure on Friday. The Leader of Government Business, McKeeva Bush told the press that after precautionary tests the Minister will be joining his family this week for his planned vacation.                





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Bush wants crime task force

| 10/08/2009 | 23 Comments

(CNS):  The United Democratic Party government is recommending that the new police commissioner, David Baines establish a special task force to deal with rising gun crime and all aspects of national security. Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said that while his government is making important plans for national development to secure the future of the Cayman Islands, none of those plans will be of any use if the country does not address the crime problem.

“If crime is not seriously checked our plans will be for nothing,” said Bush. “Hard action must be taken now and I know when this works starts there will be grumbling as there always is about the work of the police.” He said as a country people had to reconsider the common attitudes about crime and consider what is happening to the country.  He said people had to rethink the attitude of "It is not my child."

“The fact is it is somebody’s child doing it,” added Bush. “And it is somebody’s child that is getting shot. This will be an unsafe country if we don’t take hard action.”

Bush said that he had already spoken to both the governor, who has responsibility for the police, as well as the commissioner about establishing the task force and said he had made it very clear he is not one to mollycoddle criminals.

However, Bush said he could not give more details of what sort of task force he was talking about until he had finalised the discussions with the commissioner. “It won’t be fair to him or the governor to say what will happen before we have completed our discussions,” said Bush. “But both of them need to understand we can’t allow criminals to run around.” He said he believed the new commissioner was eager to address the serious crime problem and Bush said he believed Cayman had a good new man.

He did say that back in the 1990s government had set up a task force to deal with the growth in “late night sessions and the crime surrounding them.” Bush said the task force in special vehicles had cracked some heads but had killed the late night crime. “We need to get a grip on the guns that are coming in on the canoes and boats,” the LoGB added.

He said that he intended to engage with the commissioner and would be taking advantage of the invitation by Commissioner Baines and the governor to sit in on their meetings. Bush also said one of the things he was in favour of with regards the new Constitution was the creation of a National Security Council and the right of the elected leader to meet with the police heads without the governor.

The LoGB said he expected that the police would issue a statement today about the shooting over the weekend but offered no more details on what had happened. In their latest statement the police have chosen not to confirm that the shots fired at a house in Spotts, Newlands was that of Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale.


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Spending to be cut by $89M

| 10/08/2009 | 43 Comments

(CNS): The government has identified around $89.2 million worth of cuts it can make to public spending to reduce the next financial year’s projected operating deficit down to around $30million. This 60% reduction on the $75 million plus deficit incurred during 2008/09 was announced by Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush on Monday morning at the government press briefing, where he said the majority of the savings would come from a freeze of government pension payments.

He said that for the last few weeks government had been working assiduously to address the operating deficit, and although tough decisions have been made, his government had managed to avoid Caymanian job losses. Bush said that the full details of where the $89.2 million spending cuts would be made will be revealed in full when government brings the 2009/10 budget to the Legislative Assembly before the end of September, but he said that the bulk of savings — around $49.4 million would come from a “pension holiday”.

Bush explained that some $17.4 million would be saved through cutting overtime and recruitment costs and some $10.9 million would be shaved from the supplies and consumables purchased across the various departments.  A further $12.7 million is to be cut, he said, from statutory authorities with regard to pension and HR costs.

The LoGB said the budget was not finished but in due course full details could be unveiled.  “It is important to recognise that next year’s budget is not yet prepared but these cost savings are based on agreed expenditure cuts,” added Bush.

Although Bush said that the sums not paid into civil servants’ pensions over thefreeze period would all be paid back at a future date, for now he said the holiday would be anything from six to twelve months.

Bush also stated that legislation is being drawn up to introduce a pensions holiday for the private sector as well, giving small businesses and employees a temporary break from the compulsory payments to stimulate the economy. He did note, however, only those employers who have complied with the pensions law and are up to date with their payments would be given the chance to take advantage of the holiday.

He said that the approach to dealing with the current deficit and public finances would be conservative but it was essential that the government finances were reinstated. The LoGB said that government fiscal management was a key indicator of the health of the country’s wider economy. “Prudent government financial management sends a signal to the private sector and the world economy that it is safe and wise for investors to still come here,” he said.

Aside from the deficit, he explained that government would be forced to borrow around $203 million for 2009/10, but most of that was to meet the ongoing projects left by the previous government and that only around $21 million could be borrowed for road maintenance and new projects – which he said as a matter of priority was the new building for the Sunrise Centre.

He said many of the major projects started by the previous PPM administration such as the schools and the new Government Admin Building were significantly advance and couldn’t be left partially built so the new government must do what it could to minimize new expenditure while still forced to borrow some $189 million for the ongoing projects.

“We will have to bring a bare bones budget,” said Bush, who added that government would be seeking ways of consolidating and refinancing the existing government debt with more favourable interest rates and lower principle payments

“Government is seeking indications of interest from local markets for this re-financing and we will have to speak to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UK government to seek approval first time for the Cayman Islands government to borrow money.

Government is currently working under a temporary budget which was approved a few days after the election but which was based on previous spending levels. The full financial plan for 2009/10 will be brought to the Legislative Assembly in September.

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Anonymous donation to Brac Day Care

| 10/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Little ones at the government-owned Cayman Brac Day Care Centre can stay busy and active outside again thanks to two anonymous donations of playground equipment to replace in part what was destroyed during Hurricane Paloma in November 2008. PTA President Lynne Walton said they were extremely grateful to the donors but said more is need to replace the lost equipment, which was donated by the PTA after much hard work raising funds. “Hope springs eternal in our quest for additional donations to get the Day Care back on its feet,” she said, explaining that they still don’t have sufficient funds to install more permanent play equipment or address the landscaping and shade requirements of the area.

Walton said that this much needed donation involved a huge effort by a number of people. “PWD Deputy Director Stephen Brown, our invaluable organizer in Grand Cayman, and his team of volunteers dismantled the equipment and delivered it to Thompsons shipping, Thompsons Shipping sponsored the shipment and the Port Authority waived its fees as well. Cayman Brac PWD volunteered its services on this end to pick up the equipment and set it up,” Walton said, adding that the donation of items was coordinated by Liz Walton, and Little Darlings in Grand Cayman was also very helpful.

Other people who assisted include the Beautification Committee, chaired by Liz Walton, who assisted with landscaping in the playground, the Rotary Club of Cayman Brac which gave a cash donation of $2000, and the Department of Agriculture and Tibbetts Enterprises which donated materials for grow boxes for the children’s garden.



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Flu drugs ‘unhelpful’ in children

| 10/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Research has cast doubt on the policy of giving antiviral drugs to children for swine flu. Work in the British Medical Journal shows Tamiflu and Relenza rarely prevent complications in children with seasonal flu, yet carry side effects. Although they did not test this in the current swine flu pandemic, the authors say these drugs are unlikely to help children who catch the H1N1 virus. The government has stuck by its policy of offering them to anyone infected. The Department of Health said a "safety-first approach" of offering antivirals to everyone remained a sensible and responsible way forward, but promised to keep the policy under review.

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OFCs should join forces

| 10/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(The lawyer): Should offshore jurisdictions band together to combat the barrage of political rhetoric haunting their shores? Walkers’ global managing partner Grant Stein certainly thinks so. Speaking exclusively to The Lawyer, Stein has called on offshore jurisdictions to put together a coordinated response to the recent list from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development that rated centres on their confidentiality, secrecy and transparency credentials. According to Stein, agencies such as Guernsey Finance and Cayman Islands Financial Services should form a global alliance.

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HSA to start HPV pilot

| 10/08/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Minister of Health Mark Scotland has announced that a six month pilot project is being undertaken by the Ministry of Health and the Cayman Islands Cancer Society to provide the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine at no cost to around 150 young women between the ages of 11 and 17 years. The vaccine can protect against some strains of the virus which cause cervical cancer and genital warts.

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can lead to pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions of the cervix, vagina and vulva, as well as genital warts.  The HPV vaccine protects against 2 types of the viruses that cause cervical cancer and 2 types that cause genital warts. Scotland said he encouraged young women and their parents or guardians to take advantage of this immunization programme.

The HPV vaccine will be provided every Wednesday, while supplies last, on a first come first serve basis through the Public Health Clinic at the Cayman Islands Hospital as of August 26.  The clinic will run from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., by appointment only.  Appointments can be made by contacting the Public Health Clinic at 244-2648. Parents or guardians must attend the appointment with their children and give written consent for the vaccine being administered.  

Dr. Sook Yin, Medical Director of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society said it was a milestone in the prevention of cervical cancer in the Cayman Islands.

The HPV vaccine is given as a course of 3 injections administered at set intervals over a 6-month period. The vaccine is of greatest benefit if it is administered before the onset of sexual activity.

A public awareness campaign about cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine will be undertaken by the Cayman Islands Cancer Society and the Public Health Department using a variety of outlets including media interviews, advertisements, public education presentations in schools, to Home School Associations and at specially organized district awareness sessions. Leaflets will also be available at the awareness sessions and from the Cayman Islands Cancer Society on Maple Road, all Health Services Authority facilities, doctor’s offices and libraries.





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Cayman funds eyeing India

| 10/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(DNA India) A flood of funds may be waiting to rush into India, this time from the Cayman Islands. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is said to be in talks with its counterpart, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (Cima), over allowing funds based in the Caribbean tax haven into the country. The regulator has reportedly received numerous applications from Cayman-based funds since CIMA was admitted as a full member of the international body of securities market regulators, the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSC), on 10 June.


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West Bay woman found guilty in “revenge” attack

| 10/08/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Facing what was essentially a reversal of circumstances, 26-year-old Darla Ebanks was found guilty on Friday (7 August) of Unlawful Wounding with intent to cause Grievous Bodily Harm. The jury’s verdict came following a week long trial in the Grand Court regarding the stabbing of 38 year old Deborah Ebanks in the Cracked Conch in September of last year. Eight years previously Deborah Ebanks had found herself on trial following an incident in which she had caused Darla Ebanks serious wounds to her face in what she said was a case of self defence — the same defence used on this occasion by Darla Ebanks. However, on that occasion Deborah Ebanks was acquitted.

In the case against Darla Ebanks the Crown alleged that she had deliberately stabbed Deborah Ebanks in the back at the Cracked Conch in a revenge attack – having waited eight long years to extract her own justice after Deborah’s acquittal in 2001. However, Darla told the court that this was not true and that she had defended herself against an attack from a woman she already had good reason to fear.

During the five day trial the jury had heard Deborah Ebanks’ version of events when she described seeing Darla at the Macabucca Bar at the Cracked Conch Restaurant in West Bay where she had gone for drinks with her husband.  Deborah related to the court that before she and her husband had intended to leave the restaurant she visited the bathroom, leaving her husband to pay for their drinks at the bar.

Deborah said that, having used the restroom, she washed her hands and went to use the hand dryer when she suddenly felt a blow to her back. She turned to see Darla Ebanks standing behind her with a knife. She described how a struggle ensued and how she had tried to wrestle the knife from Darla’s hands by gripping the blade. In the end, she said, she managed to get away from her attacker and fled back into the restaurant where she told her husband that she had been stabbed in the back by Darla. At that point, the emergency services were called and Deborah was rushed to hospital, where she was treated for a punctured lung, and Darla was arrested.

In her version of events Darla said it was Deborah who once again attacked her. She said that having used the bathroom she came out to see Deborah standing there at the sinks, and that she had hurled insults at her (Darla) and then punched her in the face. Darla insisted that during the fight that ensued Deborah headed for a knife, which was lying on the counter in the bathroom, but by luck Darla realised what she was doing and was able to get to the knife first. As the struggle continued, Darla described Deborah as charging at her head first and, as she did, Darla hit Deborah in the back with the knife which was in her hand.

The jury was not convinced by the defendant and found her guilty. During the trial the jury heard that the feud between the two women had begun when Darla Ebanks had allegedly taken up with the father of Deborah Ebanks’ children (Marlon Ebanks who was murdered in a shooting in West Bay in August 2007). During an incident at a house party Darla Ebanks, who was at the time a teenager, received a number of severe wounds to her face and arms, for which she had in excess of 50 stitches. Deborah Ebanks had admitted inflicting the injuries to Darla with a bunch of keys but she said it was in self defence as she believed Darla had thrown a bottle at her. However, unlike the result of this trial, in 2001 the jury had acquitted Deborah Ebanks.  Darla Ebanks, who is a mother, was remanded in custody until her sentencing later this month.

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