Archive for August 12th, 2009

Baines says chopper will work

Baines says chopper will work

| 12/08/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): The new police commissioner, David Baines, has stated that the helicopter purchased by the Cayman Islands government for the RCIPS will do more than 90% of the things that it was originally earmarked to do. Baines confirmed that the aircraft would be flown down from Louisiana next month, and once the Air Support Unit is trained and operational he will approach the Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority for a licence to operate the machine as a police helicopter and have it flying by the end of the year.

Cutting through the politics of the purchase, Baines explained that, as far as he could see, this was always intended to be a police helicopter. Although it has some limitations which would prevent it from doing medical evacuations and the ‘rescue’ part of search and rescue, if the police could demonstrate a high level of safety awareness and training among the crew that would fly and man the helicopter, he believed the CAA would be happy to licence it as a police air support unit.

He said given that the police operate as an emergency service they would then make judgements based on life and death situations within the boundaries of police operations and safety on how the machine was to be used. Above all, Baines noted, given the current situation, the helicopter would be an extremely useful tool for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and he hoped to have the helicopter flown here in September. “The provision of a helicopter would provide a much-needed tool in the armoury to tackle the smuggling of people, drugs and guns through the borders of these Islands,” he added.

Speaking as a witness to the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday 12 August, Baines took a pragmatic approach. “This is an available asset that will do most of what we want it to do — the best course of action is for us to start using it,” he said. “It fits most of our requirements, even without added expenditure or refit. It is the best option open to us.”

The controversy surrounding the purchase of the EC-135 T1 came to light last year when the previous Cabinet announced at a press briefing that the helicopter purchased by Stuart Kernohan, the former police commissioner, wouldn’t do all of what was originally intended when government had given the green light for an air support unit for the police in November 2006.

In the wake of the political furore and debate that ensued, Auditor General Dan Duguay was asked by the governor to conduct a special report. Duguay found a number of shortcomings: there was a lack of expertise involved in the purchase; a consultant was only hired after the purchase was made; there were limited records of the communication between the former commissioner and previous Cabinet about expectations; there had been a certain amount of mission creep distorting the original purpose of the helicopter; and the parties involved had not engaged the CAA.

Duguay noted that the helicopter became different things to different people and there was never a real consensus on what the country wanted from the helicopter. The Cabinet’s desire to have a helicopter that did everything, from passenger transportation to medical evacuation, would never have been able to be combined in one machine with the police requirements for interdiction and border protection, Duguay explained.

Since his report, the fate of the helicopter has hung in the balance. However, a release following the PAC meeting by Government Information Services on Wednesday afternoon suggests that government is in agreement with Baines and will be bringing the helicopter to the islands.

It appears that many of the limitations cited by the previous administration will be overcome when the machine is operated purely as a police helicopter. Deputy Chief Secretary Franz Manderson said the objective was to integrate it into the RCIPS effort to ensure public safety and border protection for the country.

Bringing the helicopter to Cayman will involve aircraft preparations in the USA, staff selection and training, and identification of a maintenance service provider and pilots, as well as specialized training for the new RCIPS Air Operations Unit that will utilize the helicopter.

GIS said the aircraft completed airworthiness requirements at the Louisiana facility last month and was successfully flight-tested following major servicing. In January the CICAA had reportedly confirmed that there was nothing to prevent the EC135 T1 entering service as a police helicopter, subject tothe certification process.

The helicopter will be able to carry out over-water search operations and is fully-equipped with a daylight and thermal image night-vision camera, a searchlight, and a PA system. Its stabilisation system requires neither an autopilot, nor floatation devices. Aside from minor modifications to fit police tactical radios and a second aviation standard GPS unit, relevant radio systems and to remove redundant equipment, there will be no need to refit the machine, government said.            

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Armed robber hits GT store

Armed robber hits GT store

| 12/08/2009 | 21 Comments

(CNS): An armed robber held a knife to his victim’s neck and then tied her up in a bathroom. George Town detectives are investigating the robbery, which took place on Walkers Road on Monday, 10 August. Police have reported that the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at 10:56am stating that a man, armed with a knife, had robbed the Shop Rite store of over $300 in cash. The offender is described as being of dark complexion and around 6 feet tall. At the time of the incident he was wearing a light blue shirt.

Police responded to the scene and found the female employee traumatized but uninjured. She said that a man entered the store, asked if they sold cell phone top-ups and then exited the store saying he had forgotten the number. There was one other customer in the store at that time. Once that customer left, the offender returned ostensibly to complete his purchase.

When the victim turned her back to the offender to add the credit to his cell ‘phone he went around the counter, held a knife to her neck and took the money. The offender then forced the victim into a bathroom and tied her up. The man is thought to have run from the store into Windsor Park.

Investigations into this robbery are continuing and anyone with information is asked to contact DC Colin Pryce on 525 9935.

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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HSBC offers 5 full scholarships at UCCI

HSBC offers 5 full scholarships at UCCI

| 12/08/2009 | 17 Comments

(CNS): Having increased its scholarship financing for the coming academic year, HSBC Cayman also has plans to expand the scholarship programme to include a robust internship programme that gives students essential work experience. In addition, HSBC is open to working with the Ministry of Education to explore ways to speak with students in local high schools about career development and the benefits of obtaining a university education, a release from the bank states.

According to HSBC, the bank is partnering with the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) starting this Fall semester 2009 to provide full scholarships for 5 students, either full or part-time, to complete an associates or bachelor’s degree. Although these scholarships focus on students in business-related degree programs like finance, accounting, insurance, IT and marketing, students pursuing other courses of study are also eligible to apply.

Students are encouraged to submit an application immediately for Fall 2009. The deadline for submissions has been extended in order to provide more students the opportunity to access scholarship funds to begin or continue their studies this upcoming semester.

This new partnership between HSBC Cayman and UCCI is not the bank’s first scholarship program. Previously, the HSBC scholarship was extended to one deserving student per year. For example, Laura McLaughlin, a recipient of the HSBC Cayman scholarship who received her bachelor’s and master’s degree overseas, has returned to Cayman and now works in the bank’s insurance group.

In the current environment, however, HSBC Cayman firmly believes thatto ensure a greater impact on the community, more students need to have the same opportunity as McLaughlin. By partnering with UCCI, the bank is able to achieve this goal as it will be able to support more students to successfully complete their degrees.

According to Mary Ann Cannon, Director of Student Services at UCCI, “We are so grateful for HSBC’s efforts to develop this scholarship programme! I am proud to say that HSBC is a valued partner in education!”

In light of the concerns described in recent press statements on the issues facing Caymanian youth, the Cayman Islands government has reacted very positively to this recent partnership between HSBC Cayman and UCCI. According to the Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush, “The goal of the Cayman Islands government is to educate and prepare students to be successful in the job market. We are extremely pleased that HSBC Cayman has stepped up to make a difference without the government having to ask for help. We encourage other companies in the private sector to follow HSBC’s example. Along with my counterparts in the Ministry of Education, I look forward to working together with companies in the private sector like HSBC to make a difference this year and for the future.”

Minister of Education, Training and Employment Rolston Anglin, echoed Bush’s sentiment. “Given the current economic downturn and its effect on the local job market, this administration plans to make tertiary education a priority for recent high school graduates. I am therefore grateful to HSBC for making funds available, which will allow 5 Caymanian youngsters access to tertiary education. We welcome commitments such as this, from the corporate community and private individuals, and hope that others will follow HSBC’s lead.”

While the HSBC Cayman scholarship program for Fall 2009 involves purely a financial award to cover primarily tuition expenses at UCCI, the bank is planning to grow the programme in 2010 so that students can benefit from the scholarship programme beyond just financial support.

HSBC Cayman’s CEO, Gonzalo Jalles, further explains the importance of expanding the scholarship programme. “Work experience is essential to being competitive in almost every industry—not just the financial sector. As such, HSBC Cayman is researching the best way to expand the scholarship programme to include a robust internship programme that gives students essential work experience. In addition, HSBC is open to working with the Ministry of Education to explore ways to speak with students in local high schools about career development and the benefits of obtaining a university education. HSBC Cayman also intends to explore additional partnerships with other local institutions of higher learning to expand the programme’s reach in 2010 and beyond.”

Jalles goes on to say that the primary goal of the HSBC Cayman scholarship is to help local Caymanians be competitive in the local market in any industry they choose to work. “Of course, we would like to support students that are pursuing a career in financial services because the bank is always looking to gain access to more Caymanian talent. While only 30% of our current employee pool is on work permits compared to the market average of 50%, we constantly look to provide increased opportunities for local employees. The bank’s new scholarship programme allows us the opportunity to become familiar with Caymanian students that have the potential to become permanent employees.”

“However,” Jalles clarifies, “The greater need in the community is for Caymanians to be more competitive in all industries. Therefore, if HSBC Cayman can help even a few students to gain a competitive edge wherever they choose to work in the Islands, then the scholarship programme has served its purpose.”

For more information about the program, students may contact, Cherisse Merren, HSBC Cayman’s Marketing Manager at 914-7585 or by emailing, Application materials are also available on the HSBC website.

 Photo: CEO HSBC Cayman Gonzalo Jalles; LoGB McKeeva Bush; Education Minister Rolston Anglin; and Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson.

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Private cash needed by gov’t

Private cash needed by gov’t

| 12/08/2009 | 31 Comments

(CNS): As a result of the current state of public borrowing, the government will need to tap into private funds to develop any more major infrastructure projects. Although the new administration has said it wants to build cruise berthing facilities, a new airport and a waste management project among others, it does not have any capital with which to develop. Government will therefore be turning to the private sector.  “We need to move forward on a number of projects, but we don’t have the money, so we will need to partner with private investors,” said Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush.

He said seeking private finance for these capital projects would have a twofold impact – stimulating the economy and creating jobs, and giving the country the infrastructure it needed without government having to put the money upfront. Bush added that as the country did not generate revenue from resources or taxes he had to think outside the box about getting the capital needed, and that that meant partnering with private sector investors.

Aside from the cruise port, which he said was essential to the development of Cayman’s tourism product, Bush said he would also like to see new hotels being built. “What do we really have for tourists except the Ritz Carlton?” he asked. He said he wanted to see more brand name hotels developed on Grand Cayman. “I would like to see a Raffles, a Mandarin, a Four Seasons because it will mean a solid economy,” he added, saying that the big name hotels had their own following and that such hotels would bring new tourists. He lamented the opposition that some people had to such development and said, “We could starve to death if we don’t turn around those attitudes.”

Bush said that the development of the airport would also require private investment and noted that the redevelopment of the airport in the George Town area was not necessarily beneficial as he believed that the airport also needed to go east.

He said that there was a pressing need for both a waste management project and new sewerage, and he said he was inviting bids and proposals for all of these potential projects as PFIs. He said government had already received around fifteen different proposals relating to the landfill and people were also coming forward with proposals for the ports, the airport and the other schools.

Bush also noted that he had taken the decision not to knock down the present Glass House building when the new Government Office Administration project was complete but to renovate it with the intention of using it to house a new financial centre. He said renovations would cost around $10 million but it could house the new Finance Ministry, the Stock Exchange and other key areas related to the financial services sector and that renovation would also be done through PFI.

With what he said was likely to be a “bare bones budget”, the LoBG said that all of the borrowing that government would be doing in the 2009/10 financial year was already spoken for as a result of ongoing developments, such as the two new high schools and the new government administration building.

Further public borrowing on top of the existing $590,000 debt is going to be around CI$203 million in this year’s budget but most of that will be used for projects started under PPM administration. Bush said there would only be about $21 million of new money for government to use on any kind of infrastructure works during the next financial year.

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Rescued bird set free

Rescued bird set free

| 12/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following its period of recovery and rehabilitation an injured Least Bittern was released back into the wild recently in a wetland area in West Bay, by Cayman WildlifeRescue. The smallest member in the heron family, this particular bird was brought to the voluntary wildlife group suffering from a ruptured air sac and a foot injury. Alison Corbett Project Manager of Cayman Wildlife Rescue said the bird’s injuries were most likely due to it being hit by a car. 

“Upon receiving the bird and assessing its need we knew it was going to be a challenging case,” she added. The Least Bittern was weak, malnourished, unable to feed itself and required tube feeding.  “We were very fortunate that the staff in the aviary at Boatswain’s Beach volunteered their facilities and time to rehabilitate the bittern,” Corbett noted.

Daniel Platts, an Aviculturist at Boatswain’s Beach and a CWR Volunteer said he was pleased to assist Cayman Wildlife Rescue in their efforts to help preserve Cayman’s wildlife.  “This was an excellent opportunity for us to contribute to this cause,” he said. Under expert care the Least Bittern responded quickly and was deemed fit for release back into the wild and Platts then successfully released the bittern into a wetland in West Bay.

The Least Bittern is a colourful bird that is often heard before is seen. A winter visitor and a resident in the Cayman Islands the birds are usually seen in ponds and mangrove areas.  They forage by stalking their prey along branches and reeds, or by clinging to clumps of vegetation above water and extending their long neck to seize small fish and insects.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a programme of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands tasked with the rescue of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife for release back into the wild.  It is financed by donations from the public and staffed entirely by volunteers.  If you are interested in volunteering please contact Alison Corbett at  For more information you can also visit

What to do if you find injured wildlife – Call the LIME Sponsored Emergency Hotline 917-BIRD(2473) for all wildlife emergencies.  Cayman Wildlife Rescue has a team of experienced and trained volunteers ready to assist in wildlife emergencies.  The public are reminded to NEVER attempt to care for a wildlife animal themselves as they required special diets and veterinary care.



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