Archive for August 28th, 2009

3rd murder suspect arrested

3rd murder suspect arrested

| 28/08/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Police said on Friday afternoon that detectives investigating the shooting death of Omar Samuels arrested a third person on suspicion of murder on Thursday, 27 August.  The third suspect joins two other men who were arrested on Tuesday, all of whom remain in police custody. Samuels, who was 28, was found suffering a single gun shot wound in the McField Lane area of George Town in the early hours of Sunday, 5 July.  The bullet penetrated Samuels’ femoral artery causing him to bleed out.

Police said the enquiry into Samuels’ death is continuing and anyone with information who has not passed it on is encouraged to do so. DI Kim Evans can be reached on 925-6761 or 925-7240. An anonymous answerphone has been set up so residents can pass information directly to the police without giving their identity. The number is 949-7777. Alternatively, police said that people can also call Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS) which is answered overseas.

Although there was said to be many people in the area at the time of the shooting, police said that they had encountered difficulties getting people to come forward with information. Speaking in the wake of the murder, Commissioner David Baines said people had been less than supportive. “We rely on information. We rely on the community,” he said. “Anyone who has information needs to visit their conscience. You cannot justify saying that this is a police issue, we all need to take responsibility for what is happening and play our part in addressing it.”

 It is also understood that the ambulance which was called for in the wake of the shooting was delayed at the scene by the police, who said that they had to secure the scene before the emergency services were allowed in, not least because of the risk associated with the firearms involved and the previous history of guns in the area.

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Bush looks to private sector for recovery

Bush looks to private sector for recovery

| 28/08/2009 | 44 Comments

(CNS): Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said he is looking to private finance initiatives and developing policies to encourage business as the primary ways out of the government’s financial trouble rather than implementing new taxes, as requested by the UK, or cutting the civil service. Inviting interest from the private sector for a number of initiatives, from the development of a national sewage system to a buyer for the prison, he told an audience at the Ritz Carlton on Thursday that he wanted to put policies in place to increase economic activity.

“This will in turn create a natural increase in revenues for the government, as our volume of economic activity and level of investment will have increased without any need to raise indirect taxes,” he said. Bush noted that cutting the civil service by any significant amount was not possible because of the dependence of the community on government services. “We cannot continue to support the needs of the economy in terms of these services as well as infrastructure needs without the necessary civil service apparatus.”

He also said that the government was already proceeding on a path that will result in a private finance initiative for the two schools with the existing contractors, but he said more were needed to help develop urgent infrastructure, such as moving the cargo facility from George Town to develop a new commercial port.

Bush said that a PFI port project in the eastern districts would provide a deepwater protected harbor, a mega yacht marina and an oil bulk storage facility outside of the capital and the flight path. He said the project would include a container port where the trans-shipment of cargo takes place, and cruise ship home berthing opportunities, which would bring obvious economic benefits. The spin offs would also be much needed fill for roads and other infrastructure projects as well as jobs and economic stimulus to the country.  

The LoGB also said he wanted to widen the channel in the North Sound to allow mega yachts to come into George Town that are already registered in the Cayman Islands. “The yacht owners will invest in homes, apartments and will support local businesses including transportation, restaurants, stores etc,” he said. “This will bring jobs and business opportunities for Caymanians and cause a new sustainable economic boom on the North Sound of Seven Mile beach.

Building cruise ship berthing facilities was a top priority, Bush noted, adding that the FCCA had made it clear that the Cayman Islands must get the proper facilities or lose its cruise business. He also said that additional efforts had to be made to attract first class five star resorts, coupled with convention centres, golf and gaming facilities.

Bush said that the country needed to identify new sources of revenues, while at the same time making swift changes to the domestic policy framework, to get the economy moving. “This is not the time to continue with overly protectionist policies towards inward investment.  As I said earlier, if we can find ways to increase our revenues naturally, while minimising taxes, we will be better off.”

The minister said the country needed to think differently about the way we treat those who continue to place their confidence and money in the Cayman economy.  “It is simply not acceptable for us to say we will take your investment but we will not provide you with the resources you need. Or that we will not do what is necessary to improve our systems to facilitate that investment. Or that we will take their tens of millions of investment dollars but we will fight them tooth and nail for every work permit or planning or environmental permits that they require,” Bush lamented.

“While other countries are falling over themselves to attract the necessary investment to put people back into jobs, we are encouraging a system that makes investors feel unwelcome,” he added.

He said attitudes needed to be changed in the approach of our boards, departments and respective organizations. He said there would be no hustling for work permits to be refused because someone was accusing someone else of stealing their wife and that the way bureaucracy impacts inward investment needed to be addressed. “We can’t run the country like this anymore,” Bush said.

The issue of purchasing government assets that were profitable was also raised, and Bush said people always wanted to buy the Water Authority because it makes money but didn’t want to buy the prison or even the Turtle Farm.

“There has been a lot of interest in government assets and everybody always wants the Water Authority,” he said. “But once you sell it you don’t get anything out of it. If we sell that asset today we may get more than 30 million out of it but we get nothing in the future.

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Scholarship students failing says Minister

Scholarship students failing says Minister

| 28/08/2009 | 18 Comments

(CNS): The minister for education says he has discoveredthat some students that are currently on government scholarships are falling way below the minimum standard required to keep their study cash. He said that a number of continuing students had alarmingly low GPAs with some even lower than 1.0, despite the fact that the minimum requirement after the first year of study is 3.0. As a result, Rolston Anglin said the department is about to write to a number of students to warn them that their scholarships are in jeopardy.

With a total record investment of around $9.5 million in scholarships for Cayman students at the moment the Education Department is about to embark on a full review of the entire scholarship process.

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, the minister said that, aside from the fact that failing students were not being held accountable, the scholarship awards for UCCI were not being prioritised. “There is no distinction between grants to those in need or scholars for whom we can expect and hold accountable for academic standards,” he said. Anglin also noted that the students who were recording low averages had been doing so over the previous year but they had not received any follow up or been sent letters to tell them they needed to improve.

He insisted that the ministry was not cutting funding for any student but he said the department had to ensure students maintain a particular standard or they may not wind up being employable at the appropriate level even after many years of study.

“We must ensure Caymanians realize that excellence is not an option, it is a must,” Anglin said. “It is worrying to learn that some of these underperforming students were previous honour students from John Gray High School. This is not acceptable.”

He said that the problems of understaffing, the outdated criteria for awards, poor communications and other failure painted “a picture of neglect by my predecessor of this important area”, in which millions of dollars was invested.

He said the plan to move things forward included an overhaul of the system and he had established a Scholarship Services Review Committee chaired by Joy Basdeo, which will report to the Education Council in December.  The committee will be revising the criteria for awards; establishing a scholarship secretariat; creating an efficient application and approval process; looking at ways to prioritise the grant of awards towards Cayman’s economic needs; achieve greater collaboration between agencies and other scholarship bodies; a mechanism for recommended institutions and data collection on student performance.  Anglin said it was crucial work which must be done immediately.

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Senior cop to return to work

Senior cop to return to work

| 28/08/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): Speculation that Chief Superintendent John Jones was returning to his post was confirmed today (Friday 28 August) when Police Commissioner David Baines announced Jones was exonerated. Bains said there would be no disciplinary action taken against Jones and he would be back to work on Monday 31 August. The new commissioner said Jones had conducted himself “professionally” throughout the Operation Tempura investigation, during which the senior officer had been suspended, and said he was pleased he was returning to his job.

“Chief SuperintendentJones has at all times conducted himself responsibly and professionally since being placed on required leave on 27 March, 2008.  He remains a valuable RCIPS member and I am delighted that he will be back on duty next week,” Baines statein in a release from GIS, in which he said he had discussed the situation with the governor, who reportedly agreed with Baines and supported Jones’ return to work.

Governor Stuart Jack, who was responsible for the work of the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) which was conducting Operation Tempura, suspended Jones almost 18 months ago on 27 March 2008.

The chief superintendent was accused of being involved in an alleged illegal entry by Lyndon Martin to the offices of Cayman Net News, where Martin worked at the time.

CS Jones was put under formal investigation on 15 May for possible misconduct in a public office and was not cleared until 1 May 2009 by former Acting Commissioner of Police James Smith, when he announced that no criminal charges would be laid against Jones and all inquiries were concluded.

Since then, Baines said, a review had been conducted to determine whether or not disciplinary action was warranted against Jones. Baines stated that, after considering the officer’s alleged administrative failings, he concluded that a disciplinary hearing would be disproportionate in light of the alleged breach of conduct. “Chief Superintendent Jones demonstrated great dignity during the most trying times, serving as a reminder to all that judgements as to innocence or guilt should only be made once all facts have been thoroughly investigated,” the commissioner added.

Ironically, Jones will be returning to work on the day that Martin goes to trial for matters relating to the clandestine entry into Net News, where Martin was supposedly trying to secure evidence that Desmond Seales, the owner of the paper, and Anthony Ennis, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, may have been in a corrupt relationship.

CNS understands that Jones is on the witness list for the trial, along with former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan, who was also cleared of criminal charges in May of this year but is not returning to work as he was sacked by the governor during the Operation Tempura investigation. Kernohan has since filed suit against the office of the police commissioner and the SIO of SPIT, Martin Bridger, as well as Attorney General Samuel Bulgin and Governor Stuart Jack.

The speculation over Jones’ return caused some disquiet among the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) in May when some members of the police association had said he should not come back. One former police officer told CNS that members may even walk off the job if he returned.

In the wake of the announcement that the former Commissioner Kernohan and Jones had been cleared and the subsequent damages claims, Deputy Commissioner Ennis wrote to the press saying he had suffered injustice and laboured privately with the shock and disbelief for 15 months over what he has called the “reprehensible and egregious acts” that he says were brought against him by the former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and others.

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Cayman’s facts and figures reveal snap shot of society

Cayman’s facts and figures reveal snap shot of society

| 28/08/2009 | 23 Comments

(CNS): At the end of 2008 there were 2171 goats in the Cayman Islands, the country had imported 25 buses, posted over 8000 letters, had four Ukrainians on work permits and had enjoyed almost 72 inches of rain– just a few lesser known facts to be found in the new Cayman Islands Compendium of Statistics 2008. Compiled by the Economics and Statistics Office (ESO) the report is packed full of facts and figures about Cayman in 2008. From prison population to scholarship recipients the Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson described it as a concise and comprehensive set of measurements on social and economic activity within the islands.

Laying the report on the table of the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday morning, Jefferson pointed out that the population in Cayman at the end of 2008 was 57,009 with 56% being Caymanian and despite the recession the compendium reveals that the per capita GDP was up to $40,253.

Enrolment in private schools had increased by 8.9% and decline by 1.2 percent in the public school system; the ratio of health care professionals per 1000 population had increased from 13.2 to 14 and the unemployment rate was up at 4% with 1549 people out of work.

The report revealed that court cases and offences were down on 2007 statistics but the prison population had increased at year end from 198 to 226 of which 60 were non-Caymanian. The compendium also revealed that the number of people receiving poor relief had increased from 933 to 970.

It also showed that Cayman had embraced new technology with 98% of the population having a cell phone and 61% of homes having access to the internet. There are 121,448 telephone lines in Cayman on which people spent almost half a million minutes talking.

Jefferson said the compendium presents in a concise and simplified manner the social, economic and environmental data on the Cayman Islands up to the end of 2008. “Data was sourced and compiled from a wide cross section of both public and private sector entities,” he explained adding that when the data contained in it is compared with previous years it provides valuable indicators and was useful in identifying and analysing issues in aid of business planning and policy making.

He emphasised the importance of the compendium and said: “It serves as a document that should be accessed for information by policy makers and other agencies of government as well as by the private sector, students and researchers.

The compendium is available on the ESOwebsite:

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Eastern district cops nab burglars

Eastern district cops nab burglars

| 28/08/2009 | 18 Comments

(CNS): A teenager was remanded in custody on Thursday, 27 August after appearing in court charged with handling stolen goods and theft. Trent Bodden, 19, of John Mclean Drive, was arrested last week by Eastern District detectives who are carrying out enquiries into a number of recent break-ins that occurred in the area. A second man, also aged 19, was arrested yesterday on suspicion of burglary, breach of bail and traffic related matter and remains in custody. Police said they have also recovered a number of stolen items including construction tools and a television set.

“Burglary is a very serious offence which can have a huge impact on the victims,” said Area Commander, Chief Inspector Richard Barrow. (pictured above) “The detectives working in the Eastern Districts are putting an enormous amount of effort into identifying those responsible.”

Residents are reminded to be extra cautious when it comes to security and always ensure their windows and doors are locked. “Leaving your home open is like an open invitation to a burglar,” said Barrow. “Make sure you do all you can to secure your home.”

People should also record the serial number of valuable items so that if they are stolen they can be easily reunited with their owner. More crime reduction advice can be found on the police website at

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 remainanonymous, and areeligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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More tax deals coming

More tax deals coming

| 28/08/2009 | 9 Comments

(CNS): The government has plans to sign another 16 Tax Information Exchange Agreements, the Leader of Government Business, McKeeva Bush said this week. Eight countries are almost ready to sign new TIEAs and a further 8 are in the process of negotiation. However, the opposition has questioned some of the TIEAs which Bush recently signed and raised fears that Cayman is losing a competitive advantage by signing deals that have not held the line on certain conditions over indirect tax or gained benefits for the country.

Bush in his role as Minister for Financial Services brought a motion to the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday to add the 11 agreements which the Cayman Islands government has signed over the last year to the schedule of the Tax Information Authority Law. With the formalisation of the agreements the Leader of Government Business said that the country had not only made the coveted OECD white-list but had regained its credibility in the eyes of the financial world. Bush acknowledged the contribution made by the opposition and thanked them for “what little they did” but then told them that the reason why Cayman had ended up on the grey list in the first place was because of the previous government’s failure to sign enough agreements in time. He said his government had rescued the financial community from the rocky road of gamesmanship they had played.

However, while the former minister with responsibility for the financial services Alden McLaughlin, welcomed the motion, he warned that appeasing the OECD for a moment in time to remove the country from a list did not necessarily serve Cayman’s best interests as the organisation could replicate the list at the drop of a hat.

He said that during the negotiations with which he was involved the PPM government had sought to negotiate commercial benefits for Cayman and hold the line on certain issues regarding indirect taxation. But, he said that he the UDP government had made concessions in the agreements this administration had negotiated with both Ireland and the Netherlands that went beyond the models required by the OECD.

After pointing out that most of deals were signed and negotiated under the PPM McLaughlin said his government had taken the position, and he thought Bush had previously agreed with it, that Cayman should gain something with the deals and attain a level playing field. He said holding the line and holding out on signing some deals had not always found favour but he still believed it was correct to try and protect Cayman’s interests. “I still believe it was the correct line to take because when everyone is on the white list if we entered into a deal with a commercial disadvantage that’s a problem,” McLaughlin noted. “There ought to be commercial advantage for us for entering into these agreements, but it seems to me, from scrutinizing part three of the agreements with Ireland and the Netherlands, there are concessions exceeding the model tier.”

 McLaughlin said that the UDP government had agreed to supply information regarding indirect taxation in those countries which is not part of other agreements. The only exception he said was VAT (Value Added Tax) with the UK which he said given the relationship between Cayman and that country there was a concession.

McLaughlin went on to say that there had always been a strong economic component to these deals and Cayman should be careful and see these things in the round. He said that signing for the sake of it would not protect Cayman from the constant onslaught from the world’s major economies over this issue.  “It is not a matter of getting off lists,” hes aid. “There’ll be another one soon.” He said the OECD was already spinning new compliance webs for the forthcoming G20 meeting in September.

Bush, however, said that the only commercial disadvantage had been caused by the PPM who had lost the offshore sector money because of getting the country blacklisted.  He comes talking about commercial benefits,” Bush said of McLaughlin, “when he sat down for four years and made us lose revenue because he did nothing.”

The Minister said the government had worked hard to get Cayman on the white list and the country was now positioned to begin a new phase of growth and his government would be seeking to cooperate properly and listen to the financial services sector. He denied there was a problem with article three on the two agreements and said as it was the same as the UK and it made no difference. Bush also stated that he had got commercial benefits with all the ones that were now signed.

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UK to set high tax on travellers to Caribbean

UK to set high tax on travellers to Caribbean

| 28/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CaribWorldNews): The Caribbean tourism industry, already suffering badly from the world wide recession, could suffer another blow this November. In just months, the Caribbean could lose a substantial market if the British government goes ahead with its plan to levy an increased APD (Air Passenger Duty) from November 2009. The new rate of APD is due to be implemented in November just when the winter Caribbean season begins in earnest. Now, a family of four travelling to Barbados will pay £160 in APD – a so called `Green Tax` on air travel. But after November, that rate will go up to £200 and to £320 pounds in 2010. 

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