Archive for September 8th, 2009

Pension suspension rejected

Pension suspension rejected

| 08/09/2009 | 63 Comments

(CNS): A significant part of the government’s original plan to cut around $89 million from the operating budget included a proposed suspension on pension payments for Civil Servants. However, the idea has been rejected outright by the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association, which pointed out in a letter to the deputy chief secretary the danger of destroying the entire fund through such a measure and placing in jeopardy the retirement of thousands of civil servants. Instead, CICSA has suggested a number of what it said were viable options that its president, James Watler, hopes will be considered by government as it puts together the budget for 2009/10.

Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said last week that the freeze on pensions had been rejected, but his government would be going forward to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with alternative expenditure reductions and revenue raising measures to secure the UK approval for a loan which has already been negotiated to balance this year’s budget.

Watler said he hoped that some of the myriad suggestions submitted by the CICSA would be implemented and that the association’s rejection of the proposed pension suspension would not be seen as stubborn resistance. Watler said that since the call came that government needed to take drastic measures to reduce expenditure, the civil service has been seeking ways to cut public spending but the membership has also made a long list of suggestions to raise revenue.

Christen Suckoo, the CICSA vice president, also told CNS that between them the membership had come up with a raft of sensible measures that could, if implemented, raise some $160 million for government.

Following a meeting at the George Hicks campus, the CICSA began collating viable ideas from the rank and file to present to government, not just about spending cuts, but about raising revenue as well. In his letter to Franz Manderson on 28 August, Watler outlines two areas that his organisation sees as a potential source of immediate cash for government. Firstly, he notes the failure to collect fees owed and that government should take immediate action on uncollected and outstanding revenue. Secondly, Watler noted the low level of many government fees and suggested the time had come to put some of them up.

“There are many revenue items on the government books that are very low and have not been raised for decades. These should be examined to see which can be raised without significantly impacting the citizens of this country,” Watler wrote. He also noted there were many things that were duty free, which he said which could be examined to determine if they should stay that way.

The CICSA also noted the issue of dormant accounts and suggested that there is anything from $40-80 million sitting in dormant accounts in the Cayman Islands and said government should enact legislation to allow them access to those funds.

A direct alternative to the pension freeze by CICSA was the idea of the pension fund buying a government asset, which it would lease back to government in the short term and government would buy it back in the long term. This would inject a large amount of capital into government coffers.

Watler also noted that CICSA was in favour of introducing a money transfer tax on remittances leaving the Cayman Islands. “Much has been said about the amount of money leaving the country on a regular basis through remittances to other countries. The government can see a significant increase in its revenue if it will take the step of introducing a charge on those funds,” he wrote.

The president said that CIFSA members have come up with many other measures, including an increase in the duty on used car imports; establishing a public transit system and the re-examining of work permit fees. Although the CIFSA has presented a raft of cost cutting and revenue raising measures to government, the organisation said it does not support direct taxation or the introduction of a lottery.  

Watler said he hoped that government would begin to utilise the knowledge and experience within the service to find the answers to the deficit problem. “The solutions to our problems are sitting in the minds of the lower ranking civil servants who work our systems every day and know their inefficiencies, but who are currently not being actively engaged in the process.”

Watler said the service was committed to doing all it could to help government and that members wanted to be involved in a holistic way to find positive long term solutions and not just band aids for the immediate problem.

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Fred becomes second Atlantic hurricane of 2009

Fred becomes second Atlantic hurricane of 2009

| 08/09/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As predicted by forecasters at the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Fred intensified on Tuesday night to become the second hurricane of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. At 5:00 am (AST) Wednesday the centre of Hurricane Fred was located about 500 miles west-southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde islands and had winds of over 100 miles an hour. At this stage Fred poses no threat to the Cayman Islands.

 Forecasters said that Fred was a category two hurricane and was expected to strengthen as it moves across the tropical Atlantic. The hurricane is currently moving toward the west-northwest near 13 mph and a turn toward the northwest and then north-northwest with a decrease in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days. Sustained winds have increased to near 105 mph with higher gusts and Fred could become a major hurricane later today.  Weakening is expected to begin on Thursday. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the centre and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 85 miles.



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Drug canoe seized off Spotts

Drug canoe seized off Spotts

| 08/09/2009 | 37 Comments

(CNS): A 32-foot boat with 600lbs ganja on board was intercepted off the coastline of Grand Cayman early this morning (Tuesday, September 8) by Marine Unit Officers.Police report that seven men were arrested – five aboard the vessel and two on land – on suspicion of importation of a controlled drug and possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply. Four of the men, who have given Jamaican addresses, have also been arrested on suspicion of illegal entry into the Cayman Islands.

The men are in police custody and the vessel has been seized by the Royal Cayman IslandsPolice Service (RCIPS). The operation involved officers from the joint Police, Customs and Immigration Marine Unit, Drugs Task Force and Uniform Support Group.

The boat was intercepted off the Spotts coastline at around 12.30am this morning by Marine Unit Officers aboard Tornado and Cayman Defender. The Helicopter was also utilized and proved to be a valuable resource during the operation.

“We know drugs and other contraband arrives in the Cayman Islands by boat. Marine Unit officers, along with other departments, are working hard to protect our borders and intercept these vessels,” said Superintendent Kurt Walton head of the Marine Unit and DTF. “This was a well executed multi-agency operation to target those involved in the importation of illegal drugs into the Cayman Islands.”

The Maine Unit and Drugs Task Force welcome information about the importation of drugs or reports of suspicious activity at sea or on the coast line. Officers can be contacted directly on 979-7710. People can also call 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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Schools prepare for possible swine flu outbreak

Schools prepare for possible swine flu outbreak

| 08/09/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The Public Health Department (PHD) has taken steps to secure H1N1 flu vaccine and an immunization programme will be initiated as soon as the vaccine arrives on-island, government has announced. Parents are being urged to keep sick children at home and principals are asked to immediately report unusually high numbers of sickness and/or absences among students or teachers to the Education Department and to immediately send home anyone who develops symptoms while at school inan effort to prepare for any possible surge in H1N1 flu cases.

However, at last week’s press briefing Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush reported that the latest data from PHD indicates that the number of flu cases in the Cayman Islands has fallen to ‘usual’ levels during the last week and is comparable to the same period in 2008.

“However, we need to remain vigilant. The World Health Organization has warned of the possibility of ‘an explosion’ in the number of H1N1 cases as we head for the fall flu season,” Bush said.

Controlling flu outbreaks in schools was of particular concern, he said. As such, the Public Health Department and the Health and Education ministries met last month and considered a range of prevention and control strategies to deal with any resurgence or outbreak in schools. Staff and administrators of the government schools were briefed on the measures at the commencement ceremony for the 2009/2010 academic year, Bush explained.

“The goal is to keep schools open and functioning in a normal manner during this flu season, and school closures will only be considered as a last resort. In large part, we will be following the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” said the LoGB. “We have also asked schools to conduct active flu surveillance and report unusual numbers of sickness, and to arrange for sick children and staff to be sent home.”

Bush noted that the PHD had taken steps to secure H1N1 flu vaccine and an immunization programme will be initiated as soon as the vaccine arrives on-island. However, for the time being our best line of defence is preventing the spread of the H1N1 virus through social distancing, keeping sick children out of school and hand washing, he said.

“Employers must review their contingency plans so they can keep functioning in a normal manner should there be a resurgence of H1N1 during this flu season. Public health officials have already met with members of the Chamber of Commerce and shared recommendations on how businesses can prepare for the pandemic. Businesses should factor in granting parents leave to stay at home with sick children,” Buhs said.

There is a 24-hour flu hotline at 926-2812 and a dedicated email address You can also visit, or .

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Samuels’ murder suspects face court

Samuels’ murder suspects face court

| 08/09/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): Three men accused of the murder of 28-year-old Omar Samuels appeared in court this morning and protested that they were set-up to the News27 cameras.  Osbourne Wilfred Douglas, who is 22, Patrick Elbert McField, also 22, and Brandon Mikkyle Leslie, who is 23 were charged by Detective Inspector Kim Evans on Saturday, 5 September. The men said today they were victims of a corrupt system as they arrived at the George Town court for their first hearing.

Samuels was found suffering a gun shot wound to his leg in the McField Lane area of George Town in the early hours of Sunday, 5 July, and he was pronounced dead on arrival at the George Town Hospital. A post mortem, which was carried out a week later on Sunday, July 12, showed Samuels suffered a single gun shot wound to his leg which penetrated the femoral artery.

SIO Detective Inspector Kim Evans said the team has been working exceptionally hard on the case and thanked the community for its support. “Every piece of information given to us is vital to the investigation,” he said. Despite the charges, he also stressed that anyone with information relating to Samuels’ death who has not spoken to an officer should do so.

Evans said he 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, people can also call Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS) which is answered overseas. 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.

See Cayman News 27 video here

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Mac says crisis fault of PPM

Mac says crisis fault of PPM

| 08/09/2009 | 83 Comments

(CNS): Despite the world economic financial crisis, McKeeva Bush has insisted that Cayman’s current financial difficulty has nothing to with any serious decline in the financial services sector but is the fault of the previous administration. Along with the ambitious capital projects, Bush said the government had also badly mismanaged and wasted government money. He told the media on Thursday that during 2008/09 the financial services industry had grown and it was entirely the fault of the last government that Cayman was outside the boundaries of the PMFL.

“All of this falls squarely on Kurt Tibbetts and the last government,” Bush said at the weekly briefing, when he was discussing the current financial predicament and the need to present a plan to the UK to allow more public borrowing.

“Our cash outflows have ballooned greatly in this financial year because of huge capital expenditures that have to be met in respect of projects such as the two new high schools and the new Government Administration Building. The UDP government believes that the schools could have been far more modest and less costly,” Bush said.

Aside from criticising the money that the government spent on the schools and the new Government Administration Building, he said that money had been spent by the previous administration on leasing accommodation which was fitted out and never occupied. Bush said he had recently discovered that the government is paying rent for empty premises that had been rented since 2008. He stated that around $168,000 had been laid out for office furniture and equipment as well as rent, and that was one of several that has cost the government some $200,000 for the year but have sat empty.

“I have asked the Lands and Survey Department for a full report on the all the details,” Bush said adding that the government would be using the space going forward. He explained that because the lease agreements exceed three years they have penalties for early release, which, combined with the money spent on fit-outs, it made sense for government to use them to curtail the wastage of the previous administration. “This is the good management that the PPM talked about,” he said with more than a hint of irony.

Bush also lamented that over $286,000 had been spent by the PPM administration on consultants for the port development that never happened, including to Deloitte for a report on public finance initiative options, KPMG for development models, and then a small sum for the background research on the Environmental Impact Assessment. Bush said it was all information we all ready knew and a further example of waste.

He said that in May 2005 the Cayman Islands Port Authority had $7 million cash in the bank but by 31 May 2009 there was only $2.7 million. Although he did not offer specifics, the LoGB said he believed the government had either taken the cash to use or had caused the deterioration of the finances. “Another god management strategy of the PPM’s progress,” he noted.

Answering critics that he had spent money on the Miss Universe pageant, Bush said he had reduced the planned excursion of 30 delegates. He said nearly everyone who attended footed their own bill and government spent just over $5900, but he had also met with the Bahamas Investment Bureau and the Citibank. He said he paid for his own tickets. “This was not a cost to the CI government. It spent very little in comparison to the $250,000 that Charles Clifford alone spent on travel,” he said. “I still don’t know what we got for it and when you find out you tell me. Tourism that is in a mess, no decisions made on anything. Money spent, money wasted.”

He said he was doing his best to cut down on these types of excursions and spending. Bush stated that he had already cut back on the sixty delegates that should have gone to the Caribbean Tourism Ball as no one went, and he had also cancelled what was supposed to be a trip for 100 people for the Honduras inaugural flight.

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Crown calls last witness

Crown calls last witness

| 08/09/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): After five explosive days of revelations of Operation Tempura in the Lyndon Martin (left) trial last week, the first day of the second week opened mostly behind closed doors as the legal teams argued points of law before Judge Roy Anderson. Court resumed around 2:30pm on Monday when the Crown called its final live witness, Richard Coy, a detective sergeant and a member of Operation Tempura’s Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT), who had arrested and interviewed Martin. Confirming details of Martin’s arrest on 27 March 2007, he revealed that aside from other SPIT officers, Superintendent Kurt Walton from the RCIPS was also present.

After Coy described the arrest to the court, Andrew Radcliffe, QC for the Crown asked him to read from the written summaries of the 19 interviews which SPIT conducted with Martin over a three day period with regard to the Operation Tempura investigation. Coy told the court that in the first interview Martin had at first remained silent on the advice of his lawyer but then, after discussing the issues with his attorney, in the second interview he began answering the questions of the Operation Tempura officers.

As he read from Martin’s statements, Coy revealed how Martin had begun to realise that his accusations that RCIPS Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis had leaked sensitive information to Cayman Net News editor in chief, Desmond Seales, were more than likely wrong but that he had believed them at the time.

Martin told the officers during the interview that he had first mentioned his concerns that Seales was receiving sensitive police information directly to Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon after seeing him by chance in Royal Palms on Seven Mile Beach, where he had told him to watch out as there was a leak in the RCIPS.

Coy read how the SPIT officers had told Martin that they could prove his accusations were wrong. Coy told the court that the SPIT officers had revealed that many of the accusations Martin had made were based on stories that had originated from the accidental email sent by police press officer, Deborah Denis.

Coy told the court that the officers had allowed Martin a break to study the documents that they had shown him that came from Denis. When he returned to the interview, Martin explained how he had never seen the front or cover page before that moment and so had not made the connection before then. He told the officers that he had received some of the minutes as documents in his electronic desk folder fromSeales but did not know this was where they came from.

Coy told the jury that during the interview Martin admitted that a lotof the assumptions he had made came directly from the document but he did not know that this was the specific document that had been accidently sent by Denis as he had never seen it in its entirety but merely been told about it.

Coy also read of how Lyndon Martin had said he that he could not understand how the SPIT had only been able to show one provable telephone call between Ennis and Seales in two years.

Continuing to read from Martin’s statements, Coy revealed how Martin had told the officers that Seales had given the impression that he had a high up source in the police by his knowledge, the things he said and mannerisms and body language. Seales, he said, gave the impression it was Ennis. Coy told the court that Martin had said in his statement that Seales would tell Martin that he was confident about the details of a story because he said it had come from what Seales would call “my boy”.

Coy read how Martin told the officers that he had begun to have his own doubts during the months that had passed since he had last spoken with any of the officers from the UK that the assumptions he made might be wrong. He conceded during the interview that he may have exaggerated the number of hard copy emails he seen, but he said he really had believed that Ennis was Seales’ source.

Coy’s testimony was interrupted when the court adjourned for the day and is scheduled to continue at 10:00am tomorrow (Tuesday), when Coy is expected to read the complete summaries of Martin’s statements before facing cross examination from defence counsel, Trevor Burke QC.

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