Archive for October 2nd, 2009

Mac will be Premier 6 Nov

| 02/10/2009 | 120 Comments

(CNS): During his throne speech in the Legislative Assembly this morning the governor, Stuart Jack, announced that the Cayman Islands Constitution, with the exception of the Bill of Rights, will come into force on Friday, 6 November. The Bill of Rights will not be implemented until November 2012, with some rights not taking affect until 2013. However, on the so called “Appointed Day”, a formal ceremony at the Legislative Assembly will see the leader of government business transformed into Cayman’s first premier. Amid the pomp the Constitution itself will officially become the country’s highest law.

“I am pleased to announce this historic occasion, which was preceded by considerable public debate and the first Cayman Islands referendum in May,” said the governor in the LA on Friday 2 October. “I encourage continued public involvement and awareness of the changes as the new Constitution is implemented.”The Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009 was approved by the

UK monarch in the Privy Council on 10 June, and was laid before the British parliament on 17 June. Since then, the Cayman Islands government says it has been preparing for it to come into force before the governor’s departure at the end of November. 

Preparations, under the leadership of Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks, include the merger of the Portfolio of Finance and the Ministry of Financial Services, which will accommodate the new posts of Minister of Finance and Financial Secretary. Preparations also include the amendment of certain laws to make them compatible with the Constitution and preparation for the establishment of several new oversight and advisory bodies. These include the Electoral Boundary Commission, the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, and the National Security Council.

To help guarantee a smooth transition to the Constitution, the Legislative Assembly is expected to deal with the necessary legislative amendments during October. From the Appointed Day, a number of other bodies will follow, namely the Constitutional Commission, the Commission for Standards in Public Life, the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, the Human Rights Commission, and Advisory District Councils.

The governor said that, in carrying out these reforms, every effort would be made to minimise operating costs – for example, through shared facilities and support staff for the new bodies. The new Constitution, including the roles of the various commissions and posts, may be seen at

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Cayman Special Olympian nominated for award

| 02/10/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): Special Olympics Cayman Islands athlete Andrew Smiley has been nominated for an open water swim of the year award. Last month Smiley competed in the RCP Tiburon Mile Swim held in San Francisco Bay’s Raccoon Strait, where he placed 107th overall out of a field of 800 swimmers in this premier open water swim event. He also placed third in the 19-29 age group in the non-wetsuit division in what was his first cold-water experience. Congratulating him on his outstanding performance, Sport Minister Mark Scotland said, “Andrew is an exceptional athlete and proves that where there is a will, there are no boundaries."

Scotland continued, "This athlete’s hard work, dedication and perseverance have deservedly earned him my respect, and I applaud him for being a positive role model for our young people. I am therefore thrilled that Andrew’s stellar performance has received international recognition. His performance has been nominated as one of the greatest open water swims of the year.”

The Minister encouraged people to vote for Smiley on ‘The Water is Open’ website’s online poll to show support for this outstanding Cayman athlete.

Click here to vote for Andrew Smiley


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Caribbean constitutions compromised, says attorney

| 02/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(CaribWorldNews): Constitutions of independent Caribbean countries, which still send appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, will be compromised by the abolition of the judicial jurisdiction of the House of Lords. So says Grenada-born attorney, Dr. Francis Alexis. Alexis said the October 1, 2009 dissolution of the judicial jurisdiction of the House of Lords and the substitution of the UK Supreme Court, inaugurated Thursday, means that there will no longer be law lords to constitute the main bench of the Privy Council. This compromises the fundamental premise on which Caribbean constitutions continued the Privy Council into independence.

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Also read the BBC UK Supreme Court judges sworn in

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World press describes loan approval as bailout

| 02/10/2009 | 21 Comments

(CNS): Despite repeated comments in both the local and international media by Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush, CIFSA Chairman Anthony Travers and a number of other pundits, the borrowing that the UK has now permitted the government to access is still being described as a bailout in the headlines overseas. Earlier this week, two of the UK’s leading newspapers on opposite ends of the political spectrum inferred the UK was propping up the territory, a message which has now spread across the world.

Although the Daily Telegraph said the loan was commercially-funded, the reputable broadsheet suggested that Britain would be “likely to end up footing the bill in the event of a default by the jurisdiction". The Foreign Office is understood to be concerned that the Cayman Islands could trade on Britain’s reputation to secure loans that it cannot afford – making its approval for the loan a tacit guarantee.

While a number of other media used the term bailout in its headlines, the Investment International called the UK approval “a financial life line."

Meanwhile the Guardian which has shown particular interest over the last few weeks in Cayman’s financial situation, reported that Bush had told “Cayman Islanders that a financial rescue package with the Foreign Office had been reached”, even though the paper was reporting on Tuesday’s public meeting where Bush once again reiterated that Cayman has not taken a cent from the UK.

The idea that Cayman and other territories could cause future problems for the UK government is behind the sentiment which, according to reports in yesterday’s Financial Times, was taken to the extreme by Lord Myners, the City Minister, who compared offshore centres to Afghanistan and Columbia.  "In the same way as we are having to wean the farmers of Afghanistan off the poppy and the farmers of Colombia off coca, we have to wean offshore financial centres off tax if that is the only source of competitive advantage that they offer," he said.

Following the Cayman Islands government falling foul of the PMFL, the need to get local borrowing approved has placed Cayman in an awkward position internationally, but Bush told the FT, "We do not intend to become a poor house in the region due to the whims and fancies of anyone, anywhere."

At Tuesday’s public meeting the LoGB emphasized that he would be getting Cayman out of the current financial situation, which his says is the fault of the previous administration’s mismanagement, and back to the confines of the Public Management and Finance Law, negating the need to get any permission from the UK ever again.

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Dixon trial speeds up as lawyers agree to cut witnesses

| 02/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With agreement between both the Crown counsel and the defence that a significant number of the prosecution’s witnesses do not need to be called to the stand, the case against Rudolph Dixon will soon close, leaving his lawyers ready to open his defence. Following the appearance of former chief superintendent, Derek Haines, and Richard Oliver from the Operation Tempura team yesterday morning (Thursday) the Crown will be completing its case on Friday with admissions to the jury about what is agreed with the defence.

The Crown was originally set to call around 23 witnesses. However, following a ruling this morning from the presiding judge, Charles Quinn, based on legal submissions from the defence yesterday afternoon, the prosecution will close its case against the Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon for misconduct in a public officer or perverting the course of justice considerably earlier than expected. Dixon’s defence is then expected to begin calling its witnesses before the jury retires to decide the verdict sometime early next week.

During his brief appearance on the stand Derek Haines confirmed a passing conversation with Dixon the morning after the incident in which Rudolph Evans was released after his arrest for a DUI on the night of 7 April. Haines said he did not think that Dixon had said at the time that the person was Evans and he had learned of that much later.

The former senior officer said that as part of their morning pleasantries, having both arrived a few minutes earlier for a senior police meeting, the two men had talked and he had listened to Dixon explain what had happened and how he had advised Inspector Burman Scott to release the driver based on a previouscourt case with similar circumstances of an officer in plain clothes being involved in the arrest. Haines confirmed that Dixon had casually asked him what he thought and Haines stated he may not have given the same advice but considered it water under the bridge. Haines also confirmed that the former governor’s son, Mervin Cumber,, had been charged on a number of occasions for DUI.

Haines confirmed that the rumour mill in the RCIPS was rife and, to the amusement of the court, noted that if people didn’t know your business then they would soon make it up, so he could have learnedthe details of the incident on the marl road. Asked if Dixon had tried to cover the incident or keep it a secret, Haines said he hadn’t.

Testimony from the last witness offered by the Crown, Richard Oliver, revealed the key area of disagreement between the Crown and the defence,  which is the legal case on which Dixon says he was offering the advice to Scott. Oliver, a member of the Special Police Investigation team, told the court that he had been asked to read some research that the team had unearthed relating to the Cumber case. Oliver said the one he had been given involved the conviction being overturned because the breathalyzer used by the police in the incident had not been properly gazetted for use.

The defence, however, has noted a number of times before the jury that this is not the case upon which Dixon relies for his defence and has always insisted he advised Scott on a case involving Cumber where the conviction had failed because a plain clothes officer was involved with the arrest.

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Friday is budget day

| 02/10/2009 | 26 Comments

(CNS): In the absence of any last minute hitches, the UDP government will finally deliver the country’s 2009/10 budget on Friday morning. Following the green-light from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the administration to borrow $229 million, $50 million of which government can take immediately, this year’s public spending and earning plans will be revealed.  On Tuesday evening Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said that he will be able to bring a budget that not only offers a small surplus but will bring government’s cash reserves back to 90 days.

Despite the financial challenges faced by government, Bush said that solutions have now been found without the need for direct taxation. However, the Caymanian public can expect to see public sector cuts and increases in duty and existing fees.

 “To get to the point of where we could present a Budget, we have had to cooperate with the UK FCO,” Bush told the audience at the Mary Miller Hall on Tuesday.

 He explained that further cuts in public sector expenditure would be forthcoming, including a continued restriction on hiring, a reduction in furniture and equipment purchases, overtime cuts, reductions in accommodation costs, and the elimination of all but essential official travel.

Nor will the budget be painless for business or the man in the street as the FCO has been insistent in wanting to see additional revenue streams as a condition of the borrowing approval. The leader of government business said that Cayman will eventually need to find a more sustainable revenue base but in the interim consultation with the industry stakeholders across the board has led to a series of revenue sources that will be brought forward in the budget. 

The bulk of revenue will come from increases in already existing fees and charges imposed on transactions of some $100 million, including duty increases as well as transaction fees. Bush said that the increases would not be detrimental to the economy and were supported by leading members of the private sector – particularly those in the financial services sector.

Part of the government’s 2009/10 fiscal plan will be to raise revenue through the divestment of public assets.  “The objective of this consideration is to increase the cash resources that the government has available to it during the year,” Bush stated, but he added that every effort would be made to retain a portion of public assets for government. “Even if an outright sale occurs, every effort will be made to regain total or partial ownership when public finances improve,” he said.

Government will be also looking for pay back in its investment over the years in successful statutory authorities and those that have accumulated cash reserves which are not required as a priority for the current, and in some cases the next fiscal year, will be asked for a dividend.

The lynch pin in the budget, however, is Bush’s plan for inward investment, as he said the country must control its own economic destiny. “We must find a way to encourage new investment which enables firms to find the workers they need while affording the maximum opportunities for Caymanians,” he said. “We will not be able to do this without accommodating investors. We cannot expect to attract significant new investment by treating investors in the current way we are in terms of our policy environment. We must give something to get something.”

Bush said new investment creates job opportunities and new opportunities for Caymanians to own businesses. “Over protection, particularly in these dire economic times, will only stifle our economic recovery,” he added. “We must therefore prepare ourselves to be more accepting to non Caymanians. We must go back to the non divisive, harmonious environment we have had for decades while our nation became one of the most successful economic models in the world.”

As a result, Bush has outlined a number of major capital development projects which he intends to fund through public/private partnerships and private finance initiatives such as a new mega yacht marina, cruise berthing facilities, a sewage system, a cargo port in East End and five star resort developments.

“These types of major capital project will create an economic stimulus immediately – creating jobs, work for existing transportation and heavy equipment operators and other businesses,” he said. “Doing nothing to stimulate your economy when facing a recession is NOT an option. And I will not sit back and watch the lives of hard working Caymanians get worse and worse as each day goes by.”

The budget presentation begins in the Legislative Assembly on Friday morning at 10:00am.

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Installation art carries message against violence

| 02/10/2009 | 18 Comments

(CNS): Local artist and poet Joseph Betty Gumba used the medium of installation-performance art today (Thursday 1 October) to draw attention to the increase in gun violence in Cayman. With his eyes, ears and mouth taped shut, the artist lay in front of the George Town Court House to send a key message of peace to the community. Calling on the famous and powerful words of Mahatma Ghandi, Gumba reminded people that an eye for an eye will leave us all blind.

Using his own body and boards adorned with symbols, famous quotes and lines from Cayman’s National Song to help convey his message of non-violence, the artist drew considerable attention. Tourists, locals and even the police all stopped for a moment to appreciate and contemplate Gumba’s powerful message.

Art has long been used as a medium for protest and installation art can be particularly powerful. Using installation art as a mode of protest came to prominence during theanti-Vietnam war demonstrations in the 60s and has since become a popular means of visual protest. Anti-globalisationists, environmentalist and feminists have all utilized the medium to send political and social messages.

Go to News 27 video to see more

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Immigration violators face clamp down

| 02/10/2009 | 26 Comments

(CNS):  The Department of Immigration said that it is currently investigating a number of cases of immigration crime in the wake of an arrest this week in East End of an individual who has been here illegally for over three years. So far this year, 76 people have been arrested for immigration offences, 38 of whom were over-stayers, with fines amounting to $50,651 imposed in 74 of the cases. The new Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) Linda Evans said that the department would continue its active pursuit of immigration offenders.

Thanking members of the public who have reported illegal activity in the past, she encouraged their continued civic participation. “We are actively pursuingImmigration Law violators and intend to remove persons who have no legality within our borders,” she added. “This issue is a serious one for several reasons: It can impact the ability of the legal permit holders as well as Caymanians to find work, and it also raises the question of how the over-stayers are supporting themselves.”

The department is in the process of investigating a number of other cases including illegally entries to the jurisdiction; people overstaying their authorization to remain in the Islands; and cases of making false representations on work permits applications and failing to answer truthfully to questions asked by immigration officers. 

In the most recent case, officers attached to the Immigration Department’s Enforcements Division detected a foreign national in East End on Tuesday, 29 September, and after what was described as “a brief foot-pursuit”, arrested a man who has been illegally residing in the Islands for over three years. The matter is currently being investigated.

Speaking at a public meeting on Tuesday evening, Leader of Government Business Mckeeva Bush gave his backing to a clamp down on work permit abuse. He warned employers that are holding work permits with no work for those people that the permits must be cancelled.

“This will take effect in two weeks to give those persons who have no work time to get ready to go back home,” he said. “When the economy is back up and running at a much better level, they can be rehired if the employer needs them.  Those employers who have people on work permits with no work should see that it is cancelled.  If not they will be prosecuted according to the full extent of the law and any future prospects of securing a work permit will be jeopardized.”

Senior Immigration Officer Jeremy Scott, who has responsibility for enforcement operations within the Enforcements and Intelligence Division, warned offenders of immigration legislation that officers will continue intelligence-lead operations and that persons arrested face prosecution and possible deportation. Over-stayers found guilty can face fines of up to $20,000, and/or imprisonment up to five years.

The CIO also applauded the action of the officers in this week’s arrest and reiterated the emphasis on addressing the problem of over-stayers.

The CIO said the public may call 949 8344 or visit the offices of the Department of Immigration for more information, or to report any suspicious activity. In addition, the Enforcements Division may be contacted directly at 244 2028 or 244 2051.

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