Archive for October 8th, 2009

Fixing Cayman’s financial problems

Fixing Cayman’s financial problems

| 08/10/2009 | 10 Comments

An opportunity not to be missed…..Over a year ago I wrote that Government and the private sector should don their rain gear as the global financial crisis started to bite in Cayman. People said I was being a Cassandra. Nearly ten years ago, I wrote that Cayman’s revenue base was too narrow to sustain its development and the needs of a growing population, certainly not in a down economy.

I recommended a modest annual property tax specifically dedicated to building and maintaining the infrastructure. I also recommended that Cayman should develop a ten year plan for independence (a discussion for another day). People said I had truly lost it with these two suggestions. And now we are in the perfect storm, with the UK running interference and no real progress with long term solutions.

Earlier Governments wisely put in place mains water supply, sewage (but as yet only for part of the Islands), new airport and hospital and mandatory health insurance and pensions. But we then lived on borrowed time by deferring investment in roads, schools, port, runway extension and waste management. The previous Government decided to build the roads, schools and a new Government building simultaneously and without proper long term funding/financing for these projects. Also, over the past few boom years, Government operating expenditures troublingly grew as a percentage both of revenue and GDP. Paradoxically, the Ivan disaster produced a huge inflow of overseas insurance and reinsurance money and (even with the duty waivers and reductions) the Governments coffers filled with import duties on (re)building materials and replacement equipment and goods of all kinds. This inevitably tailed off. Then the global crisis hit and our two main economic drivers, tourism and financial services, stopped expanding and then slid backwards. Real estate, construction, support services and consumer spending all suffered. 2009 Government revenue suddenly sank well below projections, yet Government expenditure continued unabated.  

Voters everywhere continually demand more and better services, all too often from their Government. And politicians promise to deliver them. So either we stop demanding or we (not just others) have to pay for these services. And there are indeed vital projects still to be undertaken here. The most pressing (and maybe the most expensive) is waste management and the current landfills in particular. Even the most optimistic realtor, developer and “no new taxes” lobbyist must be aware that the south end of Seven Mile Beach, Camana Bay and the bypass stretch are exposed to a potential toxic disaster (air pollution already and soil and water pollution that may be happening unseen underground). What price tourism, real estate and the North Sound if that occurs (and the crime wave and poor underresourced policing continue)?


There are some things we should stop doing. First, bashing the UK. This may play well locally for a time but is unproductive. Second, saying we just have a short term cash flow problem and all will be well if we can borrow some cheap dollars to keep us going until the boom times in tourism and the financial services industries restart. Those times may be a while coming (and we must ensure the right platforms to encourage these key industries), and the traditional revenue streams from these industries will likely be insufficient for the long term. Third, saying we just cut Government expenditure, eliminate waste and abuse in Government services, downsize the civil service and improve civil service performance. Steps must be taken (the civil service and statutory authorities are in the aggregate far too large a percentage of the total work force), certainly to freeze the expansion, but it will be very hard in reality to turn the clock back (just count the votes). Fourth, saying that privatization and public/private partnerships and private finance initiatives are the solution. There are some sensible options, but these are not sufficient to handle the problems. Fifth, saying that our ratios of debt and debt servicing costs to GDP are and will be well in line with other countries. This is misleading if most of that GDP is off limits as a source of Government revenue, i.e. we are not prepared to tax it directly! I suspect Moody’s may not have taken this into account in their recent rating confirmation of Cayman. Sixth, parroting “do not raise taxes in a recession”. This comes from the same people who during good times say “do not raise taxes, you will stop the boom”. Lastly, painting this as a Caymanian-non Caymanian issue. We are all in this together.

We should not ape the fiscally irresponsible behaviour of the US and the UK. Fortunately, we cannot “print money” and flood the market with CI$ debt that we cheapen by devaluing the currency (since Government borrowings are essentially in US$, we leave the Fed to do that for us!). We need to reinstate sound Government finances. I believe this is possible but contributions are required from the entire resident community and those invested locally. The self-interested “nail the other guy, he’s not at the table so he can be lunch” is very unhelpful. Suggestions should be constructive with a willingness to compromise for the greater long term good.

We now have deficit figures for the last fiscal year (disturbing even if predictable), an optimistic proposed budget for the current fiscal year and UK in-principle and conditional consent to a portion of the loans requested (as yet we do not know which financial institutions have made firm commitments to fund the loans). The UK still requires, not only satisfactory short term fixes, but also a long term plan for sustainable revenues/financing and expenditure cuts/containment to match (phased implementation should be possible). In our own interests, we should also set clear priorities.

The short to medium term solutions outlined so far in the proposed budget call for swingeing increases in the usual indirect fees and duties (e.g. import duties…effectively our sales tax…, financial services and company fees, work permits etc.), a 2% levy on money transfers through licensed money services companies (but not through banks) and various other miscellaneous fees, a new annual business premises fee payable by the tenant of 10% per annum of the rent (with the concession that no such fee is payable on leases in force on which stamp duty has already been paid), one off savings (e.g. deferrals and perhaps cancellations of services and projects) and windfalls, civil service/statutory authority hiring and remuneration freezes, disposition/refinancing of Government assets/liabilities etc., and improved efficiencies, performance and collections (delivery is another question). But I fear that, given there is little hard evidence of sustained cuts on the expenditure side and of specific long term funding/financing of capital projects, there needs to be detailed study followed by action that broadens in the longer term the revenue base through meaningful new levies (implemented in a sensible staged manner) that are not so dependent on perpetual boom times and buoyant consumption. And this is not simply because the UK tells us this. If we fail to do this, we are likely only kicking the can down the road for a short while.

Taxes should be fair, have the lowest adverse impact on economic activity and should be cost effective to collect and enforce. There are two new proposals in particular that do not meet the tests.

The proposed 2% levy on money transfers through money services licensees is unfair as it hits those at the bottom end of the economic scale (who have also been abandoned by the traditional banking system…perhaps the retail banks will be good community citizens and now rethink this poor attitude). It also sets a very ill advised precedent (thin edge of the wedge) as it will be seen as a tax on cross border fund transfers, an anathema to the global financial industry. Finally, it can only be short term, as in a few years, it will be uncollectible as electronic money transfers by cell phone will be possible (this is happening elsewhere already).

The proposed 10% business premises levy on rents (to be an obligation of the tenant but, it appears, to be collected by the landlord and remitted to the Government) fails to meet all the tests (the last one in particular) and is potentially open to nonpayment and fraud, in the same way as stamp duty, health insurance and pension contributions. And in the current climate, I fear that it may finally drive under many small businesses that are already struggling, if they have lease renewals coming up. Also, the new 10 % annual levy may adversely impact one of the key things Cayman needs to do to get the economy going again; that is to encourage greater economic activity here with new financial businesses establishing physical offices with people living and working here in and making real decisions. My concern is that this new in-your-face line item (combined with the ever increasing work permit fees) in the budget of a fund or investment manager considering a physical presence here might be a turn-off. To put this in perspective: currently a 5 year lease at an annual rent of US$250,000 carries upfront stamp duty of 5 %, i.e. a one off US$12,500 approximately; under the new regime, no stamp duty but an annual tax of 10%, i.e. an annual US$25,000, and thus US$125,000 over the five years.

I also question whether this new levy will result in tenants buying or building their own premises. Anecdotally, the response seems negative. The market is a lot more complex than that. First, many smaller tenants are in no financial position to buy or build. Second, in Cayman other than major retail banks (and most already have their own bricks and mortar), financial services and professional firms typically do not own their office premises as it limits their flexibility for growth (or downsizing) and ownership causes succession problems and more for partnerships. Third, major tenants are usually already tied into long term leases. Fourth, I wonder if the existing landlord/owner lobby has thought carefully enough about the implications in the unlikely event of their major tenants constructing their own buildings and vacating their current premises. A whole lot of empty buildings, so be careful what you wish for.

I must emphasise that new taxes should only be imposed if and to the extent that the various short-medium term  measures outlined in the budget fall short or are not sustainable. Applying the three tests outlined above, I suggest for mature study and consideration three possible new revenue sources. First, a modest annual community service charge on real estate dedicated to appropriate infrastructure and services (like waste management) and collected by the Land Registry (there can be exemptions for those who genuinely cannot pay and for low value properties, perhaps variable rates/bands depending on the usage and value and a credit/reduction of the upfront stamp duty already paid or payable). Second, a levy on electricity, telephone (including prepaid cell phones), TV and water bills collected by the utility companies. Thirdly, and very reluctantly if all else fails, casino licences (collected by a new Gaming Board). These could together raise a stable CI$45-CI$75 million annually for Government fairly, with low adverse economic impact, at a reasonable cost and with a high collection rate.

This article is an expanded version of the article that appears in the October issue of the Journal


                                                     © Timothy Ridley 2009


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Police nab suspect jewel thief at club

Police nab suspect jewel thief at club

| 08/10/2009 | 5 Comments

(CNS): Several pieces of jewellery have been recovered and a 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods, police said on Thursday. The jewels include four bracelets, one neck chain, one pair of earrings and a ring. The RCIPS said that the items are quite distinctive in design and the Criminal Investigation Department is encouraging anyone who may have had jewellery stolen lately to contact them for identification purposes. Police said the suspect was picked up on 27 September at the Pepper’s nightclub on West Bay Road.

Meanwhile, West Bay Police Officers along with the Uniform Support Group, K9 Unit, as well as the Special Constabulary, continue to carry out what they described as proactive patrols in the district including stop searches, roadblocks and management of offenders during curfew times which they say  are seeing real and positive results.

“We are focusing on serious, violent crimes and we want residents to know that we take their concerns very seriously, and as a result we are doing everything to combat the rise in crime on the Islands generally,” said Area Commander for West Bay Angelique Howell . “People will have to understand that in order to crack down on crime good law abiding citizens may be inconvenienced at times and weask for their patience, but these measures must be taken.”

She said that while officers are addressing traffic violations the vehicle stops are targeting hard crime.

“People travel everyday from point A to point B and they do so in vehicles that may be carrying guns and drugs. During these roadblocks, there are persons being arrested for weapons offences, drug offences, DUI’s and other crimes. So these roadblocks are two fold, targeting hard crimes as well as addressing traffic violations,” Howell noted adding that her officers are committed to focus on every aspect of crime and anti-social behavior.

Even when undertaking community initiatives she said officers do so with a crime reduction strategy in mind and a belief that once people are occupied positively and are taught how to conduct themselves in society crime will drop.

“We are also focusing on our children. They need to know what acceptable behaviour is and what is unacceptable. Children need to understand that police are not their enemies but rather there to protect and serve them as a society. Hence, we regularly visit schools within the district in an attempt to reach out to the next generation,” Howell explained.

Police intend to continue the proactive patrols for the unforeseeable future and ask that members of the community please work with them to help make a difference in the West Bay community.

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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WestTel Five-A-Side at Kings

WestTel Five-A-Side at Kings

| 08/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): After four months of regular season play, and weeks of playoff action, Championship Week of the WestTel Five-A-Side Football League is finally here. On Monday, 12 October, #1 Bonaca Boys and #2 Burger King will face off in the battle for bragging rights as the top Five-A-Side Football team in the country, a King’s Sports Centre release says. Burger King, the reigning WestTel Division 1 Champions, topped the charts in June, perfecting the game with an unbreakable 15-0 final record. They are the only team in league history to accomplish such a feat. Once again finding themselves in the Championship trophy hunt, team manager Gary Rutty said “Last season was something to be very proud of and remember."

He said, "Going undefeated is not an easy task, as we thought we could do it again. We set out our goals last season to run the tables, and the team did exactly that.”

Commenting on his team’s performance this season, Rutty said “We have had a tough season with injuries, but performance has been good. We are where we ended last year, in the finals!! The team has had our injury issues, but the depth that we started the season with is now paying dividends. I think the game next week will be one of the most exciting games yet. There will be a lot of talent and skill on both sides that people will really enjoy watching.”

“We have a lot of respect for Bonaca Boys and are really looking forward to playing them. They beat us twice this season, but those games are meaningless to us, and we will make up for those. We are a championship team and are used to being here. We will play Burger King football and hope to control the clock and tempo of the match. Playing mistake-free will be key, as the Bonaco Boys’ biggest strength comes from their ability to capitalize on their competition’s mistakes. They are very fast and in sync at all times.”

“Our two strikers, Rene carter and Theron Wood need to press hard, shoot quickly and set and early tune . We hope that Dion Brandon and Justin Pierre will control the mid field and take some pressure off of John Kelly and Thomas Wood in defense and they will ease any pressure off our keeper Randy Merren, and he will be able to settle in and get a feel for the game. To be successful, we will need to continue to rotate fresh legs with brothers Jason and Jedd Ebanks, and Kurt Hydes. We aren’t looking for individuals to step up, our team plays as a unit, therefore the unit needs to step up and deliver!!”

League leaders, Bonaca Boys have had an overwhelming itch to prove they belonged in D-1 football and proved it on Monday night with an 8-Nil win over Coconut Joes in the semi-finals. After forfeiting a game two years ago, Bonaca was disqualified from the league. “I decided to try again and prove that we not only belong, but that we deserve to be playing with the big boys,” explained team captain, Immer Carter.

“This season we are giving it everything we have. Our team is totally dedicated and committed and this is what separates us from the rest of the teams in the league. We are going all out because we want to be role models and our way of proving this is to become champions. We are the best and now our players want the trophy as proof,” Carter said.

He said that with the team, all members are important, but the efforts of players like Calvin Jefford, who is the backbone and the playmaker and keeper Ronny McLaughlin, have ensured the team’s success so far. “Jefford keeps the momentum going in crunch time and McLaughlin makes the saves when they count,” he noted.

The league’s head referee, Timothy McCarthy said: “Everything is going well with the season. The level of play in Division 1 has been fast-paced and the games have been outstanding.” King’s Sports Centre Athletic Director, Ray Singh, said he is impressed with the technical action of both teams headed to the finals. “There’s a lot of history between all of the players in this match, and historically they have always put on a great show. Monday night is sure to be one of the best Five-A-Side games ever witnessed at King’s Sports Centre.”

The WestTel Five-A-Side Finals begin promptly at 7:00 pm, Monday October 12th at King’s Sports Centre. Admission is free for all spectators. For more information on the WestTel Five-A-Side Football league, or any other King’s Sports Centre leagues, please visit or email Ray Singh at

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MLA has on air outburst over in-law statement

MLA has on air outburst over in-law statement

| 08/10/2009 | 167 Comments

(CNS): Talk Show host Austin Harris said on Cayman Crosstalk yesterday (Wednesday 7 October) that he expected new security measures for the Rooster 101.9 studio to include a new steel door with a bolted lock to prevent unexpected visitors during the airing of the show. This was after his former colleague, now MLAEllio Solomon, barged into the studio and engaged the show’s guest, former education minister Alden McLaughlin, in a one-sided argument as to whether one of the owners of Tom Jones International was his brother-in-law. Harris said later that it could have been a gunman that walked into the studio and theywere taking the security issue very seriously.

McLaughlin had, in fact, stated a few minutes earlier that he believed that one of the owners of TJI, the contractor for the two new schools, was married to Solomon’s sister. McLaughlin went on to respond to a question from Harris about rumours that either he or PPM Leader Kurt Tibbetts had any shares in Tom Jones International or pecuniary interest in the awarding of the contract to the company by rigorously denying it. “Complete and utter fabrication,” he said.

Later, when Solomon appeared uninvited in the studio, Harris appeared caught off-guard and, trailing off mid-sentence, he allowed Solomon to temporarily take over the show to “get clarification on something”, as he said. “Mr McLaughlin, did I hear you say that one of the owners of Tom Jones, particularly Chris Lawson, was my brother-in-law?”

“I said that was what I was told,” McLaughlin said.

“That was what you were told! … Let me ask you something, let me ask you a question, how many sisters do I have?” When McLaughlin said he did not know, Solomon continued: “So you don’t know how many sisters I have! OK, well let me tell you, I have two sisters … So first of all, let the public record that Minister McLaughlin is making irresponsible statements, ‘cos first of all he doesn’t even know how many sisters I have. Two: you’re on this show … trying to imply that Mr Tom Jones, Mr Chris Lawson is somehow married to one of my sisters, which is false.”

The opposition member said that if that was the case then he apologised, but Solomon, clearly riled, continued undeterred. “Even if it was true or not true, what was the relevance of you bringing it up? What were you trying to do by bringing it up?” McLaughlin calmly explained that he had not brought up the question of ownership but Solomon interrupted him, demanding, “Just answer the question!”

Saying he was trying to respond, McLaughlin said, “Let’s continue to be civil about this thing.” He explained that someone had told him that Lawson was his brother-in-law and apologised again, this time profusely. Ignoring the apology, Solomon repeated that the PPM member was making irresponsible statements – “Because first of all, he has no idea even how many sisters I have.”

Though both hosts had remained silent during the exchange, when it was over Harris did apologise to his guest for the interruption, though he added “I appreciate why Mr Solomon felt the need to address the issue – it certainly put me off guard but he is entitled to it and it is what it is.”

When callers later brought up the issue of security, Harris stated that his primary concern was one of protection and safety of their guests and that they would be fixing a lock on the studio door to prevent anyone barging in while they were on air. Suggesting that Solomon had been able to get into the studio because he was a politician and known to people at the station, he said that security was a matter of priority. “It could have been a gunman in these trying times who walked into these studios,” he said.

Harris said that he, Mclean and station owner Randy Merren has assured McLaughlin that Solomon’s outburst was “uncalled for, out of order and totally unnecessary”.

Managing Director Randy Merren said in a press release, “The incident brought to light that we as a company need to review our security in order to ensure that neither our invited guests nor the hosts areconfronted by any unplanned interruption.” He went on to say, “These new security measures will be put in place as soon as possible, which will prevent any such re-occurrence of this unfortunate event.”

This morning (Thursday), Harris said on the show that he believed Solomonshould apologise to McLaughlin and Rooster, his former employer.

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Maples generates business under new law

Maples generates business under new law

| 08/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following the passage of amendments to legislation relating to the offshore sector earlier this year Maples and Calder said recently that the new law had facilitated two major transactions structured to take advantage of the new opportunities to effect mergers involving Cayman Islands companies. The law firm said the mergers were the first of a kind facilitated by the new merger and consolidation regime in May 2009. In the first transaction, Maples and Calder acted for a Cayman Islands company in its acquisition by a California entity., in the second transaction it assisted on the completion of the first merger of two regulated insurance companies.

Maples explained that the California entity formed a Cayman Islands merger subsidiary and the target company was merged into it, the first time that such a structure has been used in the Cayman Islands.  This ground-breaking transaction demonstrated a significant potential use of the new Cayman Islands merger legislation.

With the insurance firms Maples advised a major US financial institution on the merger of a Vermont regulated insurance company into a Cayman Islands licensed captive insurer. A number of other US licensed insurers had merged into the Vermont captive immediately prior to its merger into the Cayman Islands company, resulting in a straightforward consolidation of a substantial pool of businesses into a single Cayman Islands company.  As the Cayman Islands company holds an insurance licence, the prior approval of the Cayman Island Monetary Authority had to be obtained.

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Appleby becomes largest offshore law firm

Appleby becomes largest offshore law firm

| 08/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following the announcement earlier this year that Appleby would be merging with the largest law firm in the Isle of Man — Dickinson Cruickshank the firm said last week that the process was complete. Appleby said it was the first global offshore law firm to have a presence on the Isle of Man and is now the largest global offshore law group by number of partners. The global Group now has 74 partners and 200 lawyers, and a total of over 800 staff in 11 offices worldwide including Bahrain, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, the Isle of Man, Jersey, London, Mauritius, Republic of Seychelles and Zurich.

“The merger will position us as the leading provider of legal, fiduciary and administration services across the offshore world,” said Huw Moses, Managing Partner of the Cayman Islands office. “This combination builds our strength and depth across multiple jurisdictions providing greater resources and greater choice to all of our clients and their advisers.” He continued “Our global reach in the key offshore jurisdictions and main international financial centres is unparalleled and will have a significant impact on the breadth, range and choice of services we are able to offer to our international clients.”



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Cayman Finance backs ‘tax’ free budget

Cayman Finance backs ‘tax’ free budget

| 08/10/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Despite the fact that the industry will bear a significant part of the burden of the government’s 2009/10 budget, Cayman Finance, the association representing the financial services sector has backed the government’s revenue raising measures as a preferable alternative to any kind of direct taxation.  However, the organisation was quick to note that the 2% fee to be placed on financial remittances is not a bank transfer tax but one aimedsolely at money transfer firms.

“There has been some misunderstanding of the proposed 2% fee on remittances leaving the Cayman Islands via money remittance entities,” Cayman Finance, formerly the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association) said.

“This has incorrectly been reported as a fee on transfers occurring within the banking system. Cayman Finance wishes to clarify that this is not the case.  The fee relates only to remittances occurring through businesses that operate under a Money Services License and does not apply to any type of transfer occurring with any entity licensed as a bank within our banking system.  As a result there will be no impact on Cayman Finance members or their international clientele.”

The organisation said it was relieved that the government which it acknowledges was forced to raise revenue had chosen to maintain Cayman’s historic position and not introduce direct taxation of any kind on income or property.

Although the traditional methods of taxation such as license fees, import duties, registration fees, and work permit fees will impact the industry, Cayman Finance said it believes these steps will allow the country to manage this short term funding situation and emerge in a stronger fiscal position.

“The CIG has taken a fiscally responsible, yet economically aware, approach to this short term funding issue” says Cayman Finance chairman Anthony Travers.  “Mr. Bush and his team have managed to meet the UK’s demands for increased revenues without bowing to unreasonable and irresponsible pressure to implement direct taxation that would undoubtedly have crippled our financial services sector and done serious long term harm to the economy of our nation.  Cayman Finance members are appreciative of the CIG’s efforts in this regard.”

The new budget expects to raise an additional CI$94.9 million during the 2009/10 financial year which ends on 30 June 2010. Over a full 12 month period these new revenue measures are expected to bring in an additional CI$126.4 million which will be applied toward government expenses and debt reduction.

Cayman’s current total debt is equivalent to approximately 24% of its GDP.  According to the UK statistics office at the end of March 2009 general government debt in Great Britain was £796.9 billion, equivalent to 55.5 per cent of GDP. France’s public debt rose to 73.9 percent of GDP in the second quarter of 2009, and estimates for the US put their figure at close to 90% of GDP for 2009.


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Gorgeous George to make a first impression

Gorgeous George to make a first impression

| 08/10/2009 | 34 Comments

(CNS): He may be cold blooded, but Gorgeous George, one of Cayman’s best known Blue Iguanas, will be extending a warm welcome to the Cayman Islands to everyone who passes through Owen Roberts international. With the help of local legal firm Walkers, the National Trust has created a stunningly attractive poster of the endangered, indigenous creature for the airport to help raise awareness and promote the work of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme. Gorgeous George will be one of the first things that people see when they arrive in the customs hall and his poster tagline puts things in perspective: "His ancestors have been here for two million years." 

The Blue Iguana Recovery Programme was started by the National Trust in 1990 when they first began breeding captive blue iguanas. The conservation programme has helped ensure the survival of the species, by releasing captive blue iguanas into the wild. It has already had tremendous success with over 120 baby blue iguanas hatched this summer. 

Fred Burton, Director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, envisions a self-sustaining, free roaming population of at least one thousand Grand Cayman blue iguanas, living freely in the wild within protected areas, reproducing naturally and continuing to evolve in step with their ever-changing natural environment. 

"At the moment we have very roughly about 300 blues restored to the wild, so we have to lift that to at least 700 more and ensure as best we can they are allowed to survive, breed and sustain themselves," Burton said. "To that end the captive facility is now literally crammed to capacity."

Walkers have long been supporters of the programme and the Blue Iguana’s vital part in Cayman’s heritage. The firm said the success of the recovery programme is extremely important and it has adopted the Blue Iguana as a promotional icon, producing branded soft toys since to promote the work of the breeding project at international conferences, as well as to educate children in Cayman.

As a Gold Sponsor of the National Trust, in 2006 Walkers pledged CI$ 60,000 over three years to fund the operating costs of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme.

"I have been very impressed by the Recovery Programme’s plans to develop native ecosystems for the blue iguanas to attract nature tourism to Cayman and inspire a range of commercial products, in order to generate sustainable revenue to fund  the  management of the blue iguana population indefinitely," said David Byrne, Chief Marketing Officer at Walkers. "This year we have created an even  more realistic blue iguana toy and we hope they will continue to be used as an educational tool and help raise awareness of the need to support the efforts made by the National Trust to help save this beautiful creature.” 

Walkers will also provide the National Trust with unbranded toys to sell in their store with the profits from sales going to support the recovery programme.

Walkers said it is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen and its support of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme is just one way in which the firm looks to make a difference within the community, with active participation from staff at all levels.

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Mac fires back at opposition

Mac fires back at opposition

| 08/10/2009 | 42 Comments

(CNS): Following criticism from the opposition that the UDP government’s budget was unrealistic, the leader of government business made a statement to the House on Wednesday morning once again blaming the previous administration for the country’s financial difficulties. McKeeva Bush stated that the need for tough revenue raising measures was because Cayman had failed to meet the principles of sound financial management and were in the hands of the FCO. He said that not only had the opposition caused the problem they have offered no solutions to fix it and had no moral authority to question the budget.

Lambasting his legislative peers on the opposition benches, he said they had no moral authority to question the government’s budget. “What have the complainers offered on this clamp down by the FCO?” Bush asked. “A solid nothing, zero, zilch.”

The LoGB noted that what the opposition had failed to mention as they complained about the budget was how the country had arrived in this situation. He said when the UDP took office it found itself in a gigantic mess caused by the PPM. The government had no alternative but to increase various fees, Bush added, confirming that the increases were only made after consultation with the business community.

Bush played heavily upon the UK interference with local finances, which he said brought the country to the brink of introducing taxes, and in the desire to ensure that the UK could not interfere again, his government sought to bring a surplus budget in the first year to ensure compliance with the Public Management and Finance Law and to take back control of borrowing decisions.

One of the opposition leader’s major points regarding the UDP budget was that the revenue raising measures were painful and unnecessary as the UK had not forced the country to try and address the deficit during a recession in one year.

Facing criticism himself that the public spending was only reduced by around $5.5 million (even less when losses from statutory authorities are factored in), the LoGB hit back by criticising the opposition for allowing the civil service and the operational budget to grow to such high levels. Returning to his favourite mantra, however, Bush seized the opportunity to remind the House of the opposition’s capital projects that he said the country could not afford.

“Now the opposition is questioning the government’s budget,” he exclaimed.

Addressing the criticisms that he had been reckless with his public declarations over the state of the country’s finances, Bush said that was not the case and more importantly there were far worse things that he could have said that would have appalled and frightened people of the country about the public finances.

He also said that the opposition should have seen the recession coming when it began to grip the US. Bush stated that when Lehman Brothers folded, the leader of the opposition had said it would only cost us $245,000 and at one point said that the global economic crisis would not affect Cayman.

“For him to now say that I am reckless, it seems to me that he should do what he said he would do,” Bush suggested, “go back to his home and plant cassava.”

Clearly affronted by what the LoGB saw as the PPM’s audacity to criticise his budget, the speech was delivered with force at times and saw the Speaker of the House pull up the first elected member for West Bay on several occasions as he stepped outside the rules in an effort to ensure his verbal attack hit his intended targets on the opposition benches.  

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Jamaica PM insists remittance on the mend

Jamaica PM insists remittance on the mend

| 08/10/2009 | 10 Comments

(CaribWorldNews): Jamaica`s Prime Minister Bruce Golding claims remittances from migrants overseas are back up after a decline earlier this year. `We got word that in August, we had an 8 percent increase over and above August last year. The figures have not been published yet but I`ve been advised that September was also a good month in terms of what was experienced last year,` PM Golding said. The Inter American Development Bank said earlier this year that remittance inflows to Jamaica fell by US$30 million or 18.3 per cent during the month of February 2009 when compared to the corresponding month last year.

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