Archive for January 22nd, 2010

Police plan crime prevention evening in West Bay

| 22/01/2010 | 5 Comments

(CNS): West Bay police are joining forces with local security companies and Crime Stoppers to offer tips to the community on crime prevention. Representatives from Security Centre, Island Electronics and Crime Stoppers will be available to demonstrate some cost effective equipment which can be used to assist in securing homes and property. Police officers will be on hand to offer the community, including business owners and condo managers, general tips about how not to tempt crooks and the simple steps they can be taken to keep both people and property safe.

As part of the West Bay neighbourhood policing programme a meeting will be held at the basketball court, John Grey Memorial Church, West Bay next Thursday (28 January 2010). The meeting will be open to everyone including members of the public, business owners and employees, and condominium owners and managers.

The meeting is the first of many crime prevention events planned in the coming weeks and months. These events include crime prevention information booths being set up outside supermarkets, local meetings involving neighbourhood police officers, and one-to-one sessions with condominium owners and managers to discuss lighting and security in their respective complexes.

“This event is essentially a one-stop-shop for security advice and information,” said Chief Inspector Angelique Howell, the officer in charge of organising the event. “No-one wants to become a victim of crime and we should all be playing our part in ensuring that we don’t give thieves a chance. Simple steps like hiding valuables out of sight and locking doors and windows can make all the difference between deterring thieves and becoming a victim.

“However, this event is not just for members of the public who want to find out about securing their homes. We’re keen to involve the people who own and manage condominium complexes in the area. Historically lighting in these complexes has been poor and we want to use this platform as a means to persuade the owners that they need to perhaps rethink their lighting policies.”

Chief Inspector Angelique Howell advised condo owners to take action as soon as possible to keep their tenants safe. “If condo owners don’t come to us we’ll soon be knocking on their doors. The safety of our residents and visitors is far too precious to gamble with and, if we can give advice about cost effective ways to improve safety in the complexes, we will take every opportunity to do so,” she added.

The meeting will take place at the basketball court, John Grey Memorial Church, West Church Street, West Bay between 6.00 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. on Thursday 28 January 2010. For further information contact West Bay police station on 949-3999.

Continue Reading

Swine flu vaccine arrives

| 22/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following endless delays the medical officer of health has confirmed the arrival of the H1N1 vaccine in the Cayman Islands. Dr. Kiran Kumar said the shots had come from the UK and were now available free of charge to the general public from the Cayman Islands Hospital Atrium (next to the Pharmacy) and at all district health centres. Officials said the dates for the vaccine availability in Little Cayman will be announced later.  Dr Kumar encouraged people to take advantage of the free shots as he said the flu is still circulating and making people sick.

The Women’s Health Clinic at the Cayman Islands Hospital will hold a special vaccination clinic for pregnant women (today) Friday, 22 January from noon to 7:00 p.m. No appointments are necessary to receive the vaccine at any H.S.A facility and the vaccine will be offered on a first come first service basis. To ensure easy access to the vaccine, the Public Health Department is also considering opening clinics at supermarkets and other public places. The dates and times for this will be announced at a later date. The vaccine will also be provided at no cost to private practitioners interested in offering the vaccine to their patients.  

Dr Kumar recommended that health care workers and support staff; pregnant women in any trimester; children and adults with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, those with chronic respiratory, cardiac (excluding hypertension) renal, liver and neurological disease take advantage of the free shots.

 He said the H1N1 influenza virus is still circulating and causing illness and hospitalizations globally.  "Many people are still susceptible to this virus and would benefit from vaccination. We will have a very good supply of the H1N1 vaccine and encourage all residents to get the vaccine,” the doctor added.

 Minister of Health Mark Scotland alsospoke out in strong support of Public Health’s efforts to ensure that all residents are immunized.      “With H1N1 flu declining in many countries I am concerned that people may become complacent, thinking that this is all over. We have a window of opportunity to limit the impacts of the pandemic flu, and I urge people to take advantage of the vaccination programme. Vaccinations provide a chance for people to protect themselves and reduce the risk of serious complications,” the Minister said.

Public health statistics show that the Islands are still dealing with a higher than usual flu activity and that the pandemic flu is still the predominant strain doing the rounds. “Although we are only testing severe and other selected cases, the fact that twenty cases tested positive for H1N1 during the past six weeks shows that the pandemic flu is still the leading flu in Cayman right now,” Dr Kumar added. “While the amount of flu cases has declined, we are counting about 150 cases per week, compared to a ‘normal’ flu season, when we deal with an average of 80 – 100 per week.”

Since the start of the H1N1pandemic in June last year, Cayman has reported 129 confirmed H1N1 flu cases. Since December twenty cases (11 children and 9 adults) were confirmed, 8 of which were reported in January. “We have found that young people are the most affected by H1N1 and asked that parents and schools continue to take the necessary precautions such as keeping sick children at home,” Dr. Kumar urged. For 2009, public health officials recorded a total of 7,200 flu cases in its surveillance programme – well above the 4,200 cases of 2008. “This excessive number is definitely related to the H1N1 pandemic,” Dr. Kumar said estimating that about 6,000 persons may have acquired the H1N1 infection in the Cayman Islands.  

The Panenza vaccine produced by Sanofi Pasteur in France and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union will be available at the following times: Monday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Cayman Islands Hospital Atrium; Monday – Friday: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the George Town General Practice Clinic, all district health centres and Faith Hospital, Cayman Brac.

Continue Reading

Government reappoints youth commission

| 22/01/2010 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman National Youth Commission(CNS): Addressing crime and violence, education issues and drug abuse are the goals of the newly re-appointed and expanded National Youth Commission (NYC), which recently met with government officials to outline plans for the year. Youth Minister Mark Scotland said the mission was to steer young people “towards a brighter future than we have seen in recent times.” The main role of the NYC is to research and advise on youth issues, while monitoring the on-going youth programmes. The NYC comprises educators, community leaders and members of non-governmental organizations, as well as agencies such as the National Drug Council and the RCIPS.

Several students and other young people, as well as representatives from the Sister Islands, also serve on the revised council.

A report which compiles all recent research and findings relating to youth was presented to the members at a recent meeting, and officials say the National Youth Policy itself is in the process of being reviewed and will soon be finalised. The NYC’s terms of reference are also being revised, and the members are to be assigned to sub-committees dealing with youth development, youth welfare and youth affairs.

The NYC’s current priorities are to refine its action plan, to lead an audit of all youth services, and to develop a youth index to evaluate the status of young people as well as the effectiveness of programmes.  “Government spends a tremendous amount of funds across several departments on youth development. However, there needs to be closer monitoring and coordination, even within the districts,” the minister explained.  While the NYC has traditionally focused on teens and young adults Scotland has urged the group to focus more attention on children under ten years of age.

Continue Reading

Meet the creatures that live beyond the abyss

| 22/01/2010 | 0 Comments

(BBC): It is pitch black, icy cold and the pressure is phenomenal. The deepest parts of the ocean are some of the least hospitable places on Earth – yet footage from recent expeditions reveals that life in the oceanic trenches is thriving. many trenches contain an abundant food supply, especially those close to the coast. Organic matter drifts into the depressions, sinking to the bottom, contained by the steep sides. But while scientists knew that fauna could survive here – and early trawling expeditions gave some idea of a trench’s biology – a broader picture of deep-sea life has only emerged more recently.

Go to article

Continue Reading

Panel queries public spending

| 22/01/2010 | 28 Comments

(CNS): The failure by the country’s civil servants to manage the cuts which were mandated during the previous administration has been called into question by Auditor General Dan Duguay (left). Despite requests by the then Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts in 2008 to cut expenditure by at least six percent, Duguay said few departments actually achieved any savings in public spending and in may cases actually increased it but no one has been held to account. During a panel discussion held at the Cayman Business Outlook conference, financial consultant Paul Byles also raised the pressing need to address the spending part of Cayman’s budget equation.

Duguay was greeted with thunderous applause when he answered a question by moderator Gary Linford about the future of government accounts, accountability and spending. Duguay said he couldn’t understand why when senior public servants had been asked to make those 6% cuts, most departments failedto make any reductions to their operating expenditure yet no civil servant had lost their job or been questioned as a result of failing to follow a government directive. “The question is, how did we not hold people accountable for that?” he asked.

Duguay said his department had actually managed to reduce spending by almost 12%, demonstrating it was possible despite his current resource issues. As the man whose job it is to monitor value for money by government as well as the accountability of public spending, he said, calls to address the government expenditure side of its budget had to be heeded.  

Reflecting on the last year in the face of the economic recession, the AG noted that the civil servants had failed to deliver. “We did not do a good job financially,” he said. “Why was every chief officer not called to account? We really need to get in touch with our expenditures as it is the only thing we can control. It is time to stop talking about it and try to start doing it.”

During the panel debate Paul Byles, MD of Focus Consulting, also stressed the problem of Cayman’s ever growing public sector spending. The moderator, Linford, made the point that the premier had spoke many times about Cayman becoming the Singapore of the Caribbean. He then asked Byles how the Cayman Islands civil service could reach the same ratio as that successful Asian economy, which instead of close to 4,000 public servants would mean it should have only 800.

Byles said that all of his life he had heard the message about a bloated civil service that needed to be cut and, conversely, civil servants making the case that they were efficient and under pressure. “We must do something,” he said, adding that it was not just a matter of a simple argument between efficiency or an over-bloated public sector but that government simply could not afford to sustain the continued growth. “It is a serious economic issue and the quickest way to deal with it is divestment,” he added.

The debate followed an extensive speech by the premier, in which among many other things he had spoken about was the need to listen to the private sector’s concerns about the cost of government.

McKeeva Bush told the audience at CBO on Thursday morning, which was dominated by people from the financial services industry, that government would be divesting certain areas currently falling within the civil service. He said he was considering privatising things such as garbage and sewage management, Computer Services,  Pedro St James, the Turtle Farm as well as the very profitable Water Authority, but he fell short of saying there would be job cuts in the public sector.

 “The government has received a clear message from the business community as well as the wider community that the government needs to reduce its expenditures,” he said. “Maybe there are those who don’t like the idea that the private sector tells us what to do, but the hard facts are that the government gets its revenues from the private sector.”

He said he intended to examine closely which areas of the public sector could be privatized without negatively impacting prices and performance.

Continue Reading

Objectors make final push over proposed development

| 22/01/2010 | 29 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Emerald Sound Development(CNS): Residents and other concerned citizens are making a last minute push to get as many signatures as possible on their petition opposing the Emerald Sound development project in the South Sound area. The opposition to this particular development has focused heavily on the developer’s goal to cut a channel from the sea through the South Sound road to the main site, where the main residential condo complex will be constructed adjacent to Bel Air Drive. Berna Cummins (left). one of the people spearing heading the objections. told CNS that this potential development impacts all Caymans resident and not just those in the immediate neighbourhood.

Although planning is only obligated to consider objections from owners of preperties within a 1500ft radius of the development, there are concerns that allowing this development could open the flood gates (literally) for similar projects, and as a result, those opposing the development want to ensure that government is aware of the wider opposition and will be handing a petition to the premier, McKeeva Bush and the head of the relevant government departments and agencies on Tuesday.

“I have not spoken to one individual other than Burns Conolly that is in favour of this planning application,” said Cummins. “This development not only impacts residents of South Sound and adjacent property owners but all residents of Grand Cayman. Granting permission to cut a channel from the sea to the development is setting a dangerous precedent and would be environmentally destructive.”

Cummins also said that re-aligning a straight road with a 20 foot bridge would be out of character for the South Sound area, which is a very well used recreational road and should not be altered for the sake of the developer.

The recent earthquake caused a major sink hole to appear at one condo complex in the South Sound area, as well as a number of smaller holes around the beach, that has also focused further attention on the danger of this particular development. One geology expert, who has been doing research on the geology of the Cayman Islands since 1981, told CNS that the area around South Sound is not that well studied but there are caves and fissure under the rock which can cause the sink hole problem.

During a recent public meeting about the development a number of Cayman’s most experienced mariners voiced their opposition as they said it was a dangerous idea to cut a channel through the road.

Conolly, who is the architect on the particular project, says that all precautions have been taken in addressing the development and that the issue here has more to do with the ‘not in my back yard phenomena’ rather than genuine objections.

Anyone who wishes to sign the petition can contact Berna Cummins or go to the online petition . The cut off time for signatures for the online petition is Monday 25 January at 5pm.

Continue Reading

Financial police warn of potential Haiti scams

| 22/01/2010 | 2 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Haiti fundraising scams(CNS):  In the wake of the devastating events in Haiti, the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit is warning people to watch out for scams connected to appeals for donations to help people in the disaster struck country. As a result of the earthquake, people all across the world are doing what they can to assist but the unit said the public should make sure they make their donations to recognised organisations, and that they do not give out personal or financial information via the phone or email.

“I must stress that we have not received any complaints suggesting that people have become victims of scams. This is merely a reminder to use the normal common sense approach when you are asked to make donations," said Detective Inspector Betty Ebanks of the FCU. “Our advice is to make those donations through registered charities and the official bodies set up specifically to provide relief for Haiti – these would include churches, registered charities and financial organisations. Under no circumstances should anyone consider giving out personal or financial information via telephone or e-mail.”

The unit said anyone who requires any further information, or who has any doubts about the authenticity of an organisation requesting donations, should call the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit. “One of  our officers would be happy to assist,” added Ebanks.

Anyone with concerns should contact the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit on 949-8797.

Continue Reading

CG to take on tourism

| 22/01/2010 | 57 Comments

(CNS): Government backbencher and West Bay MLA, Cline Glidden, will be heading up a new commission dedicated to tourism, the premier has announced. Although the new Constitution does not provide for junior ministers or undersecretaries of state to government ministers, McKeeva Bush has placed Glidden at the head ofa new Tourism Commission which he says will steer the industry towards a new future. Under the premier’s ministry, Bush said Glidden will work on a plan to turn around the tourism product.

During his address to the business community at the Cayman Business Outlook conference on Thursday morning, Bush explained his plans for tourism, which is one of his areas of responsibility. The plans included the creation of two new bodies. “The first is a Tourism Commission, which is going to work on a day to day basis on my behalf. The Tourism Commission will be led by Mr Cline Glidden MLA, and he will be joined by two others from the private sector. Together, they will advise and report to me as the minister for tourism. In addition, I will reactivate the Tourism Advisory Council which the Tourism Law calls for. This will be made up of a chairman, eight private sector partners and the acting director of tourism. The bottom line is that we have to proceed expeditiously and with precision to get our business back on track,” the premier explained.

Bush told the audience that he is often accused of moving too fast, but when people were losing jobs and businesses losing money there was an urgent need to develop strategies to get this second pillar of Cayman’s economy back on track. As a result of the pressing need to address problems in the financial sector and the government’s own finances when he first took office, Bush said that addressing the problems in the tourism industry did not receive the immediate attention they needed, but now it was time to tackle the issue. He said Glidden would be spearheading a new plan based on a draft report that reflects combining tradition with Cayman’s cosmopolitan society.

Bush added that tourism faced unprecedented challenges, and when the UDP came to came to office things were even worse than had been suspected, as passengers arriving in Cayman that were passing through to Cuba were being counted as stayover guests. He said the industry was in decline, with rising unemployment and the public sector elements of the sector fragmented with major gaps in leadership and marketing. Things were being developed in isolation with no synchronicity, the premier lamented, and added that there was a need to align financial services and the real estate industry with tourism and to understand what brand Cayman stands for.

He also said Cayman Airways was going through a restructuring process and spoke about the possibility of merging the airline with the Department of Tourism. He promised to develop the long debated runway extension and confirmed that, while there was scope to move the airport, the cost was prohibitive therefore the plan was to continue with the redevelopment of Owen Roberts International.

Bush announced that the Sister Islands would also feature heavily in the way forward and said there would be dedicated promotions to encourage visitors to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman this summer. He also spoke about developing a two-centre tourism product with Cuba.

The premier asked the business community to help boost the tourism industry’s fortunes. “I encourage all of you in this room to invite your friends and family overseas to come to the Cayman Islands this year and, of course, to use Cayman Airways wherever possible,” Bush said. “I want to see the tourism industry and the business community work more closely together to get persons here on business to stay an extra day or bring a friend or relative with them while they conduct their business meetings.”

Bush also noted the importance of specific eventssuch as Jazz Fest, which he said was an excellent event and there was a need to maintain the high-calibre of stars to attract the visitors. He also praised the culinary events, such as Taste of Cayman and the Cayman Cook-off, but noted they should not really be happening in the same week.

Focusing on the development side, he said there were opportunities for the development of new luxury 5-star brand hotels, which he was encouraging. “There are people that believe it is not right to build additional hotels because we are a small island. But to me it makes common sense to do so because they pull their own clientele—and this benefit can be especially important when there is a recession, thus continuing to protect jobs for Caymanians,” he added. By way of example, speaking from the Ritz Carlton-Grand Cayman, where the CBO was being held, Bush declared that particular hotel had helped to keep the whole industry going during the last year. He then told the audience that the applause “should have been louder than that!” in reaction to their response.

Continue Reading