Archive for November 5th, 2010

Bodden not guilty over guns hidden in toy

| 05/11/2010 | 26 Comments

(CNS): A jury of five women and two men took less than two hours to find Cassandra Bodden not guilty of the importation of firearms on Friday afternoon following a mistrial earlier this year. Bodden was finally acquitted over four guns and more than 420 bullets found in a toy car which was shipped to her from the United States. The prosecution had claimed that Bodden knew the weapons were hidden in the package, while 26-year-old Bodden had always protested her innocence, saying she did not know and had made it abundantly clear she did not know. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

For the second time a jury heard the crown’s case against Bodden regarding the incident  which took place in April 2009. Tirsha Hutchinson for the prosecution claimed that Bodden had deliberately contacted a number of police officers with whom she was friends to ask about the package to cover her tracks as she knew the guns were hidden inside the toy car. In her defence however, Ben Toner had argued her case that she was not aware of what was in the package and her reasons for contacting them was because she was unsure about collecting a package when she was not expecting one.

When she realised it was from someone she knew when she saw the handwriting on the documents she decided it may be a joke from a friend and so made plans to collect it. The fact that she had notified the authorities that she was not expecting it was the reason why it was examined and the guns discovered. Toner had argued in both the first and second trial that she had assisted the authorities in preventing these weapons from making it on to the streets but instead of being commended she was being charged with a crime she did not commit.

When the judge sent the jury out at lunchtime on Friday after he summed up the case the seven members returned a few minutes later with one question – Why had Bodden not taken the advise of her police friends to not collect the package? The judge told the jury that was something they have to decide for themselves. Less than two hours later they returned with the not guilty verdict and acquitted the twenty six year old women.
 

Continue Reading

Personal attacks, threats and anonymity

| 05/11/2010 | 30 Comments

Over the last few days, and particularly since the Generation Now panel discussion on October 28th, I have had threats of varying intensity relayed to me, from threats to my business right up to an outright death threat. No matter how "tongue in cheek" it was, one can’t make light of something like that.

I’ll add that these have all been relayed to me anonymously, often second hand by friends and business contacts who have received messages attacking them simply because they have any kind of association with me. My first point then is simple. If you want to give me your opinion on anything I say, I’m easy to find, talk to me directly. I can only learn by listening to other opinions.

The panel discussion in question had the title : "Taxation: Is Cayman’s revenue base sustainable or is direct taxation inevitable" and involved nearly three hours of detailed discussion. I appreciate that it is very difficult to quickly summarise such a long and detailed discussion, but the phrase referring to me of : "wanted to see a broadening of Cayman’s tax base to reduce some indirect taxes and introduce some direct ones" in the CNS piece may have been the impression gained by the writer, but certainly gave the implication that I am in favour of direct taxation. As CNS were the only local media house to cover this event after it occurred (though it was broadcast live on Radio Cayman), I can only assume that it is this phrase that has turned me into such a target. Boy, If there is a more emotive topic in Cayman right now, I’d hate to see what reaction there is to any discussion of THAT topic ! I’m not making light of this, to the contrary, I am in fact most disturbed by this behaviour. Cayman is not New Jersey, and this is not an episode of the Sopranos, people !

Now, having got all of that off my chest, I would like to make a couple of things clear.

I hate tax. Never met a tax I liked. Am not recommending any tax of any kind.

However, whilst we need to cut the size of Government, we do need our Government to balance the books at whatever level of expenditure they have. We already do that through taxes, whether we call them that, or instead use words like fees, licences, permits, duties etc.

My point, which I repeatedly stated at the Generation Now event, was that I wanted to see us do a "robust analysis" of the options available to us, not closing any doors until they had been exhaustively evaluated on economic grounds. From the extensive research I have done in this area, my firmly held opinion is that such analysis has not been done to date, and to avoid discussing and evaluating all options does us all a disservice.

We need Cayman solutions to Cayman problems, using the intellects and experience we have in abundance among our people to tailor how we do things to make our country as globally competitive as possible.

We have a history of excellence and innovation, let us hold to those traditions and have an open and inclusive dialogue on this key issue. Oh, and another thing Caymanians are famous the world over for is being respectful. Anonymous attacks have no place in Cayman society.

Continue Reading

Greenlight reports fall in net income in Q3 2010

| 05/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local reinsurance firm Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd. has announced a net income of $29 million for the third quarter of 2010 compared to net income of $32.3 million for the same period in 2009 in its latest financial results. Despite the decline in comparative income the firm said it was pleased with the continued “growth” in a “challenging pricing environment”. The Cayman Islands based firm reported fully diluted earnings per share were $0.78 for the third quarter of 2010, compared to $0.88 for the same period in 2009. The fully diluted adjusted book value per share was $19.87 as of September 30, 2010, a 14.1% increase from $17.41 per share as of September 30, 2009.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2010, net income was $34.3 million, compared to $152.3 million for the same period in 2009. On a fully diluted basis, net income per share was $0.92 for the nine months ended September 30, 2010, compared to $4.16 for the same period in 2009.
"We are pleased that our growth continues to come from focused opportunities identified by our underwriting team despite a challenging pricing environment," said David Einhorn, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Greenlight Re. "At the same time, our investment portfolio generated a reasonable return in the quarter."

Gross written premiums in the third quarter of 2010 were $151.2 million compared to $66.0 million in the same prior year period, while net earned premiums were $79.4 million during the third quarter of 2010 compared to $56.7 million in the comparable period in 2009., the firm revealed. The combined ratio for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 was 101.4% compared to 97.8% for the same period last year.

Net investment income in the third quarter of 2010 was $33.9 million, a return of 3.6% on the investment portfolio. This compares to $32.6 million in the third quarter of 2009, when the Company reported a 4.3% return on its investment portfolio. For the first nine months of 2010, net investment income was $39.7 million compared to $148.7 million during the comparable period in 2009.
"Our team continues to target attractive opportunities in select markets and has demonstrated success in attracting top tier clients and brokers," said Len Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of Greenlight Re. "Looking at the broader market, we do not anticipate a turn in general pricing in the near future. We believe we are focused on the right sectors and are pleased with the quality of our underwriting portfolio."
 

Continue Reading

Artist, architects & environmentalist judging award

| 05/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The new award for architecture and design created by the Cayman Society of Architects, Surveyors & Engineers (CASE), the Cayman Contractors Association (CCA) and supported by the governor Duncan Taylor, will be judged by an internationally renouned local artist and business experts as well as architects. The judging panel for the 2010 Governor’s Award consists of Garth Arch, Rayal Bodden, Rupert Ackermon, Norman Bodden, Lisa-Ann Hurlston-McKenzie, Jimmy Powell and Bendel Hydes. Organisers said Taylor will act as an advisor in addition to endorsing the Award. The deadline for nominations has been extended from November 5 to ( and the big nigjt is planned for 2 December.

Rupert Ackerman is a well-respected Caymanian Architect who has been involved in the architectural industry in Cayman for many years. Lisa-Ann Hurlston-McKenzie is a young Caymanian environmentalists. Norman Bodden, is a respected retired politician and business man. Jimmy Powell, well known in Cayman Islands cricket circles is also a well respected contractor with a wealth of experience and Bendel Hydes is an internationally respected Cayman artist currently exhibiting in New York. Rayal Bodden as Chairman of the CCA and Garth Arch, as Chairman of CASE complete the line up.

“I am honoured to have the opportunity to endorse this award developed by CASE and CCA which serves to promote high standards of design in the Cayman Islands,” said the governor. “The panel of judges appointed is an impressively informed and knowledgeable group of industry leaders – each bringing their own unique perspective to the selection process. I am very happy to support this award and encourage people to submit an application.”
 

The award aims to encourage, foster and maintain innovation, sustainability and excellence in the Cayman Islands construction industry. The application process is open to all projects small or large. Projects only need to demonstrate why it is special in any one or more areas of environmental friendliness, Caymanian style, uniqueness, or any other aspect that the team feels is important. For example, a small renovation that embraces Caymanian design, is LEED certified and has a unique automation system, could win the award over a multi-story building that lacks real Cayman design elements and environmental friendliness.

Any person involved in or as a member of a project’s development team may submit a project on behalf of their consultancy. A project developer may also submit a project for consideration. The Governor’s Award programme welcomes entries for any development, major building (commercial and industrial), residential development, building renovation, facility or structure completed in the Cayman Islands before Tuesday 9th November, 2010 which is the deadline for submissions.
 

The Governor’s Award will be judged on whether and to what extent the design and construction of the nominated project displays these attributes: Design Excellence, Creativity and Innovation, Sustainability and the Environment,Value, Buildability and Cultural Response.
 

The Judges are looking for material that is clearly presented and concisely informs them of the project and its response to these criteria. Entering your project allows you to be associated with the Award programme’s ideals, growth and success and also demonstrates your commitment to excellence in design and construction in the Cayman Islands. The Award recipient will be announced on Thursday 2nd December, 2010 at an Award Ceremony at the Governor’s House.
Individuals and teams interested in finding out more about the Governor’s Awards and entering should visit www.GovernorsAward.ky. The website further outlines the criteria and entry requirements as well as provides an editable PDF version of the nomination form for download.
 

Continue Reading

Gov’t says ‘no’ to WP fee cuts

| 05/11/2010 | 53 Comments

(CNS): The government offered no response to a private member’s motion asking it to reduce the work permit fee increases imposed in the last budget and voted the motion down. Opposition member for George Town, Alden McLaughlin, brought the motion, which was seconded by the member for North Side, on Thursday. Suggesting that as the fee increases were having the reverse effect intended by government, McLaughlin asked for a cut to help small businesses. Although the premier has spoken on a number of occasions recently about possibly reducing the work permit fees for small business with five employees or less, no one from the government benches spoke on the subject and all of them voted ‘no’ to the suggestion. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

The motion asked for the fees on all work-permits to be cut back to the levels before the increases were imposed, and although it was unlikely that government was ever going to accept it in its entirety, the motion presented an opportunity for government to reveal what plans, if any, it had for cutting fees over and above the key employee fee. However, neither the premier nor any of his ministers present or even the backbenchers chose to speak on the issue.

The chair of Cayman Finance, Anthony Travers, said at the recent Generation Now forum on taxation that his organisation was recommending that government cut the work permit costs as soon as possible as they were only ever intended to be temporary until government managed to cut operating expenses. However, all of the members present in the Legislative Assembly on the government benches remained silent when the debate opened and said nothing at all on the subject.

Despite pleas made by McLaughlin, who pointed out that some fees had tripled and were crippling local businesses, the government remained silent.

The George Town member also pointed to the contradiction of the high fees with government’s much heralded position of welcoming overseas investors or rolling out the “green carpet”, as the premier often referred to it, but to no avail. “On the one hand government speaks passionately about stopping the haemorrhaging of businesses but on the other this policy significantly increases the cost of doing business,” McLaughlin said.

With work permit numbers down from a high of over 26,500 in December 2008 to less than 21,000 last month, McLaughlin said the increase in fees had not improved government revenue as people were simply not taking out permits. He acknowledged that the fees were not the only cause of the significant fall in numbers and like most of Cayman’s economic decline it was due to the worst global recession in 70 years, but by increasing the cost of a key element of doing business government had not helped, the PPM member observed.

He said that with the reduction in key employee fees and the news that operating costs were down and the deficit less than anticipated, government had room to reduce the fees. If government were to reduce the fees, the revenue intake might grow as it would stimulate the local economy again because the fees were simply too high at present to encourage business to take on staff, the member implied.

“With so many businesses just struggling to keep going never mind turn a profit,” the former Cabinet minister said, government had to look at the issue. He said that the opposition had warned when the fees were implemented that they were likely to have the reverse effect, which is what had happened.

With the exception of an objection from Premier McKeeva Bush, who accused the opposition member of straying from the subject of his motion when he spoke about the budget, the government benches stayed silent on the issue until the motion was put to the vote, when it was emphatically rejected.

The Legislative Assembly will resume on Friday morning with parliamentary questions followed by a private member’s motion from the North Side representative asking government to require developers receiving duty concessions to buy local.

Continue Reading

Electric cars stalled again

| 05/11/2010 | 55 Comments

(CNS): The government’s commitment to changing the traffic law before the end of 2010 to allow electric cars to finally take to Cayman roads seems to have been abandoned. CNS understands that the ministry responsible will not be bringing the necessary legislative amendments to enable the environmentally friendly cars to drive on local roads until sometime in 2011. For some seven years a number of people in the Cayman Islands have been lobbying government to amend the laws to allow electrically powered vehicles to drive on the actual highways and to offer people a green option when it comes to transport.

John Felder, one of many local people campaigning to make green vehicles a reality in Cayman and who has been importing the cars, was poised to establish the first charging stations for the vehicles. However, he told CNS this week he was disappointed that the political will to start the green revolution on Cayman’s roads was still missing. Felder said he would now be turning his attention to marketing and selling electric vehicles in Bermuda and Jamaica. Both of those countries approved legislation last year to allow the use of electric cars on their roads.

“Bermuda has agreed to waive all duty on electric vehicles and Jamaica has reduced the duty in that country. A network of charge stations is now in the works in Bermuda, and Jamaica will follow,” Felder said. Although he was not giving up on Cayman’s law makers eventually doing the right thing, he said Bermuda was poised to become the model for the Caribbean when it comes to electric vehicles.

Felder told CNS recently that he had a long waiting list of potential customers for his vehicles that want to buy and drive these eco-friendly, no-carbon, cost saving vehicles but until the laws were passed few people would be buying the cars. A small number of people have, however, bought Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles (NEV), some of which are being used on private sites such as Camana Bay.

Despite the fact that the modern versions of these cars can exceed 35mph, they are still not allowed on the country’s roads. Government officials said that amendments to the traffic law, which include the necessary changes to permit the use of electric cars on the roads in and around George Town, had been set to come before the country’s legislators in September.

Back in July Kearney Gomez, chief officer of the Ministry of District Administration, Communications and Public Works, told CNS that government was committed to the legislation and the necessary changes should form part of a comprehensive amendment of the traffic laws which would allow the cars on the road. 

Continue Reading

Stranger’s behaviour causes concern for school

| 05/11/2010 | 27 Comments

(CNS): A man who was reportedly showing inappropriate and possibly pornographic material to primary school students has caused the Head of School at St Ignatious serious concern. In a letter sent to parents yesterday Tom McGrath told them that on Tuesday afternoon an unregistered visitor to the school site engaged some upper primary boys in conversation at the football field at the rear of the school and then handed them a sheet of paper with a pornographic text. The head said that while the boys immediately reported the problem the stranger quickly disappeared from the campus. Police have reportedly stated however, there was “nothing to suggest that pornographic images” were shown to the students.

According to a police statement issued to Cayman 27 a police spokesperson confirmed that the school had reported the incident and enquiries into the matter are still ongoing.

“We are actively working with staff and students at the school to establish what took place and the exact nature of the information passed to the children. We will supply further information as and when available, but in the meantime we would ask parents and staff to remain vigilant. If you see anyone acting suspiciously then please contact the police,” the RCIPS said.

McGrath echoed the sentiments and said the school was also considering a range of improved security measures thatwill keep the site safe.
 

Continue Reading

Kids to have their say at annual youth forum

| 05/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s young people are invited to come and speak their minds at the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture and the Cayman Islands Youth Assembly (CIYA)’s third annual Youth Forum this Friday, 5 November . The youngsters will be given the opportunity to say what they think about a number of key issues impacting the community and what should be done about them. From crime to teenage pregnancy rates the youngsters will be able to tell government ministers who can sometimes be very far removed from the reality of teenage life, how they perceive the life in Cayman today.

“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. Therefore they should rightfully be brought to the table to give their input on issues that affects their present and future,” said Youth Minister Mark Scotland. Some of the issues expected to be raised include crime and violence, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and the state of local education. “I look forward to hearing first-hand how our young people see these and other issues. However, we won’t focus on the challenges alone. I would like to our young people spend equal time on talking about solutions and opportunities.”

The Minister of Education Rolston Anglin and Community Affairs minister Mike Adam are also expected to attend the youth roundtable government information services said.

The last youth forum was well-attended with over 200 young people. Key topics then included the landfill and the environment along with the state of the education system. The event takes place at the Mary Miller Hall this evening at 7pm.

For more information on the Youth Forum, contact Mellony Bryan at mellony.bryan@gov.ky
 

Continue Reading

Tomas regains hurricane strength and heads for Cuba

| 05/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  Updated Friday morning  — At 4am this morning, local time, Tomas had re-strengthen into a hurricane and by 7am  it was about 80 miles south of Guantanamo, Cuba. Tomas is moving toward the northeast near 9 mph but poses no threat to the Cayman Islands. An increase in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days and is forecast to pass Haiti later this morning and eastern Cuba today where it does pose a threat. Tomas which is a category one hurricane is now packing winds of near 85mph with further strengthening possible. Meanwhile, a strong cold front is forecast to move across the Cayman area tonight bringing fresh to strong North-northwesterly winds and rough seas.

Today will be partly cloudy with a 30 % chance of a few showers and some thunder. Temperatures will rise to the mid 80’s. Winds will be northwest 15 to 20 knots. Seas will be rough with wave heights of 5 to 7 feet especially along the west and north coasts. A small craft warning is in effect. Tonight will all so see cloudy skies with an increased 40 % chance of widely scattered showers and thunder, especially late tonight. Temperatures will fall to the low 70’s. Winds will be north to northwest 20 to 25 knots. Seas will be rough with wave heights of 6 to 8 feet especially along the west and north coasts.

 

Continue Reading