Archive for November 15th, 2010

Politicians encourage kids to read

| 15/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The premier McKeeva Bush, Rolston Anglin, the education minister and the deputy speaker, Cline Glidden, kicked-off reading week at Grace Christian Academy in West Bay last week by reading aloud to the young students. With literacy rates still a problem in all local schools the UDP West Bay team emphasised the importance of reading for doing well at school and beyond. In his message to mark reading week the education minister encouraged parents to help improve child literacy rates by reading to children and become involved in their education.


Message from Rolston Anglin, education minister for reading week

Children are created readers on the laps of their parents”. This quote by Emilie Buchwald is the basis for the theme of this year’s Reading Week: “Families and Literacy”. It is a very important reminder of the partnership that is necessary to develop this critical life skill.
Literacy is a priority for the Ministry of Education. We recognize the importance of quality literacy instruction in our schools. At the same time, we are also aware that families have an important role to play in the success of our students. Families are the first teachers, and the values that they impart are the values with which students enter our schools. Children from homes in which discussion is a part of daily life, who are expected to both listen and participate in conversation, are students who are ahead of the game; as are students who come from homes where stories are read and told often.
The work of schools is often discussed in isolation, but schools can never operate as such. They are part of the community and they build upon a foundation laid by the families. Although I owe much to my teachers, and I have never failed to give credit where due, I also owe a debt to my parents who set high expectations for me and expressed time and time again how education was key to future success. When the message that education matters comes from the parents, it is important; when it comes jointly from parents and teachers, the power is undeniable.
Lyndon Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, very clearly emphasized the importance of the family in children’s education when he stated: “The family is the corner stone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child”. Without the strength of the family supporting our students, “schools, playgrounds, and public assistance, and private concern — will never be enough.”
There are many things that parents can do to help support literacy in the home that don’t cost too much or take too long. For example, reading books from the school library or the public library nightly will help develop a love of reading and vocabulary. Turning off the radio in the car and having conversations instead will help to maintain a close relationship with your children and develop their oral language.
Remember, expressing the belief that school success is important can help students better value their education. Developing a relationship with your child’s teacher will help you better monitor your child’s growth and strengthen the view that education in essential.
Therefore, as the Minister for Education, I acknowledge the importance of the efforts our schools are making to promote literacy during this year’s Reading Week, and I encourage all parents to work with our educators, as partners, to develop able and enthusiastic readers.


 

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Evaders face £3billion back tax bill

| 15/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(FT.Com) UK Investors with secret accounts face back-tax bills of an estimated total of £3bn if the Treasury succeeds in hammering out deals with three unnamed tax havens. The negotiations, which emerged on Friday, are likely to be modelled on a recent agreement with Switzerland or an amnesty agreed with Liechtenstein last year. The Swiss deal, announced in principle a few weeks ago, would preserve investors’ anonymity while imposing tax on their undeclared money. The Liechtenstein disclosure facility provides lenient terms for offshore evaders who come forward. Those who do not will find their accounts closed or, in “exceptional” circumstances, will face a tax of 1.5 per cent a year on the value of the assets.

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Another cold wet spell sees CUC sales fall

| 15/11/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s power provider Caribbean Utilities Company Ltd has announced a fall in sales in its unaudited results for the third quarter ended 30 September. The local electricity firm said sales were impacted by cooler and wetter weather compared to the sameperiod in 2009. Electricity sales for the third quarter of 2010 totalled 152.7 million kilowatt hours compared to 153.3 million kWh for the same period in 209. CUC said that so far this year it has added 507 customers and 151 of those signed up for power in the third quarter. CUC currently has 25,968 customers 2% up on 2009.

President and CEO of CUC Richard Hew said the firm was focused on trimming capital and other expenditures to preserve cash while meeting its obligations to serve reliably.
“As expected we are seeing very weak underlying growth in sales through the first three quarters of 2010 and this weakness is expected to continue through 201,” he said. We expect the lower growth on the island to last through 2011 and see few major construction projects scheduled to come on line which would increase demand.”

The results revealed that electricity sales revenue for the third quarter of 2010 was down slightly at $19.1 million from $19.2 million for the same period in 2009 but electricity sales were up $1.8 million or 4% for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 to $53.4 million compared to $51.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2009 mainly due to weather influences.

Net earnings for the third quarter of this year were down marginally from net earnings for the three months last year at 6.6 million, while earnings for the year so far are still up on 2009 by 8% because of higher temperatures during the first half of 2010.

Higher depreciation and financing costs in 2010 offset lower maintenance, general and administration and distribution expenses. After the adjustment for dividends on the Class B Preference Shares of the Company, earnings on Class A Ordinary Shares for the third quarter of 2010 were $6.5 million, or $0.23 per Class A Ordinary Share, as compared to $6.1 million, or $0.21 per Class A Ordinary Share for the three months ended September 2009, the firm said.

After the adjustment for dividends on Class B Preference Shares, earnings on Class A Ordinary Shares for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 were up $1.6 million or 12% to $14.9 million, or $0.52 per Class A Ordinary Share, as compared to $13.3 million, or $0.47 per Class A
Ordinary Share for the nine months ended September 30, 2009.

In the firm’s message to shareholders management said it was disappointed that plans for a had 10 MW wind generating projected had been curtailed because government’s plans to install a Doppler radar facility in the same place but the firm remain committed to further development of alternative energy sources.

See Third Quarter Report

 

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CAL fined $50k by US

| 15/11/2010 | 63 Comments

(CNS): Following Cayman Airways Limited’s failure to submit an annual report regarding disability access, on time, the airline has been fined by the US authorities and ordered to cease and desist from failing to meet the reporting requirement. According to public records at the US Department of Transportation, the $50,000 fine concerns violations by CAL of the requirements to file annual reports detailing disability-related complaints that the carrier received from passengers in 2009 following previous warnings over the same issue when it failed to file reports in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Although CAL said it did not receive any disability related complains last year, the authorities said the airline is still obligated to submit a report.

Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) all airlines flying into US cities must comply with this requirement and file a report before the end of January regarding disability complaints made by passengers in the previous year. The public order against the Cayman Islands national flag carrier reveals that the airline did not submit a report until April 2010, despite repeated inquiries from the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

“Cayman Airways violated section 382.157 and the ACAA when it did not submit reports in a timely manner that detailed the disability-related complaints that it received in calendar years 2009 regarding flights originating or terminating in the United States,” the order states. “We view seriously Cayman Airways’ continued failure to submit the reports on time as required by section 382.157. Accordingly, after carefully considering all the facts in this case … the Enforcement Office believes that enforcement action is warranted.”

The order revealed that to avoid litigation Cayman Airways had agreed to settle these matters with the Enforcement Office and enter into this consent order directing Cayman Airways to cease and desist from future similar violations of Part 382 and 49 U.S.C. § 41705, and assessing $50,000 in compromise of potential civil penalties otherwise due and payable.

The order stated that the fine was appropriate and served the public interest. “It represents an adequate deterrence to future noncompliance with the Department’s reporting requirements by Cayman Airways, as well as by other domestic and foreign air carriers,” it reads.

See order here 

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Get screened to help fight diabetes says minister

| 15/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): There could be more than 4000 people in the Cayman Islands suffering from diabetes the health minister has revealed. According to local statistics the Health Services Authority (HSA) is currently treating 2,000 diabetic patients and officials have estimated that an equal number is receiving care through private practitioners. In his message for world diabetes day on Sunday, Mark Scotland said that apart from the personal cost and hardships that comes with diabetes the country is also facing an economic problem. He encouraged people to get screened and learn all they could about the disease.

Message by Mark Scotland, health minister for world diabetes day:

The International Diabetes Federation warns thatif governments, health authorities and communities don’t take urgent action, the total number of people with diabetes could reach 300 million within the next decade.

This means that many countries will see up to 5% of their Gross Domestic Product and over 25% of their public healthcare budgets go towards dealing with the consequences of diabetes. In the US, treating the complications of diabetes cost the government a staggering $5,000 per patient per year. This does not include patients’ out of pocket expenses.

Diabetes is already the world’s most costly epidemic, but unfortunately the statistics bear out that we will see this health crisis grow at an accelerated pace. This will inevitably increase the cost burden on society considerably. In 2007, the total cost of diabetes worldwide was set at $190 billion. At current rates, by 2020, the US alone will face a cost burden of $221 billion per year.

Sadly, our local situation mirrors these global trends and the time is now to ask ourselves earnestly if we can afford to ignore this development. Apart from the personal cost and hardships that comes with diabetes, we are obviously facing a potential economic predicament too. According to local statistics, the Health Services Authority (HSA) is currently treating 2,000 diabetic patients. However, health officials estimate that an equal number is receiving care through private practitioners.

With this is mind, it is then fitting that we once again join the international community in commemorating World Diabetes Day on Sunday, 14 November . Prompted by an acute need to raise awareness of this silent epidemic, this year’s international event is aptly themed “Let’s Take Control of Diabetes. Now”

I am pleased to note that the HSA, Cayman Islands Diabetes Association and other community groups are once again actively promoting diabetes education and prevention – the two strongest defenses against this looming health crisis. I encourage everyone to wholeheartedly join in the local activities, such as diabetes screening and the HSA’s diabetes education course.

Early detection of diabetes and its control improve the lives of sufferers by preventing further complications. I therefore implore you to take advantage of the wealth of information presented at the diabetes course. This education session will also sharpen the practical skills needed to manage diabetes well.

Health professionals and diabetes sufferers alike will certainly agree that there is hope in positive actions such as taking personal responsibility and helping each other to make the right lifestyle choices. So empower yourself to take control of your diabetes now!

 

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PPM recruitment drive steps up as leader steps down

| 15/11/2010 | 39 Comments

(CNS): As people offered tributes to Kurt Tibbetts last week when he revealed his intentions to step down from the helm of the People’s Progressive Movement, the party was on the lookout for new recruits. Several people signed up at a special national meeting on Thursday evening as it was pointed out that in order to vote for the PPM’s new leader people needed to be fully signed up members of the party. During the coming weeks the various district branches will be nominating candidates for the leadership, the deputy leadership and the roll of general secretary. Once names are put forward, every PPM member will be allowed to join the ballot and decide who will become leader of the opposition. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

Anyone who joins the party before its national conference next year, when the vote for the new leader and the other posts will be held, can take part in the vote. The party’s constitution provides for a democratic process whereby the entire membership gets to decide who will lead them.

The leader has to be a member of the Legislative Assembly, which means that if all four of the current serving members are nominated by their district branches then they will be able to run for the leadership post, but the final decision will be in the hands of the wider PPM membership, which currently ranks over 1150 members.

A recently posted poll on CNS currently shows Moses Kirkconnell, the PPM’s representative for the Sister Islands, as the favourite candidate to take up the leadership with forty percent on the votes, trailed closely by Alden McLaughlin with 35 percent of the vote. No decisions have yet been made, however, which of the four MLAs will eventually stand for the leadership post.

Tibbetts, who has served in the Legislative Assembly as a representative from George Town since 1992, took up the PPM top job when the movement was created in the wake of the 2001 leadership coup. After Tibbetts was ousted as the leader of government business in the coalition with McKeeva Bush, which had defeated the National Team in the 2000 election, the two men went on the form and lead new political parties.

During a press conference last Wednesday Tibbetts announced that he would be stepping down from the leadership in the New Year and was making his announcement in compliance with the party’s constitution to give 60 days notice so that the election process for a new leader would get underway. He said, however, he would not be leaving the political scene and would remain the PPM member for George Town.

The opposition leader also revealed that, in the wake of the PPM’s defeat at the national polls in May of last year, he had made the decision that, as leader, he had to take responsibility for that and step aside to let new blood take the party forward to the next election.

Following his official announcement to the press on Thursday evening, the PPM membership packed into the Seafarers Hall in Prospect and paid tribute to the leader, applauding him for changing the way the business of government is conducted in the Cayman Islands. He was acclaimed for the modernisation of the constitution, the implementation of the freedom of information law and the development of the new government building, which will be opened in January.

Anthony Duckworth, the PPM party chairman, said that the creation of the PPM was not just about getting Kurt Tibbetts re-instated as government leader but it was about creating better government. He pointed to the changes made by the PPM administration under Tibbetts’ leadership that had given more power to the people and changed governance for the better as he rejected the path of self interest which has historically been a feature of the country’s government system.

“The way that the PPM acted when in government has led to higher expectations of government in general,” Duckworth noted, adding that in order to stop bad governance the people had to continue to speak out.

Many people openly declared their love and admiration for a man who is considered to be a rarity in any jurisdiction – a truly honest politician.

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Developer launches website for controversial port

| 15/11/2010 | 29 Comments

(CNS): Following the recent announcement that a controversial proposal has been submitted to government to develop a commercial seaport in East End, the developer has launched a website as part of his campaign to win over the public. There has been considerable public opposition to the proposal across the island, despite conditional support from government. The developer said the site, which was launched on Friday, was part of the planned public information programme about the East End Seaport to keep the people informed about the potential development. The facility is proposed to be developed in the high rock area of East End on land owned by the developer Joseph Imparato.

According to Imparato, it will be a maritime infrastructure that will facilitate five different types of marine based commercial activities, as well as a selection of complementary land based activities. This includes a commercial cargo port; hydrocarbon storage facility (oil and gas); cruise ship home port; transhipment of containerized cargo and a luxury mega yacht marina, the developer has stated.

Imparato has said he wants the people of the Cayman Islands to examine the facts about the East End Seaport in greater detail and consider the benefits for the Cayman Islands by visiting the new website.

Opposition to the project is coming from a number of different parts of the community. Both the independent MLA for North side, Ezzard Miller, and the PPM member for East End, Arden McLean, have articulated that they are both opposed for a variety of reasons, not least that they believe the development is nothing more than a front for the development to extract millions and millions of dollars worth of fill from the land where he proposes to construct the port.

Currently the law does not allow the developer to quarry the valuable fill on the land he owns because of its location. However, if he is given the go ahead to develop the land than he will be able to remove the rock.

There have also been serious environmental questions raised about the threat the channel and the basin created for the port would cause to the area’s fresh water lens and there have been suggestions that it will lead to the eventual salination of the water resources in the district, not only undermining the agricultural activity ion the area but turning the district’s interior forests into a desert. There are also concerns that during a hurricane the island will be even more vulnerable to major flooding as well as the loss of several key dive sights in the area.

Imparato has stated that an Environmental Impact Assessment will be conducted which will examine these issues and inform the development. “The project will include an appropriate Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The Developer and his team have met with the respective Government agencies to agree on the scope of the EIA. The findings of this EIA will inform the project, its final design, engineering and construction methodology,” the website reveals.

“The proximity to and impacts on the water lens will be examined, along with the other critical aspects as identified by the World Bank Standards for ‘Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines for Ports, Harbours and Terminals’ and internationally accepted standards and criteria.”

Imparato also claims that the dive sites would be protected by the design of the seaport entry channel, which will be to the west of the existing dive locations.

The developer further claims that the project will generate hundreds of job for the Cayman Islands during both the development phase and final operating phase. “Areas as diverse as construction, port administration, harbour management and regulation, commercial marine related as well as support industries, and industrial marine related as well as support industries will all benefit from increased employment.,” he said, adding that there would be a need for specialised international labour and professionals but he would still hire as many Caymanians as possible.

However, both Miller and McLean and a number of others who are against the project have pointed out that it will take several years before the proposed project would generate any serious numbers of jobs as it could take as long as three years to quarry the fill from the site, a job which will be done by machines and will require little man power. Moreover, the two MLA’s have also raised concerns that the developer does not have deals in place with shipping companies or cruise lines to use the port if he goes ahead with the project.

The entire project, which the premier has said he is in favour of provided the business plan proves the viability of the port and that the EIA results are favourable, is expected to last six to seven years. Government has also indicated its willingness to allow the development to happen under a special corporation akin to that created to develop the London Docklands area in the UK, ring fencing it from the usual planning regulations and other laws.

Visit the website at www.eastendseaport.com

Vote in the CNS poll: Are you in favour of the East End Seaport?

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Cops opinion survey goes live

| 15/11/2010 | 22 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has launched a public opinion survey that asks the community to rate its satisfaction levels with the service. A full and comprehensive version of the anonymous survey is available on line or paper versions can be collected at local supermarkets or from any police station. Senior members of the RCIPS launched the survey at Fosters Airport supermarket on Friday morning when Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis said the police wanted as many people as possible to fill in the forms and tell the RCIPS what they think of their performance. Shoppers appeared keen to stop and fill in the form which police have said will be used to shape future policies.

Ennis said it was very important for the RCIPS to measure public opinion. “Your views matter to us,” Ennis told the public at the launch of the project. He said the RCIPS wanted to ensure that the community gets the best possible customer service. “The survey will not only help us establish the needs and expectations of the people we serve, it will also allow us to identify areas where we are doing well and those where improvements need to be made.”

Chief Inspector Angelique Howell stated that the survey was the most comprehensive that had ever been conducted and that the results, which would be made public, would shape the way police do things in future and establish Key Performance Indicators. Although the police do receive feedback at meetings and have some idea of the level of public opinion from other forum Howell said that they were not second guessing what this survey would reveal.

“We are keeping an open mid and are prepared for anything the community will tell us,” she said. “We will be working with what ever comes to light and we are not working from a point of any particular expectations of what the results will be.”

She explained however, that the questions were designed by the RCIPS to help them find out specific things about what the public think of what they do and they do it. Howell said the paper questionnaire had fifteen general questions about the service and it also left room for people to make further notes and comments. The on-line survey offers people the opportunity to answer questions on specific branches and departments within the service that they may have had dealings with such as CID or the family support unit.

Questions include asking the public how satisfied they are with the efforts made by the RCIPS to tackle crime, their satisfaction over the security of information given to the police, how polite and friendly officers are, how happy the public is with the speed with which the police respond and how knowledgeable officers are about the law.

Deloitte’s have offered their services free of charge to collate the survey results and the police are hoping thousands of people will take part to give them a true picture of public opinion. The anonymous survey is open for three weeks until 3 December. Police will continue to promote the survey and will be making appearances over the next few weeks at various locations including supermarkets, banks, schools, and condo complexes.

The police will visit the sister Islands on Wednesday 24 November when they will be at Billie’s Supermarket on Cayman Brac and at Kirkconnell’s Market Place then on Little Cayman on Thursday 25 November at the Village Square.

Go to online survey: 

www.rcips.ky

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Immigration playing by book

| 15/11/2010 | 38 Comments

(CNS): The immigration department will no longer accept applications for work permits and other paperwork related to issues of immigration unless they are properly completed and have all the necessary documents with them. Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans has stated that one of the biggest hold ups for her department, and the various boards, is dealing with incomplete or incorrectly submitted information. She explained that the system at present does nothing to encourage people to make an effort to supply all the information that the department requires. From now on however, when people come to submit applications staff will refuse to take them if the forms are incomplete or documents are missing.

Evans explained that because workers can remain on island while applications are being processed employers have been able to submit applications to the department which maybe only partially complete but once the forms are accepted into the system no matter how long it takes the employees can remain on the job.

“The way the system currently works is counterproductive,” Evans told CNS, adding that it almost encourages people not to do it right because no matter how poor the quality of the information submitted if an application has been accepted then the worker gets to stay. It is then the immigration department that has to chase the employer for more information.

“More than 40% of the applications we receive do not have enough information on them for boards to make an informed decision so we are going to stop the incomplete applications at the counter,” she added.

The immigration boss said that by taking the poorly submitted applications out of the system this will speed things up for those people who are doing things correctly as at present the incomplete forms are holding the system up for everyone. She warned that there will be a check made at the desk when someone submits an application and if the correct documents are not supplied or if there are gaps on the forms the applicant will be sent away.

Following a recent series of public meetings Evans said one of the main concerns raised was over the vetting of people coming into the country. The CIO said people are anxious for the finger printing system to be introduced and she said that there seems to be relatively wide support for taking prints from all visitors and not just permit holders. Once the new security system is in place the department’s goal, in the first instance, is to document finger prints from work permit holders, permanent residents and those on student visas.

Evans pointed out that protecting the country’s borders was still the priority of the department and the enforcement team had been doing really well in clamping down on those breaking immigration laws despite the many challenges. Well over sixty people have been arrested since the end of the amnesty which took place in July and the department has established a hotline 1 800 534 2546 and an email contact legalism@gov.ky where the public can make anonymous reports about immigration violations.

The CIO explained that enforcement officers do go out in the field and make visits to ensure that workers on large construction sites, for example, are all legal, but it is information from the community that leads to most of the arrests. With unemployment high at the moment officers are also still keeping an eye on the known spots where workers without permits or those with not enough work from their permit holders are known to congregate looking for causal work but she pointed out that this is difficult to police. However, she noted that is was important for the department to keep a close watch on those who may be under employed as Cayman is an expensive jurisdiction and they could easily fall into crime if they are not earning a full wage to sustain them here.

With immigration reform a key element in government policy Evans is facing a difficult balancing act. She pointed out that while the business community need immigration issues to move swiftly and smoothly to facilitate economic growth, her team was still tasked with enforcing the laws and she had to find ways of balancing the needs of the business community with the need to protect the borders.

Following the premier’s call to allow those visiting Cayman with an eye to investing here a smooth passage through immigration and to stop questioning them and taking their lap tops, Evans said the department was working on creating a five day business visa. She said this would enable those coming for high level meetings or business to do so via a letter of invitation from a Cayman based firm and they will then be able to purchase the visa for themselves and any staff they are travelling with on arrival.

Another one of the department’s challenges which was revealed during the recent public meetings was the bad debt on permanent residency fees. Evans pointed out that one of the major reasons for this is that the law does not require people who have received PR to inform immigration if they change address or if they change employers. Evans said the law only requires the PR holders to notify immigration if they change the type of job they do, if the remain in the same profession they can change their job as often as they please.

However, much of the publicised $1.7million has been collected since the March audit but some will never be collected as the people in question have left the jurisdiction. Evans said that around $700,000 is still outstanding. But again she said from now on immigration would be playing by the book and anyone who owed money on PR fees would not be ale to take the next step towards status if fees were not paid.

 

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