Archive for February 17th, 2011

Cop chopper to go to US

Cop chopper to go to US

| 17/02/2011 | 45 Comments

(CNS): As a result of opting to use an overseas maintenance contractor, the RCIPS will be without the police helicopter for more than a month soon, when the machine goes to the United States to be serviced, sources tell CNS. The RCIPScurrently has a maintenance contract with Arrow Aviation LLC, based in Louisiana, the company which did the original work after the helicopter was purchased from the UK in 2007. A police spokesperson recently confirmed that the RCIPS had been unable to secure a maintenance contract through the central tendering process and was seeking to directly employ its own engineer instead, but so far one has not been recruited.

Although one expression of interest had been submitted to the RCIPS in response to the request for proposals for the maintenance contract, police said the cost was excessive and not value for money, leading to the decision to keep the contract with Arrow until the service could directly employ its own staff.

It is understood that the only bidder on the contract was locally based firm Cayman Helicopters, which has worked with the police since establishing its helicopter tour business back in 2003. An RCIPS spokesperson stated that subsequent negotiations after the tendering process did not realize a cost effective agreement, hence the decision by the RCIPS to employ their own engineers.

However, as the police have not yet recruited a maintenance team, CNS has learned the helicopter will now have to go overseas for several weeks. When asked what contingency plans were in place while the air support unit was in the US and how long the unit would be out of action, the police said they were not prepared to comment.

“The deployment of RCIPS resources and equipment is an operational matter and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment," a police spokesperson stated.

Although the helicopter has created considerably controversy over the four years since it was purchased, Police Commissioner David Baines has hailed the machine as an important resource in the fight against crime.

With the recent revelations by Baines that Cayman is becoming a transshipment point for cocaine, coupled with the number of firearms coming on to the island, law enforcement agencies are under greater pressure than ever to protect the integrity of Cayman’s borders, which means patrolling the waters around the islands. Police have also pointed out that, despite not having a winch, the helicopter is extremely effective at coordinating search and rescue in partnership with the Marine Unit.

Continue Reading

Fraudsters arrested over bank machine scam

Fraudsters arrested over bank machine scam

| 17/02/2011 | 18 Comments

(CNS): Two Romanian nationals were arrested at Owen Roberts International Airport yesterday in connection with an attempted bank scam. On Tuesday, 15 February, officers in the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit received a report that a number of fraudulent withdrawals had been made from cash machines in the George Town area. The bank involved advised the police that the cards used during the transactions had been seized by the machines. Police said the cards used by the suspected fraudsters were not legitimate bank cards but "poker cards" used in casinos. The metallic strips on the cards had been loaded with potential victim’s account details for overseas accounts.

Following a police operation on Wednesday, 16 February, with the assistance of the Department of Immigration, two men aged 22 and 25 years were arrested at the airport.

The exact amount of money that was stolen has yet to be established but police enquiries have also revealed that the cards had been used to make purchases at business premises throughout the Island. The men currently remain in police custody while enquiries are ongoing.

Anyone who suspects they may have been a victim of the scam should contact the RCIPS Financial Crime Unit on 949-8797.

Continue Reading

Defining small business first step to help, says official

Defining small business first step to help, says official

| 17/02/2011 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Small businesses in Cayman need to be identified in law if they are to be able to enjoy benefits that the government might give them, small business owners heard at a meeting organised by the Cayman Islands Small Business Association on Tuesday night at the Mary Miller Hall. The problem of how to define a small business was raised by a finance ministry official who pointed out that small businesses could not be classified purely on the number of staff they employ  At the same meeting the chair of the Work Permit Board also told small business owners that they should not be afraid of applying for key employee status for staff.

CISBA President Rhonda Kelley, of Kelly Holding Ltd, invited both the chief officer in the Ministry of Finance, Dr Dax Basdeo (above), and Sherri Bodden-Cowan, Work Permit Board and Immigration Review Team Chair, to speak to a group of small business owners, most of whom were members of the CISBA, to hear first hand of efforts being made by government to ease the financial suffering of many small businesses.

Basdeo said that the conundrum for government was decidingexactly what constitutes a small business. While the CISBA defines a small business as any operation with ten or less employees that might not be an appropriate definition for small businesses as some Cayman branches of major corporations would fit that description.

The definition may need to be clarified as independently owned and operated, with close control over operations and decisions held by the owners but he said financial data may have to be considered.

"Without consideration of financial data, you may have a business that has under ten employees making millions of dollars in any given year.," he said offering the example of a small law firm. "This would then obviously defeat the purpose of trying to support the most vulnerable businesses in our economy – those where the owners often invest their entire livelihood into the perceived viability of their business."

He added that there were other complications too defining small business both in terms of employees and their financial threshold when many small businesses don’t even have accounts or the expertise to prepare them. But once government had made that distinction in law, then moves could take place to grant small businesses concessions when it came to work permit and other government fees, he confirmed.

Some other ideas that government was currently looking into to assist small businesses included simplifying the Trade & Business licensing process by adopting international clarification so that it would be clear exactly what licences are needed for any type of business.

Also on the agenda for discussion was the possibility of introducing two types of categories for business licensing – "reserved"  where certain types of business such as artisan, handicraft, convenience stores and water sports would be reserved for 100 percent Caymanian ownership) and "restricted" when foreign ownership would be restricted to perhaps just 10 or 20 percent, such as barbershops or taxis. He said government wasn’t planning on removing the 60-40% but was seeking more felxibility.

"By introducing clarity, transparency and flexibility into the law and regulations, this can serve as a policy tool for government," he explained. "Where we would like to slow foreign investment into a particular sector we can do so. Where it would be advantageous to encourage it the threshold can be lowered."

The Department of Commerce and Investment, which currently drives small business assistance in Cayman and is overseen by the Ministry of Finance is also looking at synergies between it and the UCCI, with the possibility of a centre for small business to be created to expand the current business programmes offered by the DCI.

Basdeo said that meetings with small business owners, like the one with the CISBA, was a great way to encourage dialogue and ensure that the voice of small business was heard among the other loud voices demanding the government’s attention.

Sherri Bodden-Cowan admitted that she had not even heard of the CISBA until very recently, even though it was formed over a year ago. As a small business owner herself (Bodden-Cowan owns Bodden & Bodden law firm), she said she understood the challenges faced by small business owners.

She confirmed that government needed to define the term "small business" in law before it could assist small businesses with such things as lower work permit fees. As a result of the CISBA meeting, she confirmed that Basdeo had requested a meeting with the IRG to discuss moving forward on the issue.

Bodden-Cowan went on to say that small businesses lacked the human resources services that larger companies had access to, which put them at a disadvantage when it came to issues such as applying for key employees and she called for a Human Resources Authority to be instigated, which would have a positive impact on the entire immigration process.

Discussing the issue of key employees, Bodden-Cowan urged small businesses to make such applications where necessary. “Small businesses should not feel that they are not eligible to apply for key employee in any position they feel is justified,” she said.

Bodden-Cowan said that recent reports that key employee positions were being denied needed closer examination. “If you look at the statistics you will find that around 80 percent of those key employee applications were for domestic helpers where a family is hesitant to lose a helper who they have got used to but where there are no special circumstances that would warrant it,” she stated.

She went on to say that there were a wide variety of situations where a business could justify the need for a key employee and this applied to small businesses as well as large.

She urged small business owners to specify explicitly the reasons why they felt the person should be key, such as the fact that they were recognised experts in their field, or that they were responsible for training Caymanians, and then prove these statements, such as by providing letters written by the trained Caymanians as a testament to the individual.

“The Work Permit Board is specifically geared up for small businesses but applicants have to state their case and provide evidence to back up the criteria in law,” she said.

Continue Reading