Archive for February 27th, 2011

Local insurer launches new critical illness cover

| 27/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local insurance firm Sagicor Life has launched a new critical illness plan called Ultra Lifeline. The first of its kind in the Caymanian market the new plan provides up to CI$500,000 in coverage for 21 conditions. The details of Ultra Lifeline were revealed at a recent Chamber of Commerce ‘Business After Hours’ event, hosted by Sagicor when pesident & CEO of Sagicor Mike Fraser, said the plan as more valuable today as the population is living longer and as a result critical illnesses is on the rise.

“The ability to provide for those emergencies that require extensive and expensive medical care is really a great security blanket, not just for those directly affected, but also for family members and other dependents," he added.

Sagicor’s Ultra Lifeline Plan is an equity-linked insurance plan, available to anyone from age 20 up to 60 years old. It provides a lump sum payment on first diagnosis of any of the Lifeline conditions, including Kidney failure, Benign Brain Tumor, Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It also provides a death benefit.

Sagicor’s Assistant Vice President of Individual Lines, Olivine Barnes, explained that the equity component of the plan facilitates investment in addition to health coverage. "The wonderful thing about this plan is that it’s the only one of its kind that offers a maximum coverage of CI$500,000, a guaranteed interest investment, as well as an optional equity-based investment," she said.

 

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Tourism industry starts year with a growth in visitors

| 27/02/2011 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Despite the continued global recession and evidence of local crime beginning to impact visitors to the island, figures released by the Department of Tourism for the first month of 2011 reveal the highest number of air arrivals in January for a decade. Cruise statistics are also up on the last two years with a more than 6 percent increase on 2011. The promising January figures come in the wake of positive improvements throughout 2010 for both cruise and air arrivals. People visiting Cayman by air last year increased by 6% on the previous year and cruise passengers also went up by more than 5%. If the January figures are reflected throughout 2011, Cayman’s tourism industry could have a new lease of life this year.

26,445 people flew into the Cayman Islands in January, not only a 5.8% increase on 2010 but the best figure since 2001 when 28,953 air passengers visited the island. Although there was an increase of more then 2% of visitors coming from the United States, the 26.3% on passengers arriving from Canada helped to make January a record month. The addition of the new WestJet service from Toronto, which began in November appears to be the main reason for the increase in visitors. While visitors from the UK and Ireland fell by over 5%, an increase of 15% from other parts of Europe offset that decline.

In 2010 a total of 1,597,838 cruise passengers visited Grand Cayman and 288,272 passengers arrived in the Cayman Islands by air. The average monthly rate for cruise passengers was just over 133,000, a figure surpassed by January’s 175,536, and the average monthly air arrival in 2010 was just over 24,000, which means the 26,445 people arriving this January bodes well for the industry in 2011.
 

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Public warned of penalties as lobster season closes

| 27/02/2011 | 15 Comments

(CNS): Lobster fans have only one day left in which to take the tasty local treat from the ocean. Continuing in its efforts to try and protect the islands’ dwindling natural resources, the Department of Environment (DoE) is reminding the public that the closed season for lobsters begins on Tuesday 1 March and runs through 30 November. No one may take lobster from Cayman waters, purchase, receive or possess lobsters that have bee taken from local waters during these months. Violation of this or any of the Marine Conservation Laws is an offence carrying a maximum penalty of CI$500,000 fine and one year in jail. Once a person is convicted boats and other equipment may also be seized.

In recent years in and around the region the spiny lobster numbers have been in decline as the species has been over exploited. With reefs also under threat, which are believed to be essential to the survival of the Caribbean lobster, the preservation of reefs as well as fishing seasons and limits are seen as crucial by scientists to the survival and possible increase in future lobster populations

Anyone wanting more information about the marine conservation laws can contact the DoE at 916 4271 (Grand Cayman), 926 0136 (Cayman Brac), or 926 2342 (Little Cayman).To report violations of any marine conservation legislation the public can call 911. For more information please visit www.doe.ky
 

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Levin’s investigator offers Washington inside track

| 27/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): For many years, US Senator Carl Levin has been a thorn in the side of Offshore Financial Centers through highly-publicized critical comments, investigations into alleged tax evasion and money laundering and proposed legislation aimed at curbing legal loopholes. During this year’s conference OffshoreAlert will be examining the status of this anti-offshore initiative- the ‘Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act’ and asking what else congress could have in store for OFCs and US nationals who transact business in them. Senator Levin’s chief investigator, Bob Roach, will provide an insider’s account of what is being discussed in the corridors of power in Washington, DC when he presents ‘US Congressional Offshore Initiatives’.

Roach is one of hundreds of influential figures in the private and public sectors in onshore and offshore jurisdictions who will be gathering at the conference to learn about the latest developments affecting OFCs, organizers stated They include judges, law enforcement, regulators, attorneys, accountants, financial services providers, hedge fund administrators, intelligence-gatherers, private investigators and high net worth individuals.
Meanwhile Barbados-based Professor Avinash Persaud will examine the situation from another point of view as he says countries such as the US are awash with hypocrisy, "cowboy regulation and double-standards in their attempt to clamp down on Offshore Financial Centers.
"One man’s tax haven is another’s tax incentive," Barbados-based Professor Avinash Persaud told OffshoreAlert. "President Obama chides the Cayman Islands in one breath and, in another, proclaims that America will be the biggest tax haven for research and innovation companies."
"And remember how you could avoid tax if you invested in the British film industry and so a lot of money chased after a lot of deliberately-dud films? Why should some countries with extensive tax incentives tell others they cannot have them? It’s not tax evasion that responsible international financial centers want to support, but a level playing field. There isn’t a single automobile plant established in the last 15 years without the kind of massive tax breaks that small states could never afford," he adds.
He and Roach will be expanding on their views a at The 9th Annual OffshoreAlert Conference, which will be held at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida April 4-6.
 

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National energy policy not finished, says ministry

| 27/02/2011 | 21 Comments

(CNS): Despite recent comments by the minister for District Administration, Works, Lands & Agriculture that CUC’s move to buy power from customers who are generating green energy “dovetailed” with the government’s “national energy policy” the ministry has now confirmed that this policy has not yet been finished. In the wake of Juliana O’Connor-Connolly’s comments that the new Feed-in Tariffs structure which will see people with solar panels or domestic wind-turbines able to receive 37 cents per kWh for the electricity they send back to the grid, CNS contacted the ministry for a copy of the policy so the public could see exactly what the policy is, but a spokesperson revealed the policy does not yet exist.

“The National Energy Policy is being drafted at this time. Cabinet appointed a committee, comprised of both the private and public sectors, and Chaired by Ministerial Counsel, Mr. Cline Glidden,” the ministry stated in an email.

O’Connor-Connolly who has ministerial responsibility for power said government wholeheartedly supported the FIT programme. “It dovetails into the National Energy Policy, as a means of encouraging consumers to reduce their utility bills while doing a small but important part in becoming more environmentally conscious,” she said following the announcement by CUC earlier this month.

Following agreement with the electricity regulator, CUC has revised its Consumer Owned Renewable Energy programme (CORE) and introduced a Feed-in Tariffs structure (FIT) which is expected to provide significant incentives to people generating energy from renewable sources and allow small scale solar systems or wind turbines to connect to CUC’s distribution system reducing their monthly power bills.

Despite indications by the minister that government is in support of greener energy, CUC was recently told by government it could not pursue a wind farm project in East End as government was prioritising the erection of a Doppler radar system at the same location. Last October government said in a statement that it was supporting the radar as a priority as it could risk losing the funding if it didn’t.

“Proposals have been received to establish a wind farm in the same area, however national and regional safety concerns make the choice for the Doppler equipment site inevitable.”

The ministry said the radar would give local weather service more accurate, real-time information serving the entire Caribbean and filling a gap in the recently implemented regional radar network coverage.

The ministry denied that by supporting the Doppler radar project unreservedly that it was therefore against alternative energy but that this was a vital project that had been in the works for almost a decade and had taken a long time to find funding. “Securing the necessary funding from the EuropeanUnion took years of advocating….. If this opportunity is not utilised at this time, then there is every chance that the necessary funding will be withdrawn,” officials said.

 

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UCCI offers a ‘wealth’ of knowledge

| 27/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI) has launched a new diploma in its fund administration programme this month, following accreditation as the primary training provider for the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI), the largest and most widely respected international body for securities and investment professionals. “Caymanians and others working in the Wealth Management area now have an excellent opportunity to study while working,” said UCCI President Roy Bodden. “The partnership between UCCI and CISI allows those interested to benefit from excellent faculty, access to instructors and the convenience of personalized attention.

The president said the new UCCI programme formed part of the goal to ensure the Cayman Islands remain on the cutting edge in international finance. This 13-month programme consists of four Certificates designed to provide participants with knowledge and skills relevant to understanding the industry and is preparation to sit the CISI external examinations.

The Certificates are taught by experienced UCCI instructors and industry guests. Topics are presented on Friday afternoons and Saturdays to accommodate participants’ busy working schedules.

The first Certificate, Introduction to Securities and Investment (International), is a qualification designed to meet the needs of new entrants to the investment industry.

“The programme provides an overview of all areas of investment, with an approach that is focused and tailored to international markets,” explained Dr. Carolyn Mathews, Director of Graduate Studies and Executive Training at UCCI. “The syllabus explores topics such as Economic Environments, Financial Assets and Markets, Equities, Derivatives, Investment Funds, Financial Services Regulation, and Taxation and Trusts and participants in the programme are excited by the opportunities that the programme has to offer and its relevance to their work,” she adds.

A programme schedule is available for those interested in pursuing the other Certificates: the Certificate in Investment Management is offered in June, Risk in Financial Services is offered in October and the Certificate in Wealth Management is offered in February 2012. All Certificates can be done as individual qualifications or collectively to form a UCCI Diploma.

For application and registration, please contact Diane Campbell, Deputy Registrar at dcampbell@ucci.edu.ky or call 326-3166.
 

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Digicel increases subscribers by seven per cent

| 27/02/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Regional telecommunications company Digicel has announced further growth with it financial results for the quarter ended 31 December 31 2010. The firm stated that subscriptions were up 7% year on year to 11.5 million across the markets in which Digicel offers service. The firm said revenues were up 32% to US$580 million. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) was up 32% year on year and reached what the firm said was a record high of over US$240 million. “I am pleased to report that we have had another very strong quarter,” said Digicel Group CEO, Colm Delves.

“Digicel has outperformed its industry peers with strong revenue growth and robust margins. We remain committed to ensuring our customers benefit from best value, service and network – and in our ongoing efforts to give back to our communities,” he added.

The firm said that key achievements in the quarter included the launch of mobile money services in Haiti under the “Tcho Tcho” Mobile brand and the award of the “first to market” grant of US$2.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the successful launch of 3G+ service in the French West Indies. Digicel also issued US$300 million of senior notes the proceeds of which are to be used for general corporate purposes. It also acquired two ICT businesses – Netxar in the Caribbean and Datanets in Papua New Guinea – to further expand Digicel ICT expertise and capabilities. Meanwhile in Jamaica the firm broke ground on the new Digicel global headquarters in downtown Kingston as well as completing renovations of the central point of trade, the Coronation Market, also in downtown Kingston.

 

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Racers aim to improve driving standards

| 27/02/2011 | 19 Comments

(CMA): The Time Attack (TA) series by the Cayman Motorsports Association (CMA) kicked off the 2011 season last Sunday with a field of 14 drivers, including three new faces. CMA organisers of the event said that during the 2011 season they want to mentor younger drivers and bring them into Time Attack to give them a driving experience which is exciting and tests their racing skills but can also improve their everyday driving skills. The races, however, are open to drivers of all ages and the course proved a challenge to everyone who took part in the first Time Attack of the year. (Photos by Dennie Warren Jr)

CMA has switched the event to Sundays from the evening weeknight slots in the hope of attracting new drivers and spectators. Bobby Hulse (Vice President) of CMA said, “It was a successful event and with the races in the day we hope to see some new faces and new drivers.”

George Manderson, who was one of the youngest drivers, came out in the Automotive Art Volvo to see if his blazing speed at the Karttrack would translate to the Time Attack event, and Honda guru Jimel McLean drove the most underpowered car in the field to see what he could manage in what turned out to be an all Honda two wheel drive (2WD) class.

First out of the start box was last year’s All Wheel Drive (AWD) winner Michael Weatherford in the Ace paint Subaru and he set down a base time of 104.82. Mike would be the eventual winner of the AWD class with long time marshal Peter Jurgens, who was also running the Ace Paint Subaru, taking second. 3rd place was scooped up by Erol “Carlos” Babayigit in his Evo 3.
 

The course proved a challenging one with a few super tight switchbacks, challenging enough that even veteran Keith “Speedy” Tibbetts managed to DNF his first run. Tibbetts, who usually runs the Valvoline Subaru STi, was borrowing Bobby Hulse’s flat black Toyota Altezza for the day as the Sti was not ready to compete. Bobby had made some adjustments to the car in the off season and it took him a couple of runs to get the feel of it, highlighted by a spin in the second run. There to witness it was Dennie Warren Jr who said, “The centrifugal forces I experienced during the ride were exciting to say the least and felt amazing! I need some of those tires for my truck.”

Fortunately for Dennie, Tibbetts was able to sort himself out in the last run and put down a time of 98.785 for the win in Unlimited Class with Keith taking second and Ian Tibbetts taking 3rd in his Corvette. Young George Manderson did well in the Automotive Art Volvo, showing some skills already despite only recently getting his license. With some races under his belt he definitely could be making some waves later on.

The 2WD class proved interesting as it came down to Jimel in his underpowered Civic vs Newcomer Cody Bowen in his Integra type R. Also running the Type R was Ian “Izie” Charlery. However with Izie being new to Front wheel drive it became obvious it would come down to driver’s skill. Cody did well for his first time at TA, making improvements and trying to be smooth. “It was a very fun event I will be there next month,” he added. Izie bested his buddy by a second or so taking second but it was the driving skill of Jimel that would take the win.

With the regular runs out of the way the course was changed slightly to accommodate the battle round. Whereas the class runs are the best of 3 runs, the battle run is one run winner take all. In the street class Jimel was able to twist his little civic around the much shortened course for 1st place, good enough in fact for a 3rd place overall behind Ian’s Corvette which took second in Unlimited and Bobby who like Jimel, also took another win for the day.

“As a diehard straight line all or nothing type of guy, taking corners is definitely a different type of learning experience,” said Jimel. “Instead of pushing the pedal down and going all out, TA teaches you it actually has little to do with power and all to do driver skill in handling your car. I would encourage any young person that wants to improve themselves as a driver to come and try it out.”

Look out for the next Time Attack event on March 27th to be held behind Progressive Distributers and checkout the discussion forum at www.csn.ky for updates and pictures of the events. CMA is looking forward to new and exciting projects this year and is looking for new members and enthusiasts email: racing.cma@gmail.com

Events are scheduled as follows: March 27th, April 17th, May 29th, June 26th, July 30th (@ Night), August 28th, September 24th @ Night, October 22nd, November 27th – (Al & Jay Bodden Memorial)

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Volunteers aim to create community cat cafes

| 27/02/2011 | 14 Comments

(CNS): A new charity has been created to try and take a different approach to dealing with the islands growing numbers of stray cats. The founders of Feline Friends, a group, of concerned volunteers is proposing humanely trapping homeless cats and kittens, having them spayed or neutered, de-wormed, ailments or injuries cared for and then return them to the location where they were found, the place the volunteers say is what the cat’s see as their home. The plan then is to establish feeding stations or ‘Cat Cafes’ around the island to promote healthy cat colonies that can play a role in the community by keeping down the number rodents.

“Our focus is to educate and enlighten the populace as to the benefits of homeless cat care,” the volunteers said.
Feline Friends say that removing cat colonies by euthanasia does not work but only creates a vacuum which is filled by other cats.
“The population of homeless cats plays an important role by keeping down the rodent population,” they said. “But we do need to control their ever-growing numbers. The fact is, a pair of breeding cats, which can have three or more litters annually, can exponentially produce 420,000 offspring over a seven-year period! The record for one single female cat alone produced 420 kittens over her lifetime.”
In order to make the goals a reality Feline Friends are looking for more volunteers to help feed a number of colonies already established and donations of cat food would be very much appreciated.
Email FelineFriendsCayman@gmail.com to help.

 

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