Archive for March 7th, 2012

CUC gets over fifty bids for green power

| 07/03/2012 | 0 Comments

solar_power (300x300).jpg(CNS Business): Grand Cayman’s power provider has revealed that more than 50 proposals which totaled over 380 MW of renewable energy have been submitted in response to an invitation to generate alternative sources of power for the island. CUC said it is now in the process of reviewing and analyzing the proposals it has received and aims to accept up to 13 megawatts (MW) in aggregate of grid-connected renewable energy generation from this request. “With the high cost of fuel, CUC has been exploring large scale alternative energy options in an effort to reduce and stabilize costs to its consumers and to lower emissions from fossil fuels,” said Vice President Transmission and Distribution, Andrew Small. Read more on CNS Business.

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Local laws need to be read in line with constitution

| 07/03/2012 | 12 Comments

CaymanFlag_001.jpg(CNS): As the country’s top civil servants get down to co-ordinating the implementation of the bill of rights, senior civil servants heard from the attorney general that all of the country’s existing laws must be interpreted as though they were made in accordance with the constitution. According to the latest minutes from the meeting of civil service bosses released by the deputy governor, the main focus for government department heads is to revise and draft policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the Bill of Rights. The minutes show that chief officers have been asked to the bill and identify areas within their departments that may be vulnerable and could result in human rights challenges.

The Bill of Rights comes into effect in November of this year and even if laws have not been amended to meet the new heightened level of rights of the people they must be read as such as is the case with all of Cayman’s legislation which has not yet been revised to meet the 2009 Cayman Islands constitution.

At the senior management meeting the civil service bosses heard that policies and procedures likely to fall foul of the bill would be a priority for modernising and all updated documents should be sent to the Attorney General Chamber’s for review.

Other issues discussed at the 27 February meeting was the fourth phase of the Public Sector Review and a subcommittee comprising of Dax Basdeo from financial services, Alan Jones from the ministry of district admin and Eric Bush from internal and external affairs would work with the Deputy Governor to start the review and report back to the Chief Officers.

The need for consistency in HR Policies was also discus in particular flexi-time for public employees as well as their rights to work outside their jobs as civil servants.
Ian Fenton explained that currently the start times for non-shift employees throughout the civil service range from 7:30am to 9:30am and workers who wish to engage in private gainful activity are required by the PSML to first obtain their Chief Officer’s approval. The portfolio has now been taskedwith draft policies on flexi-time and private gainful employment to ensure consistent application across the service.

The minutes also reveal that the 2011/12 supplementary budget and 2012/13 budget are now due for submission to the Budget Management Unit.

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TCI claims finances will be best in region

| 07/03/2012 | 4 Comments

balancing-the-books4web.jpg(CNS): With the UK National Audit Office describing two new bills set to become law in the Turks and Caicos Islands this month as “exemplary” interim government officials are claiming that the territory is set to have the best standards of financial accountability in the Caribbean.  In a release from the TCI governor’s office ahead of a news conference planned today officials said the new Public Financial Management Bill sets out “the high standard of public financial management framework that the UK expects from its Overseas Territories,” and is central to the process for returning elected government to the TCI.

The officials stated that the bills will legislating both good governance and the strongest possible financial management processes for the Islands. 

Two drafts of the Bills have been issued to members of the Advisory Council and Consultative Forum since mid-February, and views have also been sought from TCI Government Accounting Officers and the UK National Audit Office.  The Advisory Council had their second review Wednesday and the Consultative Forum will provideits final input next week, concluding consultations on the proposed bills.

“UK’s National Audit Office has already noted that the NAO Bill is exemplary and could be used as a benchmark for all UK Overseas Territories and even other Caribbean nations,” the governor’s office stated.

The new legislation includes measures to strengthen the management of public finances; improve medium term fiscal planning, to put value for money first, to limit borrowing, and to deliver greater public sector accountability to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. In addition to the strengthened public financial management provisions, the enactment of the NAO Bill will allow for the new National Audit Office to be established for the TCI providing a further layer of oversight and required accountability for the spending of public money.

Governor Ric Todd said: “The enactment of these Bills will help the TCI to continue to recover from its deep financial and political crisis of 2008, to the point that it achieves a fiscal surplus, begins to reduce its national debt, and eventually no longer requires the $260m loan guarantee provided by the UK Government.”

Passage of the bills before the start of the new financial year will allow ample time for implementing the laws and embedding new higher standards of public financial management and oversight ahead of new elections planned for later in 2012, officials added.

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Still no sign of missing man as sea search resumes

| 07/03/2012 | 0 Comments

Nathan Clarke 24 Feb 2012.jpg(CNS): Updated 3:15pm Senior officers from the RCIPS met with the family of the missing British teaching assistant on Wednesday to update them on the progress of the search and the enquiry to date. The search for Nathan Clarke had resumed following an assessment of the weather conditions this morning concentrating on the sea and shoreline. Weather permitting, police officials confirmed the operation would continue for the foreseeable future. Officers are reminding volunteers who wish to take part in the searches to report to the police command unit to ensure that the professional coordination of the search continues.

The 31-year-old from Cheltenham in the UK who is a resident of West Bay went missing on the evening of Saturday, 26 February, from the beach at Calico Jack's on the West Bay Road. He was last seen close to the water’s edge by his girlfriend, Lisa Beck. Despite extensive searches on land and sea and scrutiny of hours of CCTV footage over the last 10 days, the only sign of Nathan is his mobile phone.

The phone was found on the seabed by a cruise ship passenger snorkelling some fifty metres out from public beach close to the area where Nathan was last spotted. More than 500 volunteers, some 39 police officers using marine and air resources have combed the area over the last ten days on land and sea, accumulating more than 28,000 man hours in the search, but there has been no further sign of the UK man.

Anyone with information can call the RCIPS on 949-3999 and they can send images of the night he disappeared to or for details on the search visit the Find Nathan Facebook page.

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Coalition plans Mac clash

| 07/03/2012 | 47 Comments

yard-sign-1 (240x300).jpg(CNS): As the government ‘public meeting roadshow’ moves to Bodden Town this week activists in the district who are opposing the dump move are planning a demonstration at the same time. The Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free is calling on all its supporters to come out to protest the relocation and government’s failure to engage the people of the district about it. Campaigners want supporters to gather together and show government that the residents of Bodden Town oppose the plan. Although still hopeful that they will be able to quiz the premier on the issue, past meetings have been more akin to political rallies with few opportunities for questions, which the coalition says will deprive the residents of their say and their right to know.

“This is nothing but a UDP election campaign rally,” claimed Coalition leader Gregg Anderson. “Although the ad hints at ‘other matters’ on the agenda, not a word is mentioned about the planned dump in our district, and this is certainly not any sort of consultation with Bodden Towners about the dump.” 

His coalition colleague Vincent Frederick hopes people will have the opportunity to speak out at the meeting and to ask questions.

“We certainly have an issue to raise and several questions which MLAs Scotland and Seymour have been unable to answer.  Can Premier Bush do better?” he asked rhetorically.  “Our two government MLAs have been unable to even condemn the theft of Coalition yard signs in their own district. But our yard signs are being replaced, and our contingent at the Thursday meeting will be carrying placards and distributing our flyer.  We’re out to prove to everyone – even UDP supporters — that the proposed dump is a threat to the entire island,” he added as he appealed for everyone to come to the Bodden Town meeting and join the coalition contingent.

Alain Beiner, another member of the team, added that the meeting was designed to merely distract residents from the dump relocation with misleading suggestions of jobs and economic growth. 

“The planned dump will do just the opposite for the Bodden Town district,” he said. “No one will consider establishing a new business or tourism facility here, and no one will develop a new residential project. In fact, a number of Midland Acres tenants have already indicated that they’ll not renew their leases because of the expected stench, pollution and threat to our environment.”

He said the meeting was an insult to residents, who, he said, are deeply concerned about the proposed dump, but there has still been no consultation.

“We still don’t know which government entity decided to relocate the dump, nor who chose Bodden Town,” he said, adding that the government has yet to produce a single document supporting the decision, an Environmental Impact Assessment, or any response to the concerns expressed by the CTC for the impact of a dump in an ‘environmentally sensitive’ area. 

“All that’s clear to us is that Dart wants the George Town dump ‘out of its sight’ so that it can develop a new residential project,” Beiner said.

The coalition says that the health and well-being of Bodden Towners and the protection of the district's environment and way of life are more important than Dart’s profits. It has taken the position that the current George Town landfill needs to be addressed and should be done so on site, avoiding the proposal to turn a residential and agricultural area into one for heavy industrial use. 

“We fully support the option selected by the Central Tenders Committee (CTC), favoured by independent engineers, and adopted by this very same government before its inexplicable about-face – a waste-to-energy facility, proper management of the GT dump, and a concerted recycling programme by government,” Anderson stated again as he reiterated the campaigners position.

Government is planning the third in its series of public meetings on Thursday, where, according to the published ads, it will be updating the people on the cruise port. However, so far at the previous meetings the premier had focused on his critics and few new details have emerged regarding the state of the negotiations with the Beijing based firm, China Harbor Engineering Company.

CHEC is currently in discussions with the government and the Port Authority to build what now appears to be a significant cruise berth upland development as well as two finger piers in George Town, but government has offered few specifics about the status of the talks.

The government meeting is set for 7:30pm at the Bodden Town post office but coalition supporters are being asked to show up about 45 minutes in advance to join its contingent, which will assemble separately from government supporters.

The Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free is a non-political, single issue community organization open to everyone, regardless of political affiliation.  It supports no political party, and condemns equally past and present governments for neglecting their responsibility in regards to proper management of the George Town landfill and the elimination of Mount Trashmore.

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‘Just change election law’

| 07/03/2012 | 8 Comments

vote here 2.jpg(CNS): As signatures from registered voters exceeded 2,500 on the petition for a referendum, one of the MLAs leading the charge for a change in the country’s voting system has called on the premier to save the country the time, money and trouble of having a referendum and just change the election law to single member constituencies. Premier McKeeva Bush has acknowledged the difficulties presented by increasing the members in George Town to six to accommodate two of the three new legislative seats at the next general election, and Ezzard Miller says he has the power to introduce one man, one vote now and show the world Cayman is a democracy.

With little doubt left that the petitioners will, at the very least, reach the 3,800 signatures from registered voters to trigger a referendum before the end of this month, the independent member for North Side said claims by the premier that a referendum before the election would be too expensive plus the issue over the number of seats in the capital point to an obvious conclusion.

“There is no support from the boundary commission report for an extra seat in West Bay as has been suggested by the premier, and as the number of petitioners for one man, one vote continues to grow, given the claims of how much it will cost, the premier can save the money by withdrawing the existing motion that is currently before the Legislative Assembly and change the law,” he said.  “It is already evident that many people support one man, one vote and although I believe a referendum will cost closer to $300,000 than the stated million or so by the premier, no matter the costs, we can save it by going straight to single member constituencies for 2013.”

Miller said that the premier is often talking about the need for the Cayman Islands to be equal to the larger western nations on the world stage, and introducing the one man, one vote system is a chance to show we are a real democracy.

“It is unlikely that the rest of the democratic world is wrong on this and we are right,” Miller added, referring to Cayman’s current complex and unfair multi-member constituency voting system.

Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin, who has previously noted that there may not be enough time to hold a referendum before the 2013 election and educate the voting population on the new system, has stated that he agrees wholeheartedly with this position.

He told CNS that if the premier moved straight to change the election law, there would be more than enough time to ensure the country is prepared and voters understand that they will be voting for just one candidate from the lists — in considerably smaller constituencies in the case of West Bay, Bodden Town and George Town.

The premier now agrees with one of the main issues that both Miller and the opposition member for East End, Arden Mclean, had stated was a major motivating factor for change. Bush has indicated that for George Town to send six members to the Legislative Assembly with the new 18 seat assembly, the capital would control one third of the LA membership, which was too much power for one district.

Speaking to Cayman27 last week, Bush suggested that West Bay could be the recipient of an extra seat so that the capital and his own constituency would be equal. He said his district had the same needs as George Town.

Such a move would be contrary to best election practices and, as noted in the boundary commissioner’s report, it could amount to gerrymandering —  the practice of rejigging constituencies in an effort to influence the general election result.

Although Bush has stated that he is willing to hold a referendum on one man, one vote on the same day as next year’s general election, how the eighteen members of the next parliament will be voted into their seats is still not settled.

The petitioners for the one man, one vote are now seeking to collect as many signatures as possible to try and force the premier’s hand. Despite asking for a November referendum, even with the constitutionally mandated 3,800 names, the time of the national poll would remain in the hands of government.

The group hopes to surpass five thousand signatures to demonstrate the wide support for the principle and push for a change in the election law. Miller has confirmed, however, that he will seek a judicial review if the premier refuses to hold the referendum before November of this year and makes no move to change the election law.

Anyone wishing to sign the petition can contact any of the following volunteers:

Al Suckoo Jr    916-1689
Noel March  916-1429
Chris Goddard     928-6534
Bettyann Duty  916-1494
Kent McTaggart   928-3449
Bo Miller    916-0003
Sharon Roulstone  516-0220
Marco Archer   939-7474
Edward Caudeiron  916-0157
Terry Caudeiron  916-7895
Ezzard Miller    327-5757
Arden McLean  916-0630
Woody Da Costa     916-2470
PPM Office    945-8292
Gregg Anderson   916-6777    
Alden McLaughlin   916-3153  
Bryan Ebanks   916-3048          
Johann Moxam


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