Archive for March 28th, 2012

CIMA chair calls for ‘two tier’ per capita income

| 28/03/2012 | 33 Comments

cash.JPG(CNS): Cayman’s perceived high per capita income in comparison to the rest of the Caribbean does not help this jurisdiction when it comes to receiving post-disaster funding or subsidised borrowing rates, says the former Financial Secretary and chairman of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, George McCarthy. Calling on the Finance Ministry to look at the way the per capita income of residents in Cayman is calculated, McCarthy believes a fairer system could be put in place that would properly represent the population and give a true reflection of the income of all residents. He called the method by which the per capita income is calculated in Cayman “crude” and said that when he was the country’s financial secretary it had always been a concern for him.

McCarthy was speaking at last week’s UCCI 50/50 conference, after a presentation given by Dax Basdeo, Chief Officer (Financial Services) in the Ministry of Finance, on the Special Economic Zone. McCarthy said that Cayman was penalised after Hurricane Ivan – the deadly category 4/5 hurricane that devastated Cayman in 2004 – because a country with such a very high perceived per capita income had difficulties in getting assistance.

He said the method of calculation for per capita income was to put a value on the accumulation of all goods and services, use this as the numerator in the calculation and divide this by the number of people residing on island. However, there is a distinction between what he termed the transient population and the indigenous population.

If the per capita income, which came out at around $47,000 to $48,000 per year, typified the average annual salary of someone who worked at the Westin, for example, McCarthy said this was a fallacy. He said he worried that this high per capita calculation would send out the wrong signal to the world – that even the poorest person in Cayman had a swimming pool in their back garden.

The CIMA chairman said the issue needed to be looked at because when the Cayman Islands had to engage in borrowing it had to do so at the market rate, with no subsidy. McCarthy said he hoped something could be developed that would cover this two tier per capita income – creating one calculation for the transient population and one for the indigenous.  

Deanna Lookloy, former director of government’s Children and Family Services department, also gave the view that she was concerned that Cayman “was looking so prosperous”. She spoke of the time after Ivan when the high level of Cayman’s per capita income did not really reflect the true economic state of the islands and in some ways prevented Cayman from getting the assistance that it should have received.

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Segoes creditors get 1% of total claim

| 28/03/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Seven years after the process to place Segoes Services Ltd into liquidation, a Cayman Islands Grand Court order expected today (28 March) will officially dissolved the company. Fifty-two creditors will then recieve US$112,000 – just 1% of their total claim – to be divided between them after the liquidators and their legal counsel have been paid. In thefinal document prepared for creditors, liquidators Krys & Associates (Cayman) Ltd said that total claims made by creditors amounted to US$9.8 million but during the course of the liquidation, the value of assets recovered was just US$4.07 million. Fees incurred by the liquidators and legal counsel for the seven years’ work amounted to approximately $4.7 million, though they agreed to take just $3.64 million, since this was not covered by the amount recovered. Read more on CNS Business

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CCA issues warning over port

| 28/03/2012 | 51 Comments

cruise ship at port_0.JPG(CNS): The Cayman Contractors Association is the latest group to come out publicly with its concerns over government’s decision to enter into a deal with China Harbour Engineering Company to build the cruise berthing facilities. The cost of the project, the dangers to the local construction industry the inflated CHEC proposal and the environmental damage it may cause are just some of the concerns the industry body has raised. In a four page letter to Ellio Solomon, the backbench MLA appointed by the premier as lead negotiator on the project, the contractors list several points they urge government to consider if it presses ahead with a main agreement with CHEC.

The contractors say that evidence from around the region gives cause for concern regarding CHEC because they have a pattern of promising to hire local labour and companies and buy goods locally but once a deal is inked they find reasons not to meet those commitments.

“The typical method that has been documented in government and media reports indicate that once an agreement is signed, CHEC will later state that all the local bids are too high, local labour is too expensive, local materials are too costly,” the CCA writes in its comprehensive correspondence (posted below).

“Invariably, workers from China are brought in and are housed and fed in owner supplied housing and cafeteria facilities (work camps). Materials are imported from China directly, thereby reducing further any economic advantages to local businesses," the letter states. "If this same practice is allowed to occur, CCA warns this will cause irreparable damage to the local work force and suppliers and will cause project cost escalation, of which there is no control.” 

Describing this as an unacceptable arrangement for the industry and the people of the Cayman Islands, the CCA warns that its members cannot compete with CHEC if it stays in the country and bids on local jobs.

“CHEC is owned and financed by the People’s Republic of China, with access to preferred lending arrangements than is available to us, they are so large and strong financially that we are effectively introducing a Killer Whale into a pond of minnows,” the letter, which issigned by CCA President Kris Bergstrom, states.

The builders' group recommends restricting the cruise port facility to two piers to facilitate the current class ships and one Oasis class ship, with minimal or no additional retail.

“This will be a smaller and more cost-effective facility and will result in repayment of the loan in considerably less time than the 49 – 51 years proposed. In addition, any negative effect on the adjacent environment, including Eden Rock, Cheeseburger Reef and Seven Mile Beach will be significantly reduced," the contractors write.

The group also notes that for over 20 years it has been trying to get a Builders Law enacted to stop foreign contractors such as the Fleur Daniels, the Tom Jones, the China Harbours from “walking into Cayman and taking on our large projects” before setting up shop to compete for the smaller jobs too.

“We have a large, capable community of excellent builders locally, who make a commitment each and every day to the Cayman Islands financially. We are the employers that drive one of the largest sectors of the country’s economy. It is vitally important that the already approved Builders Law become enacted and implemented,” the CCA said.

The contractors appeal to government to consider seven recommendations before signing any deal with the Beijing-based firm, including a commitment that CHEC will de-mobilise and leave after the facility is completed, and that it will bring only managerial, supervisory and specialist personnel to Cayman and will hire all other workers locally and not set up its own work camps, and will rent from available local housing.

The contractors also ask government to ensure CHEC adopts the rates supplied by the CCA and exclusively subcontract all MEP and non-marine works to local contractors, as well as using up all local equipment, trucks and materials before importing from abroad.

The CCA is the latest local organisation to raise major concerns over the government’s choice of partner to build the George Town cruise berthing facilities as well as the growing size of the project and its possible negative impact on local business.

Although there is widespread support for the development of cruise piers, as more information emerges about the possible deal between the Cayman government and CHEC, the partnership is becoming increasingly unpopular. However, the premier has stated on a number of occasions that the cruise facilities are desperately needed and despite the growing opposition to the Chinese firm, CHEC offers the best deal for Cayman.

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Machete killer seeks second appeal

| 28/03/2012 | 0 Comments

mclaughlin martinez.jpg(CNS): The man found guilty by two separate juries of the killing of Brian Rankine-Carter (20) plans to appeal his second conviction which was handed down last April. William McLaughlin-Martinez was convicted of murdering the East Ender in a frenzied machete attack in a George Town parking lot after a drug deal went wrong in May 2008. The 35-year-old man was first tried and convicted in July 2009, but the verdict was overturned by the Court of Appeal in 2010 as a result of misdirection from the trial judge in response to a jury query. He was tried for the second time and again found guilty by a twelve person jury a verdict he now hopes to overturn.

The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal judges heard Tuesday that McLaughlin-Martinez has engaged a new legal defence team and as a result wanted his appeal to be heard in the November sitting of the higher court and not the forthcoming summer session.

Nick Hoffman who is the convicted man’s new local attorney told the court that his client wished to secure the services of Queen’s Council in the UK as there were numerous issues relating to the conviction that made it unsafe and it required a “fresh pair of eyes” to examine the many issues relating to what he said was an unsound conviction.

Hoffman pointed to a number of controversies from the way the crown’s principle witness, Jason Hinds, who claimed to have been with Martinez at the time of the killing was treated as well as the failure of the police  to test a machete found in Hinds’ yard the day after the murder.

During the trial pathologist Dr Bruce Hyma had described the brutal injuries suffered by Rankine Carter and concluded he had been killed as a result of multiple chop wounds to the head and neck. He said the murder weapon was likely to be something like a machete that was both sharp and blunt.

At the second trial Hinds gave evidence against Martinez via video link from Jamaica as he had been deported having served a short sentence after he pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of murder. The crown came close to losing the chance of the second conviction as the trial was postponed twice as a result of the difficulty in locating Hinds.

The witness had confessed to being at the crime scene shortly after his arrest and blamed Martinez who was his co-worker at a local plumbing firm for the killing. Hinds said he had also assisted in the disposal of evidence. The crown relied heavily on Hinds' account to build its case against Martinez in conjunction with forensic and circumstantial evidence, which they said supported his narrative of the night's events.

The case was marred by a number of what were described by the senior investigating officer on the case as "cock-ups" in the investigation and with the chain of evidence. As well as losing video tape evidence, police had failed to send the machete found at the home of Hinds for testing until the start of the first trial almost a year after the murder had taken place.


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Mac pulls out of vote debate

| 28/03/2012 | 152 Comments

mckeevagt (221x275).jpg(CNS): McKeeva Bush has pulled out of Thursday’s public discussion forum on the topical issue of one man, one vote and will be replaced by Cline Glidden. It is understood that the premier will be in Cuba with the management and board of Cayman Airways on a “retreat” to discuss issues relating to the national flag carrier. The premier was expected to appear at the Harquail Theatre to defend the voting status quo on for the Generation Now roundtable in the face of a concerted campaign for a referendum before the May 2013 election on the issue of single member constituencies.

The trip to Cuba comes on the heels of the premier’s recent travels to Honduras, Panama and Washington and prevents him from taking part in the public forum and defending his decision to maintain multi-member constituencies for the 2013 General Election and to hold the referendum on one man, one vote at the same time.

The premier was to appear alongside the opposition leader Alden McLaughlin and independent member Ezzard Miller, who both support the principle of one man, one vote, and Adrianne Webb, one of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, which noted in its report the problem government would face in connection with George Town and the need to increase seats.

Based on the head count of registered voters and the population growth in Bodden Town, the commission stated in its report that if government was to retain multi-member constituencies, the numbers dictated that two additional seats would be required in the capital and one in Bodden Town. However, it noted this would mean that George Town voters would have six votes and a disproportionate influence on the make-up of the national government.

The obvious inequality that this will create has fuelled the campaign for one man, one vote and has led to the success of the campaign and petition to trigger a people’s referendum on the issue. Miller said Tuesday that the volunteers who are collecting signatures are within a hairs width of securing the 3,800 names of voters needed to trigger the referendum.

The battle, however, will now be to either persuade the premier to merely implement the new voting method without the need for a national vote or to at least hold the referendum before the May elections as stated on the petition.

UDP back-bencher Cline Glidden will now be defending his boss’s position in the face of dramatically declining support across the country for multi-member constituencies.

Glidden, who is the third elected member for the district of West Bay will, if the voting system is not change before next May, be facing an electorate that for the first time will have less votes than those electors in the capital.

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Cops warn of mock emergency in George Town

| 28/03/2012 | 4 Comments

(CNS): A spokesperson for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Services said that police and other Grand Cayman Emergency Services including Hazard Management will be taking part in a mock emergency exercise this morning Wednesday 28 March in the Walkers Road area of George Town. The area will cordoned off for a short time during the exercise. "Every effort will be made to ensure the public are not un necessarily inconvenienced during this important and very worthwhile exercise,' the polcie said ahead of the exercise.

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