Archive for September 19th, 2012

Immigration customer service still found wanting

| 19/09/2012 | 32 Comments

immigration office_8.jpg(CNS): Although an independent survey conducted for the immigration department has revealed an overall improvement in the performance in many areas of the critical government department since the last survey three years ago, customer service at immigration was still found wanting. In this latest survey 30% of respondents said staff did not treat them with dignity and respect at the Immigration Centre at Elgin Avenue. In 2012, customers also indicated a lower satisfaction level with the efficiency of the number system, with 64% satisfied compared to 73% in 2009. 43% also said they were dissatisfied when asked if they received efficient resolution during their visit to the department.

The survey of over 150 clients, conducted by Deloitte, which used five Key Performance Indicators — value for service, customer service, responsiveness, knowledge and confidentiality — has just been published and revealed that there are still some areas of weakness in the knowledge of staff across the department.

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans said, however, that measures have already been put in place to strengthen this area.

The service area with the most improvement in customer satisfaction levels since 2009 was the Work Permit Board, the survey found, which had significant improvements in all the performance areas assessed. There were also improvements in the responsiveness and knowledge of staff dealing with Temporary Work Permit and Business Visitor’s Permit, as well as the response and flexibility of the Business Staffing Plan Board. Customer service also improved at the passport and corporate services. 

“I’m especially happy to see that the survey found that our clients identified greater improvements in our responsiveness and customer service, as well as significantly improved confidentiality,” said CIO Linda Evans. “This is exactly what we have been working to achieve.”

Three years ago, the results provided feedback on key areas, and identified weak spots – such as customer service, turnaround times, and the officers’ knowledge base. 

“While the 2009 results were not encouraging, we used them as the basis to assist in developing a new strategic plan to address areas of concern,” she added. “Internally, we have introduced the Department’s Training Unit, which has developed a comprehensive training programme with emphasis on developing the knowledge-base.”

This has already made a positive impact on service, she said, but the officials recognize there is still room for improvement. Revised forms and checklists have provided clarity on the respective boards’ requirements for applications and allowed for a consistent approach.

“Another major focus has been on alleviating ‘bottlenecks’ which hamper efficiency,” Evans said. “As a result, we have made reconfigurations to the workflow in the IMSS database and this has assisted in reducing turnaround times.”

Notable improvement have also been made to the  internal complaints policy, which has allowed staff to learn from their mistakes, then make corrective actions and improvements going forward, the immigration boss added. New offerings which have been welcomed by the business community include Immigration Online and the emailing of approvals for work permit and licenses once the decision is made. The online service allows client access to their employee records within the immigration database, reducing their reliance on staff to provide updates on the status of their applications.

“This progress is the result of the staff’s hard work, innovativeness and dedication, and a focussed and dedicated approach to change-management,” the CIO said. “Measures implemented over the past three years have included a renewed focus on utilizing technology in our business processes.”

Evans said that confidentiality has also improved significantly overall; but there was still room for improvement. The most notable negative area was the issue of individual officers’ lack of knowledge.

“This rating is not entirely unexpected, however, as we have over 160 staff working in 10 specialised sections,” she added. The report also identifies improvement needed at the Immigration Counter, where customer service, responsiveness, flexibility and knowledge of staff are an issue.

The 88-page survey document lists feedback from clients and compares the results to the 2009 survey findings. Even though this year’s results are much more pleasing, the management and staff have stated that they remain committed to realising further enhancements.

See the full survey here.

Continue Reading

CS bosses reminded there can be no extra spending

| 19/09/2012 | 3 Comments

b18030.jpg(CNS): The deputy governor has reminded senior civil servants that there can be no supplementary expenses during this financial year, which means that everyone across the public sector must stick to the appropriations made by the Legislative Assembly last month. During his meeting with chief officers last week, Franz Manderson shared with them the conditions outlined in the budget approval letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the minutes reveal. He also explained that the newly formed Budget Delivery Committee, of which he is chair, was to assist the government and the minister of finance in the delivery of the budget, including expenditure and revenue targets.

Sonia McLaughlin, the accountant general, also provided the civil service bosses with an overview of the 3-year budget that has been submitted to London and the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR), as it relates to the upcoming Strategic Policy Statement (SPS), which should be delivered by the premier in December.

So far however, despite the direction from the UK last month mandating that the FFR be passed into law via the Public Management and Finance Law before the end of September, there is no sign of the draft legislation nor has a date yet been set for the Legislative Assembly to meet and deal with that and other pressing legislative issues.

The Ministry of Finance is expected to hold further meetings with all COs and chief financial officers to discuss key features of the three year budget plan, which is meant to get the Cayman government back on the track of more prudent fiscal management of its revenue and expenditure.

During the 10 September meeting, Acting CO of the Portfolio of the Civil Service Ian Fenton gave an overview of what was described in the minutes as the “80/20” Hiring Freeze, as well as changes to the moratorium process, new salary scale and amendments to the Past Service Pensions Law (PSPL) and  Public Service Management Law (PSML) to affect the 3.2% reduction in salary and preserve pensions benefits for civil servants.

During the top level government meeting, the civil service heads also discussed the National Heroes Day Awards for Youth Services nominations; the upcoming Healthcare 20/20 conference; the Extended Afterschool Programmes for primary and secondary students; the participation of civil servants in internships for students from the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC); improvements in exam results for government schools; the new facilities opened for the September school year, including Clifton Hunter High School and three new primary school classroom blocks; and Right to Know Week.

See full minutes of meeting as released by the deputy governor’s office below.

Continue Reading

Anti-Corruption Commission

| 19/09/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Library): The Anti-Corruption Law, 2008, which went into effect 1 January 2010, established the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and criminalises corruption and bribery of public officers plus a range of other offences. The law dictates that the commission consists of the commissioner of police (who acts as chair), the complaints commissioner, and the auditor general, and two additional members who are appointed by the governor. The current members were appointed in March 2010.

The Commission is supported by the Constitutional Commission’s secretariat and investigations are carried out by officers of the RCIPS Anti-Corruption Unit.

According to the minutes of the June 2012 meeting, the ACC had at that point received 50 complaints, of which 18 were pending, 20 had been concluded, 3 had been transferred to other investigative units for action, and 9 were under active investigation. So far, only one person has been charged under the anti-corruption law.

Confidential hot line: (345) 928-1747 

Members:

Commissioner of Police David Baines (Chairman – Ex-Officio Member)

Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams (Ex-Officio Member)

Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick (Ex-Officio Member)

Leonard N. Ebanks (Appointed Member)

Sir Peter Allen (Appointed Member)

Allowance for members:

The appointed members must be retired judges of the Grand Court or Court of Appeal, retired police officers, retired justices of the peace or magistrates, or retired attorneys-at-law. Appointed members are paid an allowances determined by the governor. Currently, this allowance is $100 per meeting with a maximum stipend of $500 per month.

The ex-officio members do not receive remuneration for their work as commission members.

CNS grade of OAG website = Fair (NB: the commission is looking into upgrading its website)

Links:

Anti-Corruption Commission website

In the news:

Corruption laws leave gap (March 2012)

Continue Reading

TCI changes ‘far reaching’ says UK official

| 19/09/2012 | 6 Comments

ric todd.jpg(CNS): The governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands has described the programme of reform implemented there by the UK’s interim government as the most far-reaching in any UK Overseas Territory. With the publication of the final quarterly progress report on the Interim Administration’s milestones before the people of the territory go to the polls in November, Governor Ric Todd said progress against the eight milestones has left the TCI with an improved, more effective and sustainable public service, modernised legislation, stronger control of its public finances investing in key priorities, and sound management of the economy.

The local economy has been growing since 2010 and grew by 4.1% in 2011, officials said in a release from the governor’s office this week. The milestones were designed to instill good governance at the heart of the public service and have underpinned the activities of the Interim Administration since it took on responsibility for governing the territory following the suspension of the TCI constitution. This followed the damning conclusions reached by the 2009 Commission of Inquiry, led by Sir Robin Auld.

The milestones were published in 2010 and outlined the practical steps that would need to be taken in order address the institutional problems and return to an elected Assembly and government. Their gradual achievement led to the TCI constitution being reinstated on 15 October, triggering the general election for 9 November.

“With the prospect of fresh elections now firmly in sight, the beneficial changes brought about by the milestones provides any future elected administration with a solid and more sustainable base with which to consider affordable levels of public expenditure, demonstrate continued good governance and achieve sustainable economic development to the benefit of all people in TCI,” said Todd.

“The programme of work to modernise the management and delivery of public services in TCI, as well as to put public finances on the road to recovery, modernise legislation and strengthen the economy is simply most extensive undertaken for any UK overseas territory.”

The six-month long investigation by Sir Robin concluded that there was a high probability of systematic corruption in the TCI government, legislature and public officers of the territory, compounded by a serious deterioration – from an already low level – in the territory’s system of governance and public financial management.

This corruption appeared to have consisted mainly of bribery and fraud by developers and other investors of ministers and public officers, so as to secure crown land on favourable terms.

See full Commission of Inquiry here.

See last report on milestones here.

Continue Reading

Cayman joins in a celebration of drawing

| 19/09/2012 | 0 Comments

cartoon.jpg(CNS): Already celebrated in 22 countries worldwide, Cayman will be the 23rd when it joins in the Big Draw arts festival for the first time next month. The month-long festival will include drawing events, competitions and workshops for people of all ages, designed to bring Cayman’s multicultural community together to draw, think, laugh and dream. Presented under the Patronage of illustrator and children’s author, Lady Rabia Abdul-Hakim, in partnership with the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, the Big Draw KY will launch with a unique cartoon art exhibit at the National Gallery on Monday, 1 October, followed by numerous activities for the rest of the month.

On October 13, the official Big Draw KY Day, thousands of participants will be invited to “make their mark” on a huge ream of paper. The continuous drawing project will be photographed and showcased as a "scrolling panorama" online at the Big Draw KY website by the end of the month.

“Drawing is a great way to make art accessible to the youth and it is a fundamental part of creativity and intelligence,” said Big Draw KY Patron, Lady Rabia.

"Great thinkers are openly acknowledging the contribution of creative professionals. In fact, many of today’s most innovative products combine technology, creativity and design and more young people are opting for creative careers. Therefore, it is vital that we nurture creative skills in our future gamers, fashion designers, architects, illustrators, animators and producers.

“The Big Draw KY is also a great opportunity to unite our diverse community and drawing is the perfect medium to do that. Drawing is a universal mode of communication, transcending language barriers, cultural divides, classes and ages,” she added.

More than 30 Big Draw KY events will take place during October throughout the Islands, including those presented by the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands on the Sister Islands.

“The importance of drawing cannot be underestimated,” said NGCI Education Manager Eme Paschalides. “Drawing is critical to early educational development and remains an important tool of creative expression throughout our lives. In addition, virtually all of the objects we use in day-to-day life begin on a drawing board. We are therefore delighted to participate in this global project and bring attention to this form of creativity. It is a skill that can be practised by everyone and to demonstrate this we are inviting all members of the public to our ‘open door’ studio day on October 20th. There will be free walk-in workshops for everyone all day long.”

Other activities include numerous cartoon drawing workshops; the Draw Off; the Urban/Graffiti Art competition; the Celebrity Come Draw With Me classes; the Night Lines event, where photographers capture amazing images drawn with fire and light; and All Drawn Out, a chilling Halloween event drawing body parts and a costume competition. There will also be Nail Art events for girls.

Local organizations, schools and businesses are encouraged to participate by organising their own Big Draw KY activities and registering their events on the Big Draw KY website at: www.bigdrawcaymanislands.weebly.com.

The Big Draw KY also offers a great opportunity for sponsors who want to engage the youth and families and do something innovative, the gallery stated.

Sponsors should contact Big Draw KY at: contessablack@hotmail.com with the subject “Sponsor.”

The Big Draw was started by the Guild of St. George, a non-profit organization founded by 19th century critic and educator John Ruskin. Now led by the Campaign for Drawing in London, the aim is to raise awareness of drawing’s power as a tool for learning, observation, creativity, and social and cultural engagement. In 2011, more than 1,300 Big Draw events took place across the United Kingdom and internationally.

Continue Reading

Old building torn down for Scouts new home

| 19/09/2012 | 0 Comments

Demolition Begins (249x300).jpg(CNS): A property on Middle Road, in George Town, near to the Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital was recently ripped down in order to make way for a new Scouts headquarters. So far the association has raised CI$400,000 but will need around $550,000 to finish the project. Last Saturday, Scouts and volunteers turned out to watch the demolition of the building currently on the site of the planned new home for the Cayman branch of the global organisation. Some 300 boys and young men, from six years old to 20 years, are presently enrolled as Scouts. Currently the organisation occupies a trailer in Prospect. The building on Middle Road once served as the Scout office and was previously a group home for the Department of Children and Family Services.

The old building has also housed various public sector administrative offices but it was severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 after which, official stated, it fell out of use.

Continue Reading

Maples, Harmonic & Zolfo Cooper Touch Champions

| 19/09/2012 | 1 Comment

final1 (281x300).jpgCRFU): The fall of the first leaf from the tree, the migration of birds to warmer climes and the nights closing in are all signs that summer is coming to an end. Here in Cayman the end of summer can also be marked by the bonanza that is the Finals Day of the Summer Touch Rugby League. Hotter and sweatier than Lucifer’s armpit in a Hades heatwave, twenty-six teams turned out for the grand finals at the South Sound Rugby Ground in what has been one of the best touch rugby seasons ever. This summer has been a spectacular of sporting achievements and the Olympic Spirit of citius, altius, fortius was alive and well as players put their body, mind and soul into their team’s efforts.

Teams played for pride, for places, for the Plate and most importantly the title of “Champions” in a winner-takes-all Division Final.

DIVISION 1 FINAL – MAPLES1 v STEPPING STONES
Maples1 came through a competitive semi-final against Genesis Five Nations (4-1) whilst SteppingStones survived a scare and a half-time deficit against Trident Titans to win 2-1. This set up the final that everyone expected and hoped for. Two mighty touch rugby heavyweights would meet head to head. Think Autobots versus Decepticons, Marvel’s Avengers against Loki and the Chitaurian hordes or the Magnificent Seven against the Dirty Dozen – except in this case it would have to be the Magnificent Six against the Dirty… Six. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it does it? Which team is which I shall leave up to you but the crowd was evenly split in their support of this one.

final2 (500x349).jpgMaples1, the three times champions, have had a steady if unspectacular season. Ruthlessly efficient in the dispatch of their rivals it has only been the inimitable SteppingStones that have bloodied their nose this season – twice.  With a full quota of players to choose from Maples1 set a steely gaze against their nemesis, determined to hold onto their title.

(Photos by Caroline Deegan)

SteppingStones, a team of hired guns, have swept all before them this season. Fourteen games played, fourteen games won. Undefeated but not untroubled. They started the season in a Bon Jovi-esque blaze of glory, strutting with all the confidence of a bare-chested man in leather pants, cowboy boots and a poodle perm. These young guns rode into town with fast hands, lightning feet and packing considerable heat. They swept all before them. But as the seasons end approached they have showed signs of the jitters. Had they got a case of the gunslingers yips? Their last couple of league games were narrow wins and the semi-final was a wrought affair. Could they hold their nerve?
This was the Big One. A season’s toil would count for nought for whichever team lost the final. It may seem cruel to miss out on the big prize in this way but thems the rules my friend.

As referee Mick Kehoe went through his pre-match routine with his two line-judges James Melen and Dan Andersen the tension on their faces was clearly evident. These guys were the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in this particular metaphor but again I couldn’t comment on who was who.

As if accompanied by the strains of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, the two teams faced off at the start of this showdown each sizing the other to see who would blink first. As the whistle blew the game started at a frantic pace. Maples1 were moving like a maelstrom, charging up the pitch with their first settles as SteppingStones reeled under the pressure. Six touches, six shots, but no score. When they eventually got the ball the Stones were noticeably slower, more lethargic in possession and without the structured play of their opponents. It seemed like wave after wave of Maples1 attacks crashed on the shores of SteppingStones who were in danger of being washed away.  Jyoti Choi opened the scoring, before Steve Henshaw equalized. Chandra Friesen put Maples1 ahead going into half-time (2-1). The score was close but the momentum was with Maples1.

The second half took much the same pattern as the first but then like a bolt of lightning from a thunderous cloud, Richard Gordon flashed through a defensive crack smaller than a leprechaun’s crease, to sprint 20 metres to the line. The roof came off.  This fellow has a magnificently deceptive dummy and side-step and used them both to full effect. There was daylight between the teams on the score board.  And then, if one arrow to the heart wasn’t enough, the second came a minute after. Emily Davies gave a double sidestep that completely wrong footed Riley Mullen and showed great acceleration to score, her shark skin shorts providing the extra streamlining necessary to get away from the more flappy-shorted Mullen. Two of the unsung heroes of Maples1 had put themselves firmly in the spotlight and had delivered two mortal blows.

SteppingStones pressed to bring the scores closer. In the centre of proceedings was Steve Henshaw, as indomitable and immovable a force as a 300lb mother-in-law. He cajoled, berated and urged his team forward, providing a running commentary to both teammates and the referee alike. Ray Galletly was running through gaps but couldn’t find the vital pass. Even his trademark Exocet Missile of a backhand pass missed the target. SEAL Team Six won’t be calling on his services for a raid on a terrorist compound any time soon. No matter how hard SteppingStones tried the scoreboard pressure made them force the game and they threw the ball away at vital times.  Their frustration was palpable. Strike runners, Rudolf Weder and Mullen, could not find a hole no matter how hard they probed. Eventually Wiki Hitchman crossed for the ‘Stones before Scott MacDonald scored a fifth for Maples1. It was game over as the clocked tick down. SteppingStones scored a consolation through Vikki Piaso but the result was never in doubt.  In a practical application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics where everything goes from Order to Chaos, SteppingStones magnificent season had come off the rails and crashed headfirst into the buffers. Maples1 had done it again. Division One Champions, for the fourth year in a row.

DIVISION 2 FINAL – HARMONIC v BROADHURST
Harmonic matched up against Broadhurst in the Division 2 final. Having beaten the Heineken Light Maidens in the semi-final equivalent of The Bald and the Beautiful, Harmonic took to the field with a team of experienced players – some might say “long-in-the-tooth” but I’m going to stick with “experienced”. Broadhurst, on the other hand are in their first season and have impressed everyone with their ability and enthusiasm. They were missing a few key players but had caused the upset of the day by beating Division 2 League winners Deloitte in the semi-final by 3-2. This was a massive boost and they felt positive going into the match.

What followed was an object lesson in controlled touch rugby. Solid defence combined with quick hands in attack and Harmonic was dominating the game. The confidence flowed through the side epitomized no more so than when Aussie Brad Cowdroy, a 6’3” towering, some might say lumbering, ex-back row forward, attempted a fleet-footed Fijian-style hitch kick to outrun an opponent. At this point the crowd knew anything was possible if not probable.

Tim Rossiter scored an excellent individual try when he double-backed upon himself in midfield (easier said than done) and ran around the outside of the outstretched arms of the Broadhurst defence to score in the corner. To say he was pumped after scoring would be an understatement, fully informing the referee that there was definitely not, no way, not ever, you must be joking, not on your nelly, a touch made on his ankle before he scored. The ref eventually agreed and the score stood. Neil Montgomery tried to rally his Broadhurst troops but they had shot their bolt in the semi and Harmonic always seemed to have the edge. Tim Fitzgerald and Cowdroy added the extras and the final score was 3-2 to Harmonic – Division 2 Champions.

DIVISION 3 – ZOLFO COOPER v DELTA FORCE
In the Division 3 Final, Zolfo Cooper took on Delta Force in a thrilling match that went right to the wire. Both in their first seasons in Cayman touch rugby, these teams finished first and second in the league, and both came unscathed through their semi-finals against Credit Suisse and KPMG2 respectively.

Division 3 is often called the “social” division but do not be fooled into thinking that the quality of touch rugby on show is not of a good standard or that the players don’t give it their all. They do – with bells on! (not literally).

The match was an extremely tight affair with the scores tied at 2-2 at full time. Jyoti Choi had notched up the scores for Delta Force and Marc Randall had done likewise for Zolfo Cooper. Both players had been instrumental and inspirational for their teams all season. But there can only be one winner and so the “Drop-Off” eliminator was brought into play. Teams continue to play until the next score but players are removed from the pitch at regular intervals. In the end, it was a full length dive for the line by Tom Eliot for Zolfo Cooper that won it. Johnny Weismuller, Greg Louganis and Jurgen Klinsmann put together could not have bettered his athletic leap. With a degree-of-difficulty factor of 3.6, Eliot’s dive had a pike and two twists before he crossed the try line with barely a splash. 

The ref was on hand to give it top marks and award the try. Heartbreaking for Delta Force but they can be proud of their first season’s efforts and come back next year to go one better. To Zolfo Cooper the spoils – Division 3 Champions.
In the Plate Finals congratulations must also go to Maples2 (Division 1), Campbells (Division 2) and GCM (Division 3) who all won their second-tier finals to cap off a great day and a fantastic season.

At the end of season Touch Rugby Awards Dinner held at the tranquil and serene Wharf Restaurant the individual player awards were announced to heartfelt and noisy applause:

DIVISION 1 – BEST MALE PLAYER  Neil Montgomery (KPMG1)
DIVISION 1 – BEST FEMALE PLAYER Lisa Bird (Trident Titans)
DIVISION 2 – BEST MALE PLAYER  Alastair Lum (Deloitte)
DIVISION 2 – BEST FEMALE PLAYER Karen Hart (Campbells)
DIVISION 3 – BEST MALE PLAYER  Ian Roberton (KPMG2)
DIVISION 3 – BEST FEMALE PLAYER Katherine Maw (Zolfo Cooper)
BEST NEWCOMER – MALE  Keiron Lyons (Harmonic)
BEST NEWCOMER – FEMALE  Marida Montgomery (KPMG1)
SPECIAL REFEREES AWARD   Mick Kehoe, Chandra Friesen, Justin Colgan, Steve Henshaw

 

Continue Reading

US hospital chief signs up for Cayman conference

| 19/09/2012 | 0 Comments

300px-Johns_Hopkins_Hospital_Dome.jpgCNS): The boss of a major US hospital and a Canadian health care consultant will be two of the speakers appearing at Cayman’s annual health conference next month. Steven Thompson, CEO at Johns Hopkins Medicine International and Senior Vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine will be analysing the issue of improving the health status of individuals and communities via a number of different strategies, while Cynthia Hastings-James, Co-founder of Cookson James Loyalty Inc & BestLifeRewarded.com, will be examining how incentives can drive health behaviour change. The 20/20 Healthcare Conference will be looking at ways to ensure that patient care is a priority for healthcare providers.

According to a release from the conference organisers Thompson has over 25 years’ experience in various positions within academic medicine and academic health centres. He says that over the past decade there has been growing attention paid to the development of strategies to improve the health status of individuals and communities.

“This arises from a growing number of reports that highlight metrics which indicate health status and healthcare delivery are not achieving the outcomes desired in a cost-effective manner,” he said “A number of approaches have been developed with the emphasis of placing the patient at the core, to improve quality and outcomes. These include the development of patient and family centred care, patient centred medical homes, guided care and the Aliki Initiative, which has been established to educate healthcare professionals in patient centred care delivery.”

An early review of these initiatives highlights the need for improved patient care infrastructure, care provider training, patient education and informatics support. “While there is little dispute that this is the direction that must be taken, it is increasingly clear that thoughtful analysis and preparation are required to achieve the desired results,” he added

Meanwhile, Hastings-James who was described as an expert in her field has over 15 years of health promotion, medical education and marketing experience. She co-founded Cookson James Loyalty Inc and launched the BestLifeRewarded health incentive platform, which has been credited with changing the face of Canadian healthcare by producing a personalised focus on the end health consumer, conference organisers Tower Marketing stated..

Hastings-James will be sharing her knowledge on the use of incentives with patient-centred approaches to improve intrinsic motivation and overall wellness at the conference audience and will also be speaking as a panellist during the workplace wellness breakout session.

The theme of this year’s conference, which is set to take place from 18 – 20 October at The Ritz-Carlton, is ‘Patient-Centred Care: Achieving Quality Outcomes’  The conference is free and open to the public and everybody who is interested in healthcare in the Cayman Islands is encouraged to attend. For more information or to register visit www.healthcareconference.ky
 

Continue Reading

Brac paving left NRA short

| 19/09/2012 | 61 Comments

roads (262x300).jpg(CNS): The former NRA boss has revealed that the paving project on Cayman Brac left the NRA short of men and equipment, forcing the government-owned road company to use the islands’ two private contractors for all of its repair work on Grand Cayman. During his appearance before the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday, Brian Tomlinson said that once he was instructed by the ministry to send men and equipment to the Sister Islands he had to tender all of the NRA’s other work, rather than just buying asphalt as was the norm. He also told the committee that at least $1 million of the $3.5 milllion for the Brac work was taken from money appropriated by parliament for work on Grand Cayman.

Tomlinson, who was recently fired from his job after he had seized an illegally imported shipment of dynamite and made a report to the police, was the last witness to appear before the committee on the auditor general’s special report regarding the project in which government spent some $500,000 paving private driveways and parking lots as well as the public roads.

He said there was a lack of quality control on the project and pointed to equipment bought and shipped to the Brac,which he said to this day remains in shipping cases at the dock. He explained that the NRA had a very minor role in the paving and had merely been required to supply labour and equipment.

This meant he had to rely on private contractors, such as Island Paving or ARCP, to carry out the maintenance and repairs on Grand Cayman for the duration of the Brac project.

In his report Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick had revealed that the job of managing the Brac project was given to Colford Scott, an issue that had given the auditor concern because Scott is also the NRA’s board chairman, presenting a clear conflict of interest.

Answering PAC’s questions, Tomlinson further revealed that during his tenure the policy at the NRA was that public cash was used only for public roads. However, he stated that in the past there had been a problem where private road owners failed to keep up the maintenance on roads that were used by the public and the NRA had been drawn into paying for those repairs.

Nevertheless, Tomlinson said, while he was director the policy was not to use public cash for private roads. He pointed to only one exception, which was approved by the board following a request from the ministry, to pave a private road in Bodden Town.

This contrasted with comments made by Alan Jones, the current chief officer in the Ministry of District Administration,Works, Lands & Agriculture (DAWLA), which is responsible for roads. Jones claimed that because there was precedent for paving private roads with public money, it was not an issue that the practice had happened on the Brac.

The three government backbench members, Ellio Solomon, Dwayne Seymour and Cline Glidden, all seized on this and criticised the auditor general for not mentioning this historical tradition in his report. Seymour said he couldn’t believe there was such a fuss about the “beautification of the Brac”, where roads had not been paved for 25 years.

However, Swarbrick pointed out to the members that he does not do “audit history” and that the evidence before him related to the circumstances in the Brac and not past events.

There was nothing more than anecdotal comment regarding private roads being maintained by the government in the past, which he pointed out was still a misuse of public funds. Swarbrick said there is nothing in the law which authorises private roads to be paved using public money.

For Seymour’s benefit, Swarbrick pointed out that the report did not criticise the paving of the public roads but was concerned with tax-payers money being used for the benefit of commercial enterprises without the ministry seeking any payment or without any criteria or clear justification for spending the people’s money this way.

Jones confirmed that during the Brac project, in addition to the public roads, parking lots and private driveways had been paved and no payments had been requested. It was revealed that the parking lot at the Brac Power and Light Company, one of many profit making entities to benefit from the paving, was paved because it was used by the public when they went to pay their bills.

He also revealed that it was the ministry that had made the decisions on which lots would be paved and people had been invited to apply to it for the free paving. Jones also told the committee that some decisions were made on the ground. He said that when material was left over, the workers would use it on private lots, driveways and roads rather than allowing it to go to waste. He also pointed to the need to level off the road and the parking lots for environmental and safety concerns.

 

CNS Note: No part of the parking lots or driveways for the Cayman Brac Power & Light Co, either at their Stake Bay office or the powerplant on the Bluff were paved by government.  CNS apologises for any confusion.

Continue Reading