Archive for November 1st, 2012

Doctor’s surgery robbed at gunpoint

| 01/11/2012 | 36 Comments

crime_scene_0.jpg(CNS): A masked man armed with what appeared to be a handgun held up a doctor’s surgery in George Town on Thursday. Detectives who are investigating the heist, which occurred in Pasadora Place at about 2:45pm today (1 November), said the female receptionist who was working within Dr Borroto’s surgery was confronted by a masked man brandishing the weapon. The suspect threatened the woman and demanded cash before leaving the premises with an undisclosed sum of money and was last seen turning right towards Smith Road. The suspect is described as being about 5’7”, slim build, slim face, with a dark complexion.

He was wearing large white construction type goggles and mask, white shirt, long dark trousers and black fingerless gloves. No shots fired and no one was injured in the incident.

Anyone who was in the area at the relevant time and saw anything which could assist the investigation is asked to call George Town police station on 949-4222 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477(TIPS).

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Bush says ‘no’ to more regulation

| 01/11/2012 | 41 Comments

Mac good1.jpg(CNS): Premier McKeeva Bush slammed the tide of regulation coming from overseas, both from Europe and the United States, which was threatening the financial services community, stating that regulation such as America’s Dodd- Frank Act that makes sweeping changes to the industry was not needed and would only push up costs for industry practitioners. The funds industry had kept Cayman afloat during difficult economic times and his government was proud of the work fund practitioners did, he said.

Providing the welcoming remarks at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit held this week at The Ritz-Carlton, Bush said that governments in major international markets were pointing towards increasing regulation that would have “significant implications” across jurisdictions.

These implications would be on how investment funds should be structured and domiciled, what tools investment managers would use to achieve capital preservation and growth and how corporate and individual assets would be reported.

“Undoubtedly the time to find improved approaches to impact investors, court new ones and address impending change is now,” he said.

Following a demonstration of the vast amount of paperwork that now made up the Dodd-Frank Act, which stands at 8,843 pages and only 30 per cent complete, Bush said the demonstration highlighted that he shouldn’t listen to those people who told him Cayman needed more regulation.

“Look at Europe and look at our administering power itself, he said. “Prime Minister David Cameron has just cut out 1,000 pages of planning regulation and here they want me to put in more and more. They tell me I must cope; I must do what internationals do in these things. I think it’s time to be practical and do practical things.”

Bush went on to say that he had entities such as KPMG to assist him with business planning and he did not need international bodies in this regard.

“I like to work with KPMG, they can give me good business models; they can check my value for money.  I don’t need to go to the United Nations. I don’t need Dodd-Frank. I hope you agree with me,” he said.  “Too much is too much.”

With regard to how the Cayman Islands fared since the global economic crisis Bush said that Cayman fared well because of the good governance in place and the likes of good investment managers.

“That’s how we survived,” he confirmed. “We had just enough regulation. Too much is too much – it slows you down, cramps your style and causes governments like mine to have to increase your fees.”

Bush said that thankfully the funds industry had weathered the storm with 10,950 funds approved by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority as at the end of the third quarter of this year.

“My government is appreciative of the work that is done by the business community for these islands – it has kept these islands afloat. It has given us the standard of living we have and my government is proud of the work you do,” he stated.

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Mac heads for clash with UK

| 01/11/2012 | 83 Comments

union jack (300x268)_0.jpg(CNS): Despite clear direction from London that the UK wants to see the Cayman government implement the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility exactly as it was signed between the parties last November, the premier has altered the document in the bill coming to the Legislative Assembly this month. McKeeva Bush recently said that he wanted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to take responsibility for any reputational or financial damage that adhering to the framework might cause Cayman and he has inserted a clause doing just that.

He has also pushed up the value of projects that require UK Approval from $10 million in the agreement itself to $25 million in the bill, without the consent of the FCO.

Although the various changes between the original agreement and the bill, which is going before parliament at the next LA meeting, passed through Cabinet, sources tell CNS they have not been given approval by the overseas territories minister in the UK. This means that the governor is unlikely to be able to assent to the law even if it passes through the Legislative Assembly.

CNS contacted the Governor’s Office for comment but the UK’s representative said he had no public comment to make regarding the bill at this point.

However, UK-based sources close to the Foreign Office told CNS that the FCO officials do not agree with support clause 8, which reads: “Should advice emanating from the Framework result in reputational damage to the Cayman Islands or additional the Public Management and Finance (Amendment) Bill, 2012 costs incurred by the Government, the United Kingdom Government will compensate the Government for the reputational damage or the additional costs.”

Bush admitted recently that when he was in London last year, signing the FFR under duress, he had wanted this clause to be inserted. However, the minister at the time, Henry Bellingham, would not agree to such a clause, and given the ambiguous nature of the liability that could arise, the new minister is unlikely to offer his support for the clause either.

The incorporation of the FFR into the Public Management and Finance Law is already late. Bush had been instructed by the FCO to pass the agreement into law by June of this year. When that did not happen, the passage of the FFR into the PMFL by the end of September was one of the conditions attached to the UK approval of the CIG’s budget for 2012/13.

When that also did not happen, the most recent comment from London on the matter was that the new minister, Mark Simmonds, expected the premier to honour his commitment to pass the agreement into law with no changes or additions at the forthcoming legislative meeting.

The decision by the premier to make the change to the project amount, which sources tell CNS was already increased by the UK from an original $5 million to $10 million after negotiations, is very unlikely to wash and combined with the unacceptable clause is bound to lead to yet another clash between the FCO and Bush.

The bill, which has been added to government’s list of bills to be dealt with in this forthcoming session, which starts on Monday, was circulated to members on Friday lunchtime but has not yet been posted on the government gazette website and has fallen short of the constitutional requirement of 21 days in the public domain before being placed on the business paper for a particular meeting.

See copy of PMFL amendment that incorporates the FFR and the original FFR below.

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Civil service bosses pick up reform tips in UK

| 01/11/2012 | 11 Comments

(CNS): The visit by the deputy governor and a delegation of Chief Officers to London last month was “useful and relevant” for CS reform here according to the latest minutes released from the deputy governor’s office of the 22 October civil service boss meeting. The trip included discussions with the UK Cabinet Office as well the Heads of Public Services in Overseas Territories Conference hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The five member delegation of public sector bosses also attended various meetings with a variety of UK departments and agencies to discuss best practice, policy initiatives, and the impact of the UK’s reform initiatives.

Transparency, the process of rationalisation and competition between government agencies for funding based on results delivery were three of the key concepts covered by the UK Cabinet Office in discussing the reform. Improved IT infrastructure was also said to have provided a strong basis for improved efficiency and cost reduction in the UK.

The minutes reveal that although the size of the Cayman civil service differs from the UK, the discussions were still very useful and very relevant and the challenge now was to take the information and use it to advance Phase 4 of the Public Service Review.
The CO’s meetings with agencies related to their respective areas also provided a chance to hear alternative views on the reform process and opened up scope for interaction with agencies in the UK.

The meeting also included a presentation from Caroline Hastings and Roy Towler Procurement Experts from Jersey who were in Cayman to assist with local procurement and share the benefit of their experience.

See deputy governor’s meeting minutes below

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Obesity forum to examine issues in Cayman

| 01/11/2012 | 14 Comments

NM_obese_teen_081119_mn.jpg(CNS): Baptist Health International along with the Cayman Heart Fund, Cayman Islands Medical & Dental Society and St Matthew’s University will be hosting a health symposium later this month on obesity. With childhood obesity and related ailments like diabetes being a growing concern for the residents of the Cayman Islands, organisers said that The Obesity Epidemic conference will provide insight into combating this pressing issue. According to HSA statistics, some 45% of the kids entering the local school system are already obese. Health Minister Mark Scotland will give the opening remarks along with Rolston Anglin, the education minister, before a group of medical experts drill down to problems the country faces from obesity and its related illnesses.

Baptist Health specialists Anthony M. Gonzalez, M.D., and Ana M. Viamonte Ros, M.D., as well as Grand Cayman’s only endocrinologist, Diane Hislop-Chesnut, M.D., will be presenting information and facts, recommendations on associated complications and insights into obesity and future trends.

Some 200 members of the medical community are expected to attend the event, which is open to the public.  The event will take place on Friday, 9 November at  St Matthew’s University, School of Medicine in Regatta Office Park.

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CI goalie nominated for player of the year award

| 01/11/2012 | 0 Comments

Women_9.jpg(CNS): Cayman’s Women’s National Senior Goalkeeper, Courtisha Ebanks has been nominated for player of the year in the United States where she attends South Georgia College and plays football. Following a tremendous season for Ebanks’ team ending in 3rd place the College lost only 4 games. Ebanks said it was important for athletes to use sports to their advantage and to go overseas and become student-athletes so study and play. “Since I came to America, I found that my life has opened to so many opportunities,” she said. “Right now I have six schools wanting me, willing to give me a free education, if not, willing to pay off a huge amount of my tuition.”

Ebanks said she went to South Georgia College on an athletic scholarship for soccer, pursuing a degree in Health and Physical Education.

“My team played their hearts out, pulling through the season with thirteen players being the most and still breaking history for my school, ranking 3rd in the region. The level of play is huge here. Every game was intense. Having to face teams like Darton College, 2 years in a row Regional Champions, and who only lost 3 games this season,” she said. “One of them being against us and twice against the undefeated team in the region – Georgia Perimeter College.”

Advising those young Caymanian athletes in the national squad coming behind her to follow their dreams Ebanks told young people to go to college overseas and play football, to exceed and take advantage of every opportunity .  “Take your talent elsewhere and bring back experience to our national team. Make something of yourself, make our country proud and be someone — that is my plan,’ she said.

Lauding Cayman’s football programme Ebanks said she was glad to be a part of the Cayman National Team. “Without them I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now,” she added as she thanked her coaches and those who have supported her.

 

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Conch still threatened as season opens

| 01/11/2012 | 12 Comments

conch2 (225x300).jpg(CNS): Although the season for taking conchs from Cayman waters begins today, the tasty marine treat still remains threatened. Seriously endangered in parts of the region, Cayman’s restrictions have ensured that while numbers are a long way from ideal, people can take their fair share for part of the year. Along with 2½ gallons in the shell of Whelks, people can also now take five per person or ten per boat, whichever is less, per day during the open season, which runs until April. However, in addition to the limits on the daily allowance, neither species can be taken from marine protected areas.

Violating any of the Marine Park Regulations and conservation laws carries a maximum penalty of CI$500,000 and one year imprisonment. If convicted, the court can also order the forfeiture of a person’s boat or other equipment used.             

The local Broad Leaf Conch is a vegetarian, marine snail native to the western Atlantic Ocean. Demand for its delicious meat and beautiful shell have contributed to chronic over fishing and placed it under enormous stress throughout the Caribbean.

The drastic decline in conch populations across the regions due to over-fishing, led to it being placed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list in 1992.

The conch population is extremely fragile and, according to the National Trust, estimates suggests that out of 400,000 offspring, fewer than one conch will survive into adulthood. This alarming statistic, coupled with other environmental and human pressures, signals a worrying time for the Queen Conch.

To report violations of any marine conservation legislation, call the DoE at 916 4271 (Grand Cayman), 926 0136 (Cayman Brac), or 926 2342 (Little Cayman) or call 911. For the location of marine protected areas, rules and regulations please visit the DoE website or reference the Island Pages in the Cayman Islands Yellow Pages.

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Votes needed to get local swim pioneer world award

| 01/11/2012 | 2 Comments

IMG_2177 (281x300).jpg(CIASA): Cayman’s own Frankie Flowers, the Visionary behind the annual Flowers Sea Swim has been nominated by the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) for an award in the “Performance of the Year” category. According to the website… “the WOWSA Awards are given not necessarily to the best athletes, but is meant to honour the individuals who best embody the spirit of open water swimming, possess the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for, and  have most positively influenced the world of open water swimming during the year.”

Frank Flowers fits all of these categories and is an obvious choice for winner and that is where the public comes in. Everyone is encouraged to visit the website www.openwaterswimming.com to vote for Frankie Flowers and the Flowers Sea Swim. This is an easy way to be sure that not just the Cayman Islands, but the World knows about Frankie, his family and the amazing annual sea swim.

Frankie Flowers is one of the pioneers of open water swimming in the Cayman Islands, taking the Flowers Sea Swim from just sixty swimmers in 1992 to over 800 participants as the event celebrated its 20th anniversary this past June. The event has grown from strength to strength, and is now touted as the world’s richest sea swim and is largely regarded by the global open water community as one of the world’s top ocean water swims. Frankie has brought dozens of Olympic gold medalists to Cayman’s shores to mentor the Island’s up and coming swimmers and also donates all of the event’s registration proceeds to a worthy local charity. Frankie’s passion and relentless dedication to the sport of swimming should certainly be recognized.

Previous Cayman Connection nominations included Andrew Smilley who was nominated for, and WON, the Open Water Performance of the Yearin 2009 for his 107th place finish, in a field of 800 swimmers, in the RCP Tiburon Mile and placed third in the 19-29 age in the non-wetsuit division in the San Francisco Bay; and swimming friend of Cayman Penny Palfrey who completed three amazing swims in 2011, one of which was the 68-mile swim from Little Cayman to Grand Cayman which Frank Flowers organized.

Peter Mackay, CIASA President said this about the nomination: “Frank Flowers is a long serving Director on the CIASA Board, he is a stalwart in the Cayman Swimming Family and the visionary behind the internationally successful Flowers Sea Swim. He is most deserving to be nominated for – and to win – this award and I am urging everyone to visit the site, vote – and encourage all your friends to do so as well.”
 

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Water bills hiked by 9%

| 01/11/2012 | 81 Comments

water-from-faucet.jpg(CNS): Residents in Cayman face even more financial misery, as water joins the list of necessities that keep going up in price. As people reel from growing CUC bills, soaring food prices and endless increases to fees and taxes, the Water Authority has joined in the squeeze with an increase of 9.2% on water rates on Grand Cayman and 6.68% increase on Cayman Brac. Although the authority has now scrapped the minimum monthly fee, all customers of the government-owned company will be facing bigger bills this month after the rate increase on water and sewage services was implemented today. The problems the authority now faces borrowing cash because of the FFR was one of the reasons cited for the stiff increase.

Despite removing the $16.04 minimum fee, the increase from $4.01 per cubic metre to $4.38 for the first 3,200 gallons, and from 5.10 to 5.57 for usage over the first 12, residential customers will be feeling the pinch.

On top of the increasing cost of water sewerage and septage rates will increase of 10% and there will also now be an energy adjustment charge (EAF) on those services as well as on the water bills. The authority said EAF is expressed in CI$ per sewerage fixture unit and CI$ per 1,000 gallons of septage  covers fluctuations in the cost of electricity used to process the sewage and septage.  Other changes include an automatic annual rate adjustment and increases to statutory fees.

“The rate adjustment is driven by the need to invest in our water and wastewater infrastructure to ensure their proper and adequate operation in the years to come,” said Dr Gelia Frederick-van Genderen, Director of the Water Authority, as the government-owned company announced the bad news for its customers.

“The last comprehensive rate adjustment took place in 1995, with a minor rate adjustment in mid-2007. The Water Authority is facing increased difficulties with borrowing due to the FFR (Framework for Fiscal Responsibility) bill. However even with borrowing, a rate adjustment would still be necessary in order to maintain and expand the water and wastewater infrastructures in accordance with public demand.”

The authority said that the automatic annual rate adjustment will reflect the changing costs of doing business in the Cayman Islands.

In the face of the more than nine percent hike, the authority said its water was still much less costly than bottled water. A typical gallon of bottled water purchased at a retail store is $1.25-$1.50 compared to water from the Water Authority at less than $0.02 per gallon.
“The potable water produced by the Water Authority exceeds World Health Organization guidelines for drinking water quality,” it stated, advising how customers may reduce their consumption.

“A rate increase may cause concern for residents, however there are things people can do to minimize the impact on their pocket book,” it said. “The Water Authority continues to encourage customers to take charge of their water consumption and monitor their usage closely to manage and control their expenses. This can be as easy as identifying and fixing leaks without delay, avoiding unnecessary toilet flushing, installing water-saver shower heads and limiting water used for gardening.’

Customers can monitor their usage by keeping an eye on their water meter. By becoming familiar with the normal readings on the meter, customers can more easily identify abnormally high usage and take immediate steps to remedy problems.

The authority provides information on meter reading on its website www.waterauthority.ky.

Customers can also read the Water Authority (Amendment) Regulations 2012 there which provides an explanation of all the new changes.

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Activists seek legal redress

| 01/11/2012 | 44 Comments

wbay road 1_1.jpg(CNS): Following two early successes in the courts by local campaigners against specific developments believed to be infringing on people’s rights, activists campaigning for the preservation of the West Bay Road are also examining possible legal action. A more than 4000-foot stretch of the road is facing imminent closure as part of the government’s proposed controversial investment deal with the Dart Group relating to a variety of projects that stretchfrom Barkers to Bodden Town. The group, which is a coalition of campaigners who have various concerns about elements of the deal which involves crown land and rights of access, said it is quietly confident that it can stop the closure of the road through the courts.

Truly4Cayman said this week that it was not giving up on its goal to preserve the highway, which has been used by Caymanians for more than 100 years. The group continues to actively pursue several avenues to prevent the closure and transfer of some 4,290 feet of the West Bay Road to Dart Realty. One of those avenues includes exploring the legal routes open to prevent the transfer as the road is crown land and belongs to the public.

“We are confident that there are legal options open to us to save this road, which has been in use as a public highway since 1908,” a spokesperson for Truly4Cayamn told CNS.

It is still not clear when government intends to sign the full deal with the islands’ largest investor regarding the West Bay Road projects and the proposal to relocate the landfill to Bodden Town.

Although government and the NRA signed a preliminary deal with Dart last December, which triggered the start of the Esterely Tibbetts Highway Extension towards West Bay, that deal has been reviewed by local consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers and has reportedly been re-negotiated. It is understood that the deal is now different from the agreement which was leaked to CNS earlier this year. See related story

The activists reiterated their position that they do not object to Dart completing the ETHE or developing the former Courtyard Marriott hotel but say this can be achieved without closing the West Bay Road.

“The highway extension has been gazetted for many years and we welcome its completion, which will give distinct advantages to the developer in its own right as it opens up much of his land improving its value and affording access. We object, however, to the closure of the West Bay road, which the ETH was meant to compliment not replace,” the group representative stated. “We also have very real concerns about future beach access and of course value for money for the public coffers. Giving the developer more than 4,200 feet of road is essentially converting his land to beach front property boosting its value many, many times over.”

The group also said it was aware that there are problems with the promised second public beach planned to the north of Dart’s property which may no longer form part of the deal. 

Although progress continues on the ETH extension the public has not seen the revised NRA agreement nor has a date for the signing of the main proposal been set.

Given the size of the proposed deal, the involvement of public owned land, the diversion of taxes to the developer and the major concessions offered on the development that Dart has said it will undertake, the deal will need to meet the parameters of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility which the premier signed in London last year with the UK. Many members of the wider public also believe that, given the significance of the proposed agreement, it should be placed in the public domain for scrutiny and consultation before government signs on the dotted line.

Related articles:

Dart to take 50% of taxes (9 July 2012)

Full Dart deal exposed (12 July 2012)

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