Archive for November 8th, 2012

Plans for balloon tower in George Town

| 08/11/2012 | 0 Comments

balloon tower (244x300).jpg(CNS Business): An application to the Central Planning Authority (CPA) is being met with some surprise by the local business community in the country’s capital, which has described the application for a balloon tower as “ludicrous”. Near neighbours in George Town who received notification of the proposed elevator tower at Margaritaville that will, if permitted, reach an estimated 220 feet high, have been left flabbergasted at the proposal, which is described as a tourist attraction. According to the proposal the actual tower would be 192-feet tall, but with the addition of a balloon it will pass two hundred feet, protruding from the capital’s skyline and making it by far the tallest building on the island. Read more on CNS Business

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Fears grow over CHEC costs

| 08/11/2012 | 110 Comments

money-toilet.jpg(CNS): Following comments made by China Harbour Engineering Company on Wednesday regarding the costs it incurred during the talks with the Cayman Islands Government over the cruise port, concerns grew Thursday that the public purse may be looking at another major payout. Although it is not clear what agreement the CIG actually entered into with CHEC, if, as the Beijing based firm has claimed, there is a framework agreement, opposition members believe that this could leave the local government vulnerable to legal action by the Chinese company. Given the precedent set by the GLF payout, the tax payer could be footing another painful legal bill.

Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said Thursday that the statement from CHEC was “a not so subtle message to the government that CHEC is not going to go away quietly”, and it was obvious that the firm was seeking compensation or reconsideration by the UK for them to get the contract. 

In a statement released on Wednesday afternoon, CHEC said it was disappointed over the turn of events regarding the government’s announcement that it would be putting the cruise port project out for competitive public tender. Zhongdong Tang, CHEC’s regional boss, said the history of its involvement and costs had not been fully considered.

“The negotiations between the Government of the Cayman Islands, acting through the Port Authority, and CHEC resulted in the execution of a Framework Agreement (FA) in March 2012,” Tang revealed. “CHEC has spent a vast sum of money to pursue site visits, design works, geotechnical evaluation, financing options and other preliminary matters associated with the port project. CHEC also incurred significant expenses developing a detailed design for marine and other upgrade works at Spotts Dock.”  

Pointing to “proprietary and commercial data” produced by CHEC and shared with the negotiating team, Tang said the firm “strongly believes that it should not be subjected to the possibility of any other entity being able to use its data”, as it requested all efforts be made to protect and preserve its exclusive intellectual property rights.

Although the Chinese firm fell short of threatening legal action and implied instead that its preference was for talks to continue, it was quite clear that the firm was stating its claim.
Concerned that the company was spelling out the choice — reconsideration or compensation — McLaughlin said he did not know if government ever received the $3 million advance from CHEC with regard to the refurbishment of the Spotts Dock, but if it did that money would obviously have to be paid back.

Whatever other representations had been made about the contract or exactly what the company was expecting was also a mystery but McLaughlin said he was not sure how strong a claim would be. The firm, he noted, had to have been aware of what the UK was saying and the need for certain procurement practices to be followed under the Public Management and Finance Law.

Independent MLA Ezzard Miller also raised his concerns about the situation and queried what exactly government had already signed with CHEC. While there has never been a public announcement of a framework agreement being signed between the two parties, CHEC is now claiming that such an agreement exists.

“CHEC has made it clear that they either continue to negotiate over the port or they want money,” Miller stated. 

In the Legislative Assembly on Thursday morning, East End MLA Arden McLean also accused the premier of putting Cayman at risk of having to make cash settlement with CHEC in the same way that it had with GLF Construction. Premier McKeeva Bush was heard off mike to say that if that was the case then the UK would have to pay.

However, Miller pointed out that Bush was completely incorrect about that and of course it would be the Cayman people that would end up footing the bill for yet another of the premier’s mistakes.

Miller noted that while Bush had misled the country earlier in the year when he said that the CIG would not have to pay the US$3 million to GLF, some time later Minister Rolston Anglin had to admit on national television that the GLF settlement had come out of public coffers.

During the debate on the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility, McLean raised several concerns about the CHEC fiasco and the potential payout because the premier insisted on continuing down the road as far as he did with the Chinese firm, despite warnings from the UK.

“Has government considered the provisions in those agreements? And if they have reviewed them, what are we going to have to pay these people?” he asked.

During the debate McLean also drilled down through the history of the port talks as a result of an FOI request he had made for the Port Authority Board meeting minutes. The East End MLA revealed that Cabinet, not the port board, had selected DECCO from the shortlist of four firms following the evaluation of the expressions of interest back in 2009.

He pointed out that CHEC had responded to the early invitation for expressions of interest but had been ruled out by government’s own sub-committee, which was made up of the four UDP back-benchers, Cline Glidden, Eugene Ebanks, Ellio Solomon and Dwayne Seymour, as well as then port chairman, Stefan Baraud, and board member at the time, Woody Foster. When the DECCO talks fell through, the port started talks with GLF, which was said to be the next company on the list that the sub-committee had recommend.

McLean demanded that the premier explain to the people how it was, given the situation Cayman now faced, that CHEC, which had been rejected by the premier’s own backbenchers and had met only one of the five criteria listed during the evaluation process of qualified bidders, had jumped from the bottom of the list to the top.

The House was adjourned following McLean’s contribution and the FFR debate continues in the LA on Friday morning and will be broadcast on the government’s new TV channel.

Related article on CNS:

Port to go out to tender

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Coalition fears rubber stamp on EIA for BT dump

| 08/11/2012 | 16 Comments

yard-sign-1 (240x300).jpg(CNS): Following the recent publication of the draft terms of reference for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the proposed Bodden Town dump campaigners in the district say they fear the EIA will end up being nothing more than a rubber stamping exercise for the move of the GT landfill to their district. Campaigners said while they hoped the assessment would confirm the fears expressed by the central tenders committee about putting a dump in an “environmentally sensitive” area it would in fact be more likely to end up facilitating the move because the Terms of Reference have already been restricted by government before the assessment even starts.

Gregg Anderson, one of the leaders of the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free said the terms of reference were nothing more than a “crippled and biased sham, forced on a muzzled Environmental Advisory Board (EAB)”.   Anderson added that the extremely limited scope of the TOR, and the people hand-picked by Dart to carry it out mean it t would result in a rubber-stamp on the senseless plan to move the George Town dump to Bodden Town.

Charles Clifford another coalition leader and former environment minister in the previous PPM Cabinet said government not only muzzled the EAB but crippled its mandate.   “The EAB was blatantly ordered to draft a severely restricted TOR tailored to accommodate Dart’s desire to get the GT dump ‘out of its backyard’.  It was ordered to not identify the best waste management solution for our country.”

According to internal minutes of an EAB meeting from February of this year the director of the Department of Environment, recommended a “broader review…to identify the optimal waste management solution for the country through an assessment of alternatives, with input from all stakeholders and public consultation.” 

Gina Ebanks-Petrie had recommended at the meeting that an EIA that complies with International best practice would have a wider scope which would include issues such as alternative approaches to solid waste management, and the site selection process. Nevertheless Cabinet instructed the EAB to limit the review to the proposals as presented by Dart and the Bodden town location and not to carry out a review of the most suitable overall waste management solution.

The coalition also fears that the EIA will be conducted by “consultants cherry-picked by Dart,” and notes that the public cannot have faith in the EIA findings unless the assessment is carried out by unbiased professionals, completely independent of Dart, the campaigners added.

Clifford said the TOR was a sham “drafted to disguise government’s intention to proceed with the BT dump regardless of its consequences for our district,” the former Cabinet member added. “Since its murky inception, this plan has disregarded due process and good governance.  There has been no Planning Authority permission for a dump in our district, no open rezoning process to allow a dump in an environmentally sensitive area presently restricted to residential/agricultural usage, and far removed from the source of most of the island’s waste.”

In the wake of the recent pressure from the UK and the U-turn by the premier over the FFR and the port project Clifford also pointed to the government’s failure to follow protocol over the dump procurement.

“In spite of the magnitude of the Dart proposal..there has been no public tendering process (or RFP) for the plan.  Indeed, inasmuch as there has been any RFP to solve the GT dump problem, Dart’s proposal was soundly rejected.  As such, like Premier Bush’s now abandoned plan for cruise berthing facilities, it violates the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility agreement with the UK.  As well, it ignores several commitments contained in the Environmental Charter which Bush himself signed with the UK in 2001,” Clifford added.

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Free government TV not entirely F.R.E.E.

| 08/11/2012 | 22 Comments

gov telly (227x300).jpg(CNS): Despite the premier’s insistence that the new government TV channel, which is now broadcasting the Legislative Assembly live, is free, anyone wishing to tune in will need to have, at the very least, a basic subscription with WestStar TV. Although the channel is now added to all existing packages with no extra cost, it cannot be picked up via an antenna and viewers will need a cable box. Following a statement on Wednesday about the launch of CIGTV20, McKeeva Bush insisted that the channel was “F.R.E.E. free,” as he spelt out the word in response to questions by the member from East End. While technically it is free to those who are already WestStar customers, it is not free to those who do not have a subscription with the local cable company.

Nevertheless, the new channel and the decision to broadcast the proceedings live, with no delay, should prove a revelation to those who are able to access the channel. The premier said that while Radio Cayman had done a sterling job over the years broadcasting the recordings in the evening, the live TV coverage would give everyone a better understanding of the work of the LA. People would not just hear what their representatives said but see their MLAs at work and observe their demeanour, he said.

It also means that the public watching will see everything that is said and done by all members and striking something from the record will no longer have the desired effect. While the speaker's ruling may prevent comments from reaching the Hansard and the evening broadcast on Radio Cayman, viewers tuning into the live broadcast will see the proceedings in their entirety.

Speaking about what else will be broadcast on government’s own television channel, Bush said that in time it would show press briefings, public meetings, special events and even public board meetings, as well as its own news bulletin. The premier spoke about the channel opening up opportunities for programmes made by local producers, filling a gap for genuine locally programming, as well as providing a public announcement service for important emergencies.

However, the premier seemed most keen that the channel could be used to broadcast government business and policy without the filter of the local press, which Bush has on numerous occasions accused of spinning government’s message.

“It is just the beginning but before long its value will be evident to all,” the premier said in his announcement in the Legislative Assembly, as the broadcast went live for the first time.

He confirmed that government is not being charged to broadcast the programmes or for the channel and the costs are limited to staff and production. The channel is being managed by Charles Glidden, the premier’s press secretary. Donna Bush will be broadcasting on the shows and GIS is filming and producing the content. 

For those that have a cable box, CIGTV is being broadcast on channel 20.

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Cops ‘harass’ MLA over leak

| 08/11/2012 | 87 Comments

dart shovels.JPG(CNS): The independent member for North Side said he has been “harassed” by the RCIPS about the leak of the agreement between the NRA, Dart and government relating to the West Bay Road projects and the ForCayman deal. Ezzard Miller said he was appalled, not only by the attempted intimidation but the complete waste of public resources investigating the leak of a document that should have been in the public domain all along. Miller said the behind closed door deal, which was posted on CNS, was sent to him in the mail and he had no idea which concerned citizen had sent it to him. But, regardless of the source of the leak, the MLA said there was absolutely no need for the police to be involved.

Miller told CNS that, while enjoying coffee a few weeks ago, he was approached by a stranger, who had identified himself as a police officer wishing for a private word. Miller said the officer told him he was investigating the leaked NRA/Dart document but the MLA made it clear he was not prepared to talk to him on the street. As a result, he agreed to go to the police headquarters. It was there that Miller discovered that the investigation was being conducted by the Financial Crimes Unit, although the officers could not identify what crime exactly had been committed and stated that the enquiry was about a breach of protocol at worst.

“I was shocked to be sitting down having coffee and approached by someone I didn’t know … that turned out to be a police officer investigating the leak,” said Miller. “I told him how I got it sent in mail but pointed out that I believed this was a colossal waste of government resources at a time when crime levels are as high as they are. It is absurd to have police spending money trying to find out how a released a document, which should have been in public arena even before it was signed, made its way into my hands.”

In what Miller described as a worrying, if not sinister, move, he said the police had made it clear he was not suspected of a crime and that there was, in fact, no criminal activity related to the leak, but the independent member said that the requirement for him to give a statement was clearly harassment.

“I think this was intimidation and an attempt to harass me when all I am doing is the people’s business. Sadly, however, this is the kind of government that we have,” the North Side MLA said as he indicated that he was confident about who had made the complaint to the police and instigated an investigation into the leak.

Miller also said it made a complete mockery of the premier’s persistent claims that the ForCayman Alliance deal was transparent.

This sentiment was echoed in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday morning by his colleague from East End, when Arden McLean demanded that the premier explain how he could possibly claim the deal with Dart was transparent when Miller was being investigated by police officers over the leak of the document.

The premier has stated on several occasions that the deal has been transparent, although, even at this stage the full parameters and details of the deal remain unclear. No documents that government have signed or intend to sign have been released officially. The full review by PriccewaterhouseCoopers on the proposed deal also remains under wraps. Although Dart has published limited and broad outlines of its proposals, the only details so far have come from the leaked agreements.

The document, which was sent to Miller in a plain brown envelop, was signed between government, the NRA and Dart in December last year and was published in full by CNS in July.

The RCIPS confirmed Thursday afternoon that an equiry was underway but gave few details.

"We can confirm that the RCIPS has recieved a complaint from the National Roads Authority, in relation to the possible disclosureof confidential documentation. An investigation into the matter is ongoing. In the course of the investigation we have spoken to about a dozen people so far. However, as the enquiry is active it would be inappropraite to comment further at this time," the police spokesperson stated.

See details of leaked documents here.

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CNCF presents story time for grown-ups and kids

| 08/11/2012 | 0 Comments

gimi.JPG(CNCF): For 15 years and counting, Gimistory, the Cayman Islands International Storytelling Festival, has enchanted audiences of all ages and backgrounds, with a delightful blend of moonlight, comedy, song, and tall tales.  This year, Gimistory runs from 24 November to 1 December and, as always, will visit every district and all three islands. The festival is acclaimed by many who have attended storytelling festivals in North America, the UK and elsewhere, as being among the best in the world.  By its very nature, Gimistory celebrates the art of communication, of talking and listening, of stories through song, and of conveying information, whether light-hearted or profound.

The seven day festival brings together virtually every sector of Cayman's multi-generational, multi-national community and has developed a following of visitors from abroad who return time and again. Audiences fill the picturesque venues— beaches, parks and backyards—to enjoy this annual festival, which has become the official start of Cayman's Christmas season.  During the day, storytellers will visit schools, making special presentations to students, and at night, they travel with their tales from district to district including Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

CNCF produces Gimistory as part of its mission to preserve the culture of the Cayman Islands and to stimulate artistic expression.  This multi-faceted festival is seen as a revival of the storytelling tradition and has become increasingly popular among families in the Cayman Islands.

This year's Gimistory will feature over a dozen performers from all over the world.  Familiar faces such as David Bearaux, Blacksage and Amina Blackwood-Meeks are crowd favourites, always leaving audiences wanting more kaisos, extempo and stories.  The festival welcomes four new tellers:  Valeska Borden and Lady Rabia from Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac respectively, the Mighty Gabby form Barbados and Roy Bookbinder from Tampa.

It will also include a special Young At Arts night on November 30th in Gardenia Court, Camana Bay.  The evening show will be hosted by students from CNCF's youth theatre programme, Young At Arts, and there will be performances from the Montessori by the Sea school choir, YAA members, Nayil Arana on fiddle and many other talented young performers including Miss Teen Cayman Islands 2012/2013, NorDania Stewart.

Each evening of storytelling concludes with local cuisine from the Fry Fish culinary competition.  Fry Fish, Frittas and Swanky (Cayman style 'lemonade' made with Seville oranges or limes and brown sugar) will be served to audience members who will not only enjoy the free samplings, but also have the opportunity to vote on their favourite!  Each district will compete for the honours of Best Fry Fish, Best Swanky or Best Frittas.  Last year Cayman Brac won the coveted titles of Best Fry Fish and Best Frittas, with George Town takingfirst place for Best Swanky.

"CNCF'S Gimistory is an event for all ages, taking us back to a time when people provided their own entertainment; a time when the imagination created images more colourful than any television screen and family and friends came together at dusk to share tall tales," Lorna Bush, CNCF  Programmes and Public Education Officer said.

"Gimistory is such a unique cultural experience. You'll see storytellers from all over the world tucked into stunning natural backdrops, you'll be surrounded by intoxicating smells of local fry fish and frittas cooked on traditional cabooses and you won't have to pay a penny," added Kaitlyn Elphinstone, CNCF Programmes & Marketing Officer

Rita Estevanovich, Programmes Manager described the event as “magical” . "This is definitely one of the best live events in Cayman.  Gimistory takes place at the end of November through to the beginning of December, when Cayman's weather is heavenly and most everyone is feeling the Christmas spirit.   The air is crisp and the scent of freshly cooked food is so inviting!  Of course, the entertainers are all fascinating and each one shares their passion for music, storytelling, and tradition.  Come out — it's magical," she said.

For more information as well as bios on story tellers and district dates click here
or visit the CNCF website here

Schedule All shows begin at 7PM.

* Saturday, 24 November – West Bay Public Beach
* Monday, 26 November – North Side at Kaibo Beach
* Tuesday, 27 November – East End Public Beach
* Wednesday, 28 November – Bodden Town at Nurse Josie's Seniors Centre
* Thursday, 29 November – Little Cayman School (day only)
* Thursday, 29 November – Cayman Brac at Heritage House
* Friday, 30 November – Camana Bay in Gardenia Court (all youth night)
* Saturday, 1 December – George Town at Smith's Barcadere

 

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Harbour House Marina feeds hungry sailors

| 08/11/2012 | 0 Comments

fleet1 (250x300).jpg(CISC): Cruiser racing, or “Big sailboat” racing, has staged a comeback in Cayman this year, thanks partly to Cayman Islands Sailing Club cruiser rep Rob Hutchison and the generous sponsorship of Harbour House Marina.Apart from the major offshore races that have traditionally been raced, the introduction of the Round the Sound series has meant that more boats have been encouraged to join in. Rob Hutchison explained “You don’t have to be a full blown race machine to take part and have a lot of fun. We have had sixteen boats taking part from 22 footers to 47 footers.”

An important part of cruiser racing is the social side. After each race all boats meet up somewhere to share a drink and the stories of the day’s racing. This is often at the Sailing Club where a hearty post race BBQ is offered. Harbour House Marina recently donated a new BBQ to the club in recognition of the appetites of hungry sailors. Jonathan Cuff of HHM said “In J22 racing, sailors have to keep under a certain weight to be competitive. This is not the case with cruisers and we all like to mix racing with pleasure.”

The Cruiser fleet will be taking to the open seas this long weekend with a race around to Seven Mile Beach on Saturday, The 12 mile banks and back race on Sunday, and a race back to North Sound on Monday. If anyone wants to join in they should contact Rob Hutchison at robert.hutchison@db.com  or sailing club manager Rick Caley at admin@sailing.ky

 

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Memorial swim meet offers chance to record times

| 08/11/2012 | 1 Comment

swimming (244x300).jpg(Stingray): The Pirates Week Mike Lockwood Memorial Swim Meet hosted by the Stingray Swim Club at the Lions Aquatic Centre begins  on 14 November. This meet take place over four days, offers an array of events from the traditional sprints to the longer 100m, 200m and 400m events and it is the first meet of the season which affords swimmers, between the ages of 11-17 years the opportunity to make qualifying times in all of the possible events which will be part of the 2013 CARIFTA Swimming Competition.

Lion Albert Anderson, who is co-Meet Director said: : “Mike Lockwood was a Lions Member who embodied the ethos of service which is such a significant part of the Lions Club, and he also believed passionately in the power of the sport of swimming. Mike was also a great leader of the planning and execution of the annual Pirates Week festival and this Meet is a fitting memorial for a man who was such a large part of our community.”

His co director Derrick Westerborg added: “Wednesday 16th will be the night for the two longest events, the 800m and 1500m events. There will be plenty to eat every evening except Wednesday – which is a short session. Boss Hogs will be catering on Friday and Sunday, with a BBQ (Friday), Breakfast items (Sunday); and the SSC concession stand will be open on Saturday 19th. We encourage everyone to come down, take in the racing action in the pool, buy something to eat and support our youth.

“These swimmers train year round, putting in hours of training every week while still keeping up with school – they deserve your support and we look forward to seeing you on deck.”

Registration closes at 5pm on Friday November 9th and there will be no late entries and no deck entries. Swimmers should either register online through their club or visit the Stingray website www.caymanswimming.com to print the forms, complete them and then drop them off in the box at the Stingray Shed at the Lions Pool.

Son of Lion Mike, Michael Lockwood, continues the family legacy of community involvement and is this year’s Vice-President of CIASA.

“I still swim with the Masters Swimming programme at the Lions Pool,” he said. “My father was a strong believer in keeping children at the centre of our community and always encouraged sport clubs, especially swimming, to host specific events for them. CIASA continues to encourage this message by building up the learn to swim and development programmes to ensure that every child in the Cayman Islands knows how to swim so that they can make a choice to continue to the age group and elite levels."

Admission to watch the meet is free and four sessions means there are four opportunities for you to come out and support Cayman’s youth. Meet sessions are on Wednesday 14th from 5:30-6:30pm; Friday 16th from 5:30-8:30pm; Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th from 8:30am-12:30pm.

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Young footballers make history

| 08/11/2012 | 0 Comments

pflyouthvshvfc021112 21 (279x300).jpgCUC -PFL): History was made last Friday evening at the T.E. McField Sports Complex when a Cayman Under 13 select team, representing the Primary Football League (PFL) Youth Football Programme, played the visiting Under 13s from Harbour View Football Club from Jamaica. Not since the days of legendary Coach Winston Chung and the Miami Classic Tournaments of the 1980s has the Cayman Islands been represented by a “national” Under 13youth team consisting of players from all the major football clubs across the Island.

The matchup marked the first game of the Academy SC International Friendship Cup played between hosts Academy SC and Harbour View FC. The youngsters from the PFL Youth Football Programme were invited by the Academy SC to play the visitors from Jamaica prior to the start of the Friendship Cup, which continued on Saturday and Sunday with two games between the hosts and Harbour View FC in the Under 13 and Under 16 age groups.

Taking the field for the first time in an international game, the Under 13 team from the PFL Youth Programme was clearly at a physical disadvantage when compared to their bigger, taller visitors from the neighbouring Caribbean island. But, as is so often the case in any sporting competition, the old adage of never underestimating or over estimating your opponents is a powerful motivator for those expected to wilt under the pressure.

From the opening kickoff, what the local boys lacked in size they made up for in grit, tenacity, spirit and determination. Easily outmatched physically, forwards D’Andre Rowe and Kameron Mendez utilised their speed to pester the Jamaican backline. Zipping in and out of spaces created behind the defence opened up a few shooting opportunities for the speedy pair but Harbour View’s towering golakeeper was in fine form.

At the other end, the PFL Youth Programme’s talented back four were doing everything in their power to stem the flow of the black and gold clad attackers. Just when it looked as if a Harbour View attacker was in position to unleash a shot, a swarm of defenders were there to thwart the effort. When a shot finally wentgoalwards, goalkeeper Albertini Holness collected easily.

Midway through the first half with the score deadlocked at 0-0, the PFL Youth Programme lost both influential central defenders Ajani Harris and Ricardo Wright to injury in separate incidents. Both players had played extremely well up until this point.

In normal circumstances, losing two central defenders would be disastrous for any team but the PFL Youth Programme was created on the premise that there are always two or three players available for every positionon the field. In stepped the talented duo of Rico Bodden and Cody Ebanks, who transitioned exceptionally well into the heart of the defence and with Joshua O’Garro on the left and Kailan Miller and Alex McLaughlin on the
right, all seemed safe.

In midfield, captain for the day Gonzalo McLaughlin along with Alex Logvinov, Kareem Foster and Nicholas Chung were finding it tough going as the more experienced Jamaicans were making it difficult for the local boys. When the Cayman boys did break forward, it was a joy to watch as they spread the ball wide and then across the goal oftentimes only inches away from the feet of their onrushing forwards. Chances fell for both sides but the deadlock remained as the halftime whistle sounded.

In an effort to give all their players an opportunity to play in this historic game, local coaches Antwan Seymour, Gonzalo McLaughlin and Gillie Seymour opted to make several changes throughout the second half with several substitutions being made and players moving to various positions around the field. The emphasis was not on winning but seeing how their players adapted to playing together as a unit as well as communicating with each other, supporting each other and attitude.

With the makeup of the Cayman team altered, Harbour View finally found their shooting boots and Tajani Fairclough, Gasford James and Rashan Mackinson each found the back of the net to make it 3-0 in favour of the visitors. As the second half came to an end, Cody Ebanks came close to notching one for the local boys as his excellent free kick struck the crossbar with the goalkeeper clearly beaten only to see the follow-up blasted just over the bar by substitute Kamani Ebanks.

Late flurries by both teams nearly resulted in a change to the score line but it was not to be as Harbour View FC claimed a 3-0 victory. Formany spectators at the match, it was a welcome relief to watch a young Cayman side hold their own against a strong and experienced Jamaican outfit. Spectators were excellent in their support of both sets of
youngsters and were pleasantly surprised at the level of play from the local boys.

Plaudits and accolades rained down on the local boys and coaches as they went through their customary “warm-down” routine following the match, which was great to see. The expressions on the players’ faces was one of pride and appreciation.

Coordinator of the PFL Youth Programme Neil Murray said: “It was a wonderful showing from all our players. This Under 13 squad has been together for a little over a year-and-a-half and has made great strides in their play, commitment and attitude. They understand what we are trying to do. This is only the first step in a long journey as we have huge plans for this team and the Programme. Thanks to the coaches, parents and supporters of the PFL Youth Programme as they are committed to seeing this team.

"Thanks to Academy SC for including us in the tournament and giving us the opportunity to play Harbour View FC.Special thanks to the Programme’s sponsors including CUC, Cayman Airways, Cayman National and the many parents and supporters."

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FFR bill makes floor of LA

| 08/11/2012 | 20 Comments

Budget Address(2)_4.jpg(CNS): A year after he signed the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility and with a potential crisis with the UK looming, Premier McKeeva Bush finally brought an amended version of the Public Management and Finance Law (PMFL) to the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday to incorporate the agreement. Although Bush had made no changes to this second version, the amendments relating to the procurement process that were required by the UK have been placed in the regulations rather than the substantive law. This raised concern among opposition members because, not only had no one seen them, but it meant that government could amend those procedures in Cabinet without scrutiny from legislators or the public.

Although the new version of the bill, which had been stripped of the premier’s additions and changes, was being rushed through the Legislative Assembly in order to avert a serious crisis in Cayman with the UK, the regulations were not ready. The opposition leader and the independent members all wanted to know if the UK had agreed to the changes to government procurement being placed in the supporting regulations rather than the main law.

Although this was the case with the previous PMFL, the legislators were concerned that, yet again, Bush was attempting to circumvent the crux of the problem with the UK.

PPM leader Alden McLaughlin said that, contrary to Bush’s claims, given all the circumstances, the timing and the original secrecy surrounding the premier signing the FFR, the agreement was not directly about the budget but about procurement.

McLaughlin stated that the deal Bush signed under duress was a result of the premier’s actions since coming to office relating to procurement. From the Cohen loan to the emergence of CHEC in the port talks, he said, the government had failed to follow proper procedure and it was this, not, as the premier claimed, the previous administration’s borrowing that had resulted in the UK’s insistence that the premier incorporate the FFR into local law.

Given the importance of procurement in the deal, the opposition benches all asked for Acting Deputy Governor Dax Basdeo, who was making his first appearance in the official seat in the LA, to contact London and reassure the chamber that the UK was satisfied with the procurement details being laid out in the regulations.

Following the catalogue of issues surrounding the incorporation of the FFR into the PMFL, McLaughlin said, MLAs and the public needed to see these regulations before they voted on the bill. It was bad enough, he said,  that they had only just received the new version of the PMFL amendment and that it had failed to meet the constitutional requirement of 21 days notice, but at the very least legislators had to know if this had the UK’s backing or whether passing it could incur further problems.

“We can forgive him the breach of the constitution as it needs to get done,” the opposition leader said. “The country has been on the brink of … a crisis because the premier was determined to get into a battle with the FCO. We know someone has had a 'come to Jesus' moment with the premier and he is finally doing the right thing and I am thankful, but if we are asked to vote on this and ensure he honours his commitment to the UK government, how are we to know whether or not the bill does that if we don’t have before us a copy of the regulations?”

His sentiments were echoed by the members for North Side and East End. Ezzard Miller (NS) made the point that changes could be made to the regulations behind closed doors and both the public and the UK might only find out after the fact.

“I understand the PMFL does provide for procurement in the regulation at present but in my view that does not prevent the parts of this agreement that relate to procurement being placed in law as the FFR agreement asks … I am not a member of Cabinet and, as an MLA, I won’t have knowledge or input of changes made by government, never mind control. I can’t vote for this bill as it is.”

Arden McLean (EE) agreed and warned again that the premier had to stop playing Russian roulette with the UK. Eventually, the loaded chamber would rise to the top, he said, as he asked to see the regulations that would accompany the law, given the importance procurement was playing in the UK’s concerns.

As the chamber was adjourned, Bush produced the regulations, which are not yet in the public domain.

Prior to the debate, which is expected to continue Thursday morning, Bush said that the law was "as dictated by the UK" and that he was “obligated to ask all members to vote for it”.

The FFR has for the last year been at the heart of political controversy. Bush signed the deal behind closed doors last November in London and did not release the details.

Some time later, a draft version of the agreement, which he said he had signed under duress, was leaked into the public domain. Although the then FCO minister Henry Bellingham had requested that Bush incorporate the deal into law by 1 July this year, the premier missed that deadline. Following the approval of the exceptionally late budget this year, Bush was given until 30 September to incorporate the FFR into the public finance law, but once again Bush missed the deadline.

In the face of increasing pressure to pass the bill in this session, Bush then declared that he intended to add clauses, giving the UK liability if Cayman suffered any reputational damage or loss of money because of the FCO’s advice under the agreement andto increase the value of projects that would require the tight procedures laid down by London. When he produced the bill for this meeting, it was revealed that he had inserted the clauses, which caused a firestorm between Bush and the new OT minister, Mark Simmonds.

Simmonds made it clear in a letter on Friday that if Bush did not honour his commitment to transpose the agreement into law, the UK was going to do it for him and may even take greater steps to interfere in local finances.

However, in the face of the UK threats regarding not just the FFR but the procurement issues surrounding the cruise berthing facilities in George Town and the continued failure of the premier to bring it in line with international best procurement practice and in line with the FFR, Bush remained defiant.

Following Simmonds' threats in his 2 November letter, Bush released a letter of his own, which he claimed he had sent to the UK minister on 30 October, in which he told the UK he could be led but not pushed. The premier made it clear he would be doing things his way when it comes to the FFR and the cruise port, despite the UK warnings.

He continued with the belligerent tone on Monday, when he made another statement in the LA and later on television stating that once Simmonds had all the facts he would agree to Bush’s pressing ahead with the CHEC talks and if the UK minister was reasonable he would agree that the FCO had to take liability for the FFR.

However, that was not the case and it is understood that in a phone call on Tuesday between Simmonds and Bush the UK minister said something that finally made the premier back down from the brink. Whether he was threatened with direct rule from London or more specific issue relating to his own position is not clear. But by Tuesday evening, Bush was forced to make a major U-turn and not only drop his clauses and changes to the FFR but to stop the CHEC talks.

In a contrite statement on Tuesday evening, Bush cited a desire to avoid political turmoil as a reason for his sudden about face, as well as not wanting the situation to impact his family .

See the two contrasting statements below.

See revised PMFL here

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