Archive for November 16th, 2012

Local basketball coach joins international program

| 16/11/2012 | 0 Comments

Module 1 - Wizards Head Coach (196x300).jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands Men’s National Basketball Coach, Daniel Augustine, has been accepted into the International Coaching Enrichment Certification Program (ICECP) – a partnership between The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), the University of Delaware (UD) and the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Olympic Solidarity department. Augustine, who is studying to implement a long term athlete development program for basketball in Cayman, has received a full scholarship.  He currently works as a sports instructor in the department of sports and as a result has been allowed the time required to travel and study for this intense program.

This is the fifth edition of the ICECP which includes 31 national coaches representing five continents, 31 countries and 11 sports. It is an intensive coaching education program held on the UD Campus, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and at apprenticeship sites around the country.

The first module of the program was launched on September 24th on the UD Campus by keynote Mike D’Antoni, former NBA Coach and Assistant Coach with the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal Men’s Basketball team.  The program, which consists of four modules, was administered at UD from September 24th to October 5th, where the participants attended lectures and presentations on a variety of coaching education and sports science topics presented by UD Faculty and coaches and outside sport performance experts.

The second module, which took place from October 8th to October 13th, was a sport-specific apprenticeship that allowed participants to observe and interact with coaches from national governing bodies, university athletic teams or elite sport clubs in each of their respective sports. Daniel had the opportunity to visit the apprenticeship sites of the George Mason University Men’s Basketball Program and The Washington Wizards NBA Basketball Franchise.

The third module was held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs from October 15th to November 26th, and consisted of a continuation of lectures and group work activities during a two-week period taught by USOC sport performance and coaching experts.

In the final module to be held in April 2013 at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, all participants will present the results of projects they have developed and implemented under the guidance of International tutors from the US, Spain, and the UK. The projects will be reviewed by the ICECP Academic Board.

The local Olympic committee said it was dedicated to working together with Augustine, the Department of Sports and the Cayman Islands Basketball Association (CIBA) to achieve his goals and deliver on a successful program which will develop the sport of basketball in the country.

Continue Reading

New political group launches denying party concept

| 16/11/2012 | 103 Comments

(CNS): Calling itself a political advocacy group and not a political party, the Coalition for Cayman (C4C) is planning a public meeting on Monday night to draw in public support for its plan to take the country back to independent candidates and put an end to party politics. Taking the position that the local political landscape prior to the introduction of political parties was a more positive environment, the advocacy group says its single goal is to encourage voters to elect “honest, proven, capable and independent leaders” who will always put the “country first”. C4C insists it is not a political party and will not field candidates at next year’s election but instead endorse independent candidates it believes have the qualities listed.

“We are a public awareness group dedicated to leaders who put the best interest of our country first; we will be interviewing independent candidates and making endorsements of those candidates we feel will put country first when making important decisions,” the organisers stated.

On its website C4C states that before “political parties began taking over and driving their own agendas” Cayman had thrived. Since then, the group believes, unnecessary spending, excessive debt, fewer jobs and politicians who are more interested in keeping their party in power than doing what is best for families have taken over the political arena.

C4C says it recognizes that the people of Cayman are frustrated with party politics, government overspending, debt, crime and economic uncertainty.

“We are committed to bringing new and accountable leadership to unite the people of the country and restore the Cayman Islands' reputation while maintaining social balance and sustainable growth,” the group stated.

C4C will be hosting a public meeting in the car park of AL Thompson on Monday night at 7pm when the group says it will explain more about its aims and  how it will be supporting potential independent candidates for the May 2013 General Election.

For more information visit www.coalitionforcayman.ky

Continue Reading

Public auditor joins Forum to talk on procurement

| 16/11/2012 | 0 Comments

swarbrick5 (225x300).jpg(CNS): The increasingly thorny issue of procurement in relation to public-private partnerships will be a topic on the agenda at the upcoming Chamber of Commerce conference the Future of Cayman Forum. Cayman’s Auditor General, Alastair Swarbrick, will be joining a panel discussion with Tristan Hydes, Deputy Chief Officer, Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands & Agriculture and one of the chairs of the forums driver groups about what has been a particularly controversial area for government of late. The session will be moderated by Simon Conway from PwC Cayman who is a director in the Cayman Islands Advisory Team and has worked with government advising on such projects .

The discussion will focus on Good Practice in Public Private Infrastructure Partnership (PPP) and will open a series of breakout sessions on the topic of building a better infrastructure. Swarbrick has been critical of government in recent reports when it comes to procurement and the need to follow process.

“I am confident the Future of Cayman Forum will provide the right platform for informative and useful dialogue that will allow for better strategic planning,” Swarbrick said. “By having both public and private sector representatives working together we can formulate a more comprehensive picture for the road ahead.”

The public-private sector Future of Cayman initiative started with the first Forum in 2010, where business leaders and top Government officials created a five-point, multi-faceted strategic focus for the economic development of the Cayman Islands, culminating in the release of the Future of Cayman Strategic Report in July 2011. 

Stakeholders in the public and private sectors identified five “drivers”, indispensable components of Cayman’s ongoing success. They proposeda public-private partnership to: Develop Talent, Create a Business-Friendly Climate, Diversify the Economy, Enhance the Quality of Life, and Build a Smarter Infrastructure. 

More than 100 volunteers have been working in various driver groups and subcommittees since 2011 to implement the objectives and action items for the five driver groups.  In October, a Future of Cayman Report Card was release, documenting the implementation of many of the driver group actions.

The upcoming 2012 Forum, open to the public, will include participation from senior management from both the private and public industries, focusing on just two of the original five key economic drivers – Develop Talent and Build a Smarter Infrastructure. 
As well as an in-depth analysis of the two drivers, the Forum will commence with incoming Chamber of Commerce President, Chris Duggan, as well as Deputy Governor Franz Manderson and Premier McKeeva Bush, is expected to  deliver the closing address.
Manderson spoke on the importance of creating a unified front to help motivate the economy.

“Increasing global competition means the Cayman Islands must draw on the resources of both the public and private sectors to help shape its path forward,” he said. “The Future of Cayman Forum is an important gathering of professionals that allows for the pooling of these resources, culminating in the creation of plans and action points to give Cayman’s economy forward momentum in a sustainable and effective manner.”

The Future of Cayman 2012 Forum is a non-profit, all day, interactive event.  Registration costs CI$150and includes conference materials and full access to a welcome breakfast, opening session and remarks, selected breakout session, lunch, coffee and networking breaks, closing session and address, cocktail reception.  For further details, sponsorship information and to register, please visit the Future of Cayman website at www.futureofcayman.com.

Continue Reading

Local firm donates marine radios to DoE divers

| 16/11/2012 | 0 Comments

Closeup 1 (265x300).jpg(CNS): A local company which is supplying diver safety equipment donated two marine radios to the DoE this week. Bradley Johnson, a research officer with the department said that diving in the winter months to monitor the Nassau Grouper spawning aggregations is always challenging because of strong winds and rough seas. With much of the data there collected at sunset divers are surfacing just before dark and the units will help the DoE researchers communicate directly with the boat and direct them to their positions reducing the dangers associated with this type of diving.

Mike Lever, the inventor of the Lifeline said some 13,000 units have been sold to divers, boaters and other water sport enthusiasts over the last 13 months.
“Every week we receive stories of more divers who were able to call for help fast before their situation became a full blown emergency,” he said. 

The Lifeline is a marine radio with a distress button that broadcast a diver’s position using digital selective calling to marine radios. The units can receive DSC messages and the casing is waterproof to 425 feet making it ideal for most recreational and technical scuba divers.

“It’s small, compact design makes it ideal for kite boarders, paddle boarders, jet-skiers, kayakers and anyone else who participates in water sports.  On the surface, while using the radio, the unit is splash proof and a fully charged battery will ensure 30 minutes of talk time and 24 hours of emergency distress transmissions,” Lever added.

The lifeline is being distributed in the Cayman Islands, via Cayman Solar Solutions Ltd, owner Gary Redfern said the DoE needed the units to help divers who are working hard to preserve the marine environment and night diving on the spawning aggregations is a perfect application of the Nautilus Lifeline unit.  “The Nautilus Lifeline is not just for 'extreme' diving; it will be equally useful during regular dives and activities, when you're caught in a current, when the engine on your jet ski dies or where you get separated from your paddle or kite board,” he said.

Redfern, an avid scuba diver and former sea rescue volunteer, has spent the last 2 weeks spreading the word about the new product.   “The response has been impressive; it is already stocked in Divers Supply and Divers World, and a number of the dive operators are working through the logistics of being able to rent the units to their guests.  I have also had informative meetings where I have introduced the units to the RCIPS's Joint Marine Unit and to the security staff at the Port Authority,” he added.

 

Continue Reading

Campaigners to protest road and dump move

| 16/11/2012 | 8 Comments

demo wbroad.jpg(CNS): The various groups of local activists that are opposed to several elements of government’s planned mega-deal with the Dart group will be holding a protest and public meeting this Saturday. With a list of speakers from across all three Cayman Islands, the organisers say the focus will be on their efforts to preserve the West Bay Road and to prevent the move of the capital’s landfill to the wetlands in Bodden Town. The protestors say that the proposed deal with government and the islands’ largest investor – the ForCayman Investment Alliance (FCIA) is not a positive one for Cayman but is weighted heavily in favour of the developer.

Although government has signed a preliminary deal with Dart Realty and the NRA which triggered work on the Esterley Tibbetts extension towards West Bay, the main mega deal has not yet been finalized and protestors believe there is still time to prevent the closure of some 4000 feet of the road and the establishment of a new landfill in Bodden Town.

In the wake of the pressure applied by the UK’s overseas territories minister this month regarding the process and talks with China Harbour Engineering Company for the cruise berthing facilities, activists are hoping Mark Simmonds will also step in regarding the FCIA for the same reasons.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s protest rally, a spokesperson for the groups involved stated that they hoped to attract a wide cross section of people to the event from across the political divide and from all districts. The event will take place from 2-5pm at the West Bay Road – Public Beach to Yacht Drive on Saturday 17November.

For more details see attached flyer

Continue Reading

Police deny harassment

| 16/11/2012 | 39 Comments

8392220-group-of-secret-document-leak-related-3d-words-part-of-a-news-series (255x300).jpg(CNS): As the issue of leaked documents begins to take centre stage and following threats by the premier that they will be investigated, the police have denied harassing anyone during such investigations. Last week MLA Ezzard Miller revealed that he had been interviewed by police about where he got a copy of the Dart-NRA agreement regarding the Esterely Tibbetts Highway, which he had described as harassment. The police have rejected the allegations, stating that they have a duty to pursue all complaints that allege criminal conduct, However, the RCIPS has raised concerns about efforts to politicise the service.

"The RCIPS has a duty to investigate any complaint made alleging criminal conduct,” an RCIPS spokesperson said in a statement Thursday. “The initial investigation involves the interviewing of any witnesses to ascertain if a crime has been committed.”

The police said that after receiving a complaint from the NRA about the disclosure of confidential documentation, a number of people were interviewed to ascertain whether a crime had taken place. “That investigation continues. However, we resent any suggestion that any of those witnesses have been 'harassed'by the RCIPS,” the police stated.

During the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly this week, the premier raised the issue of the leak to the press of a document that outlined the terms of a possible agreement between the San Miguel Corporation and the airline it owns with Cayman Airways. McKeeva Bush described the leak as highly irresponsible and “treacherous”, as he indicated that government and the airline were going to make sure it was investigated.

While police confirmed that they were already investigating the leak of the NRA document, so far, no complaint has been received concerning the 'leaking' of documentation in connection with the possible SMC and CAL deal.

"We are deeply concerned by the comments made that that we would 'harass' any individual, if such a complaint was received. The comments made in relation to both the NRA and the CAL documents are, quite clearly, attempts to politicise the role of the RCIPS,” the spokesperson added. "We will continue to interview all witnesses, as and when necessary, to investigate allegations of criminality – no matter who those witnesses are.”

The police also encouraged anyone who felt they had legitimate grounds for complaint about the RCIPS to contact the Professional Standards Unit to allow those allegations to be fully investigated.

The recent focus on bringing in the police to investigate the leaking of documents that concern government activity and public owned companies is a worrying turn of events, the member for North Side stated, especially when in these two recent cases the documents that found their way into the public domain both involve public assets. The issue of transparency in government is one that the FCO has been emphasising in its encouragement of good-governance.

However, referring to the member for East End’s attempts to lay in the Legislative Assembly the SMC document regarding the potential sale of part of Cayman Airways to Philippines Airline, Bush said it was “downright treacherous” because of the competitive market facing Cayman Airways.

Bush said that the airline industry was the most competitive business and exposing the discussions of details before time could put CAL in jeopardy. “If CAL goes down, if it can’t find $20 or 26million to put into it …we are up the creek without a paddle,” the premier stated, regarding his plans for the government-owned company.

There had been no public discussions or consultations over the premier’s plans to enter into an MOU with the Philippines based company before he went to Manila to sign the document with the owners of Philippines Airlines Ltd (PAL). The first the public heard of it was a Tweet by the premier, which pictured him signing the MOU. Nevertheless, Bush saw nothing wrong with his behind closed doors discussions and unrevealed plans to sell as much as half of the national flag carrier.

“It is downright treacherous what they did and whoever gave him that document is treacherous but they will do anything to destroy government,” he said adding that CAL must have a partner to safeguard its future and stated that PAL could be the right partner.

There are significant concerns about the premier’s choice of partner as the Manila based airline is facing numerous difficulties expanding its US and American routes as a result of its status with the relevant aviation authorities. The airline has a category two status with the US and is blacklisted with European authorities. The deal with CAL would enable PAL to circumvent those international safety regulations.

Related article on CNS Business:

PAL safety root of SMC deal

Continue Reading

Mac: $55M lost with Cohen

| 16/11/2012 | 58 Comments

Mckeeva 1_1.jpg(CNS): The premier said had his government gone ahead with the Cohen loan last year it would have saved $55 million for the public purse. McKeeva Bush made the claim about his efforts to borrow money to balance government books in an unconventional manner as legislators returned to Legislative Assembly Thursday. Bush, who was the one who pulled out of the loan deal, said that, given the current base rate of US Treasury bills, it was conceivable that if Cayman had accepted the Cohen offer of a floating rate it would have resulted in an effective interest rate of approximately 2.7% compared to the 6% it was currently paying.

“With the current state of the world’s economy, and given the fact that the US Federal Reserve has now decided to increase the monetary supply in its economy by buying back its bonds at a rate of $40 billion dollars per month over the next few months, it is conceivable that the Treasury Bill Rate is more likely than not to decrease,” he told legislators, as he pointed to the low interest rate that the government could have got with Cohen has it borrowed money from the finance house instead of the bank, as it eventually did.

“The difference in interest cost is approximately 55 million dollars,” the premier claimed. He said the issue was down to risk, “much like everything else, but the wisdom in doing so should be based on the assessment of the global economic outlook.”

Bush said the expectation that interest rates would continue to remain low, and the extent that the Cayman could have benefited was reasonable, and “based on sound economic and financial analysis – even if I have to say so, since it appears that those who criticize me is devoid of such understanding.”

He said that these people, whom he did not name, through their lack of understanding had cost the Cayman Islands a significant financial loss. “It is my firm belief that we should still pursue every angle to obtain financing for our debt, in the manner I have proposed in order to save this country millions of dollars.”

The idea to pursue the Cohen loan was dropped by the premier after the unorthodox approach created something of a political firestorm. The controversial deal that government had entered into with the New York based finance firm, Cohen & Company Capital Markets LLC, to borrow US$185 million was terminated by the premier in February.

At the time Bush said the 4.5% interest rate capwhich the firm said it could get had not materialised and government had cancelled the arrangement. He said government had been advised that the savings of approximately US$24 million would not be realized.

“Key amongst the representations made to government was that a 4.5% Interest Rate Cap could be obtained, at a certain price, so that the rate of interest that government would pay on its current year borrowing would never exceed 4.5%,” Bush said at the time as he explained why he had originally opted for the Cohen deal instead of accepting the recommendations of the ministry’s technical team, which was endorsed by the CTC.

“Government has now been advised that the 4.5% Interest Rate Cap cannot be obtained at the price previously represented to government. The increase in the price of the Interest Rate Cap is of such magnitude that it would wipe out the cost-minimisation advantage that had been agreed,” he said at the time.

The circumstances surrounding the deal formed part of a report by the Office of the Auditor General, which concluded that the government wasted around half a million dollars by veering off due process in its efforts to finance government borrowing.

Continue Reading

Coalition takes dump objections to FCO minister

| 16/11/2012 | 23 Comments

dump demo (242x300).jpg(CNS): Residents in Bodden Town who are leading the charge against the government’s plan to move Grand Cayman’s landfill to their district have written a letter directly to the UK's overseas territories minister complaining that the government is not following the newly legislated Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR). The letter to Mark Simmonds sets out in detail their grievances about the proposed plan but also accuses government of “riding roughshod" over due process. The coalition pointed to the raising of expectations following the UK’s insistence that the port project be properly tendered and asked the minister to apply the same pressure on government regarding the ForCayman Alliance.

“Our immediate concern is the enforcement of that provision of the FFR which CIG found most ‘difficult’ to accept … the requirement of proper procurement processes for significant public projects,” the coalition has written to Simmonds.

Pointing to the details of the ForCayman Investment Alliance (FCIA), the coalition states that, in spite of the scope of the projects and the value of crown land being “swapped”, none of it has been submitted to a tendering process.

Highlighting Simmonds' own words to McKeeva Bush in a letter earlier this month that projects “must be done transparently and properly” and that the UK cannot allow any major public procurements “unless the proper processes have been followed”, the coalition told the minister that the proposed deal with Dart over the dump “continues to flagrantly violate due process, transparency and good governance.”

Relating the entire story, from the original request for proposals in December 2010 right up to the recent instructions from the ministry to the Environmental Advisory Board to examine only the site in Bodden Town and not any alternatives in the environmental impact assessment, the coalition writes that the FCIA agreement is “illegitimate – certainly unethical, undemocratic, unfair, financially irresponsible, in violation of the Environmental Charter signed with the UK by Premier McKeeva Bush himself in September 2001, in violation of the FFR and the UK’s guidelines for good governance, and possibly illegal.” 

Thecoalition called on the FCO to review the issues “and to assume its constitutional responsibility to the Cayman Islands”, as the group pointed to what it described as the forthright and unambiguous wording of Simmonds' letter to Bush in November regarding “good governance of the public finances and procurement”.

Asking Simmonds to apply the same standards to all major public projects and to prevent the attempts by the local government to circumvent the constraints by “splitting” major projects into components of lesser value, the coalition asked Simmonds to put the brakes on the proposal to move the dump.

See full letter below.

Continue Reading