Archive for November 21st, 2012

Draw announced for U-20 World Cup

| 21/11/2012 | 0 Comments

(CONCACAF): The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) announced the results of the draw for the tournament that will determine the four regional representatives for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup.  The first round will see host and defending champion Mexico play El Salvador and Curacao in Group D at the finals of the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. The draw for the competition, which will be played from February 18 – March 3 in Puebla, was held at the Casa Puebla and conducted by CONCACAF General Secretary Enrique Sanz.

In Group A, the United States will face two-time winner Costa Rica and Haiti.  The U.S. will be aiming for its 13th appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Group B includes Canada, Nicaragua and Cuba.  The Canadians are looking for their first CONCACAF Under-20 title since 1996. Group C pits Jamaica, Panama and Puerto Rico against each other.  The Panamanians have qualified for four of the last five FIFA U-20 World Cups.

Mexico won the last CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in 2011, defeating Costa Rica 3-1 in the championship match played  at the Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City.  The Mexicans have made 12 FIFA U-20 World Cup appearances and have won 11 CONCACAF crowns.

Group games will be played February 18 – 23 at the Estadio Cuauhtemoc and the Estadio Universitario in Puebla.  The first- and second-place teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals, scheduled for February 26 – 27.  The four teams that progress to the semifinals, to be played on March 1, will have earned qualification to the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

The competition will conclude on March 3 with the third-place game and final.

FIRST ROUND
Group A: United States, Costa Rica, Haiti
Group B: Canada, Nicaragua, Cuba
Group C: Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico
Group D: Mexico, El Salvador, Curacao
 

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Ritz owners deny threats

| 21/11/2012 | 31 Comments

RitzCarltonGrandCaymanParent.jpg(CNS): The new owners of the Ritz-Carlton have refuted accusations made by the premier that they threatened government in any way over the concessions they wanted in order to pay the outstanding duty owed by the former owner of the hotel.  Executives from Five Mile Capital, which owns RC Cayman, the new owner of the resort, said the concessions they were looking for were normal given the planned investment in the asset. James Glasgow and David Lattimer also denied that the sale of the hotel at auction last month was in any way undervalued. Despite all that, they would still like to work with government as they move forward with the much needed investment in the property.

The owners estimated that government will receive more than US$12 million in stamp duty on the recent sale, and with major plans for the resort, there is significant potential for more earnings for government and local business. Speaking to the press on Wednesday morning. Glasgow stated that the list of concessions that were requested were never set in stone and open for negotiations, but despite what he described as "Herculean efforts"on their part, government would not respond.

He pointed out that the Dart Group has been offered a 50% break on taxes on properties they are investing in, but RC Cayman was not looking for anything like that, merely concessions on import duty, a chance to buy the land, a break on work permits and other benefits that could all have been negotiated to the point where both sides were happy.

The two men also noted that the sale of the Ritz- Carlton was based on a legitimate price following an independent local evaluation and was also agreed by government. He said the hotel was sold at $177.8 million because that was the reserve price and no one else bid at the auction.

Glasgow explained that after marketing the planned sale across the globe to well over 1,100 investors, only three groups showed an interest but in the end there was only one bidder in the room besides Five Mile on the day of the auction.

Although the executives did not name the other bidder, he was described as a well-known local investor who had the liquid wealth to purchase, leaving the press in no doubt that it was Dart. The executives said that this one other bidder declined to accept the opening bid as he stated it was too high.

“Were the hotel worth anything like $400 million, we would have had hundreds of investors wanting to bid given a reserve price of $177.8million,” Glasgow noted, “But no one else wanted to bid.”

Had Dart been successful in purchasing the five star resort, given the existing deal between government, the NRA and the developer as well as the pending mega deal that government is expected to sign anytime, the public purse would have had to give up 50% of all taxes at that resort for the next ten years.

However, with no deal on the table between government and the new owners, they are nevertheless pressing on with the investment and changes at the resort. Glasgow pointed out that, regardless of claims by the premier that the firm is obligated to pay the $6 million owed by the former owner, lawfully that is not the case.

He also warned that any attempts to press for a transfer fee based on the value of the hotel made some five years ago when Ryan was raising the financing would price Five Mile out of being able to properly invest to preserve the diamond rating, which may even  lead to the closure of the luxury resort.

The executives explained that as a firm dealing with institutional investments such as universities endowments and pension funds, they take a long term view of investments and said they now needed to stabilize this asset. The main long term goal, Glasgow and Lattimer explained, was to gradually increase the value of the hotel through an injection of money, to recover the current loss between the value of the debt and the current value of the resort and beyond so that when the hotel is sold in the future it may well be worth $400 million.

According to government’s new television channel the premier is planning to make a statement regarding the outstanding duty at 7pm this evening.

Related article on CNS:

Ritz needs investment

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Travel used as ‘beating stick’

| 21/11/2012 | 85 Comments

mac_3.JPG(CNS): The premier has told the Legislative Assembly that the travel by himself and the deputy premier was being used as a “beating stick”, even though it has become a necessity for ministers and civil servants to travel to attract and protect Cayman’s economy. Using a recent speech by the UK’s prime minister, in which David Cameron said it was essential that he too travel around the world to compete in the global economic race, McKeeva Bush said that if Britain needed to go looking for business then Cayman needed to do it more. In the wake of revelations by CNS this week that the deputy premier has spent over $200,000 on overseas trips, the premier said the criticism about travel were political motivated.

Despite some 88 comments being posted from members of the community on the CNS website following the publication of the story about Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor Connolly’s travel, the premier implied that the criticism about the travelling undertaken by himself and his Cabinet colleague were politically motivated.

“The deputy premier and I have been criticised for travelling by the opposition but we have a very large ministries and we have to travel,” he said, adding that sometimes it was with civil servants and sometimes the civil servants travel alone as well. Speaking for himself, he said, “As minister of finance, tourism and development, it’s become a necessity.”

With speculation that the premier’s travel reached significant levels, CNS submitted an FOI request for details of Bush’s trips for the last year on 5 October. That request has now exceeded the statutory 30 days but no information has been sent to CNS. A request has been made to the ministry to explain the reason why it has not responded in the required timeframe, which has been copied to the Information Commissioner’s Office, and we are now waiting on a response.

During a short statement to the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday morning, the premier made no comment about his own bill but pointed to comments made by British Prime Minister Cameron in London recently where he discussed the need to travel himself in order to get jobs and business for the UK.

If the Britain leader needed to travel, how much more necessary was it for a much smaller economy such as Cayman, Bush asked. Cameron had also been accused of globe-trotting, the premier said, just as he had, but the PM had justified the travelling, saying that, in order to ensure that the British economy was able to benefit in the global race underway, he had to go overseas.

“I have said the same thing to people of this country. When Cayman’s name is called we should be there to seek business or deal with the demands of European Union,” Bush told his legislative colleagues.

The premier said that Cameron should have his message sent to FCO and to the local press as the premier insisted travel was being used as nothing more than  a “political beating stick”, as he prepared the ground for what is likely to be a costly travel bill.

CNS poll: Is the cost of overseas travel made by the deputy premier justified?

Related article: DP racks up $200K travel bill

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Prison boss takes early retirement

| 21/11/2012 | 19 Comments

dwight scott (233x300).jpg(CNS): The director of prisons, Dwight Scott, is retiring from the Cayman Islands Prison Service,officials from the Portfolio of Internal & External Affairs confirmed Tuesday. Scott has already left service as a result of accrued annual leave that will continue until his official retirement date next February. In the interim, until a recruitment process is complete, Deputy Director Daniel Greaves is acting as director of prisons and Natalie Joseph-Caesar is the acting deputy director. Scott's retirement comes ahead of what the portfolio has said will be changes and improvements to the service based on reports carried out by international corrections experts.

Appointed director of prisons in 2004, Scott received the Colonial Prison Long Service Medal in 2010, and has worked in the local prisons system for 23 years. During that time he led the restoration of the prisons in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, developed the Tilapia farm project; and introduced a City and Guilds examination centre within the prison system.

Chief Officer Eric Bush thanked Scott for his contributions to the Prison Service but made no comment regarding speculation that Scott had been asked to retire early.

Looking to the future Bush said the prison would be guided by the reports it had commissioned relating to corrections and rehabilitation.

The Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology, and most recently, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons have all reviewed and reported on the local prison systems and pointed out a number of areas where significant improvement is needed, in particular rehabilitation.

“We believe this information has an invaluable role to play in improving the overall quality of the corrections and rehabilitation product of the Cayman Islands,” Bush added.

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