Archive for May 2nd, 2013

Cayman hospital approved for doctor training

Cayman hospital approved for doctor training

| 02/05/2013 | 5 Comments

hospital sign8.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands Hospital has been given the nod by the Caribbean Association of Medical Councils (CAMC) to begin internships for medical students. Health Minister Mark Scotland said a delegation from the regional medical association had come to Cayman in March to assess the George Town hospital and the Health Service Authority and had recently confirmed that the facility had been approved. This means that eight trainee doctors from around the region, including Caymanian medical students, can now do a year’s rotation at the local hospital in one of four specialist areas.

Speaking at Thursday’s press briefing shortly after he had received the email from the CAMA confirming the eight approved internships, Scotland said the students will start this July and a registrar will now be appointed to oversee the programme and help the interns through their rotations. The minister said it will cost around half a million dollars but to become a training hospital adds to the stature and says a lot about the advancement of the local facility.

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Government puts port business plan out for bid

Government puts port business plan out for bid

| 02/05/2013 | 14 Comments

cruise ship at port.JPG(CNS): The government will be publishing a request for proposals on Friday for a consultant firm to draw up the strategic business plan and other essential supporting documents on which it will be able to put together a tendering package for the cruise port facilities. The actual cruise berthing port project will eventually be tendered based on this plan and go through a proper competitive bid. Government has admitted that the project won’t break ground until next year, but with the project now on track towards an internationally accepted process, the chief officer in the tourism ministry confirmed that the cruise port will be started and completed within the time frame of the next administration.

The ongoing saga of the cruise port development, which is now likely to be developed in partnership with the cruise lines, is now following a process approved by the UK. When the new government takes office on 23 May, the RFP responses to the business plan will already be in and awaiting a selection by a technical committee and ultimately the Central Tenders Committee.

The minister currently overseeing the project, Cline Glidden, said the contract for the business plan would likely go to one of the big management accountant firms on the island and that in turn will feed the RFP for the actual project itself. Although Glidden was hopeful that a contract could be awarded before the year-end, his chief officer clarified that it would likely take a bit longer for the RFP to be put together for the project itself, which would push the start date into 2014.

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Revised port deal missing

Revised port deal missing

| 02/05/2013 | 75 Comments

(CNS): The interim government and the civil servants involved have not been able to find any further agreements that supersede the recently leaked framework agreement with CIG and CHEC signed by former premier McKeeva Bush. Following claims made by Alastair Patterson, the project manager on the cruise berthing negotiations, that there is another agreement that improved substantially on the deal published on CNS last month, the tourism minister has called on him to reveal the newer agreement. Patterson, who was put on the job by Bush but paid as a government contractor at $15,000 per month, has not shown the current minister or any of his staff the deal which he said he re-negotiated.

Patterson told The Caymanian Compass that the document signed by Bush on every page in March 2012, with China Harbour Engineering Company was only a starting point. He said that when he joined the negotiations in May 2012 he re-negotiateda much better deal that government could have acted on that would have been good for Cayman.

According to the current tourism minister, Cline Glidden, that mystery deal is nowhere to be found. Glidden said the new government has no idea if it exists, if it has been signed or what it commits the Cayman government to. CNS contacted Patterson, who stated that to the best of his knowledge the revised deal was not signed. 

“It was in the final chapter of negotiation when the project was scuppered. It was not intended to be signed until negotiations were finalised and our instructions were on conclusion of negotiations all documents were to be approved by the ministry, the Port Authority Board and the Central Tenders Committee,” he wrote in an email.

Patterson said he does not have copy of the revised agreement that he claims he re-negotiated. “As far as I am aware all documents, including the draft business plan, are in the hands of either the Ministry, the Office of the Premier, the Port Authority or their attorneys. All of the CHEC technical data, of which there was a substantial amount in terms of design, specifications etc, would most likely have been returned to them,” the project manager stated.

Glidden said that the new government met with Paterson at the start of this year during the process of collecting all existing information relating to the port which could help shape the necessary strategic business case that government will need in order to create a Request for Proposal package for the actual port tender.

The minister said that Patterson made no mention of this substantially different second amendment during the meeting earlier this year and had told the new government that he had only become aware of the signed framework agreement, which is now in the public domain, part way through the negotiations. Glidden said Patterson had told Cabinet that it had been pulled out by a member of the CHEC team when talks stalled over a sticky issue and it was pointed out that the issue had been settled in the framework agreement signed by the then premier.

Glidden said the new Cabinet would very much like to see whatever other agreements exist, especially given that the Cayman government is currently assessing the potential liability it may have following the ending of talks with the Chinese after the FCO forced Bush’s hand. The tourism minister also queried why, when Patterson’s contract lasted to February of this year and he was still employed and paid by government, he did not give the ministry this new document.

However, Patterson implied that the new government, which was part of the past government, knew all about it

“If not all of the intrinsic details which were in discussion at the end, they knew what was going on and had been briefed in some considerable detail at the UDP caucus in October,” Patterson told CNS. “The Ministry, the Office of the Premier and the Port Authority were all up to date with both the PA Chair and Deputy Chair having been involved in discussions. At the end the negotiations included the entire PA Board,” he said.

Patterson also denied saying he had redrafted the original agreement in his interview with the local newspaper but that there was a negotiating team, including the ministry, the Office of the Premier, the PA, KPMG and law firm Maples and Caulder. 

“That team offered recommendations which were approved or otherwise by the Ministry, The Office of the Premier and the PA and implemented,” he added. “Cabinet also had a briefing on outline information of the status at that time as well as a detailed briefing on the Spotts Landing improvements including working drawings, specifications and programme.”

Patterson said he had briefed the current minister and his chief officer in January about the negotiations to date involving the amendments to the framework agreement, which CHEC had agreed to renegotiate, but he admitted that he did not talk about the signed deal as he said he believed it was off the table.

In addition, Patterson denied being paid $15,000 pcm as he said he was contracted on a fixed fee and in the end he was paid a total of CI$127,500 for almost 10 months work.

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Cops hunt Brac burglars as crime spree continues

Cops hunt Brac burglars as crime spree continues

| 02/05/2013 | 12 Comments

(CNS): Officers from the RCIPS are still looking for the perpetrators in the current crime spree on Cayman Brac that has seen a number of local businesses targeted by burglars. On Wednesday morning at around 7:00am the police received a report of an attempted burglary at Paradise Desire Restaurant. According to an RCIPS spokesperson, the culprits had attempted to enter the restaurant via a rear door but were unsuccessful. Police said that a tool was used to try and dig out a portion of the concrete wall near the door lock but they were unable to break the lock and unable to gain entry.

Anyone with Information regarding the incident is urged to call the Cayman Brac Police at  948-0331 or CRIME STOPPERS  800-8477 (TIPS )

Related article:

Brac MLA calls on RCIPS to step up after burglaries

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Voters urged to collect ID cards before deadline

Voters urged to collect ID cards before deadline

| 02/05/2013 | 0 Comments

poling staiton sign (213x300).jpg(CNS): Although it is not compulsory for an elector to have an official voter ID card in order to cast their ballot at the general election on Wednesday 22 May, the elections office is urging people to use them in order to speed up the voting process when a record number of people are expected at the polls given the boost to the electors register since the last election. As a result the Elections Office is extending the hours during the weekday when voters can collect their ID cards from the officer before it stops handing out cards from the elections office. Officials said voters can collect cards up until 8pm tonight (Thursday 2 May) and on Friday 3 May and between Monday, May 6 to Friday May 10, voters can collect between 9am and 8pm.

On Saturday May 4, the cards will be distributed at Foster’s Food Fair Airport, George Town from 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M but news cards cannot be printed at this location and at Foster’s Food Fair Republix, West Bay from 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M where they can beprinted.

The Elections Office said it will cease production of electors’ registration cards from Friday 10 May in order to allow for identification cards to be provided to Elections Officers, Candidates, Agents and Observers.

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No UDP leader as Chamber forums end in West Bay

No UDP leader as Chamber forums end in West Bay

| 02/05/2013 | 19 Comments

(CNS): While voters may have been keen to hear the former premier at the Chamber of Commerce candidates forum in West Bay tonight, the UDP leader will not be there. The Chamber confirmed that McKeeva Bush declined the invitation to appear at the final forum in his district. Bush is not the only no show as Mike Adam also refused the invitation to appear in George Town and his team mates, Jonathon Piercy and Renard Moxam, also missed their scheduled appearances. Chris Saunders, a UDP candidate in Bodden Town, and the PPM’s Dalkeith Bothwell from West Bay, both cancelled due to family issues, and Ezzard Miller refused to stand on a platform with his opponent, Joey Ebanks, because of the controversy surrounding his criminal charges.

All the rest of the candidates from the C4C, PNA, PPM and independents appeared on the forums answering at least twenty questions during the two and half hour long sessions. All of the questions the candidates answered came directly from Chamber members or from district voters. Cutting government spending and training Caymanians were the most common solutions offered by the candidates.

Tonight Ray Farrington and Capt Bryan Ebanks from the Progressives will join former UDP incumbent and now PNA hopeful Cline Glidden and C4C candidate Tara Rivers on the final panel forum at 7pm.

As a result of rescheduling dates, the forums are not being broadcast on Radio Cayman. However, all of the forums are available in full on the Chamber website.

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NRA report still ‘imminent’

NRA report still ‘imminent’

| 02/05/2013 | 30 Comments

wbay road 1_2.jpg(CNS): The definition of "imminent" was in question at Thursday morning’s press briefing when Cabinet Minister Mark Scotland told the media, once again, that the value for money report on government’s deal with Dart, as well as the actual NRA agreement, was still being finalised. With less than three weeks to go before the general election, Scotland said the revelation of PWC’s assessment as well as the deal agreed with Dart was “imminent”. However, since he has used this term since February, the press quizzed Scotland over why it was taking so long when government had said the latest changes had all been agreed sometime ago.

Although he remained unclear about why it is taking so long to get the value for money review and the deal itself into the public domain, Scotland said that the report would be public before the general election on 22 May. Insisting that the deal presents value for money and that the government had nothing to hide, Scotland said he had spoken with PricewaterhouseCoopers prior to the press briefing and the draft report was undergoing PWC’s own final review before it could be released to Cabinet as the finished document for publication.

He said the actual agreement would be released with the value for money report as an appendix so the people would see the report in context with the NRA element of the ForCayman Investment Alliance.

What became clear, however, is that with only two more Cabinet meetings before the election, even if the report is released to the public before polling day, the remaining strip of the West Bay Road that Dart wants to close to absorb into its property between Raleigh Quay and what was once Yacht Drive will not be closed before the general election.

While the stretch of road which has been closed along the public beach and in front of the old Courtyard Marriott hotel, from Governor’s way to Raleigh Quay, may be about to disappear under 4000 tonnes of sand, presenting a fait acommpli to the next government, the delay on producing the final deal and the value for money report will mean that the current Cabinet, which has continued to support the ForCayman Investment Alliance, will be unlikely to be able to gazette the closure of the remaining stretch of the West Bay Road before the election.

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Lessons from history

Lessons from history

| 02/05/2013 | 65 Comments

‘Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.' That is as true in Cayman today as it ever has been anywhere. A few days ago an article appeared on CNS regarding an effort by the Deputy Governor to improve the quality of decision making by statutory boards through the introduction of mandatory training for board members. The Deputy Governor is to be commended for taking the initiative.

However, our own history teaches us that pretending that people are competent to do a job on the basis of mere attendance at a course is a mistake. That has not worked for our education system. We should not repeat that mistake in relation to our government boards.

British naval history also offers lessons that we should learn from. Some 350 years ago, at around the time that the first people started to arrive in Cayman, the Royal Navy faced a situation in which cronyism, patronage and corruption in its administration nearly destroyed it. Contracts were awarded on the basis of kickbacks, politicians looted public funds and utterly incompetent people were appointed to senior command positions on the basis of patronage and what they were willing to overlook. Sound familiar?

A significant part of the solution that allowed the Royal Navy to recover and become the stuff of legends, came about as a result of changes to procurement practices and changes in the way people were appointed and promoted in the Royal Navy. We in Cayman need to learn both those lessons. A tighter rein is apparently being imposed on the wasteful self-interested spending of the past few years. It is now time for the Deputy Governor to improve the quality of senior management in the civil service. He needs to change the way people are appointed and promoted in the civil service, and he needs to hold senior management in the civil service strictly accountable in relation to everything that is required of them.

The Royal Navy Board did away with some of the worst of corruption and cronyism by introducing a system of formal exams that required applicants for leadership positions to demonstrate a sound knowledge of the rules and competencies needed by each level of officer. No one was promoted unless they could objectively show such knowledge and competence. Examinations worked so well in the Admiralty that they were introduced as a requirement for all senior civil service positions in England in 1854. Larger former colonies like Hong Kong also adopted these procedures long ago as a way of limiting corruption and cronyism. It is unfortunate that neither TCI nor Cayman did the same.

Today there are more than enough honest, able and well educated Caymanians to fill the positions on our government boards. Whatever might have been the case decades ago, there are more than enough people who don’t have conflicts of interest. The individuals we need on our boards will not be put off by perhaps having to learn some additional material, and they will not be not afraid of exams intended to demonstrate that they understand the legal and ethical constraints that govern government boards. We need to require every potential board member, as well as every person currently sitting on any government board, to pass such an exam as a requirement for holding a board appointment. After board members are appointed, we need to hold them strictly accountable.

The same is true in the civil service. It is my belief that the vast majority of our civil servants are honest and hardworking. However, the widely held perception that we now have senior civil servants who either have no idea of what the law requires of them or don’t care what the law requires of them, is easily understood. There are no examinations of either knowledge or competence required for promotion within, or appointment to, the senior civil service. There are no audits of whether senior civil servants are complying with the law apart from the narrow accounting audits done by the Auditor General’s department, and sadly nothing seems to be done about senior civil servants who either don’t know or choose not to comply with the laws they are supposed to uphold and enforce.

No one should be allowed to be at the level of department head or higher in our civil service unless they have demonstrated by objective examination a knowledge of the law that governs what they can legally do. No one should be appointed or promoted to any civil service position at or above the level of deputy chief officer unless they have demonstrated an excellent working knowledge of the Public Service Management Law and the Public Management and Finance Law and the Constitution.  

Mr Deputy Governor, I call on you to help make this country a better place. At present, honest Caymanians are put off serving on boards because of the scandals that have been allowed to proliferate. That must end and public confidence must be restored. We don’t need prospective board members to show up and sleep through a mandatory course. We need board members who have demonstrated a thorough knowledge of what is required of them and are willing to work for the benefit of the country.

Mr Deputy Governor, I also call on you to end the malaise that is growing every day in the civil service. That will require some tough decisions on your part to excise the rot and show that the system is fair. You need to enforce the laws and the rules that are in already in place, and you need to require your subordinates to both follow and enforce those same laws and rules. You also need to implement a fair system of objective exams for promotion in the civil service and to ensure that promotion by political patronage and ‘blind eye’ appointments is ended and rooted out. It is simply too easy at present for politically influenced selection panels to select cronies.

The country is ready for those additional steps Mr Deputy Governor. Please step up.

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Dr Frank is ‘frank’ on tough issues

Dr Frank is ‘frank’ on tough issues

| 02/05/2013 | 32 Comments

dr frank_0.jpg(CNS): Former Cabinet minister, playwright and sociologist, Dr Frank McField, pointed out that the current campaign was not a “high school debate”, as he spoke frankly during the Chamber of Commerce forum on Monday night about some of the more sticky issues facing the country. The independent candidate for George Town said that the Cayman Islands had to face the fact that direct taxation was inevitable to both reduce the country’s debt and meet the expectations for government services, adding that he was probably the only candidate brave enough to say so. McField also stuck to his position on the decriminalisation of ganja, as he pointed out how ridiculous the current situation was criminalising people for personal consumption.

McField pointed to the hypocrisy of the Sunday trading laws as well as the failure of the business community to step up and help with major development, and criticised the private sector for the ongoing discrimination against Caymanians. He also raised concerns about arming the police without them having psychological profiling first, as he believed there were members of the RCIPS who should not be allowed access to weapons but were currently serving in the armed unit.

On a panel alongside UDP candidatesRayal Bodden and Walling Whittaker, PPM candidates Marco Archer and Joey Hew, as well as C4C candidate Jackee Haynes, McField took an independent position throughout the debate on many of the issues, notably on marijuana, which he said he strongly supported decriminalising.

While all of the other candidates said they did not support decriminalisation, everyone said first time offenders should be given a chance and not get a conviction. However, McField pointed to the long process people go through after they have been arrested and charged for consumption and asked what was the point of putting young people through all of that. He questioned why the other candidates would want people arrested and put through the criminal justice system for consumption when they have seen what can happen to young people who are criminalised and marginalised because of a stick of marijuana.

As the Chamber forums resumed on Monday night at the South Sound Community Centre, the issues up for discussion included the rolling back of government fees, arming the police, canals in South Sound, the environment law and the landfill.

Walling Whittaker said that the UDP would be following process if elected when it came to the cruise berthing facilities, while Joey Hew and Marco Archer promised that the Progressives would roll back the $200 million tax package imposed on the people of Cayman during the UDP administration. Jackee Haynes proposed three landfills around Grand Cayman as a solution for the George Town dump.

Rayal Bodden, who said he was looking forward to being involved in revising the planning laws, said he wanted to see Cayman be more careful about the environment but that there had to be a balance to allow development.

All of the Chamber forums are available in full on the Chamber website.

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CG: Airport delay due to Mac

CG: Airport delay due to Mac

| 02/05/2013 | 54 Comments

owen roberts (220x300).jpg(CNS): The new tourism minister blamed his predecessor on Tuesday for the delay in starting the much needed redevelopment of the airport, as well as for the cruise berthing facilities. Cline Glidden told audiences at the PNA public meetings this week that McKeeva Bush was behind the delay where the board spent more than 12 months trying to avoid following the proper tendering process and attempting to persuade the Central Tenders Committee that the airport project should go to a specific company. On taking up the ministry, Glidden said he found that this project, one that could be financed directly as the airport has the funds, was delayed by a determination for a specific company to get the work.

Glidden told a West Bay audience on Monday that he found the reason that had been presented for avoiding putting the project to tender was because Bush believed it would take too long to go through the proper process and following the Public Management and Finance Law. Instead, Glidden revealed, he took more than a year trying to persuade the authorities that it was a special case and should have a sole bidder.

As a result of this inexplicable position, Glidden said, the redevelopment of the airport, which is badlyneeded and could have started many months ago creating hundreds of jobs for local workers, will only now begin with the tendering process. He said it was a wasted opportunity that could have boosted the economy and put faith in tourism partners and stakeholders that the Cayman Islands tourism product was improving.

In his latest revelation on the campaign trail, Cline Glidden took credit as the councillor for tourism in helping to boost the air arrival figures to record levels during the UDP administration, which has continued over the last five months, but criticised Bush heavily for the secret cruise port deal and the airport fiasco in his deliberate attempts to evade the lawful process.

Speaking to the people of Bodden Town on Monday night, Glidden said that the system could sometimes be frustrating but trying to avoid it is far worse. The PNA candidate said it was down to poor leadership and bad political decisions that the country was still waiting for both the cruise berthing facilities and the airport redevelopment instead of having hundreds of people in solid jobs.

Glidden said that he had now set in motion the tendering process for both the cruise and airport projects, which, if he was returned to office and regained the ministry, would continue as the CTC had been clear that the projects must go out to competitive tender — a point that had been made to the former premier.

On the other hand, he told the West Bay audience on Tuesday, Bush and his party were promising to spend almost $10 million in the first six months of a UDP administration giving as many as 1,600 unemployed people work cutting bush on the road. Glidden said that temporary roadside clean-ups at Christmas were one thing but the people of Cayman deserved realjobs, not hand outs.

Taking the fight directly to his former colleagues in the UDP, and in particular the party leader, Glidden also criticised Bush over another discovery in the ministry. He said the people employed as rangers directly through the Ministry of Tourism for Barkers should have been employed by the parks and recreation unit. However, the former minister had manipulated the situation to make those people think their jobs were dependent on Bush being re-elected. But they were government workers and Bush did not control their livelihoods, he said.

Glidden was not the only one lifting the curtain on the former UDP administration, of which he and his PNA colleagues were all a part. Dwayne Seymour, the new community affairs minister who is hoping to regain his Bodden Town seat with the PNA, confirmed the long-held speculation that Bush had told the party caucus that he had to delay the implementation of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility, so he could sign the deal with China Harbour Engineering Company before he was obligated to follow the processes in the framework.

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