Archive for October 3rd, 2014

CUC wins bid with diesel

CUC wins bid with diesel

| 03/10/2014 | 51 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s dependency on fossil fuel has been sealed for another 25 years after CUC won the bid to supply itself with the 36MW of extra power the firm needs to meet its future obligations with a new diesel generator. Although CUC was up against two bids from DECCO (Dart Group) and the Louis Berger Group, both of which were based on liquid propane, the CUC bid came in over 22% cheaper. Announcing the decision Friday, the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) director, Charlie Farrington, and his deputy, Louis Boucher, said the bids had been transparent throughout and had been evaluated by independent energy experts, ICF International. That report is now a public document.

Farrington said that after the evaluation process it was quite clear that the CUC bid was by far the best value for the consumer.

Acknowledging the diesel dependency issue, the two men said that despite requesting renewable energy, no greener bids were received. Farrington said, however, that the ERA would now be focusing on how Cayman can reduced its dependence on diesel and begin to replace the power supply with renewable energy in the future.

But he explained that in this bid the power had to be firm. Given the technological challenges that remain around solar and wind power, he said such green energy cannot yet ensure a 24-hour supply. Nevertheless, he said, as the technology improves Cayman will be looking for a more sustainable power supply and Farrington said he believed the power of the future was solar.

Following past controversies surrounding this bid, the men confirmed that CUC was subject to the same bid conditions as the other parties in this RFP.

Farrington also explained that this bid was different from the previous tender process won by DECCO before allegations of corruption were raised by the former ERAdirector Joey Ebanks (who is currently in jail following his conviction earlier this year for theft from the ERA), which had caused the cancellation of the solicitation.

Boucher added that this latest RFP was more detailed and included the issue of using and recycling the waste heat which comes from the generation of power.

Following the announcement by the ERA, CUC confirmed it will now develop and operate a new 39.7 megawatts diesel power plant on its current site that will include 2.7 MW waste heat recovery steam turbine. The project cost is estimated at US$85 million and the plant will be commissioned no later than June 2016. 

“CUC put a significant amount of effort into developing a very competitive proposal and having won we have demonstrated that CUC represents the best value for electricity consumers in Grand Cayman,” said President and CEO Richard Hew. “This project will require a significant, long-term financial undertaking by CUC to deliver the benefits of safe, reliable, and highly efficient production of electricity for consumers in Grand Cayman.”

He added that the firm would be signing agreements with the equipment provider MAN Diesel & Turbo of Augsburg, Germany, and primary construction contractor BWSC of Denmark, to build and commission the new power plant.”

The ERA bosses had said that although the winner was CUC, meaning that the generation of power in Grand Cayman remains in the hands of one supplier, the competitive bid had worked as intended and caused the rate to be pushed down. Farrington said that having two power suppliers is not what creates the competition but the bidding environment, forcing everyone, including CUC, to fight for the contract and to keep costs low.

See the evaluation report here and below along with related press release from the ERA board and CUC.

Continue Reading

Mac ducks out on witness box

Mac ducks out on witness box

| 03/10/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The former premier of the Cayman Islands passed on his opportunity to tell his side of the story on Friday when he ducked out of entering the witness box. Attorney Geoffrey Cox QC, representing McKeeva Bush, told the court that his client would not be calling witnesses or giving evidence in response to the crown’s allegations. With the formal closure of the prosecution’s case against Bush, the opposition leader was given the chance to present his defence but he opted to remain silent. “The defence will call no further evidence,” Cox told the court after handing copies to the jury of various emails relating to Bush’s case.

As a result of Bush’s decision not to take the stand, Justice Michael Mettyear was obligated to ensure that he had been advised thathe now had the chance to give evidence and as result of choosing not to do so the jury could draw conclusions from that silence.

Although the premier has previously spoken from numerous public platforms about the charges and what he has said is a political witch-hunt against him, he opted notto speak directly to the seven men and women who are to decide his fate. The changes in the criminal procedure code do not remove a defendant's right to silence and the crown must still prove its case rather than a defendant having to prove he is innocent, but a jury can now choose to consider that decision to remain silent adversely.

As prosecutor Duncan Penny QC began his closing argument to the jury, he specifically pointed to Bush’s decision not to take the stand and questioned why he was now “so reluctant to share on oath with you the jury the truth about what he did and why he did it,” as he implied that from the very beginning Bush had been dishonest about his use of the card.

Check back to CNS later for more from the crown’s closing speech.

Continue Reading

Royal Navy ship to visit Grand Cayman

Royal Navy ship to visit Grand Cayman

| 03/10/2014 | 23 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): Royal Navy Warship HMS Argyll, which made a USD$33.5 million drugs bust in the Caribbean this summer, will be visiting Grand Cayman Sunday through Wendesay (5-8 October) to strengthen relations and conduct hurricane and disaster relief planning. HMS Argyll’s Commanding Officer, Commander Paul Hammond, said, “I am delighted to bring HMS Argyll to the Cayman Islands to reassure with our presence and to continue our strong relationship with local authorities.” In August the Argyll seized nearly 600 kilos of cocaine (left) with a UK street value of £21 million after a 12-hour pursuit across an unspecified area of the Caribbean.

According to a Royal Navy report, after receiving information that a suspicious-looking vessel had been spotted by a Maritime Patrol Aircraft, HMS Argyll, which is on counter-narcotic operations in the region, deployed to intercept it.

Once she closed on the boat, the ship launched her onboard Lynx helicopter to confirm it was acting in a way typical of drug smugglers, before sending her sea boats across to capture the crew and contraband.

Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois said at the time, “The Royal Navy has a hard-earned record of tackling illegal drugs smuggling and we should be extremely proud that HMS Argyll has been involved in a dramatic and very successful operation to disrupt the supply. The operations showed tenacity and professionalism.”

Commander Hammond said, “My team and I knew that a swift and correct interception was required in this case. We worked well with our international partners to give ourselves the best chance of success and I used the exceptional capabilities of a modern warship, including sea boats and the Lynx helicopter, to detain the crew and seize the drugs from the target vessel.”

Once onboard the small power boat, known as ago-fast, the US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) and Royal Navy sailors discovered bales of cocaine wrapped in bin bags. Also on board HMS Argyll were elite Royal Marine Maritime Snipers from Faslane-based 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group.

Caynman News Service

Five people also found on board were detained in HMS Argyll and handed over to US justice on Friday 22 August.

While in the Caribbean the Royal Navy works with a LEDET team from the US Coastguard which embark on their ships for counter-narcotic operations.

This work is part of Operation Martillo, a 15-nation collaborative effort to deny trans-national criminal organisations air and maritime access to the littoral regions of Central America, and focus on putting a stop to the illegal movement of drugs from South America to the western world.

HMS Argyll has deployed to the Caribbean region to provide reassurance and, if required, humanitarian aid and disaster relief support to the UK’s British Overseas Territories and other islands during the hurricane season.

The Type 23 frigate continues to conduct counter narcotics patrols in conjunction with the US Coast Guard and other partner nations to enhance regional security and deter illicit activity.

During her time in Grand Cayman, HMS Argyll will host a Hurricane and Disaster Relief seminar as well as hosting local dignitaries and other groups.  Her crew will be seen ashore working on local community projects and during sporting events including a rugby match.

"I look forward to working closely with the governor and the government to ensure a successful and productive visit," said Commander Hammond, who will pay a courtesy call on Her Excellency the Governor Helen Kilpatrick and other Government dignitaries on Monday. Governor Kilpatrick will later host the Captain and crew for a farewell reception on Tuesday 7 December.

Continue Reading

Medicare-type health insurance being proposed

Medicare-type health insurance being proposed

| 03/10/2014 | 0 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS Business): Employers are compelled under the law to provide workers with health insurance through one of the Cayman Islands’ approved insurance providers, but after retirement many employees are finding that they are without coverage. However, the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) is currently working on a proposal for government for a retirement health insurance plan similar to Medicare in the US that people would pay into while they worked and would cover them in their golden years. Some companies do provide for their past employees who have retired by allowing them to remain in their group insurance package, according to Superintendent of Health Insurance Mervyn Conolly. Unfortunately, he said, that is not the norm. Read more and comment on CNS Business

Continue Reading

Privatization will cost more

Privatization will cost more

| 03/10/2014 | 41 Comments

(CNS): The independent member for North Side has said that the privatization of the public sector will cost users of government services more and that he was disappointed that the Ernst and Young report hasn’t spelt that out to the public. Ezzard Miller pointed out that the delivery of former government services once taken over by the private sector will be driven by profit and there will be no opportunity for subsidy from government and consumers will feel the pinch. He said unless the services to be privatize are losing as much as 35% through waste or inefficiency then no matter how competent the private sector entity to generate a profit services will have to go up.

“Efficiency and effectiveness cannot compensate for profit,” said Miller.

He pointed out that efforts to privatize garbage collection by the government in the 1990s would have seen a massive increase to the consumer even with the cheapest bid with a jump from $25 fees to almost $600.

The independent member warned that both government and the consumer are likely to find that the promised savings will be nowhere to be found. He said by selling its assets or more profitable entities government will be left with nothing to subsidize the services that it must supply and those that are rejected by the market place because they are unprofitable.  Miller warned that the recommended government fire sale may lead to increased taxes to help a leaner government pay for the services it must still supply as it will no longer have its more profitable revenue streams.

The outspoken independent member who is the first politicians willing to comment on the record to CNS about the report, also warned that given the scale of the recommended sell off and the pressure to move ahead with rationalization, government is not in the best position to sell its assets. Under the circumstances he said the value of any government entity on the auction block “will be artificially reduced.”

However, Miller’s major concern about the report, which he said was difficult for the man in the street to digest because of the format and presentation was that government had given the auditors the wrong remit.

He said that a large part of the report is likely to be irrelevant as he said government is not willing to implement much of it. Cabinet should have made policy decisions about what it was willing to divest first, Miller pointed out, and then asked EY to analyze how much the entities would be worth and the best way to go about selling, divesting or bringing in a partner.
Miller said privatization is not the only answer to cutting government costs and improving its own management and efficiency was a more realistic alternative. He said government is obligated to provide certain services and not everything needs to be about profit there are some things, he said, that must be subsidized.

The independent member said if government goes down the privatization road the danger will be that the private sector creams off the services that have the potential to generate a profit from the consumer. Government will be left with a catalogue of services that must still be provided that are costly to deliver and at the same time will be managing on lower revenue streams.

The independent member urged government to think about a different approach and to at its assets and personnel. He called for better succession planning to encourage keep the best staff. The member also pointed to government policy on spending as a significant area for improvement.

He said that government policy still drives a considerable amount of waste as he pointed to massive investments and injections of cash into unnecessary projects such as the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on world class sports facilities on Cayman Brac.

Continue Reading

ESO begins extra labour force survey

ESO begins extra labour force survey

| 03/10/2014 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Researchers will be starting a second labour force survey for the year on Sunday in order to collect information about unemployment and the current situation in the labour market. The finance minister recently announced that the Economics and Statistics Office had been given extra resources, starting this fiscal year, to conduct two surveys to gather information to shape government policy. Marco Archer recently told his legislative colleagues in the Parliament that the office needed more timely and accurate data. The ESO interviewers will be conducting the research with tablets to ensure quicker results and the public is urged to cooperate with them.

“In addition, most interviews will now be conducted using tablets rather than the previously used paper questionnaires,” Archer said.  “With this enhanced technology and twice-a-year survey, we can now expect more timely labour force statistics in support of employment monitoring and policy-making. The LFS is a very important survey as it directly collects data from households on their employmentstatus.”
He added that the data is used to establish important figures such as the local unemployment rate.

Trained interviewers will visit randomly selected samples of households in the three Islands over a four-week period to conduct interviews.  The ESO appealed to the public for full cooperation and to provide the necessary truthful information which will be collected under the Statistics Law (2011 Revision).

Each interviewer will work under an Oath of Secrecy, and all information collected is confidential and kept exclusively by the ESO. No information is ever entered which would allow anyone to be able to link the data with an individual respondent.  All interviewers carry a photo identification which should be worn for easy visibility, and respondents are advised to request identification from any interviewer before sharing information.

For further information on any aspect of the survey, or results of previous surveys, or a sample of the LFS Questionnaire and the Interviewer’s Manual contact the Economics & Statistics Office at 949-0940 or visit

Continue Reading

Cops revisit year-old killings

Cops revisit year-old killings

| 03/10/2014 | 12 Comments

(CNS): The police are urging members of the public who may have information regarding three murders which took place in September and October of last year to come forward.  Having reached the one year anniversary of the three fatal shootings police are revisiting the crime scenes and hoping to trigger a response from the public to help them find and charge the killers in these open and ongoing investigations. Irvin Bush was gunned down at his West Bay home, Earl Hart was shot outside his home in Prospect and Anthony Connor was killed near Mango Tree all within a three week period.

Detective Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay appealed to the public for any information they may have in connection to any of the killings.

“Recently we have had a number of successful convictions in court for both murders and manslaughter which in part was down to the support and courage of witness’s who have come forward and given evidence in court,” Kay said. “I would like to encourage everyone to follow this lead and if you have any information regardless how small you may feel it is, contact any of the police stations, the Major Incident Room at the George Town Police Station on 925 7240 or crime stoppers on 1 800 TIPS.”

The first of the three killings that police are seeing to solve was on Sunday 15 September 2013 when at Irvin Bush was shot in the Miss Daisy Lane area of West Bay near to his home. Although a number of arrests were made in connection to this incident police said that no charges have been laid. On Sunday 14 September, almost one year to the day officers from the RCIPS conducted house to house inquiries in and around Miss Daisy Lane in an effort to uncover any new witnesses or information which would lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the death of Bush.

The victim’s son Robert Mackford Bush had also been killed in the district two years before in September 2011. Brian Borden was convicted of that crime this summer and is currently serving a life sentence in Northward.

A few weeks later Earl Hart was shot and killed outside his home on Marina Drive, Prospect at around 9.30pm in the evening. Although arrests were made in connection to his murder the suspects were released. Officers now plan to return to the scene where Hart was killed this Sunday and conduct house to house inquiries as well as seek assistance from passing motorists in an effort to find information that could lead to an arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Just a week after Hart was killed On Friday 11 October, last year, Anthony Connor was gunned down outside the Mango Tree Bar and Restaurant at about 9.15pm in the evening. Although this incident occurred close to a very busy bar and intersection very few witnesses came forward and no arrests were made in connection to his murder. Police will conduct a walkthrough of the bar and restaurant next Friday (10 October) in an effort to gather any new leads in the case.

The RCIPS is urging anyone who may have information to come forward by contacting the Major Incident Room at the George Town Police Station on 925 7240 or crime stoppers on 1800 TIPS.


Continue Reading

Bush said he needed armed guards overseas

Bush said he needed armed guards overseas

| 03/10/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following his arrest over the alleged abuse of his government credit card, Mckeeva Bush had made a number of claims about why he had taken cash advances in casinos that had nothing to do with gambling. One reason he had given to the deputy governor, the financial secretary and the chief officer in his finance ministry was the need to pay for armed security guards. As the crown closed its case against the former premier on Wednesday, Duncan Penny QC revealed comments that Bush had made tin a video interview after he was charged in connection with the case about privately hiring armed security staff because of threats on his life.

In an online video interview with the former media house, Cayman Net News, the political veteran said that his life had been threatened but the authorities here would not foot the bill to protect him and as a result he had to pay himself for his own protection when he was travelling in the States. He said that a threat assessment had been carried out and despite knowing that he was under threat he said ‘they’ did nothing to protect him, referring to the British who still control security issues in Cayman.

During the interview he did not mention that he had been gambling when he made the cash advances but had pointed to what he said was a genuine need for protection. He said he had used the cash to pay for armed men to protect him and his family members. Bush said that given the nature of security which he shouldn’t talk about the details so he was not able to supply formal receipts and reveal the source of his security detail.

In the same interview, from which the crown prosecutor read selections to the jury, the prosecutor also revealed that Bush had made claims about saving money for government. He told the reporter that he had also made his staff and political assistant sleep on the sofa of his suites rather than booking two hotel rooms. Bush added, that he had even washed his own socks and underwear in the hotel rooms where he stayed in order to save the public purse cash.

Continue Reading

World Teachers’ Day

World Teachers’ Day

| 03/10/2014 | 26 Comments

"Invest in the Future, invest in Teachers” is the 2014 theme for World Teachers’ Day, which has been celebrated annually on October 5th since 1994.  This day is observed globally with the support of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), as well as Education International (EI), organisations whose core values for education are streamlined with our own.

I am pleased to note that this theme is in line with the focus of the Ministry of Education as we are currently reviewing ways to better improve and more diligently invest in the public education system in our islands.  As leaders in education, it is our duty to ensure that our young minds are given every chance to succeed, not only in the classroom, but in their future careers and lives.

The foundation for that success is what is offered to them in our classrooms today, and directly reflects the time, energy and monetary support invested by our government, our parents and guardians, and specifically, our teachers.

In order to maximise these outcomes, the Ministry of Education has increased our investment in terms of support for our teachers.  For example, Professional Development (PD) opportunities for teachers are of the highest importance to us.  Some of the PD opportunities planned for this year include:

  • The facilitation of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) online training courses, that support their specific school improvement goals
  • Improving teaching and learning in Maths
  • Teaching Assistant Training
  • The New Educators Support and Training (NEST) programme, to support the development of new teachers
  • Linda-mood Bell Training, for Special Education Needs (SEN) support

Providing teachers with the means to have their voices and concerns heard has also been a priority.  Avenues such as the Principal’s Consultative Council and the Teachers’ Forum are ongoing opportunities for teachers to have a greater input in policy development and decision-making within our education systems.

Implemented this year was also a new Student Code of Conduct for high schools, calling for strict and clear-cut guidelines for students on how to conduct themselves while on campus.  This initiative was put forward to empower our teachers to be able to exercise full authority in their classrooms, and I urge all students and parents/guardians to abide carefully by this new code.  Giving our teachers the power and support they require to successfully lead their classes is another way that the Government demonstrates its investment in our educators.

The long term goal of the Ministry is to support an education system that is among the best in the world, and we are committed to doing so.  By empowering our teachers both inside and independent of their classrooms, we are creating a culture that not only treasures its educators, but is constantly improving and therefore raising the standard for education, all while simultaneously addressing the critical needs within our system.

I would like to encourage you all to consider that the return on investment of education is not simply whether students perform in their classrooms, but their long-term commitment to learning, and their ability to contribute meaningfully to our society as adults.  As Greek writer and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis said, “True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

On behalf of the Ministry of Education and the Department of Education Services, I wholeheartedly thank every teacher in the Cayman Islands for your daily investment in the future of our country.  We as a nation are grateful for you on your special day, and every day. 

Happy World Teacher’s Day!

Continue Reading