From GoToCayman.com - the Wiki for Cayman
News from Cayman - 2004
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As already notified to many of you, Grand Cayman was hit at about 6:20 pm local time on 14th December 2004 by an earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale. The epicentre was about 30 kilometres south of George Town at a depth of 10 kilometres. For technical details see http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqinthenews/2004/ussadb/ It was reported to be the strongest earthquake to hit Grand Cayman since 1900 and was also felt in Cancun, Mexico and Kingston, Jamaica.
Since then, the island has suffered further tremors, with a quake registering 4.4 recorded on 20th December located 55 km (34 miles) South East of George Town at a depth of 10 km (6 miles) This seismic activity has lead to 'sink holes' appearing in a couple of places - see the following reports for details: http://www.coasttocoastam.com/gen/page741.html One geologist explained that the most likely cause of the holes is that the sand underwent a process called "liquefaction", in which the vibration of the earthquake causes the water in the sand to "float" the sand and make it kind of a slurry. If there are limestone rocks under the sand that contain openings in them (very likely due to groundwater seepage through limestone), this slurry could flow down into the opening, leaving a depression at the surface.
Seismologist Dr. Margaret Wiggins-Grandison from the University of the West Indies Mona (Jamaica) campus visited Grand Cayman to loan a seismograph to record the activity. Seismographs are due toe be installed in all three islands in the new year. Dr Wiggins-Grandson explained that the Caribbean plate moves eastward with respect to the North American plate at a velocity of about 20 mm/year. Just south of Grand Cayman, the broader plate boundary consists of two parallel branches separated by approximately 125 km. Dr. Wiggins-Grandison reported that her equipment in Kingston recorded 20 minor aftershocks after the 14 December 2004 earthquake in Grand Cayman. Dr. Wiggins-Grandison also explained that there is little danger of Cayman being hit by a tsunami from this seismic activity due to the lateral movement of the plates; tsunamis are usually caused where there is vertical displacement (as in the major quake of Sumatra on 26th December). Also tsunami only become dangerous when they travel over shallow waters; as the island has very little shallow water there isn't time for the waves to grow and therefore cause widespread damage.
However, that doesn't mean that Cayman couldn't get hit be a tsunami. For a number of years scientist have been warning of the potential cataclysmic tsunami that could strike the Caribbean and East Coast of the US if a giant slab of the dormant volcano Cumbre Vieja on La Palma, Canary Islands falls into the sea. The scientists propose that the massive landslide would generate waves that would be up to 50 metres (163 feet) high when they hit Florida and the Caribbean. Dr. Simon Day of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre (http://www.benfieldhrc.org/) at University College in London) was quoted in the Cayman press supporting this hypothesis. He has published a number of articles on the topic including "Cumbre Vieja Volcano – Potential collapse and tsunami at La Palma, Canary Islands" (available at http://www.benfieldhrc.org/SiteRoot/tsunamis/WardandDay.pdf where he calculates the tsunami would hit the Easter seaboard of the US about eight or nine hours after the landslide (tsunamis move at up to 500 mph across deep water), and would rush up to 12 miles inland.
The Society of Tsunami Hazards (http://sthjournal.org/) however has published two academic papers on this subject. The first from 2001, "Modelling the La Palma Landslide Tsunami" (available at http://epubs.lanl.gov/tsunami/ts193.pdf page 37 onward), and the article "Evaluation of the threat of mega Tsunamis generation form postulated massive slope failures of island stratovolcanoes on La Palma, Canary Islands, and on the island of Hawaii" at http://epubs.lanl.gov/tsunami/ts205.pdf (from page 13). The first paper by Charles Madder says that any tsunami to hit the USA and the Caribbean would only be 3 metres (10 feet) high. The second study by George Pararas-Carayannis also believes that the waves would only be small and casts doubt on the assumptions made about the geology and stability of Cumbre Vieja that is behind Dr Day's and others theories. I guess I'll leave you to draw your own conclusion!
The Cayman Islands National Recovery Fund (CINRF) have launched a ribbon appeal to raise funds. His Excellency the Governor, Mr Bruce Dinwiddy, CMG, launched the campaign by cutting a ribbon at the George Town Cruise Ship Terminal. After buying the first one, Mr Dinwiddy encouraged cruise ship visitors to give generously when buying theirs. The campaign was boosted by a US$10,000 donation given by Mr Sam Bishop, director of WellStar Health System and a regular visitor to Cayman.
One of the highlights of any Christmas in Cayman are the Christmas Lights along South Sound Road. Unfortunately this year, as many of the properties were badly damaged and are now unoccupied, the area was very dark.
Government announced that the reduction of 50% on building materials, furniture, appliances and fixtures has been extended for an additional three months to the end of March 2005, when the situation will be reviewed again. They have also decided to completely waive duty on truck chassis needed to transport cargo containers. This is to try to increase the turn-around time on handling containers. It is estimated that 1,000 containers are in the Port Authority storage facility, awaiting customers to take delivery, with the equivalent of 800 arriving each week. About 1,500 containers are on the islands being used as unauthorised storage (the containers are the property of the shipping companies).
The United Nations team from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) that visited Cayman in late November has put the total impact of the disaster at CI$2.8 billion. This is more than the total damage done to Jamaica, Bahamas, Grenada and Dominican Republic combined (US$2.2 billion) and is estimated at nearly $76,000 per person, the highest ever found by ECLAC.
Their reports also projected a drop in Cayman Islands’ Gross Domestic Product from 3.1% down to a negative growth rate 1.5% post-Ivan. They also expect inflation to increase from 1.9% to 2.5%.
The Stingray Brewery has started production again, although full production won't be achieved until January 2005. The brewery lost it's roof in the hurricane, and the salt sea-water from the surge meant that all the pumps had to be replaced. Brewmaster Andreas Moerl said all three beers were now available in bottles and kegs, but many bars and restaurants don't have coolers or the space available to store kegs and serve draft beer. Demand is low as they usually rely on stay-over visitors to drink their beer, but Moerl hopes that residents will start drinking the local brews. The brewery is still running it's recycling programme; CI$2 credit for every case of empty bottles returned.
As expected Foster's Airport store re-opened on 14th December. It features a slightly revamped layout, higher shelving to hold more product ranges, extended deli and salad bars, and an extra express checkout.
Red Sail Sports have joined with photographer Anne Flinn Powell to produce a 2005 calendar of Cayman. The calendar was produced before Hurricane Ivan hit Cayman, and features views above and below water as well as local recipes. All net profits (after shipping) benefit the Cayman Islands Red Cross to assist victims of Hurricane Ivan. The calendar costs US$12 (including standard mail postage, add US$10 for FedEx delivery). For details see http://www.redsailcayman.com/gc_calendar2.html
Cayman Airways has launched weekly services to Boston and Chicago. The Boston service departs Grand Cayman at 4:30pm on Friday arriving at 8:30pm, with the return flight leaving Boston at 8:45am on Saturday arriving in Cayman at 1:05pm. The Chicago service departs Grand Cayman at 4:30pm on Saturday arriving at 7:25pm, with the return flight leaving Chicago at 7:45am on Sunday arriving in Cayman at 12:40pm.
One enterprising couple from Bodden Town are now in their temporary accommodation - a mobile home that they bought on the internet through the auction site ebay.com. Jamie and Tre Billingsley decided to follow this course after hearing Hon McKeeva Bush on Talk Radio say that Government was allowing temporary housing such as mobile homes on the Cayman Islands. Their 1990 built 27 foot trailer cost US$6,000, plus US$1,500 for shipping and and a refundable bond duty of US$2,000. Unfortunately their mobile home was held up in the port for two months until the licenses to permit temporary housing were in place.
The first ever World Class Cayman Splash & Dash staged by the Cayman Islands Sports Development Company took place on Seven Mile Beach in front of the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton this month. The relay competition around an equilateral triangle course required the swimmers to dive from the beach into the sea and navigate 50 metres out and then back to the beach before tagging their land-based colleague who sprinted 50 metres along the beach to the finish. The best two out of three sea-land relay race pitted USA’s quadruple World 110m Hurdles champion Allen Johnson and World and Olympic swimming medalist Nate Dusing of Team Green against Olympic gold medalist Neil Walker (USA) and Kareem Streete-Thompson (Cayman Islands) of Team Gold. Each team won a heat, (Gold in 1:10.50, and Green in 1:13.70) and the third race ended in a dead-heat time of 1:11.40, meaning that under the rules of the competition, the result would be decided by a further 50-metre sprint, won by Johnson in 6.76 seconds, giving Johnson and Dusing the title of '2004 World Beach Sprint Kings'.
This event is scheduled to be run again in October 21-23, 2005. Johnson and Dusing have confirmed that they will return to defend their title, but in a revamped format that will pit the USA athletes against Cayman’s Kareem Streete-Thompson and one of Cayman’s up and coming male swimmers and other countries 'surf & turf' sprinters including Australia, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil. The event will also include the world's top female athletes fighting to earn the title 'Queen of the Beach', and could include Cayman's Cydonie Mothersill and other top athletes from around the world. The 2-3 day event will also provide an opportunity for local and visiting youngsters to compete in the 'Princess' and 'Prince' of the Beach age group categories.
Cabinet are to consider a proposal to build the Lost City of Atlantis in the waters off the north coast of Cayman Brac. A 51-yeard old sculptor known as "Foots" has completed fabricating phase 1 of his project consisting of eleven columns known as the 'Inner Circle of Life' and a large 10,000–pound sundial. He is making the items from a mixture of crushed rock, sand and cement and believes that they would be impervious to water and would become an artificial reef in two to three years. Every few months, more items would be added to the city, until about 100 pieces weighing more than 300 tons had been sunk. The proposed site is close to the scuba and snorkel site Radar Reef, near the Stake Bay Ramp. "Foots" has already started work on the next phase which would include an Archway to Atlantis and eleven statues (Elders) representing people alive in the world today. "Foots" also has plans for a 16-foot pyramid that he believes would be popular for underwater weddings.
I guess that we have all received those spam e-mails from someone claiming to be a prince, or handling the estate of someone who died without any surviving relatives and seeking assistance in transferring money out of the country. These are collectively known as the Nigerian or Nigerian 419 scam and should, of course, be ignored, or (if appropriate) reported to your police. The latest variant of the scam using fake Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) with a forged of the signature of Chief Secretary, Hon George A McCarthy have been used to attempt to defraud a non-resident of US$118,886.33. CIMA have also had reports of other individuals who have lost between US$5,000 and US$30,000. (See the following resources for more on this scam: http://www.snopes.com/crime/fraud/nigeria.asp, http://home.rica.net/alphae/419coal/)
The Auditor General, Dan Duguay, has started an investigation into the awarding of the debris removal contract awarded to MC Restoration. The company has now been given a Local Companies Control License allowing it to operate in Cayman. Unfortunately, Mr. Dugay's report may not be made public as the Legislative Assembly changed the rules last year to give themselves the power to decide which reports can/cannot be published.
Election day has been set for 11th May 2005.
The Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) has granted a license to Infinity Broadband to develop and install a network based on fiber optics and coaxial cabling to all residents and businesses of Grand Cayman. This will give customers access to digital cable, high speed broadband Internet and digital telephone lines. Randy Merren, Chief Executive Officer of Infinity Broadband said that the service would deliver over 900 digital channels, digital video recording, parental controls and pay-per-view. The introduction of fibre would allow the introduction of digital telephony and Voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) with cost savings up to 80% on traditional phone lines.
On some levels, normality has returned to Cayman. The curfew was finally lifted today (Thursday 9th December)!
There are up to four cruise ships a day now visiting Grand Cayman (six are scheduled for 23rd December and on some days in January 2005 seven ships are expected). The Turtle Farm is open and has started its annual release program. Overnight visitors have been allowed back to Grand Cayman since the 20th November - in time for Thanksgiving holidaymakers. All hotel/condo properties are being inspected before licences are re-issued and the accommodation is made available for tourism. Many car rental companies have severely reduced fleet sizes; Hertz only have 10 cars compared to their pre-Ivan fleet of 98, and Avis/CICO's fleet is 60%-70% of it's pre-Ivan levels.
CUC expects all customers to be reconnected by 1st December. Cable & Wireless expect to have all telephone services connected by the end of the year. Postal services are back to normal, but the Seven Mile Beach Post Office is closed indefinitely because of severe damage. Customers who have boxes at this post office now have to collect their mail from the Airport Post Office during normal opening hours.
Fosters Airport store is expected to open 14th December and their shop in the Strand is expected to reopen in January 2005. Fosters are expecting to open a wholesale club, "Priced Right" in their warehouse that has housed their temporary airport store in January 2005.
Cayman Airways has resumed flights to/from Fort Lauderdale with flights on Fridays and Sundays. The airline has also launched a Saturday direct flight from Miami to Cayman Brac. Return non-stop flights from Cayman Brac to Miami go on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The airline also has taken delivery of it's fifth jet - a Boeing 737-300. The aircraft is expected to enter service in mid-December.
A $10 million contract has been awarded to MC Restoration of Florida for the removal of the debris left by Hurricane Ivan. It is estimated that there is 300,000 cubic yards of debris to be removed. On top of this, there are up to 10,000 cars to be disposed of, but interest has been expressed in shipping some of the cars to Cuba and Honduras. However, there have been some protests that local companies aren't involved in the debris removal project (which is likely to take up to six months), and that the contract isn't for removal of the debris off-island.
The Chamber of Commerce's plans to hire a cruise ship for temporary accommodation have sunk because they could not get guarantees to the 80% level of occupancy required to make the not-for-profit project succeed. The Chamber's negotiations had gone a long way. A cruise ship, the Ocean Countess, which had been used as a floating hotel during the Athens Olympics had been selected. It would have provided accommodation for over 1,000 people in 423 cabins. Rental prices would have ranged form $55 to $149 per person per day inclusive of meals and associated costs (utilities, tendering etc), but excluded any government tax. A mooring had been identified, and discounted rates negotiated with island suppliers of services that the vessel would have required. Government are now looking at importing between 50 and 100 trailer homes and also buying low-cost 'prefabs' from Cuba.
Sales of the "I Survived Hurricane Ivan" T-shirts have raised over US$15,000 for the National Recovery Fund.
Finally a few admissions that the outside world hasn't done as much as it could to help Cayman recover. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, visited the islands to see for himself the recovery efforts and pledged 'Hopefully, if we can try and help push a little bit more extra help coming this way, than so much the better.'. The British Government 39 tons of bottled water, water purification tablets for 40,000 people, 5,000 tarpaulins, 10,000 tetanus vaccinations and other supplies, but many in Cayman feel that Britain has not contributed enough. This was also supported by comments from an influential group of British politician from the opposition Conservative party; Shadow Foreign Secretary and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon Michael Ancram MP, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Mark Simmonds MP and Lord Ashcroft, who visited Cayman earlier in the month. Mr Ancram described his tour as useful and added that the nature of the disaster "had not been fully understood in the UK". He noted "many people struck by the hurricane were not necessarily wealthy, and were either under-insured or not insured at all". He would return to the UK with a message of the widespread damage and the real level of distress on Cayman. He said he would "be exploring what the possibilities are" for further aid.
A team from the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has also visited to carry out an in-depth study of the impact of Hurricane Ivan on society including social, tourism, business and public finance - including how this may impact on Cayman's economy in the long term.
The financial effects of Hurricane Ivan are starting to be reported. Cable & Wireless, in their half-yearly figures published in the UK, said that Hurricane Ivan was likely to cost them between GB£25 million and GB£30 million more than covered by their insurance cover for the damage caused in Cayman and Grenada. The Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) have said that total damage claims so far amount to US$76 million. Bank of Butterfield have announced that their profits for the third quarter of the year were US$4.7 million, down 20% from US$5.9 million last year. The bank (who made a US$1 million donation to the Cayman Island National Recovery Fund) also recoded US$600,000 in expenses on uninsured property, and a US$1 million loss in its minor stakeholding in Island Heritage, a Cayman insurance company. Bank sales in Cayman for the period increased 10.3% to US$13.7 million. the bank is now examining the likely impact of Ivan on both the local economy and its loan portfolio on the island of US$307 million, of which almost 65% are secured mortgages with property insurance assigned to the bank.
A new set of stamps featuring the Cayman Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) were released on 18th November 2004. Stamps are available in denominations of 15c, 20c, 25c, 30c, 40c and 90c, and a souvenir sheetlet depicting the iguana in two stages of it's life are available for CI$1.90. Fifty cents will be donated to the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme for each souvenir sheetlet sold. For further details contact the Philatelic Bureau at the George Town Post Office or via e-mail at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Government has established a CI$5.5 million fund to assist with housing recovery. Grants will be given to Caymanians or those who have status and have a household income under CI$40,000 per year, are owner-occupiers of single dwelling units and whose property was damaged by Hurricane Ivan and the damage is not covered by insurance.
According to the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA), local insurance companies are indicating estimated losses in excess of $700 million. Over $60 million has already been paid out in claims.
CIMA and Royal Cayman Islands Police (RCIP) have reported that $100 counterfeit notes are in circulation. The counterfeit notes tend to have serial numbers C/1 followed by the numbers 106 231 (or a variation of these numbers,) or B/1 followed by the numbers 425 420 (or a variation of these numbers). The fake notes tend to be smaller than the genuine article, the window thread is transparent and not its usual metallic colour and On the B series forgeries there is a CIMA watermark (that isn't on the genuine article), and front of the note reads "Cayman Islands Currency Board" but the reverse reads "Cayman Islands Monetary Authority". On the C series forgeries, the schooner hologram appears blue, not iridescent when tilted toward the light. For details of what the bank notes should look like, see the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority web page at http://www.cimoney.com.ky/templates/HTMLPage/DefaultDisplay.asp?text_id=HTMLPage72144&button=9
Price gouging (where suppliers up their prices to take advantage of a reduced market) has been the subject of new legislation in Cayman following on from complaints that landlords and others increased their prices after Hurricane Ivan. The Price Control (Emergency Circumstances) Bill allows for fines of up to CI$100,000 if found guilty of imposing increases on the price of goods and services in the period before and after a disaster. The legislation is not retrospective, and won't cover unscrupulous landlords. The Chamber of Commerce have raised doubts about the new legislation as it was rushed through with very little consultation with businesses.
The opening of the new Ritz-Carlton has been postponed again. Even though it didn't suffer any direct damage, delays have been caused in the supply of materials, lack of power, etc. Hurricane Ivan hit five days before the construction site was due to be handed over to Ritz-Carlton. Jean Cohen, vice president and general manager said "we are taking our time moving forward to ensure that our $400 million resort has not been compromised in any way. We will welcome our guests to a world class facility on the Caribbean's safest and most affluent island." The new opening date for the hotel is October 2005, and June 2005 for the 69 luxury condo The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton.
Cayman's only private hospital, the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital, is up for sale. Owner Dr. Steve Tomlinson does not wish to continue with the hard work required to keep the hospital running. Dr. Tomlinson said "A private hospital in the Cayman Islands will only work if it has the full support of private practitioners, but this has been lacking at the Chrissie Tomlinson."
I have added some extra items to the Hurricane Ivan resources that appeared in my September newsletter - see News2004#October_2004(below), including a link to "Ivan" by the Barefoot Man!
The situation is still not good. The Cayman Islands Tourism Association issued an update at the end of the month. Following inspections by the Department of Tourism, 648 hotel rooms are available for tourist accommodation. This compares with a usual figure of over 2,200 rooms. 19% of the hotels are currently open, and this will slowly increase to about 33% by the end of the year. (The Hyatt will only have the 53 beach suites out of their 289 rooms open for Christmas). In the condo sector, about a third will be open after 15th December 2004. Over 50% will not be able to open until the first or second quarter of 2005.
In the watersports sector, nearly 40% of water ports operators are now open, a nd this is expected to increase to nearly 75% by December.
48% on restaurants are now open, with another 18% expected to open by mid-December. The Botanic Park is now expected to open in January 2005.
For the full press release see http://www.caymanislands.ky/tour_guide/news_details_pub.asp?id=936&site=ky
What these figures don't show is the effect that this is having on many people in Cayman. As so many hotels, condos and restaurants are closed, many people have been layed off. With no social security, life for many is very hard. Over 280 people are still making use of hurricane shelters. 90 are homeless as their homes can’t be repaired and most are uninsured.
To ease the recovery efforts, Government announced that the duty on imports of reconstruction materials, equipment and replacement vehicles will be reduced by 10% across the board for a nine month period. The discount will not apply to first time purchases of vehicles.
CUC has issued a modified timetable for reconnecting power supplies around the island. Delays have been caused by a shortage of power poles that had to be imported, and the discovery that the undersea cable to Rum Point had been cut. For details see http://www.gov.ky/servlet/page?_pageid=2148&_dad=portal30&_schema=PORTAL30&_mode=3&p_thi_id=115119&orgcode=18.
The Chamber of Commerce has completed negotiations to facilitate the charter of a cruise ship with accommodation for over 1,000. The Chamber says the accommodation will be a temporary measure for a maximum period of five months and will be used to house essential workers and those that have lost their accommodation.
The hours of overnight curfew have been shortened to 11:00 pm to 05:00 am. Bars and shops have to close at 10:00pm.
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, will visit Cayman between 16th and 18th November (and then move on to visit Grenada) to see how the the islands are recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan. Another recent visitor to the island, FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, has sent a report to the FIFA Executive Committee requesting US$310,000 in aid to help the island recover, including helping to rebuild the Ed Busch Football Stadium that was destroyed. To see more of his comments, check out http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_sports?id=44375612. 30 soldiers of the Bermuda Regiment have returned home after spending a month helping with the clear up. Several soldiers commented that the most challenging aspect of their duty was keeping people motivated. There is a report of their return at the Bermuda Royal Gazette website at http://www.theroyalgazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041031/NEWS/110300095
The US State department still has a warning out advising visitors not to go to the Cayman Islands - see http://travel.state.gov/travel/warnings_current.html. However, the cruise ships are returning from 1st November - the Port Authority has updated their schedule that shows the ships expected over the next few weeks - at least two a day. See http://www.caymanport.com/schedule.htm for the cruise ship schedule.
Even though the elections have been postponed (until May 2005), it has been decided that Wednesday 17th November will still be a public holiday as a national day of recovery.
Remember Parmalat? Bank of America have filed a claim for damages against some of Parmalat's top executives in an Italian court. Bank of America said it was seeking compensation for losses "caused by the fraudulent behaviour" allegedly committed by former Parmalat executives. Also, Grant Thornton, Parmalat's auditors, have requested that an injunction protecting the Italian company from being sued in the US be lifted. Parmalat want the injunction lifted "so we have the ability to counter-claim and seek discovery against Parmalat." This is in response to a move by Parmalat's government-appointed administrators filing lawsuits against Bank of America and Grant Thornton, accusing them of helping the company's former managers to hide the true state of its finances.
September 2004 - Hurricane Ivan
Apart from Hurricane Ivan, there has been very little other news to report this month. Top sustained wind speeds of over 200mph were recorded, with gusts of up to 245mph. The official line is that there were probably two deaths caused by Hurricane Ivan. Percival Sinclair Brown left a shelter during heavy winds, was badly injured and died at the hospital. A second man died of a heart attack shortly after the storm. A third man left his house to check on his boat during the hurricane and hasn't been seen since.
95% of properties suffered damage, with 10% to 15% irreparable. In some areas up to 80% of properties were destroyed. Some of the photos (see below) show just the concrete base of what used to be homes or condo blocks. There are a few photos that show the remains of Mariners Cove that was blown off it's base and dumped in the middle of South Sound Road. According to some reports, over 8,000 vehicles have been damaged and will need to be replaced. Government estimate that it will take $80 million to repair all the damage to schools, and $15 million to repair the roads. The Cayman Islands Insurance Association are estimating that losses will amount to between US$800 million and US$1.2 billion. The Government has signed a US$975,000 contract with James Lee Witt Group, a firm specialising in disaster preparedness and management, for them to help manage the recovery effort. Local firms will be used for all the reconstruction.
With the island in such a state, it isn't really surprising that this year's Pirate's Week Festival has been cancelled. However, a National Day of Thanksgiving is planned for 17 November in George Town. Elections have been postponed to spring next year. The good news is that Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are open and ready for business!
The infrastructure is still in a mess. Power won't be restored to all regions until mid-November (see the map at http://www.cayman27.com.ky/cmsimg/Restoration.pdf). One of the first hotels to get power restored was Treasure Island, but that may have been because the Canadian crew from Fortis Inc (a major shareholder in CUC Cayman) were staying there! I'm told that the stench (caused by raw sewage, rotting carcasses, etc) on the island is still very bad. A curfew is still in effect from 10:00pm to 5:00am.
Most of the banks and financial institutions are up and running. Some schools are staying shut as they are still being utilised as emergency shelters and the majority are expected to open at the end of October. The Cayman Islands Law School will restart in January. The Hyatt have said that they will open their beachfront suites in December, but the main part of the hotel won't open until June/July next year. The Westin is open, with the restaurants due to open on 10th October. There is a page of information on when various resorts/condos are due to reopen at http://caymanvacations.com/indexmenu.htm?general/ivan.htm&2. The Canadian and US Governments are still advising visitors to stay away from Grand Cayman.
As Cayman fell apart after Ivan, a letter from Mr Timothy Adam, Chief Executive of Cable & Wireless (Cayman Islands) Ltd appeared on the CaymanNetNews website (see the copy at http://www.caymannetnews.com/2004/09/738/letter.shtml) calling for military intervention. Within hours the article had been pulled, with a note saying that Mr Adams gad asked for the letter to be removed. However, in the next issue Tim Adams was then featured as the paper's Caymanian of the Week (see http://www.caymannetnews.com/archives/2004/09/739.shtml By the following week, a personal letter by Tim Adams explaining his position was being published. Tim had sent the original letter to high ranking officials in his company and it was never intended that it should be leaked to the media. See his explanation at http://www.caymannetnews.com/2004/09/740/letter.shtml
Hurricane Ivan has to be seen as an economic disaster to Cayman, just as it was recovering from 9/11. Many people have left the island, and those that remain have an uncertain future. Not only are there 6,000 people homeless, but as there is no tourism, many of the supporting industries don't need their staff. Many staff have been laid-off, and may not return to full employment until the New Year. CUC, Cayman Water, Cable & Wireless and the Water Authority have all said that any charges for September will be added to bills in October. The banks have said that they won't be expecting payments on mortgages until the New Year (but interest will continue to accrue). For businesses trying to recover, their staff may not have any accommodation - a sort of Catch-22 situation!
As the waters subside and the cleanup continues, who deserves praise for their efforts? Plaudits go to CaymanNetNews which was one of the only sources of information of what was happening on Grand Cayman as the government web sites were knocked out. Similarly, Brac Informatics Centre which continued operating throughout the worst of the storm and posted updates of conditions in Cayman Brac. They are bound to see more businesses make use of their secure computer hosting services. Cayman Airways, for setting up all the flights to evacuate those of the island and start bringing in relief effort. stormcarib.com for the various message boards (see below) that helped friends and families far and wide keep in touch with what was happening in Cayman. Cox Lumber and Tortuga Rum Cakes for swiftly making their facilities available for shipping relief supplies.
The worst of it is that the Hurricane Season isn't over yet, and the predictions are that there will be another two hurricanes this month with a 33% chance of them making land fall.
Hurricane Ivan Resources
Over 300 photos in 5 albums
About 50 photos
Over 100 photos, downloadable as a PowerPoint presentation
Over 200 photos by this Cayman-based professional photographer
Over 60 photos
Over 300 photos by this Cayman-based professional photographer
Over 70 photos of the East End
Over 180 photos
Over 130 photos
Over 1,100 pictures in 12 albums. You can read and leave comments about individual pictures
- Photos of and around Turtle Nest Inn in Bodden Town
- Selection of photos by Bob Love
- Blue Iguana Recovery Program
Photos of the damage and repairs being made to the Blue Iguana program, the Botanic Gardens, etc
- Photos from CaymanActivityGuide.com
- Photos collected by Marek Zyskowski
- Associated Press photos by Walter Astrada
The first photos of Cayman released to the world's media
Shows Cobalt Coast in remarkably good condition. Includes some underwater photos showing the dive conditions
From Sun-Sentinel.com. Click on "See all the photos" for more
Photos have captions, so at least you know where they are!
Nearly 50 photos. Ray also is selling a photographic story with music of Hurricane Ivan for US$75 at http://www.7milediver.com/ivan_slideshow.htm
Photos from around the island, including one showing the queues to evacuate at the airport
- Photos from the forthcoming book "Spirit of Cayman - The Aftermarth of Ivan"
- Post Hurricane Ivan Photos - November 2004
- 7 - 8 weeks later
- Caymanian Compass - Hurricane Ivan Photot Gallery
- Photos by Anne Flinn Powell - December 2004
- Cayman after Ivan
Selection of photo albums of a range of resorts and businesses
Damage reports for various properties and businesses
Yahoo group (you need to register) helping friends and families reunite. Databases include missing and found families, housing wanted and for rent and missing/found pets, and photo albums
Recovery efforts/Relief appeals
The work being done by the staff of Tortuga Rums in Miami
Story about the Caribbean Princess cruise ship delivering 150 tons of supplies in the few days following the hurricane
Information on recovery effort. Business that are open are listed at http://www.caymanchamber.ky/_ivan/hours.html
- Cayman Islands Hurricane Relief Appeal in the UK
- Morritt’s Grand Cayman East End Hurricane Relief Fund
Focusing on relief to the East End
Proceeds to be donated to the relief effort
Details of the various bank accounts set up to receive funds
A portion of sales to be donated to the relief effort
Post-Ivan business briefs
Supporting the Cayman Islands' Recovery
Arranging shipping of relief supplies from Tampa
Being regularly updated by Joe Stebbins, Editor of the Cayman Activity Guide
Updates on condo/resort readiness
Dedicated to raising funds to aid in the rebuilding of the Cayman Islands. Proceeds from the sales of a 2005 calendar "Always On My Mind" (for US$10 + shipping) and the book "Spirit of Cayman - The Aftermarth of Ivan" (for US$36.50 + shipping for a soft cover edition, US$91.50 + shipping for a hard cover edition) go to relief efforts.
Seventy-five percent of the proceeds from this auction benefit the Caribbean relief efforts of the Red Cross
All net profits will go to the Cayman Islands Red Cross to benefit victims of Hurricane Ivan
Video report by Gavin Hewitt, despite originally being denied permission to visit
- Selection of five videos collected by David Olson during and after the hurricane
- Links to video taken by the crew of HMS Richmond
- News report by Larry Elliott of abc12-WJRT in Michigan (part1)
- News report by Larry Elliott of abc12-WJRT in Michigan (part2)
- Ivan's winds whip Cayman's dead into macabre dance
How the dead were washed up from the cemetery at East End
- Caymans seek more from UK
- [http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WEATHER/09/30/ivan.caymans.update/ Caymans rebuilding after Ivan
- Blown away by Ivan
- Index of 36 news reports about Hurricane Ivan and Cayman from the BBC
- [ http://www.canada.com/travel/story.html?id=c295b86d-50d1-4ae9-89e5-d7d23f7e0815 Caves and diving on small Cayman Brac spared by storms]
- Wealthier Cayman Islanders weathered Ivan better than neighbors
- Ivan the Very Bad Hurricane - by Paul Whitney
- Sunburned Canucks turned on lights - by Paul Whitney
- It's like a nuclear bomb without the radiation
- A shining example of how teamwork works
- Grand Cayman: Come On Down, the Stingrays Are Fine (May have to register to view)
- Caymanian Compass - Mariners Cove residents left distraught & homeless
- Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report on the impact of Hurricane Ivan
A few days before Ivan hit, Cayman was also struck by an earth tremor that measured in at 6.0 on the earthquake scale - fortunately it didn't cause any damage as the epicentre was 110 miles south of Grand Cayman at a depth of about 19 miles. Many residents didn't even notice it. For details see http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/bulletin/neic_nebd.html
Hurricane Charley passed over the islands on 12th August, but without causing any major damage. There was some damage to the government dock in Little Cayman and a few trees uprooted (including some that had just been planted for the new Ritz). Even though the hurricane season runs from June to November, with the peak from mid-August to mid-October, Hurricane Charley is one of the earliest hurricanes to pass so close to the Cayman Islands since Hurricane Allen in 1980. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reiterated it's Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook. They forecast 12 to 15 tropical storms, with six to eight becoming hurricanes, and two to four of these becoming major hurricanes You can see NOAA's forecast for the season at http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/outlooks/hurricane.html
There may be a new hotel in the East End. Mandarin Oriental Hotel are considering a site on the Queen's Highway east of Anchor Point.
Mourant du Feu & Jeune, a law firm based in Jersey, Channel Islands, has announced plans to open offices in Cayman in the autumn. Their Cayman legal practice will specialise in international financial business, including hedge funds, capital markets, dervivatives, and private equity. They are also seeking licences to allow them to offer a range of outsourced administration services. Mourant already have offices in Jersey, Guernsey, Luxembourg, Seattle and the United Kingdom. Their website is at http://www.mourant.com/
Cayman's Olympians are featured on a new set of stamps. Butterfly stroke swimmer Heather Roffey is represented on the 15-cent stamp, sprinter Cydonie Mothersill appears on the 40-cent stamp, long jumper Kareem Streete-Thompson is on the 60-cent stamp and butterfly-stroke swimmers Andrew Mackay and Shaune Fraser feature on the 80-cent stamp. For more information on these and other stamps, contact the Philatelic Bureau on mailto:email@example.com Unfortunately the team didn't win any medals. Heather Roffey finished 7th in her preliminary Women's 200m Butterfly heat with a time of 2:19.34. Andrew Mackay finished 2nd in his preliminary heat of the Men's 400m Individual Medley with a time of 4:32.38 and 4th in his heat of the Men's 200m Individual Medley with a time of 2:07.65. Shaune Fraser finished 3rd equal in his opening heat of the Men's 200m Freestyle. Kareem Streete-Thompson also only got as far as the prelimiary rounds, finishing 9th in his heat with a distance of 7.85 metres. Cydonie Mothersill progressed through to the semi-finals in the Women's 200m and finished fifth in her semi-final with a time of 22.76 seconds.
Another 600 people have received Status. Unlike the 2,850 that received Stauts last year by a special action by the Cabinet, all of the new recipients were vetted by the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board, a new Statutory Board that came into being after the passing of the Immigration Law 2003. There were about 1,200 applicants for the grants of Status, many from people that had been on Cayman for over 10 years, and some for as many as 30 years.
The ban on the importation of US bone-in meats imposed in December 2003 following a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or 'mad-cow disease') has been lifted. Personal imports of meat up to 5kg for personal consumption will now be allowed providing the original packaging is intact and the packaging bears the USDA inspection legend.
The July tourism figures have been released at http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics/ For the first time, tourist air arrivals have exceeded those pre 9/11. The 2004 figure was 33,118, compared to July 2001's figure of 32,255. This gave rise to hotel occupancy rates of 63.9% - the highest July rate since 2000. Condo/apartment rates were up 5% on last month at 45.2% - slightly lower than the same period last year. However, the number of cruise passengers was down to 122,967, a drop of over 5,000 on June 2004. This is the first time this year that cruise arrivals have been down on the equivalent month last year; the figure for July 2003 was 132,933.
A recent report by the US General Accounting Office (GAO) showed that Cayman is home to over subsidiaries of over 150 top US corporations, including Intel, Oracle, and Coca-Cola. Senator Carl Levin said "Many (offshore subsidiaries) are little more than a post office box set up to allow corporations to move profits to the low-or-no-tax havens rather than reporting that income in the United States". Martin Sullivan, a former US Treasury Department economist said his research showed that the Cayman Islands is being used for US tax avoidance. A spokesman for Intel admitted "I can only assume it’s for tax purposes" that they use a subsidiary in Cayman to run plants in Ireland, which has a 12.5% corporate income tax.
The National Trust for the Cayman Islands has now taken over ownership of a 17-acre parcel of land on Cayman Brac in the area known as "the Splits" on Cayman Brac’s northwest Bluff. The land was donated to the Trust earlier this year The Splits are a natural formation of large cracks in the Bluff which extend below the water table, thereby creating a year-round source of water for wildlife. Many rare and endemic birds and animals inhabit the area including a nesting colony of "crab catchers" (Yellow-crowned Night Herons). Humidity from the Splits sustains numerous species of plants including ferns, bromeliads and orchids.
The Government has received three proposals to develop a cruise berthing dock in George Town. The dock, for four cruise ships, would either be located in between the finger cargo pier and the new cruise tender pier, or that it could be created by extending the cruise tender pier. Cruise lines prefer ship berthing facilities as most passenger accidents occur during loading and off-loading of cruise tenders, making liability insurance difficult and expensive to get. One of the cruise line officials that attended the port loan agreement signing last year by The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), said that a dock for cruise ship passengers would benefit the local economy as passengers on docked ships spend more because, with no waiting for cruise tenders, they have more time in port. He also said that studies have shown that if passengers go back to their ship by tender for some reason, they seldom came back to shore. However, passengers returning to berthed vessels often do return to shore, giving them more time to impact the local economy with spending. Hon McKeeva Bush, as Chairman of the Port Authority will present the proposals to the Port Authority Board. Mr Bush said "I’m hoping we can make a decision on how to proceed by mid-August".
Cayman Airways have announced that they are leasing a Boeing 737-300 aircraft in August, increasing their fleet to five aircraft. This new aircraft will include a first class cabin. From October Cayman Airways will be offering a weekly service to/from Boston departing Cayman on Friday afternoon and returning from Boston on Saturday morning. From mid-November, the schedule will change to departing Cayman on Saturday, returning on Sunday. They are offering an introductory fare of US$299 round-trip to/from Grand Cayman, or US$349 to/from Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. Cayman Airways are studying the possibility of routes to Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and Belize.
Leader of Government Business and Minister of Tourism, Hon McKeeva Bush announced that an overseas investment group had inquired about buying nearly half of the airlines’ shares. The investment group is now doing a feasibility study on the purchase.
Cayman has a new fish & chip restaurant. Tommy and Eleanor Bodden are setting up a franchise of the US Arthur Treacher’s restaurants. They are located in Bodden Place on the corner of Printer Way and Shedden Road. Another franchise that is opening in Cayman soon is Curves International, the world’s largest fitness centre franchise.
The beach replenishment exercise for the south end of Seven Mile Beach is finally due to start next month. The sand is being imported from the Turks and Caicos, and was selected as it most closely matches the local sand in colour and texture. The sand will be used to restore the beach between Royal Palms and a point south of Crescent Point. The whole replenishment programme is expected to take about three months.
The ground-breaking facility for the dolphin attraction didn't take place at the start of the month as planned as the developers still have to complete paperwork. They envisage that construction will take about six months when they get the final go-ahead. The dolphins that they intend to bring in are currently living in a Dolphin Discovery facility in Mexico.
The Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) has granted a telecommunications licence to the Government, allowing the Government to sell extra telecom infrastructure capacity to third parties. It will also allow the resale of telephony, and to provide Internet services, but Government will not be offering these services to the general public and therefore competing with the other telecomms operators in the local market. dms Broadcasting have announced that their new radio stations will be HOT 104.1 FM, MIX 106.1 FM, and ISLAND 107.1 FM. Style FM has hit the airwaves, offering adult contemporary music genres. Ocean 95 has stopped broadcasting in what the owners have called a "temporary cessation" to allow the radio station to relocate and reorganise itself.
The ICTA has also granted a telecommunications license to CaymanOne allowing them to provide cellular, Internet and fixed wireless services.
As reported last month, Donald 'Holt' Hunter has become the first Caymanian to conquer the highest peak in each continent when he reached the summit of Mt. McKinley in Alaska. Less than 100 people have completed the Seven Summit challenge.
The Maples Foundation, (a charitable organisation established by Maples and Calder), has donated US$1.5 million to sponsor the George Town Library expansion programme. The expansion project is expected to be completed by mid-2005.
The Ministry of Education, Human Resources and Culture has appointed the country’s first cultural attachés. Harris A. McCoy III will represent Cayman in the United Kingdom, and Bendel Hydes will represent Cayman in the United States. Their roles will be to promote Cayman culture and heritage
The Government has given St. Matthew’s University permission to expand its graduate degree program to include a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine course. Plans are advanced for a new School of Veterinary Medicine, and the first intake is expected to start in January 2005.
There is a new weekly newspaper in Cayman. "Cayman Observer" is published by the Tower Group and focuses primarily on Cayman business news.
The tourism arrival statistics for June have been released at http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics/ Stay-over visitors were up over 1,300 on May's figure to 26,890 and cruise ship arrivals were up nearly 10,000 over May's figure to 128,390. Hotel occupancy fell 1% to 60.3%, but condo occupancy rates jumped over 8% to 41.8%, the highest June figure since 2001.
According to a reports by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Cayman was the third most popular cruise ship destination in the Caribbean last year. Top of the list was The Bahamas with 2.97 million visitors. Cozumel, Mexico was second with 2.7 million visitors. 1.8 million passengers visited Cayman.
According to Financial Secretary George McCarthy, bank assets in the Cayman Islands now exceed US$1 trillion - I guess that this is a US trillion (12 zeros), not an English trillion (18 zeros)!
Net2Phone and Cable & Wireless have signed a 3 year agreement enabling the local telecommunications provider to offer a full suite of voice over IP services. This is a bit of a turn around, as in 2000 Cable & Wireless won a court case when they blocked access to Net2Phone's servers for residents in Cayman who were trying to make cheap phone calls and therefore bypass C&W's services. Cable & Wireless have also been ordered to increase their prices by the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA). The ICTA ruled that rates for some mobile plans were still below cost and ordered C&W to increase their rates for these plans by 60%. This follows on from a challenge by Digicel that their rates were anti-competitive. C&W are also facing new competition from Blue Sky Communications, who have installed over forty blue international pay phones in high-tourist areas like Seven Mile Beach, the Turtle Farm and George Town. The firm have plans to install a further 50 pay phones over the coming months. The phones are available for collect calls, credit-card and calling cards. Rates are based on AT&T Home Country rates. Blue Sky have also installed two pay phones for local calls at the Marriott Resort and Comfort Suites.
The ICTA have also issued a number of licences for new radio stations. dms Broadcasting Ltd have licences to run three new radio stations, and Panorama Productions to run one new station. Panorama Productions will be broadcasting on 96.5FM, and will feature a wide range of contemporary, rhythm and blues, popular and Caribbean music. Their new station expects to be broadcasting in six to eight weeks.
The Cayman Islands Government and Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) have agreed to a plan to open up the electricity industry to completion and also granted new licenses to CUC to operate for 20 more years in the Cayman Islands. Under the agreement, residential consumers will see a 4.7% decrease in rates, and large commercial users will see around a 2.3% decrease in rates.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the Cayman Islands is separating its regulatory responsibilities from its business service provisions. From 1st July the CAA will concentrate on the regulatory aspects of the aviation industry in Cayman, as well as the meteorological services. The newly formed Cayman Islands Airports Authority will oversee operations at the Owen Roberts International Airport, and the Gerrard Smith International Airport on Cayman Brac.
The Ritz-Carlton has started recruiting! They held a recruitment fair over the weekend of 25th/26th June and are seeking to employ over 800 staff.
The Health Practice Law (2002) cam into effect at the beginning of the month. The new law aims to improve the health of the people of the Cayman Islands. The new law also sees the establishment a Health Practice Commission of four professional councils; Medical and Dental Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council, Pharmacy Council and Professions Allied with Medicine.
Donald Holton ‘Holt’ Hunter, Jr became the first Caymanian to reach the top of Mount Everest on 24th May. Mr Hunter is now planning an expedition to Alaska to climb Mount McKinley. When he has completed that climb, he will join a select group of about 100 people to have conquered the highest peak in each of the seven continents.
Swimmer Heather Roffey qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 800-metre freestyle by recoring a time of 9:01.41 - a second inside the qualifying time of 9:02.79. 17 year-old Heather is the first Cayman Islands' female swimmer to qualify for this year's Olympics. She will join swimming team mates Andrew MacKay and Shaun Fraser, and field participants Cydonie Mothersill and Kareem Streete-Thompson at the Olympics.
Carla Yee-Sing, who works in Cayman as fitness trainer, won the title of Miss Natural Universe in Barbados.
The latest inflation figures show that prices rose by 1.2% in first quarter of the year over the same period last year. In total over 1,800 prices are checked each quarter and these are split into eight categories. Of these, five showed increases of over 2%; Education and medical services increased by 4.2%, Food was up by 3.2%, Personal goods and services and household equipment up by 2.5%, Clothing up by 2.4%. Transport and Communications was down 3.4% - mainly attributed to the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector.
The Cayman Islands has it's first Complaints Commissioner. Dr. John Epp's remit will be to investigate complaints received from members of the public to ascertain whether injustice has been caused by improper, unreasonable or inadequate administrative conduct on the part of any Government Ministry, Portfolio, Government company, Statutory Board or Authority. Dr Epp currently serves as Deputy Director and as a Senior Lecturer at the Cayman Islands Law School. His appointment will be for five years.
I'm sometimes surprised at the number of major firms that are registered in the Cayman Islands; Seagate and Garmin come to mind for starters. Another Cayman company is also in the news - the Harbin Brewery. Harbin is one of the largest brewers in China, and Anheuser-Busch had plans to take them over and privatise the company. Unfortunately, there plans have been partly blocked. Assorting to Dow Jones, a US fund company Castlerigg International Ltd has bought a 10.01% stake in Harbin Brewery, but under Cayman Islands Companies Law, a shareholder can only compulsorily private a listed company if it holds at least 90% of the firm.
The Reef Resort is the latest hotel to have Wi-Fi installed. You can now surf the internet from your room for CI$12.95 for 24 hours.
The First Cayman Jazz Festival took place this month. The three day event culminated in a final concert on Pageant Beach featuring Bob James, David Sanborn and Roberta Flack.
The Tourism statistics for May 2004 are out at http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics/. May saw over 25,500 stayover visitors (up from 20,909 in 2003), the highest May figure since 2001. Over 118,500 cruise ship passengers visited, down from over 190,000 last month, but up nearly 8,000 on the same period last year. Hotels recored an occupancy rate of over 61%, and condos/apartments recorded just over 33% occupancy.
One passenger on the cruise ship "Carnival Victory" found her holiday cut short when the ship arrived in Cayman. The crew on the ship received a report of a bomb on board, and so passengers were advised to stay in their cabins while a thorough search of the ship was made. Nothing was found and once the search was completed, the passengers were allowed to disembark. An inebriated Canadian woman admitted making the bomb scare as a joke. She was escorted from the ship by Police and put on an afternoon flight back to the US.
Work has started on the construction of a new abattoir on the agricultural grounds in Lower Valley. When completed in September, the new facility will be able to handle up to ten cattle a day. It is hoped that the new facility will boost the local beef industry as there will then be facilities to butcher and handle the meat in a hygenic way.
The Central Planning Authority (CPA) has given approval to the development of a second part of Dart's "Waterfront Village". This US$47.5 million development will be for approximately 85,000 square feet of office space, with associated parking, and should be completed in the first quarter of 2006. The first US$15 million phase of 70,000 square feet to include a six-screen cinema, retail shops and office space should be completed in the fourth quarter of 2005.
More developments on the Cayman Islands Bar Association challenge to the mass granting of status last year. It is understood that the Attorney General Sam Bulgin has instructed local law firm Quin and Hampson to represent the Cayman Islands Government, and that they in turn have instructed Nigel Pleming QC, one of London's leading judicial review barristers.
A new environmental policy governing Stingray City, the Sand Bar and the entire North Sound could soon be announced. Concern had been expressed that Stingray City, one of the the island's top attractions, was being jeopardised by overcrowding and lack of controls. In June 2003, the Department of the Environment (DoE) created a working party with representatives from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), the Marine Conservation Board and other parties to study the issue and make recommendations. It is thought that their report recommends setting traffic limits to the Stingray City site, buoy systems and how the stingrays should be treated. In the first step, the Port Authority will re-instate the 'safety-ring' buoy system that was established last year. Last year's trail failed because it wasn't clear who was responsible for maintaining the buoy system. They will also employ two staff to act as 'caretakers'. The Minister of Tourism, Environment, Development and Commerce, the Hon McKeeva Bush said that he was in favour of a swim-with-dolphin attraction for Cayman. His comments were made in response to a letter from Don Foster, the Chairman of the Marine Conservation Board (MCB), which is against a captive dolphin program on environmental and tourism grounds.
Government announced that the plans for a cruise tender dock in West Bay at the entrance of Northwest Point Road had been abandoned as they had not been able to obtain the necessary land for the project. However, two days later the Leader of Government Business, Hon McKeeva Bush, said the project was back on as the landowner had agreed to sell. The dock facility will allow high-speed tenders to take passengers from the ships in George Town Harbour, thereby alleviating some of the overcrowding in George Town. The tenders will take about 20 minutes to reach West Bay. The dock will be close to several new attractions in the Boatswain Bay area; the expanded Turtle Farm, a dolphin attraction, and an antique car museum.
Government has also asked the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to look at options for expanding the airport facilities in Grand Cayman, including the possibility of resiting the airport, possible to the Eastern District.
New Immigration Regulations came into effect on 18th May 2004. The regulations define how the requirements of the law will be carried out by Government. Also covered by the regulations are new forms and procedures for permits, fee schedules, and the points system used to determine applications for permanent residency. Also, all fees have to be submitted with work permit applications. This should mean that once approval has been given, new employees can start working immediately. Some of the new forms are available online at http://www.gov.ky/pls/immigration/immigration.home
The Community College of the Cayman Islands will soon have a new identity. In the autumn, the college will become the University College of the Cayman Islands, offering a range of four-year Bachelor of Science degree programs in areas including marketing, accounting, management studies, finance and economics. The Ministry of Education and the Community College are partners in this initiative with the aim to provide more Caymanians with affordable education and scholarship opportunities. Talks are under way with the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) on colaborations.
Cayman Airways have announced that, due to increases in fuel costs, they have put up their fares by US$20 one way to the States, and US$40 return.
The April tourism statistics have been released at http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics/. As usual, April saw a fall-off from the March figure, with almost 34,000 air arrivals (down from over 37,000 in March). However, this year's figure is the best for April since 2001. Occupancy levels in hotels ran at 75.0% - the highest recorded figure since March 2000. Apartment/condo occupancy was just under 53%, representing the best April figure since 2001. On average, hotel visitors stayed on the islands 5.1 days, the highest figure since July last year, and the highest figure for April since 1997. Visitors to apartments/condos stayed an average 6.2 days - this is down from 6.7 days last month and is also the lowest April figure since 2000. Cruise passenger numbers dropped by over 40,000 from March to 190,631. However, this is the best April figure ever, up over 12,000 on the same period last year.
And finally... if it had been published on 1st April, you would have thought it was an April Fools. The Chief Agriculture and Veterinary Officer has said that the number of wild chicken on the island should be controlled and suggested that maybe a bounty should be offered. This has lead to lots of suggestions; the government could raise funds by selling chicken hunting permits, there could be different rewards for Caymanians and non-Caymanians, a new body (the Chicken Control Authority) could be established, thereby creating new jobs, tourist could be offered Chicken Safaris. Of course, these proposals will only work if the bounty isn't chicken-feed!
The Cayman Islands did rather well in the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) swimming championships held in the Bahamas this month. Cayman walked (swam?) away with 24 gold, 13 silver and nine bronze medals, putting them in second place behind Trinidad & Tobago. 16-year-old Shaune Fraser posted an Olympic qualifying time, and will join fellow Andrew Mackay (already qualified) as part of the Cayman Island's team to the Games in Athens. The Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association also announced that an anonymous donor had given US$3 million towards the estimated construction of CI$6 million for a new 50 metre olympic-sized swimming pool. There are some conditions attached to the donation; the Cayman Islands Government will have to: authorise the formation of an association to man and run the pool, the leasing of adjacent land for a peppercorn rent, and to pay for the recurrent running costs of the existing and new pools. If the additional funding is received soon, the new pool could be ready in 2006.
More job losses in the banking sector. Ansbacher Caribbean Limited has announced that it is moving it's banking and securities operations from Cayman to the Bahamas, with a loss of 25 jobs over a three to nine month period. The bank's trust business will remain in Cayman.
The Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) has ruled that some of Cable & Wireless' recent rate reductions on it's mobile service will have to be revoked as they were offered below cost. C&W may also be fined for anti-competitive practices. However C&W have now launched a legal challenge and are seeking a judicial review of the ICTA's ruling. E-Technologies Cayman Islands has announced that they will be launching CaymanOne, a new telecommunications network that will offer cheaper phone charges and high-speed internet connections. They will be utilising Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology on fixed wireless broadband offering speeds up to 10Mbps for residential customers, 100Mbps for businesses and a third generation CDMA mobile network in conjunction with a sister company of T-Mobile. E-Technologies will be investing over US $35 million during the next two years, which will include a new fibre optic sable station and a new 15,000 square foot data centre. They expect to employ up to 160 people during their roll-out in the Caribbean.
The Cayman Islands Grand Court has granted leave to the Caymanian Bar Association to proceed with it's application for a judicial review of the wholesale granting of Caymanian Status made by the cabinet last year.
There is mounting opposition to the introduction of a captive dolphin theme park in Cayman. Keep It Wild Cayman! organised a social evening at the Sea Harvest Restaurant and a presentation at John A Cumber Primary School in West Bay attended by several international experts including Marine Scientist Dr Naomi Rose of the Human Society of the United States, Diana McCauley founder and CEO of the Jamaican Environmental Trust, and Tanya Streeter, world-record breaking freediver. Ms Streeter is the spokesperson for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society of the United Kingdom. Keep It Wild Cayman! have also produced a T-Shirt ("Cayman Islands - Keep Dolphins Free") that is on sale for CI$10 at Island Veterinary Services in the Eden Centre and Hobbies & Books.
The latest tourism figures for March 2004 are available at http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics/. Air arrivals were up over 5,000 on February at 37,248. This gives a first quarter figure of nearly 95,000 - up on 2003 and 2002, but below the high of 104,519 for the first quarter of 2001. Cruise ship passengers for March were up at almost 231,000 - the highest March figure to date. So far there have been over 631,000 cruise ship visitors to Cayman this year. The figure for the first quarter of 2003 was 524,392. The increase in air arrivals had a knock-on effect on occupancy rates; Hotels reported occupancy rates of 74.4% - the highest figure for March since 2000. Apartment/condo occupancy rates were also up on last month (and on the same period last year) to 57.9%
The Cayman Island's Post Office has announced that from 31st May 2004 it will return all undeliverable mail to senders. Many of these items are addressed to house numbers and street names, but as the Post Office doesn't deliver house-to-house and only delivers to PO Box addresses at the various Post Office locations, with the location being a suffix to the box number. A correct address would be PO Box 0000 GT or PO Box 999 APO. The Post Office also advises that "George Town" or "BWI" should not be used in addresses as these are no longer used and could lead to mail being delivered to the wrong county.
The Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) is gearing up for an all-out assault on mosquitos this year. They will be using a new product and plan to treat 13,000 acres as opposed to the usual 4,000 acres in previous years. The new product will be deployed by air and ground to mosquito breeding areas.
AT&T stole some of Digicel's thunder by deciding to launch their mobile service on the same day as Digicel 3rd March 2004. To challenge the new players in the market, Cable & Wireless have cut the cost of their mobile service, claiming to be up to 67% cheaper than Digicel or AT&T. However, these new rates are subject to regulatory review by the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA). WestStar have announced that they will be launching a new digital television service in the next few weeks. They will be offering up to 72 television channels, 45 CD quality music channels, Dolby stereo sound, and an on-screen programme guide. Extra packages will include sports, movies, news and Spanish language channels. WestTel, WestStar's subsidiary telecommunications company, has announced new lower rates for internet access from 1st April 2004.
The Department of Agriculture has given approval for Dolphin Discovery, a dolphin experience to be located next to the Turtle Farm in West Bay. The new tourist attraction will employ about 50 staff, including skilled trainers and veterinary staff. The attraction will house eight bottlenosed dolphins. The owners hope that they will be up and running within a year. However, the Humane Society in the US has sent faxes to the Governor, Bruce Dinwiddy, the Minister of Tourism Hon. McKeeva Bush, and several other Cayman leaders protesting against the proposed park on both conservation and humane grounds. A local group, Keep It Wild Cayman has also protested and has pointed out that none of the proposed schemes yet have planning permission or the support of the majority of people who live in Cayman. The protest gained publicity when a baby dolphin was found in the South Sound area. Despite efforts by volunteers taking half-hour shifts to keep the baby upright and shaded from the sun, the dolphin died the same day. Local veterinarian Elisabeth Broussard carried out an autopsy on the baby and concluded that the male dolphin was bout two or three months old and was either Spotted or Spinner dolphin. The cause of death was probably starvation caused by separation from its mother.
Seven Mile Beach may be restored to it's former glory in the coming months. West Marine Ltd has won the contract for the 'Trial Nourishment Programme' to replace sand between Crescent Point and Royal Palms. The project is costing the Cayman Islands Government $750,000, and will see 19,000 tonnes of dredged sand from the Turks and Caicos being brought in by barge. The sand has been chosen to match the existing sand on Seven Mile Beach for colour and grain size. The work is expected to take two months to complete.
Fluor Daniel Caribbean has been forced off the Ritz-Carlton site. Fluor maintain that they have done nothing wrong and that the developers, Humphrey's Cayman, are in breach of contract. Fluor had already issued a lawsuit earlier this year in New York seeking damages for various breaches of contract. The developers are in negotiation with the Cayman Islands Government to grant up to 1,000 work permits to enable them to complete the work on the project. According to KYC News (Investigative News on Financial Fraud, Money Laundering and and White Collar Crime) the Leader of Government Business, Hon. W. McKeeva Bush was mentioned in an ongoing court case in Florida between Ritz-Carlton developer Michael Ryan and Richard Friend. Mr Bush is alleged to have received payments of $345,000 between June 1999 and July 2000. Mr Bush maintains that these were legitimate commissions and expenses from his Real Estate business relating to Cambridge Realty and Windsor Development.
The Department of Tourism (DoT) may have managed to shoot itself in the foot over the latest tie-in with Nickleodeon's animation character "SpongeBob SquarePants". According to a report in New York's Wall Street Journal (WSJ), SpongeBob is a popular icon in the gay community. When browsing Gay novelty shops in Manhattan, the WSJ discovered shelves stocked with SpongeBob merchandise including lunchboxes, key chains, crackers, spongy dolls with little brown pants. As far back as December 2002 Entertainment Weekly was querying SpongeBob sexuality. However, in response the DoT quoted Nickelodeon's Vice President of Corporate Communications David Bittler, as saying: "SpongeBob SquarePants, a show about an animated, fictional character, brings in more than $2 billion in retail sales and is watched by 55 million viewers a month. With these kinds of statistics, the show is a mainstream pop cultural icon embraced by kids of all ages and their families." SpongeBob's creator, Stephen Hillenburg said SpongeBob was not designed to be gay, but "kind of special" and "I always think of [the characters] as being somewhat asexual".
Cayman Airways have announced that they will be operating two flights a week from Grand Cayman to Orlando between 25 June 2004 until 9 August 2004. Flights will operate on Mondays and Fridays.
Following on from the agreement that the Cayman Islands will comply with the new EU Tax Directive on savings, the British the Board of the Inland Revenue has designated the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange as a "recognised stock exchange". The term "recognised stock exchange" occurs throughout various British tax acts and tax regulations.
The Caymanian Bar Association (CBA) has now filed an application for leave to apply for judicial review of last year's wholesale grants of Caymanian status by the Cabinet. The CBA is seeking a ruling from the court that the Cabinet's actions were unlawful and that an order should quash the grants of status made. The CBA's action has lead to several members resigning membership of the CBA, including Myers & Alberga.
A new Employment Bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly this month. Some of the changes include a written contract for all employees, paternity leave, changes in maternity benefits and a reduction in the standard working week from 45 hours to 44 hours. In other employment news, the Economics and Statistics Office (ESO) has published the results of the last Annual Labour Force Survey taken in October 2003. The figures show a slight decrease in the level of unemployment. Of a labour force of 29,905, the number in employment was 28,827. This gives an unemployment rate of 3.6%, down from 5.4% in 2002 and 7.5% in 2001. The press release also estimates the population of the islands as 44,144, up on the 2002 estimate of 43,004. For full details see the press release at http://www.gov.ky/pls/portal30/docs/Folder/SITE83/LOCALISSUES/LABOURFORCE.PDF.
The Civil Aviation Authority has signed a contract with Cayman Engineering Plus Surveying to develop plans for a new airport on Little Cayman. The new site airport will be located at the western end of the island, northeast of the current Edward Bodden airfield. Construction of the first phase is expected to start in September 2004.
The Cayman Islands Port Authority has signed loan agreements with the Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank for US$26 million for the construction of the the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal in George Town and a new West Bay Cruise Terminal. The Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, which will cost over US$17 million, will include a 200 foot pier and various cruise facilities. The marine work of the project, which is due to start this week, will be carried out by US based Misener Marine. Part of their work will include reclaiming 3 acres of land. The new terminal is expected to be completed in time for the peak 2004/05 cruise season at the end of the year. Details of the US$8 million facility in West Bay are still unclear. Land acquisition for the new project was still continuing and the final size of the new terminal will depend on the amount of land acquired. Even though the loan has been signed by the Cayman Islands Port Authority, it will be the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) who will repay the loan through a US$1 levy on every passenger visiting the islands on one of the ships operated by one of the Associations eleven members during the next 15 years. Last year over 1.8 million cruise passengers visited Cayman, and the figure for 2004 is expected to be over 2 million.
The latest tourism statistics have been published and are available at http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics/. There were over 32,000 air arrivals in February 2004, an increase of over 13% on 2003 and the highest February figure since 2001. There were nearly 193,000 cruise passengers arrivals during the month, up over 12% on the same period last year. Hotels had an occupancy rate of over 70% and apartments/condos had an occupancy rate of over 57%.
The First Cayman Jazz Fest is scheduled to take place between June 17th 2004 and June 19th 2004 at Pageant Beach. Artists due to appear include Freddie Jackson, Roberta Flack, Bebe Winas and David Calzado & Charanga Habanera.
February saw one of the worst spate of violence to hit the islands. Within 36 hours there were two fatal shootings in the Scranton area of George Town. The second one took place in daylight when the murderer chased his victim. A reward of $25,000 was offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those involved with the murders. Four suspects have been arrested and charged, and the Police investigations continue, with more arrests likely. Two of those being held were on work-release from HM Northward Prison, one serving a 14-year prison sentence for attempted murder and grievous bodily harm and the other convicted of manslaughter and possession of a firearm. Under the Prisoner Release Employment Scheme (PRES) under which the suspects were out on work-release, inmates who are selected scheme are allowed to work in the community from Monday to Saturday, but have to return to the prison every night by 6 pm.
The Government Information Service has issued a series of press releases to explain the new Immigration Law that came into effect on 1st January 2004. The first, The Right to be Caymanian explains the five categories of people that have a right to be Caymanian, including the ways that status can be granted. Permanent Residency & Arrangements for Current Long-Term Residents describes the four classes of people allowed to reside in Cayman. Work Permits, Business Staffing Plans & Transitional Provisions deals with the period for which a work permit can be granted and the 'term limit' for work permit renewals. The final release, Entry, Landing, Student Visas & Asylum Provisions imposes responsibility for those entering Cayman with incorrect papers on the carriers. There are also increased penalties for illegal landing and overstaying. All students over 18 coming to the island to study and who are not a named dependent of a resident will need their own student visa that will be required for the duration of their course up to a maximum of four years. The asylum rules have been extended to include unaccompanied minors. Those seeking asylum where it is deemed that they can not return to the country of origin will be allowed to stay, and those granted asylum will be allowed to work.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Island Airways have reached agreement on the outstanding debt for landing fees. Island Airways have agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to settle the whole debt and close the matter.
Agreement has been reached for Cingular Wireless to buy AT&T Wireless Services Inc. one of the licencees to provide telecomms services in Cayman. Cable & Wireless and Digicel have signed agreement signed the first-ever Interconnection Agreement. The agreement covers the arrangements for the carriers to connect to each other and exchange traffic. According to Tim Adam, Cable & Wireless Chief Executive, "Cable & Wireless is also proud to have concluded an agreement to share towers with Digicel in the Cayman Islands. This type of agreement enables multiple cellular providers to use the same towers where their networks require antennas to be located to provide good coverage and minimises the number of towers needed across the Cayman Islands, which in turn means more efficient use of these assets." Coverage for GSM users will be improving over the coming months as new towers are built and as existing towers are increased in height to allow for more sharing. Cable & Wireless and Research In Motion (RIM) have also announced plans to introduce the BlackBerry wireless solution to the Cayman Islands for corporate and enterprise customers. The Java-based BlackBerry 7280 integrates email phone, SMS, organizer, web and corporate data applications in a single handheld. The high-resolution screen displays crisp images with support for over 65,000 colours. Digicel are launching their mobile service on 3rd March 2004, with a free concert starring Grammy award winner Sean Paul and a large firework display.
Cayman has agreed to implement European Union's Saving Tax Directive (EUSD) from 1st January 2005, after a vote in the Legislative Assembly. The directive allows the EU countries to impose taxes on income earned from savings of EU citizens with accounts in Cayman. This is a bit of a turn-around as the leader of Government Business, Hon McKeeva Bush, had been maintaining that Cayman would only adopt the directive in the UK Government were to compensate Cayman for any lost business because of the implementation of the directive. Now, with Cayman adopting the directive, the UK Government will move to expedite the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange's application for recognition and the date would be agreed for discussions on a bilateral double taxation agreement.
Parmalat's former chief financial officer, Fausto Tonna, told investigators in Italy that three banks, J P Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citibank, knew of the company's financial state before its collapse as far back as 2001. One of the accused banks said "If the bank had known about Parmalat's collapse, it certainly would have raised it a lot sooner." Another bank said that Mr Tonna's allegations were "pretty absurd." Michele Vietti, Italy's Deputy Minister of Justice, put part of the blame for the company's failure on Parmalat's auditors, saying: "Consob and the Bank of Italy were misled by the auditing companies that had certified the correctness of the management and the balance sheet." Both auditing companies, Grant Thornton SpA and the Italian branch of Deloitte, have denied any wrongdoing. According to the UK Financial Times, when the Manhattan District Attorney raided the offices of Zini & Associates, Parmalat's American law firm, on New Year's Eve with a search and seizure order, investigators feared that the law firm might have already removed many documents and files from its computer. Some of the missing documents are thought to have related to Bonlat, the Parmalat subsidiary based in the Cayman Islands and Parmalat executives in Italy have since admitted destroying Bonlat files there. However, part of the problem may have been due to problems in the DA's office. On 31st December it had a search warrant only for the 21st floor of the two-floor offices at 460 Park Avenue. However, Zini's computer servers were on the floor below, although people familiar with the probe said the DA had been able to access the entire system during that visit. Nevertheless, the DA needed another warrant to return to the 20th floor on 8th January, giving the law firm time to remove more documents. Parmalat USA Corp., a unit of Parmalat Finanziaria SpA, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of New York listing assets and debts of at least $100 million each. The Parmalat scandal has led to the reworking of the classic arcade game Pacman. In Parman from http://www.bastardidentro.com/index/115, you control Calisto Tanzi munching money through a maze as he is being chased by four policeman. Drinking a carton of milk, gives him the power to overcome a policeman. Enjoy! It may be worth reading the excellent article by Richard Rahn that appeared in the Washington Times to remind yourselves that Cayman's financial institutions are not all in the hands of criminals and undesirables! See http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20040209-090310-4341r.htm
The Official Cayman Islands Street Atlas has been reduced to CI$15, down from CI$29.95 and is available from bookstores, gas stations and supermarkets around the Islands.
The Hyatt has become the first resort to implement a Wi-Fi network for guests. The network covers guest all of the resort; guest rooms, poolside, on the beach and on the golf course, as well as meeting rooms. Charges are US$6 per hour or US$17.99 per day. The network will be expanded to cover Rum Point later in the year. Guests need to register with the Hyatt's front desk to obtain a username and password.
Treasure Island Divers' has recently completed it's purchase of the Seaview Dive Centre.
Sponsored by the Sister Islands Tourism Association, the first annual Brac Turtle Triathlon is due to take place on 18th April 2004. For details see Cayman Brac Turtle Triathlon
A new Solicitor General has been appointed. The Attorney General from Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, Kurt De Freitas OBE QC, will take up his new post in March 2004.
The Department of Tourism has announced a deal with Nickleodeon, the kids television network. Part of the package includes the Cayman Islands as the sole destination sponsor of Paramount Picture's film "Spongebob Squarepants: the movie", scheduled for release in November 2004. Holidays to the Cayman Islands will feature as prizes on other brands promoting the film, including Kellogg's cereals. The Cayman Islands will also have the rights to use the "Spongebobs" character for promotions on and off the islands.
A ground-breaking ceremony has been held to start the major expansion of the Turtle Farm. The new facilities, not due to be fully completed until 2006, will feature a new educational pavilion, a research centre, a Cayman craft street, nature trail, snorkel lagoon and restaurants.
Cayman's first Arts Festival took place this month, and featured a wide range of jazz and classical performances including the Islands' first performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. The festival was the first of its kind to be held anywhere in the Caribbean. The biannual Cayman Arts Festival is the brainchild of internationally acclaimed pianists, Glen Inanga and Jennifer Micallef. Work on the 2006 Cayman Art Festival has already started.
There are reports that Fluor Daniel (Caribbean) Ltd, the lead contractor for the Ritz-Carlton project, will leave the site during March after Fluor Daniel was issued with an official notice of contractor default on 17th February. Ritz-Carlton still believe that they will open in time for Christmas 2004. They held a big press conference in New York were they showcased some of the features of their resort; The resort will feature 365 guestrooms and suites, the first La Prairie Spa in the Caribbean, five dining venues including two restaurants by Eric Ripert of top-ranking New York restaurant Le Bernardin, several bars and lounges, an exclusive shopping arcade featuring premium brand boutiques, the island's largest ballroom, a tennis center by Nick Bollettieri, a Ritz Kids® program by Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ambassadors of the Environment, and a Greg Norman-designed nine-hole golf course. For those in the money, perhaps the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton will be more your cup of tea; 69 private ownership homes, are available with two, three and four-bedroom plans ranging from 2,400 to 8,000 square feet. Residents enjoy all of the facilities, services and amenities of the oceanfront resort, including two lifetime golf memberships, as well as dedicated Residential Concierge service, a Dial-a-Chef program for private dining and access to a unique Endless Service program featuring customized home interior furnishings and design, use of a top of the line Mercedes Benz or a selection of other European luxury cars and crewed power boast and continual maintenance and refurbishment of owners' residences. According to McKeeva Bush, by the time the resort opens it will have generated $476 million to the local economy. "Once fully completed, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is expected to contribute over $1 billion to Cayman's economy, a full 7% of GDP," Bush said.
Tourism had another improving month in January with over 25,000 stay-over visitors (the highest January figure since 2001), and over 207,000 cruise passengers, almost 700 up on the number of arrivals for December 2003. Hotel occupancy rates were up at over 57%, and apartment occupancy rates were also up at over 44%. For full details see http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics/.
The Parmalat story rumbles on. According to a report in the Financial Times, sources close to the investigation say that Parmalat used the Cayman Islands to raise more than US$1 billion in funds in addition to the US$5 billion that Bonalat claimed it had in a bank account. The sources also said that Parmalat had ten related companies in Cayman, and several raised money, including the mutual fund Epicurum. Other people familiar with the investigation said it was unclear how much of the US$1 billion of funds raised in Cayman was real or fake. The Cayman Island's Government investigation continues to check if people or companies in Cayman connected to Parmalat had committed fraud or other financial irregularities, but so far has found no problems. According to the Financial Times report, local law firms and banks that had dealings with the Parmalat subsidiaries reported suspicious activity reports to local regulators, and details had been passed to Italian and US authorities. However, a Reuter's report quoted a spokeswoman for the Cayman Islands Financial Secretary as saying that they were not aware that anybody in the Cayman Islands government had to date shared information with Italian magistrates. The Cayman Grand Court on 23rd December 2003 placed a Parmalat subsidiary, Parmalat Capital Finance Ltd (the parent company on Bonalat), and two bond-issuing special purpose entities (Food Holdings Ltd and Dairy Holdings Ltd) that raised US$320 million, in provisional liquidation. Parmalat's problems where highlighted last month when Bank of America revealed that an account said to be held by Bonalat and worth US$5 billion did not exist. Bank of America told Grant Thornton, Bonlat's auditor, that a document showing the holding of cash and securities was a fake. The US$5 billion had been consolidated into Parmalat's accounts for 2002. However, Parmalat's situation is worse that that as there is an estimated US$13 billion, missing from their balance sheets, and there are other assets that could be fictional or financially exaggerated. Deloitte denies any wrongdoing in its audit of Parmalat. So far a number of senior officers associated with Parmalat have been arrested including Fausto Tonna, Luciano del Soldato (the dairy group's two former chief finance officers), Giovanni Bonici (head of Parmalat's Venezuelan operations), Paola Zinni (one of the partners in a New-York based law firm advising Parmalat). No charges have been brought against any of the individuals in prison. In a Reuters reports from New York, a federal bankruptcy judge approved a motion to put three filings by creditors of Parmalat under one judge. One group of creditors representing bondholders holding debts in some of Parmalat's Cayman Islands subsidiaries, filed a motion under Section 204 of the US bankruptcy code aimed at protecting US creditors from moves against Parmalat's assets. The 304 filing, if accepted by the bankruptcy court, "would prevent the preferential distribution of assets to certain creditors to the disadvantage of others."
In separate banking news, Bank of America has announced that 20 staff will be loosing their jobs in March 2004 as the bank consolidates some of it's back office operations. Those areas affected include finance, accounting, IT and HR. Front-office operations will continue to operate normally.
Cable & Wireless has chosen Nortel Networks to supply equipment for a new network to provide voice, data and Internet services over one infrastructure. A Voice over IP network would allow for the consolidation of services such as e-mail, mobile, mobile, home and work phones onto one number or address. The contract is valued at US$17 million over two years.
Another legal firm merger has been announced. Bermuda law firm Appleby Spurling & Kempe (AS&K) is merging with the Cayman law firm Hunter & Hunter (H&H). The new firm, to be called Appleby Spurling Hunter, will have 100 lawyers and 435 staff in offices throughout Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and London. The merger will take place on 1st April 2004 and the senior posts in the new firm will be held by the current managing partner and CEO from AS&K. According to Peter Bubenzer, the managing partner of the new firm, the offices will continue to be run by the existing staff, the Bermuda office being "100 percent Bermudian" while the Cayman operation would be held "in accordance with Cayman immigration requirements". There are expected to be no redundancies. Partners of AS&amk;K and H&H voted unanimously for the merger last year.
Volunteers from Sunrise Rotary have carried out a clean-up of the Mastic Trail. The group have cleared back the undergrowth and some engineers have repaired the bridge. The tidy-up has enhanced the path through the woodlands that have a wider range or flora and fauna than anywhere else in the Islands.
A leading British barrister, David Pannick QC, has written an opinion paper for the Caymanian Bar Association (CBA), that some of the 2,850 people who were granted status, were done so illegally. "In my opinion, there are strongly arguable grounds (on the limited information available) for contending that the Cabinet has acted unlawfully." He added "There appear to be good prospects of obtaining a declaration that the Cabinet has acted unlawfully and possibly also obtaining a quashing order in relation to all or some of the grants of Status." However, he continued "I am concerned that our prospects of obtaining a quashing order may well be adversely affected by the passage of time. It is vital that any proceeding be commenced as soon as possible." In the past the Cabinet has granted status only to a limited number of former judges, attorneys general, governors, etc who were illegible to apply under the usual rules as they had not been resident in the islands for the required 10 years. When Mr Pannick wrote his opinion before the final granting of 450 statuses, e noted that as 1,400 grants of Status were made on one day, Cabinet may have not assessed all the factors relating to the applicants. Some of those granted had been resident for as little as 15 months, and some were not resident at all, and there was no evidence of discussion with the Immigration Department as to if any long-term residents had applied for status. According to press reports, two people who had been charged with overstaying were granted status. Even though the Immigration Law allowed Cabinet to grant Status for "special reason", that should not cover those simply because they failed to qualify under the standard Immigration Department rules for granting status. "He must have some special personal characteristic which is believed to justify the award of Status.". "Section 20 (d) cannot lawfully be used as a general means of supplementing section 22 (Status grants by the Immigration Board) so as to accord Status to groups or categories of persons who fail to qualify under section 22." With regard to whom might have a recognised standing to bring a legal action to the court against the Status grants, Mr Pannick believes that the CBA, as an established organisation with one of its functions being to protect the public interest, could do so. He also feels that the best prospect of resisting objections to standing would be if there would be co-claimants in the proceeding, for example a group of concerned Caymanians and another group of long-term residents who are applying for Status through the Immigration Board. The Caymanian Bar Association voted 15-9 in favour of a resolution to proceed with a Judicial Review, leading to five of it's members resigning in protest. They are now seeking funding for their proposed legal action.
The Holiday Inn is no more! it has changed it's name to the Courtyard Marriott. Management say that the hotel hasn't been sold and that staff and guests aren't affected. According to General Manager Simon Austion, the only change guests will notice is the change on name badges and the sign on West Bay Road. He said that the change had been made purely for marketing purposes. The 231-room hotel is owned by the company Columbia Sussex, which also owns the 343-room Westin Casuarina, and used to own the Marriott Beach Resort. The Hyatt Beach Regency Suites are being put up for sale. The 44 one-bedroom suites start US$600,000, will be part of a permanent income pool. The owners will have rights to use the suites for up to ten weeks per year. During the rest of the year, the condos will be rented, with owners expected to earn a net return of between 5% and 6%. The two-bed apartments will start at US$850,000, with the owners having the option of being in the rental pool, using the suite for their own private use, or a combination of the two.
United Telecommunications Ltd (UniTel), one of the licencees to provide telecommunications, has announced that it plans to start recruiting soon, as it gets ready to enter the market providing a range of voice, data and Internet products. Digicel has announced that it plans to be operating services in the next two months.
Air Jamaica has decided to re-introduce jets on it's route from Montego Bay to Grand Cayman. The service will now be run by Air Jamaica, rather than Air Jamaica Express, that used the small 37-seat Dash 8 aircraft. The service, using Airbus A321 jets with 188 seats, will run every day except Wednesdays. Island Air's dispute with the Cayman Island's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) took another turn towards the end of the month. The CAA placed a lien order on the airline's largest plane - a 19 seater Twin Otter, thereby stopping them from moving or using the aircraft, and returning it to the leasing company. The CAA claim that Island Air owe over CI$1.1 million in unpaid landing fees, but Island Air claim that Government officials agreed to waive the landing fees. Legal action is still outstanding to resolve the case. Mervyn Cumber, Island Air's Managing Director, said that they would be discontinuing flying a scheduled service to the sister islands and that Island Air "was being driven out of business by Cayman Airways" since they started to offer cheap flights to the sister islands, also using Twin Otter aircraft.
Once again government has extended the discount on stamp duty and infrastructure and building permit fees, this time with no end data - just "pending further notice".
Government is in the process of establishing it's own health insurance scheme for civil servants.
The Port Authority has announced that buoys have been ordered and will be installed at Stingray City in the next few weeks. This is after a number of watersports operators expressed concern about safety and overcrowding at the popular tourist site. The buoys will be placed in a ring around the attraction, with the centre a no-go area for boats. At the moment, it is unclear who will be responsible for maintain the buoys. A similar experiment last year failed when neither the Port Authority or the Department of Environment would accept responsibility for maintain the moorings.
The final tourism statistics for 2003 have been released at http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics/. December saw over 30,000 air arrivals - a 6% increase on December 2002, but still down on the 35,800 visitors in December 2000. It is the second highest number of visitors since the dramatic drop-off post 9/11. For the whole year, there were over 293,000 air visitors, but this is the lowest figure for a number of years and down over 9,000 on last year. Hotels had an average occupancy rate of 54.5% for December, and 51.2% for the whole year - up 0.6% on the rate for 2002. Apartments had an occupancy rate of 42.9% in December and a yearly average of 37.7%, down from 40.2% for 2002. Needless to say, cruise passenger arrivals were up yet again, with nearly 207,000 passengers spilling onto Cayman's streets in December 2003. The figure for December 2002 was just over 173,000. In total, 1,818,979 cruise passengers visited Cayman in 2003, up over 15% on 2002.