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LOGB Press Briefing Statements

LoGB Hon D.Kurt Tibbetts, JP

STATEMENT ON THE OTCC FORTHCOMING MEETING

I will be leaving for London tomorrow afternoon, at the head of an eight-member Government delegation which will attend the 10th Meeting of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council, better known as the OTCC.

This two-day meeting opens next Tuesday and will be chaired by the newly appointed Minister for Overseas Territories, The Honourable Gillian Merron. She replaced the Honourable Meg Munn in a recent Cabinet reshuffle.

The other members of the Cayman Islands delegation are as follows:

  • Hon. Alden McLaughlin, Minister of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture;
  • Attorney General, Hon. Samuel Bulgin;
  • Financial Secretary, Hon. Kenneth Jefferson;
  • Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Orrett Connor;
  • Assistant Financial Secretary, Miss Deborah Drummond;
  • Mrs Barbara Conolly, Political Analyst to the Leader of Government Business; and
  • Mrs Jennifer Dilbert, the Cayman Islands Government Representative in London, who will join us over there.

The Overseas Territories Consultative Council meets once a year in London. It was established in 1999 and serves as a forum for the Government of the United Kingdom to engage in discussion of key policy issues with heads of territory governments. A packed agenda covering a wide range of issues, has been prepared for this year's meeting. Here is a sample of some of the issues down for discussion.

  • Good governance and follow-up to the FAC report;
  • Economic Issues related to Development;
  • International human rights obligations;
  • Immigration;
  • Environment and Disaster Management;
  • A Witness Protection Programme for the Caribbean. I will be chairing this session.
  • Financial Services and Anti-Money Laundering;
  • Several activities are planned for the delegation outside of the OTCC meeting. Topping the list is a bilateral meeting next Thursday with the newly appointed Minister for Overseas Territories, Hon. Gillian Merron. This will be our first meeting and I will use this opportunity to brief her on issues of interest to the Cayman Islands at this time. Also scheduled for next Thursday is a meeting with the Foreign Affairs Committee.

    The first engagement following our arrival in London is a reception for Caymanian students on Saturday evening. The venue is the Cayman Islands Government Office on 6 Arlington Street. It is a social event to give our students an opportunity to mingle and have an informal chat with us. On Monday, we will discuss issues related to the future of the Cayman Islands office. I also welcome the opportunity, while in London, to address members of the All Parties Parliamentary Group/Friends of Cayman. This group continues to give vital support within the UK Legislature on issues that affect us in various ways. For this, we are most appreciative.

    Ladies and gentlemen, that is an overview of what we will be doing in London next week. We look forward to another successful OTCC meeting. Just in case any of you are not familiar, the other members of the OTCC are:

    • Anguilla
    • Ascension Island
    • Bermuda
    • British Virgin Islands
    • Falkland Islands
    • Montserrat
    • Pitcairn
    • St Helena
    • Turks and Caicos Islands

    Thank you!

    ON FUEL PRICES AND THE GASOLINE AND DIESEL OIL REGULATIONS 2008

    Over the past few months we have all been paying close attention to and indeed experienced firsthand the painful effects of the global oil crisis.

    You may recall a recent press briefing where I made an announcement in regard to fuel regulations as a means of assisting the citizens of these islands in persevering through these challenging times. It is this government's utmost responsibility to "look after the welfare of its citizens" and the amendments to this law are a step in this direction.

    I am please to advise you that the amendments to The Dangerous Substances Handling and Storage Law (2003) are finalized and I'm hoping to take these amendments to Cabinet at the next sitting. These amendments will seek to regulate the process by which the two current wholesale distributors of gasoline and diesel products, and any other distributor, who in future may operate in Cayman, can adjust their wholesale prices.

    Once these regulations are approved and gazetted, wholesale gasoline and diesel distributors must notify, in writing, the Chief Petroleum Inspector before increasing the price of their commodities. The inspector would then have the authority to approve the increase; refuse it, in part or in whole; postpone the increase to a later date; or set terms and conditions upon which the increase may be made.

    I feel that its important that you, the consumer, understand the reasons why prices in the Cayman Islands do not immediately adjust to changes with those in the United States but rather are based on the "where and when" loads were delivered. For instance, gasoline is priced and invoiced at the time of the tanker loading, and any increase or decrease in oil prices after the tanker has loaded will not be reflected in the prices here.

    Prices in the Gulf, where most of our petroleum is sourced were very high three to four weeks ago because of Hurricane Ike. This region accounts for about fifty percent of the US refinery production, but with the shortages created by the closure of fourteen refineries in that region, prices remained higher there while the price of oil contined to decline. At one point, Mexico a major supplier of crude oil to the US, reduced its shipments of crude to the US because of a lack of refinery capacity. In other words, the Hurricane created a disconnect between oil and gasoline prices.

    The Gulf is only one source for our gasoline, and we are aware of one tanker that arrived this weekend, which was loaded in Europe because of the uncertainity of supplies from the US Gulf Coast and the public should see a significant reduction in petroleum prices at the pump this week (sixty-two cents a gallon on gas and fifty cents a gallon on diesel). Another is expected sometime later on this week that may again affect retail pricing, hopefully in a downward direction.

    Tankers normally make what is referred to as a "Milk Run"- that is, loaded in the US - with stops in two or three ports on the way to Grand Cayman then onto Belize. The norm is now changing, and tankers are now loading in Trinidad, Europe and the Caribbean depending on price and/or product availability.

    We have been monitorning the prices that retailers offer, as they too have a responsibility to the public. We are aware that while some of these retailers have already adjusted the prices, there are still those that have not and I stongly encourage those of you that have not yet made this reduction, to do so immediately.

    We would also like to remind the public that, in working with the fuel companies, we introduced the display of fuel prices at all service stations throughout the islands, and encourage the consumer to take advantage of these and "shop around." If one continues to sell at the higher price, then maybe another on your route is selling at the lower price. You can also find the station prices on the planning website; www. planning.gov.ky. Click on the Petroleum Inspectorate link.

    The average price of regular and premium self serve gasoline in the US today is $2.91 and $3.18 and in the Cayman Islands about $4.28 and $4.32. US and CI prices per gallon are equal when converting, because the conversion factor for both dollars and gallons is about 1.2.

    Residents should also see a reduction in your CUC bills. CUC is billed by using the weighted average invoicing of all ships received during a calendar month; the weighted average of billings to CUC for October are less than the average in September. As a result, October bills should reflect a reduction in costs with further reductions in the coming months as well. For example if your bill was $418 last month, you should expect it to be $390 with this reduction in October and then $359 in November.

    We would take this opportunity to encourage the consumer to also practice energy conservation by turning off any electrical fixture not in use; a light, a radio, a toaster; small things that will make even a bigger difference.

    In conclusion, oil prices are siphoning money out of everyone's pocket, and I assure you that this Government will continue to monitor petroleum prices and make the necessay announcements to ensure that our citizens are not taken advantage of and that wholesalers and retailers operate responsibly.

    Thank you.

    For further information contact: Bina Mani