LoGB Press Briefing Statements
The Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP,
Leader of Government Business (Premier Designate)
and Minister of Financial Services, Tourism and Development
Press Briefing, Thursday, 23 July 2009
Minister Bush announced a mid-August date for the signing of Cayman's twelfth Tax Information Exchange Agreement; the opening of a Dubai Investment Bureau Office; new Health Services Authority and CINICO board members; and construction costs for the new high schools. He also delivered statements regarding the appointment of an immigration review committee, and donations made by various private sector organisations.
Date Set for Twelfth TIEA
As an update to my statement regarding Tax Information Exchange Agreements last week, I am pleased to announce that on Thursday, 13 August in Washington, I will be signing Cayman's twelfth agreement with New Zealand.
Discussions continue with Australia, Canada, France, German, Italy, Mexico, and Portugal.
This government continues in its commitment to expeditiously complete these agreements in order to remove the Cayman Islands from the OECD's grey list.
Dubai Investment Bureau Office
During my last administration, considerable energies were invested in investigating additional locations for attracting investors to Cayman.
As part of that initiative, a Cayman Islands Investment Bureau office was established in Hong Kong and plans were afoot to establish another in Dubai.
In short order, the Dubai office is scheduled to be opened.
As a member of the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) countries, Dubai, also part of the United Arab Emirates, presents tremendous investment potential for our Islands.
The GCC countries - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - have all benefited tremendously from high oil prices and in recent years have experienced a broad-based economic boom.
According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute study, even priced at a low of US $50 per barrel, the GCC would still earn US $4.7 trillion in oil export revenues up until 2020.
Together, these six countries accounted for 18 percent of global oil production and 39 percent of oil exports in 2006. Overall, the region enjoys a high degree of political stability. Record oil export receipts have been reflected in sound government revenues, current account surpluses, large accumulations of foreign assets and an investment boom.
With surpluses in hand, the GCC has embarked on investment and development plans which differ from those of previous oil booms in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, there is more diversification.
We are now witnessing a shift from the public to the private sector as the main engine of growth, as well as a reduced dependency on petroleum and natural gas.
Gulf Corporation Council governments are increasing foreign investment in areas such as infrastructure, tourism, manufacturing, energy, agriculture and real estate. This government would be negligent if we failed to place Cayman in a position to benefit from these investment trends.
Mr. John Papesh will head the Dubai Investment Bureau. He has 15 years experience in international marketing and finance, and extensive investor contacts in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
Currently managing director of Pharos Financial Group - an American hedge fund and financial advisory group - Mr. Papesh has also been a strategic marketing consultant for international real estate developers and investment trusts, including the Ritz Carlton, and Kerzner and Capella Hotels & Resorts.
He previously spent ten years with Dart Management Ltd. and Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd., his final position being vice-president of marketing and public affairs. Mr. Papesh also ran the charitable arm of the Dart Foundation in the Cayman Islands.
He holds a master's degree in public relations from Michigan State University and a bachelor's in economics from Providence College, Rhode Island.
He has very strong and established relationships in the United Arab Emirates, where he resides, with numerous institutional investors, government and royal dignitaries, and high net worth investors.
Further, Mr. Papesh has served as a director on 65 boards and he has been featured in several print media publications, including the Caymanian Compass, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Emirates Business 24/7.
He holds both American and Caymanian passports.
I am delighted to welcome him to our team and look forward to him negotiating major investment opportunities on our behalf.
At a later date, additional details will be disseminated regarding the Dubai office opening. Plans to re-open the Hong Kong office are also ongoing and we are investigating possibilities in both China and Japan.
HSA, CINICO Boards Announced
I am glad to announce today that new boards have been appointed for the Health Services Authority and the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company.
New Health Services Authority Board Members
- We are extremely grateful to Mr. Canover Watson for accepting the position of chairman. With his financial background he is ideally suited to guide the HSA through these difficult times. Since his appointment as board member in September 2008 he has shown a tremendous commitment to the hospital and has been working diligently to reduce the authority's deficit.
- So in accordance with the Health Services Authority (Amendment) Law, 2009 and the Health Services Authority Law (2005 Revision), the following persons have been appointed to serve on the Health Services Authority Board of Directors for a period of one year effective 1 September this year: As chairman, Mr Canover Watson, as deputy chairman, Mr. Peter Young, and as members Mr. Tommy Ebanks, Ms. Wanda Ebanks, Ms. Raquel Solomon, Mr. Ryan Walrond and Ms. Nina Banks.
New CINICO Board Members
- As for the new CINICO Board, the most significant change is the fact that we have not named the HSA Board Chairman to the CINICO Board, as was previously the practice. We believe this move will avoid all possible conflicts of interest, and will serve both institutions well.
- Although there are considerable changes to the CINICO Board membership, we want to say that the national insurance company is doing a fine job and financially it is on a good footing. However, we deemed it sensible to bring in new board members that will be able to use their expertise to review CINICO's organisational structure and service delivery model to further improve its product.
- Effective from 1 July this year, the following persons have been granted approval by the Governor in Cabinet to serve as members of the Board of Directors of the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company in accordance with the Company's Articles of Association: As chairman Mr. Dale Crowley, as deputy chairman Mr. Seamus Tivnan, and as members Mr. John Douglas (reappointed immediately), Dr. Ruthlyn Pomares, Mr. Armando Ebanks, Mr. Carl Brown, Mrs. Darlee Ebanks and as ex-officio member the chief officer of the Ministry of Health Ms. Jennifer Ahearn, or her nominee.
New Schools: Clifton Hunter and John Gray
- The previous PPM Administration promised us new schools; what they have left us with is a national concern: monuments to excess, irresponsible management and a crippling financial drain on our country's resources.
- Yes, we needed schools. But did we need schools that will cost us well over $117,573,219.00 in construction costs? And over 10.5 million has been spent on auxiliary costs so far. These are just the hard costs. And then there are the costs we do not know, because they have not been quantified: the millions that will be needed for furniture and fittings, maintenance, staffing, etc.
- Did we need kitchen facilities whose equipment alone is estimated at $750,000 for each school, and includes a state-of-the-art "Demonstration Kitchen" but which the Department of Education Services now says will not provide them with the stoves and other basic equipment they need to teach basic home economics and food and catering courses?
- These are the types of excesses you get when you don't establish a budget, but tell designers and architects to build to meet your "educational vision", a vision of the "future" I am told.
- And then most unbelievable of all, despite all of this money, the Chief Education Officer has advised that when these schools open we will not have sufficient space to accommodate the projected 2,000 Caymanian students that will need spaces.
- Who are we building these schools for? Will they translate into better teaching and learning for our students? Will they allow us to deliver our curriculum? These are fundamental questions. We have heard many concerns raised by the educators that seem to have gone unheeded.
- The academy concept, or school within a school concept, is a major contributor to the costs of these schools. While having small groups of students taught together may be desirable, the cost is prohibitive. Also, the fact that many countries and many of our private schools are not only able to cope with students in numbers greater than 250, but outstrip us time and again in student performance should have been a reality check.
Addressing these issues must be considered a national priority. Professionals from within the construction industry have joined with the project team to look at opportunities for containing or reducing costs on these schools. However, we are limited in what can be done at this stage of construction.
We have recently met with the contractors and have presented a cost savings proposal. The ministry is awaiting a formal response and will move this process forward in order to accrue as much savings as possible.
The ministry has also worked to enhance accountability and the management of these projects.
- A steering committee has been established.
- The ministry has worked with experienced GOAP Project Manager Jim Scott, to establish a more effective project management structure overall and will recruit an overall project manager.
- The ministry has negotiated a way forward to resolve outstanding claims through conciliation and mediation processes. These meetings have produced positive outcomes thus far. However, we are still a far way from a resolution but we are looking at what can be done.
Immigration Review Team
Terms of Reference
- To undertake a comprehensive review of immigration policies, procedures and practices, and make recommendations for changes to the Immigration Law, directions, and regulations in light of the economic issues now facing the Cayman Islands as a consequence of the global financial crisis.
- To provide detailed solutions for the streamlining of the entire work permit application process to ensure that both temporary work permits and annual work permits are processed in a fair and efficient manner.
- To re-examine and highlight any additional issues related to the application and enforcement of the Immigration Law, 2008 (Revision) which warrant attention and to advise on appropriate courses of action to address those issues.
- To address a number of anomalies and technical deficiencies that have come to light since the coming into effect of the Immigration Law 2008 (Revision) or prior to that, which have not been adequately addressed before. It being likely that some areas that need attention may have been missed either in whole or in part.
- To identify areas of omission and the removal of certain previously existing provisions in the Law by the previous Government such as the right to appeal a refusal of key employee status and the removal of the Residency Provisions for Entrepreneurs and Investors, and To consider their reintroduction into the Law in an amended form.
- To re-examine the implementation of the Business Staffing Plan provisions to ensure that employers are receiving an adequate degree of certainty in relation to their future staffing needs whilst at the same time safeguarding the employment, training and upward mobility of Caymanians within the work force
- To consult with stakeholders when necessary to obtain their views or suggestions on particular matters.
- To produce a report on the team's findings and recommendations for Cabinet within a reasonable timeframe.
- To liaise with Legislative Drafting in the preparation of draft amending Legislation (where necessary).
Recommended Constitution of the IRT 2009 Membership
- Chairperson, Mrs. Sherri Ann Bodden-Cowan, (Chairperson of the Trade and Business Licensing Board).
- Deputy Chairperson, Mr. Ezzard Miller MLA
- Betty Baraud
- Paulette Anglin Lewis
- Erma Arch
- Two Official Ministers/Members of Govt.
- Representative from Legal Drafting
The following persons should also be co-opted to assist:
- Mr. Bruce Smith, (Deputy Chief Immigration Officer)
- Mr. Christopher Eakin, (Policy Advisor to the Immigration Board)
The team will also have the ability, where necessary to co-op individuals with varying degrees of expertise.
Community Affairs Donations
Last week, I referred to on-going efforts to strengthen our communities by enhancing collaboration between government, residents and the private sector.
A key component of community-building is ensuring that we provide the necessary support to assist families, especially those with young children and the elderly, to cope during these harsh economic times.
In that vein, I announce that the Children and Youth Services Foundation (CAYS) has received a grant of CI$41,800.00 from the Hedge Fund Care Cayman. This will facilitate hiring a part-time employee to work on the CAYS Family Reunification Programme (FRP).
The FRP is designed to strengthen vulnerable families whenever a child is preparing to return home, following a stay at either of CAYS two residential homes, Frances Bodden and Bonaventure.
Aimed at ensuring a smooth transition to home life, the programme provides families with counseling, coaching and mentoring for parents. It also creates discipline models and behavioural strategies for the families.
Other notable charitable contributions are a CI$7,500 and US$10,000 donation by First Caribbean Bank, and a CI$10,000 gift by Caribbean Structures Ltd. to assist in furnishing and equipping the West Bay Golden Age Home. This home of course falls under the Department of Children and Family Services.
As we look forward to shortly completing work at the home, I am grateful that the community is responding so positively and generously to enable our senior residents to receive the amenities and equipment needed to ensure a decent quality of life.
I also thank Mourant Cayman and its staff for donating US$5,341, and the Business and Professional Women's Club for giving CI$700 to assist with DCSF client participation in summer camps for youngsters.
While the burden for social service still rests with Government, success is dependent on communal effort. As such in going forward, I will be working more closely with the private sector; government departments and individual residents in the effort to restructure and improve the system.
For further information contact: Kenisha Morgan