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Cabinet focuses on Sister Islands with news of housing and new projects

Hon Kurt Tibbetts, Leader of
Government Business

Tuesday,  September 27, 2005

Hon Kurt Tibbetts, Leader of Government Business and Minister of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture & Housing, has revealed that the Affordable Housing issue was likely to be sorted out in Cayman Brac sooner than in Grand Cayman.

Recently he said that the Government still had “a matter of weeks” to wait for recommendations from the new Board of the National Housing Community Development Trust (NHCDT) on the way forward for Affordable Housing on Grand Cayman.

However at Friday’s press briefing 23 September he said that Cabinet was “in the process of finalising plans for affordable housing on Cayman Brac”.

He said that Cabinet had recently approved the establishment of a company in relation to this and more information would be available in only a few short weeks.

A ship-to-ship transfer project was also announced for Cayman Brac, a project raised by the Leader of Government business some time ago. He said that proposals were just about coming in and the Government was reviewing proposals and draft contracts were being assessed, and he expressed the hope that the Government would be able to move quickly on this project.

This could be a significant revenue earner for the Brac when the Island becomes a meeting place for ships, in some cases very large ones as well as the smaller ones used to transfer loads from the huge cargo ships.

In short under such a project smaller ships take loads into areas the larger vessels cannot go. The Brac would then earn royalties based on the number of barrels transferred.

In addition, Cayman Brac would be the fuel and supply stop for these vessels.

The Islands is said to be ideal for this project because the waters surrounding the Brac have very little continental shelf and larger ships are able to come right in to the Island.

Minister of Health and Human Services, Hon Anthony Eden, spoke about Faith Hospital on the Brac and said that dialysis services should be available there by December 2005. 

“The dialysis machine is at Cayman Islands Hospital and the nurse has commenced her four-month training there. If the HSA is successful in recruiting more trained dialysis nurses, the service at Faith Hospital can be started earlier.”

Minister of Communications, Works and Infrastructure, Hon Arden McLean revealed an incentive programme to encourage growth in the media industry on the Brac. He said that Cabinet had agreed to reduce fees to media entities on the Islands by as much as 75 percent.

He also said that the 6 per cent regulatory fee charged on gross advertising revenues would be waived in relation to Cayman Brac.

Minister of Tourism, Environment, Investment & Commerce, Hon Charles Clifford, revealed that the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau had developed an investor targeting strategy for the Sister Islands as well.

The focus on the Brac wes welcomed, especially as most of the projects announced by the Cabinet Members were areas of potential revenue stream.

Income sources are still troubling issues for the Government with the shortfall of $25 million still looming over the administration.

Speaking about the budget Mr Tibbetts pointed out that the first step in finding the additional income needed involved going through the existing revenue streams and closely examining them. 

He pointed out that, “While anything is possible, it is not anticipated that the extraordinary expenditure needed throughout this year and last year would be needed on a regular basis.”

However, as far as identifying specific sources for additional income for this period Mr Tibbetts pointed to the Local Companies Licence and revenue from licensing agreements with private companies that lease space on Government towers.

Apart from those sources, Mr Tibbetts said he did not want to “pre-empt discussions by pointing fingers in any one direction.”

Traditionally, environmental care is good news for everyone in the Cayman Islands – especially against the background of the significant role tourism plays in the economy here – and Mr Clifford brought news on the upcoming coral reef restoration project.

Hurricane Ivan had some amount of negative impact on reefs locally and regionally. In an effort to assist the recovery of reefs that have been affected, successful restoration programmes have been carried out and a lot of the science and methodology is now clearly understood.

Mr Clifford said that during the next two weeks the Department of Environment (DOE) would be working with The Reef Ball Foundation to do a training and experimental coral restoration programme in waters offshore the Seven Mile Beach. He said that the Foundation “is a public, non-profit charity, based in the United States that works to restore aquatic ecosystems worldwide and has conducted 5000 projects in 50 countries.”

The Foundation’s world renowned Coral Team is essentially a volunteer network of hundreds of specially trained experts in the field of coral propagation, coral rescue and coral planting.

“The DOE staff can join a five-day training and experimental reef restoration programme under the instruction of the team.

“The work will be carried out at the existing Marriott Hotel Reef Ball site and at a second site further offshore of the Seven Mile Beach.

“The project will only use imperilled corals, that is, corals that would otherwise die within a year if left alone. The project will also utilise coral propagation rather than transplanting. That is, new coral colonies are actually made so that even with some fragment losses, the original colonies survive and are multiplied,” he said.

In such a project, very small coral fragments are used, typically the size that would fit into a 35mm film canister. This means that thousands of coral colonies can be created from very small amounts of imperilled colonies.


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