Candidates Forum – George Town South
The event is finished.
- Mar 30 2021
- 7:15 pm - 9:30 pm
CayGoods is a safe, online shopping platform to purchase premium items for your home. It enables you to shop for all your home goods, and then have them delivered directly to your door. It was started by Albert Voaden, just over a year and a half ago, to help offer the people of Cayman a convenient and affordable option to buy goods online. “We have everything you need, from furniture to appliances to garden and backyard items,” said Albert, who has nearly two decades of experience importing goods from North America to the Cayman Islands. What has been your biggest challenge? “The biggest challenge has been not foreseeing the impact of increasing scams, both on-line and on island. It is disheartening to see the distrust this has caused in our community, which automatically assumes that new start-up businesses are scams. CayGoods takes extra care to ensure that our customers card information is not accessible to any CayGoods staff. Full card details are only seen by Plug N Pay, who is our payment gateway.” Why should local customers choose CayGoods instead of dealing directly with a large online platform such as Amazon? “Amazon does not deliver to the Cayman Islands. The beauty of CayGoods is that our prices are all inclusive. You do not need to worry about Flat Freight fees, duty, warehouse fees, service fees, bunker fees, port fees, insurance, Freight fees per CU., or brokerage fees. You know all your costs up front before you order. We don’t charge you extra unknown amounts after you have purchased something abroad. Most people appreciate this level of transparency. What you see is what you pay for. The only extra fee is a flat delivery fee of $19 per order, with up to 400 items per order. Products are delivered directly to your door.” You can find more about CayGoods here: https://caygoods.com/
Align is a multi-disciplinary Wellness Centre offering essential healthcare to the people of the Cayman Islands and the many visitors to our shores. It first began in 2017 after Align’s founders, David Dyer, Eamon Wilson, and Noel Watkins identified a need to encompass a wide range of therapeutic and wellness services within a state-of-the-art facility that was lacking in the Cayman Islands. “Our vision is to become the preferred Wellness Centre in the Cayman Islands, through innovative services, professional practitioners, and products that enhance the well-being of all residents in the Cayman Islands,” said Align’s Allan Blake. “Over the past few years, we’ve added Occupational Therapy, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Acupuncture, and increased our presence in the Sister Islands by having weekly visits to Cayman Brac. The most recent areas of growth have been the opening of a second location at Harbour Walk in Red Bay which would allow our services to become easily accessible by residents in the eastern districts.” Align is also presently relocating their Camana Bay location to much bigger premises, which will see an expanded range of products and services, moving into 2024. “We are fortunate to have an excellent relationship with the Department of Health and Regulatory Services, especially the Council of Professions Allied with Medicine, who have been exceptional in supporting health care in the Cayman Islands. We’re grateful for their continued support,” Mr. Blake said. “Every member of our team has a distinct passion for delivering care to our patients, whether it was brought on by personal experiences, or an innate passion. We’re honored and humbled to be instrumental in providing support along a patient’s journey to wellness.”
It’s time to enjoy one of the Chamber’s most entertaining networking events: the annual Chamber Golf Classic, on Friday 3 November at the North Sound Golf Club. The highly anticipated four-person scramble attracts a crowd each year. Golfers will compete for outstanding prizes for males and females with the closest to the pin and longest drives. The top scoring teams will win an array of prizes including bragging rights for the year. Funds from this year’s tournament will be contributed to the Junior Achievement programme. In previous years beneficiaries have included Meals on Wheels, Jasmine Palliative & Hospice Care, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, and many more. Don’t miss the excellent opportunity to network and experience the business camaraderie. The tournament is being held at North Sound Golf Club, and the 24 teams involved will be battling it out for pride, bragging rights, and some terrific prizes donated by our members. The event will round off with an awards ceremony, a grand raffle draw, and plenty of food, too! Please contact Emily Sintorn at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 734-9126 if you’d like to sponsor a hole or enter a team. This event sells out quickly so don’t delay.
Nominations for VoTech Stars – the workforce development programme promoting Caymanians who are shining in technical and vocational careers, are now being accepted. Created just over a year ago – you have probably already seen the first six VoTech Stars, featured on billboards all over the Cayman Islands – VoTech stars highlights six different Caymanians as they talk about their chosen career, why they are passionate about it, and their recommendations to others who are thinking of entering it. The first six VoTech Stars represented a wide spectrum including a firefighter, a diving technician, an AC technician, and a Heavy Equipment operator, but nominations and not limited to these, can come from any Caymanian you know who really excels in the technical and vocational career they have chosen work – and who is passionate about telling others about it. Each of the six VoTech Star will be featured in a video to discuss their job, why they love it, the challenges they face and offer advice for Caymanians who may wish to pursue the field. Categories include Automotive and Mechanical, Computer Services, Construction and Architecture, Cosmetology, Culinary services, Diving and watersports, first responder, AC, plumbing and electrical, Legal/office assistants/ inspectors, Medical and nursing, and Technology. You can also nominate people in other areas of vocational and technical fields that are not listed above.
Nominations are being accepted from interested members in good standing who would wish to be considered to serve on the Council. The following positions are available for nomination: Vice President Treasurer Councillor (three positions) The Vice President role is a four-year commitment. Once elected, the Vice President would automatically assume the office of President-Elect (2025), President (2026), and Immediate Past President (2027). The Vice President serves on the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee meets monthly or more frequently if necessary. The Treasurer is elected each year and is responsible for overseeing the financial operations of the organisation and works closely with the Chief Executive Officer and chairs the Budget and Finance Committee. The Treasurer also serves on the Executive Committee. A Councillor serves two years (2024 & 2025) and is responsible for providing the Council with updates on the industry sector that he/she represents. The Council is the policy making body for the organisation and works closely with the Chief Executive Officer to develop the Chamber’s Strategic Plan, Advocacy Plan and Legislative Agenda. If you wish to be considered for any of the above roles, please submit a short biography and a picture to email@example.com by November 15, 2023.
Our Islands’ destiny is shaped by its leaders. Seafarers piloted ships and schooners around the world, and then returned home to establish new businesses. Devoted wives and mothers stayed behind to maintain homes and communities. Visionary pioneers established the framework for Cayman’s banking and tourism sectors. Ensuring high caliber leaders for tomorrow is the best way to ensure Cayman’s future prosperity. That is why the Chamber believes in nurturing and developing tomorrow’s leaders, ensuring Cayman’s future will be in good hands, through three of its programmes: Leadership Cayman which is aimed at adults who are already in middle management and above, while Junior Achievement and Mentoring Cayman are both aimed at high school students. Leadership Cayman is a unique, six-month leadership development programme enabling experienced leaders from the public and private sector to share their knowledge and experience through a series of 12 seminars and tours of key locations. Wide ranging topics include financial services, the media in our community, criminal justice, tourism, and sustainability. Applications for the next class, beginning in 2024, are now open. To be eligible for application, you must be at least 25 years old, be in a middle management position, and have been resident in the Cayman Islands for at least a year at the time of application. For more information about the programme and how to apply, visit https://www.leadershipcayman.ky/ Junior Achievement empowers young people to own their economic success by offering in-school and after-school practical business, economics and entrepreneurship-oriented workshops, and even encourages young people to start their own business, where they make and market their own product. The programme is offered free of charge to students and schools, teaching students about work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. This year the programme took place in all of Cayman’s high schools – reaching more than 300 students in all. It is looking forward to another successful year in 2024, and if you would like to volunteer to help facilitate the programme in 2024, then contact Swan at 743-9124 or visit the website: https://www.jacayman.ky/ Mentoring Cayman pairs high achieving Year 11 students with successful leaders from the business community or government, through shared career goals and common interests. For six months the young person shadows their mentor, acquiring skills and tips on how to prepare for their future career path. It’s a programme the Chamber provides in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Culture & Heritage and has been in operation since 2002. The motivation and encouragement of a leading business professional in the Cayman Islands is priceless, and the students in our community benefit greatly from such interaction. The Chamber helps to ensure Cayman’s future success, by nurturing and developing its future leaders, and in addition to the above programmes, the Chamber Training Centre has many courses aimed at dynamic and effective leadership, such as the highly acclaimed Ken Blanchard series. Visit: https://www.caymanchamber.ky/events-training/ to learn more about future training offerings.
Cayman Islands like most of the developing world is most affected by climate change but has contributed the least to the problem. Meanwhile, rich countries historically exacerbated the environmental crisis and grew wealthy as a result — but aren’t helping developing countries build climate resilience, which is now more crucial than ever to slowing climate change everywhere. Economist Avinash Persaud has an ambitious proposal to reimagine that dynamic: the Bridgetown Initiative, a groundbreaking vision of how rich countries can catalyze climate mitigation, contribute to loss and damages, and help build a sustainable future for all. A TED EX presentation can be found here. https://www.ted.com/talks/avinash_persaud_the_climate_crisis_is_expensive_here_s_who_should_pay_for_it Bringing on the real-life impact of climate change, Mr. Persaud highlighted the devastation wrought by the increasing frequency of hurricanes. He quoted from Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, after the passage of Hurricane Maria: “Dominicans have lost everything, money can buy in four hours.” Dominica declared they will rebuild as the world’s first climate-resilient nation: “They dust themselves off, stand tall and resolute, and invite the world’s experts in. Turns out, the Dominicans have the real insights. We made a list of all the things they had to do in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and asked what they would have to do now so they wouldn’t have to do that next time around. And the answers kept on heading higher. Energy and health resilient systems. National and regional food security and then global, because there’s no real alternative to halting climate change.” “The majority of greenhouse gas emissions, 63 percent and climbing, are now coming from developing countries…The rich say to the poor, “You need to ban emissions, tax carbon, shift into renewables and get with the programme.” But that would slow the growth of developing countries. They’d have to borrow a lot at high interest rates to invest in the new, decommission the old, find new jobs for old coal miners and more. And why should they? The rich cause global warming. “I figured that the way to break this impasse is if we stop only looking at ourselves and make the cost of resilience so cheap, the flow of finance after a disaster so immediate, the green transformation of developing countries so profitable, that we turn reluctance into a scramble. There’s no extra time. We’re on countdown. And that is the essence of the Bridgetown Initiative.”
Council representatives – especially those in the building, architecture, and planning fields – sat down with Ministry and Planning department representatives recently to discuss solutions to the long delays that have prevented projects from being completed on time. In 2022 the Council submitted a list of specific issues relating to delays in getting plans passed and certificates of occupancy issues in a letter to Minister of Planning Hon Jay Ebanks. The recent meeting was a good opportunity to explore ways in which the Ministry, Planning Department and the Construction sector, working together, could explore ways of resolving them. Chamber representatives included President, Nelson Dilbert, Secretary Dave Johnson, Managing Director of Corporate Electric, and Councilor Dan Definis, Head of Cayman Contractors Association met with Planning representatives including Parliamentary Secretary Isaac Rankin, Director of Planning, Haroon Pandohie, Acting Chief Officer, Andrea Fa’amoe, and Deputy Chief Officer Tristan Hydes. The concerns focused on operations of the Planning Department and the Building and Control Unit because delays concerning electrical and building inspections are weeks behind for many projects. Rising lending rates have exacerbated the problem, increasing project costs to a point where the project may no longer be viable. During Covid, virtual inspections worked well. The Council representatives asked to see these reinstated to speed up processing times. Mr. Pandohie confirmed that virtual inspections are still available, and can be requested by applicants, although it was acknowledged that this facility might not have been publicized widely enough with contractors. The impact of “failed inspections” because of minor technical issues that are easily resolved, requesting a change allowing inspectors to approve corrections made on site was also discussed. Pandohie said there was already a mechanism for this, called “In field Change Protocol” whichcould be reintroduced. Discussions highlighted the need for a system to rate service providers, so that those who are underperforming or shown to be incompetent can be flagged. Hydes also recommended that members of the construction sector take the same exams which Department of Planning staff take to increase consistency between sector and inspectors, thereby addressing the disparity in standards and resulting delays. Representatives asked if there was any way to increase staffing resources to speed up processing times. Department of Planning representatives said that more inspectors were presently being recruited. They shared a recent recommendation that third parties – private sector firms – should be able to engage in the review process, however, uptake has been limited. At present, there is only one local firm that provides this service. In addition, there have been many instances in the past of the third-party inspectors making decisions and giving approval for things outside of their authority that could have resulted in health and safety consequences, and which ended up in even longer delays. Planning delays are impacting the economy by increasing construction costs. There was discussion was had about the errors in drawings, or inconsistencies between drawing and what was built, and Department of Planning representatives emphasized need to bridge the knowledge gap between sector and code requirements, and additional challenges that were faced when international contractors are hired, who are not as familiar with Cayman’s code.
Following extensive member consultation through surveys, discussions and focus groups, the Chamber of Commerce published a position paper on the minimum wage which is being used as a basis for Immediate Past President Shomari Scott’s representation on the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee (MWAC). The Position Paper supports a minimum wage increase to between CI$7.50 and CI$8.00 per hour. The Chamber urges the Government to conduct an economic analysis to evaluate the impact of any increase in the minimum wage. The analysis should outline the social and business ramifications that support any proposed increase in the minimum wage, including the impact on different categories of employers. The assessment should also include the impact of an adjustment to the minimum wage on entry-level jobs for young people. The analysis should also include an assessment of the likely impact on inflation and should include the resources the government intends to direct at enforcement and should include input from the Ministry of Labour and Pensions, WORC and the Economics and Statistics Office showing that the long-term benefits of any increase outweigh the costs and risks. The Chamber distinguishes the concept of ‘minimum wage’ (meaning, the legal compensation floor fixed by the government) and ‘living wage,’ which is the theoretical minimum compensation amount that would allow a person to live comfortably but very modestly, based on their family size and other relevant factors. One of the arguments in favor of an increase is that it would improve conditions among low-paid and unskilled workers, providing them with increased disposable income to better cope with the increased cost of living since the implementation of the minimum wage act in 2016. An increase also increases the attractiveness of jobs to Caymanians who may otherwise remain unemployed. Also, given the Cayman Islands’ high degree of reliance on work permit holders from developing countries, the failure to raise the minimum wage means that some employers offer wages below the level Caymanians and permanent residents would consider acceptable, resulting in a segment of work permit holders living in what most Caymanians and permanent residents would consider substandard conditions. On the other hand, many Caymanian-owned small and micro businesses that are still recovering from the effects of Covid-19 may struggle to implement any increases. In sectors where market forces do not allow increased costs to be passed on to customers, the viability of some of these businesses may be threatened. Those businesses that are unable to absorb increased labor costs may be forced to reduce their numbers of staff, leading to redundancies along with diminished employment opportunities, resulting in adverse conditions for staff that are retained. The Position Paper also makes the point that, since most workers who are likely to benefit for the adjustment of the minimum wage are work permit holders, any increase would disproportionately benefit non-Caymanians, while the likely downside in terms of increasing prices and goods and services would affect all residents equally. This is exacerbated by the common knowledge that many work permit holders send their funds home, preventing the additional wages from benefitting the local economy. All industry sectors were represented in the Chamber Survey. In response to the question on whether minimum wage should be varied by industry sector, 30 of the 78 respondents to the question supported this, while 38 disagreed. Only 14 of the 78 respondents reported paying staff less than CI$10.00 an hour. Many respondents noted that their businesses would begin to be impacted if the minimum wage rate were to be increased to more than CI$8.00. One retail business that employs 10 workers said “Increasing the minimum wage by between one and two dollars wouldn’t affect me, since I am already paying around eight dollars per hour. But if it went to nine or ten dollars that would be too much. That would affect everything. I would not reduce staff because I already have a minimum staff…I feel the minimum wage is too low right now and must increase, but not to between nine and ten dollars. Another small janitorial business said, “CI$ 8.00 an hour would be OK. 9 dollars would impact on the prices and would mean I would have to reduce staff. But six dollars is too low”. The manager of a medium-sized cleaning company said that they will offer Caymanians a higher wage than they offer to work-permit holders, but this strategy has a limited success rate: “The reason for not attracting Caymanians is the nature of the job, not the wages that are paid. Our company, like many others, will offer Caymanians a much higher wage to be more attractive. But this has a very limited success rate…” Our prices are based on labour costs. The impact on our business would cause a substantial increase in our prices. The increased wage will only affect the wages of our ‘guest” workers who send most of their earnings back to their home country.” The Chamber supports an adjustment of the minimum wage but urges the Government to evaluate the economic impact of increasing the rate to ensure that the adjustment does not contribute to an increase in the cost of living of residents.
The Minimum Wage Advisory Committee (MWAC) held a Virtual Town Hall meeting in late August to provide an update on their work and to receive public feedback. Committee representatives included Lemuel Hurlston, who is the Chair, Shomari Scott, Immediate Past President and Chamber representative, Catherine Welds, an independent employee representative, Mahreen Nabi, representing the Business and Professional Women’s Club, and Ralston Henry representing the Economics and Statistics Office. The MWAC has held more than 30 meetings since convening in January this year and has entered the public consultation phase prior to the submitting of their final report and recommendations to Cabinet in October. The committee has tried to determine if there was sufficient justification in the economy to raise the minimum wage, which was set at six dollars an hour, seven and a half years ago. Each panelist explained their contribution to the MWAC. “When we first heard there was going to be a minimum wage discussion back in 2022, we started surveying our membership, and having discussions with the members of our Executive Committee and others that represent stakeholders throughout the business community as well as receiving submissions from different focus groups,’’ Mr. Scott said. Based on the member feedback received, a position paper was produced, which urged the Government to conduct an economic analysis to evaluate the impact of any minimum wage increase on each stakeholder but especially on Caymanians and residents. The analysis should include the likely effect on inflation and other economic indicators and contain a detailed description of enforcement strategies and resources, which Mr. Scott said would be vital in moving forward with any change. The analysis would also include input from the Ministry of Labour & Pensions, WORC, and the Economics and Statistics office which would show beyond reasonable doubt that the long – term benefits of a minimum wage increase would outweigh its associated costs and risks. “Increasing the level of wages offered for unskilled jobs increases the attractiveness of such jobs to Caymanians who may otherwise continue to search for other categories of employment while remaining unemployed,’” Mr. Scott said, “and that’s an important point because one of the mandates was to see at what point we could incentivize more Caymanians to take up certain jobs at certain levels. Which would help to reduce the need for imported labour.” “Adjustment of minimum wage will be met with some opposition, especially when you look at Caymanian-owned micro- and small businesses still reeling from the impacts of the pandemic,” he said. “Since its anticipated that most workers who are likely to benefit for the adjustment of the minimum wage are work permit holders, the policy would disproportionately benefit non-Caymanians, but the likely downsides of increasing prices and goods and services, especially if the increase is significant, would affect all residents equally. This is exacerbated by the common knowledge that many work permit holders regularly repatriate funds overseas, so the additional wages may not benefit the local economy.” In conclusion, Mr. Scott said, the Chamber of Commerce supported an adjustment of minimum wage while urging the government to evaluate the economic impacts to ensure that the adjustment does not contribute to an increase in the cost of living. Additionally, Mr. Scott said, the Chamber supported concurrent discussions on how we reduce the cost of various items, and what the Government can change to control and reduce its operating expenses, while focusing on improving education to ensure that we prepare Caymanians to move into the higher paying roles and reduce the stigmas which exist for certain jobs which are also well-paid. Other observations made during the panel presentations and the questions that were emailed from members of the public were that “Many employers would benefit from a staggered approach to increases.” There was also discussion about how payment schemes involving gratuities fitted in, and exactly how gratuities were to be recorded in the employee’s pay stub – an important consideration when applying for a bank loan or mortgage. Countering the idea that a rise in the minimum wage wouldn’t affect Caymanians, Ms. Welds said statistics showed, of the 3760 people at or below the minimum wage, 25% or between 800 and 900 were Caymanians, “So its not just benefitting work permit holders.” Mr. Henry also highlighted the “ripple effect,” of increasing the minimum wage, which meant that, to maintain the pay differential between a worker and their supervisor, an increase in the minimum would move up to the supervisor, too – a scenario which would also lead to benefits for Caymanians.