Year in Review, December 2009

History made in Cabinet

Premier McKeeva Bush chaired the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 1 December – the first time a Caymanian elected official had done so.

The historic occasion was made possible by the commencement of the new constitution on 6 November. Previously, the chief secretary – now known as the deputy governor – chaired the meetings in the governor’s absence.

Mr. Bush said he was ‘honoured and humbled’ to have made history in that manner.

‘The new constitution allows Caymanian to assume a more visible role at the country’s helm, even as it encourages us to assume greater responsibility for our actions.

‘This can only be a positive thing for us as people,’ he added.

Trash piling up

On Tuesday, 8 December, it was reported that staff shortages within the Department of Environmental Health led to fewer rubbish collections in some areas of the island.

Director of Environmental Health Roydell Carter said he hoped that all the jobs would be filled before Christmas.

Some collections were being made once a week instead of twice and some residents said the rubbish was being collected even less than that.

The government’s moratorium on hiring, as well as the departure of some employees, had affected staffing levels in the department, the director told the Caymanian Compass.

Christmas jeers

Alcohol wholesalers and retailers on Grand Cayman were preparing themselves for a substantial increase for duties charged on imported beer, wine and spirits in the run up to Christmas.

They were not sure when the new charges would take effect but the proposed January date had been moved up during the previous week’s Legislative Assembly proceedings. The duty hike was expected to occur some time before the Christmas holiday, but subsequently occurred on 4 January.

Alcohol supply warehouses were locked down during customs inspections until officers completed their work. Some liquor stores increased stock at their own retail outlets, but whether that was due to the duty increases or simply because of the busy holiday season wasn’t clear.

New floating bar for Stingray city

A long-rumoured floating bar to service swim-up customers at Stingray City was given the green light, it was reported on Tuesday, 15 December.

The Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman granted a retail liquor license and music and dancing license to Bernie Bush for the new operation. Mr Bush, a former political candidate, said the idea had been well received by the tourism industry.

He said his boat was not intended to compete with existing businesses, such as daytime charters, but would be an anchored bar boat customers could swim up to.

Concerns about loud music, litter and toilet facilities were addressed by Mr. Bush who said he would be working under advice from the Port Authority, the Department of the Environment and others to set up the boat to required specifications.

BA humbug

On Thursday, 17 December, travel plans were in chaos following the announcement of a 12-day strike by British Airways employees.

The walkout was scheduled to take place between 22 December and 2 January. It had been called by the cabin crew’s union Unite in response to BA’s planned cutbacks of staff on long-haul flights and a wages freeze.

Trina Christian of Cayman Islands Tourism Association pointed out that while the planned strikes could cause significant disruption, the UK was not the major source for Cayman tourism.

The airline applied for an emergency court injunction to prevent a walk-out, contending that the ballot was invalid as it contained ex-employees of BA, and the strike did not go ahead.