See: Chamber BIG DATES
Small Business Committee established
The Chamber established a Small Business Committee in January to place greater emphasis on the unique issues that face member businesses that employ fewer than 10 workers. This sector represents more than half of the Chamber membership. President David Kirkaldy appointed Secretary Len Jackson to chair the committee.
The committee has held three meetings and developed and released a small business membership survey to identify the top issues and will now develop a small business advocacy agenda. The committee will also evaluate new programmes and services to assist small businesses.
Chamber position statement confirms support for One Person, One Vote
The Chamber Council released a position statement in February supporting one person, one vote for all electoral districts in the Cayman Islands. The statement, which is posted to www.caymanchamber.ky, was based on the results of past and recent membership surveys, which indicated strong support for this form of representation.
“A small constituency with a single member, as opposed to multiple members, encourages a stronger connection between representative and constituent and increases accountability. Single member constituencies better serves every citizen and guarantees equality. Voters are often afraid of wasting their vote on a candidate who is unlikely to win, so they may feel unable to cast their vote towards their most preferable choice. This reduces the number of wasted votes,” the Chamber position statement noted.
Council of Associations develops 2012 agenda
Industry associations shared their top three priorities for 2012 during the first meeting of the group in March. More than 20 different industry associations comprise the Council. Chamber President-Elect Chris Duggan chaired the meeting.
Agenda items discussed at the meeting included the Future of Cayman economic development initiative, the UK/OT relationship review, the UK Bribery Act 2010 and its implications for local businesses, minimum wage implications, the recently passed Gender Equality Law, the results of the Chamber’s State of Business Survey, Daylight Savings Time and Sunday Trading.
The top issues of concern for the major of business associations included the cost of doing business, the inconsistent application of immigration law and regulations, government fees, competition with lower cost jurisdictions, international regulation and the slowdown in the economy.
The Council meets quarterly and plans to develop strategies to address their concerns.
Concerns raised over vacation rentals practices
The Department of Tourism and the Trade and Business Licensing Board are being asked to evaluate the practices regarding the renting of condominiums, villas and apartments for vacation rentals.
Based on representation from the sector, there are an increasing number of condominium, villa and apartment owners who own more than two units who are booking them privately or through unlicensed overseas agents who do not possess a trade and business license. These practices are causing serious ramifications to the Cayman Islands economy and the accommodation rental sector.
The estimated loss of millions of dollars in management fees, Government fees and tourism accommodation taxes, registered office fees, insurance fees and accounting fees.
Many visitors receive a bad impression of the Islands and feel isolated as many have no representation for problems (maintenance and concierge) and there is nobody to meet and greet them as is required by law.
The keys and instructions for the units are sent to guests overseas not using local agents. This is an illegal practice.
Many owners book or classify paying guests as “family and/or friends” which means that the resort manager, property manager or a licensed booking agency is liable for prosecution under the law by being the licensed operator by the Department of Tourism.
Many owners who book their own guests through their own website do not provide detailed information on the rental unit or the Islands for their guests.
The Chamber has written to Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott to confirm the process that is in place when complaints are filed with the DOT office and to Mr. Garth Arch, chairman of the Trade and Business Licensing Board recommending as part of the review of the T&B Law that all property owners should be required to execute an approved written agreement with either a local Cayman business holding a valid local license or a condominium or villas rental pool that possesses a valid license.