First LA-approved Cabinet statuses granted

Businessmen Harry Chandi and William Maines have become the first people to be granted Caymanian status by Cabinet since the change in the Immigration 
Law in 2005. 

Legislators voted overwhelmingly for the two men to be given the right to be Caymanian on Monday. It was the first time the Legislative Assembly has voted to endorse status grants approved by Cabinet under the law, which was amended to prevent Cabinet approving mass status grants. 

Under the current process, applicants can apply to the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board, which makes recommendations to Cabinet. If Cabinet agrees with the recommendations, the matter is then put before the 
Legislative Assembly. 

Cayman Islands Deputy Governor Franz Manderson brought a government motion to grant Mr. Chandi and Mr. Maines the right to be Caymanian under the Immigration Law, citing their efforts in business and charitable and 
community work. 

Mr. Manderson said that under the Immigration Law, Cabinet can grant four status grants a year, but no Caymanian status has been granted by Cabinet since the law was amended in 2005.  

“Given the very strong contributions those gentlemen have made to the Cayman Islands, it was felt they were deserving of the right to be Caymanian,” Mr. Manderson said. 

He cited efforts by Mr. Maines to bring supplies on his plane to Cayman after Hurricane Ivan and his donation of a defibrillator to a sports organisation following the death of a young man who may have been saved if one had been available, as well as other 
charitable work. 

The deputy governor also laid out the ties Mr. Chandi had built up in the Cayman Islands since first he came here in 2001 and since obtaining permanent residence in 2008, including helping to save the life of a young girl who needed heart surgery by paying for her and her mother to go to India for the operation and funding a young man who is disabled following a shooting and his mother to go to the Special Olympics. 

North Side Member of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller was the only member to vote against the motion. He said he objected strongly to the granting of Caymanian status to Mr. Chandi and Mr. Maines. He said he did not know either man, but had not been impressed by their dossier of business interests and charitable work that Mr. Manderson had read out to legislators. 

Among the reasons why Mr. Chandi should be granted status, Mr. Manderson said, was that he had introduced Dr. Devi Shetty, who is the force behind the planned Health City Cayman Islands, to the Cayman Islands. Mr. Miller said several people had laid claim to bringing Dr. Shetty to Cayman and he questioned whether the forecast of the Indian cardiologist’s proposed medical tourism hospital doubling Cayman’s economy and giving employment to thousands of Caymanians would come to fruition. 

“I pray and hope that the day soon arrives. We’ve been at least two years in the waiting and there’s not a lot that has been done by that group to fulfil these promises,” said Mr. Miller, adding that he could not place any confidence that “that will ever happen” and therefore he could not support Mr. Chandi being granted the right to be Caymanian on the basis of the progress of the Shetty hospital. 

He also questioned the amount of charitable work both men had done in the community, saying that giving cash to charities and paying for charitable actions did not equate to getting personally involved in charitable work. 

Mr. Miller said the granting of Caymanian status by Cabinet should be reserved for “very, very special people”. “In my humble opinion … neither of these two people rises to that bar and the investment criteria listed by the mover [Mr. Manderson] does not impress 
me,” he said. 

Mr. Manderson had pointed out that Mr. Chandi’s Magnum Jewellers had provided employment locally and that he had also been instrumental in preventing the Marriott from closing down and the subsequent job losses to 135 employees by introducing an investor who went on to 
buy the hotel. 

But Mr. Miller suggested that jewellery stores had existed in Cayman long before Mr. Chandi started doing business here and that large jewellery stores had driven at least one local jewellers, Caymania, out of business. 

The North Side MLA added that he was aware that his opposition to these status grants would add to his reputation as being “anti-expatriate”, but said he was prepared to wear that label “because these are the kinds of people that we allow into our country. We welcome them … we provide them with opportunities and as soon as they get in charge, they drive Caymanians out of business and they take the hard cold business line, which is what got them in the position they’re in to able to come here and purchase Caymanian status, because that’s what this is.” 

He continued: “Caymanians are finding it increasingly more difficult to enter the competitive environment of entrepreneurs because we as a government and governments before have consistently done this kind of thing and allowed these people, once they get that certificate, the right to be Caymanian, it goes to all their generations, it goes to all their people and we have no more control over them.” 

In the past, Cabinet could unilaterally grant Caymanian status to individuals. Much controversy surrounded the granting of more than 2,850 grants in 2003 by McKeeva Bush’s Cabinet. 

The law governing Cabinet’s power to grant status was changed after the People’s Progressive Movement came to power. 

Leader of the Opposition Alden McLaughlin said his party’s government had implemented the change in the Immigration Law so there would be a limit of just four people per year granted status by Cabinet and also more transparency about who was given status, by ensuring the amendment to the law included that each status Cabinet approved had to get the permission of the Legislative Assembly. 

Although the reasons why Mr. Maines and Mr. Chandi were laid out by Mr. Manderson to the Legislative Assembly, Mr. McLaughlin said it was “grossly unfair” to members not to know in advance about the basis on which the grants were being made, so they had time to digest them before ratifying the grant. 

Premier Bush also supported the motion to grant Caymanian status to Mr. Chandi and Mr. Maines. He defended his government’s decision in 2003 to grant the almost 3,000 status grants at the time, saying it had been necessary to protect many of the “hard-working Jamaicans” in this territory who had made their 
homes in Cayman. 

Mr. Manderson said that under the Immigration Law, Cabinet can grant four status grants a year, but no Caymanian status has been granted by Cabinet since the law was amended in 2005.  

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5 COMMENTS

  1. You know WHATEVER. The rich people get the vote.
    I have been trying to get status or residency
    forever. Don’t have the money or a condo to give to MacKeevaa. I am out of luck.
    I am probably the only one that works for a living and makes things happen around here. I guess that doesnn’t count.
    As long as you have a bag full of money

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  2. Case, if you are going to be in Cayman, you may as well get used to that, it seems to be the Caymanian way. Respect only goes to people with a pocket full of money. And then only when they are handing it out, because if you stop or can’t anymore so will the respect. In my experience with Cayman it seems that everything you try to accomplish has a price tag attached to it.

    Whether these two guys deserve status or not is not for me to say but it is a hell of a lot easier to win people over when you have a lot of money to throw around. As for Miller, I don’t think he’d ever approve of anyone not born in Cayman with two born Caymanian parents ever being welcome as a Caymanian no matter what they’ve done.

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