Turtle Farm anticipates massive losses again

Debt refinance being considered

The Cayman Turtle Farm anticipates it will lose another $9.5 million over the course of government’s next financial year, with most of that spending going toward paying off accumulated debts.  

According to the farm’s chief financial officer, who spoke in Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee last week, about $5.9 million of the “equity injection” provided by government will go toward paying off debt principal and interest. Another $3.36 million will go to pay off operational costs that the farm doesn’t earn enough money to cover.  

Turtle Farm Managing Director Tim Adam told the committee that total debt held by the tourism facility was about $22.5 million. He has said he expects all of the farm’s debts to be paid off by 2019. 

“It’s been coming down progressively each year, a little over $4 million a year the principle amount of debt is being reduced,” Mr. Adam said.  

East End MLA Arden McLean asked whether the government was considering refinancing some of the Turtle Farm’s debt to help lower interest costs.  

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell said the government was looking into “packaging” the Turtle Farm debt with some of government’s other debts that must be refinanced in the 2014/15 budget year. According to Finance Minister Marco Archer, five loans taken out by the Cayman Islands Development Bank must be paid between 2015 and 2016, with three of them coming due within the 2014/15 fiscal year, which begins on July 1.  

The loans, referred to as “bullet” or “balloon payment” loans, must be paid off all at once, according to the conditions of the bond.  

Mr. Archer said the three loans due in the upcoming year have a combined value of $26.4 million, with a $16.6 million loan “maturing” or coming due on April 27, 2015, a $4.8 million loan amount due on June 30, 2015, and a $5 million loan also due on June 30, 2015. The $5 million loan payment will be made through reserve funds held by the development bank, the finance minister said.  

The other two loans owed are worth a total of $8.3 million and will be due sometime during the 2015/16 budget year. Government owes a total of $34.7 million on the five development bank loans  

The Cayman Islands does not plan to borrow any new long-term debt in either its 2014/15 or 2015/16 budget years, Mr. Archer said. In addition, a short-term debt facility called “overdraft” borrowing will not be used in the upcoming budget, the finance minister said.  

It is assumed that the United Kingdom would not object to Cayman refinancing portions of its debt, although U.K. officials would have to sign off on any such plan.  

The Cayman Islands Development Bank loans are small in comparison to another “bullet loan” facility Cayman will have to either pay off or refinance within the decade. A US$312 bond issued by government in 2009 will mature in November 2019.  

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12 COMMENTS

  1. My suggestion is that Caymanians should show more support to the Turtle Farm. After all that is all we have left. Why are we letting outsiders tell, and force us to become delinquent. Take a drive out on weekend evenings with your children and let them enjoy the farm like we did before, instead of them staying home on an iPad. If we do not try to keep it going, no one else will.

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  2. Question Twyla, What Outsiders told or forced the Turtle farm to become delinquent. I’m not sure what you mean by this.
    I do think what you’re recommending is a good idea but that place can get rather expensive to visit at $45 for adults and $25 for kids not many people will frequent the place.

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  3. Michael, I want you to get in line and defend where you live and what is right. You will definitely have to come off the fence and decide whether you want to be an outsider or Caymanian. Sometimes we need to appreciate the side of our bread that got butter on it.
    Yes we have foreign influence who have been dictating and raising hell online influencing people not to eat turtle meat or buy its products, also I was tired of reading online the same persons want to shut down the turtle farm because they felt sorry for the little critters. Outsiders must understand that the turtle farm is ours. Our food for 200 years ago. So why fight us down when we do not tell any country to close down the chicken, pork or beef factory.
    Now Michael I can understand you saying it is expensive for entrance; that I agree is ridiculous and the price should be cut in half. However that is another part of Cayman companies. They want to get rich overnight. Using the term outsiders is just a very old Caymanian saying, not meant to belittle anyone.

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  4. Thanks Twayla,
    I hear you but I still find it hard to agree that it’s outside influence such as animal protectionists that caused the turtle farm’s financial issues, even with their raising hell about about not eating turtle meat. From what I understand the financial issues were there long before these guys started their quest against turtle meat. I don’t eat turtle meat myself, never tried it probably because I grew up with pet turtles but then again I also had pet fish and I eat the fish everyday. However I do respect and understand you and others that do eat it, to each his own if you like it it’s your right to eat it.
    The only gripes I have with the Turtle farm is how much it costs the CIG to run every year, and I don’t believe that the government has the responsibility of providing turtle meat for consumption especially to the tone of nearly 10 Million bucks a year. I think a privately ran farm would have done much better and wouldn’t cost the public purse anything. Lowering the price of admission would probably attract more people and maybe make more money,
    I happen to love the place because I’ve loved turtles since I was a kid but I have to admit the $45 price tag keeps me away, even when my friend come down with me they’re like I’ll pass as soon they see the price. Trying to turn the Turtle Farm into an amusement park was a big mistake.
    One other thing, regarding your comment about coming off the fence and deciding whether I want to be an outsider or Caymanian. Wow, what can I say, I’m not a Multi Millionaire and even if I was, it wouldn’t really matter because all I would be called is a paper Caymanian, not a real one. Look at how people look at Dart. Nor was I born in Cayman and even if I was, my parents and grandparents weren’t, so from what I’ve learned during the years I’ve spent going back and forth is that I will never actually truly be considered a Caymanian. So it’s not about me coming off the fence, is it really? You may not believe this but I actually love Cayman and want what is best for it, but do know that the reality of my situation is that I will never truly be welcomed to join your community as a fellow countrymen, so yeah I do have to appreciate the side of my bread that’s got the butter on it.

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  5. Twyla, Come off the fence and chose be a Caymanian? is that a realistic option for someone who was not born in Cayman. Not even the supper rich who moved to Cayman are referred to as Caymanians. The best I could hope to accomplish is to spend Millions of dollars and get called a Paper Caymanian. Unfortunately for me I will always be considered and outsider. I just happen to be smart enough to realize it, any opinions are basically from and outside looking in and offered with the best interest of Cayman in heart because I happen to love it here.

    I have no issues with the turtle farm other that the huge cost to the public purse it takes to keep it running, I am sure a private sector company could have done without losing so much money. The difference here is that the Chicken Beef or Port factories actually make a lot of money, if they did lose millions of dollars run each year they would have long been shut down.

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  6. Michael, I am so sorry that you feel this way. I believe you have never had the opportunity to meet and be close enough to the real Caymanians to really find out that we do not care about a person being paper or plastic Caymanian.
    The real Caymanian concern is about how the outsider feels about us. My advice would be to get to know us, associate more with the real Caymanians and trust me you will be surprised to know you will find really true friends. Unless you eat at our local restaurants, visit our local places, public beaches, local pubs, local churches, and all those places, let your hair down, you will never experience the true Cayman hospitality and feel your dollar is being well spent.

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  7. Michael I guess you and I both realize that we could go on and on trying to convince each other which of us is right; however I do hope you will also realize that my thumbs down are not Caymanians.
    It also saddens me greatly to hear you say that All the years you have gone back and forth here you will never truly be considered a Caymanian As a genuine Caymanian, Michael, those words troubles me in thought. Something is definitely wrong ,and only you can fix that. Think about it. Besides like I have said you have to come off the outside fence and leave your circle of friends for a while and see how much you will enjoy being a Caymanian. What I try to do is listen carefully to other peoples talk and as an intelligent listener, truly pick sense from nonsense. You are a Caymanian. Embrace it.

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  8. Twyla, what exactly do you mean by being a (genuine) Caymanian? How do you differ from other Caymanians? And most importantly, WHY do you separate yourself? What Caymanian culture is and how is it different from other cultures? This question has never been answered.

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  9. Twyla, your words are truly touching and I appreciate what you’re saying. I do actually have friends that are Caymanian as well as some that are Status holders and expats. As far as where I eat, let’s just say I’m not into the Ortanique or even the Lobster Pot type, I more prefer something like Vivians, Singhs or something I catch and put on the grill. If I want to get fancy, it would probably be Pappagallos or the Calypso Grill but nothing like Blue, too damn fancy for me. I tend to get around a lot when I’m on Island and I’m not very shy so I meet and talk to a lot of people. There’s a lot of Caymanians that treat me as a friend and then there others that don’t seem to be as welcoming like the ones in immigration. Over all I do feel welcome in Cayman but dealing with immigration as well as reading about people’s feelings towards Outsiders can be a huge turn off at times especially when people accuse me a taking a job away from a Caymanian when I don’t even work in Cayman. I also get a lot of attitude from people in Immigration when I have to prove I’m not there to work and I’m not leaving in seven days. They always treat me like I’m up to something sinister, we actually got used to having our bags ruffled through, because as we were told we come and go too much and why are we back so soon, I guess just because we like it here isn’t good enough of a reason. Yeah it’s aggravating but usually forgotten about halfway on the ride out east when I start seeing the water off seaview road. I usually start calming down as soon as I turn left by Countryside.

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  10. Lucia Bell, thanks for you enquiry as to who is a genuine Caymanian. To answer your question, I am an old timer. I have been around long enough to know what is a genuine Caymanian, and to answer your question, A genuine Caymanian welcomes and appreciates all who come to our shores with good intentions, no matter where they are from so long as they are intending to earn and give respect due to them. It would be foolish to think or say that all people are alike. No we are not, neither do all Caymanians think the same way, or treat people the same way that is my reason for using the word genuine Caymanians. I am not separating myself, but I would like to suggest that I am a Caymanian who will meet you halfway. Please take the opportunity and travel to other countries, which should include, but not limited to, Eastern and Western Caribbean, countries and you will quickly observe that their culture is different from ours.
    Speaking of our gentleman Mr. Davis, I am sure he has travelled to many places in the world, and I am happy that he loves the Cayman Islands, and I do believe that he would make a good citizen given the opportunity. However it seems he has encountered some hurdles along the way, which I truly hope will not deter his continued support and travel to Cayman. May we all live in peace and take the time to love one another; after all we are just passing through.

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  11. Twyla, please forgive me if I am wrong. This is what I hear from your response about being a genuine Caymanian-feel superior to others; conditionally accept others only if they behave in a way that pleases a genuine Caymanian; judge others. What happened to Turn to them the other cheek, Love your neighbor as yourself and Do not judge? Also, I have lived in and visited 11 countries.

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  12. With respect to Twyla I think these comments have got off subject.
    The real issue is, can the Cayman Islands Government justify spending almost 10 m. a year supporting the turtle farm?
    I’ve eaten turtle meat, and many others including crocodile, camel and zebra.
    Turtle meat is about the same price as beef but a bit chewier.
    But if you like it then I have no problem.
    I don’t understand some of the comments about the cost of visiting as locals pay a much reduced price.
    We need to compare the actual operating costs to the income, exclude debt service as that would be a large write-off in the event of a closure.
    Some savings.
    Drain that nasty snorkeling pond and release the fish.
    Offer swimming pool only admissions for say 5 per adult and 3 per child.
    Lower prices after school hours.
    Make the restaurant a little more upscale and open it in the evenings.
    Cut back on the number of pens and charge visitors 20 each to release a turtle.
    Does the gift shop earn enough to cover operating costs? If not have a big closing down sale.
    There are savings to be made. Maybe.

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