Port plan to undergo economic impact assessment

An economic impact assessment for the proposed cruise berthing facility is in the works, The Cayman Reporter understands.

George Town's Proposed Cruise Terminal

Minister of Finance Hon Marco Archer confirmed that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has been contracted to carry out the assessment. The Cayman Reporter inquired if the assessment has already started and how much this assessment will cost the country, but Mr Archer has not responded at press time.

The Cayman Islands has already done an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the tune of $2.5 million based on the current proposal of a two finger pier. The EIA indicated that dredging and its silt plume could impact 15 acres of coral reef. Now that the EIA has been completed and the Department of Environment (DoE) is the process of completing a report on the assessment to submit to Cabinet, a call for the examination of the proposal’s impact on the entire economy has been made.

Founder and Director-General at The Cayman Institute, Nicholas Robson, said to grasp the full impact of the proposal its impact on the country’s economy must be evaluated. He believes the economic impact assessment should state how financing a cruise port, that could destroy a significant part of the reef on the south-west of the island, will affect the country. He believes it should look at how many jobs will be affected in the retail sector as well as in to water sports industry.

He noted that it is also imperative to analyse the true strengths and weaknesses of the cruise tourism and stay-over tourism to these islands.

“We should be weighing up the cruise passenger industry and its per-capita spend against stay-over tourism. Should we be looking into lengthening the runway to 10,000 feet to be able to accommodate long haul flights from Europe and points east? The Persian Gulf and China have many high net worth individuals which may well want to come to the Cayman Islands. We have already had Mr. Lee Ka-Shing one of the richest men in Hong Kong residing and doing business here,” he said.

Furthermore, Mr Robson stated that it is important for Cayman to know how many cruise passengers it can manage. “If we try and take too many cruise passengers per day none will have an enjoyable experience,” he said.

Commenting on his own stance on the port plans Mr Robson said he is for any initiative that will have the greatest benefit to the majority of the people in the Cayman Islands. “A decision made today will affect the Cayman islands for many years into the future. Furthermore, with Cuba opening up the cruise industry may find that more passengers want to go to Cuba, causing some of the cruise lines dropping Cayman,” he said.

The Advancement of Cruise Tourism in the Cayman Islands (ACT) member Chris Kirkconnell told The Cayman Reporter that the ACT was formed because members involved in the cruise industry felt that the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), the tourism sector’s representative group, was only concerned about stay-over businesses. Those involved in cruise felt that in order to have a voice they had to start a group of their own.

“Once we formed ACT CITA tried to convince us that we didn’t need a separate entity and it seemed like they were trying to give us some kind of attention up until now. If you look at the member makeup of CITA its much more heavily stay-over focused than cruise,” Mr Kirkconnell expressed. More

 

China’s wealthy are fleeing the country like crazy

Last year, Chinese millionaires maxed out the quota for EB-5 visas under the U.S.’s Immigrant Investor Program, and recently it was reported that 90% of Australia’s Significant Investor visas were given to Chinese nationals. All over the world, immigrant investor programs are being flooded with applicants from China.

Since 1990, China has gone from being the 7th largest exporter of immigrants to the 4th largest, an increase of more than 125%. Chinese people are emigrating in ever greater numbers, particularly the wealthy. Meanwhile, a recent survey from Barclays shows that 47% of wealthy Chinese would like to emigrate. The response rate for the survey was 29% worldwide.

As more Chinese become wealthy, the number of people who want to emigrate is increasing. So where do wealthy Chinese want to go? Rich Chinese Want to Go to North America

According to the Hurun Report’s “2014 Immigrant Investor White Paper,” the U.S. and Canada are the first choices for wealthy Chinese looking to emigrate.

Top Destinations for Wealthy Chinese Emigrants

Since most high-net-worth Chinese accumulate their wealth in China, from a business perspective it is advantageous for them to remain close to China. So what is involved in getting an immigrant visa to a foreign country?

Requirements for Getting an Immigrant Investor Visa

Types of immigration include immigrant investor programs, skilled worker programs, study abroad, and irregular immigration. Most wealthy Chinese immigrate through investment.

Minimum Investment Required to Immigrate, by Country

 

Should the Cayman Islands be activly be trying to attract this type of investor tot he Cayman Islands? See http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/1677989/li-ka-shing-restructures-group?page=all>

Li Ka-shing yesterday added fresh grist to rumours about his waning interest in Hong Kong as he unveiled a sweeping restructuring of his business empire, switching its base of incorporation to the Cayman Islands from Hong Kong.

Li – the chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) and its subsidiary Hutchison Whampoa, which together have a total market capitalisation of HK$661.68 billion – said all of his two flagship companies’ non-property assets, including ports, telecommunications, retail, infrastructure and energy, would be injected into a newly formed company, CK Hutchison Holdings (CKH Holdings), incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

As part of the reorganisation, all property businesses including those overseas in the two companies will be injected into another new entity, Cheung Kong Property Holdings, which will seek a separate listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange by introduction.

CK Property will be one of the largest property companies listed in Hong Kong.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Li, the richest man in Hong Kong, said the restructuring would be good for all shareholders.

According to a 70-page announcement filed with the Hong Kong stock exchange, the move is aimed at creating shareholder value as it will enable all the group’s assets to be fully reflected and remove the “layered holding structure” between Cheung Kong and Hutchison.

That would allow shareholders to directly invest in the two separate listed vehicles.

Li, however, rejected suggestions that the proposed reorganisation is a sign of his withdrawal from the city.

“More than 75 per cent of companies that have listed in Hong Kong in the past 10 years or so are incorporated in Cayman Islands, including state-owned enterprises. Have they also lost confidence in Hong Kong?” said Li, adding that the company was just “following the trend”. More

Should the Cayman Islands be trying to fast-track investors like Li Ka-shing in order to spur inward investment and the economy of the Cayman Islands? Editor

John Perkins Speaks Out On Public Sector Privatization

An Economic Hit Man Speaks Out: John Perkins on How Greece Has Fallen Victim to “Economic Hit Men”

John Perkins

“My sin was ripping off people around the world,” said John Perkins, author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” at Transitions Bookplace in Chicago, on February 3, 2006. (Photo: Peter Thompson / The New York Times)John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, discusses how Greece and other eurozone countries have become the new victims of “economic hit men.”

John Perkins is no stranger to making confessions. His well-known book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, revealed how international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, while publicly professing to “save” suffering countries and economies, instead pull a bait-and-switch on their governments: promising startling growth, gleaming new infrastructure projects and a future of economic prosperity – all of which would occur if those countries borrow huge loans from those organizations. Far from achieving runaway economic growth and success, however, these countries instead fall victim to a crippling and unsustainable debt burden.

“That's part of the game: convince people that they're wrong, that they're inferior. The corporatocracy is incredibly good at that.”

That's where the “economic hit men” come in: seemingly ordinary men, with ordinary backgrounds, who travel to these countries and impose the harsh austerity policies prescribed by the IMF and World Bank as “solutions” to the economic hardship they are now experiencing. Men like Perkins were trained to squeeze every last drop of wealth and resources from these sputtering economies, and continue to do so to this day. In this interview, which aired on Dialogos Radio, Perkins talks about how Greece and the eurozone have become the new victims of such “economic hit men.”

Michael Nevradakis: In your book, you write about how you were, for many years, a so-called “economic hit man.” Who are these economic hit men, and what do they do?

John Perkins: Essentially, my job was to identify countries that had resources that our corporations want, and that could be things like oil – or it could be markets – it could be transportation systems. There're so many different things. Once we identified these countries, we arranged huge loans to them, but the money would never actually go to the countries; instead it would go to our own corporations to build infrastructure projects in those countries, things like power plants and highways that benefitted a few wealthy people as well as our own corporations, but not the majority of people who couldn't afford to buy into these things, and yet they were left holding a huge debt, very much like what Greece has today, a phenomenal debt.

“[Indebted countries] become servants to what I call the corporatocracy … today we have a global empire, and it's not an American empire. It's not a national empire … It's a corporate empire, and the big corporations rule.”

And once [they were] bound by that debt, we would go back, usually in the form of the IMF – and in the case of Greece today, it's the IMF and the EU [European Union] – and make tremendous demands on the country: increase taxes, cut back on spending, sell public sector utilities to private companies, things like power companies and water systems, transportation systems, privatize those, and basically become a slave to us, to the corporations, to the IMF, in your case to the EU, and basically, organizations like the World Bank, the IMF, the EU, are tools of the big corporations, what I call the “corporatocracy.”

And before turning specifically to the case of Greece, let's talk a little bit more about the manner in which these economic hit men and these organizations like the IMF operate. You mentioned, of course, how they go in and they work to get these countries into massive debt, that money goes in and then goes straight back out. You also mentioned in your book these overly optimistic growth forecasts that are sold to the politicians of these countries but which really have no resemblance to reality.

Exactly, we'd show that if these investments were made in things like electric energy systems that the economy would grow at phenomenally high rates. The fact of the matter is, when you invest in these big infrastructure projects, you do see economic growth, however, most of that growth reflects the wealthy getting wealthier and wealthier; it doesn't reflect the majority of the people, and we're seeing that in the United States today.

“In the case of Greece, my reaction was that 'Greece is being hit.' There's no question about it.”

For example, where we can show economic growth, growth in the GDP, but at the same time unemployment may be going up or staying level, and foreclosures on houses may be going up or staying stable. These numbers tend to reflect the very wealthy, since they have a huge percentage of the economy, statistically speaking. Nevertheless, we would show that when you invest in these infrastructure projects, your economy does grow, and yet, we would even show it growing much faster than it ever conceivably would, and that was only used to justify these horrendous, incredibly debilitating loans.

Is there a common theme with respect to the countries typically targeted? Are they, for instance, rich in resources or do they typically possess some other strategic importance to the powers that be?

Yes, all of those. Resources can take many different forms: One is the material resources like minerals or oil; another resource is strategic location; another resource is a big marketplace or cheap labor. So, different countries make different requirements. I think what we're seeing in Europe today isn't any different, and that includes Greece.

What happens once these countries that are targeted are indebted? How do these major powers, these economic hit men, these international organizations come back and get their “pound of flesh,” if you will, from the countries that are heavily in debt?

By insisting that the countries adopt policies that will sell their publicly owned utility companies, water and sewage systems, maybe schools, transportation systems, even jails, to the big corporations. Privatize, privatize. Allow us to build military bases on their soil. Many things can be done, but basically, they become servants to what I call the corporatocracy. You have to remember that today we have a global empire, and it's not an American empire. It's not a national empire. It doesn't help the American people very much. It's a corporate empire, and the big corporations rule. They control the politics of the United States, and to a large degree they control a great deal of the policies of countries like China, around the world.

John, looking specifically now at the case of Greece, of course you mentioned your belief that the country has become the victim of economic hit men and these international organizations . . . what was your reaction when you first heard about the crisis in Greece and the measures that were to be implemented in the country?

I've been following Greece for a long time. I was on Greek television. A Greek film company did a documentary called “Apology of an Economic Hit Man,” and I also spent a lot of time in Iceland and in Ireland. I was invited to Iceland to help encourage the people there to vote on a referendum not to repay their debts, and I did that and encouraged them not to, and they did vote no, and as a result, Iceland is doing quite well now economically compared to the rest of Europe. Ireland, on the other hand: I tried to do the same thing there, but the Irish people apparently voted against the referendum, though there's been many reports that there was a lot of corruption.

“That's part of the game: convince people that they're wrong, that they're inferior. The corporatocracy is incredibly good at that.”

In the case of Greece, my reaction was that “Greece is being hit.” There's no question about it. Sure, Greece made mistakes, your leaders made some mistakes, but the people didn't really make the mistakes, and now the people are being asked to pay for the mistakes made by their leaders, often in cahoots with the big banks. So, people make tremendous amounts of money off of these so-called “mistakes,” and now, the people who didn't make the mistakes are being asked to pay the price. That's consistent around the world: We've seen it in Latin America. We've seen it in Asia. We've seen it in so many places around the world. More

The Cayman Islands must be very discriminating as to what pieces of the public sector get sold off. Some sectors, such as water production and distribution, if sold, and without well thought policies, could well have a negative effect on certain sectors of our population, as recent events in Detroit have proved. Editor

 

Can This Transform the Caribbean?

In the immortal words of Montserratian singer/songwriter, Arrow, the Caribbean is “…feelin’ hot, hot, hot!” And, that’s a good thing.

With a little help from Mother Nature, the islands of the Caribbean are learning to harness the power of high temperature geothermal energy beneath the earth’s surface.

In an effort to move away from reliance on expensive, fossil-fueled, diesel-powered generators toward a dependable, eco-friendly source of renewable energy, a number of forward-thinking Caribbean islands are aggressively searching for and identifying alternative sources of power beneath the surface.

Energy self-sufficiency, long sought-after by local governments may soon become a reality for some islands in the Caribbean.

While the road to sustainable geothermal power generation has no short cuts and faces a number of financial, administrative and physical challenges, the rewards can be substantial in the long-run.

Geothermal power produces an environmentally-friendly, long-lasting energy source that can provide electricity at significantly lower cost and, in some cases, may produce enough excess power, exported via submarine cables, to create a revenue stream between islands.

The Caribbean island of Montserrat is among the leaders in geothermal exploration.

It is also on a mission of rebirth from the devastation caused by the eruption of the Soufrière Volcano in the mid-1990s which destroyed the capital town of Plymouth, left more than half of the island’s residents homeless and covered more than 30 percent of the island with lava and ash.

Today, Montserrat has plans for a new capital town, a new port, a vibrant hospitality and tourism industry and the regeneration of private enterprise equipped with a sustainable infrastructure. Geothermal power will play a major role in this transformation.

Ironically, the same geological forces that created the Soufrière Volcano will now be harnessed to power the island’s electricity grid from a geothermal source. Iceland Drilling Company Ltd., a leading high-tech company in the field of high temperature deep geothermal drilling, has successfully tested two geothermal wells on Montserrat and the foundation is now in place for a third well backed by the UK government, part of its continuing support for the British Overseas Territory’s Master Plan for Growth.

It is our hope that Montserrat’s geothermal resources and sustainable, “green” energy infrastructure will attract environmentally-conscious developers and investors as “founding fathers” of our new capital town.

Ultimately, “going green” in Montserrat may help the nation move to the forefront in eco-tourism while driving a self-sufficient economic future.

In Dominica, geothermal exploration supported by the European Union brings with it the hopes of clean energy generation sufficient to supply the entire island and provide electricity for export as well.

Nevis, another volcanic island, is hoping to become a regional supplier of power to nearby St. Kitts, among others, and has said it intends to begin exploratory well-digging at various sites around the island.

Geothermal power has the possibility of transforming the Caribbean.

It will allow for a rise in the standard of living, an increase in job opportunities and a cleaner environment for residents and visitors to enjoy.

If nations can reduce, or eliminate, their reliance on expensive, environmentally harmful fossil fuels, they will not only pave the way for energy independence but also create an attractive environment for investors to support sustainable practices and economic development that will benefit the entire region. More

 

 

China Suffers Drought, Water Shortage

This summer has been one of the hottest in decades in Jilin Province, China, and several counties are facing the complete loss of their harvests.

Currently, Changling, Nongan, Gongzhuling and 10 other agricultural counties in Jilin are facing a severe drought. The severity of the drought is comparable to that in 1951.

A villager Ms. Lee from Wanglong village, Huajia Township, Nongan County, Changhun City, told Epoch Times: “The drought is very bad. All the corn leaves have turned yellow. Corns are not fully grown, only their tips are seen with barely any kernels.”

Since July 1 this year, the rainfall in Jilin Province totaled only 4.4 inches, which is about 48 percent less compared to the same period from previous years. This year had the second lowest rainfall in history; the least amount since 1951.

Over 14 million acres of farmland are affected.

Government data indicates the drought has impacted more than 1.3 million acres of farmland in the major agricultural areas of Jilin with no improvements in sight. According to the weather forecast, the average rainfall could be as low as a third of an inch per day.

Ms. Lee, a villager from Wanglong village said: “Even the water level of our own well is slowly dropping. It is only enough for domestic use. Our farmland has not been irrigated for over a month.”

Mr. Sun from Zhen-Chai village, Nongan County said that all their cucumber plants have perished from the drought.

Chinese media has reported two-thirds of the corn stalks have withered in some towns while others have completely perished.

Local governments have not taken any measure to tackle this problem and villagers are on their own. A staff member at Jilin Grain Bureau only briefly told Epoch Times that the situation was “unclear” and then hung up the phone.

Other Provinces Impacted

During the summer, a total of 12 provinces, including Shandong, Henan, Shaanxi Anhui, Hubei, Gangsu, and Xinjiang, have been affected by the drought. Over 14 million acres of farmland are affected.

Henan Province, for example, is witnessing the worst drought in the last 63 year with 740,000 people facing a temporary shortage of drinking water. In Shandong Province the cost of the lost harvest is reaching $630 million.

All these statistics put into question the recently announced food exports to Russia. After Russia announced it would stop importing food from Europe, the United States, and Australia, China immediately started building a warehouse on the Russian boarder to facilitate customs clearance for fruit going into Russia. More

 

Energy Efficiency Simply Makes Sense

What simple tool offers the entire world an extended energy supply, increased energy security, lower carbon emissions, cleaner air and extra time to mitigate climate change? Energy efficiency. What’s more, higher efficiency can avoid infrastructure investment, cut energy bills, improve health, increase competitiveness and enhance consumer welfare — all while more than paying for itself.

Maria van der Hoeven - IEA

The challenge is getting governments, industry and citizens to take the first steps towards making these savings in energy and money.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has long spearheaded a global move toward improved energy efficiency policy and technology in buildings, appliances, transport and industry, as well as end-use applications such as lighting. That’s because the core of our mandate is energy security — the uninterrupted availability of energy at an affordable price. Greater efficiency is a principal way to strengthen that security: it reduces reliance on energy supply, especially imports, for economic growth; mitigates threats to energy security from climate change; and lessens the global economy’s exposure to disruptions in fossil fuel supply.

In short, energy efficiency makes sense.

In 2006, the IEA presented to the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations its 25 energy efficiency recommendations, which identify best practice and policy approaches to realize the full potential of energy efficiency for our member countries. Every two years, the Agency reports on the gains made by member countries, and today we are working with a growing number of international organizations, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank and the German sustainable development cooperation services provider GIZ.

The opportunities of this “invisible fuel” are many and rich. More than half of the potential savings in industry and a whopping 80 percent of opportunities in the buildings sector worldwide remain untouched. The 25 recommendations, if adopted fully by all 28 IEA members, would save $1 trillion in annual energy costs as well as deliver incalculable security benefits in terms of energy supply and environmental protection.

Achieving even a small fraction of those gains does not require new technological breakthroughs or ruinous capital outlays: the know-how exists, and the investments generate positive returns in fuel savings and increased economic growth. What is required is foresight, patience, changed habits and the removal of the barriers to implementation of measures that are economically viable. For instance, as the World Energy Outlook 2012 demonstrates, investing less than $12 trillion in more energy-efficient technologies would not only quickly pay for itself through reduced energy costs, it would also increase cumulative economic output to 2035 by $18 trillion worldwide.

While current efforts come nowhere close to realizing the full benefits that efficiency offers, some countries are taking big steps forward. Members of the European Union have pledged to cut energy demand by 20 percent by 2020, while Japan plans to trim its electricity consumption 10 percent by 2030. China is committed to reducing the amount of energy needed for each unit of gross domestic product by 16 percent in the next two years. The United States has leaped to the forefront in transportation efficiency standards with new fuel economy rules that could more than double vehicle fuel consumption.

Such transitions entail challenges for policy, and experience shows that government and the private sector must work together to achieve the sustainability goals that societies demand, learning what works and what does not, and following the right path to optimal deployment of technology. Looking forward, energy efficiency will play a vital role in the transition to the secure and sustainable energy future that we all seek. The most secure energy is the barrel or megawatt we never have to use.

Maria van der Hoeven is the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, an autonomous organization which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. This commentary appeared first this month in IEA Energy, the Agency’s journal.

 

Utility Industry: We Need to Promote Electric Vehicles in Order to ‘Remain Viable’

The Edison Electric Institute, the power industry's main trade group, is calling on utilities to better promote electric cars in order to stimulate demand for electricity and help reverse trends that threaten the long-term viability of some in the industry.

Without a strategy to help connect more vehicles to the grid, utilities will continue to face slow growth and stagnant revenues, warns EEI in a new report. The organization calls electric vehicles a “quadruple win” for power companies looking to boost demand, find new ways to interact with customers, support environmental goals and mandates, and reduce operating costs through electrifying their own fleets.

“The bottom line is that the electric utility industry needs the electrification of the transportation sector to remain viable and sustainable in the long term,” conclude the authors.

Some leading investor-owned utilities have rolled out programs to support charging stations, created pilots to test integration of new vehicle-to-grid technologies and have supported studies to model how lots of electric vehicles would interact with the distribution system. But there hasn't yet been a strategic, industry-wide effort to support the electrification of transportation as a way to boost demand.

To understand why EEI is now calling for more electric vehicles, consider where the industry is headed. As the chart below illustrates, growth in retail demand has come to a virtual standstill.

At the same time, the states with the biggest solar PV markets are seeing that technology slow electricity demand growth even further. This is adding additional pressure on utilities (creating borderline disruption in some markets), as third-party developers capture much of the value from developing solar.

“Stagnant growth, rising costs, and a need for even greater infrastructure investment represent major challenges to the utility industry,” writes EEI. “Today’s electric utilities need a new source of load growth — one that fits within the political, economic and social environment.”

Part of the answer is electric vehicles, which could both grow electricity sales and help balance a future grid made up of much more distributed renewables.

Thus far, utilities have had a conflicted relationship with electric vehicles. Although sales continue to grow, consumer demand has been relatively low compared to initial estimates. That has prevented power companies from investing heavily in charging infrastructure. There are also legitimate concerns about how electric cars and trucks will impact circuits on local grids.

However, the potential upside is enormous. If the two charts above have utilities worried, the chart below should have them excited about the future.

As Opower pointed out in a recent analysis, owners of electric cars use nearly 60 percent more electricity than the average customer. And customers who own both a solar system and an electric car consume roughly the same amount of electricity from the grid as an average customer — offsetting much of the excess solar that utilities must buy back through net metering. More