FOI for Tech Cayman deal reveals nothing

| 10/10/2018 | 20 Comments

Tech Cayman, Cayman News Service(CNS): The deal between the Cayman Islands Government and Tech Cayman, which officials have said could make Cayman the “Silicon Valley” of the Caribbean, has been released following an FOI request by CNS, but it was so heavily redacted that it revealed nothing at all about what government has agreed to.

During a press conference in August about Tech Cayman, which aims to create a hub in Cayman for tech-related digital start-ups, such as software developers or online services, the initiative remained vague and few details were produced about what the commerce ministry had provided or what the owners of the new Cayman company planned to do. CNS therefore submitted a freedom of information request.

Having received an acknowledgement from the ministry on 10 August and a request for a further 30 days in September, the document was released yesterday, 9 October, some two months after the initial request, but it was so heavily redacted it was impossible to learn anything more about this venture, which is being led by local businessman Gene Thompson and US-based technology entrepreneur Samir Mitra.

Mitra, who was one of the people involved in the creation of Java programming, said that he wanted to encourage local people to begin building a digital sector here by offering to help start-ups with business and legal advise, and to also provide education for Caymanians who want to learn about software development and related fields.

At the press conference Commerce Minister Joey Hew said the agreement with Tech Cayman related to work permit concessions and changes to legislation that would enable the creation of new technology-related businesses. However, none of that was revealed in the document sent to CNS in response to the FOI, as more than two thirds of the document pages have been completely or largely redacted.

The unredacted areas of the document include some information about the principals of Tech Cayman and a vague description of the vision to establish technology start-ups, but how that will happen and what concessions government is providing have not been unveiled.

While it states that the parties involved in the deal have agreed to provide “certain undertakings”, what those are remains under wraps. Other revealed parts appear to imply that sponsored businesses established under the deal will be carrying on their business mainly outside of the Cayman Islands, so as not to compete with local business, though the document also states that those businesses would buy things in Cayman.

The rest of the unrestricted material deals largely with the legal aspects of the deal, conditions of termination, the confidentiality of the agreement, disputes, dealing with the intellectual property and largely technical aspects of the deal rather than the substance and purpose of the agreement.

Given the continued secrecy around the deal and the lack of explanation for how it will “ignite a passion for the sector” in Cayman, as Mitra had suggested at the press conference, or how top international talent would be attracted to Cayman to set up shop here and “infuse them with local talent”, CNS has asked for an internal review in the hope of getting some of the more than 21 redacted pages unveiled.

See the redacted document in the CNS Library

See the full August press conference on CIGTV below

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Category: Business, ITC

Comments (20)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    For all of you doubters, I went to the stem conference at UCCI and there were so many professional teachers and speakers. It is a testament that Cayman is as sophisticated if not more than any Silicon Valley mumbo jumbo. UCCI has the best computer scientist from the most prestigious universities in the whole Caribbean. I have heard they are working on research projects that will blow any Silicon Valley projects out of the water. Just you wait and see. They should all get pay raises and be promoted in the meantime.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Crooked cover up by a crooked government.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Weird. Can’t comment on Tech Cayman but having lived on island for 2+ years, I’ve only lost internet when power has failed. It’s better than my European connection ever was.

    • Anonymous says:

      Some customers do really well and some have issues. There are lots of different circuits, but on the whole once you are good, you are good.

      • Anonymous says:

        Some circuits you can reroute so that some of my friends can get free internet that you pay for….ahhh OfReg is a blessing.

  4. Simon Sez says:

    Sounds like a CEC rerun, just repackaged and rebranded. A few token jobs promised to appease the natives. Another work permit fiddle, this is the new face of Cayman business.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So the people that will live and work at these places won’t shop at the local stores or rent a local apartment or you know… pay local bills?

  6. Average Caymanian says:

    What a pack of lies! These people are setting up a great tax dodge for companies outside the Cayman Islands. Certain people will get great sums of money, but average Caymanians will get nothing.

  7. Rick says:

    Cayman can never be the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean. Cayman it not a technical country, Trinidad holds that title, they a have place call etech valley which is about the size George Town

  8. Anonymous says:

    Commercially sensitive loophole should not apply to public contracts. The publuc is entitled to see how their affairs are being handled. More pressure on the bureaucrats, but so what?

  9. Anonymous says:

    How can we be the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean when we can’t even get internet that works….

  10. Anonymous says:

    Mitra offering to “help start-ups business and legal advise”? How can he practice law?

  11. Anonymous says:

    No surprises here. Pretty much any ‘commercially sensitive’ information is exempt and that exemption rather effectively makes certain we will never find out what’s really going on in deals like this. This is one of the great failings of FOI both here and in the UK.

  12. Anonymous says:

    WTF? Please appeal to the ombudsman.

  13. Anonymous says:

    wonderland pie in the sky stuff….

  14. says:

    How is it freedom of information when 2/3rds of it are redacted? Terrible.

    • Anonymous says:

      #Caymankind What do you expect with things now a days. The CIG is setting a precedent that things can be done here and no one will find out the details till its done. why else wouldn’t other things fall in line like this. If the CIG is setting the standard, no one else has the obligation to be forth coming. Thank you CIG for re-building the “Den of pirates” impression we fought so hard to shed.


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