Tourism ministry refuses FOI on cruise line deal

| 04/01/2019 | 85 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cruise ships in the George Town Harbour

(CNS): The tourism ministry has issued a blanket denial to a freedom of information request for more details on the recently announced deal struck with two cruise lines that secured their involvement in the cruise berthing project proposed for George Town Harbour. Following an announcement last month that Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival Corporation had made a financial commitment to the facility, CNS asked the ministry for records relating to passenger numbers, timelines, the approved terms and the total amount of money committed, all of which was refused.

In correspondence from the ministry, officials denied the request under four different sections of the law. Although the agreement has been concluded, the ministry claimed that releasing any of the information requested would inhibit the exchange of views, prejudice the conduct of public affairs, prejudice private sector interests and constitute a breach of confidence.

In his letter to the information manager advising her to refuse our request, the ministry’s chief officer, Stran Bodden, said the ministry was engaged in active procurement and it was vital that the integrity of the process was protected.

Even though this was presented by the ministry as a separate issue from the actual tender for the design and construction, Bodden said that the commercial interest in the ongoing process superseded the public’s right to know. He wrote that the process had to progress unimpeded by public sentiment or lobbying for or against one or more of the parties.

Both of the cruise lines making the commitment are part of one of three existing bidding teams, which has already raised many questions and led CNS to try to understand what this side deal is about. But Bodden said that it had now become part of the tender documents and another reason why it must not be made public until the tender process was complete, otherwise the entire legality of that process could be called into question.

However, this project is going to be the biggest capital works project that the Cayman Islands government has ever engaged in and revelations that the cruise lines are now involved are fueling concerns about the size of the passenger commitment and the financing structure. These are just some of the issues that could have a negative impact on Cayman’s wider tourism product and the community at large, and opens questions about what is proposed and the magnitude of this project that many people want to know before anything is signed.

Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller has pointed to the continued secrecy surrounding the financing of the facility, which is another problem surrounding this proposed development, adding to a very long list. He told CNS that he is very concerned about the agreement that has been made with the cruise lines, given they are in involved in one of three bidding groups.

He questioned what this meant for the other two bidders that have no relationship with the cruise lines and how this could possibly fit into the legal tendering process. Despite Bodden’s claims that revealing the details would be unlawful, Miller believes that the process has already fallen foul of the legislation with this separate financing agreement, especially given the cruise lines’ role in one of the bids.

There are also other concerns that the commitment is based on passenger numbers building up over a two-year period post construction, which could see the cruise lines bringing three million passengers a year by 2023, doubling the current average.

Miller again called on government to explain the financing process, the passenger numbers and other important details before the deal is done. He pointed out that transparency after the fact is no good to anyone if, as many fear, Cayman is likely to get a raw deal.

CNS has made an appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman and is awaiting a response.

See the refusal letter in the CNS Library

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Comments (85)

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  1. Cayman Mon says:

    Incidentally, I forgot to mention that the capital of the Cayman Islands transitioned from Bodden Town to George Town; although not specifically mentioned in history, I believe the main reason for this was that Hog Sty Bay in George Town was fairly sheltered and calm most of the year. This made the Hog Sty Bay area ideal for shipping and thus the existing port was built in George Town. This rationale has not changed one iota. Build the port.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why? Is there any reason, other than to fulfill the promises and payments that surely have been exchanged?

  2. Cayman Mon says:

    This matter has spanned three administrations. The time for talking is long past. There is no perfect spot. Some people are just obstructionists. Build the port now!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why? Is there any reason, other than to fulfill the promises and payments that surely have been exchanged?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Instead of building a dock – they should try to lower the rate of gasoline and the cost of electricity bills, which is killing people every month. You have to dig deep in your pocket to pay CUC or you won’t have electricity.

  4. nauticalone says:

    What’s going on with garbage collection here? Or more accurately “NON-collection of garbage! Something stinks up here…especially this weekend in Cayman Kai.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Islands needs a revolution and this is the pathway to it. Keep the public in the dark for now because it won’t last very much longer. This is exactly the kind of governance that leads to people revolting. I got my popcorn ready and I can’t complain. Keep up the work because instead of dividing our country it is banding together as we all witness the real patriots come forward while the snakes continue to slither among us.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is great news

  7. Anonymous says:

    Any Caymanians with dual USA citizenship ought to file a SAR with the DoJ for an FCPA investigation of ongoing negotiations with Carnival and Royal Caribbean principals and our determined opaque and loose Cabinet. It couldn’t be more suspicious. This process is way off script even by USA standards, for which there are severe consequences in USA, and predictable headline risk for Cayman Islands in letting this progress so far in blackness. It actually feels like a sting operation. These governments will do anything to discredit the Cayman Islands, and our greedy dunces are the perfect stooges. The headlines will write themselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1, et seq. (“FCPA”), was enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Specifically, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA prohibit the willful use of the mails or any means of instrumentality of interstate commerce corruptly in furtherance of any offer, payment, promise to pay, or authorization of the payment of money or anything of value to any person, while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered, given or promised, directly or indirectly, to a foreign official to influence the foreign official in his or her official capacity, induce the foreign official to do or omit to do an act in violation of his or her lawful duty, or to secure any improper advantage in order to assist in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person.

      Since 1977, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA have applied to all U.S. persons and certain foreign issuers of securities. With the enactment of certain amendments in 1998, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA now also apply to foreign firms and persons who cause, directly or through agents, an act in furtherance of such a corrupt payment to take place within the territory of the United States.”

  8. Anonymous says:

    In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.

    • Starting over again it gonna be rough says:


      no one has placed any data on the oppositions windscreen yet ? That is incredulous isn’t it?

  9. Put it up says:

    Hello. What I would like to see it accountability. Since they claim that the release of any information would have negative effects then there should be some form of insurances.

    For one, anyone who was involved in the deal should be made to be held accountable, personally, if there ever comes a time when, after all the smoke and mirrors are completed, that it comes to light that the deal was not in the best interests of these Islands. There needs to be a stipulation within the contract for this. That way these Islands are not stuck with something it does not need to pay for.

    As for the Cruise Lines, they are taking a risk and making a gamble that they will make money. But thats all it is. A risk, a gamble.

    So with that understanding, there should be no problem with those persons, within the Government and the Private Sector, placing their signatures to a contract that ensures accountability, espeacially on a personal level, espeacially in light of the fact that all of them are 100% sure this is the right thing to do. Its a calculated risk, gamble, chance.

    But if the deal is not what they say it is then they lose everything and these Islands have a way out of a bad deal.

    As the old saying goes “Put your money, where your mouth is”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why continue to sit and do nothing? We already know the “6000 passenger” ships they had professed to be the economic reason for building (key PwC assumption), do not yet exist and those few on the order book are for discount liners that aren’t destined for our waters (per public securities filings). There is no updated EIA for a completely revised plan in much deeper water – no updated cost estimates, no engineering report. We aren’t following procurement or opaque international bidding standards. Our “leadership” are specifically NOT accountable as they refuse to enact the Standards in Public Life Law, which would criminalize what is likely going on beyond the curtain. Their personal conflicts totally obscured and beyond inspection. Sign the petition if you don’t like it. It seems that most voters in Cayman are enjoying or unbothered by this corruption – which we will all bear the cost for eventually.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is obvious to anyone with a degree of common sense that there is a hidden agenda on the pushing for a referendum side. Any business dealings have to be kept secret for it to be fair.
        Did anyone get all the information on any other project?
        We have been waiting for the East-West highway to go through for over 35 years. We are now in a heightened state of stress plus road rage with more speeding and drinking on the road from East End to George Town. Isn’t that true? But in all my years of living we are being asked to do a EIA? For what? Have we done any in another part of the Cayman islands? We need to stop the bureaucracy of so many simple projects.
        We cannot possibly get everything perfect. NASA can’t, but when they find something didn’t work they will fix it. “KIS”

        • Anonymous says:

          A “Hidden Agenda” from those petitioning for basic levels of transparency, adhesion to existing procurement laws, and good governance…are you stupid or something? Who are these PUBLIC SERVANTS competing against that the entire RFP process should need to be carried-out in a soundproof lead-cased room?

    • Anonymous says:

      Business means: Business occurs when a person or organization profits by providing goods or services in exchange for money.
      In English contract law, in order to create a binding contract which the law will recognize and enforce, there must be an exchange of consideration between the parties.

      “Consideration is simply something of value received by a promisor from a promisee. It can take the form of a right, interest or benefit accruing to one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss, or responsibility, given, suffered or undertaken by the other”.
      In most businesses there is a risk or uncertainty. We all want to achieve a profit. Cruise lines and Caymanian companies.

    • Anonymous says:

      6:18 The monies as given never make it into their pockets, they spend too quickly for their pleasures so they always need more. And always will. Once one well dries, innovative money-generating schemes appear, or are hidden fiercefully.

  10. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH says:

    Shameful – this not what FREEDOM OF INFORMATION is meant to be. Cayman we need to pull our heads out of the sand and vote with sense in the next election. Continuing to put these idiots back in to Legislative Assembly and then complaining during the entire 4years is getting us NO WHERE.

  11. Anonymous says:

    When was it decided that the dock was even going to be built? They buyers for the port stores will only buy if there is a dock so no wonder certain folks are so concerned.

  12. Land crab says:

    We still have the Kirkbots writing in support of these “Titanic” piers. What concerns me is that nobody in Government making decisions on this issue is remotely qualified to manage a project of this size, hence the complete secrecy which is necessary to cover up their ignorance.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Can anyone please answer , why does certain politicians Speaker Bush gets more comment/criticism , than the rest ? Do they all worth equal criticism ? I think so .

      • Anonymous says:

        You new around these parts?

      • Anonymous says:

        No, Mr. Ebanks……. you are mistaken. Most of the politicians are just money-grubbing individuals trying to get all they can, and stay in office to keep the “perks” rolling in. They are not interested in the people of the Cayman Islands. Their conduct points to the fact that they are not interested in anyone but themselves. You might ask, “Are there any decent politicians in our CIG?” I don’t know, sir. You will have to judge that for yourself….. some of them may have more decency or honor than others. Some seem to have neither. It seems that one elected “leader” used government funds to party and gamble in another country. Only in Cayman!

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Land crab , can you give me the answers to my questions
      below .

  13. Anonymous says:

    It’s generally easy to know the right side of a debate. Just go against the CNS thumbs up.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone reached out to the other cruise lines for their comment on this? Will they now be considered second rate visitors as the carriers funding (partial or fully) the piers will obviously get priority. Will the more desirable higher end lines decide to reduce visits for a, the reason above, and b, not wanting to subject their higher end, higher paying, more lucrative to Cayman visitors to the mess that George Town will soon become?
    Having recently visited another Caribbean port where the piers dump directly onto the main street of town turning it into a chaotic scene of heckling taxis, vendors and beggars, I shudder at what we will become in a few short years. I was a stayover visitor on that island and after one brief visit into town, decided not to go back. The experience was awful and would be the death knell for high end tourism.
    I will note that in the few days I was there I did not see any high end ships come in. It was all over-bloated behemoths of the seas. And listening to the comments of the tourists as I did wander around it was clear that few were spending more than the minimum to buy another tacky mug or bottle opener identical to those sold throughout the region, only the name imprint was changed.
    Is this what we want?
    And as for the argument that this will lead to a revitalization of George Town, I call bullsh!t. Those same streets heaving with over-fed, newly-wed and nearly-dead cattle roaming aimlessly from shop to shop became a dead-zone where even crickets failed to venture.
    As a stay over tourist without a rental car, as soon as the town shut down, there was nothing to do, with the finest dining available after 6pm being a toss up between Dunkin Donuts and McDonands…
    Wake up Cayman. The pier has now become a personal agenda for the members of government. They are blinded by a combination of greed, ego and the blinders placed over their eyes by the parties that really think they will win out of this. They have shut down any possibility of listening to reason and are going to stubbornly and pig-headedly drive Cayman into uncharted territory from both the tourism aspect but also the environmental side. And in the case of the latter, the action being taken cannot be undone and the ignorance and egos of those leading the charge is astounding.
    Trust me when I say, if things do go completely down the crapper, as I fully expect this will, they will shrug their shoulders, point a few fingers, blame non-existant EIAs end other professional reports, dust off their armani suits and head back to the trough for the next project.

  15. Anonymous says:

    No surprise. How else is C.I.G. to get away with dishonesty if not by refusing to share information? It’s a terrible relationship between the people and government and everyone sees it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yet, sadly, fewer than 25% of voters possess the moral fibre to sign a simple petition demanding some semblance of international standards of transparency. Our leaders won’t enact Standards in Public Life which might otherwise compel inspection of their accounts and conflicts. This is the stuff of African dictatorships you read about…bulk of Caymanians are unbothered by this!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Show the naysayers who run this ship?

  17. Anonymous says:

    My God, and we, here in the UK,are watching and in complete compliance with GDPR.
    25% off a brand new helicopter whilst police air support units here have been cut by 35% and are flying 10 yrs + old aircraft.
    Insane !

  18. Anonymous says:

    The way people are trying to use the FOI law is deplorable. No one in the private sector is going to publish details of ongoing negotiations if they feel it’s not in their interest to do so. Yet Government is expected to do so. Utter rubbish.

    • Anonymous says:

      The key word in Private Sector is PRIVATE!! You think we should be in the dark when it comes to what the government decides to do with OUR money?? The sad reality is governments do not always have the best interest of people at heart and more often than not when things are done in secrecy corruption is rampant.

      • Anonymous says:

        12:48 I hate to burst your bubble but in the UK some public sector only laws like the Human Rights Act have been deemed to apply to the ‘private’ sector. Check out Mosley v News Group Newspapers. In addition the UK’s Data Protection Act (DPA) makes no discrimination between private and public sector. Sooner or later you won’t be able to keep anything secret if this goes on.

        • Anonymous says:

          I hope you are not a lawyer. That would be scary. Take it from someone who knows and practiced for over a decade in the UK on the public purse.

          Human Rights Act applies to public authorities and all other bodies (public or private) who perform public functions. It has nothing to do with government obligations in terms of public spending, nor does Max Mosley’s case. Most of our Acts apply to public and private just as Cayman laws do here.

          Let me try and guide you in the right direction:

          Please do circulate to all in CIG, because hardly anyone understands their legal obligations on matters relating to the public purse here. They think it’s pocket money to do whatever they want.

          • Anonymous says:

            11:39 Sorry, could you run that past us again in English because most of your comment doesn’t make sense. This is about FOI, DPA and the extension of public sector legislation into the private sector not about ‘government obligations in terms of public spending’.

      • Anonymous says:

        We still have no idea what the final price will be for our new airport. Certain once again, when we find out the final price, there will be massive cost overruns. CIG what was the final price the Canadians submitted for the airport?

        • Anonymous says:

          11:05 if you had an idea what the final price was what would change?

          • Anonymous says:

            10:07 We would have had 7 or 8 jet ports to keep people dry. We would not have had to take on over $150 million of public debt and the training all the airport management employees would have taken place at a higher level in Canada all for the same price.

    • Anonymous says:

      how long more will the negotiations be ‘ongoing’???

      • Anonymous says:

        Until the piers are done
        It will be classified as commercially sensitive and then the Government will bury the information when no one is looking

        • Anonymous says:

          Yup. The writing was on the wall at the meeting last year when the minister admitted that all of the details people were concerned about would be provided after the winner is decided, but at that point it would be too late for public input!

        • Anonymous says:

          Bury the information just like they will do for the final price on the new airport.

      • Anonymous says:

        Until all the fat cats with their hands out are paid.

        • Anonymous says:

          8:45 Then the fat cats will have moved on to yet another pocket-filling proposal. When gambling monies are spent, replacement of funds is essential…

    • Anonymous says:

      Your comment is the only utter rubbish here and clearly demonstrates your lack of knowledge of economics and government, and responsibilities attached to expenditure of the public purse. You don’t get how it works do you?

      Private sector pay for themselves (not publicly funded) and therefore it’s none of our business what they do with their money.

      Government is funded by public money… the duties and fees that YOU, I, local businesses and residents pay. It’s called “the public purse” and its supposed to be spent protecting and representing the public’s interests. So damn right we have a right, and it is in the public interest that we know the details and are kept informed of how OUR money is being spent. We also have our right to demand a referendum to show are support or oppose (as the case may be) for projects such as this.

      Hopefully you get it now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Public servants are supposed to be just that, not behaving like private kleptocrat autocrats. They won’t even let the official Opposition shadow their government to ensure good governance (and value for money for the salaries and pensions of the other side of the house we pay for four years). It’s a sham.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Been saying this for weeks. Nazi left wing totalitarian government will soon be upon us. Enter the brainwashed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nazis are right wing my non friend.

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re ignorant my friend. The Nazis were secular national socialists (left wing). ( workers party) Please educate yourself before spewing bullshit online.

        • Anonymous says:

          No, they were right wing authoritarians. Instead of religion being towards God it was religion towards the state. Right wing government hates competition.

        • Anonymous says:

          Geez 3:40 you obviously failed history in school and never made it to university with such ignorance.

    • Anonymous says:

      I see someone has been watching their PragerU videos

      Remind me again how the nazi’s were leftists?
      Yet neo-nazis are right wingers?

      Actual nazis are still around on in the right wing base but apparently they are left wingers?

      I’ll never get this conservative revisionist history

      I call myself “National Socialist German Workers’ Party” that automatically means it is true, despite every bit of information pointing to the exact opposite

      That’s why the “People’s Republic of China” Is actually a democracy right?
      along with the “Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea”
      According to your logic they are both legitimate democracies because their names suggest that.

      You can name your country or group something that doesn’t actually mean that is what you are

      • Anonymous says:

        Nazis are leftists because they want total domination over every aspect of people’s lives. The “Democratic” party of America is a classic example. They are totalitarian thugs. Most modern governments do not allow freedom of speech any more.
        Did you read about Project Paperclip?
        I must confess, I had never heard of PragerU. I just looked at the bullshit I was being told, weighed it against facts of everyday life and found out that we are being lied to in every way.
        Good luck.

        • Anonymous says:

          Prager U, Smager U. Don’t worry about NAZI bullcrap. Worry about the truth! Our government has been working for themselves for years….. NOT for you! It’s pretty hard to come up with anything they have done for the people without getting more for themselves! Do you really think they give a hoot what happens to you?

        • Anonymous says:

          You keep trying to push a good game. Just like nazi rightist trump.

        • Anonymous says:

          You’re delusions are of grand design. Hitler would be proud of your spin. Yikes.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Don’t give the disingenuous obstructionists ammo. Build the dock.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. You whining babies need to get off it, our true leaders have a plan and are putting it thru. Soon we will have CHEC & Dart/Decco getting this and many other projects done. Praise you Mr Bodden for shutting these trouble makers down.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because it’s “whining babies” that insist on clean governance and Standards in Public Life? Do you think any of the colluding Cabinet members and deputies understand the political ramifications of an FCPA investigation by the DoJ? Who do you think will be playing the role of the bad guys in that headline?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Good job.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree 11.25am. Government should not be expected to disclose confidential information in the middle of sensotive negotiations . Would nevrr happen in the private sector.If revelations result in Govt paying more, guess who is going complain loudest; that’s right the same ones asking for premature disclosure.

      • Bertie : B says:

        everything they do is Premature ! build that dock and Cayman will be in debt forever .\expand the airport ! These cruise people could care less about spending money , I have been on many cruises , the people chat about this before going of the ship , many are aware the stuff they can buy is prob made in China anyhow , including the pier lol

        • Anonymous says:

          I was excited when I went to Paris, shopping I thought would be amazing until I checked labels. ‘Made in China’.

  22. Anonymous says:

    The Mac / Alden “Unity Government” has now become worse than Mac’s UDP government ever was and ever imagened it could have become.

    They are attempting to desroy the very foundation of the Constitution’s Freedom of Information provisions.


    It will now be interesting to observe how the Ombudsman will handle this FOI appeal.

    Surely this is also a matter that is a government violation of the Constitution Section 19 Lawful Administrative Action, the people are affected by government’s decision, therrfore governmrent is obligated to inform the public of the agreement contents.

    Will CNS now refer this matter to the Human Rights Commission?

    • Anonymous says:

      I know that you will not post this comment as this is the true and real position, something that you’ll are against posting.

      CNS: You were doing so well… until the last sentence. As noted on many previous occasions, I do not post comments that dare us to post a comment or say “I know that you won’t post this…”. (See the CNS Comment Policy.) If not for that last sentence, the comment was fine.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Best described as a farce. How quickly do you expect the Ombudsman to respond CNS? Even then, when do you expect a decision? Will that be before or after the coral has been destroyed and our children’s future mortgaged?

    Thank you for your efforts to hold government accountable and shed light in the darkest of corners.

  24. Anonymous says:

    This whole port fiasco has more red flags than a parade in Soviet Russia!

  25. Anonymous says:

    This comment section going be lit

  26. Tom says:

    It need an UK independent advisor/accountants who have no links with Cayman government and cruise lines to ensure deal is fair and watertight. Look an example government tried build school and they failed twice to keep on time and on budget which government have no idea real world of building schools.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Well done Stran. Most peole including the port objectors can’t and won’t understand this high level procurement exercise.

    • Johann Moxam says:

      The Ministry of Tourism’s refusal to release the FOI requested information on the cruise berthing project speaks volumes…

      CNS: The rest of this comment has been posted here: Government secrecy and deception is a slippery slope

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, many of us do, and it’s not just the matter of the procurement process. There’s also the question of whether this is good use of the public purse. Whether there is any real benefit to the people of the Cayman Islands (rather than the usual waterfront benefactors). Whether the majority of the electorate are actually in favour of the piers and such an extortionate amount of public funds being spent on it. Whether the public support the destruction of the environment to accommodate the piers. Whether GT will be under water more frequently when the reef is destroyed. Whether there is a cheaper, more viable solutions. I could go on, but nuff said already.

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