December 12, 2019

Changes made to Cayman Islands’ seamen’s ex-gratia benefit

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ships-wheelMinister of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports, the Hon. Osbourne Bodden in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday (25 November 2015), announced amendments to the criteria in which Seamen are eligible for ex-gratia payment by the Government.

The revisions were recently approved by Cabinet, and will take immediate effect.

In referencing the now 15-year-old monthly benefit of CI$550.00 paid to qualified seaman and their surviving spouses, told the House, “There is no doubt about the worth and value of the contributions made by our seamen to the development of these Islands.

“My Ministry has been responsible for the oversight and administration of the ex-gratia benefit and [it] has experienced challenges in trying to ensure that the criteria to determine eligibility was streamlined and appropriate control mechanisms were in place to reduce discrepancies,” said Minister Bodden.

As a result of the discrepancies Mr. Bodden explained the Ministry, with the assistance of the Office of , commenced an internal review. The investigation identified weaknesses in the system, resulting in the recommendation to revise the conditions of ex-gratia eligibility.

Minister Bodden expressed his confidence in the newly revised criteria saying it will streamline the process while ensuring the intended outcome of the original policy is preserved; that is, to provide financial relief to seamen who, upon becoming seniors, had no fixed income and no dependable means of a livelihood.

“These changes will ensure that the process is more streamlined, thereby greater efficiencies in the approval and disbursement of the benefit will be realised,” he said.

Revisions to the criteria are as follows:

i) Applicants who were not Caymanian at the time they sailed are referred to Cabinet for their consideration.

ii) Total monthly household income of $2,000.00 is changed to total personal income not exceeding $3,000.00 per month inclusive of any Government assistance. This new amount will also apply to business owners who will continue to be assessed by the as deemed necessary.

iii) Affidavits of time spent at sea are signed off by the ’s Association or the Veterans & Seamen Society for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

iv) The definition of resident is a person who maintains residency in the Cayman Islands for a period of not less than eight (8) months per year.

v) In situations where the recipient/spouse is overseas for medical purposes and has submitted the requested certified documentation and is a permanent and full time resident of the Cayman Islands, that the Ministry is able to take these exceptions into consideration and continue to provide the benefit.

vi) Surviving spouse upon applying will be processed immediately (subject to availability of funds).

vii) If a surviving spouse remarries, the ex-gratia benefit will cease immediately.

viii) To change the definition of seaman to: a sailor or officer that first went to sea before the 1st January, 1985 and who received pay or gratuity for assisting in the international transport of a ship, boat or vessel, cargo, and/or passenger from one port to another.

ix) To review the criteria for Seamen Ex-gratia Benefits every three (3) years.

x) To grandfather in the existing recipients of the Seamen Ex-Gratia Benefit as of 30 June 2015 to exempt them from the criteria. If the original application is found to be fraudulent, they will be removed immediately.

xi) To transfer all administrative and oversight functions of the Seamen’s Ex-Gratia Benefit to the newly established Needs Assessment Unit effective 1 July 2016 pending approval of the 16/17 budget.

END

IMAGE: www.caymanseafarers.ky

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