Commentary by Elcott Coleby
The future of land-based casino gambling and online gaming and a strike action by the affiliates of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Trade Union Congress (CBTUC) dominated the national events this week in The Bahamas.
The Gaming Bill House debate intensifies
The Gaming Bill and attendant regulations designed to effect sweeping changes to the gaming and Financial Services sectors were read for a second time in the House this past Wednesday. The debate intensified the following day, buy cialis doctor the thirteenth anniversary of 911. The exchanges were emotive and at times contentious with charges and counter-charges of discrimination, viagra the death of democracy, election defeat, cronyism, hypocrisy and money laundering. This level of intensity and range of the verbal sparring between House members are normal and usual in the halls of Parliament and Congresses around the world for legislation of this magnitude, gravity and transformational qualities.
In summarizing the pros and cons of the Gaming Bill, Foreign Affairs Minister Mitchell argued that the result of a successful Parliamentary “no” vote “would be to drive money underground and increase the criminality in the country; increase joblessness and all the attendant problems that causes; and erode the already precarious financial state of the country by the misallocation of valued resources into law enforcement.” He characterized the “no” vote as the practice of “tomfoolery” which was redundant.
Correspondingly, prescription with a successful “yes” vote in the House, “there will be a strong, well regulated and healthy domestic gaming sector” continued Mitchell, “with money in the bank and people in work prospering, with the government getting its share. We will eliminate the potential for more criminality. Sounds like a win win to me.”
In the end and against a backdrop of criticisms, the Prime Minister explained his leadership motivation generally and summed up his government’s decision specifically to legalize and regulate the web shop gaming industry this way: “Right now I am driven to do what is right for the country…whether I am seen to be doing the right thing or not, ambulance so long as I am in the belief that what I am doing is honestly intended to benefit the Bahamian people – it is not harmful to them – it is not a sinful action that I am taking, but it is one that is manifested in the best interest of the country itself, then I am moving forward as strongly as ever and resolute in my determination to make a major impact on the country, positive, not negative – positive.”
Prime Minister Christie went further in explaining the far reaching empowerment and economic impact a fully regulated web shop gaming industry with an estimated $600 million in annual sales can have on the lives of thousands of Bahamians: “If you see that we can use as a foundation, a foundation subject to audit $600 million – how do you think $600 million can be in play for Bahamians – how many thousands – tens of thousands of Bahamians that are a part of making that money available to that market.” The Prime Minister shared these thoughts during the second annual Straw Vendor’s Appreciation awards ceremony at the straw market on Thursday afternoon
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The House is expected to vote on the Gaming Bill on Monday of next week at the Bill’s third reading.
CBTUC members strike
While the debate continued in the House, some members of the CBTUC went on strike in New Providence and Grand Bahama. Calling the strike illegal, the Ministry of Labour issued a press release on the strike action. Reiterating that the Government of The Bahamas “remains committed to the concept of partnership with all trade unions and will keep the channels of communication open for discussions with trade union leaders,” the statement updated the public on the trade unions and associations that have matters before the Industrial Tribunal pursuant to the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act 1970:
- The Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union,
- The Bahamas Nurses Union,
- The Commonwealth Union of Hotel Services and Allied Workers,
- The Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association,
- The Bahamas Customs Immigration Allied Workers Union,
- The Bahamas Educators Managerial Union
Having listed the unions and associates with matters before the tribunal, the statement went on to remind the affiliates of the CBTUC and the general public of the provisions of Section 77 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act Chapter 321 of the Statute Laws of The Bahamas which states the following:
“No employee shall go on strike and no employer shall declare a lock-out, and no union or member of the executive committee or other governing body of a union shall call a strike or declare a lock-out in consequence of a trade dispute while proceedings taken in relation to that dispute are pending before the Tribunal or the Court of Appeal.”
On Wednesday, the Minister of Labour and National Insurance the Hon. Shane Gibson obtained a Supreme Court injunction signed by Acting Justice Ian Winder to bring the strike to an end until the Industrial Tribunal’s ruling. The Injunction ordered the CBTUC affiliates to “cease and desist from taking part in any industrial action until their matters are heard by the Industrial Tribunal.” Despite the court order, the TUC President promised to appeal the ruling and the strike continued until Friday.
Prime Minister Christie was on Kamalame Cay, Andros this past Tuesday to attend an event under the auspices of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Nature Conservancy. He was congratulated by the IDB for being the first Prime Minister in the Caribbean to spearhead “an existing environmentally based initiative.”
In other local news this week, the Prime Minister revealed that Stem Cell research and therapy applications are expected this month as the government tabled Stem Cell regulations in Parliament.
The government announced that it is in the final negotiation stages with a short list of bidders for the overhaul of BEC which will include the establishment of a new legal entity owned by BEC. This means that as the government moves ahead with energy sector reform, BEC will no longer be split into two entities.
Finally, Labour Minister Hon. Shane Gibson revealed that the National Health Insurance (NHI) report is complete. The report prepared by the Costa Rican Accountant firm Sanigest Internacional, will outline the overall cost to implement the National Health Insurance Plan. The firm was contracted by the government in April of this year to conduct this feasibility study.