Commentary by Elcott Coleby
The mood was somber and the atmosphere filled with grief late Monday morning (Aug 25) as the staff at the Bahamas Information Services (BIS) gathered to pay tribute to the life of former Deputy Director Latore Mackey who was killed earlier that morning.
He was fondly remembered by his colleagues as a conscientious and disciplined worker who was gone too soon. Led by Anglican Archdeacon, discount viagra click the Venerable James Palacious, cialis the staff prayed for the repose of Latore’s soul and collectively hope for justice.
Outside the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Christie expressed the stark contrast between the civility, calmness and coolness of Latore’s demeanor in life and the violence of his death.
ICON Bill passed in the House
Later that morning in the House, Financial Services Minister, Hon. Ryan Pinder introduced the Investment Condominium Bill 2014.
Readers would recall that it was back in February 2013 that the Ministry of Financial Services launched its Strategic Plan to steer the Bahamian financial services sector over the next 10 years. One of the key issues addressed in the plan was the development of new products and new markets as well as a deepening of existing products and services with a view to “expanding the financial services pie” according to Minister Pinder.
Leading off the second reading of the Bill, see the Financial Services Minister said that “these bills establish The Bahamas as the first common law jurisdiction to have created an investment fund vehicle which perfectly aligns with the traditional structuring of Brazilian funds. The Bahamas has termed this fund the Investment Condominium or ICON.”
Simply put, an Investment Condominium is a formal “joint ownership and administration of property (in all forms) between co-owners within an unincorporated entity that looks very similar to a partnership but operates in many respects like a company” explained the Minister.
Tourism grows in Grand Bahama.
There was more good news for Grand Bahama this week as hotel occupancy levels there soared in the first half of this year compared to 2013 according to the latest data released by the Department of Statistics.
Between January and July 2013 -136, sick 262 rooms were occupied in Grand Bahama compared to 203,446 rooms occupied in the same period in 2014 – a difference of 67,184 room nights or a 49.52% increase.
This growth reflects a 6.71% increase in the hotel occupancy rate over the same period in 2013, which stood at 56.23%. Further, revenue grew by 35.90% – from $12.09 million in 2013 to $16.43 million over the same period this year.
Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe said this improvement is only the beginning of great things happening in Grand Bahama.
“Grand Bahama has shown tremendous improvement over the past seven months and it continues to improve,” he said.
“With continued focus and determined efforts, Grand Bahama will return to its glory days and by extension The Bahamas regains its place as the premier global destination.”
The good news coming out of Tourism continues: The first NCAA Division One Football game in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) to be played outside the United States will take place at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium here in Nassau on Christmas Eve this year. This comes on the heels of the HBCUX between Central State University and Texas Southern University scheduled for the 13th of September 2014 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. Both sporting events are historic firsts for The Bahamas and represent an important component of the country’s tourism product offerings.
Bahamas “Junkanoo” Carnival kicks off with a bang
Pompey Square came alive Wednesday evening with all the fanfare, lights, glitter and the pulsating rhythm of Junkanoo as the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie officially launched the 2015 Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival scheduled for May of next year. Highlighting the inextricable link between the festival, our culture and our number industry, the Prime Minister said that he was very pleased that The Bahamas would soon be able to showcase even more of the country’s culture via this new event. “Not only is this a great opportunity for Junkanoos, artisans and other craftsmen to display their wares and talents” said the Prime Minister, “but it also offers us the opportunity to provide additional entertainment for guests who visit our shores.”
This new tourism product offering will be an annual event beginning on Easter Monday and will include participatory street parades, concerts, cultural shows and balls – all depicting various aspects of Bahamian culture and heritage. Of the five weeks that comprise the festival’s period, one week will be set aside and called “Carnival Week.” The first Bahamas Carnival Week is scheduled for May 3-9, 2015. During Carnival week, four major events will be staged.
BTC majority shareholding transfer final
Some eight months after the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the government of The Bahamas and CWC, the transfer of the majority of shares from BTC to the Bahamas government is final. A luncheon was held at the Balmoral Club on Friday, 29th August to mark this momentous occasion. The principals on hand for this occasion were Bahamas Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie; CEO of CWC, Mr. Phil Bentley; Franklyn Wilson, local businessman and government negotiator and Sean McWeeney QC, also a member of the government’s negotiation team
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During his remarks, the Prime Minister reiterated that the new partnership framework with CWC was more beneficial to the Bahamian people than the 2011 agreement:
“The final configuration of the partnership framework that we now have with CWC is undeniably more beneficial to the Bahamian interest, in all aspects, than the construct agreed by the former administration in 2011. We also believe that it produces an equitable win-win result that both sides can live with. Here are some of the benefits:
· the Bahamian people are guaranteed to receive the economic benefits to be derived from the two percent shareholding and CWC maintains management control of BTC with assurances that their right to consolidate BTC’s accounts into the Group accounts is preserved.
· Additionally, the reconfigured partnership provides for important cooperation between CWC (Cable and Wireless Communication) and the BCB (Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas) for implementing and integrating technologies and developing strategies to enhance BCB’s capacity and ability to profitably deliver programming. It also provides for other forms of collaboration with Government agencies to implement agreed “Social telecoms” programmes including, but not limited to, the areas of health, security, education and e-government solutions.”