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ELCOTT COLEBY SUMMARIZES THE WEEK

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discount viagra treat times;”>elcottTHIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS (3 – 7 NOV 2014)

for sale times;”>COMMENTARY BY ELCOTT COLEBY

sick times;”> 

 

Mitchell clarifies misinformation on immigration interdictions

The new immigration policies came into effect on Saturday, November 1 and in the wake of a routine spot check by the Department of Immigration, images and commentary were posted in social media including an upload to i-cnn blogspot

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. The images and commentary suggested night raids, the deportation of Bahamian children and the detention of children at the Carmichael Road Detention Center as a result of these routine checks. They were all inaccurate and misleading to the general public.

 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Hon. Fred Mitchell, hosted a press conference on Sunday, November 2 at the Lynden Pindling International Airport upon his return from a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he participated in an anti-piracy conference. He sought to address some of the misinformation being circulated within social media.

 

On the images of children being escorted by Immigration Officers, the Minister explained that during some of the spot checks on Saturday morning, the adults at the home or scene of the spot check in question fled the scene, leaving the children behind. The Immigration Officers took the children into protective custody for their own safety wellbeing and the children were later released to an adult relative or guardian. The Director of Immigration, William Pratt applauded the humane actions taken by his officers in the in the circumstance given its sensitivity. 

 

With respect to children being detained at the Carmichael Road detention center, the 35 children in question were among a group of illegal migrants aboard an interdicted vessel traveling in Bahamian waters and were detained along with their parents and subsequently deported to their home country along with their parents.

 

Bahamas and U.S. sign FATCA IGA

With the existing agreement set to expire in December of this year, The Bahamas and the United States signed a Model One Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA.

 

Minister of Financial Services Hon. Ryan Pinder boasted that “cooperatively, The Bahamas and the United States may have negotiated the most progressive intergovernmental agreement that exists today.”

 

Under the four year old US law, local financial instructions are required to disclose information on off-shore accounts of US citizens and corporate entities beginning September 2015. Failure to comply would result in the imposition of a 30% penalty withholding tax on withholdable payments made to these off-shore banks.   

 

According to Minister Pinder, the enabling legislation is substantially complete and is in the consultation stage with industry stakeholders.  

 

Bahamas delegation at emergency CARICOM meeting

A Bahamas delegation traveled to Trinidad and Tobago on Monday afternoon for an emergency meeting of CARICOM ministers to discuss the potential threat of the Ebola Virus Disease to the region.

 

Representing the Prime Minister and leading the delegation was Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell who was accompanied by Health Minister Perry Gomez, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Glen Beneby and Bahamas Ebola Taskforce Administrator Peter Deveaux Isaacs.

 

Government representatives exchanged information on country-specific protocols in addition to discussing regional safety protocols, preparedness and strategies to protect member states from a potential public health crisis and economic fallout from Ebola.

 

Apparent suicide at Willie Mae Center for Girls

The lifeless body of fourteen year old Tasha McDonald, a victim of an apparent suicide, was discovered by staff at the Willie Mae Pratt Center for Girls on Monday morning at around 11 am. The matter has been turned over to the police and Her Majesty’s Coroner for investigation.

 

In a statement released by the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development,

the Ministry extended sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and provided grief counseling for the staff and residents of the center.

 

Tasha McDonald, a troubled youth, was admitted to the Center on Wednesday (Oct 29) by family members and as per Center procedures, was not integrated into the general population at the time of her death.

 

Haitian Ambassador summoned to Foreign Ministry

In light of his public criticism of the government’s new immigration policy, Haitian Ambassador to The Bahamas, HE Antonio Rodrigue was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a “chat” with the Minister by teleconference; Minister Mitchell was in Port of Spain, Trinidad attending an emergency CARICOM meeting on Ebola.

 

Commenting on images and commentary that appeared on both social and mainstream media, Ambassador Rodrigue questioned the “Christian spirit” talked about in The Bahamas and said that the image of children being taken into protective custody by Immigration officials was a “bad image” for The Bahamas. These comments were viewed by many as inflammatory in nature and diplomatically inappropriate and intrusive to the internal governance of the country.

 

In a short statement released on Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry confirmed the meeting and said that “there was an exchange of views with the Ambassador on the matter and it is hoped in light of that exchange that the necessity for such interventions by the Ambassador will in the future be at a minimum.”

 

Hanna-Martin consults on new National Maritime Policy

The consultative phase of the Bahamas’ new National Maritime Policy continued this week with a town Hall meeting at the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau on Tuesday evening. This followed consultative meetings held across the Bahamas from Abaco and Grand Bahama in the north to Spring Point, Acklins in the South and many islands in between.

 

Minister Hanna-Martin saw this new policy as a mechanism through which varied career opportunities can be created for the empowerment of many young Bahamians.

 

“It is going to create new never before tapped opportunities and they will come in science, technology (and) research which is a different paradigm from the maritime sector that we’ve ventured into thus far.”

 

The new policy also seeks to address issues related to the marine environment, climate change and the vexing issue to illegal fishing. The intent of the policy is to cause there to be an analysis of these multiple activities and to create procedures and processes to manage them. 

 

Presenters at the National Maritime Policy Town Meetings were Commodore Davy Rolle, Committee Chairman and head of the Bahamas Maritime Authority and Dr. Julian Roberts, Commonwealth Secretariat Advisor.

 

Prime Minister meets with investors in Andros

Prime Minister Christie was in Cargill Creek Andros on Wednesday to meet with investors and fishing enthusiasts including William Michaelcheck as he pursued greater investment for Andros to complement and in connection with the anchor project BAMSI. This meeting, held at the Bonefish Club, was organized through the BAMSI/University of Miami partnership.

 

The Prime Minister initially met with these investors in New York City in September during his visit there to deliver the country’s statement on Climate Change at the UN during the Climate Change summit.

 

Others in attendance were Dr. Jerald Ault of the University of Miami; Minister of State for Investments the Hon. Khaalis Rolle; Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister, Creswell Sturrup and Ted McGraw   

 

 

Wilchcombe in London for World Travel Market

Seeking to attract a larger share of the European tourism and travel market, Tourism Minister Hon. Obie Wilchcombe led a delegation of Tourism professionals to the World Travel Market in London this week, the largest of its kind in the world. This event attracts nearly 200 countries and 75,500 visitors.

 

Represented at this expo were various local stakeholders and hotel properties throughout the country including Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (BMOT), Baha Mar, Grand Bahama Island Promotion Board, Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board and Tiamo Resort in Andros among others.

“It is important to come to the World Travel Market because you get a sense of where the competition is. We have to appreciate that The Bahamas is not in the game alone, and there are countries all over the globe that are now seeking that tourist dollar,” said the Tourism Minister commenting on strategy in the highly competitive global tourism industry.

While at the four-day expo the tourism delegation attended several meetings and conferences in hopes of increasing airlift to The Islands of The Bahamas from Europe and UK, to complement our strong presence in the North American market.

 

“We are looking at the new trends in the market that show more and more Europeans are taking longer vacations, and discussing how we can get more of that business. We will spend a lot of time talking to competitors and also to potential clients. These are important meetings that are taking place this week,” he said.

 

New class of Immigration Officers graduate

It was the first graduating class in five years and the first since the implementation of the new immigration policies. The message from the Immigration Minister to the 58 young officers was to remain resolute in the execution of their duties without fear or favour.

 

“You join at an exciting time, when all eyes are on you and how you will deport yourselves. There is a lot of idle propaganda going around which is designed to defame the work that has been done by your colleagues in immigration to be but let that not deter you from the central job and focus, which is to enforce the law without fear or favour and to help keep the peace and good order in The Bahamas.”

 

The Minister was referring to the amount of misinformation and inflammatory commentary being put into the public domain since the new immigration policy came into effect on Nov 1.

Addressing the resource issues facing the Department of Immigration during his keynote address, Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis told graduates that even though the government is resource challenged, it is committed to securing the resources necessary to facilitate the effective execution of their jobs.

 

“The Ministry of Finance will supply the resources needed for you to do your work” said the Deputy Prime Minister. “This includes a new border control system which is in the final stages of its acquisition and the acquisition of items like computers and transportation which you have been seeking for some time.  You know that our country is resource challenged but this government is committed to finding the resources so that you can do your work effectively and efficiently.” 

 

In passing…

Director of Sports in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Mr. Timothy Munnings speaking with Mrs. Oria Woods-Knowles senior sports officer in the ministry held a press conference on Tuesday, November 4 to announce plans for the 30th annual Father Marcian Peter’s Basketball Invitational Tournament to be held December 5 – 13 at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium. 

 

The resignation of Senator Cheryl Bazard was communicated to Senators on Wednesday at a sitting to debate the Public Beaches and Parks legislation. An Attorney-at-Law and compliance expert, Mrs. Bazard will head up the compliance department at Scotiabank Ltd. We wish her well in her new appointment.

 

Making good on his promise to visit Prime Minister Christie after a meeting in New York in September, New York Yankees Outfielder Antoan Richardson paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister on Wednesday at his Cable Beach Office. Mr. Richardson presented PM Christie with a game ball and expressed his appreciation and happiness with the announcement of a new national baseball stadium.

 

Standard and Poors maintained its sovereign credit ratings of the economy of The Bahamas at an investment grade BBB/A-2. In a press release late Wednesday, the Ministry of Finance credited the avoidance of another downgrade to the successful implementation of its fiscal consolidation plan, the central component of which is the Value Added Tax (VAT). The country suffered two downgrades since 2012 as the government implemented its fiscal reform measures.

 

One day after the graduation ceremony for 58 Immigration Officers in Nassau, another squad of 11 recruits graduated in Grand Bahama on Thursday. Delivering the keynote address and charge was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Hon. Fred Mitchell. The Minister told the new officers to be vigilant in enforcing the laws of the country. This graduation brings the total number of officers to 300.

 

Minister Mitchell foreshadowed the tabling of an amended Immigration Act when Parliament convenes on Nov 19. This amendment will provide for the establishment of an Immigration Reserve Corps. This landmark legislation will add to other projected pieces of legislation including a new Ministry of Foreign Affairs Act to establish the Foreign Service and legislation to governing oil drilling and the disbursement of revenue arising from the same, should the drilling result in the discovery of oil in commercially viable quantities.

 

Minister of Financial Services Hon. Ryan Pinder was in Miami this week where he participated in three separate events as he continues to advance and heighten the profile of the Bahamas and its Financial Service product offerings internationally.

 

He was the keynote Speaker at the Association of Caribbean Corporate Counsel annual Conference; the Financial Services Ministry was a corporate sponsor the STEP (Society of Trust and Estates Professionals) Global Conference where the Minister delivered a presentation and he was a guest speaker at the 2014 Latin Trade Symposium.

 

A groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Andre Rodgers National Baseball Stadium was held today at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Center. On hand for this event was Senator Gregory Burrows who will manage this project; Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Hon. Daniel Johnson and Prime Minister Christie who delivered the keynote address. The site for the stadium is the vacant property opposite the Government High School.

Career public servant Mrs. Elizabeth Keju was honored today at a farewell luncheon to mark her retirement. The venue was the Paul Farquharson Center. Among her well-wishers were Labour Minister Hon. D. Shane Gibson and Prime Minister Perry G. Christie who both sang her praises and thanked her for her many years of faithful public service. Mrs. Keju was the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Public Service. We wish her well in her retirement.

 

Ninety-nine trainees graduated to Correctional Officers today at a  passing out ceremony held at The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services’ Compound on Fox Hill Road today (Friday). Delivering the commencement address was Minister of National Security Hon. Bernard J. Nottage.

Pan-Africanist Dr. Julius Garvey, the son of Marcus Garvey will present a lecture at the Keva Bethel Building of the College of The Bahamas this evening at 7pm. His lecture is part of the REPARATORY JUSTICE LECTURE SERIES. He will speak on the topic “The Cause for Reparatory Justice.” The public is invited to attend.

Tomorrow is a particularly busy day for several Ministers as Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Allyson Maynard-Gibson and Youth, Sports and Culture Minister Dr. Daniel Johnson are slated to address the breakfast meeting of the 19th Annual Caribbean International Business Conference at the Sandals Resort. The Prime Minister is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the dinner and awards ceremony tomorrow night.

And last but not least, the vision of Tourism Minister Hon. Obie Wilchcombe to officially document the life and work of our national heroes is gradually unfolding as the documentary film on the life of Bahamian Major Leaguer Andre Rodgers premiers on Saturday night at theater at Atlantis. The writer and producer is none other than BIS’ very own Gina Rodgers-Sealy who happens to be the daughter of Mr. Rodgers.