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diagnosis times;”>In its 5th January advisory to United States citizens visiting The Bahamas, the US Embassy here in Nassau specifically prohibited their staff from patronizing licensed jet-ski operators; recommended that US visitors not patronize these operators and charged that the jet-ski industry was “minimally regulated.” The advisory came in the wake of a recent allegation of rape filed by an American tourist against a Bahamian male.
In her response, Transport and Aviation Minister Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin denied that the incident involved a participant in the jet-ski industry.
“This incident did not involve a participant in the jet-ski industry. However, certain public comments in the aftermath of this incident may have had the unfortunate effect of erroneously projecting that the alleged perpetrator was a licensed operator when in fact he was not.”
Concerning the charge of minimal regulation of the industry, Mrs. Hanna-Martin had this to say.
“The commercial water sports industry is governed by the Commercial Recreation and Water Craft Act and all operators are subject to full vetting by the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) before licensing. The government of The Bahamas has instituted a zero-tolerance policy in the industry however, despite our efforts, challenges do remain.”
In terms of her action plan, the Transport Minister said she would address the matter with the Minister of National Security and meet with industry stakeholders.
“I have discussed this challenge with the Ministry of National Security who has undertaken to assist our efforts in ensuring a lawful and orderly environment. I shall be meeting with owners and operators tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss this advisory and its potential impact on their livelihood.”
Dr. Nottage in talks with the FBI on crime
Late last year Prime Minister Christie told the nation of some new anti-crime measures the government will implement in early 2016. After a celebratory luncheon for the work of the Salvation Army on Thursday, Prime Minister Christie spoke about the government’s latest crime plan.
Among them were the meetings Minister Nottage and US Charge Lisa Johnson held at the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) headquarters in Washington DC on Wednesday and Thursday of this week on the crime challenges facing the country.
“Dr. Nottage and the Charge d’affaires (met) yesterday and today (Thursday) at the FBI headquarters in Washington where they are reviewing certain matters that will be important to what we do here in The Bahamas” said Christie.
Not wanting to pre-empt the commissioner of police in unveiling the new anti-crime plans for 2016, Prime Minister Christie revealed that he held “very strong meetings” with commissioner Greenslade over two days this week and that he expects “the commissioner of police in his annual report to speak to what is going to happen.”
There has been a steady increase in the serious crime of murder as far back as 1997 when the country recorded 46 murders. The number of murders had jumped to 62 by 2006 and topped 100 for the first time in 2011 when the country recorded 127 homicides. There were 149 homicides recorded in 2015.
Bahamas Central Bank gets new Governor
Mrs. Wendy Craigg, the first female Governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas, completed her statutory term of ten years and demitted office effective December 31st 2015.
In a 5th January Cabinet Office press release, Prime Minister Christie lauded the achievements and personal integrity of the outgoing governor.
“It is particularly laudable that Mrs. Craigg, a career central banker, worked tirelessly to ensure that the regulatory infrastructure for banks and trust companies in The Bahamas conformed to evolving international standards and best practices. At the same time she also saw to it that the monetary stability of The Bahamas was maintained by the application of sound and sensible monetary policies and standards.
“I applaud Mrs. Craigg for these outstanding achievements and thank her for her many years of dedicated service and unblemished integrity at the helm of the Central Bank. She has been a great credit not only to the Central Bank but to our entire nation.”
The statement noted that Mrs. Craigg will continue her public service as an Economic Policy Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister.
In congratulating the incoming Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. John Rolle, Mr. Christie highlighted his pivotal role in implementing the government’s medium term fiscal reform initiatives while serving as the country’s Financial Secretary.
“Indeed Mr. Rolle played a pivotal role in the implementation of recent public finance reforms, most notably, the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT) regime. For that and for his many other sterling contributions to nation-building while at the Ministry of Finance, I thank Mr. Rolle most sincerely.
Mr. Rolle, who assumed his new post with immediate effect, is also a career central banker.
Online company formation services launched in The Bahamas
The Government of The Bahamas reached yet another milestone in the modernization of its public administration when on Tuesday of the week the Office of the Registrar General launched its electronic services facilities, allowing for the formation of companies online. This new technology significantly improves the ease of doing business in The Bahamas and reduces the time taken to secure a certificate of incorporation.
In launching the online services, Prime Minister Christie, a “firm believer” in the critical importance of Public Private (sector) Partnerships (“PPP”), said that the launch of the Registrar General’s Department E-Services facility has been a perfect example of the effectiveness of such partnerships.
The private partner is the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC).
“We are opening new vistas for domestic and international business, and we are making it easy for you to do business online in The Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister Christie.
“This collaboration with the private sector is one that is a constant, enduring activity that will — in the sense of competition — always cause us to be committed to moving further and further ahead,” he added.
“The service will be available 24/7 and it will be possible immediately to get incorporation certificates and certificates of good standing,” Prime Minister Christie stated. “This is the way that people expect business to be conducted in 2016. We are responding to market demand and we are doing so with a view to becoming number one in financial services in the region.”
Also present at the launch were Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Senator the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Minister of Financial Services the Hon. Hope Strachan, Registrar General Deirdre Clarke-Maycock, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) Leon Williams, CEO and Executive Director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board Tanya McCartney, her immediate predecessor Aliya Allen, other senior government officials and PPP representatives.
Majority Rule celebrations announced
Sunday the 10th January is Majority Rule Day, marking the 49th Anniversary of the first government which the majority of the country elected on a one man one vote basis. Following is a recap of the list of scheduled public activities released by the government on Tuesday of this week to mark this historic occasion.
All roads lead to Montague Bay for the annual ‘All-for-One Regatta’ which will kick off the Majority Rule Weekend list of state sponsored activities. The three day regatta will be officially opened by Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry g. Christie on Saturday, January 9 and will conclude on Monday, the 11th , the public holiday designated to mark the occasion. The regatta is in memory of regatta consultant and racing legend, “King Eric” Gibson.
Also on Saturday the 9th January at 7 pm in Rawson Square, there will be a free live concert of the music of Freddie Munnings Sr., the late owner of the Cat and the Fiddle night club, featuring his songs about the city of Nassau, under the direction of Fred Ferguson. Mr. Munnings, the late owner of the famous Cat and the Fiddle Nightclub, was one of the champions of the fight for Majority Rule through his activism, his money and his music.
The Governor General HE Dame Marguerite Pindling and the Prime Minister Rt. Hon Perry G. Christie MP are expected to be in attendance.
Then on Sunday 10th January, there will be a ceremony marking the day with the laying of a wreath at the tomb of the late Sir Lynden Pindling by the Governor General in St. Agnes Cemetery on Nassau Street.
Each month over the next year there will be a special event dedicated to the commemoration of Majority Rule Day leading up to a grand event to mark the 50th year of this occasion in January 2017.
Fitzgerald provides update on University of The Bahamas legislation.
Speaking this week on the status of the enabling legislation to facilitate the transition of the College of The Bahamas to a fully accredited university, Education Minister the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald revealed that the draft legislation is currently under active review by the College Council.
“I saw the draft legislation, but I am waiting for the College Council to approve it” he said. “That is where we are. The responsibility now rests with them.”
Explaining the delay, Mr. Fitzgerald said that it was important for the Council to secure the requisite support and consensus among the relevant education stakeholders for this important transition and it was important to get the process right.
“So I would rather get it right to the point where I have consensus because I don’t want any negativity around something so pivotal to our national development.
“As soon as they (the college council) present it to me, I will put it on the agenda for Cabinet.”
In the meantime the college is continuing its institutional strengthening and transitioning project in addition to its infrastructural expansion, courtesy of a $21 million Caribbean Development Bank loan.
Executive management changes at The College of The Bahamas
The College of The Bahamas recently announced changes within its Senior Administration. The changes were as follow:
Dr. Earla Carey-Baines, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs will return to her position as a member of the faculty of the College. Upon completion of a one semester sabbatical awarded to her by the College Council, Dr. Carey-Baines will return to the classroom in the capacity of Associate Professor in the School of English Studies and serve as University Editor for the University of The Bahamas.
Dr. Pandora Johnson will serve in the capacity of Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs / Provost with immediate effect.
Dr. Maria E. Woodside-Oriakhi, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Science, Mathematics, Physics and Technology, has been appointed to the position of Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, effective January 4th 2016.
Dr. Dion D. D. Hepburn, former Chairperson of the School of Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences, was appointed the new Director of Research.
Prime Minister Christie indicated on Tuesday that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the government of The Bahamas had agreed that The Bahamas will feature the first “smart island.” The ITU and other declarers will execute pilot and flagship projects with the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) solutions to complement the economic and quality of life advantages and the corresponding fallout of urbanization such as pollution, overcrowding, traffic jams, waste generation, inadequate public services and greenhouse gas emissions. The ICT solutions are designed to create sustainable “smart islands” and “smart cities.”
It was reported this week that Mr. Charles King, former Senior Administrator with responsibility for the City of Freeport, has been transferred to New Providence as the new Deputy Director in the Department of Local Government.
The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority, URCA, said ‘yes’ to Cable Bahamas’ latest request for a 27% rate hike on its basic cable services. This means that REVTV Prime service will increase from $30 to $38 for residential customers and from $50 to $64 for commercial customers. The new fee structure applies only to customers in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and Eleuthera. This is the first rate hike in 21 years.
Ms. Rowena Bethel, Executive Director of the National Insurance Board, revealed this week that the national registration drive for National Health Insurance (NHI) will commence on the 18th January 2016. This registration drive will mark the official launch of the first phase NHI Bahamas. Numerous mobile units will be used to facilitate this.
James Smith, board chairman of that Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Resolve revealed this week that the SPV’s operations are past the “fact finding” stage and is in the “operational stage.” It took some time to secure ownership data (such as titles and deeds) from the Bank of The Bahamas but now Resolve is actively seeking to sell off high-end properties in Lyford Cay, Cave Village on West Bay and on Paradise Island in order to recover some of the losses incurred by the bank due to tens of millions of dollars of non-performing commercial loans. The government created Resolve on 31st October 2014 in a restructuring of the portfolio of the Bank of The Bahamas.
The Controller of Road Traffic confirmed today that due to an ordering error, the department suffered a shortage of validation stickers for vehicle licensing; Mr. Smith apologized for the shortage. The Controller assured the public that urgent interim measures were put in place to address the shortage to avoid further inconveniences to the motoring public; no customer was turned away and that the department anticipates a return to normalcy by early next week.