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ELCOTT REVIEW FEB 28th 2015

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best cialis recipe times;”>elcottThe conclusion of the midyear budget debate; the tabling of the much anticipated “Belonger’s Permit” Regulations and the meeting of CARICOM government heads dominated the news this week in The Bahamas.

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Midyear budget debate concludes

As debate on the midyear budget statement continued in the House on Monday (23rd Feb), Labour Minister Hon. D. Shane Gibson informed House members that the National Insurance Board is discontinuing the practice of accepting contributions from illegal immigrants. This new policy is part of the overall and far reaching immigration policy reforms designed to set out the terms and conditions under which non-Bahamians live and work in The Bahamas.

 

Health Minister the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez revealed that National Health Insurance (NHI) is still on schedule for implementation in 2016, but told House members that the exact cost to each taxpayer has not been determined.

 

Education, Science and Technology Minister Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald reaffirmed the government’s commitment to establish the University of The Bahamas by 2016. He further reported on the five areas of intervention to improve scholastic performance in the public school system: School Leadership, Teacher Training, a new achievement unit, Special Education and the expansion of pre-schools.

 

 

Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis touted BEC’s readiness for Baha Mar’s increased demand upon its March opening as “a major achievement.” BEC is currently installing a permanent power supply to Baha Mar’s core project site. He further stated that the overhauled engines are part of BEC’s preparations for the increased summer demands for power so that load shedding will be avoided. The reduction in oil prices have driven down BEC’s surcharge to its customers by 20.6 percent, 27.7 cents/KwH in October 2014 to 22 cents in February 2015 said the Deputy Prime Minister.

 

In his wrap up of the resolution to approve the midyear budget statement pursuant to the Financial Administration and Audit Act, Prime Minister Christie predict between 7,500 to 8,000 additional jobs to be added to the Bahamian economy in 2015 and he delivered a detailed account of investment projects by island – from Abaco in the north to Mayaguana in the south.

 

“Mr. speaker, the side opposite continues to suggest, despite evidence to the contrary, that promised jobs are not being realized” said the Prime Minister as he said that more than 8,800 jobs have confirmed created to date. Touting hundreds of jobs created and forecasted in Abaco, Grand Bahama, Exuma, San Salvador and Andros, the Prime Minister confidently predicted that more than 20,000 jobs will be added to the economy over the next two years.

 

 

Much anticipated “Belongers Permit” Bill tabled

The much anticipated Immigration Amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday of this week. The bill would provide a status for persons born stateless in The Bahamas by circumstance and for a person otherwise constitutionally entitled to apply for registration as a Bahamian citizen between the ages of eighteen and nineteen.

 

“Many people have been asking about this category of persons between zero and eighteen” said Immigration Minister Mitchell.

 

Under the new regulations, the permit will be valid for three years at a cost of $25 and a $100 processing fee. Permit holders will be able to legally live and work in The Bahamas.

 

The bill will also provide for the establishment of Immigration Reservists who would undergo the training and possess the same arrest powers as substantive Immigration Officers. They are to assist Immigration Officers in the execution of their duties.   

 

 

CARICOM Agriculture Ministers tour BAMSI

Ministers of Agriculture of the Caribbean Community toured the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BASMI) just prior to CARICOM’s opening of the 26th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean in Nassau, February 26-27.

The Bahamas Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government the Hon. V. Alfred Gray thanked the agriculture representatives for taking the tour of the North Andros agricultural institute with him.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Labour and Social Security in Jamaica the Hon. Luther Buchanan spoke on behalf of his fellow Caribbean Ministers and praised the Bahamas Government on the project, stating: “It is indeed impressive and I commend the Government on this initiative and I implore the people of this land to support wholeheartedly this programme of sustained agriculture, sustained because agricultural education is important; it is the nerve centre of appreciating the eat what you grow concept. It is the nerve centre of the development of any country.”

The group to North Andros was accompanied by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Rene Glinton; President, BAMSI and the Bahamas Ambassador to FAO Dr. Godfrey Eneas; Executive Director, BAMSI, Dr. Rovenia Roberts Hanna; Mr. Benjamin Rahming, General Manager, the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation and Omar Thomas and Project Director and Consultant for the Tutorial Commercial Farm at BAMSI.  

 

 

26th CARICOM conference of heads opens in Nassau

In his first official address to “colleague heads” as CARICOM Chairman, Bahamas Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie called for the development of human capital and natural resources to spur regional growth; a greater thrust in youth development; gender equality and greater regional food security.

 

The Prime Minister delivered his charge to government heads at the Opening Ceremonies of the 26th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which took place on the 26-27 February 2015 at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort.

 

“The mandate of CARICOM leaders to address the common goal of a sustained developmental path for the common man and woman precipitated my proposal that we discuss the topic of ‘Leveraging CARICOM’s Human, Cultural and Natural Resources for the Economic Development of the Community.’”

He noted the Strategic Plan for the Community that was approved at the Thirty-Fifth Regular Meeting in Antigua and Barbuda had identified the creative and service industries as key economies for the Region.

The evidence is cemented, he said, in the world-wide recognition of Caribbean personalities such as Bob Marley, the Mighty Sparrow, Lenny Kravitz, Edwidge Danticat, The Golden Girls 4 x 100 Relay Team, Rihanna, Usain Bolt, Ato Boldon and others who have received international acclaim for their talents and contributions.

Prime Minister Christie further highlighted that Caribbean youth development and empowerment should be the focus of discussions to ensure that tomorrow’s leaders are prepared.

Confirming that Caribbean leaders had already started to address that objective from the Suriname meetings, Mr. Christie proposed that “the time is optimal for us to be active in implementing the ideas drawn from the youth themselves and contained in the Declaration of Paramaribo on the future of youth in the Caribbean.”  

Turning his attention to gender issues, the Prime Minister stated that females should not be left behind in the process and that every effort should be made to empower females.

“In tandem with that (youth development) we must also ensure that female empowerment is a priority not only as a moral imperative but also as a social necessity,” said Mr. Christie. “In this latter regard, it is a statistical fact that over fifty percent of our families are run by single mothers. Recognizing, as we do, that the family is the most basic, most fundamental, building block of society, the case for female empowerment, inclusive of full equality for women in relation to their male counterparts, is therefore too compelling to countenance any serious dissension.”

In addressing regional food security, the Prime Minister told colleague heads that The Bahamas must feed itself as a matter of urgency.

“Currently, The Bahamas imports almost everything that we eat, a situation that is common in many CARICOM nations,” said Mr. Christie. “Our annual food import bill is approximately one billion United States dollars. My Government has decided that it is time that “we must grow what we can and only buy what we must.”

To this end, Mr

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. Christie said that the government has embarked on meeting its agricultural needs with the creation of the Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Sciences Institute (BAMSI). He welcomed the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Dr. Jose Graziano da Silva and Ministers of Agriculture of CARICOM member states who have been meeting in Nassau ahead of the official CARICOM opening.

 “Over the next two years” said Mr. Christie, “it is envisioned that we will reduce food import by 20% in as many as 30 imported crops and, in time, through our value added strategy, improve that percentage incrementally.”

“My government is committed to eliminating the perceived stigma of backyard farming amongst idle youth and highlighting the prestige and longevity of a career in agriculture, marine resources and other spin-off economic industries” said Christie.

 

PM Christie: “Acute need for major intervention” on disability

Prime Minister Christie acknowledged an acute need for major intervention by the government in order to meet the needs of those afflicted with developmental disabilities.

The Prime Minister made the remarks during his address at the Opening Ceremony for the three-day Multi-Service Facility for Adults with Developmental Disabilities seminar on Wednesday, 25th February.

“There is an acute need for major intervention on the part of the government after hearing stories such as disabled persons being locked away alone at home when parents have to go out to work or having to toil daily just to survive,” said Mr. Christie.

“As a father who has had to watch a child locked away in the body of a grown man, I am all too aware of the challenges that parents and family members face on a daily basis,” he said. “This is the reason why I am so passionate about this issue and why I feel that it is my duty to right the wrongs in the way that the disabled are treated in this country.”

According to the 2010 census report on persons with disabilities there were 10,138 persons with disabilities in the country of which males, numbering 5,250 accounted for more than half (51.8%). With the exception of Bimini, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, the number of males with disability outnumbered afflicted females on all islands.

 

CARICOM chairman issues closing statement

At the close of the 26th CARICOM conference of government heads, chairman and Bahamas Prime Minister Perry G. Christie updated the media on the wide range of regional issues discussed during the plenary sessions and the caucus. They include the status of the Marijuana Commission, a regional Banking strategy and Reparations for slavery and local genocide. The excerpts are as follow:

 

Marijuana
“We have agreed on the composition of the Marijuana Commission which we expect would soon begin its work to look into the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding the use of marijuana and to consult with stakeholders to get a view on the issue.”

Committee of Ambassadors
“To improve implementation and overall governance of the Community we approved the Functions of the Committee of Ambassadors. The Committee will work closely with the Organs and Bodies of the Community, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Community Institutions and Associate Institutions…”
Banking:
“Heads of Government agreed to establish a Committee of Finance Ministers to work with the Caribbean Association of Banks to develop a plan to deal with our Region being unjustly labeled as a high-risk area for financial services.”

Reparations
“The meeting agreed to pursue the cause of reparatory justice through a process of engagement with the relevant countries.”

Food and Agriculture Organization
“We exchanged views with Dr. Jose Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and thanked him for the work being done in the Region particularly with respect to Black Sigatoka disease and the increase in programme budget in the Caribbean.”

In passing…

Many Bahamians woke up on Tuesday Morning to what some thought was smoke from another dump fire, but it was actually fog hindering visibility to less than 100 meters. Chief Meteorologist Basil Dean called it “radiation fog” resulting from “calm winds coupled with clear skies” and with “moist conditions near the surface”…“coupled with heat that was absorbed from the earth during the day (Monday)” that collectively created fog that was cleared up and burned off by the sun by 10 am on Tuesday. LPIA was temporarily closed.

 

The Parliament’s newest Senator, Lanisha Rolle was confirmed when she was sworn in and received her instruments of appointment from Governor General HE Marguerite Pindling on Tuesday of this week at a brief ceremony at Government House.

 

After many years at the helm of the largest mega resort in The Bahamas, Atlantis Resorts and Casino, George Markantonis is resigning as head of that resort. Mr. Markantonis was named the 2014 Caribbean Hotelier of the year. He was however mum on his future, only ruling out that it involved employment with Baha Mar.  

 

“In taking the measure of Sir Jack Hayward, as we do today, it can be well and truly said of him and of his life among us here in The Bahamas, that he was a key contributor to the economic and social development of our country through his visionary leadership of the Grand Bahama Port Authority and through his own personal philanthropy.” These were the words of Bahamas Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie as he paid tribute to the life and work of the late Sir Jack Hayward at a memorial service held at Pro-Cathedral Christ the King in Freeport earlier this week. Also in attendance were Tourism Minister, Hon. Obie Wilchcombe; Attorney General Sen. Allyson Maynard-Gibson; Grand Bahama Minister Hon. Dr. Michael Darville and former Bahamas Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham. Sir Jack passed away on 13th January 2015.  

 

The Supreme Court of The Bahamas just got stronger by two as jurists Cheryl Grant-Bethel and George Gregory Hilton were sworn in a Acting Justices in a short ceremony at Government House on Friday, 27th February 2015. The judiciary is now able to finally activate all 10 courts and hear as much criminal matters simultaneously. This will go a long way in reducing the backlog of cases reported to be in excess of 600.

 

Former Senator and BAMSI contractor Audley Hanna told the media this week that he was unaware that the “all-risk” insurance he purchased at the commencement of  BAMSI contract had lapsed on the male dormitory that sustained significant damage when the entire roof was destroyed in a fire in January. He did say however that it was his financial responsibility to replace the roof. The fire was later ruled as arson after a police investigation and the perpetrator has been charged before the courts.

 

Environment Minister Hon. Kenred Dorsett confirmed this week that Carbon War Room officials have completed their field studies throughout the Family Islands (including BAMSI) and the government expects to invite Requests for Proposals (RFP) by the end of March for a host of renewable and alternative energy projects across The Bahamas.