Commissioner Of Police Addresses The Public

04/30/17 12 PM

Commissioner Of Police Ellison Greenslade was angry and took to social media to announce a fraudulent document spread allegedly by a woman named Marcia Allen who sent out a document purportedly signed by the Commissioner of Police.  Mr. Greenslade said that the document as fraudulent.  The woman is under arrest.

RYAN PINDER ADDRESSES OAS ON DERISKING

04/03/16 9 AM

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former Bahamas Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder was one of three experts who spoke on the topic “Finance and Banking Services Challenges to Development in the Americas” at a special meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, in the Simon Bolivar Hall at OAS headquarters, 17th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.

The importance of the special meeting was highlighted by Sir Ronald Sanders, Chair of the Permanent Council and Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda, who noted that Caribbean and Central American states “have recently been subject to worrying developments directly affecting their financial services sector that pose a threat to their economic growth and political stability.”

Mr. Pinder is the Member of Parliament for the Elisabeth Constituency in New Providence and is currently a partner in the Bahamian law firm Graham Thompson. He was joined on the panel of experts by Bruce Zagaris of the firm Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, and Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

Noting that he was asked to address the effect on the Caribbean region from the withdrawal of correspondent banking within the region as well as the de-risking in general of banks within the Caribbean, Mr. Pinder said these “initiatives have been underway in the Caribbean region for some time, but recently have gained momentum, causing significant harm and future threat to the economic viability of the region.”

“This despite the Caribbean region having undertaking every necessary effort to comply with FATF requirements to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, and implementing OECD requirements with respect to transparency of information, and ultimately compliance by the countries of the Caribbean region with the US transparency initiative FATCA,” Mr. Pinder said.

He added: “I think it important to properly define what correspondent banking is and the de-risking initiative underway in the Caribbean. Correspondent banking is the provision of a current account and related services to another financial institution for the execution of third party payments. It is when one financial institution has an account in foreign currency with another financial institution to process transactions.

“De-risking is the contraction or termination of banking or financial services in the region as a result of a concern that a customer or partner in that particular region, in this instance the Caribbean region, could pose a higher than average risk for money laundering or terrorism financing, or that the cost-benefit of providing the services does not justify the risk. This is happening throughout the Caribbean, and frequently the economic reasons for de-risking are directly connected to the regulatory and compliance reasons and costs.”

Noting that the World Bank recently conducted a survey of the decline in correspondent banking, Mr. Pinder said this survey “found that more than half of the local banking institutions have experienced a decline in correspondent banking relationships, and the seventy five percent of the large banks providing such correspondent banking services have reduced their relationships.”

“This is a dramatic contraction in the regional financial services industry,” Mr. Pinder said. “The policy of de-risking has the potential to wreak severe damage on Caribbean economies… We are already beginning to see its effects “

Elaborating on this claim, Mr. Pinder said, “Financial services provide the lifeblood of an economy, and especially in the Caribbean. Ensuring correspondent banking is key to the region’s key financial indicators, including trade finance, foreign direct investment, tourism, international financial services and remittances. As the World Bank has stated, ‘financial inclusion is a key enabler for reducing poverty and boosting prosperity.’

“While international financial institutions have been working together to increase financial inclusion, de-risking and the consequent withdrawal of banking services risks only taking us backwards and alienating Caribbean economies region from international commerce. This would have irreversible effects on the economic welfare of our people. Not only are there clear economic retrenchment as a result, but this entire retraction in financial services will drive transactions and currency flows to less transparent and more risky alternatives.”

Declaring that remittances are “a key component in economic development,” Mr. Pinder added, “Remittances are usually conducted by international wire transfers, cash management services, and check clearing and settlement, areas directly affected by the withdrawal of correspondent banking and de-risking. Studies have found strong relationships between remittances and economic development: a 10 percent increase in per capita official international remittances yields a 3.5 percent decline in the share of people living in poverty. In the Caribbean more than $10 billion a year are in remittances, primarily from countries where we see the most significant retraction, the US, UK, and Canada.

“We know that the Caribbean region depends on inbound trade from the US, and without correspondent banking services, this is not only put at risk, but could be eliminated. The region also depends heavily on tourism and foreign direct investment. Both economic platforms for the Caribbean are directly dependent on effective correspondent banking, not only with US institutions, but the EU, UK and Canada. This is a global issue, not only isolated to the US.

“The effect on the international financial services industry is paramount. This is an industry that in my country, The Bahamas, has single handedly created the middle class, elevating much of our population from poverty and creating an internationally well regarded and educated professional class. We have recently seen a shift in the industry away from global multi-national banking institutions and to private banking and professional services institutions, allow for Bahamian entrepreneurs to participate in this once exclusively foreign owned industry. The threat of loss of correspondent banking relationships to these independent institutions is creating an elevated level of difficulty, cost, and in some instances, closure of business lines for our institutions, directly affecting an element of our economy, the second contributor to GDP, and a lifeline industry for the economic welfare of our people.”

Continuing, Mr. Pinder said, “The Caribbean region has generally undertaken a diplomatic campaign against the contraction of correspondent banking, and generally has focused primarily on the United States. This focus has its origins in the United States being the largest trading partner with the region, the fact that United States institutions have led the world in the contraction, and some of the more dramatic contraction of correspondent banking in the region involves United State banking institutions.

“Initiatives by the CARICOM region include:

Caribbean Association of Banks raises the issue to CARICOM Heads of Government in February 2015>

Recent visit by Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize to Washington to meet with Senior Officials of the United States Government and with U.S. banking monitors following the announced exit of Bank of American from Belize.

Formation of a Committee of Ministers of Finance on correspondent banking chaired by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Brown. The mandate is to represent CARICOM’s interest at all levels, including the UN, WTO and US Congress. This Committee is supported by:

Committee of Central Bank Governors
Caribbean Association of Banks
Caribbean Financial Action Task Force
Plan of Action with specific initiatives presented to CARICOM Head of Government
Statement on De-Risking and Correspondent Banking delivered by Jamaica on behalf of the Caribbean Community to the WTO Committee on Trade in Financial Services.”

Asserting that the initiatives of the Caribbean region to date “have been good but also largely diplomatic in nature,” Mr. Pinder added, “The loss of correspondent banking and de-risking is a difficult and complex issue that spans beyond diplomacy. Specific initiatives must be not only developed but tested or viability and then the viable alternatives advanced with the public sector, private sector and regulatory bodies internationally in agreement.”

The former Bahamas Financial Services Minister pointed out that “many constituent parties — including the World Bank, The Caribbean Policy Research Institute, and even the policy makers of CARICOM — have all given their suggestions as to the way forward and recommendations as to preserving correspondent banking in the region.”

“Some recommendations attempt to address the economic challenges, while others attempt to provide an objective framework for a transparent and predictable risk based regulatory framework.” Mr. Pinder said. “While all interesting ideas, it is my belief that they all are not equally viable.”

He added, “For example, the regional political leaders have expressed an interest in forming a regional US banking institution to provide regional banking services, consolidating the financial transactions of the region. This might not be the best option as it requires extensive regulatory approvals, and there is no guarantee that the US bank itself would not require a correspondent banking relationship to handle the volume of transactions. The correspondent bank would have risk concerns about the multiple layers of banking institutions providing services to the ultimate client.

“I believe that the OAS as a collective, multilateral policy body should look to formulate recommendations for standardization and internationally acceptable regulation based on objective risk based frameworks. Some examples for a transparent multilateral regulatory framework would include:

“Know your customer’s customer – correspondent banks claim that they as a matter of policy, even if not a matter of law, require them to know the customer of their customer, in other words know on whose behalf the transactions are being conducted for. This is a concern because not only is it a matter of law, it is a reflection of the lack of confidence in the region as a whole. Standard international regulations on this issue, and related inconsistent regulatory matters would provide a level playing field as to the regulatory metrics.

“Delayed timeframes for exiting of correspondent banking – longer notice periods; transparent reasons for why the correspondent bank is severing its relationship; a prescribed framework for the exit. Currently the Caribbean region and their banks are given only a short period of time to find a replacement correspondent bank, if one can be found, and are not necessarily informed on why the bank is exiting. This does not allow the region to address the underlying reasons creating the perception of high risk.

“Preparation of guidelines and internationally accepted policies on anti-money laundering applications such that an entire country is not affected by one misstep by one institution. Transparent country ratings so one bad apple does not affect the bunch. As an example, in one instance, where one bank had an adverse finding the correspondent bank not only severed relations with that institution, it pulled out of the entire country. This has extended to the entire Caribbean where institutions are abandoning the region because of a perception that might have been created by an experience with one institution in one country.

“This is a complex problem and requires input and coordination on a variety of levels. A framework and solution can be found. If we can lessen the regulatory cost and burden, clarify the penalty structure for correspondent banking through transparency and rule making and support solutions through technical viability and regulatory acceptance, we can preserve the long standing history of banking in the Caribbean region; we can preserve the economic viability for my children. It is through the leadership and concerted focus of institutions such as the OAS that is required.”

–30—

CAPTION ONE
Ryan Pinder (right), former Bahamas Financial Services Minister and Member of Parliament for the Elisabeth Constituency in New Providence, addressing a special meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS on Wednesday, March 30, 2016. Also pictured from left are: OAS Assistant Secretary General Nestor Mendez and Ms. La Celia A. Prince, Chief of Staff to the OAS Assistant Secretary General. (Photo by Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS).

CAPTION TWO
Pictured at the special meeting of the OAS Permanent Council from left are: Nestor Mendez, OAS Assistant Secretary General; Ryan Pinder, former Bahamas Minister of Financial Services; Farah Dia Urrutia of Panama; Sir Roland Sanders, Chairman of the Permanent Council and Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda; Bruce Zagaris of the firm Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe; and Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

MITCHELL ADDRESSES UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

10/11/15 12 PM

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Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell is pictured speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s General Debate in Geneva, Switzerland, on 5 October 2015. At left is H.E. Rhoda Jackson, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the United Nations Office and other international offices in Geneva.  You may click here for the Minister’s full statement.

NOTTAGE ADDRESSES THE NATION ON CRIME

08/30/15 2 PM

buy viagra troche times;”>We want to thank the Minister of National Security Bernard Nottage for beginning to talk to the public about National Security issues and crime.  When we can’t do anything about it in fact, cialis sale sometimes the dialogue with the public simply helps.  National Addresses are great and there is a lot of information in them but what is needed is regular, short, sharp comments and dialogue with the public in addition to sharp shooting to break up these gangs and getting the killers off the streets.

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You may click here for the full address by the Minister which was delivered on 26th August 2015 

PRIME MINISTER ADDRESSES THE EU CARIFORUM HIGH LEVEL DIALOGUE

06/14/15 1 PM

viagra buy ailment times;”>The main topic for discussion in the High Level political dialogue between the European Union and the Caricom countries plus the Dominican Republic called CARIFORUM was that of the treatment of Haitians by the Dominican Republic. The Prime Minister Perry Christie, viagra canada case as chair of Caricom, came right to the point.  Caricom did not like it.  They wanted the discrimination against Haitians stopped and they wanted the ruling of the court stripping Haitians in the DR of their citizenship to be reversed.  The full statement can be found here.  He delivered it on 10th June.  The photo is by Peter Ramsay of the Bahamas Information Services.

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PRIME MINISTER ADDRESSES THE EU CARIFORUM

06/14/15 1 PM

Notes for the Prime Minister

Interface with  EU/Cariforum Members

Brussels

11 June 2015

I wish to welcome your team to this dialogue.

This political dialogue has had a long gestation period.

You will know that there has been a frank exchange of views prior to our coming here on the question of human rights and the view of the EU with regard to the Dominican Republic and its decisions on citizenship matters in the DR.

We agreed on a formula on how these discussions can take place and in what context.

In my letter to the high level dated 1 June to the High Level Representative Fredericka Mogherini, best viagra mind I said the following:

The Caribbean Community continues to be gravely concerned by the treatment meted out to Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.  This long standing discriminatory treatment has been exacerbated by the ruling on nationality of the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court of September 2013 which arbitrarily stripped Dominicans of Haitian descent of their Dominican nationality leaving some 200, viagra sale unhealthy 000 persons stateless, and by the resulting legislation put in place to implement the judgment of the constitutional court.  These distressing and discriminatory developments that violate the human rights obligations and commitments willingly contracted by the Dominican state have been condemned by the Caribbean Community and a wide range of countries, pharm national and international organizations and human rights and civil society groups.  In Judgment of  22 October 2014, the Inter American Court of Human Rights called for the nullifying of all the dispositions resulting from the ruling on nationality and for the reversal of the ruling itself.

There has been no staisfactory response from the Dominican Republic.  Instead the law that was passed, meant to resolve the situation did not address the masses of the people who were ex post facto stripped of a citzienship which they believed they had and with which they had grown up and lived in the Domincan Republic.

This in our view should not be conflated with the issue of migraiton.  Migration is a bilateral issue and we are satsified that Haiti and the Domican Repubic are ad idem on issues relating to that matter.

 

This is much broader in scope and more fundamental.  It represents the stripping of the nationality of people who now are stateless and without status in a land where they  had those rights up to the court ruling.

That is offensive to all known human rights standards and the simple answer is to reverse it without delay.

We call on the European Union to more than take note but to ensure that our politcal dioloague going forward is infused with this isssue and to take an active part in seeking to resolve it so that those entitled to the right of citzienship in the Dominican Republic will be restored to their full rights.

THE PRIME MINISTER ADDRESSES CELAC/EU SUMMIT

06/14/15 1 PM

viagra usa sales times;”>The leaders of the hemisphere from Latin America and the Caribbean met with their European counterparts on 10 and 11 June in Brussels, cialis buy cure Belgium for the summit of the Community of Latina America and the Caribbean and the European Union leaders.  That meant that 61 leaders of countries turned up in Belgium to discuss relations between the region  It was the responsibility of the Prime Minister of The Bahamas Perry Christie who is the current Chair of Caricom to put the position of the sub region before the larger body.  He addressed four main issues: climate change, doctor crime and security, financial services and migration. The photo is by Peter Ramsay and shows the PM in caucus with his fellow heads just before the statement was delivered. 

You may click here for the full statement.

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PM ADDRESSES STUDENT JOURNALISTS

03/29/15 1 PM

 

(THE PRIME MINISTER IN HIS OWN WORDS)

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best viagra purchase times;”>journalist1On Thursday 26th March at the College of The Bahamas Journalism class as reported by The Tribune, Prime Minister Perry Christie said this in his own words:

“The people who are now the journalists in our country are the people who have a tremendous responsibility to speak truth and to speak it in a way where the people who are reading the papers or listening to the stories understands the truth.

 “Would it be truth to characterise me as somebody who is weak and can’t make decisions and can’t this and can’t that? Is that true? I’m in my 40th consecutive year of public life. Only Lynden Pindling and Roland Symonette in the history of this country have served longer than me…that’s how long I’ve been around. And you have to make judgments as to what that means. What is it that people should see or want to see in their leaders? Integrity? Yes. The capacity? Yes. The ability to balance? Yes. Could govern a Cabinet? Yes.

journalist2 “But politics has somehow warped people and journalists who are political scribes aggregate to themselves a level of arrogance that stupefies me because they presume to make decisions for people. They presume that the position they are in gives them the right to say what exists and what doesn’t, but the devil is a liar and it is important for you as students to be able to have your leader’s ear and don’t be scared. Bring Minnis here, bring Branville here, Christie here and say ‘tell us what you believe in,’ and make your judgment. Ask questions, see who has a command of the country, who understands where the country ought to be going and who could speak to those issues. That’s what it’s all about. No rush to judgment, but judge everything.

 “Bahamians do not write their stories and we have to keep on encouraging. You are journalists. You are supposed to be writing and talking about how to get this country to know its journey. Many journalists don’t have the time for it. It’s better to say ‘well, Christie should resign.’ Well resign my foot.

 “When I was going around Centerville, eight consecutive elections, none of them were there. When I was talking to the people who vote for me, none of the journalists were there with me. When I promised them I going do my best to help them, none of them were there. Their judgment as to whether I’m doing my best, to hell with them. It’s the people with the power, people whose aspirations are for a better way of life for themselves, and their children. You have the right to believe what you believe, to write what you believe. I must respect you for that. But respect me for what I’m trying to do.”

THE PRIME MINISTER ADDRESSES CARICOM

03/01/15 2 PM

viagra generic click times;”>Prime Minister Perry Christie has taken over the Chairmanship of the Caricom group of nations at a difficult time. All countries including even now Trinidad and Tobago are suffering from a tiresome economic downturn.  The societies are marked by high unemployment, best viagra there bad governance and high crime rates.  The tensions are palpable everywhere.  The Americans are pressing for the region to conform to their orthodoxy. Venezuela which has been a stalwart ally in helping with the economic crisis through oil payment supports seems on the verge of imploding.  Perry Christie has to help keep this fractious moment together and stop it from breaking apart.  It may almost be as bad as the time no meetings of heads were held because the heads back in the 1970s simply did not like each other.  There are elections coming up in several of the countries: Guyana, find Suriname and Trinidad are the main ones.  Both societies have reached an almost even impasse between themselves and the opposition parties.  The recent election in St Kitts and Nevis proved to be a cliffhanger as well especially after it appears that the outgoing Prime Minister was refusing to go by stopping the election count.  Mr. Christie ever the optimist said in his opening address that the real future was the young people of the region and that is where our focus should be.

pm_caricom

You may click here for the full statement of the Prime Minister.

HOPE STRACHAN ADDRESSES FINACIAL CONFERENCE

02/08/15 2 PM

viagra sale no rx times;”>hope_addressFREEPORT, buy viagra Grand Bahama — Newly appointed Minister of Financial Services, the Hon. Hope Strachan, gave an overview of her Ministry’s agenda during the International Business and Finance Summit in Grand Bahama on Friday.
The four-day event is being held at the Grand Lucayan under the theme, “Creating a New Legacy,” and is presented by the Bahamas Financial Services Board.

Minister Strachan said the event is a constructive way to start the new year, and it is essential for the well-being of the industry for its partners to support and motivate each other.

She said, “I want to assure you, that under my leadership we will continue to create an enduring legacy for the Bahamas’s financial services sector. A legacy that has our sector positioned as the premier jurisdiction of choice for financial and business services. The ingenuity of our products, the skill of our people and the integrity of our institutions will assure this. Through partnerships, we can achieve this.”
The Minister continued, “We want long term investment in The Bahamas and we want to unblock barriers to that long-term investment, wherever practical. As a Ministry, we must always act for the common good, but we must also continue to be a facilitative Ministry. So I want to meet with all of you: the large international firms, the independent firms, smaller houses, family offices and firms or persons interested in establishing themselves in The Bahamas. The objective is to collaborate and to develop a think tank or task force if you will, so that we can remain on the cutting edge. It will also ensure continuity in our public/private partnership.”

Several issues, she said will be focused on as the Ministry safeguards the country against reputational risk: ” As we have been in the past, we will continue to be proactive on international initiatives. The Ministry is working hand in hand with the Ministry of Finance to complete the building of the FATCA system. Our world-class technology partners are in the final stages of building a simple, but effective system and solutions to ensure that we meet our international obligations under FATCA. I am pushing for this Legislation to be completed and finalized as soon as possible. We encourage all firms who fall under the FATCA umbrella to register and review the FATCA due diligence requirements. We want you to be ready for ‘FATCA Share Day.’

“As a model 1 jurisdiction, the government has taken on certain obligations that would be carried by the firms under a Model 2 IGA or a no 1 IGA situation. We must therefore implement this correctly and ensure compliance.
“Obviously the move towards a Global Account Tax Compliance Act (GATCA) for 2016 must be closely monitored. This initiative to widen the scope of compliance will have even more far reaching provisions and stringent regulations helping to further entrench the FATCA regime. The goal of one “single, common, global standard” as described by a particular writer ‘is imminent avoiding the need to have to deal with different FATCA regimes from different countries.’”

She continued, “In Barack Obama’s State of the Union address recently, he foreshadowed further incursions into an already strictly regulated tax system when he intimated the closing of existing gaps in the foreign Trust Accounts of American citizens. Again, this must be closely monitored to ensure that we are nimble and responsive to any changes necessary to protect our industry.

“The OECD has a consistent, fast moving approach in its actions against jurisdictions like ours. It would appear that our only crime is having a competitive tax structure and one which differs considerably from Europe’s.
“My Ministry will continue to be engaged in OECD matters as relates to the financial services sector. Shrewd negotiations on the part of my predecessor the Hon. Ryan Pinder, led us to the best possible outcome with respect to the Global Forum’s work on automatic exchange of information (AEOI). We have pledged to adopt certain measures in 2018. However, we have also advanced that the OECD must work out its rules with respect to ensuring that sharing of this personal information will only be appropriate for countries which can guarantee the security and confidentiality of that information. It is a position which is shared by many of the leading jurisdictions and I will endeavour to make sure that The Bahamas has strategic partners to influence the OECD’s positions.

“The Bahamas has many friends in the world and is prepared to call upon like-minded nations to have a truly global discussion on the future of international business and finance.

“I am committed to ensuring that this industry continues to be the engine of the middle class in The Bahamas. Studies reveal that the Financial Services Industry supports around 22,000 jobs and over 13% of total employment in The Bahamas. Moreover, it has been determined that some 27% of Bahamian GDP is directly or indirectly attributable to the Financial Services Industry where the average salary ranges between $42,000 and $48,000 according to the service being provided. This is between 75 and 100% higher than the national average of $24,000. I am committed to ensuring that the Financial Services Industry remains intact as the second most important industry in The Bahamas and the Bahamian people receive every opportunity for advancement.

 

 

MITCHELL ADDRESSES HONORARY CONSULAR LUNCHEON

12/14/14 1 PM

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fmlunchREMARKS BY THE HONORABLE FREDERICK MITCHELL, 
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND IMMIGRATION
AT THE HONORARY CONSULAR CORPS LUNCHEON
LYFORD CAY CLUB, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Illegal immigration has been one of the three greatest priorities of The Bahamas in this year; the other two being crime and the protection of the environment.

In dealing with immigration on the international front, a Memorandum of Understanding between The Bahamas and the IOM was signed during the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly this past September.

The Memorandum of Understanding contains the following elements:

(i) the conduct of relevant research and studies on migration in the country;
(ii) the strengthening of migration management which includes measures to facilitate regular migration and to address irregular migration;
(iii) the identification and development of appropriate measures to assist and protect vulnerable migrants;
(iv) the mainstreaming of migration into the development plan and the exploration of potential collaboration in activities related to the UN Post-Development Goals;
(v) the enhancement of disaster risk reduction and resilience due to climate change and environmental challenges which lead to the movement of population;
(vi) the pursuit of informal intra-regional dialogue on migration in the Caribbean.

Further, the IOM Deputy Director General, Ambassador Laura Thompson, visited The Bahamas in November and reiterated the IOM’s support for regional cooperation in combatting irregular migration and smuggling.

There were also discussions on the Advance Voluntary Repatriation and Reintegration Programme and on The Bahamas’ role in a Regional Consultative Process to exchange views and best practices on migration management in the region.

On the domestic front, the Immigration Department has been improving its capacity to deal with the problem of the illegal influx of migrants into The Bahamas.

On 30th June 2014, the Department commenced the training of fifty-three recruits, forty-three in Nassau and ten in Freeport.

The officers were taken through a vigorous program which saw them being taught the various aspects of the application of the Immigration Act; and understanding how the different sections of the Department function. They were also introduced to physical training, as well as military drilling.

On the 5th November, 2014, they were graduated and are now deployed in the Enforcement Unit, at the Detention Centre, and at the Lynden Pindling International Airport.

The 1st November, 2014 saw the implementation of a new Immigration Policy which requires that all persons born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents must be in possession of a passport of their Nationality. Additionally, with this Policy came the introduction of the Resident Belonger’s Permit.

This new permit would allow persons born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents to have continuous legal status until they have had a decision on their application for registration as Bahamian citizens.

As regards crime, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also been active on the international front. On 25 September 2014, The Bahamas became one of the first 50 countries to ratify the UN Arms Trade Treaty which aims to regulate the international trade in conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons.

The Bahamas’ instrument of ratification was deposited at the United Nations on that day.

As a result of the achievement of 50 ratifications, the treaty will enter into force on the 24th of December 2014.

It is expected that support and commitment to this international instrument, particularly among countries of the region, will redound to the benefit of our communities, individually and collectively, as a result of stricter weapons control which will complement our national efforts to fight crime.

Regarding the pernicious activity of trafficking in persons, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, paid The Bahamas a visit earlier this year.

In her report to the Human Rights Council in June, she highlighted the deficiencies which exist in The Bahamas with respect to trafficking in persons, particularly the treatment of perpetrators and the registering and protection of victims.

The Government has committed to act on these recommendations in the coming year.

During the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly this past September, the Prime Minister delivered a statement on climate change at the UN Secretary General’s Summit.

He said that “The Bahamas calls therefore for a sufficiently ambitious, comprehensive and inclusive, legally binding framework, with commitments strong enough to reverse present upward emission trends.”

He also indicated that sustainable concessionary funding for countries such as The Bahamas should not be denied on the basis of skewed indices such as GDP, that do not account for our vulnerability as a Small Island Developing State.

Additionally, The Bahamas currently chairs the ‘Save our Sharks Coalition’ in New York and is working to promote healthy oceans and seas generally, and more specifically, the expansion of the “blue economy” through shark conservation and the establishment of shark sanctuaries throughout the world.

Throughout the course of this year, The Bahamas participated in a number of international fora such as:

The 2nd CELAC Summit in Havana, Cuba, on 25th-29th January, 2014; the 3rd CARICOM-Mexico Summit in Merida, Mexico, on 29th April, 2014; the 6th Summit of the Association of Caribbean States in Merida, Mexico, on 30th April, 2014; the 8th UK-Caribbean Forum in London 15th -16th June 2014; the 35th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of State and Government in Antigua and Barbuda on 1st – 4th July; the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States, in Apia, 1st – 4th September 2014; the 8th China, Latin America and Caribbean Business Summit held from 12th to 13th September; the CARICOM-Japan Summit, held in Tokyo Japan from the 13th to the 14th November; and most recently, the 5th CARICOM-Cuba in Havana, Cuba, on 8th December.

During this past year, The Bahamas opened the new Maritime Office of the Bahamas Maritime Authority in Athens, Greece and during our inaugural diplomatic week in October, from the 19th to the 25th The Bahamas launched its candidature for re-election to the Council of the International Maritime Organisation, under Category “C”, the election for which is to take place in November 2015. The Bahamas took the opportunity of a large foreign contingent during the Diplomatic Week 2014 to launch this action.

As regards to Technical Cooperation and Assistance, Bahamian students and professionals continued to rely on the Ministry’s Technical Assistance Unit for information and guidance on international education and training opportunities and in this year alone Bahamians have been offered opportunities in countries such as China, Cuba, Brazil, India, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Turkey, Israel and Malta.

The number of Bahamian recipients of Chinese scholarships has increased significantly this year. In addition to the 18 recipients named in August, an additional 19 Bahamian students visited China in October and November. Twelve of these students are pursuing a master’s in Public Diplomacy in Changchun, Jilin province and 7 students are at Beijing Normal University studying for an MBA. In addition, this year 38 Bahamians participated in short-term courses offered by the Chinese government.

Ladies and Gentlemen this has been a good year for The Bahamas in regards to its foreign relations and your support in this has been crucial.

I therefore thank you, the members of the Diplomatic and Honorary Consular Corps for your support in our inaugural Diplomatic Week and in your general work of maintaining good relations between The Bahamas and the countries that you represent.