THIS WEEK CONTINUED…

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viagra generic cialis times;”>The Bahamas commemorates Commonwealth Day

cialis generic physician times;”>Under the theme “An Inclusive Commonwealth,” more than fifty Commonwealth countries paused on Monday to celebrate Commonwealth Day. They reflected on the shared values of the rule of law, democracy and human rights. A flag raising ceremony was held in Rawson Square to mark the occasion and many schools throughout The Bahamas commemorated the occasion with “special assemblies.”

Addressing the student body at Doris Johnson Senior High School was Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister the Hon. Fred Mitchell who extolled the values of the Commonwealth.

“Today we mark Commonwealth Day.We are part of the Commonwealth,some 53 countries, most of whom were former British colonies and who today espouse a certain set of values of tolerance, the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

Given the theme of inclusion and against the backdrop of the pending referendum on gender equality, Mitchell focused his address on the principle of women’s rights.

“Today’s theme is an inclusive Commonwealth.Today I would like to speak about the rights of women and their critically important roles in driving this country forward. He told women that they possessed the numbers to ensure the passage of all four constitutional bills.

“To the women in our country: in 2012 there were 15,000 more women on the electoral register than men. This means that in this referendum, women have the power to ensure the passage of these acts by their sheer numbers alone.”

Bahamas and University of Miami ink MOU on Stem Cell Research

Bahamas Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, and the Bahamas Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority on Monday the 14th March. 

Additionally, a Consultancy Services Agreement (CSA) was signed between world-renowned stem cell scientist Dr. Joshua M. Hare, Consultant, and the Bahamas Ministry of Health. The nation’s chief believes these agreements are important events that should be heralded throughout the region for the benefit to the parties, especially the Bahamian people and his government.

“This is indeed a sentinel moment for my government because the University of Miami Leonard Miller School of Medicine is one of the leading Schools of Medicine in the United States of America and this now makes this outstanding institution available to us as we continue this sacred journey to ensure patient safety and enhance the quality and delivery of healthcare to our citizens throughout The Bahamas, to drive innovation in healthcare and to create new opportunities for Bahamians in the fields of Biotechnology, Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine,” said Prime Minister Christie.

The Memorandum of Understanding provides the framework for the development of stem cell research and therapy, advancements in regenerative medicine in The Bahamas, and opportunities for Bahamians in the field of biotechnology. This giant step for The Bahamas further diversifies the Bahamian tourism product into medical tourism.

The agreements were signed at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Christie: Optimism in Grand Bahama “grounded in pragmatism”

The Grand Bahama Business Outlook kicked off on Thursday of this week with scheduled presentations from government and private sector representatives covering the entire economy of Grand Bahama and its future prospects over the next quarter of a century.

Under the theme, “A Bold Agenda: the next 25 Years,” Prime Minister Christie officially opened the event and in doing so articulated his government’s bold vision for Grand Bahama moving forward.

Discussions with the principals of the Hutchison Group of Companies are beginning to bear fruit as the Lucayan Resort has already been placed on the international market for sale with a positive and immediate response.

“Following on such discussions, Cheung Kong Property Holdings Limited, a part of the Hutchison Group of Companies, recently placed for sale their Lucayan Resort complex with a bidding deadline of June 10, 2016. The process is being handled by the internationally well-known HVS Capital Corporation.

“We see this as a positive step forward as we expect major well-known hotel/casino investors and operators to be attracted and bring about a renaissance in Grand Bahama Tourism.”

Additionally, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has committed with Hutchison on a $250 million port expansion project, expanding the shipping industry and broadening the islands economic model.

Mr. Christie told delegates that on Wednesday of this week, his government and a delegation from MSC settled the terms of reference for construction that is about to start in Ocean Cay on a marine park, initially employing 100 Bahamians.

Other new and potentially long-term investment opportunities under active consideration include “trans-shipment, maritime, cruise tourism, hospitality training and logistics, in addition to the establishment of the Maritime Academy in Grand Bahama, and the employment this year of 150 Bahamian crew on MSC’s cruise and cargo ships” said Mr. Christie.

The Prime Minister also revealed that employment at PharmaChem can triple in two years as a major expansion and development of a new plant is in the works.

“The employment level at PharmaChem will soon triple within the next two years, when they announce its plans for a multi-million-dollar expansion and development of a new plant.“

With the recruitment of 200 semi-skilled tradesmen by the Grand Bahama shipyard and advanced negotiations with Carnival Cruise Lines for a cruise port in East Grand Bahama, Prime Minister Christie said that he was justifiably optimistic about the economic future of Grand Bahama, an optimism that “is indeed grounded in pragmatism.”

Griffin updates the UN on government initiatives impacting women

Addressing delegates attending the current 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) at the United Nations, Bahamas Minister of Social Services and Community Development the Hon. Melanie Griffin told delegates that the Government of The Bahamas has undertaken, or is in the process of undertaking, many of the steps necessary to meet a number of the key objectives included in Agenda 2030 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to the Minister, these necessary steps include the elevation of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs to the Department of Family and Gender Affairs which is expected to “bring broader focus” to issues facing women and girls and men and boys; the creation of a National Task Force on Gender-Based Violence that has resulted in the compilation of The Bahamas National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence (in collaboration with UN Women); and the recent passage of four Constitutional Amendment Bills to provide gender equality under the law for men and women on March 2, 2016 and March 9, 2016 in the House of Assembly and the Senate respectively.

“This paves the way for a referendum by the citizens of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas which is expected this year” said the Minister in addressing the matter of the four Constitutional Amendments.

Minister Griffin’s remarks reinforced with the clarion call made by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka when she called on participants to reach beyond their comfort zones to engage more groups in the fight for gender equality and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) opened on 14th March in New York and concludes on the 24th March 2016.

In passing…

Two more Foreign Service Officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began the all important Foreign Service tour of duty at The Bahamas High Commission in London. The officers were Second Secretaries Aklia Ingraham and Marche Mackey. H.E. Eldred “Ed” Bethel, Bahamas High Commissioner to London, welcomed two new officers to Bahamas House on Thursday, March 17, 2016 and wished them both well during their tour of duty.

The 18th Annual Pelican Point Coconut Festival will showcase authentic Bahamian craft, entertainment, food, drinks and everything coconut on Easter Monday, March 28, or Easter Monday.Elaine Smith of the Ministry of Tourism made the announcement during a press conference on Wednesday at Banana Bay. She said that the Coconut Festival is a time for family, friends, and guests to descend upon the small seaside village to a feast of coconut dishes such as coconut jimmy, coconut shrimp, barbecue ribs with coconut sauce, coconut rice, coconut tart, and more, as well as a variety of coconut beverages including our famous ‘Gully Wash’– a uniquely Bahamian drink made with coconut water.

The C.C. Sweeting High School Cobras emerged as the champions in the inaugural Bahamas National Basketball Championships held in Grand Bahama between the 10 -14 March 2016. In his closing remarks this past Monday, Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Brave Davis praised the young athletes and our youth generally when he said that the level of participation in this tournament is proof that there are more young people involved in wholesome activities than the few wreaking havoc on society.The championships were opened by the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on Thursday, March 10 where some 26 teams inclusive of seven female squads were in Grand Bahama for the classic. Islands represented included North and South Andros, Abaco, Cat Island, San Salvador, New Providence and Grand Bahama.

The positions of thirty mid-level managers were recently made redundant at the Paradise Island Atlantis Resort and Casino this week. According to the Director of Labour Robert Farquharson, the layoffs were in preparation of a $30 million renovation to the Coral Towers which is scheduled for commencement in May 2016. Some 400 other employees will be deployed elsewhere in the hotel operations.

In the wake of allegations of an improper relationship between permanent resident Peter Nygard and the Progressive Liberal Party, Damian Gomez, the honourable member for Central and South Eleuthera called for reform of our campaign finance system. Gomez said that he financed his owned campaign and had no idea that $5 million in resources were available. Mr. Gomez was responding to a claim made by Mr. PeterNygrard in a Bahamas Supreme Court affidavit that he gave the PLP $5milion in campaign contributions only to be disappointed by fake promises. This call for campaign finance reform was echoed by Foreign Affairs Minister the Hon. Fred Mitchell and Agriculture Minister the Hon. V. Alfred Gray.

FNM Chairman Michael Pintard confirmed this week that an audio recording that surfaced on social media this week purporting to be him was in fact him and he stands by the comments he made in the audio recording. Pintard said that he was not concerned about the release of the audio recording discussing evidence in a case before the court involving a contract for murder plot against members of the Save the Bay organization. He said that he would not be a scapegoat in this matter and as for resigning his posts, Mr. Pintard said that all positions he currently hold are temporary and that he could live without them.

The Board of Directors and Management of Bahamasair announced this week the arrival of its second new turbo prop as part of the company’s aircraft fleeting upgrade initiative. The arrival of the second brand new ATR 72-600 on Saturday March 12th marks the delivery of the last of the two larger, 70 seat aircraft. The aircraft was blessed by Canon Warren Rolle on Monday the 14th and will enter into service over the next several days. The remaining three planes will be the ATR 42-600 model which boasts a 50 seat configuration.

The Inter-American Institute on Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) in partnership with the Department of Cooperatives held a series of workshops this week on Beekeeping as efforts intensify to diversify the economy and empower Bahamians. The Bahamas spends tens of millions of dollars importing honey annually while Bahamian bees produce tons of honey in the wild with very little harvesting of this expensive commodity. For the record, honey wholesales for around $55 per gallon and represents tremendous opportunities for economic expansion and wealth creation for Bahamians. Bahamians can place a bee hive or two in their backyards and sell the honey to a local cooperative or they can join a cooperative and become a part of this fledging industry. Workshops were held in Nassau and Eleuthera this week with another one scheduled for BAMSI on Saturday, 19th March 2016. The workshops are being facilitated by Dom Lam, president of the Michigan Beekeeping Association and Dr. Solomon Ward, a Bahamian biologist.

Prime Minister Christie rounded out a busy and eventful week by participating in a Special Assembly at Centreville Primary on Friday morning where he encouraged the youngsters to be the best that they can be. Later, the Prime Minister attended the official Hand-over/Commissioning ceremony for the now completed Baha Mar Convention Center ahead the IDB board of governors conference scheduled for next month; this conference is expected to attract some 5,000 regional delegates. After that ceremony Mr. Christie returned to his office for a check presentation of $50,000 from the Royal Bank of Canada to the Disaster Recovery Committee before heading to the John Alfred Dock to deliver the keynote address at a ceremony officially commissioning the HMBS Lawrence Major, Lignum Vitae, Cascarilla and the RBDF Relief Equipment.