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THIS WEEK CONTINUED…

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buy cialis medicine times;”>PM Christie pleased with Exuma tourism success

viagra for sale times;”> Touting Exuma’s fifteen percent growth in arrivals over 2013 numbers; its five percent (5%) growth in hotel occupancies; Exuma’s fifteen percent (15%) growth in rooms’ revenue, a sixteen percent (16%) increase in air and sea arrivals in October and the construction of over 200 second homes over the past several years, Prime Minister Christie said he was pleased with the Exuma’s impressive tourism performance.

“I am pleased to see that Exuma continues to do well” said the Prime Minister as he addressed the 9th Annual Exuma Business Outlook at Sandal’s Emerald Bay Resort in Exuma on Thursday of this week.

Looking to Exuma’s future investment prospects, Mr. Christie announced the approval of seventy acres of land on Stocking Island that will facilitate the construction of a $300 million mixed use resort and development.

“This is a $300 million development” said Mr. Christie, “comprising a five-star 48-suite boutique hotel and eighty-eight (88) villas, spa, wellness centre, resort club, restaurant and bar, sailing school, swimming academy, and marine facilities.”

He also mentioned a fifty (50) pavilion-room resort complex on Children’s Bay Cay and a mixed-use property on William’s Cay catering to high net worth customers, with provision for employee housing and warehousing facilities on Barraterre, Exuma.

Regarding infrastructure, Mr. Christie foreshadowed the opening of the mini-hospital by January 2016, the expansion of the Georgetown international airport and announced that the remediation of the Staniel Cay airport runway is currently underway. 

Cable Bahamas wins Phase II spectrum auction

In a press statement on Monday of this week, the Cellular Liberalization Task Force (the Task Force) advised the public that Cable Bahamas Limited (CBL) was the successful bidder in the phase ll spectrum auction, and will now advance to satisfy the final pre-conditions for licensing. 

The other finalist was Virgin Mobile Bahamas Limited (VMBL).

Explaining the auction process, the statement revealed that “in each round of the auction, VMBL and CBL had the opportunity to submit financial bids. The Phase I score of each bidder was combined with its respective Phase II score (based on its bid amount), to produce combined scores which determined the Standing High Bidder for that round.”

At the end of the auction, the Standing High Bidder was CBL. It submitted a financial bid of B$62,500,000 and obtained the highest combined score of the two bidders.

Cable Bahamas Limited, obviously pleased with the result, told the media that the company is fully committed to concluding the balance of the licensing requirements and would accomplish in three years what took them twenty to accomplish since its incorporation.

According to the Task Force, the balance of the licensing requirements includes the following:

In accordance with the Request for Proposals (RFP), CBL must honour its commitment to have at least 51% of the shares of NewCo (the company which will be granted the license) owned by HoldingCo, a 100% Bahamian owned company). Although CBL will have management and board control, it must honour its commitment to become a party with HoldingCo, to the proposed NewCo shareholders’ agreement which, amongst other things, will grant HoldingCo certain market standard veto rights in order to protect its investment. CBL must also comply with other provisions in the proposed shareholders agreement. 

The license will be awarded to NewCo for a fifteen year period and CBL’s final bid amount will be collected from NewCo as the spectrum license fee.     

Ministry of Foreign Affairs host its 2nd annual Diplomatic Week

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration is hosting its 2nd annual Diplomatic Week from October 18 – 24, 2015, under the theme “Diplomacy: Positioning for the Future Towards New Approaches, Tools and Methods for Implementing New Goals”.

The event serves as a forum to strengthen and deepen bilateral and multilateral relations with some 70 countries. The youth of the country will also be educated on The Bahamas’ role on the world stage.

Furthermore, Diplomatic Week 2015 also provides an effective arena to extend The Bahamas’ campaign for election to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council and re-election to the International Maritime Organization.

The Inaugural Diplomatic Week was held October 2014 as mandated by Clause 90 (2) of the Public Service Commission’s Foreign Service Orders Regulations 2014.

It was attended by a cross-section of non-resident Ambassadors accredited to The Bahamas, resident Diplomatic Corps, The Bahamas Overseas Heads of Mission, The Bahamas Honorary Consuls abroad, Ministry officials, colleague Ministers and Public Service officials.

Diplomatic Week 2015 seeks to build on this firm foundation in order to educate and inform others on the role of Foreign Policy and Foreign Diplomacy through the perspective of The Bahamas.

As part of its schedule of events, a lecture was presented by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheila Carey at The College of The Bahamas’ Harry C. Moore Auditorium (Library), on Tuesday, October 20. Ms. Carey spoke on the topic: “The Relationship between International Diplomacy and National Governance”.

Ministry of Education: all Long Island students in school

The island with the largest population center hit by Hurricane Joaquin was Long Island, especially in the south. The Prime Minister and others have expressed the urgency with which schools must be reopened because displacement of the next generation of residents, school aged children, could spell eventual death for the civilization on those affected islands.

A team of education officials led by Director Lionel Sands returned from an assessment visit to Long Island on Sunday the 18th October and reported that five schools will be operational this week. Also, both high schools opened this week; N.G.M. Major resumed classes on Monday, 19th October and North Long Island High has been opened since Wednesday, 14th October, 2015. Additionally, Lower Deadman’s Cay Primary and Simms Primary School will open on Wednesday, 21st October and Glintons opened on Wednesday, 14th October, 2015.

The students from Morrisville Primary School will be temporarily relocated to Lower Deadman’s Cay Primary and the Mangrove Bush Primary School which sustained severe water damage will have to be accommodated at temporary facilities until repairs to the school are completed.

In the end the overall positive message was that ALL students in Long Island were back in school. Many thanks to the Long Island Development Association, the Ministry of Education and the many parents and community volunteers who worked together to make this happen.  

This day in The Bahamas Parliament

The Bahamas Parliament met at 10am on Wednesday, 21st October 2015 in a morning session ostensibly to update House members and the general public on the government’s post hurricane relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts.

The highlight of the Prime Minister’s House communication was the revelation that 836 homes were damaged by hurricane Joaquin. Of course there are several tiers of damage and some homes will have to be condemned, razed and rebuilt. In the course of reconstruction, the Prime Minister indicated that some persons will receive total public assistance in constructing their homes while some may receive assistance with building material.

The National Restoration and Recovery Unit was established earlier in the month to drive the reconstruction initiative. The leaders of the unit are Senior Undersecretary Jack Thompson; former Director of Public Works Melanie Roach and retired Permanent Secretary Burrows.

Transport Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin stood to again refute claims that the infamous Doppler radar at the Met Office was inoperable and Youth Minister Dr. Daniel Johnson paid tribute to our youth as he updated the House on the myriad of activities planned in commemorating Youth Month.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell updated the House on the government’s response to allegations of abuse made by 27 year old Jamaican Matthew Sewell. He said that the government of The Bahamas does not condone inhumane treatment of wards of the state and the government must get to the bottom of the complaint. Sewell was imprisoned in The Bahamas at the Department of Corrections for nine years on two separate rape charges. He was recently released from custody without a conviction.   

In other Parliament news, the senate met on Thursday, 22nd October to debate and passed the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2015. During his debate, Senator Keith Bell pointed out that since 2001, “more than 1,200 persons have been deported to The Bahamas having been convicted of various serious offences abroad from murder and extortion, to armed robbery and dangerous drugs possession.” 

Arson suspected in shanty town blaze

The recent history of the Gamble Heights Shanty Town reads like a requiem of lawlessness, frustration and despair. Clearly drastic measures by the state had to be taken if the government was to maintain control over this community.

There were intelligence reports of the shanty town being used as an underground railway and stowaway for illegal migrants. The government proposed to demolish this illegal settlement. All lawful notices were served according to law for the removal of that unlawful settlement, first in November 2014 and again in September 2015 when the first order expired on the 28th November 2014.

How could we forget that two persons were recently killed in Gamble Heights; one was the result of a brazen gunfight with police where the police returned fire, killing an assailant. There was another incident where a police cruiser was extensively damaged. Immigration officials had to withdraw from the area when their bus was pelted with rocks and bottles. The status quo could not remain.

The government initiated the demolition exercise on Friday, 16th October razing the makeshift homes and two days later, fire gutted parts of the settlement. The fire department did contain the blaze with Assistant Superintendent Walter Evans telling reporters that even though the cause of the fire was unknown, he could not rule out arson. At least one eyewitness told reporters that he believed the arsonist to be the person who collected the rent from residents.

Given the size of the settlement, the demolition could easily take two weeks so some residents still had personal belongings in those structures at the time of the blaze. A female resident complained that she lost all of her personal belongings as a result of the fire.   


National Development Plan committee hosts a National Youth Conclave

With interactive and consultative plenary sessions, the National Development Plan (NDP) committee engaged our youth this week in a Youth Conclave at the Melia Resort with a presentation on the work of the project by Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle.

Several young Bahamians shared their views on the country’s national development for consideration and inclusion in the final draft of the NDP.

When questioned about solutions to national challenges such as unemployment and crime, one young person called for more education and training opportunities for young people such as the Fresh Start program. Another youth said that if she was a part of the government, she would consult more with the people and yet another youth felt that the fundamental problem was the quality of governance and suggested a change of governance was the solution to many of our nation’s problems.


Bahamas exports grow

According to statistics provided by the Central Bank of The Bahamas, total exports from the Bahamas have grown steadily from $363 million in 2004 to around $500 million in 2012.

While the Latin American and Caribbean regions continue to experience various levels of contraction in their regional export value, The Bahamas is apparently bucking that trend. In 2013, exports were $573.9 million; in 2014 that number increased to $689.2 million.

With China’s sizable and affluent population, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) proposes that the Latin American and Caribbean region can become strategic partners for China in the areas of agri-business and tourism.

These findings and proposals are consistent with the Bahamas government’s strategic plan for tourism in the wake of normalized diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and agriculture. The Bahamas government has signed Memoranda of Understanding with the People’s Republic of China regarding air services and technical cooperation between BAMSI and China’s Ocean University on agriculture and marine development.  

In Passing…

Financial Services Minister Hon. Hope Strachan led a Bahamian delegation of industry professionals to Brazil this week where she and her team delivered presentations highlighting the inherent strengths of our Financial Services sector to industry professionals, officials and intermediaries. Presentations were held in Rio De Janeiro and Renaissance in Sao Paulo. These promotional Bahamas Landfall events are global in reach and will target strategic markets in Latin America, the United Kingdom, Continental Europe and the United States.

A Family Conference was held at the Remnant Tabernacle on Carmichael Road on Wednesday night. Speaking at the event on family values was Social Services and Community Development Minister the Hon. Melanie Griffin.

World Food Day was commemorated this week and on hand to celebrate with the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) in this global fight against poverty were our very own sprint sensations Shaunae Miller and Jeffrey Gibson. They helped BAMSI Institute donate almost 3,000 pounds of ripe bananas to a number of charitable organizations including the North Andros Children’s Home and every school in the community.  Held under the theme ‘Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty’ the day marked an important opportunity for the global community to join in the fight to end world hunger, and improve access to healthy food items for the poorest of the poor.  

The Minister for Grand Bahama affairs cleared up an administrative oversight this week that allowed vendors in the Farmer’s Market to continue operating in temporary rent-free facilities until the completion of their permanent home. The project’s completion date is projected for November 2015. The oversight came as a result of a communication from The Ministry of Works and representatives from The Department of Agriculture, resulting in a withdrawal of services by the company contracted to provide the temporary housing for the vendors. Minister Darville apologized for any inconvenience caused.

With PowerSecure firmly in place and executing its government issued mandate to reduce electricity costs by 30% in twenty-four months, it appears that a new board of directors has been appointed an with that, the exit of chairman Leslie Miller. Mr. Miller told the media this week that he fully expects to become the new chairman of the Water and Sewerage Corporation. The column awaits the full outcome of this latest corporate restructuring exercise. 

The Department of Environmental Health Services advised the public this week that the Benzie Dump in Hamilton’s has been re-opened, temporarily, to allow for the dumping of hurricane debris until further notice.

Condolences go out to the family of the late Vincent Lionel Coleby who passed away on Tuesday, the 20th October 2015. May his soul rest in peace.

About the author: Elcott Coleby is a Deputy Director at the Bahamas Information Services. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry (B.Sc) and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). He provides frequent commentary on public policy and communicates the works of the government. Address all comments to the following email: egcoleby44@gmail.com