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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS (10 OCTOBER 2014) COMMENTARY BY ELCOTT COLEBY

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elcottThis eventful week in The Bahamas saw the College of The Bahamas (COB) move one step closer to university status; the Clifton Pier oil spill Plan revealed; a delay in the Constitutional Bills and the fore showing of the Petroleum Act, best viagra cialis all as NIB turned 40.

Government to borrow $16.18 million for COB transition

By the end of 2015, healing some 41 years after its establishment in law on 30th October 1974, the 5,300 student strong College of The Bahamas is expected to transition into the country’s first university. Moving the resolution on Monday to borrow the sum of US$16.18 million from the Caribbean Development Bank was Education Minister Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald.

 

About $7 million or 30% of the transition project’s total cost of around $23 million will be financed from the public treasury.

 

 

The Minister said that the transition project is broken down into the following 5 principal components as follow:

1.    Design and construction of a Halls of Residence and Business Center.

2.    Energy enhancement rehabilitation of the Keva Bethel Administrative Building and Hotel Training College.

3.    Upgrade of the security system.

4.    Improved service delivery.

5.    Improved governance and management system.

 

Environment Minister addressed latest Clifton oil spill

Addressing the vexing issue of recurring oil spills in the Clifton Pier area, Environment Minister Hon. Kenred Dorsett updated House members on Monday about the government’s plans in the wake of the latest environmental emission.

 

He said in addition to establishing a sub-committee of the National Oil Spill Committee, the government has contracted a consultant to immediately enhance containment and recovery strategies as the consultant and sub-committee design a long term strategy inclusive of the following:

 

  1. Prepare an environmental management plan for the Clifton area.
  2. Create a remediation plan for the Clifton area including BEC’s Clifton Pier plant, which has also been factored in the current BEC Energy Reform RFP process.
  3. Review existing operational processes and standards for BEC and other industrial stakeholders in the Clifton area.
  4. Create environmental sensitivity map of the Clifton area.
  5. Implement new regulations and standards by BEC and other industrial stakeholders in the Clifton area to be enforced by the Government.

 

Constitutional Bills delayed

In a communication on Monday, 6th Oct, National Security Minister Nottage explained to House members the reason for the delay. He said four opposition House members indicated that they were no longer prepared to support bill #4 unless the words “at birth” were added to the definition of sex. The Constitutional Commission rejected this requested, arguing that this insertion would weaken the Matrimonial Causes Act and make the case for same sex marriage much easier.

 

According to Minister Nottage, the Commission consented to meeting with these members to further explain their position and the government encourages this because the governing side is firmly committed to a bipartisan consensus on the 4 bills as it sends the right message to the general public.

 

The Petroleum Act foreshadowed

At a press conference at the Diplomatic Lounge at the LPIA on Wednesday morning, Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett told the press that the Bahamas Government was ready to table a new Petroleum Act and attendant regulations designed to guide and govern oil exploration in The Bahamas. He said that this new piece of legislation will not only be an integral part of the government’s National Energy Policy, but will provide for a mechanism for national wealth creation and management.

 

“This new legislative package” said Minister Dorsett, “will also include the legislative framework for a Sovereign Wealth Fund to ensure that in the event oil is discovered in commercially viable quantities, the wealth that will accrue to the nation as a result will be invested, managed and conserved in the most optimal way for present and future generations of Bahamians.”

 

The Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament when members return after a six week House recess. Legislators are scheduled to return to the House on Wednesday, 19th November 2014

 

NIB turns 40

Launching its myriad of social security programs on the 7th Oct, 1974, the National Insurance Board (NIB) celebrated its fortieth anniversary with a church service at Evangelistic Temple on Sunday, Oct. 5. Addressing the audience was Prime Minister Christie who talked about the mandate and legacy of NIB, the public institution designed to protect and enhance the financial wellbeing of Bahamians through income replacement assistance and other benefits due to industrial injury, illness, maternity, invalidity and retirement.

 

The week of activities included the graduation ceremony of the latest group of Inspectors on Monday, a commemorative cake-cutting ceremony on Tuesday at the Clifford Darling Building and luncheon for the elderly on Wednesday. The 40th anniversary theme was “Reinforcing the foundation pillars of the modern Bahamas.”

 

In passing

More details about the degree offering and curriculum at BAMSI were revealed by the Education Minister during his contribution in the House on Monday. According to the Minister, BAMSI is under COB’s School of Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences and offers an Academic Board Approved Associate of Applied Science Degree in Agriculture. Some of the Major courses in this 70 credit hour degree program are Animal Science, Plant Science, Soil Science, Introduction to Chemistry and Best Farm Practices.

Some details of the engagement package for Dr. Rodney Smith were also revealed in the House on Monday. Minister Fitzgerald revealed that on Aug 20 the Cabinet accepted the COB Council’s recommendation to engage Dr. Rodney Smith as President of the College of The Bahamas. The contract was executed on Friday 3rd Oct 2014 and that Dr. Smith was given the exact remuneration package as the former President reported to be between $180,000 and $250,000 annually. He was given a housing allowance instead of the rental house provided to other COB presidents. Dr. Smith was contracted for a period of three years with a two year option and his official appointment date was effective Monday, 6th October 2014.

 

Prime Minister Christie officially opened the 23rd Annual Caribbean Water & Wastewater Conference and Exhibition on Monday, 6th October at the Atlantis Resort.

 

During his address and using The Bahamas as an example, the Prime Minister challenged delegates to find ways to create equity among all of its citizens

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“That is our quest in The Bahamas — to see the disparities of development, of wealth, the differences that exist in our islands; that people have access to water, electricity and other resources.”

 

The Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) is a regional non-governmental organization established by an Act of Parliament in Trinidad and Tobago in l991. The CWWA is a grouping of water, wastewater and solid waste professionals in the public and private sectors. The objectives of the organization are to provide training and education in the area of water supply, wastewater and solid waste disposal and to encourage study, research and development in water supply, wastewater and solid waste disposal. Currently, over 30 countries are members of the organization.

 

 

Anatol Rodgers High School hosted a special assembly and exhibition on Wednesday, 8th Oct. to sensitize students about the dangers and negative effects of drug and substance abuse. This drug awareness campaign is a joint venture between the Guidance Department of Anatol Rodgers High and the Ministry of National Security under the theme “Drug Free, The Way To Be.” Additionally, this drug awareness campaign is a policy mandate from the Ministry of Education.

 

The list of activities in recognition of Older Persons Month 2014 continued this week with presentations at St. Gregory The Great Anglican/Episcopal Church Hall on Wednesday. The event was officially opened by the Minister of Social Services and Community Development, Hon. Melanie Griffin and presentations on managing delirium, dementia and depression in older persons were delivered by health professionals. The international theme for this year is“Leaving No One Behind: Promoting A Society For All.”

 

Also on Wednesday, Attorney General and Chair of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, Senator Allyson Maynard-Gibson officially opened a two-day work shop on Anti-Money laundering. Telling delegates that the government is putting its money where its mouth is, she reiterated that “every effort will be made to show the world that The Bahamas will not be used to facilitate criminal activities. We’re putting our money where our mouth is” said the Attorney General. Rebranding the Financial Services Sector and increasing the ease of doing business in the Bahamas while meeting international requirements for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) were others objectives of the workshop. The workshop took place at the Melia Resort.

 

Representatives from the World Bank who led the closed working sessions were lead evaluator Marilyne Pereira Goncalves, assisted by Samir Merghoub and Jimmy Moffatt.

 

The following day at the Melia Resort, Prime Minister Christie officially opened the 2nd annual National Training Symposium on data protection under the auspices of the Office of the Data Commissioner. During his address the Prime Minister noted the broader objective of the commission.

 

“It is noteworthy” said the Prime Minister “that the Commissioner seeks to bring about a coordinated approach to data protection which encompasses the involvement of all of the relevant stakeholders.

 

“This year the Department of Information Technology joins the Cyber Crime Unit of the Royal Bahamas Police Force in partnering with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner to deal with, what many would say, has now become an international issue of great concern; data protection.”

 

The theme for this year is “The 7th   Data Protection Principle: Personal Data Security Offline and Online.”

And last but not least, Mrs. Deborah Fraser, Director of Legal Affairs has been appointed to the Supreme Court Bench. The Office of the Attorney General hosted an Appreciation Luncheon for Mrs. Fraser on Thursday, 9thOctober, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. at the Paul L. Adderley Building, J. F. Kennedy Drive. Her successor is Ms. Antoinette Bonamy.

 

Congratulations to Mrs. Fraser and best wishes in her new assignment.