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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS ( 28 SEPTEMBER TO 2 OCTOBER) BY ELCOTT COLEBY

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viagra canada clinic times;”>colebyHURRICANE JOAQUIN POUNDS THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN BAHAMAS

buy viagra sickness times;”>The biggest news this week in The Bahamas was a destructive force of nature called JOAQUIN. This category four Hurricanes brought torrential rain and surges in tides and surfs, hospital causing widespread flooding in the central and southern Bahamas this week. By Thursday, the entire Bahamas was placed on hurricane warning. By Friday, the central and northwest Bahamas remained under a hurricane warning.

Schools in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco joined the Family Islands schools in being closed on Friday. Banks were closed at 1pm and government departments not delivering essential services were closed at noon.

The Ministry of Tourism, Bahamasair, the National Dug Prescription Plan, the Public Hospital Authority, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, and the Bahamas Telecommunications Company all implemented their individual hurricane preparedness plans.

The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, activated its National Command Center where the agency communicated with the entire leadership of the Royal Bahamas Police Force across The Bahamas. NEMA admitted to some communication challenges with local government officials in some of the Family Island districts.

There was international criticism. The Weather Channel stated that the Doppler Radar System at the Bahamas Meteorology Department was not functioning. The Bahamas Department of Meteorology immediately issued a statement denying this, indicating that its radar system functioned continuously through the storm and any suggestion to the contrary was incorrect.

The Commissioner of Police, Ellison Greenslade, tested the national communications platform during a live press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

Addressing the nation at the live press briefing was Prime Minister Christie who underscored the need for vigilance in the era of global warming and irregular weather patterns. He underscored the need to protect and preserve human life as the primary objective of responders.

The Prime Minister also read a piece of draft legislation that is still in the consultative stage. The proposed policy essentially empowers NEMA to cause for mandatory evacuations if it is determined that areas anywhere in The Bahamas are under serious threats of a natural disaster.

At 2pm, the center of Joaquin was located 45 miles north-northeast of Clarence Town Long Island or 185 miles from New Providence. Maximum sustained winds were 130 MPH. Joaquin was moving northward near five miles per hour with hurricane force winds extending up to 50 miles from the center of the storm and tropical force winds extending up to 205 miles from the center. Storm surges reached as much as six to twelve feet.

Bahamians are encouraged to tune into ZNS radio and television for frequent updates and to communicate all pertinent information from the family islands to NEMA for immediate action. As of Friday, 2nd October there was no report of personal injuries or loss of life. To God be the glory. 

PRIME MINISTER CHRISTIE MEETS WITH BAHA MAR DEVELOPER

Prime Minister Christie met with the Baha Mar developer Mr. Sarkis Izmirlian on Monday afternoon as promised, characterizing the meeting as “excellent.”

He had spoken with the Chairman of the China State Construction and Engineering Corporation in New York one week earlier and to the president of the China EXIM Bank two days later.

In a statement released shortly after the meeting, the Prime Minister indicated that he was pleased that Mr. Izmirlian had given assurances of his continued cooperation with the Provisional Liquidators and of his preparedness to participate in meetings convened by them to explore the settlement of outstanding issues between the parties on commercially viable terms.

“Mr. Izmirlian, the China EXIM Bank and China State Construction Company have all reiterated their desire and commitment to complete and open the Baha Mar resort as soon as possible,” said Mr. Christie. “This continues to be the primary objective of my Government as well. We continue to urge all parties to conscientiously work towards a definitive settlement of their differences so that the interests of all stakeholders, especially the Bahamian contractors and employees, can be well and justly served.”

URCA ANNOUNCES SPECTRUM AUCTION ROUND
This week the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) announced the commencement of the spectrum auction for the selection of the second cellular license holder.

The remaining participating contenders were Cable Bahamas Limited and Virgin Mobile Bahamas Limited. The multi-round Auction process will continue until one bidder concedes in price to the other.

In November of 2014, Prime Minister the Right Honourable Perry G. Christie, the Minister responsible for the Electronic Communications Sector (ECS), decided the method for allocating and pricing cellular mobile spectrum in accordance with Section 30 of the Communications Act, 2009. The Government then initiated a competitive selection process that would result in the authorization of one additional cellular provider.

Phase 1 of the process, the technical assessment of proposals, was completed in April 2015. URCA is responsible for the execution of Phase 2 of the process, the auction Phase, on behalf of the Government. At the conclusion of the auction, an announcement will be made in accordance with the process.

The new cellular operator will require an Individual Operating License and an Individual Spectrum License from The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA).

THIS DAY IN PARLIAMENT, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2015
Below is a summary of the proceedings of the Bahamas Parliament, specifically the House agenda item, “statements by Ministers.” This House summary is released for public information and edification.

The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Hon. Dr. Daniel Johnson welcomed special guests – local primary school students and 400 meter intermediate hurdle national record holder Jeffrey Gibson. He also won the gold medal in the 2015 Pan Am games and a bronze at the 2015 IAAF track and field championships in Beijing, China last month.

Minister of Transport and Aviation Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin updated the House on the status of category one hurricane Joaquin which is an immediate threat to the Central Bahamas. Long Island, Cat Island, Exuma, Rum Cay and San Salvador are all under hurricane warning and the Northwest Bahamas including Eleuthera, Abaco, Grand Bahama, New Providence, Bimini, the Berry Islands are under hurricane watch.

The Minister urged all Bahamians to be vigilant, tune in to all advisories issued by NEMA and to take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and their property.

Financial Services Minister Hope Strachan read for the first time the following bills: a Bill for the Establishment of The Bahamas Agriculture, Health and Food Safety Authority; a Bill for an Act to Protect and Promote Plant Health; a Bill for an Act to Protect and Promote Animal Health; and a Bill for an Act to Regulate Food Safety and Quality at all stages in the food chain.

Minister of National Security Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage delivered the second reading of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Amendment Bill, referred to as THE SECOND CHANCE BILL in some quarters of Bahamian society. The original bill was legislated into law in 1991. This proposed amendment was first read into the House records during October 2013.

Dr. Nottage advised that under the current law, minor criminal offences remain on a person’s record for seven years from the date of conviction and major criminal offences remain on their record for fourteen years from the date of conviction. The amended law would reduce these times to four and ten years respectively.

“What we are planning to do at this time according to the bill is to reduce the seven year period to four year. That is a reduction of three years. And reduce the fourteen year period to ten years. That’s a reduction of four years although it will not be automatic,” explained the Minister.

Dr. Nottage said a rehabilitation of offenders committee will be established “which will set certain standards, certain measurements by which it is determined who would be eligible (to have their criminal records permanently expunged).”

Under the existing law, there are offences for which the applicable criminal records cannot be expunged from the files of those persons convicted. Dr. Nottage listed those offences.

“Under the existing legislation, manslaughter in respect of which five years or more have been imposed on the conviction; murder, possession of drugs with the intent to supply, treason, armed robbery and rape and unlawful carnal knowledge” are the offences that, because of their nature, cannot be expunged from the criminal records of the convicted persons.

Minister of Tourism Hon. Obie Wilchcombe supported the bill. He also drew the attention of House members to an article that appeared in the business section of the Tribune about a series of emails written to him by senior executives of Carnival that he never received ostensibly because the email account used was incorrect. The email found its way into the possession of DNA Leader Branville McCartney who used them to accuse the Minister of ignoring cruise lines warnings in the media.

Wilchcombe questioned the ethics of Mr. McCartney who received a private communication under “questionable” circumstances, only to use the material in the public domain and in the process mislead the public. Wilchcombe said for a man who seeks to lead a nation, McCartney was setting a bad example; the matter was turned over to the police for investigation and he demanded a public apology from Mr. McCartney. 

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