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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS 7 – 11 MARCH

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generic viagra cialis times;”>By Elcott Coleby

coleby

cialis times;”>Prime Minister Christie delivers mid-year budget statement

tadalafil times;”>In this week in Parliament, Bahamas Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie delivered his government’s 2015/2016 mid-year budget on Monday, March 7, 2016. He characterized the budget as one integral component of his Government’s “overarching and targeted strategy and action plan” to bring better economic and social outcomes for all Bahamians.

“Since the very first day of our taking office in 2012, we have been steadfast in both our message and our resolve in respect of this plan,” said Prime Minister Christie. This steadfastness has resulted in a 75% (or $398 million) reduction in the country’s GFS deficit from $539 million in 2012 to $141 million by the end of the current fiscal year.

The Prime Minister’s statement and supporting documentation set forth provisional expenditure and revenue estimates for the six-month period ending December 31, 2015.

Another significant announcement made was imminent relief to thousands of CLICO insurance policyholders, effectively making all existing policyholders whole through a special purpose vehicle. Under the agreement surrendered policies, death benefits, medical claims and staff pensions will be paid in full; flexible annuities and surrendered pension policies will be settled to a maximum of $10,000 per person and the total cash payouts are estimated at $16 million.

“The liquidator of CLICO has proposed and the Government has agreed a plan to make all existing policyholders whole. This plan involves the creation of a special purpose vehicle to assume the insurance operations of CLICO and to pay out the policyholders who have been unable to receive the full pay-out of their benefit, subject to the policy not lapsing during the period of liquidation.

“Under the plan, surrendered policies, death benefits, medical claims and staff pensions will be paid in full. Executive Flexible Premium Annuities holders and surrendered pension policies will be settled in cash to a maximum of $10,000 per person and the balance will be supported by 7-year promissory notes with interest at Prime payable quarterly. Cash payouts are estimated at $16 million” said the Prime Minister.

In concluding, Mr. Christie summarized many of the accomplishments of his government to date in creating a stronger Bahamas. These accomplishments include the establishment of the National Training Agency, Aviation upgrades nationally, tax reform, energy reform, petroleum reform, healthcare reform, welfare reform, BAMSI, education reform, the re-vestment of the majority economic ownership of BTC in Bahamians and the provisional award of a second cellular license.

“We have created the National Training Agency and are actively working with the private sector to create sustainable and permanent employment for our citizens.

“We have invested over $30 million in the upgrade of aviation infrastructure in New Providence and the Family Islands. In addition we have invested over 100 million to re-fleet Bahamasair.

“We have put The Bahamas on the map with the successful hosting of events like Junkanoo Carnival, the IAAF World Relays, the Popeye Bowl and next year we will host the Junior Commonwealth Games.

“We have passed legislation to govern the exploration of oil and develop new regimes for the export of salt and aragonite.

“We have created the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Institute, providing a roadmap for the reduction in our $1 billion food import bill.

“We have commenced an aggressive infrastructural upgrade programme in the Family Island inclusive of roads in Andros, airport facilities in Bimini and San Salvador.

“We have invested over $250 million to modernize the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Fleet and bases throughout The Bahamas.

“We have passed legislation to modernize the Prison System to better address the chronic problem of recidivism and to better provide for rehabilitation.

“We have added 10 more courts and additional legal officers to address the backlog in the criminal justice system” said Prime Minister Christie.

Senate passes constitutional amendment bills

The Senate unanimously passed the four constitutional amendment bills on Thursday, paving the way for a referendum on gender equality before July 14 of this year, the date the current voter register expires.

The two bills of contention were Bills #2 and 4. Bill #2 allows for a Bahamian woman to secure for her foreign husband the rights of citizenship currently enjoyed by a Bahamian man married to a non-Bahamian woman. Many have argued that passage of this Bill will pave the way for marriages of convenience.

To this argument the Attorney General said “it can hardly be said that a couple who has been married for ten years, raised children, owns a home, (has) a job and (has) contributed to society have a marriage of convenience.”

It is worthy of note that marriages of convenience and other fraudulent marriages were made illegal by an act of Parliament last year.

Regarding Bill #4, the insertion of the word “sex” in article 26 of the constitution makes it illegal to discriminate against anybody because they are male or female. Some critics have argued that because sex can also be interpreted as “sexual orientation,” passage of Bill #4 can open the door for same-sex marriage.

To this the Attorney General said that there has been no such case in the Commonwealth where the insertion of the word “sex” in the constitution to eliminate discrimination has led to same sex marriage.

“No cases in Commonwealth countries in reference to constitutions where sex as a ground of discrimination has led to same sex marriage. No cases. None!” said the Attorney General.

“Same sex marriage is now illegal under Bahamian law and the passage of these bills and a successful referendum vote by the people will not change that” emphasized Maynard-Gibson. READ MORE…