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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS WITH ELCOTT COLEBY 24 – 28 AUGUST 2015)

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viagra generic site times;”>elcottBAHAMAS GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO STANDARD AND POOR’S DOWNGRADE

On Tuesday of this week, Standard and Poor’s cut the sovereign credit rating of The Bahamas from BBB+/A-2 to BBB-/A-3, citing “depressed (economic) growth” and the ongoing Baha Mar dispute as the principal reasons. In its assessment, the credit agency predicted economic growth of less than one percent over the next several years and a greater than 33% chance of another downgrade over the next six to twenty-four months. The country’s bonds maintained investment grade status though.

In its response, the Bahamas government said that while S&P’s decision was not unexpected given the recent placement of The Bahamas on ‘credit watch,’ it did not “adequately reflect the improved economic and fiscal outlook for the Bahamian economy.”

“It is Baha Mar along with other projects throughout The Bahamas that will make healthy contributions to the economy over the medium-term,” said the government in a statement. Further, the government maintained that the achievements of its recent fiscal reform measures “are forecasted to cause a reduction in the debt burden in the near term.

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its most recent Article IV Consultation Report has noted that progress with reforms has outperformed its own expectations,” noted the statement.

Additionally, the statement pointed out that the success of the Government’s fiscal strategy is reflected in its ability to raise funds on more favorable terms both internationally and domestically; the May jobs survey showed a two percent reduction in the unemployment rate; and that “a strategic framework is being put in place, in partnership with Power Secure, to tackle the high cost of electricity and progress is imminent on initiatives to improve domestic credit conditions and boost confidence in the residential mortgages market.”

The statement concluded that The Bahamas continues to make progress on the fiscal front and that the Bahamas Government, “while being patient, will redouble its efforts to sustain improvements in this area, and advance reforms to bolster private sector confidence over the medium-term.”

NATIONAL SECURITY MINISTER: PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT COMING

Delivering a comprehensive and sobering national address on the state of crime in The Bahamas in all of its complexities and manifestations was National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage. The address was aired on Thursday evening on ZNS TV-13.

The Minister did not mince words. In addition to announcing the $20 million IDB funded anti-crime initiative and the $20 million national student tracking system, the at-risk youth jobs training and placement initiatives, the Minister foreshadowed legislation aimed at enforcing more parental discipline and responsibility regarding the behavior of their minor children. The Parental Responsibility Bill is currently in draft form and is expected to be brought to Parliament after wide consultation.

This is the latest in a series of “multi-tiered” and “intelligence-based” anti-crime initiatives implemented by the government to arrest this social menace. These initiatives include an anti-gang unit at the RBPF, a marine and canine unit at the Customs Department; more human and material resources and training for the uniformed branch and greater collaboration with US authorities in dismantling criminal enterprises involved in the trafficking of small arms, drugs and human cargo.

As a significant number of murderers and their victims are persons out on bail for serious offenses and therefore targets for retaliation, the issue of bail is critical to arresting the level of murder which currently stands at almost 25% above 2014, noted Dr. Nottage.

“Constitutionally, that power is only vested in the judiciary,” said Nottage, but applauded the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office in having ten criminal courts operating simultaneously to address case backlogs while administering justice swiftly.

WILCHCOMBE FAVOURS MORE DIALOGUE ON BAHA MAR

“I think we need a breakthrough. I think the breakthrough can come I think if we can put the minds of all concerned together and (if) we’re able to cause for a discussion – discussion based on what I believe is a committed level of determination to get the project completed and get the resort open.”

These were the words Tourism Minister the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe as he weighed in on the legal dispute involving Baha Mar earlier this week.

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