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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS WITH ELCOTT COLEBY

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viagra sale times;”>THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS (SEPTEMBER 21 – SEPTEMBER 4, find 2015)
COMMENTARY BY ELCOTT COLEBY

PRIME MINISTER CHRISTIE MOVES BAHA MAR FORWARD 
In an effort to move the Baha Mar project forward to completion, Prime Minister Christie met with the chairman of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), the parent company of China Construction America (CCA), in New York City on Monday of this week to discuss the way forward for the Baha Mar project. The Prime Minister also joined China Construction America (CCA), the general contractor for the Baha Mar project, in celebrating its 30th anniversary this week.

After his meeting with the chairman, Mr. Christie told the media that he received assurances from Mr. Yi Jun that CCA was committed to resuming work at the property as soon as possible to meet an early completion date.

Following that high-level meeting, officials from CCA and the Independent Provisional Liquidators arrived on the Baha Mar property on Thursday to conduct the requisite physical assessment of the property to determine the scope of work necessary to complete the mega resort that is reportedly 97% complete.

The Prime Minister is also in New York to address world leaders at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday and to address the Bahamian Diaspora on developments here at home.

On Thursday evening while addressing that Bahamian Diaspora at a special called meeting in New York, Mr. Christie confirmed a forty-five minute teleconference with the president of the China EXIM Bank and reported that the bank has agreed to work with CCA, the Bahamas government and the developer to complete the project. With that assurance, the Prime Minister said the remaining major stakeholder he will meet with is the developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, with whom he is scheduled to meet on Monday of next week.

“Around nine last night I started a conference call with the president of China Import Export Bank. We spoke for forty-five minutes or thereabout on this conference call where I got the agreement of the bank to work assiduously with the construction company and the government of The Bahamas and the developer to resume construction,” the Prime Minister said. “So I have now met with the construction company; I have met through a conference call with the bank; I have met with the bank’s representatives at my office yesterday lunch time so I only now have to meet with the developer as Prime Minister and I am meeting with the developer on Monday.”

The Prime Minister again reiterated to those of the Diaspora gathered that the singular objective of his government is to get the resort opened where thousands of young Bahamians can find gainful employment. He said he impressed upon all stakeholders the urgency of this matter.

“The intention is to be able to impress upon all of the parties that the government of The Bahamas wants this hotel or resort completed because there are thousands of young people who will be employed,” said Mr. Christie.

The meeting was organized by the Bahamas Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS) headed by Dr. Elliston Rahming.

PROVISIONAL LIQUIDATORS SECURE SEPTEMBER SALARIES FOR BAHA MAR EMPLOYEES
Two days after Prime Minister Christie met with the chairman of CCA in New York City, the Bahamas Supreme Court-appointed Joint Provisional Liquidators for Baha Mar advised that they had secured funding to cover the salaries and benefits of Baha Mar’s more than 2,000 employees from the 4th to the 30th September 2015.

Outstanding salary payments prior to 4th September will remain that way until further funding is secured.

KRyS-Global (Bahamas) and UK-based AlixPartners addressed the letter of notification to employees of Baha Mar Ltd., Baha Mar Land Holdings Ltd., Cable Beach Resorts Ltd., Baha Mar Enterprises Ltd., BMP Three Ltd., Baha Mar Properties Ltd. and BMP Golf Ltd.

“This will mean that for the payroll due to be paid this week, employees who are paid on a monthly payroll cycle will receive payment for the period 4 September to 30 September 2015, a period of 27 days; and employees paid on a bi-weekly payroll cycle will receive payment due in respect of the two week period 7 September to 20 September 2015,” said the Provisional Liquidators.

The Joint Provisional Liquidators also assured employees that in addition to salaries and benefits including pension, they will be taking steps to ensure that existing medical insurance coverage is maintained.

The Provisional Liquidators assured staff of their continuing efforts “to work with key stakeholders in order to identify the most appropriate way forward.”

CHRISTIE: BAHAMAS COMMITTED TO UN’S SUSTAINABLE GOALS
During his United Nations (UN) General Assembly address at the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, on September 25, 2015, Bahamas Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of The Bahamas the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said that his Government is committed to the full and effective implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to building “a stronger and more sustainable Bahamas.”

“The Bahamas is fully aware that we are primarily responsible for our national development – a responsibility from which we have never shied away,” Prime Minister Christie told world leaders and other stakeholders present for the event, held at the UN Headquarters in New York. “Recent events prove that small countries have to have the resilience, elasticity of response and the institutional infrastructure to withstand economic shocks that may come from unexpected directions.”

Prime Minister Christie stated that their international economic partners, the private investors and the financial institutions all have a role in making sure that resilience is sustained particularly as small countries look toward managing the biggest issue of all — that of climate change.

“I have come here today to renew the commitment to the protection of our oceans and its species; and the commitment to migrate by 2030 to renewable sources of energy; and a sustained effort at public education in the need for us to do so,” he said.

However, Prime Minister Christie pointed out that such small countries will need the assistance of the international community.

“The Bahamas, along with the rest of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), has long held that GDP per capita should not be the sole determinant for the question of the economic support that is to be given our region, but that our vulnerability to economic and other exogenous shocks must also be taken into account,” he said.

GRIFFIN AT UN TO RATIFY DISABILITY CONVENTION
This was a special week for persons living with disability and the Minister of Social Services and Community Development the Hon. Melanie Griffin who is championing their cause. She accompanied Prime Minister Christie and other cabinet colleagues to the United Nations where she officially ratified the convention on the rights of persons living with disabilities.

This is the culmination of a process that started back in 2013 when The Bahamas signed onto the UN convention and Parliament later passed the enabling legislation to ensure equality for that demographic grouping.

“It is a significant achievement for the community of persons living with disability and for The Bahamas,” said Minister Griffin. “The Bahamas joins the world in saying, look, we support and will make provisions for equal opportunity and rights for all those persons in our country who are persons with disability.”

GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES ALLIED HEALTHCARE TRAINING PROGRAM
As the government continues its preparations ahead of the January 2016 launch of National Health Insurance (NHI), the Ministry of Health officially launched its allied healthcare training initiative on Monday, 21st September at its headquarters.

The Ministry of Health has partnered with three local allied healthcare training providers to train more than 150 Bahamians in various disciplines to build capacity and improve the level of allied healthcare services availability. The successful candidates will be selected for deployment in health facilities throughout the country.

The three Allied Healthcare providers are The Bahamas Care Providers Institute; Bahamas School of Innovative Healthcare Professionals; and First Care Training Services Company Limited.

The providers will offer training in the following four categories:
•Patient Care Technician (PCT’s): more than 80 students enrolled.
•Anesthesia Assistant Technician (AAT’s): 20 students enrolled.
•Surgical Operating Theatre Technicians (SOT’s) 24 students enrolled.
•Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s): 30 students enrolled.

Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez also announced the introduction of The Medical Home Care Model and additional training to provide more healthcare support for individuals while they remain in the more personalized home environment.

“It is with foresight that my Ministry has developed, and is executing, these strategic Allied Health Training Program partnerships that will encompass stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” said the Minister.

These new preparatory initiatives came on the heels of the deployment of Family Medicine Doctors to the Berry Islands; Exuma; San Salavdor; and Bimini effective, 1st September, 2015. Additionally, a Family Medicine Doctor was deployed to Marsh Harbour, Abaco on 9th February, 2015.

These essential postings marked the first time in history that a Family Medicine Doctor has been posted to every Family Island in The Bahamas.

DPM DAVIS: MORE ENGINEERS NEEDED
In Grand Bahama to address the 2015 Annual Meeting and Workshop of the Northern Branch of the Bahamas Society of Engineers, Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, the Hon. Philip Davis, told members that more young Bahamians must be recruited into the profession.

“Be assured that it is the intention and the mandate of the government to provide opportunities and to protect the rights of those within your profession. You must work to eliminate the shortage of professionals in your field. The recruitment of civil, environmental, chemical, electrical and mechanical engineers must be curbed. It is within your sphere of influence to cause a new approach to encourage more Bahamians to pursue studies in your field. I know that you are aware of the challenges in this regard and that you will engage the appropriate partners to ensure that more of your talented Bahamians will see the benefit of joining your profession.”

He was speaking at the Ruby Swiss Restaurant on Thursday.

Mr. Davis repeated his call for the community to embrace the locally registered professional engineers in major developments from the outset and not as an afterthought.

STRACHAN LAYS OUT STRATEGIC PLAN FOR WORLD CLASS ARBITRATION CENTER
Addressing the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators on Wednesday, Financial Services Minister Hon. Hope Strachan shared four key areas she felt were essential for transforming The Bahamas into an international hub.

She spoke under the theme “Arbitration, essential to national development – a national solution that cannot be ignored” at an installation luncheon at Lucianos.

Minister Strachan proposed that The Bahamas “identify our key markets,” “allow legislative flexibility in order to keep up with global arbitral trends,” “foster the liberalization of the legal profession in order for international arbitration to thrive,” and “continued training and education in arbitration and alternative dispute resolution must be solidly anchored within the constitution of professional organizations.”

The Minister went on to lay out a detailed fifteen point strategic plan covering the four key areas.

She expressed confidence that with the support of policy makers, the Judiciary, the legal profession and other professional organizations, The Bahamas is poised to become a front runner of dispute resolution in the Americas and an international arbitration center.

DAME JOAN SAWYER WEIGHS IN ON CRIME
While addressing delegates at an installation luncheon for the newest graduates of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators this week, former Bahamas Appeals Court President and institute patron Dame Joan Sawyer became the latest leader to weigh in on the national debate on crime.

While critical of the country’s current state of affairs, Mrs. Sawyer offered a three point plan to bring this social menace under control.

“First of all, you must deal swiftly with those matters that are pending before the courts. Get them out of the way and get those people off the streets if they are guilty. Secondly, you must deal with those who are incarcerated and see if any of them can be retrained for good service in the world. Thirdly but most importantly, you must head off those who may be in danger from bad parenting, lack of parenting and lack of education.”

ROLLE: NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN ANSWER TO MUCH OF COUNTRY’S WOES
Also speaking at the luncheon was Investment State Minister Hon. Khaalis Rolle, who sought to make a broader point by pointing to some United Nations human development indicators, especially indicators on murder, to conclude that The Bahamas is indeed in a “conflict zone.”

While he credits the government for establishing some important public institutions and making sensible decisions that created a modern and progressive state allowing the country to prosper and grow, he felt that much of the progress and development slowed or “flat-lined” during the decade of the eighties.

“…and then we hit that eighties” said Rolle, “the infamous eighties and we hit a brick wall. All other countries that are bench marked against started to grow and we flat-lined and now we are paying the price.”

Extolling the virtues, values and benefits of a National Development Plan, Minister Rolle believes that with proper long term planning and execution through the vehicle of a National Development Plan, many of the challenges facing the country will be addressed and overcome.

GOVERNMENT TO DEVELOP FOOD AND NUTRITION POLICY
A recent health survey has shown that almost 50% of Bahamian children are overweight and another 20% are obese while 67% of the Bahamian adult population is obese.

Against this backdrop, Dr. Philip Swann of the Ministry of Health is spearheading the public campaign to reverse this negative health trend through the implementation of THE BAHAMAS FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY POLICY AND ACTION PLAN.

To this end, health professionals hosted a two day community stakeholder symposium at the Christ the King Auditorium in Ridgeland Park on Thursday and Friday of this week to pursue the following objectives:

•Food availability – promote sustainable food production
•Food access – ensure regular access especially to the poor and vulnerable
•Food utilization/Nutritional Adequacy – Improve the nutritional status
•Stability of food supply – Improve resilience to natural and socio-economic crises

Needless to say, this policy and action plan is crucial to supporting the National Health Insurance initiative and the Social Safety Net Reform Program (RISE).

US EXTENDS FATCA DEADLINE
With only two weeks left before the September 30th deadline for the mandatory exchange of information under The Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the US government has pushed back the target date for implementation in order to accommodate the needs of countries that needed more time to implement compliance procedures.

Passed in America in 2010 and ratified by the Bahamian government in 2014, FATCA is a widely embraced US law requiring US tax payers to annually report on their non-US based financial accounts. The legislation also calls upon on all financial institutions outside of the US to report all financial activities involving US tax payers to the US Treasury.

In a statement released on Wednesday of this week, Minister of Financial Services, the Honourable Hope Strachan, believes that the deadline extension grants a much needed reprieve to those countries that were willing and working hard towards compliance but needed more time for full implementation:

“Countries throughout the region are working hard to ensure full compliance with the FATCA legislation and The Bahamas is no exception. As a regional leader in the financial services sector, it is of the utmost importance that we lead the way when it comes to FATCA implementation and compliance. The extra time gives international governments and agencies a chance to ensure a smooth transition as they implement new systems for automatic exchange of information and finalize their FATCA implementation,” said the Minister.

IN PASSING…
Continuing his engagement with the community following his national address on crime, National Security Minister Hon. Bernard Nottage led a team of police officers with the press in tow on a walkabout in the Kemp Road community on Monday of this week. A family that lived in squalid conditions for twenty years received immediate public assistance during the walkabout. The Minister told reporters that these walkabouts are to engage the community, see and hear of their experiences first hand and to collect important and relevant intelligence that will assist in crafting policies and strategies to address the root causes of much of the social ills and criminal activities that plague these communities. The walkabouts are certainly not public relations exercises, said the Minister.

Sol Petroleum announced this week a Public/Private Sector Partnership scholarship program for ten deserving students to pursue studies at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) for a period of two years. Sol and its vendors and petroleum dealers have also agreed to mentor the students during their vocational studies.

In local sporting news, a legend and a new generation star on the track and field scene visited their alma mater this week to meet, greet and inspire students at Saint Augustine College during their induction into the St. Augustine Hall of Fame. They were javelin thrower Laverne Eve and quarter miler Shaune Miller. Eve, a graduate of LSU, was the 1987 NCAA champion in her specialty and helped the Tigers win the outdoor track and field title in that year. She has won 22 gold medals in her long and illustrious career. Miller is the Bahamas record holder in the 200 meters at 22.14 seconds and a silver medalist in the 400 meters at the 2015 IAAF track and field championship in Beijing China.

Bahamian boxing sensation Tureano Johnson is one step closer to realizing his dream of becoming a world champion. Promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy production, Johnson (18 -1) will face Eamonn O’Kane (14-1-1) at Madison Square Garden, New York on 17th October 2015 on the undercard of the Pay-Per-View sports event featuring the IBF Middleweight championship bout between champion David Lemieux and Gennady Golovkin as the main event. The winner of the title eliminator will become the mandatory challenger for the IBF Middleweight crown.

After making the ceremonial rounds and saying his final farewells and good-byes, Cuban Ambassador HE Ernesto Soberon Guzman was feted to a reception on Wednesday evening at the Hilton Hotel courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On hand to celebrate his four-year tour of duty in The Bahamas and bid him a final farewell were Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Foreign Minister, Hon. Philip B. Davis; Agriculture Minister Hon. Alfred Gray; Financial Services Minister, Hon. Hope Strachan; State Minister for Works and Urban Development, Hon. Arnold Forbes and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Sheila Carey.

About 100 young people graduated from the Shock Treatment program this week. Shock Treatment is a boot camp training exercise that also exposes young people to the harsh realities of crime and resulting consequences in an attempt to offer a viable alternative to what will certainly lead to conflict with the law, incarceration and too often death.

Members of the Hawksbill Creek Review Committee were in Supreme Court in Freeport on Friday to hear arguments set forth by the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Licensees of the GBPA dealing with obtaining copies of the McKinsey Report. The government appointed the committee to meet and negotiate with representatives of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, investors, relevant public, private sector and community interests, so as to recommend to the government arrangements for securing both an economic package to promote more robust sustained growth, and a fiscal package that enhances Grand Bahama’s contribution to the government’s revenue base. During the proceedings on Friday, Justice Petra Hanna-Weeks gave a ruling permitting members of the Committee to continue with their consultations. The injunction filed was quashed. The parties will return to court on October, 5, 2015