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THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS WITH ELCOTT COLEBY(16 – 20 NOVEMBER 2015)

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viagra canada find times;”>colebyPrime Minister Christie weighs in on crime

ed times;”>Foreshadowing more aggressive anti-crime measures in the coming weeks that could potentially impinge on the personal freedoms of some people as they move about the country, see Prime Minister Christie insisted that “this extraordinary degree of uncivilized behavior,” especially in New Providence, simply cannot continue.

“But this country cannot and must not allow what is happening to happen much longer.

“I indicated on Saturday when I said to the press it may mean impinging on people’s freedom as they move about, but there is no circumstance that will allow me to have The Bahamas, New Providence in particular, to have this wanton display of disrespect for human existence – this extraordinary degree of uncivilized behavior.”

He continued that The Bahamas is not a killing field and that the evidence of his government’s new anti-crime measures will be seen “in a couple of weeks.”

With the murder count at 133 on Monday of this week, the Prime Minister said that “we don’t have the right to allow young Bahamians to kill each other for whatever reason. It just must not happen.”

These comments came on the heels of a violent weekend where three persons lost their lives to gang violence amid the sensationalism of a Facebook posting of a so called “hit list” by a local gang and an island wide police manhunt for fifteen murder suspects.

In response to the murders, the Commissioner of Police said he was not surprised by the increase in murders and believed that the trend would continue unless there are policy changes. Commissioner Ellison Greenslade took to Facebook recently to publicly complain about the leniency of the courts in their sentencing that keeps hardened criminals on the streets in the face of the hard work of the police to get criminals off the streets.

By Thursday, the Police Commissioner reported that two men were arrested for the murder of Queens College teacher Joyelle McIntosh and five were captured or surrendered after the police posted a “Most Wanted” crime bulletin.

The issue of bail has long been a thorny and prickly constitutional issue for both the executive and judicial branches of government. Prime Minister Christie addressed this issue publicly and the judiciary (in the person of former Chief Justice Barnett) quickly stood up on their hind legs to caution the Prime Minister against political interference and a potential compromise of the independence of the judiciary.

The Bahamas judiciary clearly prides itself on independent judicial discretion even in the face of legislated sentencing guidelines so the national debate continues – and it must.

PM confident about Baha Mar future

“Things are good, so to speak” with Baha Mar said Prime Minister Christie on Monday as he revealed that executives from a leading regional resort were in town to meet with the financier and new owner of the foreclosed resort, the China Export Import Bank, over their possible role in the future of the resort. The Prime Minister was responding to lingering questions in the public domain about investor confidence in The Bahamas, insisting that “some of the world’s leading resort entities have expressed continuing interest (in The Bahamas).”

“One of the Western Hemisphere leading resorts arrives in The Bahamas today (Monday) to speak with representatives of the bank all with a view to putting their interest on the table on being able to manage or purchase interest out there. So we are optimistic.”

He made these comments during an address at a Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) conference at the Melia resort and spoke candidly and fairly extensively about the latest developments surrounding Baha Mar.

He said that he was “happy and gratified” to see Bahamians Raymond Winder, Receiver and Edmond Rahming, Liquidator at the forefront of the process.

The Prime Minister reiterated the urgency with which the government feels this project must be restarted, completed and opened and expressed as much during an hour long teleconference with the President of the China EXIM Bank on Sunday evening.

He also spoke about the representation he made on behalf of the contractors and the 2,000 displaced Baha Mar workers.

“There is a compelling urgency for me to have a conference this morning with the construction company to speak with them about the difficulties the two are trying to work out, but to let them know that we want all Bahamian contractors to be paid hopefully dollar for dollar. We want them to resume construction in the shortest possible time.

“I gave them a proposition of my preparedness to work with them in finding employment for the 2,000 people who were laid off on the basis that they would reimburse the government of The Bahamas.”

Program R.I.S.E. officially launched in Eight Mile Rock

Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Griffin, was in Eight Mile Rock on Monday evening to officially launch Programme RISE.

Stressing the slogan “Together We RISE”, Minister Griffin indicated that there are people in the system who have been on Social Service benefits for many years, and the new programme is a way of reversing that cycle. RISE (Renewing, Inspiring, Sustaining, Empowering) Programme has been launched in New Providence and North Andros already.

She said in 2004, following a study of the country’s safety net by the Inter-American Development Bank, dialogue on the need for reform began. In 2012, the government entered into an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank for the implementation of social safety net reform in The Bahamas.

The reform includes: strengthening the institutional capacity of the Department of Social Services; installation of a state-of-the-art Management Information System to ensure the smooth processing of requests from registration to payment; improved targeting through a Proxy Means Test (the Proxy Means Test is an instrument that ensures those in need are objectively assessed); and a new payment delivery system for approved beneficiaries.

Those on the Social Services food assistance programme in Eight Mile Rock are already in possession of the Bank of the Bahamas Debit Card, the first phase of the reform.

Minister Strachan proposes financial services ‘Center for Excellence’

Continuing her campaign to strengthen, modernize and build capacity within the Financial Services Sector, Minister of Financial Services, the Hon. Hope Strachan, proposed ‘progressive’ initiatives to achieve this objective.

One such progressive initiative is the establishment of a ‘Centre for Excellence’ for financial services.

The Minister announced this plan at a ceremony to celebrate Accountants’ Week 2015, November 17, at Melia Nassau Beach Resort. The event was hosted by the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA).

“This Centre for Excellence will not only provide us with a model institution which will educate and certify professionals to international standards but it can be used to assist with training for government and private sector professionals in the delivery of services and in instilling and inculcating a spirit of excellence into our industry,” said Minister Strachan.

Quality training methods, new data and modern day research and development tools are ‘vital’ in ensuring the relevance of the sector in dynamic global environment. She believes this Centre would have the potential to serve as a ‘beacon’ to the wider Caribbean region, as a premier financial services centre for learning, research, product development and networking.

She urged broad participation and input from the members of BICA.

Cooperative League and ILO host co-operative workshop.

In its ongoing efforts to strengthen the local cooperative societal movement and empower its membership, the Bahamas Co-operative League Limited partnered with the International Labour Organization to host a three day train-the-trainer workshop on the history, principles, establishment, bylaws and management of cooperatives.

The opening ceremony took place at the Cancer Center for The Bahamas on Tuesday, 17th November 2015.

Facilitating the instructional and interactive workshop modules were veteran regional credit union official, Melvin Edwards; Stephanie Missick-Jones, General Manager of The Bahamas Co-operative League Limited and International Labour Organization (ILO) representative, Kelvin Sergeant, a sustainable enterprise and jobs creation specialist.

In her keynote address, President of the Bahamas Co-operative League Limited Sonia Cox-Hamilton stressed to delegates from across The Bahamas the need for the Family Islands to become fully integrated into the national economy and co-operatives provide a viable commercial vehicle to achieving this goal. Pointing to the relatively high levels of unemployment among Bahamian youth, Mrs. Hamilton explained that the pervasive thrust of diversified non-financial cooperative societies can create opportunities for economic empowerment, especially for our youth. Co-operatives the world over are renowned for their success through the power of numbers, its proven business model, its ability to lower the barrier to trade and the obvious shared risks.

Touting the fact that the local co-operative movement is “making history” with this inaugural train-the-trainer workshop, the League president challenged her colleagues to cause more co-operatives to be developed and ensure that these institutions become principal drivers in the economic life of The Bahamas in industries such as fishing, agriculture and agri-business, purchasing, hotel operations and marketing.

The workshop concluded on Thursday, 19th November where the President of the Bahamas Cooperative League, Sonia Cox-Hamilton, presented participants with their certificates of participation.

Staniel Cay Airport reopens with brand new runway.

The Ministry of Transport & Aviation advised the general public this week of the reopening of the Staniel Cay Airport in Exuma to air traffic.

According to the statement, “a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) has been issued by the Department of Civil Aviation, advising that the new runway is classified as a Code 2b airport, with a newly paved runway 3,000 ft. long and 75 ft. wide. The airport will be opened during the hours between sunrise to 3 pm daily. These hours of operation will remain in effect until final construction on the Runway End Safety Area (RESA) has been satisfactorily completed. It is anticipated that this process will be completed in two weeks time, allowing for regular operational hours to be re-introduced that is from official sunrise to official sunset.”

The Transport and Aviation Ministry thanked the residents of Staniel Cay “and other visitors to the Exumas for the patience they have exercised while this very necessary repair process was undertaken.”

Road Traffic Department refutes Punch claims

“The allegation published in the November 16 edition of the tabloid newspaper “The Punch” that an audit conducted by the Auditor General’s Department in Nassau for the period 2010 – 2015 revealed that six million dollars were stolen from the Road Traffic Department, is untrue” retorted the Controller of the Road Traffic Department to the Punch article.

“Further,” said the statement, “it is categorically denied that there has been any political interference or otherwise in any administrative matter in the Road Traffic Department, and in particular, as it relates to any alleged acts of malfeasance within that Department.”

The statement reiterated the department’s zero tolerance policy toward acts of malfeasance, pointing out that “acts of malfeasance will be dealt with swiftly and uncompromisingly.”

The radical transformation in the operations at that Department through the implementation of a fully automated operational system demonstrates the department’s commitment to rid itself of this negative behavior. The statement said that this new automation “will bring about a higher degree of accountability and greater efficiency.”

15 sports legends inducted into 2015 Sports Hall of Fame

As Sports Heritage Month under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture draws to a close, fifteen Bahamian sports legends were inducted in the National Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015 during a ceremony at Government House on Thursday evening, November 19, 2015. Among the sports notables, five were inducted posthumously.

The Sports Hall of Fame committee was established by former Youth and Sports Minister the late Hon. Peter Bethel in 1989 after the inaugural Bahamas Games. Its remit was and still is to commemorate the accomplishments of Bahamian athletes, past and present, whose sports exploits have inspired our youth to strive for excellence.

The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture selected and recognized them for their contributions to the field of athletics — either as coach, sports writer or athlete.

Inductees were: Foster Bethell, softball; Kim O’Kelley, tennis; Sydney “Butts” Outten, baseball; Jim Duncombe, golf; Judy Lundy-Miller, track and field; Oralee Fowler, track and field; Linda Woodside-Major, track and field; Leslie Miller; track and field; Neville Wisdom, sports administration; Shonel L. Ferguson, track and field; Hubert Alexander Dean, sports journalism and sports administration (deceased); Anthony “Bando” Bostwick, baseball/basketball (deceased); Kenneth “Six” Francis, sports journalism and sports administration (deceased); Mizpah Archer, bowling (deceased); and Kenneth Rolle, Sr., sailing (deceased).

The Hon. Dr. Daniel Johnson, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, congratulated the 2015 Class on behalf of the people and government of The Bahamas.

The ‘Hall of Famers’ were hosted to a Reception by the Governor-General, who also presented them with citations during the ceremony.

The 15 members of the 2015 Class bring the total number of National Sports Hall of Fame inductees to over 120 persons.

In passing

On Monday of this week, the Urban Renewal Foundation hosted a National Symposium at the Holy Trinity Community Center. The theme of the symposium was “Building stronger and safer Bahamian communities.” A number of national leaders delivered presentations and participated in a large panel discussion. Invited guests included Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie; Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis; National Security Minister the Hon. Bernard Nottage; State Ministers the Hon. Arnold Forbes and Senator Keith Bell; senior government officials; students and the wider public. The Urban Renewal Band and the H.O. Nash choir were among the groups that performed for the crowd.

Minister of Social Services and Community Development the Hon. Melanie Griffin was the guest speaker at the Saint John’s College monthly Parent Teachers Association (PTA). The meeting was held on Thursday night at the school house in Stapledon Gardens.

Minister Griffin also announced the upcoming Women’s Week in a press conference on Thursday of this week. The theme for 2015 is “Women and the environment: Creating Partnerships for Sustainable Development.” Organized by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Women’s Week will be observed from 22 – 28 November 2015 where the roles women play in managing the environment will be highlighted. Events will include a service of thanksgiving at St. Mark’s Native Baptist Church in Fox Hill; an exhibition on the environment in the foyer of the Ministry of Education; a panel discussion on women and the environment and a webinar on “Adaptation to the Climate Change.”

The Department of Corrections announced this week that Correctional Services Recognition Week will be celebrated from the 29th November to the 5th December. Activities will include the Wall of Remembrance at the compound of the Department of Corrections; a parade to the Myles E. Munroe Diplomat Center where a service of thanksgiving will be held; participation in school assemblies; community outreach; retirees awards luncheon; an Art and Craft Exhibition in Pompey Square complete with the pomp and pageantry of drills by the marching band and performances by the Correctional Choir and pop band; an old school dance at the junior officers mess hall and the battle of the grill by various sections within the Corrections Department.

Captain Stephen Russell, director of NEMA, stated that all structures and homes on Acklins in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin have been assessed and quantities of building materials assigned for distribution to residents accordingly. Also, temporary homes bought by the government have been shipped from Nassau to Acklins and Crooked Island.

A Memorandum of Understanding on health was signed between the governments of The Bahamas and the People’s Republic of China. Under the agreement, the second Bright Journey Project, 116 Bahamians suffering from the ill effects of Cataracts will benefit from free eye surgery. The MOU was signed on Thursday.

A special meeting of the Court of Appeal (COA) was held on Thursday morning to recognize and honour Appellate Justices Abdulai Conteh and Neville Adderley as they both retire from the bench. Newly appointed COA Justice Stella Maureen Crane-Scott was welcomed by colleagues. The legal fraternity, politicians and senior government officials turned out to say farewell to their professional colleagues.

The ASUE Foundation in conjunction with Four Point Group Limited held a job fair at Workers House on Thursday. Participating was the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, the Water and Sewerage Corporation, and the Department of Labour. The job fair attracted scores of young people.

A Heads of Agreement was signed today in the office of the Prime Minister for another tourism based development on Bimini.

The Bahamas Press Club will honour luminaries in the field of journalism at a Gala Awards Banquet on Saturday, November 21st, 2015 at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel. The honourees are as follow: Mrs. Eileen Carron, Publisher of the Tribune (Lifetime Achievement Award); Mr. Kenneth Francis, former publisher of the Nassau Guardian will be honoured posthumously; Mr. Wendall Jones, CEO of Jones Communications International; Mr. Anthony Ferguson (Guardian Radio); ZNS Radio & Television Network; MORE 94FM and Silbert Mills of Abaco Radio will be presented with the Pioneer Awards in recognition for their contribution to media.