ELCOTT COLEBY ( 2nd to 6th FEBRUARY 2015)
viagra usa cialis times;”>PM talks ownership and energy at Bahamas Economic Outlook
physician times;”>In delivering his keynote address at the inaugural Bahamas Economic Outlook sponsored by the Fidelity Group of companies, sovaldi Prime Minister Christie covered the broad and familiar national themes of Bahamas GDP growth, public finances, foreign investment and employment. He delivered this address on Tuesday, 3rd February 2015.
Even though the conference theme was “Think: Growth-Global Opportunities-Can we compete?,” the media focused on the Prime Minister’s progressive rhetoric about the loan practices of local banks creating what he called “modern day slavery.” Beyond that however, Mr. Christie touched on five significant areas he deemed critical to the country’s growth and global competitiveness in the near to medium term. They were Economic Diversification and Access to Credit, Energy Security and Sufficiency, Safety and Security, Planning & Infrastructure development, and Education.
I wish to focus on just two of them.
Mr. Christie told delegates that through the country’s economic diversification model, we must develop “sustainably”…“for the benefit of our people” through a “model of shared ownership and control in key sectors and for key assets” in the Bahamian economy. He used the outcome for BTC 2% majority share negations, the strategic partnership for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), the entrepreneurial opportunities connected with Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival and the establishment of the Bahamas Agriculture Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) as tangible examples of the philosophy of his government’s policy thrust.
On energy security and efficiency, the Prime Minister made three significant points here.
First was the need to “bringing more private sector knowledge and expertise to bear in this sector.” Second was the Bahamas’ success in getting the United States to rescind its policy of using a country’s GDP as qualifying criteria for accessing loans at concessionary rates through the Inter-American Bank (IDB) and the third significant point was the commitment of the US Government to “provide direct support on Caribbean energy initiatives through its Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)” said Mr. Christie.
The Prime Minister continued that “this (the arrangement with the OPIC) therefore increases the range of possibilities for us as we advance our own private sector oriented process in The Bahamas.”
Bahamas Foreign Ministry responds to the New York Times
In its immediate response to a Saturday, 31st January New York Times (NYT) front page article on Bahamas Immigration authored by Frances Robles, the Bahamas Foreign Ministry pointed out at least five material inaccuracies in the NYT article.
According to the statement, the caption of the photo on the front page of the NYT with two students attending school in The Bahamas clearly misled the reader into believing that for children born in the Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents, the adoption of their parents’ citizenship was the direct result of the new administrative measures. The statement said that this characterization was materially inaccurate.
“First, the caption to the photo purportedly showing two children in The Bahamas who were born to non-Bahamian parents gives the impression that the citizenship of their parents which they take at birth is as a result of a new policy. This is not so. The 1973 Bahamas Independence Constitution clearly states that as at 10th July 1973 (the date of our independence) persons born in The Bahamas to parents who are non-Bahamians are not Bahamians and must take on the citizenship of their parents. The constitution further states that upon their 18th birthday (but before their 19th birthday) they are eligible to apply for Bahamian citizenship but only an entitlement to apply. It does not confer an immigration status upon them. They therefore require a residency permit or work permit.”
The New York Times later conceded to the error and retracted the caption, claiming it was due to an “editing error.” The correction in the NYT read as follows:
“Because of an editing error, a picture caption on Saturday for an article about a new immigration policy in the Bahamas that critics say unfairly targets Haitians misstated the effects of the policy on the two boys shown, born in the Bahamas but of Haitian descent. The boys have always been considered Haitian; that is not among the policy changes. (The new policy requires everyone to hold a passport, and as of next fall will also require all schoolchildren who are not citizens to have a student residency permit.)”
Another statement released by the Bahamas Foreign Ministry in response to the NYT correction indicated that “the Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell speaking in Barbados on Tuesday night to Bahamian students welcomed the correction, said that he did not think that it went far enough but he felt that the New York Times, having conceded and admitted the error, the whole story by the New York Times collapses.”
Tourism Minister dismisses opposition stance on Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival
Characterizing Hon. Dr. Minnis’ opposition to Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival as a “narrow perspective” and suggesting that the opposition leader learn his “role” in governance, Tourism Minister Hon. Obie chastised Dr. Minnis over his leadership style – a style he believes cultivates national division.
“I think as the leader of the opposition he would be better off if he would find ways to unite the country and stop from being a member of a group that wishes to divide the country.”
Minister Wilchombe went to recount how over the past thirty-one months, Dr. Minnis has said “no to almost everything and only if the wind is blowing in a particular direction would he say yes. Leadership requires you to lead.”
“The Westminster model is simple” said Wilchcombe, “you are supposed to assist in governance with the understanding that subsequent to the period of time that the government serves, you will again fight an election.”
The Minister went on to say that “what we see is a constant effort to divide the country. It is time for leaders to unite our country.”
LPIA gets automated passport system
The Lynden Pindling International Airport’s (LPIA) reached another milestone in its continued development when the country’s premier gateway officially went live with its Automated Passport Control (APC) system; this was Monday, 2nd February. This new technology will allow US-bound travelers to be processed up to four times faster.
In a press statement, the Nassau Airport Development (NAD) Company stated that officials expect the new technology – available in only one other airport in the Caribbean – to go a long way in slashing wait times, improving the airport’s efficiency and ultimately providing a more enjoyable experience for millions of visitors passing through the U.S. pre-clearance facility at LPIA.
Provided by Vancouver Airport Authority, BorderXpress Automated Passport Control is a self-service kiosk technology, which enables U.S. and Canadian passport holders and other eligible travelers to complete a portion of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) inspection process electronically, expediting the border clearance process.
“APC will greatly improve our ability to process passengers through the airport. The demand for the destination continues to grow and with more than 3.2 million passengers traveling through LPIA on an annual basis, we want to ensure that their experience at our airport is a positive one,” explains Vernice Walkine, President & CEO at Nassau Airport Development Company. “Making the investment in 20 APC kiosks just makes sense from a passenger management perspective as the move will drastically reduce wait times in an area impacting more than 80% of our total airport traffic. The technology will benefit the destination for years to come.”
Debate continues on the Tripartite Bill
House debate resumed on Wednesday on the National Tripartite Council Bill, 2014. This bill was initially tabled in 2014, but as a result of the direct request of “our Social Partners,” said the Labour Minister, “namely the National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Trade Union Congress and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, this Bill was withdrawn and redrafted to provide for greater clarity.”
Leading off the debate was Labour Minister Hon. D. Shane Gibson who told House members that the bill is about social dialogue or consultation among stakeholders pursuant to the ratified ILO convention 144 on Tripartite Consultations to Promote the Implementation of International Labour Standards. The Bahamas ratified that ILO convention on the 16th August 1979.
What the government is seeking to achieve with this bill is to institutionalize the consultative process on labour issues pursuant to articles of the ILO convention.
“I am proud to say that we are making good on that promise by formalizing a system of Tripartite Consultation” said Minister Gibson in his contribution.
The Minister went further: “Further, Article 3 of this Convention provides for the representatives of employers and workers to be freely chosen by their representative organizations and for employers and workers to be represented on an equal footing on any bodies through which consultations are undertaken.”
New road for North Andros
The Government of The Bahamas engaged Bethell’s Trucking and Heavy Equipment to reconstruct some 9.7 miles of the main road from the San Andros Airport to the major crossing south of the BAMSI site. The contract was officially executed on Thursday morning at the Ministry of Works during a press conference hosted by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, Hon. Philip Brave Davis.
Mr. Davis outlined the cost and scope of the public works to reporters:
“Resulting from the negotiations, the award of a contract in the base sum of $7,106,801.87 to Bethell’s Trucking and Heavy Equipment to undertake the road works was approved. The scope of works is as follows:
- Clearing 113,813 square yards of verge
- Scarifying 113,813 square yards of existing pavement
- Procuring and shaping 147,957 square yards of fill material
- Procuring and placing 136,576 square yards of asphaltic concrete
- Installing line marking and signage
- Installing culverts and wing walls”
Providing an update on the overall public works plan for North Andros, the Deputy Prime Minister said that this contract was only the beginning of a phased public works project covering some 79.3 miles of settlement and main roads covering both North and Central Andros.
“For North and Central Andros, this marks only the beginning of phased road works. As early as 2013, technical officers in my Ministry re-scoped 79.3 miles of settlement and main roads in North and Central Andros for repair and reconstruction, including the settlement roads and upgrade of the water distribution mains in Mastic Point and Nicholls Town.”
The road works are expected to take 6 months to complete and create as much as fifty jobs.
PM at IB&F Summit
The 12th annual International Business and Finance Summit kicked off with its CEO dinner at the Grand Lucayan Hotel on Thursday night in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie delivered the keynote address and charge.
In addressing the leaders in the financial services industry under the theme, “Creating a New Legacy,” Mr. Christie wasted no time in articulating his government’s expectations coming out of the summit meetings in addition to delivering his charge to the delegates.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the discussions that you will have at this meeting over the course of the next few days will enable the government officials attending this conference, as policy makers, to plan strategically to ensure the future and sustainability of the industry – the second pillar of The Bahamian economy and one of the economic drivers of The Bahamian middle class.” The Prime Minister therefore implored delegates “to think deeply, discuss passionately and work in partnership with us to significantly grow the financial services sector and maintain a position as one of the world’s premier financial jurisdictions.”
The Prime Minister argued that in creating a new legacy, it was necessary to draw from our past. Additionally, he challenged business leaders to embrace change and fully recognize and utilize the human resource and specialist skills represented in the industry.
Speaking specifically of the theme ‘change, legacy creation and vision,’ the Prime Minister pointed out the new products and services recently negotiated with the government of China.
“For in addition to gaining agreements relating to strategic air access and collaborative research, we secured an agreement in principle for The Bahamas to operate as a Remnimbi trading and (debt) settlement hub. We must now exploit the full potential of these arrangements in our financial services, tourism, agri-business, manufacturing, shipping and other commercial components of our economy” said Mr. Christie.
Other presenters at the summit include Financial Services and Immigration Ministers Hon. Hope Strachan and the Hon. Fred Mitchell.
Tragedy struck when police officer Rio Demeritte was killed Monday morning in a traffic accident on John F. Kennedy Drive when he lost control of his motorcycle, crashing into a utility pole. Demeritte was escorting the body of former Turks and Caicos House of Assembly speaker Ms. Rosita Beatrice Missick-Butterfield to the airport for a turnover ceremony to Turks and Caicos authorities at Odyssey Aviation. Ms. Butterfield died at Doctor’s Hospital in Nassau on January 10.
Senior Justice Hartman Longley was sworn in as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on Monday, 2nd Feb at Government House by Governor-General Dame Marguerite Pindling. He replaced Sir Michael Barnett who retired on the 31st January 2015.
Speaking to the media in the margins after theswearing in ceremony of the newChief Justice, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Sen. Allyson Maynard-Gibson confirmed a backlog of some 600 cases and expressed hope that the ten criminal courts that will become fully operational by March of this year will go a long way in resolving that vexing challenge to the judiciary and prove to be a big help to the incoming Chief Justice.
The first major international sporting event to take place this year in The Bahamas was the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Golf Classic. In its third year as a prime sports tourism product offering, this $1.3 million golf tournament teed off on the 18-hole Ocean Club Golf Club Course on Paradise Island on 2nd February 2015. The classic will conclude on the 8th February.
With the mandatory registration process well advanced beyond the November 30th 2014 deadline as established in the law, the Value Added Tax (VAT) Department began issuing fines and warnings on Tuesday, 3rd February to nearly 200 businesses with declared turnover above the $100,000 threshold that submitted late applications. The Department however claimed it has been lenient during the transition period.
Donald W. Davis Junior High School and the T.A. Thompson Junior High School were periodically closed this week and thoroughly sanitized and exterminated after a number of reported cases of the skin disease scabies were identified. Ministry of Health and Education officials were working feverishly together to contain this outbreak. The President of the Bahamas Union Teachers called on parents to examine their children for symptoms of this highly contagious skin disease.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Sen. Allyson Maynard-Gibson told the media that the government was taking the $300,000 BEC bribe investigation very seriously and that speculative public commentary on the matter could harm the future of the government’s probe.
Under the theme “My future begins with me,” Junior Achievement Month was launched at Jacaranda House on Monday, 2nd February
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. Among the activities planned to celebrate JA Month are T-shirt day, community projects and “Let’s Talk about Our Future.”
The ‘Grand Celebration’ cruise liner arrived in Freeport Harbour from West Palm Beach, Florida on Wednesday morning (4th Feb) at 7:45am after an almost four-month absence. Officials from the Ministry of Tourism, along with Customs and Immigration personnel, rolled out the red carpet for the 1,083 passengers on board the ship. Two hundred and forty-eight of them are stop-over visitors. The newly-renovated ocean liner has 10 public decks, 750 large cabins and terrace suites, with more than 60 percent of the suites offering an ocean view. This represents more good news for the economy of Grand Bahama.
In an effort to establish compliance with the newly-implemented Value Added Tax (VAT) and at the same time protect consumers from over-pricing, Price Control Inspectors with the Consumer Welfare Unit led by Price Commission Chairman Dr. E. J. Bowe and Chief Inspector McKenzie visited various food stores on Wednesday, February 4. The inspectors indicated violations and warned and reminded merchants of possible fines or prosecution if stores are not found in compliance by the March 31 deadline set by the government.
Bahamas Governor General, HE Dame Marguerite Pindling hosted members of the media to a luncheon at Government House on Mount Fitzwilliam on Wednesday afternoon. The meeting was consistent with a pledge Dame Marguerite made to the nation during her swearing-in ceremony as Governor General. She pledged to promote peace and national unity by reaching out to all of civil society to find ways to build The Bahamas as one people.