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Hanna-Martin: more air service agreements signed; more to come.
The International Civil Aviation Negotiation Conference (ICAN) is scheduled to be held in Nassau from the 5th to the 9th of December and according to Transport and Aviation Minister the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, the more than one thousand delegates from one hundred member countries and ten member organizations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) promise to directly and positively impact the local economy. Additionally, the Minister said that the government is scheduled to sign some very important air service agreements during the conference.

The partner countries are Qatar, Singapore, Kuwait, Brazil and Curacao.
“The team will start new negotiations with twenty additional countries from around the world” said the Minister. She pointed out that during the recent Thirty-Ninth General Assembly of the ICAN in Canada, The Bahamas signed two “monumental” air service agreements between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

These agreements according to the minister allow for scheduled flights between The Bahamas and those two countries and create the potential for negotiated codeshare agreements between our airlines and tour operators and airlines from Turkey and the UAE.

Maynard-Gibson on the digital economy: “Government must lead by example”
Speaking at a ministerial roundtable this week in Thailand about the role of government in the era of the digital economy, Bahamas Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney-General Senator Allyson Maynard-Gibson told delegates that government must lead by example in igniting the spark that will create an explosion in digital entrepreneurship.

The ministerial roundtable was sponsored by the International Telecommunications Union.

“What then is the role of Governments in igniting the spark that will create an explosion of creative digital entrepreneurship” asked the minister rhetorically.

“Our Prime Minister believes that the Government must lead by example. We are committed to e-Government and to defining what it means to be declared, by
ITU, the world’s first Smart Island in the Western hemisphere (which we interpret as the world’s first smart archipelago).”

The Attorney General listed a number of local digital initiatives to support this policy position, from e-passports, a mobile passport unit, e-court systems, especially videoconferencing and telemedicine to a number of online government services including online company incorporations, the online submission of annual returns and annual fees and the issuance of certified birth certificates.

“As you can imagine” said the minister, “this has resulted in significant savings in time and money.”

Maynard continued, listing the liberalization of internet and other communications services, the teaching of Coding in Bahamian schools, the public private sector partnership “Girls in ITC Day” as just a snapshot of the Bahamas Government’s “focus on 21st century national development – a SMART Bahamas” said the Attorney General.

The Bahamas is scheduled to host the ITU’s Global Symposium for Regulators
(GSR) at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Nassau, from 14 to 17 July 2017.

In passing…
On Sunday, the lifeless body of former bodybuilder and restaurateur Albert Rahming was found in his car on the Montagu foreshore. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Signs posted in the Accident and Emergency Department at the Princess Margaret Hospital over the weekend that indicated patients would be charged a $250 service fee have been removed, according to the Public Hospital Authority.

FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis on Sunday denied being privy to an alleged “secret deal” between the FNM and Chinese officials for the agricultural development of thousands of acre of land in Abaco seven years ago, calling the claims by Agriculture Minister V Alfred Gray nothing but “excessive excuses” and “sideshow distractions”.

Three members of Mount Tabor Baptist Church were robbed at gunpoint of a “large amount of cash, suspected to be the church’s offering collection, and cell phones yesterday.

Bahamians, aged 18 to 25 make up the largest group of registered voters, far outstripping any other age bracket, less than six months ahead of the 2017 general election, according to data provided by the Parliamentary Registration Department.

Members of the Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church in Pinewood were robbed in the church’s parking lot sometime around 12:30pm on Sunday, said Assistant Commissioner of Police Stephen Dean.

The Minister of Tourism has reiterated that The Bahamas is open for visitor business despite the continued rebuilding in Hurricane Matthew’s wake.

The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) issued coupons worth $1,000 to 25 Bahamians on Friday, the start of a programme to provide relief to the hundreds of people who suffered significant damage to their homes from Hurricane Matthew.

Emmanuel Komolafe noted that the BIA has commenced the collation of industry data in order to conduct a detailed economic assessment of the impact of Hurricane Matthew. Noting that with thousands of claims post Matthew, most have been settled and the process will continue in the weeks ahead.

A recent report warned that disaster relief shortfalls financed through debt may endanger the debt position of some small island developing states (SIDS) – the report was titled “Climate and Disaster Resilience Financing in Small Island States.”

Two environmental organizations are calling on Carnival Cruise Lines to abandon plans to build a $200m cruise port in East End, Grand Bahama, citing the area as “one of the most fragile and important ecological wonders of The Bahamas.”

The Securities Commission of The Bahamas hosted regulators from 18 jurisdictions in the Americas to discuss supervisory matters, further developing the capital markets regulator’s regional and international profile.

The Water and Sewage Corporation has signed a $2.4 million contract with Island Site Development to rehabilitate key wastewater infrastructure in New Providence. The contract signing follows a tender process that started in June 2016.

Prime Minister Perry Christie hailed the opening of an office for the country’s second cellular mobile services operator NewCo (aliv) on Friday as putting “a definitive stamp” on the now liberalized communications sector. The increasing concerns over cyber security opens up opportunities for IT graduates, as one promising Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute student is finding. The opening created thirty jobs.

The Bahamas’ existing legislative and “material capacity constraints” will not support the proposed $2.1 billion agri-fisheries venture with Chinese investors, with local university professors charging that the country’s marine resources could be “decimated” within a decade if the proposal is introduced without the necessary legislative framework.

A group of 18 of the country’s sporting icons joined a fraternity of elite company when they were inducted as new members to the National Sports Hall of Fame.

The Antigua Observer reported on Prime Minister Christie’s statements during the Charter Ceremony for the University of The Bahamas, where he urged the nation’s young people to take full advantage of the university’s opportunities and to “collectively work towards the building of a better, more modern, more relevant, more upwardly striving and sustainable Bahamas.”

The PHA said on Sunday that the 20 percent increase in spending with Bahamian pharmaceutical wholesalers over a two-year period proves that fears it is intent on “wiping out” the industry are groundless.

The Government did the “next best thing” to directly procure certain pharmaceuticals, according to president of The Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association Michelle Finlayson.

The Government will seek to have the precautionary measures set by the Organization of American States’ human rights arm for the protection of five Bahamian environmental lobbyists modified or lifted on the grounds that the men misrepresented and sensationalized their allegations to gain international attention.

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V Alfred Gray on Monday dismissed a call made by FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis for him to table in Parliament a “secret deal” Gray claimed the FNM administration entered into in 2009 with China Shandong Expressway Investment Holding Company Limited for an agricultural development involving 10,000 acres of land in Abaco free of charge.

I.C.S. Security Concepts has lost its contract for the tracking of suspects on bail, the company’s CEO Stephen Greenslade confirmed to the Nassau Guardian on Tuesday.

The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants is in talks with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to resolve challenges encountered by members in maintaining their US State Board memberships, its president said this week.

The Martin Town Primary School was dismissed early on Monday when disgruntled teachers staged a sit-in at the school in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama over the long delay over repairs following Hurricane Matthew. The 22 teachers and the administrative staff were supported by their respective unions. The teachers requested an urgent meeting with Minister of Education School Superintendent Mary Cooper and Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville concerning the start of school repairs.

Dense black smoke billowed over parts of Fox Hill this week, the result of furniture, appliances and other items being set ablaze just feet away from homes in St. Anne’s Estates off Prince Charles Drive.

The Central Bank has introduced its Nassau $10 Silver Proof coin, the second in five- coin series celebrating the uniqueness of the islands of The Bahamas.

The Bahamas International Film Festival’s founder said she was left “embarrassed”, and felt “taken for a ride”, after Jamie Dingman failed to deliver on his promised acquisition of the organization.

During his address at the launch ceremony, FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis revealed his plans to tackle energy reform in the country through the implementation of a national solar power initiative. The initiatives announced by the Dr. Minnis are contained in the National Energy Policy released by the Bahamas government in August 2014, the eve of Earth Day commemorated by the United Nations.

The FNM’s Pinewood Gardens Consistency Association has branded the party “deceitful” and “disrespectful” amid accusations that the FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis broke assurances of support for talk show host Lincoln Bain as the party’s standard bearer for this seat and chose Reuben Rahming, as the candidate for the 2017 general election.

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe believes the Christie administration has contributed to the decrease in crime in the country despite a string of murders in New Providence this week. While speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Wilchcombe said addressing the crime problem should not only fall on the shoulders of the government, but all Bahamians collectively.

Despite recording three murders and several “serious” shooting incidents in 48 hours, Officer in Charge of the Central Detective Unit, Chief Superintendent Clayton Fernander said the public has “no need to be afraid”.

Jamaican reggae star Jah Cure found himself in the Magistrate’s Court this week accused of committing a misdemeanor that stemmed from an argument captured on video and shared thousands of times on social media.

BPL has resumed disconnections of past due accounts, Cooperate Communications Manager Arnette Ingraham confirmed on Tuesday.

The Central Bank’s chief inspector warned that 25 percent of its licensees will find it “difficult” to maintain existing correspondent banking relationships, even though the Bahamas has not been exposed to “wholesale vulnerability” yet.

A former financial services industry regulator shot down suggestions this week that the UK’s impending exit from the European Union would remove the regulatory competitive advantage several of the Bahamas’ rival international financial centres have enjoyed.

Partner at Graham Thompson Co, the Hon. Ryan Pinder said in his opinion, the cache of 1.3 million files leaked from The Bahamas’ corporate registry in September by the international Consortium of Investigative Journalists was “much ado about nothing” but suggested that the Bahamas government can sue to recover the $13 million in Companies Registry search fees owed by the international journalists’ group responsible for the ‘Bahamas paper leak’. He also said that if The Bahamas becomes established as a trading hub for Chinese currency, it would help to broaden and further grow The Bahamas’ financial services sector, according to Ryan Pinder, partner at law firm Graham Thompson.

The Securities Commission of The Bahamas hosted securities regulators from 18 Jurisdictions across the Americas to discuss cross-cutting securities regulatory matters, further developing the capital market regulator’s regional and international profile.

Former Managing Director of the Turks and Caicos Financial Services Commission Kevin Higgins expressed concerns about the impact of Brexit on The Bahamas’ two leading industries: tourism and financial services. He expressed his concerns while speaking at the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants’ (BICA) Accountants’ Week event on Tuesday of this week.

Despite the constant efforts of workers to bring the country to a state of normalcy following Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Relief Coordinator and Golden Gates MP Shane Gibson yesterday admitted that it would be a “long time” before island assessments are completed and even longer before repairs are completed.

With the 2017 general election just a few months away, Public Accountants Committee Chairman Hubert Chipman suggested it is unlikely that the committee will complete it investigations into the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute, Junkanoo Carnival spending and the government’s tax concessions to Baha Mar.

Voter registration has picked up in recent weeks following public expressions of concern about low registration rate, Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall this week.

The Trades Union Congress’s president said it was “highly unlikely” that the controversial labour law reforms will be enacted before the upcoming general election, with little progress in negotiations at the National Tripartite Council.

Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder and regional bishops who make the Antilles Episcopal Conference are urging governments to work toward the abolition of the death penalty in the region. The bishop also called on the Bahamas government to abolish the death penalty and focus of offender rehabilitation.

Police said on Thursday night that four out of seven men wanted for questioning in relation to recent murders turned themselves into the Central Detective Unit.

FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest, who is the Official Opposition’s representative on the Constituencies Commission, suggested that no new constituencies should be added and highlighted the need for an independent boundaries commission.

Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller on Wednesday accused BPL Company Ltd of “increasing customers’ light bills” in order to pay “millions of dollars” to the “foreigners” who came to assist with the restoration process after Hurricane Matthew.

Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis shot back at Miller’s comments on Thursday from Harbour Island where he was inspecting new electricity infrastructure, branding the claims as “nonsense and stressing that power bills have been decreased by nearly 40 per cent since the PLP took office in May 2012.

Contracting the deadly Zika virus has capped months of “neglect” and “very little” action by Department of Environmental Health officials in Acklins, according to an island resident who called the government’s anti-Zika campaign there a “disgrace”.

President of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union Bernard Evans said on Thursday that any job redundancies at BTC linked to projected losses as a result of the entry of mobile competitor by workers.

Elcott Coleby
Deputy Director
Bahamas Information Services