THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS (10 – 14 NOV 2014)
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Rev. Myles Munroe: Bahamian National Hero, gone too soon
“Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them, the fate God allots in his anger? (Job 21:17)
With so much evil all around us, this ancient question was revisited on the lips of many Bahamians in the wake of the calamity that struck in Grand Bahama where the lamp of nine righteous souls – righteous souls who ironically dedicated the better part of their adult lives to ridding evil from among us – were snuffed out on Sunday evening. As the nation wrestled with this horror, evil doers were to and fro on McCullough Corner and Market Street shedding innocent blood with apparent impunity.
Of the nine who perished was internationally renowned speaker, teacher and leadership coach, Rev Dr. Myles Munroe. His story is intrinsically linked to the Bahamian story. His beginnings were humble, but he rose to walk and talk with world leaders.
I recall Myles’ music ministry on the public parks of Bain Town where he and a group of young men hosted street meetings. This was in the 1970’s. He was a founding member of a local gospel group called the Visionaires (later renamed Al and the Visionaires).
His ministry continued during his education at Oral Roberts University where he would preach at local churches in Nassau during summer breaks
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. I heard one of his earlier sermons at the Golden Gates Assemblies of God Church where he and Bishop Roston Davis were friends and colleagues.
His rise to international prominence was not meteoric, but through dedication, hard work, vision and faith he would advise world leaders and train a generation of leaders at home and abroad. He became one of the most recognizable Bahamian exports and we gladly and proudly shared him with the world.
In the prime of his life and at the height of his popularity and influence, the end of his earthly sojourn was officially recorded this way.
“The Department of Civil Aviation has confirmed that a Lear 36 Executive Jet which departed Lynden Pindling International Airport for Grand Bahama International Airport at 4:07pm with nine souls on board, crashed while making an approach for landing at Grand Bahama International Airport at 5:10pm.”
Dr. Munroe, his wife and seven others were on their way to participate in a leadership conference. May their souls Rest in Peace.
Mitchell Responds to Campbell
“I’m asking all, all cruises and all tourists, to make sure every industry boycotts the Bahamas to end discrimination against Haitian children, Campbell stated “Boycott Bahamas! Boycott Bahamas! Boycott Bahamas!”
These were the words of Daphne Campbell, a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives from the 108th District, while addressing the media in Little Haiti. She was responding to a Bahamas government policy that she claimed discriminated against Haitian children.
In a swift and terse response, Bahamas Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell branded the attack as foolish and baseless lies almost unworthy of a response.
“The comments of the State representative are foolish and are so baseless as to almost bear no response. However, it is important for the record to say that the allegations made about The Bahamas and its policies as it relates to children made by this representative are lies.”
The Prime Minister Addresses BICA
Two important issues Prime Minister Christie touched on during the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Seminar were the recent layoffs at Baha Mar (which occurred on Friday, Nov 7) and the implementation of a National Health Insurance (NHI) Scheme.
Conceding the limitations of government regarding private contractual agreements, he blasted the layoffs as “unfair” and indicated the need for greater employee protection in future negotiated Heads of Agreements.
“…we have to have a balanced approach between the rights of the employer and most certainly, the rights of the employee. I think that we must put in the (Heads of) Agreements the necessary protection for the workers and that that provision should be enforceable in a strong way” said the Prime Minister. According to Vice President Robert Sands, about 100 of the laid off workers were offered positions at Melia.
Turning his attention to National Health Insurance (NHI), Christie said “it’s not a question of whether we should (but when we should). We have three options. Stage 1 is about $350-$360 million. Stage 2 takes over $500 million, and stage 3 is just over $600 million.”
The phased in approach is preferred explained the Prime Minister because the economic impact of a “one shot” implementation would be too great for the private health care industry bear.
The seminar was held at the Melia Resort on Tuesday Nov 11. The seminar’s theme was “Nation Building, Serving our Community and Profession.”
Key Components of Disability Legislation Become Law
The Government of The Bahamas announced this week that it had moved quickly to “bring into force” six major components of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Act, 2014, with effect from November 3, 2014.
This was announced by Social Services Minister, Hon. Melanie Griffin at a press conference on Wednesday.
The legislation was passed by both chambers of the House in July, 2014 and was assented to by Governor-General, Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling on August 12, 2014.
The six components to be implemented include all sections of Parts I and II; Sections 24-26 of Part III; Section 34 of Part IV; All Sections of Part VI and Sections 43-45, 47-51 and 53-55.
Of particular import is Section II of the bill which establishes the National Commission for Disability. This 15 member commission will oversee the implementation of the disability legislation.
Prime Minister Launches RFP for Liberalization of Cellular Sector
In launching the Request for Proposal (RFP) for a second Cellular Network Operator, Prime Minister Christie explained the competitive selection process and that it was necessary to maintain transparency, thus the integrity of the selection process.
“The competitive selection process that will be adopted for the award of a second cellular licence is a two-phased approach, involving a technical and financial assessment in Phase I and a spectrum auction in Phase II. Only those applicants that satisfy the minimum criteria of Phase I will be allowed to participate in Phase II. The Successful Applicant in the end will be the one which acquires the highest combined score of the scores derived in Phase I and Phase II.”
The election campaign pledge was announced at a press conference held at the Hilton on Wednesday of this week.
Going further, the Prime Minister explained that his government’s selection approach was also designed to “strike the right balance of optimizing the revenue from allocating rights to valuable spectrum, with its broader objectives of promoting competition, investment and innovation in the cellular mobile market.”
The Task Force has projected a timeframe for the selection of a successful candidate within six (6) months, i.e. by the end of April 2015.
BAMSI Delivers First Fruits To The Prime Minister
Moving full speed ahead with its plans to reduce the $1 billion national food bill and create a measure of local food security, BAMSI began the marketing phase of its agricultural products with a presentation of its ‘first fruits’ from its tutorial commercial farm to Prime Minister Christie at his Cable Beach office on Wednesday afternoon.
Beaming with pride as he conducted the presentation of a sample of Papayas was President of BAMSI, HE Godfrey Eneas. The sample was part of 1,500 pounds of harvested Papaya to be delivered to Solomon’s Supermarket within days.
“We are on the road to feeding The Bahamas” said the decidedly bullish BAMSI President on the future prospects of the institute he presides over. “We are on the road to cutting back on that huge food import bill of a $1 billion and they are in the process of producing sustainable, high quality commodity which will satisfy the demand of our consumers, the demand of the hotel industry and also (it) will enable us to engage in export marketing.”
Expanding on the overall policy objective of BAMSI, Prime Minister Christie said that in addition to the commercial expectations of the institute, BAMSI has an important academic mandate, especially in the field of research.
“We are also trying to produce graduates and that the intention is for us to produce trained minds in agriculture who will go on to work in some of the farms in The Bahamas and go on to own some of the farms. That is the purpose and the intent” said the Prime Minister.
Concurring with PM Christie, Education Minister Fitzgerald said that he is looking forward to the government offering assistance to graduates in helping them in realizing their dreams in the sector.
OPBAT Receives A Prestigious Award
Bahamas Government Ministers joined US officials in attending the 2013 USIC Award ceremony and roundtable discussion on Thursday morning at the SuperClub Breezes Resort. They were National Security Minister Hon. Bernard J. Nottage; Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Fred Mitchell; Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Sen. Allyson Maynard-Gibson and State Minister for National Security Sen. Keith Bell.
On had from the US side were the U.S. Interdiction Coordinator (USIC) and representatives from The Interdiction Committee (TIC). This first-ever and prestigious 2013 USIC Award in the Joint Operations category was presented to Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) in recognition of significant contributions to the continuing effort “to counter the increasing international and asymmetric threat posed by the trafficking of narcotics and other illicit substances” according to the local US embassy.
Award presenter, Senior White House official Marilyn Quagliotti, Deputy Director of Supply Reduction in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, had high praises and words of encouragement for the OPBAT personnel.
“The sustained dedication, motivation and superior performance of OPBAT personnel have directly contributed to disrupting the conveyance of illicit narcotics and denying a significant percentage of the critical stream of revenue used to support transitional criminal organizations, insurgencies and terrorism” said Quagliotti.
Commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Elliston Greenslade and Commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defence (RBDF) Force Roderick Bowe received the award on behalf of their respective organizations.
Hanna-Martin Proposes A Nassau Air Transport Hub
“My government invested $400 million in the newly completed Lynden Pindling International Airport. At present, it is only handling half of its capacity. It has a U.S. Pre-Clearance facility. We believe that there is an opportunity to partner with one of you to develop a Nassau hub.”
Those were the words of Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin as she made the case for Nassau as a regional air transport hub during an address to delegates attending the Latin America and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) Forum for airline leaders.
“Have you considered Nassau as yet?” asked the Minister. “Perhaps the time has come. We would like for you to begin to see Nassau not only as a possible termination point for your flights; but as a spring board to new route development opportunities,” she said.
Avoiding long delays in Miami and extending route networks to North American gateways more seamlessly and perhaps more cost-effectively were some of the additional strategic advantages of a Nassau hub according to the Minister.
Hanna-Martin also suggested to airline leaders that perhaps the time had come to discard the industry’s existing airlift model with the built-in Minimum Revenue Guarantee (MRG) as this model was unproductive and placed both the destination and the airline at a disadvantage.
“More often than not, ALTA delegates, I believe that we have allowed old, unproductive airline models to hold sway, to our mutual disadvantage” said the Minister.
The Forum was held November 12 – 14 at the Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island.
After a long illness and a very long and fruitful life, former Majority Rule Cabinet Minister, Parliamentarian, freedom fighter and professional Accountant Warren J. Levarity passed away on Sunday in hospital. Condolences go out to his wife Vera and their five children.
The Inaugural KING ERIC GIBSON REGATTA was announced by son and Labour Minister, the Hon. D. Shane Gibson during a press conference held at the Bahama Grill on Wednesday. The regatta is scheduled for January 2015.
The inaugural SIR CLIFFORD DARLING ART EXHIBITION was officially opened by Labour Minister Hon. D. Shane Gibson on Wednesday at the National Insurance Board offices that bear his name. The exhibition is an illustration of the work and life of the man who implemented National Insurance in 1974. His widow, Lady Ingrid Darling was on hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon.
With an equal split between public and private schools, forty-six students were inducted into the teacher-cadet program. It is hoped that these tenth graders from fourteen schools will enter the 2017 fall semester of the School of Education at the College of The Bahamas to begin their training in the “noble profession”. Good luck guys.
To mark road safety month, a tree was planted on JFK Drive in honour of traffic victims during a short ceremony on Wednesday led by State Minister for Transport and Aviation Hon. Hope Strachan.
Transport and Aviation Minister Hanna-Martin met with Jet-Ski operators on Thursday evening to discuss the current state of and future prospects for the industry. Customer service, safety and security were some of the issues discussed.
Former Governors-General held a panel discussion on Thursday evening to share with the public their experiences, duties and responsibilities as representatives of the crown. Comprising the panel were Sir Orville Turnquest, Dame Ivy Dumont, Arthur D. Hanna and Sir Arthur Foulkes and they covered their experiences from the period 1995 to 2014. Under the theme “A Governor General’s view from Mount Fitzwilliam,” this historic event was held at the Bahamas Historic Society and Museum.
Continuing with his public education campaign on the new Immigration policies that came into effect on Saturday Nov 1, Immigration Minister Mitchell traveled to Grand Bahama today (Friday) to meet with local pastors at the Freeport Bible Church to discuss immigration and the misinformation surrounding the enforcement of this law. Pastors from the Haitian community and local social activist Joe Darville were among those in attendance. The host pastor was the Rev. Wilbur Outten.