THIS WEEK IN THE BAHAMAS (7 DECEMBER – 11 DECEMBER 2015) BY ELCOTT COLEBY
buy viagra there times;”>
cialis cialis times;”>This day in Parliament
Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie delivered his fourth update to the House on hurricane restoration efforts in the south east Bahamas. He said in each of his three previous updates – October 7th, October 21st and November 4th – he provided incremental updates on where the country was in terms of the recovery.
The Prime Minister proposed the options to advance “soft or non-interest bearing loans so that individuals might replace their vessels and other fishing apparatus” in response to the decimation of the fishing sector.
Turning his attention to housing, Mr. Christie provided a listing by island of the 31 homes to be replaced based on government assessments to date:
- 2 x 1 bed
- 2 x 3 bed
- Crooked Island/ Long Cay
- Total: 4
- 5 x 1 bed
- 2 x 2 bed
- 5 x 3 bed
- Long Island
- Total: 12
- 4 x 1 bed
- 2 x 2 bed
- 5 x 3 bed
- 1 x 1 bed
- 2 x 2 bed
- 1 x 3 bedTotal Replacements: 31 homes
- Total: 4
Regarding the cost of repairs to damaged homes, Mr. Christie revealed that to date 90 homes have been repaired and 11 are still under repair. Expenditure on material he said amounted to $574,037 and labor amounted to $51,326.23.
Finally, the Prime Minister provided an update on the number and dollar value of the applications filed under the current exigency order:
Building Materials, Electrical, Plumbing, etc. – 27 applications totaling.………$771,459.25
Vehicles – 7 applications totaling.……………………………………………………………..$58,605.00
Business, Faith Based Groups, etc. – 5 applications totaling.……………………….$33,348.35
Grand Total of 39 applications processed to date totaling………….……………..$863,412.60
Tourism Minister the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe updated the House on meetings held in London with major investors in Freeport about major projects in various stages of development on the island of Grand Bahama. The discussions he said were also pursuant to the current status of specific tax exemptions (related to real property, capital gains and income concessions) contained in the Hawksbill Creek Agreement (HCA) that are currently under review.
The Member for West End and Bimini explained to the House that the executives of Hutchison Port Holdings and CK Property Holdings “shared some of the same concerns raised by the Government. They had invested one billion dollars in Freeport and had not realized a satisfactory return on their investment. Their hotels particularly were sustaining heavy losses nevertheless they kept meeting the shortfall and kept the hotels opened without laying off staff.”
Further, explained the Minister, the Hutchison principals felt that commitment to further investment in Grand Bahama including the Phase V expansion of the Container Port, the development of a logistics centre and the development of their extensive real estate holdings, “would require certainty on the extension of the expiring real property tax, capital gains and income concessions.”
Wilchcombe said the discussions focused on the following 8 current investment projects in Grand Bahama:
- Early start of expansion of container port and related facilities.
- Pursuing with partners the development of the Air/Sea Business Logistics centre.
- Upgrade of the International Airport and securing an operator.
- Waiver of Exclusivity regarding cruise ports and offshore cruise moorings.
- Cruise port project for East Grand Bahama.
- Re-invigorate the hotel, casino, golf courses, and real estate holdings.
- Timely completion of the Review of the expiring concessions under the HCA.
- Revitalization of the GBPA licensing and regulatory functions.
- Immigration Minister the Hon. Fred Mitchell delivered three communications: one on the trip to Malta for CHOGM; one on immigration matters published in the press and an update on the work of the House Select Committee on the Honours Bill.
On CHOGM, the Minister considered the election of Dominican born Baroness Patricia Scotland as the new Commonwealth Secretary General as an important triumph coming out of CHOGM.
“I consider however an important triumph the success of the election of Baroness Patricia Scotland as the new Secretary General of the Commonwealth.”
He congratulated her saying that The Bahamas made the right decision in supporting her candidacy and expressed the view that she has the ability “to increase the complement of Bahamian and Caribbean persons at the Commonwealth in London and to ensure that the ABC’s (meaning Australia, Great Britain and Canada) reengage.”
On immigration matters, Mitchell insisted that an error on the detention order resulted in the court ordered release of Mr. Sewell but denied illegal detention on the part of the government. He also expressed the government’s intent to appeal the ruling of the courts to release certain immigration files. He felt the appeal was necessary to determine if communications at the cabinet level outside of cabinet conclusions should be placed in the public domain.
Minister of Transport and Aviation the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin reported on the re-election of The Bahamas to the executive council in category ‘c’ of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) by the largest margin ever.
According to Hanna-Martin, Category ‘C’ has 20 members from states which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas in the world.
It is in this Category that The Bahamas was re-elected along with Singapore, Turkey, Malta, Australia, Cyprus, Peru, Egypt, Kenya, Indonesia, South Africa, Morocco, Chile, Denmark, Belgium, Mexico, Malaysia, Philippines, Liberia, and Thailand. The Bahamas is now the only country serving in this region said the Minister.
An organ of the United Nations since 1948 and with more than 90% of international trade conducted by sea, Hanna-Martin pointed out that the IMO is “a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for setting global standards in maritime safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping.”
The Minister of Youth Sports and Culture reported on the list of year end cultural and sports activities and high on the calendar was junior junkanoo and the Popeye Bowl, both to be held at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. Junior Junkanoo will take place on Saturday at 2pm, 12th December where 21 schools will compete. This year will see the largest family island participation, making Junior Junkanoo truly national said Minister Johnson. The Popeye Bowl is scheduled for Christmas Eve.
In the agenda item ‘member privilege,’ opposition member for Central Grand Bahama, the Hon. Neko Grant, called for an investigation into allegations made by Stellar Waste to Energy CEO Dr. Fabrizio Zanaboni that some House members asked him for “small donations” which Mr. Grant characterized as “bribes.” Prime Minister Christie said the government side had no objections and fully supported the motion.
Meanwhile the compendium of Electricity Bills were debated and passed in the Senate on Wednesday. Government senator the Hon. Keith Bell in supporting the bill reiterated that the Government has reviewed the options available to it to find the best solution which would deliver the following results: Click here to read more…