A letter to the BP EDITOR! Dear sir, From as far back as I care to remember, The Bahamas as always ranked number one or 2 in the region and in the top 50 in the world in per capita GDP. In fact the World Bank’s 2013 numbers place us($23, 264) at number 48 in the world and number 2 in the region behind Trinidad & Tobago($30,446). Trinidad has oil. GDP has always been an indicator of our so-called “wealth” and “progress”, however GDP ignores the economic and social welfare of our people and important environmental aspects of our national welfare and future well-being. GDP focuses on growth — but doesn’t care if growth is shared or held by a few. The growth of GDP has not delivered real progress for average Bahamians and we need to look to other indicators to support our community’s social progress. We are on a precipice. Household debt is much too high, and the number of families and children living in poverty is growing. Families are taking in their relatives who are no longer able to afford rent. Stress levels are increasing. People are hungry and those community and church organizations who operate food banks are struggling to cope. People are in crisis, and have been for some time. The middle class in our country has been decimated and the inequity in terms of ownership of our country’s wealth and income is frightening. Wages have flatlined or decreased, the cost of living has soared, and everything is more expensive: childcare, energy, clothes, food and transport. There are growing numbers of Bahamians seeking financial assistance from the Government; hardworking Bahamians who have had a job all their lives and supported their families now find themselves in desperate need. There is a growing gulf between those who are struggling and those who are maintaining or improving their standard of living. It is not only economically unsound but grossly unjust. This is not the way capitalism is meant to work… The division of spoils has reached a level that, if unaddressed, threatens to be dangerously destabilising, socially and politically. The struggle is real. We did not get here overnight as those opposed to Christie’s PLP government would have us believe. It is my considered view that this decline began in the mid-90s when the most empowering policy(The Bahamianisation Policy) ever embraced by any government in the history of our country, was recklessly abandoned for what we came to know as “trickle down economics.” Things have not been the same since for the middle class or the masses! The Bahamianisation policy was substantially empowerment based, with an affirmative action enabler. Trickle down economics involved empowering the rich in the hopes that something trickled down to us ‘club members.’ Economic apartheid may be a more apt description. The fact of the matter folks, is that wealth inequality in The Bahamas is the worst it has probably ever been. And you have to applaud PM Christie for taking ownership of what confronts us and setting a course toward reformation. Today we have people who have previously been employed full time desperate even to get part-time work. The minimum wage is $3.75 per hour(Government pays its employees $5.25). The debate that introducing or raising the minimum wage causes unemployment and business failure is simply not true. The employment effect of the minimum wage is one of the most studied topics in all of economics. Numerous studies, particularly in America, points to little or no employment response to modest increases in the minimum wage. The merchant class and their high priced lobbyists continue to preach, falsely I must ad, that an increase in the minimum wage will result in an increase in unemployment and even business failures. It is as though, they are threatening the government: “if you increase the minimum wage, we will fire people or close down.” These guys are really enemies of the poor, and a selfish bunch and it is instructive for us to know that for the most part these are the same people who are pushing back on the government’s attempt to bring some order to the immigration mess. You no longer have to wonder why. I will tell you: immigrant labor is cheaper! It doesn’t matter to them that with such cheap labor, comes environmental and other social concerns, because for the most part they don’t live amongst us. Raising the minimum wage not only increases consumer demand but also leads to increased business efficiency and productivity by reducing employee turnover and its associated training costs. The weight of economic research shows higher pay doesn’t lead to fewer jobs. In fact, it is my belief, and it is supported by economic research, that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings. We must ask ourselves do we want to live in a society where the poorest working people cannot afford to purchase basic necessities. Or, put differently, should a business that cannot afford to pay its workers enough to survive be allowed to exist, grow and prosper? Just like in the past when society decided that it was no longer acceptable to employ child labour, pay women too little, or allow dangerous work conditions, this is just one more decision on that path. In other words the people’s taxes are underwriting the failure of local business to pay a living wage. Creating a living wage makes the entire character of the economy change. As people make more money, they spend more, they pay more in taxes and they no longer need financial assistance. Rather than one well-paying, full-time job with benefits, many Bahamians are cobbling together a patchwork of low-paying, part-time positions, often being provided with no benefits, and working themselves into the grave to do it. Three generations of a family living together are becoming commonplace, and often only one individual has work, with families reduced to deciding between electricity, food or medicine. As long as an adult in The Bahamas is working a full-time job, yet can’t eat, pay the rent or utilities and clothe themselves, we are failing as a society and our government is failing us. When workers prosper, so do communities and businesses. Fair wages are essential to the common good of society, and our leaders should not hesitate in ensuring those who are struggling in this climate must have the opportunity to earn a living wage. There are strong economic reasons for a “living wage” — and there are even stronger moral ones. We should not be proud that we live in a country where so many of our full-time workers struggle to meet their basic needs. Employers exploiting workers at wages so low as to be incapable of meeting the bare cost of living is not only detrimental to the health and well-being of workers, but is unjust and unfair and, unless dealt with, that unfairness will build tensions and frictions that will bring our society to a breaking point. A strong and healthy society is one where everyone feels appreciated and fairly remunerated. A living wage would benefit us all in creating a stronger and happier country. Many view the living wage question as being more a political than an economic issue; however, it is ultimately about the sort of society people want to live in. With the income gap widening, and an increasing number of Bahamians failing to make ends meet, the Government must listen to the concerns of the people and move towards introducing a living wage. Failure to do so will see our society continue to struggle and its social fabric break down. As for me, I not only see this as a racial justice issue for black Bahamians who, due to the legacy of slavery, segregation and post-segregation discrimination and prejudice, are disproportionately represented in the lower-paying jobs in our society, but I also see the introduction of a living wage as a social justice issue for all, in particular women who are predominantly the head of single-parent households, and the elderly who represent a high number of those living in poverty. I believe in the dignity of labour. Those who work should have enough money to eat, live comfortably and enjoy time off. I argue that there is a moral and economic imperative in instituting a living wage. I have every confidence, that the Hon. D. Shane Gibson will cause there to be in the shortest possible time an increase in the minimum wage, for he certainly knows that it is the right thing to do. We cannot afford to bow to that ‘not now’ gang ever again, not ever. Minister, may I suggest that the minimum wage, effective July 1 2016 be established at say 50% of our per capita GDP and there be a National Insurance holiday for all persons at the minimum wage level. Also, I wish to suggest that we remove the ceiling on which National Insurance is paid. One year, in my view is more than sufficient notice for employers to prepare themselves. We cannot afford to, neither should it be in our character to leave one Bahamian behind. Sincerely Jerry Roker  Read More →
The Bahamas has a real corporate partner in BTC! Nassau, Bahamas  – The Bahamas leading telecommunications provider, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) was unveiled today (Thursday, 26 March) as title partner for the counties biggest sporting event. BTC joins the World Relays sponsor family as “Title Partner” – the highest rank within the Local Organising Committee’s (LOC) sponsorship programme. Making the announcement, Keith Parker, executive chairman of the LOC, said as part of the partnership, the event will now be called the IAAF/BTC World Relays Bahamas 2015. “This announcement is significant, not just because of what it means to the success of the relays, but it also demonstrates the excellent relationship BTC continues to have with the LOC, after being a part of the IAAF World Relays as a bib partner last year,” he said. “Forming strong, enduring partnerships with blue-chip sponsors such as BTC is essential to ensuring that we stage another hugely successful World Relays of which the entire country can be proud.” Mike Sands, LOC chief executive officer (CEO) and vice chairman, said BTC has a rich heritage sporting associations, and the LOC is delighted to announce such a prestigious brand as its first partner. “We are absolutely delighted that BTC has come on board as the title partner. The LOC has enjoyed a fantastic working relationship with BTC since 2014, and we see this as a fitting extension of their involvement,” Sands said. BTC will provide cash and in-kind support, and will leverage its leading internet and telecommunications services to keep the World Relays connected. BTC’s CEO, Leon Williams said BTC is proud to be the title partner of this upcoming “Bahamazing” event. CEO Williams said, “BTC deems it a privilege to be the title sponsor of the IAAF World Relays. For years we have made tremendous investments in sports. Our $250,000 investment in the IAAF demonstrates our unswerving commitment to not just build a better company, rather a better Bahamas.” BTC joins an already impressive list of partners and suppliers for the upcoming “bahamazing” event. Earlier this week, the LOC announced Caribbean Bottling Company Limited through Coca-Cola & Atlantic Medical as national partners. Bahamas Waste and Commonwealth Brewery Limited using the Kalik Radler 0.00% brand and the National Sporting Authority (NSA) were all announced as national suppliers. The IAAF/ BTC World Relays, Bahamas 2015 will take place at The Thomas. A Robinson National Stadium on May 2nd and May 3rd, 2015. More than 1,000 athletes and officials representing some 47 countries will take part in two days of competition.  Read More →
Letter to the Audience…. Dear Mr Editor, I was a very young lad at the time and perhaps did not understand what went wrong with Speaker Arlington Butler and Prime Minister Pindling that cost Speaker Butler his job as Speaker and caused his departure from the Progressive Liberal Party. Today I am much older and fully understand as i watch Speaker Major strut his badges and defy his party and fellow colleagues in Parliament. The Speaker is demonstrating the same attitudes and traits as Butler did,which convinces me that something grand happens to one when they ascend to the Speaker’s chair. Speaker Major is in full control as he listens not to his government colleagues and admits he is more concerned about those in minority rather than protecting the right of every individual member. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. Prime Minister Pindling has shown us how to deal with those who offend and call it friendly fire. This would have been be unthinkable with the maximum leader Hubert Ingraham. Mr. Leader, Prime Minister please apply urgent attention to this matter . Thank you Sharon Rolle  Read More →
~ Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Danny Johnson says costume parade to kick-off a week of events and Baha Mar’s opening. Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Daniel Johnson, CEO of the BNFC Roscoe Dames, Organizer of the Youth Culture Fest Dr. Ann Higgins and Pastor Henry Higgins pose with leaders of youth organization leaders who are participating in the Youth Culture Fest. The Bahamas National Festival Commission on Wednesday released subsidy cheques to 24 youth organizations participating in the Youth Culture Fest in Nassau this May 1, where hundreds of youngsters will showcase indigenous costumes for locals and visitors alike. The distribution of funds will propel the organizations into the production phase of their projects, teaming up with designers and indigenous Bahamian material suppliers to outfit youngsters in costumes depicting different islands and various themes from around The Bahamas. Bringing congratulations to the organizers of the event, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Daniel Johnson said events like the Youth Culture Fest would showcase the talent and stories the Bahamas has to share with the world. “I really want people to see what young people in this country can do, “ said Minister Johnson. “We all know the energy the young people bring to the story. So let’s tell our story, pure and unsullied. “I wanted to also brief you all on how spectacular May is going to be. Baha Mar has also pushed their opening back for many reasons but I can tell you one of them is to join the pack. The first of May you are going to see the Youth Culture Fest come to life.” Roscoe Dames, chief executive officer of the Bahamas National Festival Commission Secretariat, said the possibilities of growth with the Youth Culture Fest are endless and he is excited that the subsidies released would now get the community youth groups and schools going. “We can plant a seed and let it grow,” he added. “We can use the Youth Culture Fest as leverage to invite other Caribbean youth organizations to create a cultural exchange to show youth from other countries how we celebrate our culture.” Youth Culture Fest Coordinator Dr. Ann Higgins said each group that has registered to date has committed to a membership of a minimum of 50 school-aged children. The participants will parade along a designated route at Da Cultural Village, Western Esplanade. Dr. Higgins said the event has received full participation from pre-schools to senior high schools and community groups around town, which have all pledged to incorporate indigenous material in their costumes. ABOUT: The Bahamas National Festival Commission was formed in October 2013 with a mandate to stimulate economic opportunity for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Creative Industry Sector, while positively and significantly impacting the country’s GDP. The Youth Culture Fest is a first-of-its-kind Youth Culture Fest in Nassau this May 1, where hundreds of youngsters will showcase indigenous costumes for locals and visitors alike.  Read More →
Aisha Bowe, a Bahamian-American Aisha Bowe, a Bahamian-American aerospace engineer who is the recipient of the 2015 US Women’s Chamber of Commerce “Emerging Star” award, will be visiting Nassau, Bahamas as the keynote speaker for the Eta Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Honours Day Scholarship Program being held on Sunday, March 29, 2015. Ms. Bowe stated, “Nassau holds a special place in my heart, and I am honored to be invited to speak to the scholars at the Eta Psi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. annual Honours Day event”. At only 29 years old, Aisha serves as the CEO and co-founder of STEMBoard, a technology solutions company that is also committed to exposing and encouraging young people everywhere and particularly in the Bahamas to participate in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related careers. “I am incredibly happy that the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha have not only recognized the Bahamian scholars who have excelled in school, but they have also asked me to speak to the theme of non-traditional careers, a subject that I am incredibly passionate about. I am excited to continue my mission and commitment to expose the Bahamian students to the myriad opportunities that exist for those who pursue STEM careers.” The granddaughter of Forester Bowe of Exuma, Ms. Bowe has deep ties to the region with the majority of her family members living in Nassau. For the past few years, STEMBoard and Aisha have supported existing STEM activities and this summer Aisha and the distinguished STEMBoard team are looking forward to spearheading their 2nd technology camp for the youth of the Bahamas at no cost to the participants. For more information visit www.stemboard.com “My grandfather always instilled in me the values of hard work, something he learned while growing up here in the Bahamas and I am dedicated to continuing that legacy by leading by example. It is important that I reach back and teach the young people of the Bahamas to dream big.” Prior to founding STEMBoard, Aisha was an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. Aisha has received numerous awards for her dedication to technical excellence and the principles of diversity and opportunity including: U.S Women’s Chamber of Commerce “Emerging Star” Award, NASA’s Engineering Honor Award, Silicon Valley’s National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Women in Technology of the Year Award and The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 21st Century Trailblazers in Aviation and Aerodynamics Award. Among her professional affiliations, she is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She holds a Bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering and a Masters degree in Space Systems Engineering from the University of Michigan.  Read More →
Mrs. Astra Armbrister-Rolle as Director of Development. Nassau, Bahamas – The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) is pleased to announce the hiring of Astra Armbrister-Rolle as Director of Development. Armbrister-Rolle is a fundraising professional in the non-profit sector, specialising in annual giving management, prospect development and donor stewardship. She is a graduate of McMaster University and a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She worked as the Programme Centre Manager for the University of Waterloo in Ontario where she recruited and trained student volunteers, optimised the university’s advancement plan by conducting statistical analysis and managed the telephone fundraising programme for the University. Her most recent position at Ashbury College in Ottawa was as the Manager of Annual Giving where she initiated and implemented an effective stewardship plan for annual giving as well as coordinating a volunteer structure to lead the annual giving programme. “We are very excited that Astra was willing to return to The Bahamas and join the Bahamas National Trust,” said Larry Glinton, BNT President. “Her experience in donor stewardship was particularly attractive for us, as we want our donors to feel appreciated and valued for their support of our national parks and education programmes.” In her new role as Director of Development, Armbrister-Rolle will be developing and implementing the BNT’s advancement strategy, overseeing membership and coordinating volunteer leadership for the BNT’s fundraising programmes and major campaigns. “It is very exciting to be back in The Bahamas working with an organisation that has been so influential in creating a national park system that is preserving our biodiversity for future generations of Bahamians,” said Armbrister-Rolle. “Supporting these parks, monitoring the resources they protect, providing and maintaining infrastructure for park access is a monumental task that needs the support of the entire community: corporations, key stakeholders and individuals” she added. “I look forward to working with the Government, the BNT staff, our board, and the supportive BNT members to ensure that we are all doing our part in protecting our future.” To learn more about the BNT’s parks and how you can help protect them visit their website at www.bnt.bs or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The Bahamas National Trust was created by an Act of Parliament in 1959 to build and manage the national park system of the Bahamas. Possibly the only non-governmental organization in the world charged with such a responsibility the TRUST, as it is commonly known works daily to conserve and protect the natural resources of The Bahamas, through stewardship and education for present and future generations. There are currently 27 National Parks managed by the TRUST with more than 2 million acres of marine and terrestrial areas protected. Website: http://www.bnt.bs/  Read More →
Deputy Director at BIS Elcott Coleby. National leaders remember Sir Lynden on his 85th birthday Honouring the memory of her husband and the father of the nation, Bahamas Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling quietly laid the customary wreath at the mausoleum of Sir Lynden for the fifteenth consecutive year since his death in 2000. On Sunday, 22nd March which would have marked his 85th birthday, the Dame reflected on Sir Lynden and the symbol of the wreath after a short ceremony. “For the last fifteen birthdays, I have been laying a wreath at my husband’s mausoleum just to say happy birthday and to thank him for all he has done for me and my family and for the people of The Bahamas…this is the least I can do to remember him – he was interviewed once and he was asked how he would like to be remembered – he said ‘I just wanted to be remembered’ and this is the best way I know how to come and say we love you, we thank you and continue to rest in peace.” Showing his support for this gesture and saluting his “brother” was Prime Minister Christie who spoke of the vision of Sir Lynden and how that vision is impacting his government’s agriculture, food security and economic diversification policies. “…and he (Sir Lynden) said but for Andros, he says as Florida becomes more urbanized, land from Andros will in fact be used for agriculture…and so what we thought going into this term – what a wonderful occasion it will be – to be able to fulfill his dream by actually making an extraordinary effort, a real extraordinary effort for diversification. So that’s what we are doing in Andros (with BAMSI).” Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Fred Mitchell who was also on hand reiterated the importance of protecting and defending the reputation of our national heroes who have moved on and cannot fend for themselves. “One of the things which is very important about those of us who are left behind is to protect the reputation of those who have gone on – that’s in a sense a way of having a lasting and eternal life – is that those who are behind you, protect your reputation because you are not here to protect your reputation for yourself” said Mitchell Also on hand was State Minister for National Security, Sen. the Hon. Keith Bell. Mitchell suggests “criminal enterprise” behind illegal migration On the heels of several illegal boat landings in The Bahamas, Mitchell told the media that the government was fighting a sophisticated and highly organized criminal enterprise, driven by money. He also used the opportunity to solicit the support of the media in facilitating the national conversation on immigration which the Minister characterized as a “paramount national security issue”. “I am using this opportunity” said Mitchell, “to solicit the support of the media in the continuing conversation on immigration which is a paramount national security issue. We need the public’s support. “I want to let you know” continued the Minister, “that this is a continuing exercise – the fight against illegal migration. The more we see, the more it suggests that we are fighting a sophisticated criminal enterprise which is seeking to make money at any cost and in the process attempting to destabilize The Bahamas. All Bahamians must fight this.” Mitchell thanked the State Minister for Legal Affairs, the Hon. Damian Gomez for his spirited defense of the country’s international reputation at the hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington DC on Friday, 20th March. Minister Gomez delivered a brief update, advising the media that the government repeated its open invitation to the commission to visit The Bahamas to see firsthand, the application of the country’s immigration policy. Vessel donation by the US strengthens OPBAT efforts The Minister of National Security, the Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage participated in a turnover ceremony involving the donation of a 410 Apostle Interceptor Police Vessel valued at $668,000. This latest donation by the United States Embassy is expected to enhance the operational capacity of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) to participate in interdiction operations under Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT). Minister Nottage used the occasion to underscore the significance and strength of this inter-government commitment in the fight against and the suppression of transnational criminality, specifically the smuggling of illegal narcotics and illegal weapons. “This commissioning ceremony serves as a testimony to the Governments of The Bahamas and the United States of America’s commitment to suppress and interdict illicit drugs and psychotropic substances as well as minimizing the impact of human and weapon smuggling in our archipelago,” said the Minister. Also on hand for the turnover ceremony were US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Lisa Johnson, Minister of State for National Security Senator the Hon. Keith Bell and representatives of the US Embassy and the Royal Bahamas Police Force. The ceremony took place on Monday, March 23, 2015 at the Royal Bahamas Police Force Marine Support Services Branch located on Bay Street. BATCU urged to exercise “greater discretion” with public comments Answering public complaints from the Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers Union (BATCU) over outstanding holiday pay by the government, the Civil Aviation Department shot back on Sunday, setting the record straight on the issue. In a released statement, the department assured the public that there is an agreement and sign off in place for holiday pay, the outstanding payments are being processed, substantive retroactive payments have been made and that the government has and continues to negotiate in “good faith.” “The Department of Civil Aviation also wishes to point out that in addition to the holiday payments now being processed, the members of BATCU have received substantial retroactive payments for shift premium and training allowances, and a further tranche of retroactive payments is now being reviewed for payment. “Additionally” said the statement, “the public is also informed that a 2014 Addendum to the 2003 – 2008 Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers Industrial Agreement resulted in the payment of lump sum amounts ranging from $4,000 – $8,500 to each member of the Bargaining Unit.” The statement continued that the Department of Civil Aviation and the Government of The Bahamas has, and is continuing to exercise good faith with the BATCU, and called on the Union “to exercise greater discretion in its public pronouncements.” BATCU charged “discrimination” and “rights” violation by the government in a press release issued on Friday, 20th March, 2015 over said outstanding holiday pay. The tragedy of Shemicka McKinney The news reports were pretty grim, but pretty generic on Monday morning. We knew only that a woman and two young children drowned at Montagu beach on Sunday night when the victims went overboard in a vehicle. By Tuesday, the public knew the names of the victims – thirty-six year old Shemicka McKinney and her two young children, Alisa and Gabrielle. Family members described Shemicka as a “depressed,” “angry, sad and confused” woman who apparently “lost her way” in life. This tragedy sparked a national debate on depression and stress related illnesses and I wish to share come commentary by local experts on this psycho-emotional and social phenomenon. Dr. David Allen: “This evil, ‘violence destructive tunnel’ is something we really want to alert our people about. Because of the anger, whether it be latent or repressed in us, we’re all vulnerable to enter that ‘evil, violence destructive tunnel.’ What actually happens in that tunnel: First of all, there is hurt, there is anger, the shame happens, there is a defense against shame, but as the hurt continues and the anger continues there is a powerful murderous rage. And the first thing that happens is that you see here, you get cognitive restriction, you lose your perspective, you start magnifying the situation – this person is going to destroy me so I have to do what? Destroy them” said Dr. Allen. He advised those who encounter these types of situations or “triggers” to walk away until the situation calms down and to seek professional help. Researcher Dr. Keva Bethel also weighed in, indicating that research has shown that suicidal parents did not want their children to endure the level of hurt and quality of treatment they deemed to have suffered at the hands of family and friends. This was a possible explanation for the murder suicide that occurred earlier in the week. Dr. Bethel also said that a local suicide survey revealed that twenty-five percent of Bahamians admitted that they contemplated suicide at some point in their lives. Baha Mar opening pushed back to May Baha Mar charged earlier this week that because the contractor (China State Construction Engineering Corporation) clearly “has not completed the work with an attention to detail consistent with Baha Mar standards of excellence,” the multi-billion resort located on Nassau’s Cable Beach strip would not open on March 27 as previously announced. This was according to a press statement released by Baha Mar on Tuesday of this week. Stating that from the project’s inception, Baha Mar placed its international reputation on the line by indicating its intent to create a gaming destination “unparalleled in the world,” the company “relied in good faith on the representation of the resort’s construction manager and lead contractor. “Anything less than a world-class facility and best-in-class guest experience is not acceptable to Baha Mar” said the statement and as a result, Baha Mar will not begin its paced opening on 27th March 2015. The statement went on to say that Baha Mar expects to celebrate its grand opening during the first week in May 2015. In other Baha Mar news, there was a small construction related fire isolated to one external balcony at the Grand Hyatt that was extinguished immediately by Baha Mar’s internal team with the assistance of the Royal Bahamas Police Force fire services. This week in Parliament An amendment to the Parliamentary Election Act and the Juries Act were read for a second time in the House on Wednesday, 25th March 2015. The Parliamentary Election Act allows the Parliamentary Commissioner to share the voter registration list with the Registrar of the Supreme Court in order to expand the jury pool. Under the amended Juries Act, a Jury pool will be selected every two months and potential jurors will be selected electronically as opposed to the current manual lottery process in the presence of the sample pool. The second reading was led by State Minister for Legal Affairs, Hon. Damian Gomez. The Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie updated the House on the allegations made against the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government the Hon. Alfred Gray. The Prime Minister said that the Attorney General has referred the allegations against Minister Gray to the Commissioner of Police for a thorough and impartial investigation. Further, the Prime Minister advised the House that Minister Gray has invited him to remove the department of Local Government from his ministerial portfolio, pending the outcome of the police investigation. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Hon. Fred Mitchell updated the House on current Immigration developments. He again claimed that illegal migration to The Bahamas is driven by a well organized and sophisticated criminal enterprise where migrants pay thousands of dollars for the voyage to The Bahamas. He told House members that the Bahamas cannot flinch in the face of this until its proverbial back is broken. He also thanked the State Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Damian Gomez for his participation in the recent hearing of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Hon. Daniel Johnson paid tribute to and congratulated Bahamian collegiate athletes whose schools were invited to the field of 64 of the NCAA Division One basketball championship commonly referred to as “March Madness.” The scholar athletes included Big 12 player of the year Buddy Hield of the Oklahoma Sooners and Dwight Coleby Jr. of the Mississippi Rebels. Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis tabled the attendant regulations to the amended Electricity Act, indicating to the House that the Act came into effect on Friday past, the 20th March 2015. “The Act enables persons to install and operate renewable energy generating stations, which can be connected to the electrical grid. The Act further provides for the registration and regulation of such stations” said the DPM. The Regulations will come into effect upon publication in the Government’s Gazette. PM urges aspiring journalists to be “reasoned” in their commentary Addressing a group of College of The Bahamas students as a guest lecturer at the School of Journalism, Prime Minister Christie urged the class of young aspiring Journalists to seek truth and to be reasoned in their public pronouncements on politics and government. “Politics has somehow warped people and journalists who are political scribes arrogate unto themselves a level of arrogance that stupefies me because they presume to make decisions for people. They presume that the position they are in gives them the right to say what exists and what does not, but the devil is a liar. And what’s important for you as students is to be able to have your leaders come in – and don’t be scared from it – Minnis here, Bran here and Christie here – and say ‘tell us what you believe in’ and make your judgment.” The Prime Minister further challenged the students to learn as much as can and to be the authors of the development of The Bahamas. The lecture took place at the school of Journalism on the campus of COB on Thursday afternoon. Government Printing praised for addressing youth unemployment. In officially opening the 2nd annual Bahamas Government Printing Department Open House and Exposition, Prime Minister Christie highlighted an apprenticeship program geared to addressing the problem of youth unemployment through Urban Renewal. “I am told that just last week March 17th, the department enrolled eight students from the Urban Renewal Band in a twelve week joint venture apprenticeship program which is designed to prepare participants for employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. “I am also advised that after successfully completing their twelve weeks of formal training in computer-aided photo shop and in-design graphics design software, some of your agencies will be asked to consider engaging them as interns.” The Prime Minister went on to say that it is anticipated that after this initial group of trainees, the department will continue to train groups of young people every twelve weeks. “Surely that type of program ought to assist the government in putting a dent in the high rate of unemployment” said Prime Minister Christie. The exhibition took place on Friday morning, the 27th March. In Passing… The Ministry of Social Services and Community Development issued 1,078 debit cards in the Robinson Road area alone this week as the Ministry streamlines its welfare services, eliminating manual food coupons, long waiting lines and general frustration to its customers. Minister Melanie Griffin confirmed that this latest disbursement will bring the total number of persons with debit cards to 2,642 by the end of March. Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources & Local Government, the Hon. V. Alfred Gray announced the opening of the Potters Cay Boat Show to kick off the summer sailing calendar. The one day boat show will take on Easter Monday, 6th April. Minister Gray made the announcement on Monday, 23rd March 2015 at the Ministry in the Island Traders Building. The National Training Agency (NTA) held a congratulatory luncheon on Tuesday (24th March) in the Oleander Room at Freeport Harbour to honour thirteen interns who completed a ten-week National Training Agency (NTA) Workforce Readiness Program.In attendance at the luncheon were Cecil Thompson, Deputy Chairman of the National Training Agency; Norma Pyfrom, Manager NTA, GBI; Carmeta Miller, Consultant/Trainer, NTA, GBI; Ivan Butler, Headmaster of the Eight Mile Rock School; and Mr. Stubbs, Ministry of Education. Upon the completion of the program the interns were assigned to different departments within the Hutchison Group of companies. Education Minister Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald addressed students at a special assembly at St. Annes School on Tuesday. The special assembly was held to honour the 2015 Bahamas National Spelling Bee champion Charles Hamilton Jr. Minister Fitzgerald was effusive in his praise for Charles, calling him a role model and describing him as “a clear example to all children and adults that no matter what challenges you face, with confidence and determination, you can overcome those fears and you can succeed.” Good luck Charles at the Scripps Nationals in Washington DC. In other news related to education, the Prime Minister told COB students during his lecture yesterday that the amended Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) draft is now ready to be brought before the cabinet for approval. It is not long before we get a FOIA. The Ministry of Transport and Aviation announced a $3.5 million upgrade to the Potter’s Cay Dock. The announcement was made on Thursday. Fresh off his official opening of the Bahamas Government Printing Department’s Exhibition, Prime Minister Christie was off to Cabinet where an official afternoon meeting of the Bahamas Cabinet was scheduled. The nation’s business is never done.  Read More →
Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin - Minister for Transport and Aviation NASSAU, The Bahamas – Minister of Transport and Aviation the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin took a tour with stakeholders and the media to see the plans to re-develop the Eastern End of Potter’ Cay Dock, Thursday, March 26, 2015. Before the tour, Minister Hanna-Martin explained that the Government has allocated $3,122,989.00 for the re-development project, and it is a product of private and public sector involvement with many of the ideas for the re-development coming from the mailboat operators and various governmental agencies. The Minister explained that the Dock is an historic facility that has undergone significant changes over the years. “It has evolved into a unique multi-use space featuring recreational, native dining, commercial ferries, produce exchange, seed and fertilizer depot, fish-market and hosting the iconic mailboat system. “It is now a major social and commercial spot, where thousands of Bahamians and an increasing number of foreign nationals visit and work.” Minister Hanna-Martin said Potter’s Cay Dock also is home to the historic Potter’s Cay Battery, which was built under the governorship of Governor Tinker. It had eight guns trained on the northern harbour. The Battery will be restored with the help of The Antiquities, Monuments and Museum Corporation. The Minister said the growth of Potter’s Cay Dock has not been without problems. “It is largely undermanaged, crowded and congested with the infrastructure badly in need of repair. She said, “The causeway is buckling, potable water is a challenge, and some vendor huts are dilapidated. “Security is a challenging issue. As a dock that handles local maritime traffic, commercial and personal, the Police are constantly refining their strategies to confront criminal elements who wish to disrupt the peace on the Cay.” The Project to re-develop Potter’s Cay Dock will be conducted in three over-lapping phases. Minister Hanna-Martin explained that Phase I involves the removal and relocation of trees on the southern foreshore to create a parking area, which will extend to Williams Street. “It is important that the parking area is created early in the process, since in Phase 3, the Causeway, after it is repaired and its support enhanced, will be restricted to pedestrian traffic and delivery vehicles only.” She said simultaneously, work will proceed on the removal of debris, delinquent vessels, and unwanted material and equipment discarded by mailboat operators and others over the years. Notices have been sent out repeatedly to have these removed. During Phase 2 of the Project, the Minister said renovation and extension of the fish farm store will begin; it will be extended by some 150 feet to accommodate mailboat operators and agents. The extension will accommodate freight holdings, bulkhead curbings, passenger waiting area and bathrooms will be installed. The Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s transformer will be relocated to enable the establishment of security checkpoints to monitor and control access to the mailboat area. Permanent curbs will be erected at the end of the dock as a safety measure. In the final phase, the causeway will be repaired and rehabilitated. The dock entry will be widened. Sidewalks, striping, signage, drainage wells and additional landscaping will be installed. The phase will also result in the complete redirecting of traffic to the general parking area. The project is expected to be completed by late 2016. Minister Hanna-Martin said, “the re-development of the Eastern End of Potter’s Cay will result in a new experience for Bahamians and visitors who call on this area for business and recreation. It will require additional electrical and water supply and telecommunicative infrastructure to meet the anticipated demand. The utility companies, along with the Ministry of Works and Urban Development are presently completing pre-work assessments.”  Read More →
19-year-old Mayaguana resident was arrested, allegedly beaten, arraigned, tried, convicted and then sentenced to three months in jail without council – all within two hours! Mayaguana has A Superior Kangaroo Court – Unmatched Anywhere in the World! On the Island an UNQUALIFIED Administrator discusses his ruling with the WUTLESS MEDIA and the Leader of the FNM! This is a serious breach of duty, but the Media nor the FNM see anything wrong with this, or perhaps in their own ignorance and political bias they chose to ignore. Same officer in Mayaguana was placed of leave following the death of this man Jamie Smith in CDU back on February 8th, 2013. Abraham’s Bay, Mayaguana - Bahamas Press is the only Media House today on the ground deep down in Mayaguana; gathering the facts into this conundrum unfolding down in southern Bahamas. The revelations have one Minister in the Christie Cabinet on the ropes; relieved of his post as Minister of Local Government. WE anchored our investigative tent in the beautiful community of Abraham’s Bay, where we are now set to reveal some things NO MEMBER OF THE WUTLESS MEDIA is prepared to report! Everybody has speculated what Minister V. Alfred Gray may have done to rescue 19-year-old, Jacquan Charlton, from imprisonment. These revelations are now an active police investigation and BP ain’t getting in dat! Administrator Zephaniah Newbold is also at the centre of this investigation, and we at BP are gathering some data on him. Those details will soon be place in the hands of you Joe Public – keep reading. Today, we want to bring the nation closer to the crime where an unnamed police officer is also at the centre of this incident. BP has identified, Sterling Knowles, as arresting officer, complainant and prosecutor in this incident. Who is he? Knowles, many should remember, was that same officer assigned to the DEU back in 2013, and was one of four officers questioned in the death of JAMIE SMITH, also known as Matthew Pratt. Smith, 35, died at the Central Detective Unit within two hours of his arrest on suspicion of armed robbery on February 8, 2013. During that Coroner’s Court sitting two years ago the public learned how Smith was put in a “choke hold” during a “violent” altercation with police minutes before he died. One of the four officers placed on administrative leave following that incident was Knowles. A pathologist report later concluded that Smith died of asphyxia, an excess of carbon dioxide caused by abnormal breathing. Acting Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez presided over that Court when the two-men-three-women jury were unanimous in their agreement that four police officers, on the day Smith died, used “justifiable force” in restraining deceased. We understand Knowles was sent to the island following his return to the active duty. Sources now on the island tell us, the altercation with Jacquan Charlton and Sterling Knowles did not have to go where it did but from our account everything appears to be repeating itself. Some tell us, the officer allegedly went around the island bragging about how he killed lawfully before. One resident who wish to be nameless told BP, “He [ Knowles ] was down here roughing up several young men and one of those men happened to be Jacquan’s brother. And so Jacquan asked him, ‘…Why are you roughing up my ‘lil’ brother?’. That was when Officer Knowles took Jacquan into custody, allegedly breaking his hand, choking him and beating him severely.” But get this: Within minutes following that arrest, BP investigative teams learnt how officer Knowles then allegedly spoke to his “lodge brother” Zephaniah Newbold forcing the Administrator to immediately convene a hearing; and charging Jacquan with disorderly behaviour, assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and obscene language. “He [Newbold] arraigned him, tried him, convicted him and then sentenced him to three months in jail all within two hours of the incident,” a resident told BP. We understand the accused was never given an opportunity to say one word during the Swift Justice exercise, and the sole witness was officer Knowles, the same person filing the complaint. This cannot be happening in the Bahamas and cannot be what the Honorable Attorney General envisioned for the country! Another observer on the island added, “After all of the crap he did in Nassau, they had to ship him here. He is a real terror! What kind of Kangaroo Court is this in Mayaguana? No where in the world Justice operates like this!” We understand following these developments the island’s MP was called upon to do something in seeking an appeal in the courts here in New Providence. And there the controversy started in a world wind whipped up by the Opposition and the Media; both ignoring what had transpired with respects to the Human Rights of a Bahamian being sodomized by the system! We detest this vehemently and we question why members of the press have yet to tell the whole story! Bahamas Press’ investigative arm is also shocked by the silenced of Rodney Moncur, who has not taken the side of Minister Gray following these developments; especially now seeing that one of the officers in this incident was also involved in the Jamie Smith incident. Readers would remember photographs of the body of Jamie Smith – a man whom Moncur claims to be a relative of – was in his possession following his death. Moncur went through an earth shattering trial where he was vindicated! We wonder if Moncur has any sympathy for Jacquan Charlton as he did for Jamie Smith?! Perhaps now that Mr. Moncur has dumped the DNA and has returned real home in the FNM he has selective discretion! Not one word about Human Rights is being galvanized in this matter in Mayaguana! NOT ONE! None from Moncur nor Fred Smith and we know why! What a country! We report yinner decide!  Read More →
ALLEGED FRAUD IN GRAND BAHAMA COMMITTED BY FNM GENERAL TURNED OVER TO POLICE! Grand Bahama Regatta and Heritage Festival Committee chairman, Chervita Campbell. by: Mia Whylly, News Reporter Freeport, GB — The Freeport City Council’s meeting on Tuesday night proved to be one where allegations of fraudulent bidding were directed at the Chief Councillor, Chervita Campbell. Councillor Kevin Ferguson for Marco City and a former Chief Councillor, brought to the table his concerns regarding the bidding on the Taino Beach area in preparation for Junkanoo Carnival. He questioned the spreadsheet and the absorbent cost, and then the manner in which the deal was signed off on. Ferguson was adamant. ” I opposed all of these and when I asked the chair to check because we are being diligent, I got nowhere. My questioning did not get a clear answer. There were certain things that just weren’t proper practice,” he claimed. Addressing Campbell, Ferguson said: ” All (bids) were signed by yourself, or the consultant for works.” Ferguson accused Campbell of asking an employee to lie about a scope of work. ” We need explanations and clarifications. Send this to the police,” Ferguson insisted. It was eventually decided that the allegations would indeed be passed on to the Royal Bahamas Police Force in order for an investigation to be conducted into the bidding controversy. During an interview, Campbell denied any knowledge of alleged fraudulent bidding and stated that as a result of the concerns raised at the council meeting it was decided to void the previously approved bids, and in the interest of transparency and accountability attain new bids for the works to be done at Taino Beach. ” The council will ensure a proper and fair process is carried out and again bring all bids to council for approval for the awarding of contracts,”  she said. Campbell said in order for the matter to be resolved she felt the voiding of the approved bids was the best step.  Read More →
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