Tweet Husband murdered by wife on Grand Bahama…wife is a teacher at the Maurice E. Moore Primary School 47-year-old, Dwayne Sturrup Nassau, Bahamas — Breaking News coming into Bahamas Press right now confirms we have a second homicide for today racking up the homicide count to 88 for the year. According to sources now on the ground of the crime scene on Podoleo and Cordeaux Ave., a man has been fatally shot. His identification is not known at this time. But this homicide comes following this morning’s horrific stabbing death of man by his wife that left the couple’s bedroom bloody. The incident was reported early this morning where it is alleged the husband was sleeping when his wife, who is an educator, stabbed him multiple times about the body where he bled to death. The victim in this incident we can confirm is 47-year-old, Dwayne Sturrup. The incident unfolded at the couple’s home in the Heritage Sub-division. The wife is a teacher at the Maurice E. Moore Primary School. The wife is assisting police with their investigations.  Read More →
Tweet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, the Hon. Philip Davis delivering the keynote address at the 4th Annual Andros Business Outlook. The event was held on Thursday, July 23, at Daniel’s Dream Centre. The theme for this year’s seminar was ‘Securing Andros through Planning, Partnership and Productivity.” (BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay) NICHOLL’S TOWN, Andros – The Government of the Bahamas has commenced work on a sustainable development plan for the island of Andros. The project is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, led by The Office of the Prime Minister and supported by the Natural Capital Group, a researcher of the College of The Bahamas and local consulting firm. In the absence of Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Perry G. Christie (who was traveling), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, the Hon. Philip Davis delivered the keynote address at the 4th Annual Andros Business Outlook. The event was held on Thursday, July 23, at Daniel’s Dream Centre. The theme for this year’s seminar was “Securing Andros through Planning, Partnership and Productivity.” Mr. Davis said that the project would serve as a pilot project for all other development Master Plans throughout The Bahamas. He said: “This project augments the work which is ongoing for the National Development Plan. The Andros project involves a $600,000 grant to The Bahamas to carry out 4 major activities: • The measurement of the economic value of Andros’ ecosystem services, inclusive of its coastal and marine ecosystems, pine forests, mangroves, sea grass beds and tidal creeks – all of the natural areas that Androsians use to make a life for themselves; • The development of realistic development scenarios in consultation with Androsians, taking into consideration the well-being of the residents of this island and the entire Bahamas; • An assessment of the various alternative development scenarios for Andros; and • The development of a proposal for a viable physical development plan that optimizes the economic value of Andros’ natural capital.” Mr. Davis said that a team from the Office of the Prime Minister, the IDB and Natural Capital (the country’s technical advisors) began its tour of Andros and held several town meetings this week. The team visited North Andros, including the BAMSI facility, Mangrove Cay and South Andros. The team will visit Central Andros towards the end of the month. “The staff of the Office of the Prime Minister has reported the preliminary outcome of the meetings. Throughout the communities, there was a feeling of concern that development had not been happening around Andros,” said Minister Davis. “It was noted that Androsians in the South felt cut off from the development in the North due to a lack of affordable water transportation. These are important market opportunities for astute business persons.” Mr. Davis also mentioned the important role that that the new Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) will play in the country’s sustainability. He said that the government plans to investment upwards of $20 million for the creation of a world-class agricultural and marine science school which will equip Bahamians and others alike to feed this country in a sustainable manner. As it relates to eco-tourism, he said that there are plans to support the development of small lodges which engage in activities that support economic development for Andros and its people, and are also friendly to the environment. “We have tremendous bird watching, hunting, fly and bone fishing potential here. We must harness these opportunities,” he said. “We also plan to explore how we might best use, in an environmentally sound manner, the deep-water port in Morgan’s Bluff in North Andros. The potential for redevelopment of that area is high.” Finally, he said that as part of Andros’ Sustainable Master Plan project, the focus is on building capacity via familiarizing technical staff in the public service with the techniques and research principles which consider the environment, nature, bio-diversity and the real lives of the human beings living in a place, before making development and investment decisions. “We are grateful for the partnership, thus far with the IDB and Natural Capital. We have invited the district administrators and chief councilors of Andros to become a part of our various committees along with the representatives from the various chambers of commerce on Andros so that the voice of Andros is truly heard in the development planning process.” Locals from the public and private sectors gathered at Daniel’s Dream Centre in Nicholl’s Town, Andros, to participate in the 4th Annual Andros Business Outlook seminar. The event was held on Thursday, July 23. (BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)    Read More →
Tweet OFFICIALS – Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Griffin, was in Freeport on Monday for the official launch of the Pre-Paid Debit Card. Shown from left are: Barbara Burrows, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development; Minister Griffin; and Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn) OFFICIALS – Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Griffin, was in Freeport on Monday for the official launch of the Pre-Paid Debit Card. Shown from left are: Barbara Burrows, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development; Minister Griffin; and Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn) OFFICIALS – Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Griffin, was in Freeport on Monday for the official launch of the Pre-Paid Debit Card. Shown from left are: Barbara Burrows, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development; Minister Griffin; and Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn) EIGHT MILE ROCK, Grand Bahama – Nine hundred and seventy-eight residents of Eight Mile Rock and Freeport were the first recipients of the newly-launched Department of Social Services Pre-Paid Debit Card, Monday, July 27. During the official launch at the Eight Mile Rock High School Gymnasium, Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Griffin, congratulated the residents on being the first recipients and told them the cards cannot be used until Wednesday. Hundreds filled the gymnasium to either collect their cards or receive information. Eight hundred and forty-eight in Eight Mile Rock and 130 from Freeport were those receiving their cards. While addressing those gathered, Minister Griffin said it was a landmark day in Grand Bahama as these cards are being issued. She said that through the programme, people will be able to rise out of poverty, and until that day when the programme is no longer needed, they will be able to maintain their dignity. The programme, she said, was officially launched in November of 2014 when The Bahamas joined many other countries in electronically delivering assistance through the issuance of prepaid cards. It started at the Wulff Road Centre, on Monday, January 26, 2015; it was launched at the Fox Hill Centre, on Monday, March 23, 2015; the Robinson Road Centre joined; and on May 18, 2015 the Horseshoe Drive Centre was added. Describing those in Grand Bahama who will receive their cards this month as “swipers,” the Minister added that there are a number of benefits to having the card. “The first and immediate advantage is that persons no longer have to come to the office in Eight Mile Rock and Freeport at the end of each month, sometimes as early as 6:00 a.m. and stand on long lines, sometimes for hours, to collect a paper coupon. Secondly, while the paper coupon specifies the food store where it has to be redeemed, the card allows you to shop around as it can be used in any food store that accepts prepaid cards. Thirdly, the full value does not have to be utilized at one time, it allows for purchases to be spread out over the month. Then there is privacy with the card so that beneficiaries are not readily identified and stigmatized.” The Minister further warned about the restrictions on the card. “The purpose of the card is to ensure that persons have access to food hence the card can only be used at food stores, and I can assure you that it will not work at any other establishments.” Clients who have already received the card in New Providence, she said, have attempted to use the card at other places, but have failed. The Department of Social Services receives weekly reports on the card usage, which includes where and when the card has been swiped. “My advice to you therefore, is to use it wisely for the intended purpose, to provide food for you and your family.” Liquor stores, web shops, beauticians are all places that cannot receive the card. All those receiving the benefits have to be reassessed and verified. Locating the 1,272 food assistance recipients in Eight Mile Rock is almost complete in Eight Mile Rock, and the Minister acknowledged the staff in the Eight Mile Rock office for their efforts. She said those officers, along with others and the Social Services Urban Renewal component, all worked after hours, weekends and public holidays to get them to that point on Monday. They are still working on the 1,888 clients in Freeport who need to be assessed and verified. “We will gradually add persons to the new method and I fully expect that a goodly number will be added at the end of August 2015.” There are also those who abuse the system and do not qualify, but in those cases, there is an appeals process in place for those who wish to query their termination. Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville said the launch of the programme creates efficiency, decreases lines and allows clients to access the services with dignity and respect. Bank of The Bahamas has partnered with the government and therefore issues the card. Vanessa Taylor, senior manager of BOB, was also on hand to explain how the card should be used, as it is the first time many of the clients will use one. There were training sessions for merchants and clients on the use of the card on Monday. PREPAID CARD LAUNCHED – The Department of Social Services on Monday officially launched their Pre-Paid Debit Card system in Grand Bahama at the Eight Mile Rock High School Gymnasium. Shown is Clarence Wilchcombe receiving his card from Patrice Johnson, Department of Social Services. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn)  Read More →
Tweet Mr. Dionisio D’Aguilar fails to practice Freedom of Information! Where was he when Baha Mar was filing Chapter 11? Bradley B. Roberts National Chairman Progressive Liberal Party Ever since Baha Mar filed for bankruptcy on the 29th June 2015, Diosinio D’Aguilar, the Baha Mar Board member and personal friend of developer Sarkis Izmerlian has been in the media with some opinion or the other, but nothing he has said to date has been helpful to a successful negotiated settlement of this contractual dispute. This evening on NB 12 was yet another example of his ill informed commentary. Mr. D’Aguilar is clearly a part of the problem and should keep quiet in the best interest of all Bahamians and the project. Here is a man who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, never wanted for one day in his life, but is making one inflammatory remark after the other with the consequence of creating confusion, divisiveness on this issue and placing the jobs of thousands in further jeopardy. He sat as a member of the Baha Mar board when without notice Baha Mar filed a bankruptcy application in Delaware, placing both crown land and the payment of over $100 million in monies owed to scores of Bahamian contractors and creditors in jeopardy. As a board member, he helped to preside over the current impasse that the government was called in to resolve. He fully knew that filing for chapter 11 allowed the developer to walk away from the massive debt he owed to scores of Bahamian creditors, including the government. To date, D’Aguilar has refused to stand up for Bahamians and at least admit that fact. To date, the only side the government of The Bahamas has taken is the side of the Bahamian people and the national sovereignty of The Bahamas. It was the Bahamian government that paid the salaries of the 2,500 Bahamian workers at Baha Mar while seeking a good faith negotiated settlement because their welfare was very important to the government. The government refused to allow anybody to use them as pawns. ANY SUGGESTION TO THE CONTRARY IS AT VARIANCE WITH THE TRUTH. THE PLP REJECTS SAME OUT OF HAND. In light of the role Mr. D’Aguilar played in the current mess, he should do the Bahamian people a favour and keep his advice to himself. When the public needs advice on washing clothes, we will turn to him. Until then, no thank you. What D’Aguilar should be doing is spending his time convincing his personal friend to do the right thing for all parties involved instead of his harmful and unhelpful commentary. End  Read More →
Tweet Nassau, Bahamas -The Department of Inland Revenue advises the public of the introduction of its new online application for Business Licence scheduled to go live on August 4th, 2015. The Online Tax Administration System (OTAS) will provide businesses with a simple, user-friendly, online application and payment system. This is the same system currently being used for Value Added Tax (VAT). The addition of the business licence section to OTAS creates a convenient online experience for business owners and taxpayers. OTAS users can easily complete business licence and VAT registrations in one online environment, at any place and anytime with internet access. This system will also provide an easy online form that requests similar information/documentation as the paper application. It will generate an automatic e-mail response confirming submission of an application and/or payments. No more waiting in lines; this online system will significantly reduce your wait-time. All inquiries can be made directly through the portal will allow receipt of electronic updates. The business licence will be e-mailed directly to the registrant! The Department of Inland Revenue (CRA) is now located at the rear of the Shops at Carmichael Plaza, Carmichael and Palmetto Roads. For further information, email taxinquiries@bahamas.gov.bs or call (242) 225-7280.  Read More →
Tweet Another FNM has left the ranks of the DNA and returned home under Dr. Minnis!  Former FNM Assistant Treasurer O’Brien Knowles and former FNM DNA Candidate Rodney Moncur tells Branville he can [BLANK DEY BLANK….]! Opposition Leader’s address in Bains Town & Grants Town, Centerville & Englerston last Thursday evening at Stephen Dillett Primary School. His topic was, “Transformation of the Inner City.” Photo Credit: Yontalay Bowe Knowles tell PAPA and Branville – “Yinner could kiss my #$@ I sticking with Dr. Hubert Minnis and the FNM”! Nassau, Bahamas — Dr. Hubert Minnis Opposition Leader’s mada an address in Bains Town & Grants Town, Centerville & Englerston last Thursday evening at Stephen Dillett Primary School. His topic was, “Transformation of the Inner City.” Dr. Hubert Minnis returned home and said that he was happy to be at the Stephen Dillett Primary School. It was at Stephen Dillett where he worked with his mother selling lunches as a young boy. He told the crowded room that he had come to change their inferior status and continued his message on “A Tax Free Zone” for the inner city in New Providence and the family islands.  Read More →
Tweet Sarkis Izmirlian the man who not even the FBI can find. WHERE IS SARKIS HIDING? Baha Mar issues another trick statement asking China to hire Bahamian Contractors – BAHA Mar must think Bahamians are fool? Nassau, Bahamas (July 27, 2015) – Baha Mar Ltd. issued the following statement with regard to CCA Bahamas’ (“CCA”) press release dated July 26: “It is interesting that when a very viable proposal is put forward by Baha Mar Ltd. to the Export-Import Bank of China—a proposal which provides for a significant equity infusion by the Izmirlian family to complete and open Baha Mar and would utilize Bahamian contractors and a Bahamian workforce to properly finish the work at Baha Mar that CCA failed to do—CCA issues a highly defensive and apparently panicky press release. CCA should be concerned. No matter how CCA tries to spin it and no matter how often it tries to deflect from its lack of responsibility, it cannot cover up the sad pattern of its failing to perform properly at Baha Mar and other important projects in The Bahamas as well. CCA in its release cites not a viable proposal on its part but rather a distortion of an old posture that made discussions to negotiate a consensual resolution with it as one of the parties a sham. It is why we came forward and made our very viable proposal directly to The Export-Import Bank of China. CCA failed to complete Baha Mar repeatedly on the timetables it set, its work has been called into question, it walked off the job, its failure to perform caused Baha Mar to have to seek Chapter 11 protection, and it has been uncooperative in working toward a consensual resolution.”  Read More →
Tweet Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie addressing CANTO. The Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie delivers the keynote address at the Opening Ceremony of The Caribbean Association Of National Telecomms Operators (CANTO) 31st Conference in Miami at the Hyatt Regency, where BTC CEO Leon Williams served as the Master of Ceremonies and Vice Chairman. Prime Minister of The Bahamas Rt. Honourable Perry Gladstone Christie, M.P. Keynote Speaker CANTO 31st Annual Conference & Trade Show at Miami Hyatt Regency Hotel Sunday, 26th July, 2015. Theme: “Improving Lives through Broadband Innovation”: Ladies and Gentlemen: I wish to thank Mr. Julian Wilkins the Chairman of the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations (CANTO) and Vice President of Digicel Trinidad & Tobago and his Vice Chairman Mr. Leon Williams CEO of BTC and Senior Vice President of Cable & Wireless for the invitation to speak at this historic 31st Annual CANTO Conference and Trade Show. It is my understanding that this is just the second time CANTO is being held in Miami and that I have had the privileges of being the Keynote Speaker for both occasions. I do not know what conclusions can be drawn from this occurrence but I must say in all honesty that I am always happy to support the activities of CANTO, where ever they occur and so I am happy to be with you here in Miami. I wish to also thank the Board of Directors, the Secretary General Ms. Regine Frazer, and the CANTO Secretariat for facilitating my visit. My respect to the Honourable Ministers of Telecommunications, ICTs, Science and Technologies from Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Curacao, Commonwealth of Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Marteen, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Suriname, Turks & Caicos and Trinidad &Tobago. Ladies and Gentlemen: Having spoken at the Opening Ceremonies of your Conferences in 2003, 2012, 2014 and here today in 2015, I am told, that I am setting a record for the number of speeches by any one Prime Minister addressing you at an Opening Ceremony. It seems just like yesterday that I was speaking to you at the 30th Annual Trade show at the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island. Since I last spoke to you, I have served as the Chairman of CARICOM, demitting that office just a few weeks ago. I must say that holding the office of Chairman of the Conference of CARICOM from 1st January, until 30th June coupled with serving my second nonconsecutive term as Prime Minister of The Bahamas, with forty one years as a Member of Parliament, gives me a grounding on life in the Caribbean and all the idiosyncrasies that living in this beautiful and unique region of the world entails. While some can only read about it, I am one who has lived it. Each time I speak to you, there seems to be a new Chairman. The first time I recall, it was Mr. Cornelius Prior. I missed Mr. Leon Williams Chairmanship. Then it was Mr. Ian Blanchard followed by Mr. Dirk Currie and now Mr. Julian Wilkins. Thanks for the invitation to speak tomorrow at the Ministerial Forum, unfortunately, I am not able to attend, therefore, I thought I should give you an update, as well as challenge your thoughts and deliberations. Ladies and Gentlemen: I think it is appropriate that I should begin by updating you on the particulars of certain developments in The Bahamas. As you know, in 2011, the Government of The Bahamas sold 51% of the Shares of BTC to Cable & Wireless while my Party was in opposition. As I committed in my speech to you three years ago, the Government of The Bahamas has successfully negotiated back the Majority Shareholding in BTC, while spending a mere $10,000.00 to do so. Since my last visit here, Cable & Wireless has appointed a well-qualified and respected Bahamian as CEO in the person of Mr. Leon Williams and elevated him to the position of Senior Vice President of Cable & Wireless. Also, Cable & Wireless has appointed Mr. Dexter Cartwright, a Long Island born Bahamian to the Board of BTC. Dexter is a Senior Vice President at Columbus Networks now C&W. Ladies and Gentlemen: In the last 12 months, under Leon’s Leadership, BTC has installed 29 new Cell sites and 107 LTE Sites for a total of 172 LTE Sites. The installation of 4G LTE Sites makes The Bahamas one of only 9 Countries in the Caribbean to have LTE Technology. Not only does my LTE phone work in The Bahamas but, I am roaming on the AT&T LTE Mobile Network right now. For redundancy and resilience, BTC has built a second Mobile Switching Centre in Freeport, Grand Bahama. I am pleased that the capital expenditure by BTC has reduced Dropped Calls from 70,000 Calls per day to 6,000 Dropped Calls per day and has made LTE almost ubiquitous throughout The Bahamas. But there is still more work to be done. Ladies and Gentlemen: BTC is presently Beta Testing IPTV on a number of Islands including Bimini, Cat Island, Inagua, Andros, Long Island and Grand Bahama, with the intent of commercially launching IPTV in a few months. I am told that the acquisition of Columbus Networks by Cable & Wireless will transform how I watch Television. I am presently a Beta Tester of BTC’s IPTV and I am told it will only get better and I will be able to watch Carnival Live from Trinidad and News from Barbados, Jamaica, Haiti etc. Leon has also promised me that because Columbus and Cable & Wireless has the Caribbean Broadcast Rights to the 2016 Olympics, watching Bahamian athletes perform at the Olympics will no longer be dependent on whether there are American or Canadian athletes in the race. As the first Bahamian International medal winner in Field events, this is important to me and every Bahamian. I am hoping to stand up in the House of Assembly very soon and demonstrate live television coverage of the proceedings of the House of Assembly on my phone, as promised by Leon. Ladies and Gentlemen: I am also told, that BTC is in the process of deploying Fiber to The Home in New Providence and Grand Bahama and VDSL in the Family Islands providing the possibility of BTC Broadband Customers enjoying speeds of up to 100 Mega Bits and 30 Mega Bits respectfully. As I understand it, BTC will also beam High Speed Broadband to Cruise Ships plying our Bahamian waters so as to enhance their customers’ experience. For these many investments I want to thank Mr. Phil Bentley, CEO of Cable & Wireless and Chairman of BTC, and his team for their support. Ladies and Gentlemen: In 2012 your Theme was “Accelerating Broadband Experience in the Caribbean Transforming the way we live.” In 2014, your Theme was “Strategic Alliance for Sustainable Broadband Development.” Over the last few years, the theme of your Conference has consistently included the word “broadband.” Therefore, I thought that I should continue our family fireside chat that I started here in 2012. Family fireside chats are not always nice and pleasant, sometimes the rubber just meets the road and tough love is the order of the day. Because life is lived forward but understood backwards, let us do a little reflection. I was here in this same location on Sunday afternoon 21st July 2012 and I challenged you then by quoting from the May 2012 Report of the Inter-American Development Bank. And I quote, “At present, however, broadband is less accessible, more expensive and less used in most Latin American and Caribbean countries, than the average for countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Although prices have been falling in recent years, the IDB said cost is another major hurdle. The IDB said the digital divide is “even starker” among and within countries of the region, particularly when comparing coverage in urban and rural areas.” That was a quote from my speech in this venue three years ago. Three years later, you have posted on your website’s landing page advertising this 2015 Annual Conference and I quote: “The ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference of 2014 declared that despite all the progress made during past years, the digital divide still remains, and is compounded by disparities in access, use and skills between and within countries, in particular between urban and rural areas, as well as in the availability of accessible and affordable telecommunications/ICTs, particularly for women, youth, children, indigenous people and persons with disabilities, including age related disabilities.” Ladies and Gentlemen: It sounds like the same thing to me just being regurgitated by the ITU instead of the IDB this time. What have we done in the last three years? Is this an indictment on us as Policy Makers and Providers of ICTs in the Region? It has been stated over and over again that “Broadband is the Crude Oil of the 21st Century. Broadband is the currency of the 21st Century. Broadband is to the 21st Century what oil was to the 19th Century.” The IDB stated in its 2012 Report: “The challenges of developing broadband are so formidable that the private sector will not be able to face them alone. Indeed, there is a need for governments to join with the private sector and to provide leadership in initiatives to reduce, not only the Digital Divide but, also to use digital means to narrow the social divide.” Seven (7) years before the IDB made that pronouncement in 2012, as Prime Minister of The Bahamas, in 2005, I instructed BTC to build a National Broadband Network at a cost of over US$80 Million. I knew back then, that a private company would not have done it. But, I also knew then that if I did not do it, I would have been enabling the Digital Divide in my Country. No private company would come to an archipelagic country, the largest in the Caribbean with 700 Islands, Rocks and Cays covering 100,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, and build such a network. Ladies and Gentlemen: All the deployments of a second MSC, 172 4G LTE Sites, VDSL in the Family Islands, IPTV and beaming High Speed Broadband to Cruise Ships that I just gave accolades to Cable & Wireless for, would not have been possible in the last 12 months, if 7 years ago, my Government did not make the investments in The Bahamas Domestic Submarine fiber optic Network connecting 14 of the major Islands of The Bahamas, with a spur to Haiti. In 2000 and 2003 respectively, Caribbean Countries have all signed on to both the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations and the World Summit on the Information Society. 2015 was supposed to be the year. Fifteen years later we still seem to be in an abyss. North America has 87.7% Internet Penetration, while the Caribbean has just 41.1%, as of 30th June 2014, according to the Internet World Stats by Miniwatts Marketing Group. This same Report shows Internet Penetration of Bermuda at 95.3%, Bonaire & Saba at 95.5%, Curacao at 94.0%, Bahamas at 91.3%, Trinidad & Tobago at 63.8%, Jamaica at 54%, British Virgin Islands at 44.7%, Suriname at 37.4%, Belize lingering at 31.7%, Turks & Caicos at 30.1%, just to name a few countries. Despite having two fiber optic submarine cables (BTC and Columbus), connecting it to the outside world and, despite having Digicel as a Mobile Provider, Haiti is the lowest at 12.2% Internet Penetration. Canada is at 94.7%, while the United States is at 86.9%. And so, I challenge our Ministers of ICTs and our Regulators as I did the last time I was here. Our Telecom Providers are not here because they like us. They are in our Region to make money. Therefore, let us actively pursue Policies and Legislations that will support the initiatives of Organizations like CANTO and improve the lives of our citizens through the innovation of Broadband. Let’s do it. The time for talking about it is over. As Prime Minister of The Bahamas and former Chairman of CARICOM, I am not that naive to believe, that the Caribbean Nationals sitting in this room, who serve as Executives of Caribbean Telecommunications Organizations such as C&W and Digicel can do much, because, unlike Belize Telemedia or Suriname’s TELESUR or UTS in the Dutch ABC Islands, your organizations are privately own. But, there is much more you can do, so I challenge you as a Caribbean National. Ladies and Gentlemen: Let me put on my CARICOM hat and speak to the Providers of Telecommunications in the Region. No Prime Minister, no Minister of Government responsible for ICT and no Regulator expects you to make Capital Investments without a Return on your Investments. But, on the other hand, you cannot expect Governments of the Region to sit quietly when $700 Million plus is made in Haiti, the poorest Country, and the service is atrocious. You cannot expect Governments of the Region to sit at ease as its citizens continue to pay more for less. You cannot expect Governments whose economic growth are flat or experiencing minimal growth, to settle for 41.1% Broadband penetration, when we are told by the ITU that increasing Broadband can account for 3.6% to 4% growth in GDP. And, it is not because of the lack of skilled labour and talent in the Caribbean but, because of the lack of affordable, reliable high speed Internet. This could only lead to increasing vexing challenges for our Governments that are bred as a result of increasing unemployment of our youth and the feeling of hopelessness in our societies. Broadband provides an equalizer to the playing field. It results in the democratizion of invention. As Hon. Dr. Monsoor once told you, “anyone with a high-speed Broadband connection and a Credit Card can be anything they want to be”. There was a time when the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organizations’ very name indicated the state of affairs of ICTs in the Caribbean. The Providers were National Telecommunications Organizations mostly and partly owned by Caribbean Governments. Today, in recognition of the present state of affairs, even this Organization has changed its name to CANTO. The Providers are, for the most part, private. It will be an indictment on us all if three years from now CANTO is still debating the way forward for enriching the lives of Caribbean Nationals through Broadband deployment. Ladies and gentlemen: Let me again state what I said the last time I was here. History shows that there was a time when, for example, Cable & Wireless had over 10,000 employees in Jamaica, today, there is only 1,400 in the entire Caribbean. Even Digicel, after 10 years, have been offering Voluntary Separation Packages. I am not being critical, I am just stating a reality. More and more Caribbean Nationals are losing their jobs and more and more Caribbean Governments are being asked to issue Work Permits to none Caribbean Nationals. Please, let me state for the record that I am all for cross pollination and improving our skill sets. But, I also believe that there has be a reflection at all strata of the companies in the Caribbean of the customers who provide the Revenues and Profits. And, while I am at it, let me restate that there should be equity in compensation and compensation should be attached to the office and not the individual holding the office. In that way, a Caribbean National, upon being promoted to Executive Management, should receive the same compensation and perks as that of his Expat colleagues. The responsibilities of running the Company doesn’t change with whose running the company. The challenges do not change. Therefore, the Compensation should not change. Ladies and Gentlemen: I hope I am not making you uncomfortable with our fireside chat. Before I leave you, I will like to once again turn my attention to The Bahamas. As you know, the Government of The Bahamas in 2011 committed to have a period of exclusivity after the privatization of BTC. To this end, my Government announced the formation of a Liberalization Task Force to secure Bidders for the Second License. The Task Force received Bids from three potential providers, namely: Digicel, Virgin and Cable Bahamas. In the midst of the process, Digicel withdrew, leaving just two contenders. I believe this is the third time Digicel has looked at The Bahamas and dropped out. My Government will soon make an announcement on which Bidder will be selected and will pass on to the next round. Ladies and Gentlemen: Last year Cable & Wireless acquired Columbus Networks. As a result its Shares went from trading at 42 Pence to as high as 71.4 Pence. I challenge CANTO to show us, as Caribbean Governments, who approved this merger, how this merger can enrich the lives and improve the misery index of ordinary Caribbean Citizens in the Region and not just the Shareholder, who lives outside the Region. What does it mean for Caribbean Education, Jobs, Medicine, eGoverment, Security etc. In conclusion: Let me again thank you for inviting me for the fourth time to speak at your Conference. Let me encourage you in your deliberations to ensure you do your utmost to encourage your employers to: • Lower the barriers for entry for your Broadband Users, • Increase the Speed of these Users • Reduce the prices so that the lives of the 40 Million people living in the 34 Countries you represent could be enriched. Last week in an IDB Skills Gap Conference I attended in The Bahamas, we were told that there are 22 Million Youth in LATAM region unemployed. We were told that 65% of the jobs for 2020 plus have not yet been invented. I have noted that you have a Marketing Tract, a Human Resources Tract and a Hack a Ton. Congratulations! Do your part in these deliberations to help save our youth, help save our economies and, in so doing, help save our Region. May God continue to bless you in your deliberations this week and may God bless CANTO. Good evening. Perry Gladstone Christie, M.P Prime Minister of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas Former Chairman of CARICOM CEO of BTC Mr. Leon Williams moderating the event.  Read More →
Tweet The original founding member of the Valley Boys and the Vikings Brian ‘Boldy’ Gibson has died! Brian ‘Boldy’ Gibson Nassau, Bahamas — Bahamas Press is reporting the passing of another Junkanoo Icon, Brian “Boldy’ Gibson, who died Sunday afternoon around 3:30pm. ‘Boldy’ was indeed a character and a fixture at every Junkanoo parade particularly during the announcement of the winner of the annual events. He would get up to the mic, announce the winner of the parade every year, then break off running to avoid the chaos that followed. Those were the good days just Junkanoo winners were announced immediately following the event. He was one of the original members of the Valley Boys Junkanoo Group. He, many forget, along with the late Gus Cooper and Winston Sherman formed the group when they were still students attending the Great St. John’s College. But then in a sudden turn of history, the man who could sweat buckets of water under pressure, Boldy and Sherman left the Valley Boys forming the Vikings Junkanoo Group, which at that time won four straight Junkaoo parades. Boldy was an original. He contributed greatly to our culture. He is an unsung hero of our time. May he rest in peace! We report yinner decide!  Read More →
Tweet 2015 Golden Heart Recipient Mr. Alfred Bismark Coakley Alfred Bismark Coakley Nassau, Bahamas — The country was in morning this week after the news of the passing of another GOLDEN HEART AWARD RECIPIENT, Alfred Bismark Coakley. He died at Doctor’s hospital yesterday following a short illness.. Mr. Coakley was born in 1942 in Nassau to Roderick and Mary Coakley of Fresh Creek, Andros. He is the father of seven children, Perez, Leesa, Carlos, Gerard, Tiffany, Alexia, and Chia. Mr. Coakley is a graduate of Shaw Business & Commerce Institution in Ontario, Canada, and graduated in 1964. He subsequently obtained a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Miami in 1984. Upon returning from Canada, Mr. Coakley took up employment with Commonwealth Bank culminating as Vice President, subsequently he became Vice President of General Bahamian Companies operators of the largest liquor company throughout The Bahamas in 1972. Employed as President of Sunshine Holdings Company Limited since September 1972, he was responsible for the day to day administration of Sunshine Holdings Limited. The motto of the company is “Helping those who cannot help themselves”. Having served as President at Arawak Homes Limited, Mr. Coakley retired from active duty in 2009, after 38 years of exemplary service. Up to the time of his death he  served as Deputy Chairman/Director and Advisor on several affiliated companies including: Sunshine Holdings Company Limited, Sun Oil Company Limited, Eleuthera Properties Limited and RoyalStar Assurance Company Limited. Mr. Coakley was honored by Her Majesty the Queen in 2010 and made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. But what has driven Bismark Coakley, as much as his business interests, has been a desire to help those around him. In 1991 he became involved with the Physically Challenged Children’s Committee, then known as the Crippled Children’s Committee. He initially was the Committee’s Treasurer before being elected Chairman of the Committee. There he has worked with both local and international physicians in seeking the best care for the children affected with this disability. Those on the Committee speak of his sincere passion and determination to improve the quality of life for the physically challenged children of the Bahamas. Those who have worked with him both in Nassau and in the Family Islands know of his commitment to the children who need our assistance to lead fuller lives. Mr Coakley says his reward is seeing the smiles and relief on the faces of the children and their parents after their procedures are completed. Mr Coakley has also served as President of the Rotary Club of West Nassau where he have worked with the Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel and the Persis Rodgers Home for the Aged. Mr. Coakley was awarded the highest honor that the Club bestows, the Paul Harris Fellowship. He has also been a member of the Young Presidents Organization since its inception. The members pool their resources for the betterment of the country and they try to assist whenever asked by the government. As Mr Coakley says, he is a “man from over the hill”.    Read More →
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