Saturday, February 11, 2017

Freetowns In The Bahamas

RE - A Brief History of the 'Freetowns' in New Providence and in Grand Bahama, Bahamas.



PREFACE - When you said something that was DUMB, my 9th Grade teacher at Eastern Senior School would say: "Don't let your IGNORANCE predominate where your INTELLIGENCE should assist". This pronouncement related to some of the DUMB comments I have seen posted here on Facebook, as they relate to the new FREETOWN Constituency. Personally to me, this sad because there are those Bahamians, who just do not know their history, or those that do not appreciate the value of the very rich history our Bahamaland. Hence my decision to share the facts about the Freetowns in The Bahamas.
Why I stated: Freetowns In the Bahamas’, well, just for the record, Freetowns are not unique to The Bahamas, as there are 17 places in the world that are named ‘Freetown’. Freetown In Africa, there is a place (the original) named Freetown, Sierra Leone. There are 3 places named Freetown in Liberia. There is one place named Freetown in Nigeria. The original Freetown, Sierra Leone was founded in 1787, by Great Britain as a settlement for ‘freed slaves’ who sided with the British during the American Revolutionary War and that arrived in the city from 1787.
Freetowns In the Americas (those mainly North America, Central America and The Caribbean ) - There are 7 places named Freetown in America. There is one place named Freetown in Jamaica. There is one place named Freetown in Belize. There is one place named Freetown in Antigua and Barbuda. There are 2 places named Freetown in Bahamas. All of the places called ‘Freetown’ in the Americas, they are believed to be historical communities that were established after their emancipation in August 1834, for 'freed slaves' when all slaves in the British Empire were emancipated. They were probably given the name by the British Colonials, after the original original Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Freetown In Bahamas. Now that I have established the historical factors behind the name FREETOWN, I now will address and contribute to the history of Freetowns in The Bahamas. So, appears that the FNM and UBP Parties is not a 'nationalist' parties... country first. They seem to be not really concerned with preservation of our Bahamaland history, as the UBP first named the Killanery constituency - after the lake, The PLP Party saw it fit rename Killarney constituency after the historical 'Gambier' township; that which just like the well-established 'Foxhill' constituency, ‘Bain & Grants Towns’ constituency, ‘Carmichael’ and 'Adelaide', all that are an integral part of our rich Bahamian history. Let me interject here; that in cases where possible that it is tradition that constituencies be names after ‘places of history’, for example historical churches in New Providence - St Barnabas, Mt Moriah, St Cecelia, and once others, as were, St Thomas More and St Agnes. Also edifice like the historical forts: Ft Montgua and Ft Charlotte in New Providence.
Now back to the history of Freetown in The Bahamas. These communities named above, all of which are historical townships that 'freed slaves' established after their emancipation in August 1834, when all slaves in the British Empire were emancipated. Including those 'freed slaves' living in The Bahamas, and those that escaped from 'Slavery in America'. Most 'black Bahamians' are direct descendants of these former African slaves. As noted above, in addition to 'Adelaide', 'Gambier', 'Foxhill', ‘Bain & Grants Towns’ there are also two known historical ‘Freetowns’, in the Bahamas. 
Bainstown, New Providence, The Bahamas
However, my research discovered that there are also to small settlements called 'Freetown', one in Eleuthera, this area is located on the southern (east-west) Deep Creek and one south in The Bight, Cat Island very little in known of these towns history. Let's focus on the historical ‘Freetowns’ in New Providence and Grand Bahama Islands respectively.
FREETOWN, NEW PROVIDENCE - The area between Mackey Street and Kemp Road, called 'Freetown' is also a part of this rich history of New Providence Island. For The Record, FREETOWN, New Providence, extended beyond Kemp Road, to John Evans Road just to the East of the new Shell Gas Station on Shirley Street. Freetown Lane - located between Lyon Road and John Evans Road - is still on the map. In fact, the Church of God of Prophecy on East Shirley Street; still gives its address location as Freetown. In addition to this, many prominent Bahamian Families originate out of the Freetown / Kemp Road Community.
The facts are, the Freetown Constituency was FIRST established in 1968 by the PLP Government a year later after being elected in January 1967. The Freetown constituency that grouped the ‘Out East’ black communities all together. The Anns Town / Freetown Community being bounded between Shirlea (west) John Evans Road / Kemp Road Area (east), Bar 20 Corner / White Road (south) and Bay Street (North), Mr. Simeon Bowe was the PLP MHA for Freetown in the 1968 election and he won the seat. Today, this ‘renaming’ is now only the reestablishment of the old Freetown Constituency.
Contrary to reports on Facebook, Freetown was never a part of the Montagu community, as Freetown did not extend beyond (John Evans Road) that is the Western boundary walls of Montagu Heights and Queens College west boundary. In the 1968 General Elections, there was both a Freetown constituency and there was a Montagu constituency. But for the last 3 general elections, the Freetown / Kemp Road communities were integrated into the Montagu constituency by The FNM Party, in this case, this will now be reversed for the 2012.
FREETOWN, GRAND BAHAMA - Just like New Providence, there was also a Freetown established in Grand Bahama. But this Freetown has nothing to do with ‘politics’. In 1836 the population of the entire island of Grand Bahama was recorded as 370; most of those people are presumed to have lived around West End. By 1861 the population had grown to 858, and was probably spread between West End, Eight Mile Rock and Freetown.
Rum Running West End
Records from West End, the oldest city on Grand Bahama Island, show that the population in 1836 was only about 370, many of whom abandoned the island for greater opportunities in Nassau. However, in 1861 people flocked to Grand Bahama because of an unexpected economic opportunity the American Civil War.
At the outbreak of the war, with the Confederacy of Southern States under a strict Union embargo, smugglers operating out of West End were able to command hefty prices from the South for goods such as cotton, sugar, and weapons. As soon as the war ended, the economic boom ended as well, but it established strong ties between The Bahamas and the United States that still exist today.
So there is the history of the 'Freetowns' in Nassau and in Grand Bahama. As the saying goes: ‘If you don't know where you came from, you surely don't know where you are headed'.
Written and Published by Monte A. Pratt - M.A.Pratt & Associates - Consulting Partners - Copyrights (C) 2017
Source: Bahamas Historical Society and - Photos: Facebook (copyrights)
From Monte A. Pratt - Facebook


Saturday, November 19, 2016

An economic and social review of The Bahamas

by Dr Kevin Alcena

As citizens of a democracy, we are often called upon to make on complex public issues. We express our decision indirectly by for leader who represent or support certain policies. Sometimes, Though less frequently, we express our directly by participating in two public referendum.

Historically, in a democracy the people choose the policies that govern them, or at least the representatives who formulate these policies. When this choice is absent, democracy dose not exist. A despotism, however benevolent, is not democracy.

Public finance, even more than any other branch of the Bahamas economic; suggests the idea of a purposive conduct of economic affairs. In public finance in the Bahamas it is particularly tempting to postulate a single subject and a coherent and objective set of values which guide economic activity.

Moreover, Public finance represents economic 'planning ',I. e. positive intervention, and not just an automatic mechanism as in the abstract economic in the Bahamas of harmony. Therefore the contradictions inherent in fiction of a single collective of and demand for taxation occasionally, regressive taxation we need in the Bahamas 'tax benefit. '

Reduce debt principal and hence interest payments; Provide an extended and flexible reschedule of interest payments; Provide new credit to finance department with precedence over existing loans.

Any one of these would modify the annual flows of real resources from debtors to creditors, flows that are too large and too inflexible. A solution to the debt issues in the must be reduce.we be forced to increase our reserves against the US dollars loans.

There is one important assumption of the principal of ability which is the key to an understanding of later developments.

Like the principal of interest it presupposes a correct distribution of income and property upon which the correct tax system for the Bahamas is imposed. Whether one arrive at recommendation of proportional or of progressive taxation, the tax determined in relation to VAT and property, which are accepted as given.

The general attitude which VAT is not good to increase it be big mistake.

In short, it is estimated that the government collected a substantial amount of money from VAT, while the Bahamian public is actually waiting on a report on the expenditure. We must be cognizant of the fact that we all have a contract with the government, and we have to ask ourselves the question, have they delivered on the contract.

Transparency and accountability is an inherited expectation that we are entitled to in the contract. The Bahamian people have zero tolerance for any form of unfettered power that is displayed without impunity.

Nevertheless, we must safeguard our sovereignty, and embrace solidarity in the global arena with one common goal in mind. Realizing that the Trump administration can possibly derail the true spirit of economic growth in the economic community. Realizing the neocon racist agenda that can effectively impact the Caribbean region.

We must be mindful of the fact that Obama made a comment that he is skeptically optimistic of Trump administration, so we should be equally suspicious of the process in this volatile global community.

We Bahamians, PLP, FNM and DNA must all come together in these uncertain times to protect our fragile industry from the new neocon global economic agenda.

From Dr. Kevin Alcena

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

There is no unity to return to ...Trump ran on dividing not uniting America


 By Gilbert Morris -

 Gilbert Morris's Profile Photo

In May of 2008, I warned anyone who would listen that as wonderfully gracious and intelligent as beautiful a soul as President Barack Obama was, he lacked a "killer instinct", which I find is an essential trait in any leader. I warned at each stage: when he visited the GOP 16 days after being in office BEFORE visiting his Democratic colleagues; the second stimulus; failure to slaughter the banks or prosecute Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Powell/Rice.

When he gave the healthcare bill to Reed and Pelosi, I warned of "strategic cynicism". When the White House health conference was held, I explained it as an exhibition of the failure of power; even worse after he lost Ted Kennedy's seat and so his absolute Senate majority because he refused to go and campaign (as he did for Hilary), and on and on. I won't speak of my warnings about Obama's foreign policy team - Susan Rice and others, foolishly interfering with Putin!

For these warnings, many of my good friends - on these pages - gave me "down-the-road".

I WARN NOW AGAIN: Trump/Giuliani/Gingrich/Palin - for Jesus sake-/etc. cannot discipline Mexico or China or Europe. It's not that kind of world anymore. Trade is NOT the key issue for joblessness. America now has a "Crossroads economy", a sharing economy (because of technology) and a "gig" economy (again because of technology. It is the "Silk Road" of the global economy. Therefore GET THIS NOW: it's almost impossible for America to act in its economic interests alone. It's impact on the world is integrated. As such, promising people their jobs back is bollocks!

Also, more ominously, today, the threat of belligerence can produce a global crisis in which a tiny nation or a single person can bring a superpower to its knees. The bug used to unlock AMERICAN electronic systems by Russia was first secretly used against Iran by the Americans and got away from the Americans into Russian hands.

Also, treacherously, there is a reactionary religious element - just as there was a reactionary progressive element for Obama - that sails on a lunatic fringe in their views that will get many people killed in stupid conflicts based on yet stupider irrationales. The main characters of Trumps inner circle have no record of broad sustained success. They are all hucksters and hustlers; which is fine for oneself. But superpowers can't hustle.

These protests you see now are neither a good nor a benign thing. Mr Trump has made statements which suggests that now that he has the levers of power, he would use it to avenge his thin skinned feelings. There is a danger here so great as not to be overstated and Trump supporters are foolish to pretend otherwise.

I do not think that race is as big a factor as some have made it. Trump's segment of the white vote was almost even with Romney and he lost. So that means Blacks and Hispanics did not turn out; who can blame them as Trump spent his life abusing them and the campaign vilifying them and Hillary? She took them for granted, TWICE!

But just because the majority of Trump supporters are NOT racist does not mean he did not run a racist campaign. He did.

And that is why NOW, someone with wisdom and an eye for social history must create the basis of social accommodation in America - for "e pluribus unum" - because many fools have been inspired by Trump's foolish statements. And nations do not bear up well under "us versus them" scenarios. Word to the wise!

The problem is - and here is the rub - there is no unity to return to and Trump ran on dividing not uniting America.

From Gilbert Morris - Facebook

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Rule of Law and the Constitution Trumps Parliamentary Privilege in The Bahamas

Insight: A Simmering Constitutional Crisis Ready To Erupt

Frederick Smith QC says the separation of powers between executive and judiciary is being threatened by ‘capricious’ parliamentarians over the Save The Bays email row . . .

The judgement delivered by Justice Indra Charles in the Save The Bays email case last week is a watershed in the development of Bahamian Constitutional jurisprudence.

It is precedent setting and an historic judgement in Constitutional Law throughout the British Commonwealth.

The issues, the context in which they were raised and the current reaction by the Government, must give civil society in the Bahamas pause for careful reflection.

By mounting this case, the Plaintiffs - Save The Bays and Zachary Hampton Bacon III, the brother of Louis Bacon, one of my fellow directors - have made a great contribution to the continued development of the Rule of Law in the Bahamas for which they should be deservedly proud.

The fundamental issues

1 Do persons in the Bahamas have a constitutionally-protected right to privacy of their private email correspondence and financial information?

2 If so, did the Government, through Cabinet ministers Fred Mitchell and Jerome Fitzgerald, breach such rights inside and outside Parliament?

3 And if so, was this breach nonetheless protected by Parliamentary Privilege?

4 Does the Constitution of the Bahamas and the Rule of Law prevail in the governance of an independent British Commonwealth nation which has a written Constitution, or does Parliament under the guise of exercising Parliamentary Privilege, prevail?

5 Ultimately, is the Bahamas governed by Parliamentary Supremacy (as in England, which does not have a written constitution) or Constitutional Supremacy (as in the Bahamas, which does have a written Constitution)?

In determining the issues before the Court, a wide range of historical Constitutional principles and cases from throughout the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth were analysed and relied upon.

The ruling

The Court found that the Rule of Law and the Constitution “trumped” Parliamentary Privilege.

The Court held that Cabinet ministers and or Members of Parliament in the conduct of Parliamentary affairs and the Government in the guise of the Executive acting through Cabinet ministers inside and outside Parliament were not above the law.

The Supreme Court held that it had an exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate on and supervise breaches of the Constitution by the Executive and the Legislature. It held that Parliament could not divest the Court of supervisory original jurisdiction and it was for the Court and not for Parliament to decide on the scope and application of Parliamentary Privilege.

The Court held that, in the exercise of such jurisdiction, it was paramount for the Judiciary to be independent and free from interference by the Executive and the Legislature.

The MPs reaction

Despite this judgement, the Government MPs continued to press the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges to continue contempt proceedings against Supreme Court Judge Indra Charles, Frederick Smith, QC, and Ferron Bethell (both trial Counsel to Save The Bays). Other MPs, such as Greg Moss and even the Speaker of the House are aghast. Some are even proclaiming that the judgement is unenforceable.

Parliament had resolved in May to refer them to the Committee to consider whether they should not be committed for contempt of the “High Court of Parliament”.

If the House Privileges Committee proceeds any further a Constitutional crisis (which is currently simmering because of such resolution) will erupt like a volcano and its lava will melt the delicate constitutional construct of the Separation of Powers doctrine and respect between the Supreme Court and Parliament.

Crossing the Rubicon

Once the idea of the Rule of Law evaporates the Bahamas will descend into the ‘Rule of Might is Right’, where capricious daily dictates of policy by ministers hold sway. It is a thin veil between a country ruled by political Might as opposed to Law. That is why the MPs that are taking such umbrage at this judgement should be more reflective and celebrate it, not criticise it.

It is under appeal. There is a stay in place. I urge them to respect the process. I suggest the MPs calm down. At the Court of Appeal, the Speaker can file an Amicus brief on behalf of all Members of the House if he wishes. The Bar Association can do likewise. Even Mr Moss can do so. This is an important case. Lambasting the Judge in and out of Parliament is not civilised conduct.

Does the Bahamas wish to continue to be a Constitutional democracy governed by the Rule of Law, or will ministers Mitchell and Fitzgerald take us across the Rubicon as Julius Caesar did in the last days of the Roman Republic?

What Constitutional rights did the Government breach?

The Court held that the actions of ministers Fitzgerald and Mitchell in Parliament were attributable to the “Government” or “Executive”; they having acted as Members of the Cabinet and not simply as MPs in abusing Save The Bays and Zachary Bacon III. Accordingly, the Government was held liable for the breaches of their Constitutional rights.

The Court found that it was Mr Fitzgerald and the Government that had breached Save The Bays’ rights and not Mr Mitchell.

The Court found that the Government acted in breach of Article 23 of the Constitution, which protected Save The Bays’ freedom of expression and privacy by obtaining, possessing, reviewing and subsequently making disclosures of their private and confidential documents and information.

The Court also found that the Government had breached Article 21 of the Constitution, which protected them from illegal search and seizure of their property without their consent or under the authority of any law.

What did the Court order?

As a result the Court made three important orders.

1 The grant of a “permanent injunction” against the Government that “prohibits the further release or publication of any information contained in the private and confidential documents” of Save The Bays and Mr Bacon.

2 The “permanent destruction and or deletion of all electronic files and or records as well as the destruction of the hard copies of all documents within 14 days” of Save The Bays’ and Mr Bacon’s documents.

3 The Government to pay “vindicatory damages” to Save The Bays and Mr Bacon in the sum of $150,000. This is the largest award ever made for such Constitutional damages in the history of Bahamian jurisprudence.

The Court held that, because a case had not being made out against Mr Mitchell, the Court would not order the Government to pay the costs of the action.

The Government appeals

On delivery of the judgement, the Government immediately gave notice of its intention to appeal this to the Court of Appeal. Any outcome from that appeal is likely to be appealed by either side to the Privy Council.

The Government also applied for a stay of execution of the judgement pending the appeal and Save The Bays did not object

The appeal to the Court of Appeal is likely to be heard within the next six months and an appeal to the Privy Council thereafter is likely to be heard within nine months.

This was a major victory for the Rule of Law and fundamental rights and freedoms in the Bahamas.

It also vindicates Save The Bays and its directors and employees, who were very much wronged by the Government in abusing their right to privacy inside and outside Parliament. You may recall the political circus in Parliament in March when Government ministers and MPs made spurious and unfounded accusations against Save The Bays and individual directors and employees

They were embarrassingly ridiculed, mocked and pilloried with allegations that they were not a legitimate environmental non-governmental organisation; that they were involved in money laundering; and that they were a political organisation bent on destabilising the Government of the Bahamas.

Putting the case in context

This judgement must be put in context. The unwarranted, gratuitous and vicious adversarial reaction by the Government against Save The Bays came as a result of a Supreme Court action launched in March by a number of the directors of Save The Bays along with Reverend C B Moss against Peter Nygard (a major political financial and funder of the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Keod Smith for a dangerous hate and harassment campaign spanning years maintained by Messrs Nygard and Smith against them.

Why did the Government attack Save The Bays in Parliament for Peter Nygard?

The question remains: why did the Government savage and attack Save the Bays in Parliament when it had not sued the Government?

Its directors and Rev Moss had sued Peter Nygard and Keod Smith, not the Government.

On the contrary, the evidence was that Mr Nygard had maligned the Prime Minister. So, why was the Government spending the Bahamian taxpayers dollars to defend Messrs Nygard and Smith?

It is even stranger, given that to this day, neither Mr Nygard nor Mr Smith have filed a defence to the claim.

Mr Nygard’s political influence in the Bahamas is alarming and shocking. The fact that the Bahamas allows a non-citizen to hold such sway simply because he donates $5m or more to the election campaign of the now governing PLP party should cause all citizens of the Bahamas to pause and consider which direction they want the Government to take at this crossroads in the future of the Bahamas.

A mysterious pattern of behaviour

This continues a pattern of behaviour by the Government that remains mystifying - to say the least.

Each time Save The Bays or another environmental NGO such as ReEarth in the Blackbeard’s Cay dolphins case, or Save Guana Cay Reef at Baker’s Bay, or Bimini Blue Coalition, challenges a development on the basis that it is proceeding illegally, the Government rushes all the way to the Privy Council, each time spending the Bahamian taxpayers’ dollar to defend the developer instead of letting the developer spend its own money to defend itself.

Why is that? Why does the Government always defend unregulated development at the Bahamian taxpayers’ expense? What vested interest does the Government have in each development?

So, in this case, why was the Government holding brief for Mr Nygard and Mr Smith in Parliament against Save The Bays?

Why is the Government going to spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars to continue to seek to protect Mr Nygard and Mr Smith by appealing?

Why appeal the judgement?

To prove what? Does the Government really wish to win an appeal?

To boast internationally that the Government can unconstitutionally seize Save The Bays emails?

That the Government can unconstitutionally expose them in public?

That the Government cannot be held accountable because, by Parliamentary Privilege, MPs are above the organic law?

And to boast that the oldest Parliament in the New World has the power to jail a Judge and lawyers who take a case to court to protect Constitutional rights?

How internationally embarrassing will that be?

Banana Republic or Constitutional democracy?

Is the Bahamas to be regarded internationally as a Banana Republic? A rogue nation? A political pariah amongst states? A dictatorship governed by arbitrary and capricious ministerial dictate, swooning at Mr Nygard’s and every other developer’s altar of money?

This rape by the Government of Save The Bays’ right to privacy and public exposure of its private emails and financial information, coming in the wake of the disclosure of the Panama Papers, has already cast the Bahamas in an extremely negative and prejudicial light in the international financial services industry.

A score of anxious bankers have already met with and expressed concern to the Prime Minister and Minister of Financial Services, Hope Strachan.

What was in the emails?

And for what? What were the contents of the emails? Why was the Government making such a fuss about them? Why were the ministers so exercised? They were uncontroversial.

One contained a draft letter of complaint by Save The Bays to the Police about the Nygard and Smith hate campaign; the other contained a draft advertisement about Nygard Cay; another from the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association contained a draft press release about Mr Mitchell’s illegal immigration road blocks.

So what, pray tell, was so politically captivating and salacious about them? How did they convert into accusations of political destabilisation of the Government and money-laundering?

Why was the nation’s attention held hostage and transfixed in Parliament for days by ministers Mitchell and Fitzgerald painting a picture of alleged nefarious activities by Save The Bays on a canvas that did not exist?

If the actions of the Government had not been challenged and checked by this Court action, not only may the reputation of Save The Bays and its directors have been irreparably sullied and tarnished, but it also had the potential to cause the flight of much financial business and to detract from further legitimate investment.

The Government should celebrate this judgement

The Government should be proud of this judgement and celebrate it as a great day for the Rule of Law. It should not appeal it.

Parliament should end the simmering Constitutional crisis and withdraw its contempt resolution against the Judge and Counsel.

The judgment helps to promote the Bahamas as a stable democracy, where it is safe to do business and where people’s rights are protected by an “abiding respect for … the Rule of Law”, which is expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution.

The Government should divorce itself from Mr Nygard and Mr Smith.

A ray of constitutional hope

The Judgment demonstrates to the world that:

1 The Bahamas is a country that respects the Rule of Law;

2 The Judiciary is independent of the Executive and the Legislature;

3 Persons whose rights are abused in the Bahamas have recourse to independent Courts and effective redress;

4 The right to privacy of one’s private information is effectively protected in the Bahamas by the Constitution;

5 The Courts will vindicate and protect breaches of such rights.

Accordingly, the international financial services industry, which has confidence in the Bahamas as a legitimate jurisdiction within which to do business, can in the short term, be comforted in the protection of their confidential financial information by this judgement.

But not so if the Government appeals, wins an appeal, or jails a Judge and Counsel.

• Comments and responses to

August 8, 2016

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


By Oswald Brown:

Ms. Daphne Campbell

As a young journalist working at The Tribune in the early 1960s, I learned a great deal from Nicki Kelly, who was The Tribune’s senior reporter at the time, covering primarily the House of Assembly and matters of a political nature. She is a magnificent writer and I thoroughly enjoy reading her columns in THE PUNCH twice a week. This excerpt from her "BETWEEN THE LINES" column on Monday, February 23, 2015, should be “must reading” for Fred Smith, Jetta Baptiste, Daphne Campbell and other critics of The Bahamas’ very sensible new immigration policy.


“FOR someone who says he is committed to defending the rights of Haitians in The Bahamas, human rights activist Fred Smith seems determined to inflame public sentiment against the Haitian community. Mr Smith, president of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, told a radio audience he sees nothing wrong with Bahamians of Haitian descent forming political parties to advance their interests.

“People have the right to freedom of association,” he said. “I see nothing wrong with people promoting self-interest in political parties for social benefits for different parts of the community. “Bahamians of Haitian descent are a large part of our society. So without doubt you will see people of that heritage as members of parliament and at the forefront of the political process,” he declared.

In the democracy that we purport to be, Bahamians of any descent should be free to participate in the political arena, so long as they are citizens of this country. In fact, such a mix should be encouraged, because it broadens the perspective of political parties. But Mr Smith is lighting a powder keg by suggesting Haitians form their own political parties specifically to advance their particular agenda to the exclusion of the national interest.

Such talk, considering the size of the Haitian immigrant population in this country, is bound to incite anti-Haitian sentiment among the rest of the population. With a population of some 370,000, the Bahamian economy cannot sustain the endless flood of immigrants from Haiti and the financial drain they represent on the country’s educational, medical, and social services.

The Immigration Department repatriated 4,628 foreigners last year, 3,814, or 82.4 per cent of whom were Haitians. This figure was 26 per cent higher than the 3.033 deported in 2013. So it is hardly surprising that Bahamians feel overwhelmed by the continuous influx of illegal Haitians into the country. Their frustration has been exacerbated by an unemployment rate hovering at nearly 16 per cent. Mr Smith should be careful, therefore, that in his thirst for publicity and delusional anxiety to martyr himself in pursuit of justice for Haitian-Bahamians, he does not deal their cause irreparable harm.”

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bahamians of Haitian descent in The Bahamas political arena

Smith: No Problem With Idea Of Haitian-Bahamian Political Party

Tribune Staff Reporter

HUMAN rights activist Fred Smith, QC, said he sees no problem with Bahamians of Haitian descent organising to form political parties, insisting that the country is on its way to this group of society emerging as parliamentary leaders.

Mr Smith, who is also the president of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA), told The Tribune yesterday that the stigma in the Bahamas that Haitians are of lesser value should be done away with.

He again chastised the Christie administration over its immigration restrictions maintaining that the government has encouraged a culture of hatred toward Haitians.

“Bahamians of Haitian descent are a large part of our society,” Mr Smith said. “So without doubt you will see people of that heritage as members of parliament and at the forefront of the political arena.

“I don’t see what is wrong with it. People have the freedom of association under the Constitution.

“I see nothing wrong with people promoting self interest in political parties for social benefits for different parts of the community.”

Mr Smith said it is time for the conversation in the country to focus on how immigration can create diversification.

He called on the government to follow the example of countries, including Canada and Korea; countries he said encourage different nationalities to contribute to shaping society.

“The Bahamas should have a different conversation. We should be saying yes to a form of immigration that creates diversity and multilingualism in the same way that Canada, Korea and China does.

“I think the Christie administration has done a great disservice. It is awful to be maligned and treated as second-class citizens.

“This kind of mentality that the Cabinet of the Bahamas is promoting is dangerous. We are hating our own people,” Mr Smith said.

He insisted that these latest comments should not be construed as supporting illegal migration.

Mr Smith and the GBHRA have been involved in an ongoing row with the government over its newest immigration restrictions. Mr Smith has likened the Carmichael Road Detention Centre to Auschwitz, a former Nazi concentration camp. He has also suggested that the Bahamas government is carrying out ethnic cleansing with the restrictions.

However, Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell on Monday shot back at those criticisms calling them a “highly personal campaign” against him.

“The question is this, which must be put to them: whose side are you on?” Mr Mitchell asked.

“The side of Bahamians and our national patrimony (or) are you siding with enemies of the country who would undermine the country’s security and well-being?

“These activists like to portray this as some poor migrants who are simply trying to make a better life, but increasingly this is a portrait of a sophisticated smuggling operation which is big business and in the process is threatening to swamp our country.”

With six more months to go in the fiscal year, repatriations conducted as of December 2014 have exhausted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration’s deportation budget.

Mr Mitchell has revealed that the Department of Immigration has spent around $1.7m to repatriate 4,628 foreign nationals in 2014.

February 18, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

The proposed Credit Reporting Bill 2014 and the Credit Reporting Regulations 2014

Central Bank Informs Public on Proposed Credit Reporting Bill

By Kathryn Campbell - BIS:

Wendy Craigg
Wendy Craigg, Governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas, addresses the Information Session.  (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- The Central Bank of The Bahamas in conjunction with Bahamas Development Bank and Bahamas Mortgage Corporation hosted an information session on the proposed Credit Reporting Bill 2014 and the Credit Reporting Regulations 2014 at Melia Nassau Beach Resort, Cable Beach, Wednesday, February 11th.

Presenters included Wendy Craigg, Governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas; Rochelle Deleveaux, Legal Counsel at the Central Bank of The Bahamas and Kevin Burrows, Senior Vice-President, CFAL.

According to the Governor, the purpose of the meeting was to inform the community of how the initiative will impact lending activities in the future and to inform customers and borrowers what to expect when the bill becomes operational. The credit bureau will be responsible for collecting information on consumers' borrowing and bill paying habits. The information is relayed to lenders to enable them to assess borrowers' credit worthiness.

The Governor opined that the planned introduction of the credit reporting system in The Bahamas is one of the most “transformational” initiatives in the financial sector.

She explained that a credit bureau is not only important for lenders, but it is also a utility to safeguard and help with the overall financial system. Operating without a credit bureau results in the lenders taking on “more risks,” she said.  “Experience has shown that persons are not always forthcoming about the total amount of debt they have,” she said. “They tend only to disclose what would allow them to qualify for the loan. So within our current system the person may obtain a loan from one institution and move on to another institution and this is within the formal working environment. Then they could get other consumer installment credit from the furniture store to the car store and none of the lenders are [aware of the scope of the consumer’s indebtedness]. This is so because there is no centralized system that allows for information sharing of credit.”

She said when individuals experience a downturn in the economy, loss of employment, reduced workweeks, they find it difficult to meet their debt obligations.

“It is only when the lenders have to reschedule the debts to more manageable terms that they get a better idea of the credit exposure of these individuals.”

The Governor noted that since 2005 there has been a “significant spike” in the level of loan arrears or bad debt. She said such high amounts place “stress” on the financial system and retards future lending.

“As the institution responsible for promoting the stability of the financial system, we have an obligation to ensure that the appropriate mechanisms are in place to mitigate any risks in the financial sector. The intent is not to prevent persons from accessing credit but through this information sharing session to support safer and more responsible lending,” she added.

February 12, 2015