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


Friday, February 6, 2015

Louby Georges on employment opportunities for persons of Haitian descent in The Bahamas

Descendants Of Haitians Finding It Harder To Get A Job

Tribune Chief Reporter

THE government’s new immigration policy has severely affected employment opportunities for persons of Haitian descent, according to activist Louby Georges, who charged that immigrants cannot fully comply with regulations because there is no supporting legislation.

With no legal framework three months after the policy was first introduced, Mr Georges, host of the Kreyol Connection, said affected persons have been fired and many remain in limbo because processing for the new requirements, namely the belonger’s permit, has not yet started.

“The Department of Immigration has an application form for something that does not exist,” Mr Georges said, “there is no such thing as a belonger’s permit.

“(Immigration Director William) Pratt told me in his office, he said ‘well to be honest the problem is that there is no legislation in place to support the belonger’s permit, so we are hoping that in the next two weeks we can present a bill to parliament and hoping it can be debated and then passed, and then we can start reviewing applications, and then we can start issuing (permits)’.”

“Persons are being laid off and fired as a result of an announcement made first on the floor of the House of Assembly from September 17, 2014. The official opposition is afraid to speak up on the issue because they don’t want to appear that they are siding with the Haitian community or siding with the immigrants,” he said, “because Bahamians generally think that Haitians or anything to do with Haitians is illegal or bad”.

Mr Georges spoke out against the immigration policy at a lecture hosted by the Bahamas Bar Association last week Thursday. He described the experience of persons born in the Bahamas of Haitian descent as “20 times” more severe than challenges faced by ordinary citizens, and charged that there were no measures to ensure that deported persons can access constitutional rights once eligible.

On November 1, 2014, the government introduced a wider immigration policy that, among other things, required every non-Bahamian living in the country to have a passport of their nationality with proof of their status to live and work in The Bahamas.

On Tuesday, Immigration Director William Pratt confirmed that the department has received many calls from concerned employers over the legal status of their employees under the new policy, adding that the matter is adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Pratt stressed that it was not the department’s intention to jeopardise employment and encouraged individuals to seek assistance with his office for alternative options to secure a work permit.

“They are entitled to have a work permit, of course,” he said. “If they’re already employed and lived here all their lives, some employers have contacted us about persons in that category. Some of these persons, their citizenship is already before the board awaiting decision. So on a case by case basis, we wouldn’t object.”

Mr Pratt added: “Some people are already employed, Bahamians hired them based on their birth certificates. They were born here, grew up here, they were hired as Bahamians, but technically they are not. We will work on a case by case basis on those issues,” he added, “most of those persons their application is complete and they will be sworn in shortly.”

Mr Pratt explained that work and residency permits were always a requirement but over the years enforcement was relaxed. Since the new policy was introduced, he confirmed that “many employers” have called or sent letters to the department.

He added: “Those persons who are born in The Bahamas, according to our Constitution their citizenship is not automatic. So because of the constitutional law under the Immigration Act they require work and residence permits but over the years we never really enforced it, to the extent there were many persons who got jobs and were working and their application (was still being processed), but going on forward now, once this belonger’s permit comes on stream then it won’t be an issue because persons would have it from infancy.”

The resident belonger’s permit will give those born in The Bahamas who have a right to apply for citizenship under the Constitution some form of status while their application is pending, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said last December.

“It is only issued to the children of Bahamians whose parents got their citizenship pursuant to Article 3(2) of the Constitution and were born outside The Bahamas, or to those children whose parents were lawfully in The Bahamas and they were born here,” he said at the time.

February 05, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hubert Minnis is the most incompetent and incapable opposition leader

The horrendous disaster of Dr. Hubert Minnis


In the estimation of a veteran political observer, echoing a chorus of public outrage, “The country is going to hell.” To many, if not most, the Christie administration is a basket case of wheeling and dealing and questionable contracts; gross incompetence, woeful neglect of basic issues; massive borrowing and spending with little tangible to show for it; and a plethora of nausea-inducing misdeeds aside inaction, delay and outright failure.

The sticker shock of VAT continues to trouble consumers and businesses, with growing alarm that the government will go on a spending spree rather than seriously address matters of debt and deficit.

The government has failed to reduce the murder rate despite having repeatedly promised to do so. There is dissension in the police force and the minister of national security is blaming the force for the government’s failures.

There is chronic unemployment, with unemployment having risen again under the PLP and the unemployment rate higher now than in May 2012 when the PLP returned to office.

From BAMSI to the BEC bidding process to all manner of untendered contracts, there are questions of how, where and why certain public funds are being spent, alongside an arrogant disregard for transparency and accountability. Various ministers have mastered the arts of cupidity and conflicts of interest.

Meanwhile much of the state is poorly or non-functioning with many public amenities unkempt; abysmal service from various agencies because of a lack of oversight; and a general malaise in much of the public sector. Things are going from very bad to much worse. The ill-conceived Junkanoo Carnival festival seems in disarray, haunted by all manner of pitfalls, a potentially expensive fete of dubious cultural or economic value.

Atop all this is an out-of-control Cabinet, giving new meaning to the “all for me baby” philosophy of misrule, farcically led by a globe-trotting prime minister too weak to control his Cabinet but who sees himself, incredibly, as “a defining prime minister”.

It is so bad that some audiences are mocking the prime minister, snickering when he speaks, unable to contain their contempt for and incredulity at his empty and stagnant rhetoric full of bluster and boisterousness signifying precious little to nothing.

It should be a field day for the official opposition. It is not. The opposition should have gained tremendous traction. It has not. This should be a banner year for the FNM. It likely will not.

Perry Christie is the most incompetent and incapable prime minister since the advent of Cabinet government. His saving grace: Hubert Minnis is the most incompetent and incapable opposition leader.



In his bid to be elected FNM leader last November, Minnis and his forces spun a self-serving narrative that served him well. It was the whining narrative of the victim, a plea of self-pity that he hadn’t really been given a chance despite the obvious fact that he had been handed the leadership without a contest.

Despite the goodwill and help of many FNMs when he was chosen in 2012, a deeply insecure Minnis systematically alienated many who came to his aid. He had a convenient bogeyman, Hubert Ingraham, and bogeywoman, Loretta Butler-Turner, both of whom he demonized and conveniently used as excuses for his litany of failures which primarily account for the failure of the FNM to gain traction.

Though he was the major cause of disunity because of his secretiveness, insecurity bordering on paranoia, autocratic nature and non-collegial form of leadership, he convinced many that the source of disunity lay elsewhere. He excels at the politics of victimhood.

In order to seize greater control of the party he called a snap convention, ignoring certain constitutional procedures. Having won a convincing victory and with much of his slate in place, Minnis now had no more excuses. Curiously, soon after the convention one of his reputed supporters, veteran FNM Frank Watson, said something that surprised many. Watson warned that Minnis had six months to perform or there would be consequences.

After the November victory and the December lull has come the January disaster, with Minnis seemingly making a major blunder each week. If he’s this bad at the beginning of the year, the party will be in desperate straits as the months march on.

If many delegates believed that they elected a winner, they have been gravely disappointed. Some said that Minnis’ New Year’s address was one of his best. If that is the case, no wonder the party is in deep trouble.

During the convention campaign Minnis sought to make a virtue of his inability to master even the basics of the English language and grammar and to speak with some fluency.



We are being asked to believe that one of the basic requirements of political leadership, to be nominally articulate and to speak coherently, are irrelevant. Dr. Minnis is not merely a disaster in terms of speaking. He is also clearly incompetent when it comes to thinking through the most basic policy ideas. Speaking is not his only problem. He’s not much of a thinker.

The New Year’s address was painful for many Bahamians to watch. It was clumsy, lacklustre and devoid of passion. It failed to inspire, an essential task for leaders.

To quote one senior media figure, “Not only did he seem incapable of reading much of the text, there were also questions of how much he understood what he was reading.” His bumbling address was the least of his problems.

Next came the disastrous march on the Bank of the Bahamas (BOB) and Christie’s subsequent assault on Minnis in the House of Assembly, both of which have been painful for FNMs.

Any view that an inarticulate leader who can’t think on his feet will easily be elected because of supposed other qualities was dismantled as Minnis sat helplessly and haplessly glued to his seat.

Minnis was warned not to have the ill-advised march, the failure of which, given his modus operandi, he might try to blame on others. The rationale for the march was questionable, especially given the more pressing issues over which the FNM may have marched including crime and the cost of living.

The numbers looked awful and FNMs were embarrassed. The new leadership of the party failed to organize a healthy crowd. What is, and should have been projected as, an effective issue against the government turned into a colossal blunder. Then came Christie’s withering assault on the opposition.

FNMs were embarrassed and horrified as Minnis sat shell-shocked and deflated, absolutely incapable of mounting a defense or countering Christie.

What makes this even more egregious is the reality that Minnis does not now nor will he ever have what it takes to be effective in the House of Assembly. No matter how many cue cards a leader is given, that leader has to be able to think on his feet in parliamentary debates. Minnis is barely able to get through a prepared text much less perform in debate.



With several pieces of legislation having been debated in the House recently Minnis has been absent or has not spoken. If the idea is to avoid his risking exposure in terms of poor speaking ability, the opposition is courting disaster, as the necessity of his speaking on various matters is unavoidable. If he cannot speak without making a major blunder, there will be multiple disasters.

It is no wonder that a highly vulnerable Christie continues to deride Minnis, thanking his lucky charms that the latter is his main opponent, continually distracting from the PLP’s blunders.

Still in January Minnis created another seemingly monumental blunder in asking the politically attractive Heather Hunt to resign from the Senate. It may be a part of a brilliant move of which others are unaware, though, at the moment, this seems not to be the case, especially as Hunt is a rising star in the FNM and a high-profile female in the party.

Did Minnis inform all of his House colleagues about Hunt’s departure or were most of them blindsided, learning about the matter from other reports? Given his rationale for Hunt’s departure why was Senator Kwasi Thompson not also asked to resign? Was it a vindictive move and payback to Hunt who reportedly supported Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner in the leadership race?

Given his resounding victory in November and with his team in place, Minnis had an extraordinary opportunity to unify and reinvigorate the FNM going into a new year, especially given the state of the country and the depressing record of the PLP.

In the event, he called a conclave, an extraordinary meeting of the party, with a rich history in Bahamian politics. The party was to meet in special session to discuss critical issues relevant to the extraordinary times in which we are living.

After the Friday night opening session, Minnis arrogantly and dismissively absented himself from the conclave for all of Saturday, heading instead to Eleuthera to don a pharaoh’s crown and rush in a Junior Junkanoo evening parade leaving behind many in shock, including many who unwisely gave him a second chance to make even worse blunders. And we are only in January.


• frontporchguardian@gmail.com, www.bahamapundit.com.

January 29, 2015


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Correctional Intelligence Unit (CIU) at the Department of Correctional Services (formerly Her Majesty's Prison)

CIU to Help Reduce Possible Internal and External Threats to Prison

By Matt Maura - BIS:

The Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage unveils the plaque commemorating the dedication of the facility that will house the new CIU on the grounds of the Department of Corrections, January 19.  Minister of State for National Security, Senator Keith Bell is at right. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- The establishment of the new Correctional Intelligence Unit (CIU) at the Department of Correctional Services (formerly Her Majesty's Prison) represents a more focused, interagency approach to security and intelligence in The Bahamas - especially at the Correctional level.

One of the primary goals of the Unit will be to help reduce possible internal and external threats to the Correctional Services, its facilities, staff and inmate populations.

At a dedication ceremony establishing the new CIU at the Department of Correctional Services on Monday, Minister of National Security, the Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage said the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) must be aware of all threats within and outside of the institution that may disrupt its normal operations or threaten the safety and security of staff and inmates.

Effectively managing security threats at the Correctional Facility, Dr. Nottage continued, depends upon timely and precise information.

"The Correctional Intelligence Unit is comprised of personnel trained in observation and information gathering. They are tasked to continuously scan the environment inside the prison to produce information dealing with threats for the attention of decision-makers," Dr. Nottage said.

"This information (will) help correctional officers and other prison officials to foresee, control and even prevent the risks faced. The scope of intelligence gathered will also cover environments outside of prison facilities to give a broader picture of the threats from both inside and outside the walls of the institution."

One such threat is possible gang activity within the walls of the Correctional Services. Dr. Nottage said as the Royal Bahamas Police Force responds to criminal activities of gangs, more and more gang members will wind up at the facility.

"We must therefore take steps to ensure that the Services do not become a concentrated gang environment and recruitment centre for gang members," Dr. Nottage said.

"As you would appreciate, maintaining integrity in a public safety organization is essential to earning the respect of society. The Department of Correctional Services recognizes that unregulated activities of criminal enterprises pose a direct threat to public safety and the safety and security of the institution and undermine the public confidence of the Department to carry out its mission for the citizens of The Bahamas."

The CIU will be further charged with taking the necessary steps to maintain the integrity of the Department of Correctional Services and will be responsible for handling all serious offenses and allegations. The Unit will investigate both administrative and criminal matters relative to staff, inmates and even members of the general public whenever there is a vested interest with the DCS.

"The Unit is responsible for objectively conducting thorough, impartial and timely investigations to determine the validity of allegations," Dr. Nottage said. "The results of these inquiries may provide a basis for criminal prosecution, corrective administrative action, or both."

The National Security Minister said the establishment of the CIU is part of a progressive, interagency approach needed to more effectively address crime in The Bahamas.

"To more effectively address crime in our country, we need to embrace a 'whole of government,' coordinated approach to the challenges with which we are faced," Dr. Nottage said. "It is an approach that integrates, for example, the efforts of the Department of Correctional Services, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Customs Department, the Department of Immigration and the Port Department to achieve unity of effort toward a shared goal.

"We have sought to do this with the establishment of the Heads of Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) in which the leaders interact regularly for the exchange of information and for the development and implementation of crime-fighting strategies and operations."

January 20, 2015


Monday, January 19, 2015

High Bahamian youth unemployment, and resulting poverty and social inequality breed high crime levels in The Bahamas

Poverty Breeds 35% ‘No Graduate’ Rate

Tribune Business Editor

More than one-third of the poorest Bahamians fail to complete secondary education, helping to create what a former Cabinet minister yesterday described as a “stubbornly high” youth unemployment rate that must be reduced urgently .

James Smith, ex-state finance minister, told Tribune Business that the high jobless rate among Bahamians aged between 15-24 years-old, which hit 31 per cent in November 2014, was “structural” in nature.

He said the high rate epitomised the large gap between jobs that were available and the skill sets required by employers, with many young Bahamians not equipped to meet these requirements.

Apart from the “social fallout” caused by high youth unemployment, the former Central Bank governor warned that it also held back economic growth, because unemployed persons lacked the incomes to give them spending power.

The consequences are spelled out in a recent Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report obtained by Tribune Business, which identified high unemployment among young Bahamians, and resulting poverty and social inequality, as key factors behind the high crime levels.

The IDB report, on a proposed ‘Citizen Security and Justice Programme’, found that 35 per cent of 20-24 year-old Bahamians drawn from the poorest segment of society had failed to complete secondary school, compared to just 6 per cent of the rest of the population in the same age group.

Highlighting the startling inequalities in Bahamian society, the IDB report said: “The fact that most students complete secondary education but only half of them graduate (pass a final examination) is a worrying indicator of poor system performance.

“Available data shows that 35 per cent of 20-24 year olds from the poorest decile have not completed secondary education, compared to 6 per cent of the rest of the population of that age.”

While unemployment in the 15-24 year-old age group was slightly down in November 2014 compared to the 32.3 per cent peak hit in 2013, the IDB report left no doubt as to the consequences for Bahamian society.

“Research and evidence, show that a wide variety of risk factors contribute to the prevalence of youth violence, one of them being lack of attachment to school and the workplace during adolescence and adulthood,” its report said.

“In the Bahamas, youth unemployment has doubled from 14.9 per cent in 2001 to 32.3 per cent in 2013 for job seekers aged 15 to 24)”, a rate double that of the overall nation’s.

“Further analysis within the 15-24 age group shows that unemployment is particularly high among 15-19 year-olds seeking jobs (42 per cent versus 24 per cent for those 20-24),” the IDB added, highlighting the problems secondary school leavers face in finding immediate employment.

“Searching for jobs can be a discouraging process given that more than 50 per cent of youth remain unemployed for more than a year,” the Bank’s report said. “Idle young people (not in employment, education, or training) are particularly vulnerable to continued labour detachment, which may contribute to violent or anti-social behaviour.

“The employability of youth hinges critically on the level of education and skills attained to match demands from employers. Even though most students complete secondary education, only half of them actually graduate.

“Although there are not available measures of skill levels of unemployed youth, most employers report difficulties in recruiting job candidates because of insufficient specific skills (66 per cent), soft skills (24 per cent) and numeracy skills (12 per cent).”

Responding to the Department of Statistics’ Labour Force Survey, Mr Smith described youth unemployment as “stubbornly high” and “an area that really needs to be addressed”.

He identified the cause as “the gap between available jobs and the skill sets to meet those jobs”, and said: “Jobs being advertised are calling for skills a lot of young people don’t have, plus experience, because a lot of them have never worked before.

“The quick solution to that is really to identify and train the people, if they can, to reach the level of aptitude for jobs that is required.”

Besides the social impact, Mr Smith told Tribune Business: “It’s a restraint to economic growth. Young people joining the labour force at a sufficiently large rate, that keeps an economy going.

“I’m optimistic that over time most of these things will work themselves out.”

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), too, in a statement issued yesterday called for “more emphasis” to be placed on training and skills development in the Bahamian workforce.

“In the excessively fast pace world in which the Bahamas competes, things are moving at the speed of light and if individuals do not take the time to tool and retool themselves, they will get left behind,” the BCCEC said.

“Businesses are looking for people with drive and ambition who are able to produce quality work at an accelerated pace. Loyalty in the workplace experienced in years gone by is a thing of the past, and individuals who are high achievers are always looking for something that is more challenging and more gratifying.

“Therefore, it is also important for private sector businesses and the public service to be on the cutting edge of innovation and technology to ensure that they are also keeping pace with new developments and that they are able to attract quality employees in their businesses.”

The BCCEC added that industrial peace would also aid hiring, and called on employers and trade unions to negotiate reasonable settlements to outstanding issues.

Describing the Bahamian economy as “very fragile”, the Chamber said: “Trade unions, particularly in this environment, should remain cognisant of the vulnerability of workers and should ensure that their members remain employed through balanced demands tied with worker performance and the financial position of employers.

“Employee benefits will come, but the first rule should be that of survival in this current economic environment.”

January 16, 2015

Tribune 242