Saturday, October 18, 2014

Is The Bahamas prepared for Ebola?

Sands: Bahamas not prepared for Ebola

Guardian Staff Reporter

Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Chairman Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday he is not convinced the Ministry of Health is prepared to combat the deadly Ebola virus.

“I am not convinced that we have done enough to protect the interests of the Bahamas and the safety of Bahamians,” said Sands, who is also a surgeon.

“The people at the Ministry of Health can get [upset] as much as they want. Bahamians feel that we have not taken this thing seriously enough.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the Ebola death rate has risen to 70 percent.

Up to Wednesday, the death toll was tallied at 4,493, nearly all of them in West Africa.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen said recently it would be “nearly impossible” to prevent at least one case of Ebola from entering The Bahamas.

However, Brennen said the Ministry of Health has developed a plan it hopes would prevent local spread of the disease.

Sands said the entire world is up in arms over the virus, but The Bahamas seems slow to act.

“Regardless of how well the people at the ministry think they have this thing on lock, they are not going to be the ones who interact with the patient,” he said.

“I am not convinced we are ready. We talk about spraying people down.

“The protocol the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses for decontamination is a certain amount of bleach.

“But has anyone been trained on how to put on a hazmat suit, which can safeguard them, particularly now that we know that if it is not done precisely the way that the CDC suggests that you can still get infected? How many people are trained? Where are they?

“These are all important details that people need to know, just like when you go through the process of telling people to fill their bathtubs and get a tin of sardine and corn beef in preparation for a hurricane.”

The Ebola crisis has captured the attention of many people, including those in this region.

According to reports, Trinidad National Carnival Commission is considering postponing Carnival celebrations in 2015 due to fears associated with the Ebola crisis and the large number of visitors who enter the country for the festival.

According to the Associated Press, both St. Lucia and Colombia are banning visitors from Ebola nations from entering their countries.

October 17, 2014


Thursday, October 16, 2014

United Nations Resolution 2177 (2014) - Expressing grave concern about the outbreak of the Ebola virus

Adopted by the Security Council at its 7268th meeting, on 18 September, 2014

The Security Council,

           Recalling its resolution 2176 (2014) adopted on 15 September 2014 concerning the situation in Liberia and its press statement of 9 July 2014,

           Recalling its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,

           Expressing grave concern about the outbreak of the Ebola virus in, and its impact on, West Africa, in particular Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as Nigeria and beyond,

           Recognizing that the peacebuilding and development gains of the most affected countries concerned could be reversed in light of the Ebola outbreak and underlining that the outbreak is undermining the stability of the most affected countries concerned and, unless contained, may lead to further instances of civil unrest, social tensions and a deterioration of the political and security climate, 

           Determining that the unprecedented extent of the Ebola outbreak in Africa constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

           Expressing concern about the particular impact of the Ebola outbreak on women,

           Welcoming the convening of the Mano River Union Extraordinary Summit, held in Guinea on 1 August 2014, and the commitments expressed by the Heads of State of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to combat the Ebola outbreak in the region, including by strengthening treatment services and measures to isolate the outbreak across borders,

           Taking note of the measures taken by the Member States of the region, especially Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, in response to the Ebola outbreak and recognizing that the outbreak may exceed the capacity of the governments concerned to respond,

           Taking note of the letter (S/2014/669) dated 29 August 2014 to the Secretary-General from the Presidents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, requesting a comprehensive response to the Ebola outbreak, including a coordinated international response to end the outbreak and to support the societies and economies affected by restrictions on trade and transportation during the outbreak,

           Recognizing the measures taken by the Member States of the region, in particular Côte d’Ivoire, Cabo Verde, Ghana, Mali and Senegal, to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most affected countries,

           Emphasizing the key role of Member States, including through the Global Health Security Agenda where applicable, to provide adequate public health services to detect, prevent, respond to and mitigate outbreaks of major infectious diseases through sustainable, well-functioning and responsive public health mechanisms,

           Recalling the International Health Regulations (2005), which are contributing to global public health security by providing a framework for the coordination of the management of events that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern, and aim to improve the capacity of all countries to detect, assess, notify and respond to public health threats and underscoring the importance of WHO Member States abiding by these commitments,

           Underscoring that the control of outbreaks of major infectious diseases requires urgent action and greater national, regional and international collaboration and, in this regard, stressing the crucial and immediate need for a coordinated international response to the Ebola outbreak, 

           Commending Member States, bilateral partners and multilateral organizations for the crucial assistance, including financial commitments and in-kind donations, provided to and identified for the affected people and governments of the region to support the scaling up of emergency efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and interrupt transmission of the virus, including by providing flexible funds to relevant United Nations agencies and international organizations involved in the response to enable them and national governments to purchase supplies and enhance emergency operations in the affected countries, as well as by collaborating with public and private sector partners to accelerate development of therapies, vaccines and diagnostics to treat patients and limit or prevent further infection or transmission of the Ebola virus disease, 

           Expressing deep appreciation to the first-line responders to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including national and international health and humanitarian relief workers contributed by the Member States of diverse regions and non-governmental organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and also expressing appreciation to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) for transporting humanitarian personnel and medical supplies and equipment, especially to remote locations in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, during the outbreak,

           Welcoming the efforts of the African Union (AU), in coordination with bilateral partners and multilateral organizations, to craft a united, comprehensive and collective African response to the outbreak, including through the deployment of healthcare workers to the region, and also the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support steps to contain the spread of the Ebola virus, including through the support of the defence forces of its Member States,

           Expressing concern about the impact, including on food security, of general travel and trade restrictions in the region and taking note of the AU call on its Member States to lift travel restrictions to enable the free movement of people and trade to the affected countries,

           Emphasizing the role of all relevant United Nations System entities, in particular the United Nations General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, and Peacebuilding Commission, in supporting the national, regional and international efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak and recognizing, in this regard, the central role of the World Health Organization (WHO), which designated the Ebola outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, 

           Stressing the need for coordinated efforts of all relevant United Nations System entities to address the Ebola outbreak in line with their respective mandates and to assist, wherever possible, national, regional and international efforts in this regard,

           Taking note of the WHO Ebola Response Roadmap of 28 August 2014 that aims to stop transmission of the Ebola virus disease worldwide, while managing the consequences of any further international spread and also taking note of the 12 Mission Critical Actions, including infection control, community mobilization and recovery, to resolve the Ebola outbreak,

           Taking note of the WHO protocols to prevent the transmission of the Ebola virus disease between individuals, organizations and populations, underlining that the Ebola outbreak can be contained, including through the implementation of established safety and health protocols and other preventive measures that have proven effective and commending the efforts of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to communicate, including through UNMIL Radio, such protocols and preventive measures to the Liberian public,

           Reiterating its appreciation for the appointments by the Secretary-General of David Nabarro as the United Nations System Senior Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease and of Anthony Banbury as the Deputy Ebola Coordinator and Operation Crisis Manager operating from the Crisis Response Mechanism of the United Nations, activated on 5 September 2014 and which aims to consolidate the operational work of the United Nations System, Member States, non-governmental organizations and other partners focused on providing assistance to the affected countries in response to the Ebola outbreak, as well as to ensure United Nations System assistance to developing, leading and implementing an effective response to the broader dimensions of the outbreak that include food security and access to basic health services,

           Welcoming the intention of the Secretary-General to convene a high-level meeting on the margins of the sixty-ninth United Nations General Assembly to urge an exceptional and vigorous response to the Ebola outbreak,

           1.        Encourages the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to accelerate the establishment of national mechanisms to provide for the rapid diagnosis and isolation of suspected cases of infection, treatment measures, effective medical services for responders, credible and transparent public education campaigns, and strengthened preventive and preparedness measures to detect, mitigate and respond to Ebola exposure, as well as to coordinate the rapid delivery and utilization of international assistance, including health workers and humanitarian relief supplies, as well as to coordinate their efforts to address the transnational dimension of the Ebola outbreak, including the management of their shared borders, and with the support of bilateral partners, multilateral organizations and the private sector;

           2.        Encourages the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to continue efforts to resolve and mitigate the wider political, security, socioeconomic and humanitarian dimensions of the Ebola outbreak, as well as to provide sustainable, well-functioning and responsive public health mechanisms, emphasizes that responses to the Ebola outbreak should address the specific needs of women and stresses the importance of their full and effective engagement in the development of such responses;

           3.        Expresses concern about the detrimental effect of the isolation of the affected countries as a result of trade and travel restrictions imposed on and to the affected countries;

           4.        Calls on Member States, including of the region, to lift general travel and border restrictions, imposed as a result of the Ebola outbreak, and that contribute to the further isolation of the affected countries and undermine their efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak and also calls on airlines and shipping companies to maintain trade and transport links with the affected countries and the wider region;

           5.        Calls on Member States, especially of the region, to facilitate the delivery of assistance, including qualified, specialized and trained personnel and supplies, in response to the Ebola outbreak to the affected countries and, in this regard, expresses deep appreciation to the government of Ghana for allowing the resumption of the air shuttle of UNMIL from Monrovia to Accra, which will transport international health workers and other responders to areas affected by the Ebola outbreak in Liberia;

           6.        Calls on Member States, especially of the region, and all relevant actors providing assistance in response to the Ebola outbreak, to enhance efforts to communicate to the public, as well as to implement, the established safety and health protocols and preventive measures to mitigate against misinformation and undue alarm about the transmission and extent of the outbreak among and between individuals and communities and, in this regard, requests the Secretary-General to develop a strategic communication platform using existing United Nations System resources and facilities in the affected countries, as necessary and available, including to assist governments and other relevant partners;

           7.        Calls on Member States to provide urgent resources and assistance, including deployable medical capabilities such as field hospitals with qualified and sufficient expertise, staff and supplies, laboratory services, logistical, transport and construction support capabilities, airlift and other aviation support and aeromedical services and dedicated clinical services in Ebola Treatment Units and isolation units, to support the affected countries in intensifying preventive and response activities and strengthening national capacities in response to the Ebola outbreak and to allot adequate capacity to prevent future outbreaks;

           8.        Urges Member States, as well as bilateral partners and multilateral organizations, including the AU, ECOWAS, and European Union, to mobilize and provide immediately technical expertise and additional medical capacity, including for rapid diagnosis and training of health workers at the national and international level, to the affected countries, and those providing assistance to the affected countries, and to continue to exchange expertise, lessons learned and best practices, as well as to maximize synergies to respond effectively and immediately to the Ebola outbreak, to provide essential resources, supplies and coordinated assistance to the affected countries and implementing partners and calls on all relevant actors to cooperate closely with the Secretary-General on response assistance efforts;

           9.        Urges Member States to implement relevant Temporary Recommendations issued under the International Health Regulations (2005) regarding the 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa, and lead the organization, coordination and implementation of national preparedness and response activities, including, where and when relevant, in collaboration with international development and humanitarian partners;

           10.      Commends the continued contribution and commitment of international health and humanitarian relief workers to respond urgently to the Ebola outbreak and calls on all relevant actors to put in place the necessary repatriation and financial arrangements, including medical evacuation capacities and treatment and transport provisions, to facilitate their immediate and unhindered deployment to the affected countries;

           11.      Requests the Secretary-General to help to ensure that all relevant United Nations System entities, including the WHO and UNHAS, in accordance with their respective mandates, accelerate their response to the Ebola outbreak, including by supporting the development and implementation of preparedness and operational plans and liaison and collaboration with governments of the region and those providing assistance; 

           12.      Encourages the WHO to continue to strengthen its technical leadership and operational support to governments and partners, monitor Ebola transmission, assist in identifying existing response needs and partners to meet those needs to facilitate the availability of essential data and hasten the development and implementation of therapies and vaccines according to best clinical and ethical practices and also encourages Member States to provide all necessary support in this regard, including the sharing of data in accordance with applicable law;

                13.           Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Concept of Urban Botanical Parks throughout The Bahamas and Bahamian Communities

Restored Nassau Botanical Gardens to be Forerunner for Urban Botanical Parks

BIS NASSAU, The Bahamas -- A revitalized Nassau Botanical Gardens can serve as the 'Central Park' of New Providence, Minister of the Environment and Housing the Hon. Kenred Dorsett said.

“Those of us of a certain age surely can recall when the Nassau Botanical Gardens was a breathtaking sight to behold,” Mr. Dorsett said. “Many of us would have attended weddings or other events there when the waterfalls were operational and the pathways were in better condition.  The Gardens are still a tranquil oasis in the middle of the city but it is not in the operational state that it used to be.

 “Given its position next to Clifford Park, the entire space could become a magnificent spot for recreation, education and entertainment on the island.  This park could offer residents and visitors a place to relax, congregate and commune with nature.  It could be a place where concerts and theatrical shows can be held with an amphitheater and concession areas.  It could also continue to be the place where indigenous trees and flowering plants are grown and displayed.  These plants could be transplanted to beautify other spaces and verges around the island.”

The restoration or “revitalization” of the Nassau Botanical Gardens is expected to be the forerunner for the establishment of Urban Botanical Parks in a number of the islands of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in order to ensure easy access to green spaces and natural areas for recreation and enjoyment

Mr. Dorsett said the establishment of the Bahamas Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority will change the way the country has operated and managed parks and beaches prior to the new legislation.

“It will ensure that the Bahamian people have access to well- kept beaches and recreational spaces across the nation.  There will be an organized approach through the establishment of the Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority to the management and upkeep of our beaches and parks.

“When enacted, it will enhance the quality of life of Bahamians and will aid in the mitigation of climate change and green house gas emissions. It will also create new green jobs for our people, with the introduction of a trained workforce of park wardens to properly manage these facilities. They will ensure that our parks and beaches become family-oriented for recreational, commercial and touristic use,” Mr. Dorsett added.

Mr. Dorsett said he was given the mandate by Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie to ensure that Clifford Park be transformed into a space reminiscent of New York City's Central Park. The National Botanical Gardens can take on that role.

Mr. Dorsett said the Prime Minister further requested that officials from the Ministry of the Environment and Housing seek support from the Bahamas National Trust, Members of Parliament and NGOs to identify and create a system of Botanical Gardens within, or adjacent to, communities on the Family Islands to ensure easy access to green spaces and natural areas for recreation and enjoyment.

He said many local settlements on the Family Islands lack a city centre and that Urban Botanical Parks could act as a central area for community activities and tourism information as well as a staging area for national events such as independence celebrations.

“Urban Botanical Gardens can also encourage development of complementary businesses to the outdoor space such as Ice Cream Shops, Coffee shops, bakeries and other similar establishments; the promotion of healthy lifestyles and access to a safe area for walking and running would be a valuable contribution to community life.

“Well-planned and planted urban botanical parks can become a wildlife oasis in developed areas. These areas become not only important for local birds but essential areas for migratory birds who need food, water and tree cover as they make their annual migrations. The Parks then become areas that support urban birding programmes for youth and adults and will become key areas for youth activities in urban renewal programmes.”

Minister Dorsett said Urban Botanical Parks can further strengthen communities by providing opportunities for corporate and NGO partnerships. Community Parks, he said, can provide staging places for special interest groups to accomplish educational outreach, advocacy and public funding for special projects.

“The development of these urban botanical areas is ideal for providing summer employment for youth in communities. The young people can receive training in landscape design and implementation as well as learning basic construction skills. Additionally their involvement in the development of the parks will give them ownership and discourage vandalism and inappropriate activities in these community parks.

“Urban Botanical Areas provide a staging place for a number of educational opportunities. Educators can use the areas to organize educational activities on plants, insects and birds. These parks, with proper infrastructure, can also become staging areas for community school concerts and theatrical performances,” Minister Dorsett added.

Mr. Dorsett said it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that “we do our part to better the position of our country on the world's stage and more importantly, to create an environment of prosperity that will provide opportunities for the advancement for our people.”

“This administration takes this responsibility seriously.  Thus we have done what we have to do to ensure that The Bahamas continues to progress in the best interest of Bahamians through legislation and policy.”

October 07, 2014

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The National Insurance Board (NIB) and the growth and development of the modern Bahamas

In its 40 Years, NIB has Fueled National Growth

By Gena Gibbs:

NASSAU, The Bahamas – In his address of the National Insurance Board’s 40th Anniversary Church Service at Evangelistic Temple on Sunday, Minister of Labour, National Insurance and the Public Service, the Hon. Shane Gibson illustrated the significant role NIB has played in the overall growth and development of The Bahamas.

He expounded saying, “we’ve not only assisted with the benefits paid to contributors, we’ve assisted in building dozens of clinics all over The Bahamas.  We’ve assisted in constructing many Government facilities.  We’ve assisted with unemployment benefits.  And we are now on the way to introducing a National Health Insurance scheme, which would mean universal healthcare for all Bahamians, throughout the length and breadth of The Bahamas.”

Acknowledging the significant milestone of 40 years, Minister Gibson said: “We pause to reflect on and access the National Insurance Board as an Institution, as a movement, and as a foundation pillar of our modern Bahamas.”

NIB was created to administer the country’s social security programe, and first opened its doors on October 7, 1974.   Minister Gibson outlined its history and development since then, noting that Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, also present at the service, was the third Minister of National Insurance, and among the first Ministers appointed to National Insurance during the period of 1977 to 1982, just three years after the program was introduced.

Mr. Gibson stated: “In the historical context of The Bahamas, this was the immediate post Independence period when expectations in the social, economic and political context were very high.  It was a time when the Government of the Bahamas had to be seen to be delivering on the promises and aspirations that drove the movement to Independence.

“But as history has proven, time and again, political freedom gained from a struggle is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end.  In The Bahamas, we dreamt of and aspired to education for all of our people, access to basic healthcare, non-discrimination in employment opportunities, and social mechanisms that would allow and give us some measure of dignity when things become rough, and a normal means to earn an income uninterrupted.”

Minister Gibson said that to its credit, the Bahamas Government had seen the need for a comprehensive system of social security, and a small group of persons in The Bahamas was charged with developing a social security scheme that would provide some acceptable form of income replacement for workers of the country, and their dependents, from the cradle to the grave.

“And this work was completed with the passage of the National Insurance legislation in 1972.  I think the point of then and now would best illustrate the phenomenal growth of the scheme.  At the start of the various programs under the National Insurance, short-term benefits were paid at a maximum rate of $54 per week, long-term benefits were paid at a rate of $26 per month, and funeral benefits, one-time payment, was $200,” said Minister Gibson.

“Old age, non-contributory pension, which was paid when insufficient or no contributions had been made, was $26 per month.  At the end of its first three years, National Insurance had collected some $58 Million in contributions; had paid out over $6 Million, as Benefits assistance; and had a reserve fund of some $52 Million.

Minister Gibson said that no one at the time could imagine how significant NIB would grow to become over the years.

“Today, in contrast to its humble, but ambitious beginnings, NIB at the end of its last financial year 2013 had accumulated reserves of some $1.6 billion.  Its contribution income for the same year was reported at $229 million.  While its benefits expenditure for 2013 was some $222 million,” said Minister Gibson.

“It also realized an investment of some $86.3 million during the period.  Additionally, maximum monthly long-term benefits and weekly short-term benefits payments have increased on average of 63-fold and seven-fold respectively, since 1972.” 

For its achievements, Minister Gibson congratulated the employees of NIB, “in particular those long serving employees who would have made a significant contribution over the years.  And even though persons may say they were well rewarded, I can tell you they have made many sacrifices in making sure that you get the quality service that you do get from NIB.  And so we thank them and we congratulate them.”

Minister Gibson then introduced Prime Minister Christie as one of the most socially conscious Prime Ministers in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas over the last 40 years, who has been there from the beginning and like NIB, is also celebrating 40 years serving the Bahamian people.

Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Vaughan Cash welcomed NIB Board members, executive management, honourees, and staff attending the service to launch National Insurance Week.

October 07, 2014

Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risks in The Bahamas

 “Zero Tolerance On Money Laundering”

By:Jones Bahamas:

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Allyson Maynard-Gibson yesterday reiterated the government’s zero-tolerance position on money laundering as she opened a two-day workshop to address the risks associated with this practice.

With the growing recognition that illegally earned funds are being concealed more and more throughout the Bahamas, officials met to continue the first of three phases of the National Money Laundering Risk Assessment at the Melia Resort early yesterday morning.

“My presence here this morning indicates the commitment of the government to Financial Services and doing all that it takes to correct the ease of doing business ratings – it’s very very low…lower than we ought to have,” the attorney general said.

Bahamas Anti-Money Laundering Coordinator, Stephen Thompson, said the sole purpose of the National Risk Assessment is to identify money laundering and terrorist financing risks in the Bahamas. The two day workshop facilitated by the World Bank will consist of training on exactly how to identify the risks.

“This is a workshop where once we would have determined the money laundering terrorists and financing risks, we will determine how we go about putting mechanisms in place to strengthen what already exists or put in place mechanisms to identify areas that are not currently regulated. We will move in that direction” said Thompson.

Mr. Thompson told reporters that all financial services legislations will be reviewed for the assessment to determine the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing risks in the Bahamas.

“What we do is we look at what is called Typologies, Money Laundering Typologies. These would be the means by which people have laundered money in the past” said Mr. Thompson, “Those will be the areas, obviously, that we will focus on. In addition to that, we will look at any other areas of vulnerabilities. Meaning, any area that is susceptible to criminal activity, obviously, cash intensive businesses will be very critical for us to look at. Any area that we know from a global perspective poses as a risk for money laundering.”

Attorney General Alyson Maynard was also present at the assessment this morning. She said As the risk assessment continues, Mr. Thompson and his team hope to find any area that is vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing within the country.

October 09, 2014

Jones Bahamas

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Vexing and environmentally damaging Oil Spill along the shores of southwest New Providence Island

Oil Leak Was From Bec And One Other Source

Tribune Staff Reporter

BAHAMAS Electricity Corporation executives met with government officials and a team of biological engineers from the United States yesterday morning after it was discovered that fuel from the corporation’s Clifton Pier facility was leaking along the coastline.

According to Environment Minister Ken Dorsett, the fuel from BEC was mixed with oil from another source that began spilling into canals near Stuart Cove’s Aqua Adventures and Albany last week.

He said the government’s main focus is on containing the oil.

During an address in the House of Assembly, Mr Dorsett said an inspection of BEC’s plant on Sunday revealed that not only was fuel being discharged from one of the facility’s outfalls, but it also revealed that BEC’s containment booms were not preventing all of the fuel emitted into the marine environment from spreading.

“Initial reports indicate that on Wednesday of last week, Stuart Cove’s discovered an extraordinary amount of fuel in the canal area of their operations and the dive sites they use off the southwest coast of the island of New Providence. Initial reports also indicate that Albany also reported fuel in the water and coastline of their property. On Thursday past it was reported to the port controller that there was a smell of oil and an oil slick seen in the Clifton area,” he said.

He said that on Sunday the Royal Bahamas Defence Force took members of the National Oil Spill Committee along the coastline to inspect the marine environment.

“I also inspected the outfalls of the BEC Plant, the BEC containment booms in Clifton Bay and Stuart Cove’s on Sunday morning,” Mr Dorsett said. “The BEC containment booms were not preventing all of the fuel emitted into the marine environment from spreading. It also appeared that fuel was being discharged from one of the outfalls. An inspection of Stuart Cove’s facilities, revealed evidence of fuel discharge in their canal, along the coastline and on the bottoms of their vessels.

“This morning (Monday) two biological environmental engineers from Coastal Systems International arrived in Nassau. A briefing meeting was held at the Ministry of Works at 8:30 am for all government stakeholders and advisors, including officials from BEC. As we speak, the government’s response team and our environmental consultants are inspecting the relevant properties, including BEC’s Clifton Pier Plant.”

Mr Dorsett said all relevant parties and businesses in the industrial area will be engaged in discussions with the government over the next few days to assess and confirm the source or sources of the oil spills as well as the extent of the contamination of properties in the area, including the Clifton Heritage Park.

The consultants will also advise the government on the best way to mitigate and remediate the oil leaks.

This latest spill comes after a significant quantity of oil washed ashore on Adelaide Beach.

The oil found at Adelaide Beach is suspected to have been dumped by a passing ship, according to Aviation and Transport Minister Glenys Hanna Martin, who addressed parliament on the matter.

Last month BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller also denied that BEC’s Clifton Pier plant was the source of the oil. Mr Miller explained at the time that if the oil came from BEC’s plant it would have “run in the opposite area” near Jaws Beach away from Adelaide.

July 07, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Bahamas’ Credit Bureau Project (the BCBP) ...and the establishment of a national credit reporting system in The Bahamas

Bad debt costing millions in credit

Central Bank floats Credit Reporting Bill, Regulations

Guardian Business Editor

Bad credit cost The Bahamas about $1.6 billion in available credit between 2009 and 2013, according to The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB), which has circulated for public consultation a draft Credit Reporting Bill and Regulations – which call for the creation of a credit bureau.

In the context of discussing the need for a credit bureau, and the changes such an entity might entail , Guardian Business spoke with CBOB Governor Wendy Craigg about the cost of bad debt to the economy. Between 2009 and 2013, banks in The Bahamas wrote off about $463 million. During the same period, banks restructured loans valued at about $780 million. And the provisions – the amount of capital set aside against bad loans – were $442 million for the same period.

“This (figure) is only banks. You also have the Bahamas Development Bank, the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation and the credit unions who also have bad debt. So those figures are not included in (that number),” Craigg told Guardian Business.

For perspective, the value of loans restructured between 2009 and December 31, 2013 – nearly $780 million – represents 12.6% of available credit at year end 2013.

The bank notes that these are cumulative figures, which shift from time to time.

“(Bad debt) is using the banks’ resources that they could have to lend,” Craigg said. “So to the extent that banks have written off $463 million between 2009 and 2013 - they’ve written it off, they’ve not collected it, and whenever you write off, you write off against capital. That is capital that you have to lend...(and) if you’re drawing down on your capital, you’re endangering the health of the banking system, which could impact financial stability.

“We want to ensure that whatever happens in the system, all of these developments are aligned with the Central Bank’s objective of maintaining financial stability,” Craigg said.

In this context, the governor noted that a credit bureau will not necessarily restrict the amount of credit, but it will ensure that “the quality of the credit improves” due to the comprehensive nature of the information a credit bureau can supply a bank or other lender, on which they can then determine creditworthinesss.

“As it currently stands, they are making their credit decisions on incomplete information,” Craigg said. “What can happen in these circumstances is what is called ‘adverse selection,’ where you may be granting credit to persons who may not have the ability to repay the credit.

“So it could curtail the credit, but its certainly going to reduce considerably the riskiness of the credit process.”

The Bahamas’ Credit Bureau Project (the BCBP) was launched by the Central Bank in 2010, for the purpose of establishing a national credit reporting system in The Bahamas.

The Bank says in its public consultation document that a national credit reporting system should be supported by an appropriate legal and regulatory framework

“(The Bank) has, therefore, drafted the Credit Reporting Bill, 2014 and accompanying Credit Reporting Regulations, 2014 (attached to the consultation document). The Bank is now seeking public feedback on the draft Bill and Regulations.”

These drafts were prepared with support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as part of the technical assistance which the Bank is receiving under the IFC’s Caribbean Credit Bureau Project—which is a 5 (five) year project for credit bureau development in the English‐speaking Caribbean, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The draft Bill and Regulations have gone through several revisions, following review by the Central Bank and the BCBP’s inter‐disciplinary Legal Working Group.

October 03, 2014