Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Bahamas is one of three Caribbean nations that lead in improving the region’s business climate

World Bank: Bahamas Improving Region’s Business Climate

by Rogan Smith

The Bahamas is one of three Caribbean countries in the lead when it comes to improving the region’s business climate, according to a new World Bank report.

The ‘Doing Business 2014: Understanding Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises’ report was released Tuesday.

The Washington-based financial institution said this country, along with Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago took steps to improve their business regulatory environment over the past year.

The report said The Bahamas made transferring property easier by reducing its stamp duty.

It also noted that The Bahamas enhanced its insolvency process by implementing rules for the remuneration of liquidators, allowing voluntary liquidations and outlining clawback provisions for suspect transactions.

However, Jamaica led the way in the Caribbean by adopting new legislation for private credit bureaus, reducing the corporate income tax rate and streamlining procedures for starting a new business.

The report acknowledged Trinidad & Tobago’s efforts to lower the cost of connecting to the power supply.

The Bahama Journal

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Gaming and financial regulations in The Bahamas

Bahamas ‘10 to 15 years’ ahead of curve on casino gaming

Director of UK institute focused on financial crime suggests need to address illegal gaming

Guardian Business Editor

The Bahamas is “10 to 15 years ahead of the curve” in the region with respect to legal gaming and associated regulation, but will likely have to very soon consider the implications of illegal gaming in the “web shop” industry if it is to avoid the “very painful downsides” of unregulated gambling, an international gaming and financial crime regulation specialist has warned.
Kleo Pappas, director of the International Governance and Risk Institute, told Guardian Business that he expects that illegal gaming is a topic that will arise during the forthcoming “Bahamas Gaming Forum: Fostering Growth, Transparency and Social Responsibility”, which the institute is hosting at Atlantis resort next week.
A UK-based entity that specializes in organizing and running financial crime prevention training programs, consultations and gaming regulation seminars, the International Governance and Risk Institute’s forum will bring together regional officials and firms navigating the challenges of managing gaming regulation in an environment of evolving technology, while remaining competitive.
Among those expected to attend from throughout the region, the U.S., Canada and Australia are casino managers, money laundering reporting officers, gaming regulators, law enforcement officers, compliance officers and international firms seeking access to emerging markets for gaming.
The event will be opened by Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe and Prime Minister Perry Christie, and will see speakers focus on issues such as the growth and regulation of Caribbean gaming, anti-money laundering, essentials of gaming law, customer due diligence for online gaming and “cheat intelligence”.
Pappas said that recently-tabled legislation in The Bahamas which would allow mobile gaming on resort campuses throughout The Bahamas certainly raises interesting new questions for regulators who might seek to ensure this type of activity is being managed in a responsible and legal manner.
“Without a doubt, because having mobile gaming is gambling remotely [it raises new challenges]. You’re not going to a resort, you’re not snapped on a camera or anything like that. And socially - and I don’t really know because I haven’t been immersed in this country’s regulations - I am not sure how they will effectively limit that to on-campus.
“If you are on the side of the fence that doesn’t want gaming to become prevalent, there is the question of how those on the other side of the fence may view (mobile gaming) as the thin end of the wedge.”
Pappas said that The Bahamas is a model for other jurisdictions that may be interested in pursuing gaming to a greater degree, but indicated that the jurisdiction may eventually have some catching up to do with respect to dealing with the “numbers” sector.
“I think for The Bahamas what you have going for you though is that you are in a place where a lot of jurisdictions are going to be in 10 to 15 years from now.
“You are further along this evolution of gaming and financial regulations; your financial intelligence unit is very well run and organized. There are fail-safe measures in place for the financial services industry which wouldn’t take a lot of effort to modify them for the gaming sector.
“But if this is something that is happening illegally, I don’t think it’s going to be a very long time before they have to look at it. And by all means look at something like they have in the UK, put the emphasis very much on the gaming operators to put money into a pot to make sure there is a social awareness, that people realize the very painful downside to gaming that is done to excess,” said Pappas.
He compared unregulated gaming to Prohibition in the U.S., and told Guardian Business that he expects the topic to come up at the forthcoming forum.
“We’re going to have one or two debates I’m sure and panel sessions, and if it doesn’t get raised I’m going to raise it,. The parallels are very similar to the Voldstead Act - the prohibition of alcohol for that famous 10-12 year period in the U.S. where they decided they would have the ‘sober society’ and concentrate on what was important.
“The church was very much behind that, and what was the result? People drank astonishing amounts of booze, huge amounts of money was spent on it, and you had this gangster class of people that rose up. The elicit gaming that happens here, you are not alone in that, Trinidad and Tobago has the same issue.

“They don’t have a regulator because they don’t want to be seen to regulate something that is illegal, but they realize that the writing is on the wall, the end is nigh and they are at the point where they either take the plunge and legalize it or stamp it out somehow.”

The Bahamas Gaming Forum will take place from October 28 - 30 at Atlantis resort.

October 25, 2013


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Bahamas Government’s focus on Value-Added Tax’s (VAT) ‘medium-term benefits’ is “a farce” ...says Rick Lowe of the Nassau Institute

Gov'ts Medium Term Vat Focus 'A Farce'

Tribune Business Editor

The Government’s focus on Value-Added Tax’s (VAT) ‘medium-term benefits’ was yesterday described as “a farce”, with the private sector and consumers more concerned with what happens on July 1, 2014.
Rick Lowe, an executive with the Nassau Institute think-tank, which produced a study showing VAT would have a highly negative impact on the Bahamian economy, said businesses were more concerned about the immediate, near-term effects of tax reform.
He was responding to John Rolle, the Ministry of Finance’s financial secretary, who told Tribune Business yesterday that the initial results from an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) study showed that VAT would positively impact jobs and growth, and reduce inflation, in the ‘medium term’.
While Mr Rolle did not define that latter term, Mr Lowe said that in economic terms it usually referred to a duration of five-10 years.
He added that this ‘longer term’ outlook also failed to account for the likely immediate inflationary impact of VAT, especially on services, which accounts for 70 per cent of the Bahamian economy.
“I think it’s a bit of a farce to say what’s going to happen in the medium term,” Mr Lowe said of the Financial Secretary’s comments.
“We’re concerned with what’s going to happen the day it’s implemented, the near and immediate term. What about all these countries where it’s caused increased unemployment, the government to lose revenue, all sorts of economic dislocation?
“Why are you talking about what’s going to happen in the medium term, five-10 years away?”
Mr Rolle said the IDB study has shown that VAT will have a “positive” impact on the Bahamian economy’s growth and employment prospects in the medium-term.
He added that despite the IDB study being incomplete, the ‘preliminary results’ showed the Government’s tax reform centrepiece would also result in reduced inflationary pressures.
“While the IDB study is ongoing, we have seen the preliminary results, which attest to the projected positive economic impact of the fiscal reforms (growth and employment over the medium term), and to the reduced inflationary pressures to which the budgetary consolidation would contribute,” Mr Rolle told Tribune Business.
“Additional historical data is being added to the economic model, which will allow the researchers to fine-tune their results. Afterwards the results of the study will be published.”
Yet Mr Lowe suggested the fact Mr Rolle did not comment on VAT’s immediate impact was telling.
“I keep saying to people: ‘Watch the language, watch what they don’t say’. That’s critical. They’re masters at it. It’s quite frustrating, honestly,” he told Tribune Business.
“It’s very unfair to the Bahamian citizen, the Bahamian taxpayer. They don’t talk about the immediate cost of living increases that are going to happen.”
The IDB used its October quarterly bulletin on the Caribbean to confirm it is working with the Government on implementing VAT in the Bahamas. It said its study on the new tax’s impact on the economy and wider society was only “underway”.
“The IDB has been working with the Government of the Bahamas to assist with Value-Added Tax (VAT) implementation,” the Bank’s October missive said.
“Using an econometric model, the IDB has provided specific input on the effects of the changes in revenue of the proposed VAT rates and the base on which the VAT will be charged.
“An economic impact study that assesses the effect on prices, economic growth, poverty and income distribution is currently underway. Consultations on the creation of the Central Revenue Agency, which will administer the VAT and select the IT system, are currently underway.”
October 22, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013 we celebrate 40 years of Bahamian independence ...the time has now arrived for us to complete the process ...and to honor those among us who deserve to be recognized as Bahamian national heroes

Bahamian national heroes pt. 2

Consider This...


“My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones.  Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results... but it is the effort that's heroic, as I see it.  Win or lose, I admire those who fight the good fight.”

– George R.R. Martin

Two weeks ago, on October 7, in part one of this series on Bahamian national heroes, we asked whether it was time for us to bring into force a national honors system for Bahamian heroes.  Two days later, on October 9, the prime minister delivered a communication to Parliament announcing that the government would bring the Majority Rule (Public Holiday) Act 2013 into force, ushering in the long-awaited recognition of the day on which majority rule was achieved in The Bahamas, January 10, 1967, as a public holiday.  Accordingly, the first public holiday to commemorate that singularly important event will be celebrated next year on January 10, 2014.

In the same communication, the prime minister announced that the National Heroes Act 2007 would also come into force on Friday, October 11, 2013, replacing the day that was previously celebrated initially as Columbus Day and later as Discovery Day as National Heroes Day.  And so said, so done!

This week, we would like to Consider This… is it time for us to complete the process of bringing into force a national honors system for Bahamian heroes?

A step in the right direction

Without a doubt the official recognition of these public holidays is a gargantuan step in the right direction.  And for this, Perry Christie and his administration should be applauded.  These two important holidays on the Bahamian calendar will forever concretize Christie’s legacy in the annals of Bahamian history.  However, these are first steps and much more is required.

In his communication, the prime minister stated that “National Heroes Day” will be a national holiday to “be observed on the second Monday in the month of October of each year”.  That is not technically correct.  The National Heroes Act specifically states in section 11 that “the 12th day of October”, not the second Monday of October, “will be commemorated as The Bahamas National Heroes Day”.  It is a distinction with a difference, one that, we are certain, will be clarified in the fullness of time.

The advisory committee

The National Heroes Act provides for an advisory committee that will make recommendations as to persons who should be recognized as national heroes.  According to the act, the advisory committee “shall consist of not less than seven members appointed by the prime minister” and be comprised of two senators and two members of the House of Assembly.  In his communication to the House of Assembly, the prime minister correctly observed that, “It would certainly be my wish, Mr. Speaker, that there be one nominee from the government and one nominee from the opposition in each of the House of Assembly and the Senate.  This will ensure optimal balance and parity.  We really do need to take partisanship and political prejudice out of the selection of our national heroes.  To do otherwise would be to debase the whole process and to detract from the sense of national unity and patriotism that should always be exclusively in view when we approach a matter such as this.”

However, if the advisory committee is constituted with the minimum number of persons provided by the act, which is seven, then the advisory committee will be dominated by the four politicians and the majority vote will be able to be cast by those politicians.  Given the profoundly partisan polarization and seemingly intractable political tribalism that has developed in the country over the past decade, this could defeat the objective of removing “partisanship and political prejudice out of the selection” process.  For far too long, an elongated and dark shadow of politics has been cast over most things in our society.  Because, as Christie put it, “this group, this ‘Order of National Heroes’, will be exceedingly small – the rarest of the rare, the greatest of the great”, the selection process must be scrupulously meticulous and not obscured by that shadow – or any other – so that Bahamians, present and future, may be confident in the impartial choices of these exceptional individuals who will carry this extraordinary title and the term “national hero”.

We therefore believe and recommend that, in order to accomplish this objective, the prime minister, in exercising his powers of appointment under the act, should appoint an advisory committee of at least nine persons, and ensure that the majority of the committee will be comprised of non-politicians.  We can only assume and hope that the non-politicos on the committee will be broadly drawn from civil society in such a manner that would firmly instill the public confidence that must be maintained in the selection process.  In addition, we suggest that the chairman of the committee should not be a politician.

The National Honours Act 2007

The National Honours Act 2007 which has not yet been brought into force, provides for the establishment of national honors, including:

• The Order of The Bahamas

• The Order of Excellence

• The Order of Distinction

• The Order of Merit

• Other honors constituted by the governor general after consultation of the advisory committee established under section 13 of the Bahamas National Heroes Act.

It will be critically important to clearly define the criteria that must be satisfied for each of the aforementioned honors and once completed, to begin identifying those deserving souls and to commence conferring such local honors upon them.  As we develop our own criteria, we can draw on the experiences of some of our neighbors: Jamaica’s National Honours and Awards Act, established in 1969, and the National Heroes Act, passed by the Parliament of Barbados in 1998, just to name two.


As we noted in part one of this series and as we celebrate 40 years of Bahamian independence, the time has now arrived for us to complete the process and to honor those among us who deserve to be recognized as Bahamian national heroes.  We should do so in the grand and respectful manner that Bahamian honorees rightly deserve, finally joining our Caribbean counterparts in celebrating our own, in our own way, and showing the world how much we value ourselves and the contributions of our countrymen who have helped to build this 21st century nation.

• Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to

October 21, 2013

Bahamian National Heroes pt. 1


Sunday, October 20, 2013

What's the “current impact” of slavery on The Bahamas and Bahamians? ...CARICOM, the Caribbean Community organisation suing Britain, France and the Netherlands ...for what could be millions of dollars in reparations for slavery

Lawyers Want Bahamians To Help Determine Slavery Impact

Tribune 242:

BAHAMIANS could help determine the “current impact” of slavery on the nation as part of the effort to get slavery reparations from European countries.

That’s the proposal from the British lawyers who are advising CARICOM, the Caribbean Community organisation, which is suing Britain, France and the Netherlands for what could be millions of dollars in reparations for slavery.
CARICOM says it hopes to reach a settlement with the European countries and will only take legal action if talks collapse.
It set up a reparations commission to work out who should be paid and how much, led by Barbados historian Sir Hilary Beckles.
Martyn Day, the British lawyer who is advising CARICOM, told The Tribune: “Our proposal is that we work with a group of academics under Professor Beckles and people from each country to determine the current impact of slavery on each nation. We are awaiting the CARICOM response to that proposal.
“These are still early days and we are working out a protocol with the CARICOM group.”
Leigh Day, the UK-based firm set up by Mr Day 26 years ago, represented 5,250 Mau Mau in the claims against the British Government regarding the torture they suffered at the hands of the British colonial regime in the 1950s in Kenya. They negotiated a total deal of around £20 million ($32 million) for them.
Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, contacted the firm this spring to ask if they could assist in bringing a claim against the British and other governments in relation to slavery.
Mr Day said the request was “much in the light of the Mau Mau settlement.”
He said: “We advised PM Gonsalves as to the best legal route to take with the claims and then in July I made a presentation to the CARICOM leaders meeting in Trinidad of the legal route. This was a part of the resolution put forward by PM Gonsalves. The resolution was unanimously carried.
“Then last month I made a presentation to the meeting of the National Reparations Steering Committees re the legal case when it met in St Vincent.”
Bahamas Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell told The Tribune last week that although no representative from this country was present when the decision was taken, the Bahamas was still bound by that decision. He said: “We haven’t defined a position taken at the last CARICOM meeting. We weren’t represented there. However, whatever was the decision that came out of the last meeting, that would represent our position.”
Mr Day said: “The first step will be to put letters together on behalf of each nation in CARICOM setting out to the British/French/Dutch governments the case. That is all about the issue of the impact of slavery on each nation today. It is too early to state quite what the figure being claimed will be.
“The claim will be on behalf of governments who would look to use any sums obtained for the benefit of their peoples. I can well imagine that if the claims are successful and a deal is agreed with the western governments that they would look to ensure the money paid out was used on the projects discussed.”
October 18, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

...a push to The Bahamas government for the enactment of a Food Security Tariff ensure that what is produced locally is available to the Bahamian public

Eneas Calls For Food Security Tariff

by Korvell Pyfrom
Jones Bahamas

Agricultural expert Godfrey Eneas yesterday made a push to the government to enact a “Food Security Tariff,” which he said will give better market access to local producers.

Mr. Eneas, who also serves as The Bahamas’ Ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), noted that The Bahamas’ food system has to overcome significant barriers.

“I will shortly propose to the minister that we introduce a Food Security Tariff to ensure that what we produce is available to the Bahamian public,” he said. “Food and nutrition security in The Bahamas will not be a reality without the cooperation of local food importers who, at the moment, control the food market.”

Mr. Eneas was among the speakers at a ceremony commemorating World Food Day at Arawak Cay.
As The Bahamas’ representative at the FAO he explained that world hunger is among one of the greatest challenges facing mankind.

“Many of us in this country take food for granted,” Mr. Eneas said.

“If you need some rice, meat, eggs, vegetables we go to the food store. However, there are scores of countries where food is not readably available because of poverty – food is unaffordable, because food production has been adversely affected by factors like climate change, the inability to purchase or obtain inputs like seeds, fertilizer, pesticides or the harvest has been destroyed by pest and diseases.

“One out of every eight people globally suffers from hunger. Feeding mankind has become a very complex undertaking.”

He noted the significance of this year’s World Food Day theme, “Sustainable Food Systems for Food and Nutrition Security” and reminded that The Bahamas imports $1 billion dollars’ worth of food.

“We depend on the global food system because our food system is woefully inadequate,” Mr. Eneas said. “With reference to our present food system and its ability to provide food and nutrition security, there are serious shortcomings which, I am happy, to say are being addressed.”

October 17, 2013

The Bahama Journal

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bahamian History and Bahamian National Heroes... Happy National Heroes Day Bahamas!

Our history and national heroes


Monday, October 14, 2013 is a day for the history books of our nation as we celebrated the first National Heroes Day in The Bahamas.

This historic feat comes after years of lobbying and advocacy by several individuals and certain sectors of the Bahamian society for a public holiday in honor of our national heroes.  It was therefore heart-warming when on Thursday, October 10, 2013, Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes gave assent to the passage of two bills which paved the way for the National Heroes Day celebration and the observance of January 10 each year as a public holiday in honor of Majority Rule Day.

Discovery and a nation in transition

History records that in 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail upon the seas from Spain to discover what became known as the New World.  The Bahamas will always have its place in world history as the record shows that Columbus’ first stop on his voyage was Guanahani Cay, which he called San Salvador meaning “the land of Jesus Christ the Savior”.  The blessings upon The Bahamas are apparent in that in spite of our size, our country holds a unique place in history based on the voyage of Columbus.

All across the Americas, nations have paid homage to Christopher Columbus either by recognition of a public holiday or through monuments.  However, many nations have moved to change the name of the holiday for diverse reasons.  Some argue that Columbus was not the first European to sail the Americas, nor could he have discovered that which already existed.  In other words, The Bahamas which is recorded as his first landfall during his first of four voyages, was already inhabited by Arawaks, Tainos and Lucayans.  To reinforce the case against perpetuating the celebration of Discovery Day, Columbus is accused of genocide and eradicating many of the natives during his voyages.  The transition of Discovery Day into National Heroes Day, in our case, also marks another step in the life of our country as we cut ties with our colonial past, giving honor to the men and women of yesterday who fought to create the modern Bahamas as we now know it today.

A landmark event and movement

The Bahamas is one of the last countries in the region to make this long overdue shift as many of our Caribbean counterparts have over the years opted for a National Heroes Day.  It is fitting that the Government of The Bahamas has made this landmark step to recognize the heroes of our nation to ensure that the accomplishments and memories of such unique individuals are enshrined in the conscience of our people from generation to generation.

Additionally, the commemoration of majority rule will forever tell the stories of the struggles of our foremothers and forefathers who fought for the voice of the majority to be heard and the opportunity for equality to be achieved within our commonwealth.  It is our hope that these significant steps taken by the government will also ensure that a full account of history is taught and preserved for future generations.

Our history and our identity

For many years, those of us who were educated in The Bahamas during the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, and even into the new millennium, were taught American and European history for the most part.  Regrettably, we still do not have a formal and comprehensive Bahamian history curriculum within our nation’s school system; this is a matter in need of urgent attention for our history is a major part of who we are as a people.

On a personal note, this writer recalls being introduced to Bahamian history from a political perspective during a government and politics elective course at The College of The Bahamas back in the late nineties.  This begs the question: What about the thousands of Bahamians who may not pursue tertiary education and never enter the halls of The College The Bahamas?  Their only hopes are the biographies and memoirs of past Bahamian leaders or the more popular informal education, which may sometimes be skewed, one-sided and/or inaccurate depending upon the mindset of the individual telling the story.

A dedication to Bahamian history

Spanish philosopher George Santayana stated in his “Reason in Common Sense” that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.  For this reason, it is essential that the Bahamian people, specifically the younger generation, are aware of their history lest we repeat a part of our history to our detriment and the struggles of those before are rendered in vain.  The institution of Bahamian History Month will certainly shine the spotlight on past victories and defeats of those who came before us and fought the good fight to secure the liberties we now enjoy.  Moreover, it may encourage those persons with a story to tell to do so while recording their contributions and sacrifices made for the benefit of our nation.

The education of the populace is important to avoid a return to the dungeons of intolerance and inequality of The Bahamas of old.  It should not be unthinkable that The Bahamas can find itself in the position that it was in pre-majority rule or even pre-independence.  Colonization, albeit in a more subtle and economic form, is still a concern in today’s world – particularly for small island states like The Bahamas, with wealth and political power at the heart of this ill.

Commonality for the national interest

The camaraderie that existed between the individuals of diverse political affiliations, gender, race and creed who labored for the recognition of our national heroes must be allowed to spread throughout our archipelago.  We must always live up to our motto and progress “forward, upward, onward together”.  As we begin to identify and honor our national heroes, we must be ever mindful of their concepts of nationhood, their struggle for freedom, their contributions to our social transformation and their willingness to give of themselves for the benefit of our Bahamas.  These individuals may not have been and will not be perfect; however, their flaws should not disqualify them from national recognition or diminish their status based upon the work they have done to contribute to the quality of life for all Bahamians and their role in the fulfilment of our destiny as a nation.

The spirit of our true national heroes should transcend political divides and address the polarization of our country which has yielded no positive results.  The current state of the U.S., whose government has been shut down and is at risk of a default on its debts, is a chilling reminder of this fact; the reality that level heads should prevail and personal interest should not supersede the national interest lest the nation is destabilized.

As we continue to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our independence, we applaud the government for making this bold and historic move.  We applaud the National Heroes Committee and other proponents of this cause for their tireless efforts over the years to make this day a reality.  In the words of the Rev. Canon S. Sebastian Campbell, a nationalist and progressive who no doubt will have his place in our history, “We urge all our people on all our islands to celebrate our heroes and establish traditions for years to come.”

Happy National Heroes Day!

• Comments on this article can be directed to

October 15, 2013


Monday, October 14, 2013

8 Myths and Atrocities About Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day

On the second Monday of October each year, Native Americans cringe at the thought of honoring a man who committed atrocities against Indigenous Peoples.
Columbus Day was conceived by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic Fraternal organization, in the 1930s because they wanted a Catholic hero. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the day into law as a federal holiday in 1937, the rest has been history.
In an attempt to further thwart the celebration of this “holiday,” we at ICTMN have outlined eight misnomers and bloody, greedy, sexually perverse and horrendous atrocities committed by Columbus and his men.
On the Way—Columbus Stole a Sailor’s Reward
After obtaining funding for his explorations to reach Asia from the seizure and sale of properties from Spanish Jews and Muslims by order of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Columbus headed out to explore a new world with money and ships.
Brimming with the excitement of discovering new land, Columbus offered a reward of 10,000 maravedis or about $540 (a sailor’s yearly salary) for the first person to discover such land. Though another sailor saw the land in October 1492, Columbus retracted the reward he had previously offered because he claimed he had seen a dim light in the west.

Columbus Never Landed on American Soil—Not in 1492, Not Ever
We’re not talking about the Leif Ericson Viking explorer story. We mean Columbus didn’t land on the higher 48—ever. Columbus quite literally landed in what is now known as the Bahamas and later Hispaniola, present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Upon arrival, Columbus and his expedition of weapon laden Spaniards met the Arawaks, Tainos and Lucayans—all friendly, according to Columbus’ writings. Soon after arriving, Columbus wrecked the Santa Maria and the Arawaks worked for hours to save the crew and cargo.
Impressed with the friendliness of the native people, Columbus seized control of the land in the name of Spain. He also helped himself to some locals. In his journal he wrote:
“As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”
The four voyages of Columbus are shown here.
Columbus Painted a Horrible Picture of Peaceful Natives
When Columbus first saw the Native Arawaks that came to greet him and his crew he spoke with a peaceful and admiring tone.
“They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things… They willingly traded everything they owned… They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
After several months in the Caribbean, on January 13, 1493 two Natives were murdered during trading. Columbus, who had otherwise described the Natives as gentle people wrote “(they are) evil and I believe they are from the island of Caribe, and that they eat men.” He also described them as “savage cannibals, with dog-like noses that drink the blood of their victims.”
The cannibal story is taught as fact in some of today’s schools.

This painting of Christopher Columbus was done in 1519 by Sebastiano del Piombo.
Columbus’ Men Were Rapists and Murderers
On Columbus’s first trip to the Caribbean, he later returned to Spain and left behind 39 men who went ahead and helped themselves to Native women. Upon his return the men were all dead.
With 1,200 more soldiers at his disposal, rape and pillaging became rampant as well as tolerated by Columbus.
This is supported by a reported close friend of Columbus, Michele de Cuneo who wrote the first disturbing account of a relation between himself and a Native female gift given to him by Columbus.
“While I was in the boat I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me, and with whom, having taken her into my cabin, she being naked according to their custom, I conceived desire to take pleasure. I wanted to put my desire into execution but she did not want it and treated me with her finger nails in such a manner that I wished I had never begun. But seeing that (to tell you the end of it all), I took a rope and thrashed her well, for which she raised such unheard of screams that you would not have believed your ears. Finally we came to an agreement in such manner that I can tell you that she seemed to have been brought up in a school of harlots.”
Several accounts of cruelty and murder include Spaniards testing the sharpness of blades on Native people by cutting them in half, beheading them in contests and throwing Natives into vats of boiling soap. There are also accounts of suckling infants being lifted from their mother’s breasts by Spaniards, only to be dashed headfirst into large rocks.
Bartolome De Las Casas, a former slave owner who became Bishop of Chiapas, described these exploits. “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel,” he wrote. “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.”
Columbus Enslaved the Native People for Gold
Because Columbus reported a plethora of Natives for slaves, rivers of gold and fertile pastures to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, Columbus was given 17 ships and more than 1,200 men on his next expedition. However, Columbus had to deliver. In the next few years, Columbus was desperate to fulfill those promises—hundreds of Native slaves died on their way back to Spain and gold was not as bountiful as expected.

Christopher Columbus presents Native Americans to Queen Isabella.
Columbus forced the Natives to work in gold mines until exhaustion. Those who opposed were beheaded or had their ears cut off.
In the provinces of Cicao all persons over 14 had to supply at least a thimble of gold dust every three months and were given copper necklaces as proof of their compliance. Those who did not fulfill their obligation had their hands cut off, which were tied around their necks while they bled to death—some 10,000 died handless.
In two years’ time, approximately 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead. Many deaths included mass suicides or intentional poisonings or mothers killing their babies to avoid persecution.
According to Columbus, in a few years before his death, “Gold is the most precious of all commodities; gold constitutes treasure, and he who possesses it has all he needs in the world, as also the means of rescuing souls from purgatory, and restoring them to the enjoyment of paradise.”
Columbus Provided Native Sex Slaves to His Men
In addition to putting the Natives to work as slaves in his gold mines, Columbus also sold sex slaves to his men—some as young as 9. Columbus and his men also raided villages for sex and sport.
In the year 1500, Columbus wrote: “A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”
Columbus’ Men Used Native People as Dog Food
In the early years of Columbus’ conquests there were butcher shops throughout the Caribbean where Indian bodies were sold as dog food. There was also a practice known as themontería infernal, the infernal chase, or manhunt, in which Indians were hunted by war-dogs.
These dogs—who also wore armor and had been fed human flesh, were a fierce match for the Indians. Live babies were also fed to these war dogs as sport, sometimes in front of horrified parents.
Columbus Returned to Spain in Shackles—But Was Pardoned
After a multitude of complaints against Columbus about his mismanagement of the island of Hispaniola, a royal commissioner arrested Columbus in 1500 and brought him back to Spain in chains.
Though he was stripped of his governor title, he was pardoned by King Ferdinand, who then subsidized a fourth voyage.
October 14, 2013 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Bahamas with 13 other CARICOM member states are suing Britain, Holland and France ...for slavery compensation payments ...Members have emphasised that genocide, slavery and colonialism ...had negatively impacted the Caribbean’s developmental path

Bahamas Suing Uk Over Slavery

Tribune Staff Reporter

THE Bahamas is one of a group of countries in the region suing Britain, Holland and France for slavery compensation payments.
The country is aligning itself with 13 other CARICOM member states demanding what could be hundreds of billions of dollars in reparations for slavery.
During a CARICOM (Caribbean Community) conference on ‘Regional Reparations’ in St Vincent and the Grenadines, a decision was made to pursue legal action against the former colonial powers.
CARICOM has hired the British law firm Leigh Day, which recently won compensation for hundreds of Kenyans tortured by the British colonial government during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s.
CARICOM has not specified how much money it is seeking but Britain paid slave owners £20 million when it abolished slavery in 1834, which would be the equivalent of £200 billion today, or $318 billion.
Fred Mitchell, Foreign Affairs Minister, said yesterday: “We haven’t defined a position beyond the general position taken at the last CARICOM meeting. We weren’t represented there. However, whatever was the decision that came out of the last meeting, that would represent our position.”
Speakers at the conference in St Vincent and the Grenadines emphasised that genocide, slavery and colonialism had negatively impacted the Caribbean’s developmental path.
A communiqué released at the end of the conference said the goal of CARICOM’s Reparations Commission was to “establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparations by the governments of all former colonial powers and the relevant institutions in those countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean community for the crimes against humanity and native genocide, the Transatlantic slave trade and a racialised system of chattel slavery.”
 Dr Ralph Gonsalves, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister, told a recent meeting in New York, where he was present for the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Debate: “When I take over the chairmanship of CARICOM in January I hope to get letters to Europe.
“We’re going for reparations because of state-sponsored genocide and state-sponsored slavery”, he added.
October 11, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

From Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) to The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services?

Prison To Be Renamed–Overcrowding Addressed

By Kendea Smith
The Bahama Journal

There are more than 1,500 Bahamians imprisoned at Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) – twice as many as the Fox Hill compound is designed to hold at capacity, according to National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage.

That’s one of the reasons why the government is seeking parliamentary approval on the Correctional Services Bill 2013.

Dr. Nottage, who moved the bill in the House of Assembly Wednesday, also revealed that there are 800 inmates in Maximum Security.

Of that number, 92 people are awaiting trial for murder; 200 inmates are under the age of 17 – 44 of whom are 16-years-old.

There are several facets of the bill.

The first part, Dr. Nottage says, deals with renaming HMP the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.

The bill, if passed, would also facilitate a new title for the head of the prisons.

He or she would now be called the commissioner of correctional services.

“Ultimately, we are changing the prison to a correctional facility. We are changing the objectives from the emphasis on incarceration to placing an emphasis on rehabilitation and training so as persons who are admitted in prison will return to society perhaps better equipped to function in society as a lawful citizen than they were when they were admitted,” Dr. Nottage said.

“The commissioner shall have responsibility for the general management of all correctional facilities ensuring the inmates are treated in a humane manner; ensuring that discipline and security are enforced; encouraging reformation training and the rehabilitation of inmates; proper deportment among staff members; providing annual reports; administering periodic drug testing to be performed on inmates; psychiatric testing when necessary and so forth.”

“This will be a very important task and this person will be critical to the proper change in strategy and philosophy of the prison,” Dr. Nottage added.

The minister said the bill also addresses issues in the prisons such as drugs, cell phones and weapons circulating around the prison.

“In our prisons we have many issues,” Dr. Nottage said. “We have problems with drugs and cell phones. How they get into the prison only God knows. Prisoners are the most innovative people on this side of Jordan.”

Other issues include “slopping” which means the use of buckets for human waste, which has been going on at the prison for decades.

The minister said the bill also makes provisions for the establishment of a Correctional Services Review Board, which would serve as a watchdog for conditions at the prison.

“This board will have the function of keeping the prison under review constantly and advise the minister of all aspects of correctional facilities to visit and to inspect once every quarter whatever correctional facilities that we have and to be the watchdog for the public or the minister,” Dr. Nottage said.

“This is very important because I am led to believe had we had this review board with these kinds of responsibilities over the years then the prison would not have deteriorated as to what we have today.”
Dr. Nottage said a lot of Bahamians have the view that people who are convicted of crime should “be locked away and we should throw away the key.”

“We have to remember number one that that is inhumane. Number two most of these people are going to return to society and the way we treat them will have a very serious impact on how they or if they are able to integrate into society,” he said.

“There is a very, very important thing that they must understand. There are people who go to work there and they have not committed any crime and they have to exist in those same conditions. The trouble is that we do have priorities in the country and I think many people would consider the prison the least of those priorities but when you have 1,500 Bahamians living in there every day… the campus is so big that there are a lot of good things that could go on there if we could just get it right.”

Other aspects of the bill include employment and earnings of inmates, addressing the release of inmates and offences within the prison.

October 10, 2013

Jones Bahamas

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Is the British Government responsible for the High level of Cancer in The Bahamas?

Cassius Stuart

Official Press Release From The Office of Mr. Cassius Stuart, October 9, 2013.

For many years, Bahamian men and woman have been faced with an unprecedented level of cancer, in particular breast cancer and prostrate cancer. In fact, the Bahamas has a population that has shown the highest mutation rate in the world within the genes that can cause breast and ovarian cancer.”1 In the case of breast cancer, most of the research points to a mutated gene called BRCA1 and BRCA2. The leading medical minds in the field of oncology in the Bahamas and abroad claim that the manifestation of this gene in the local population is as a result of hereditary factors and the gene pool in the Bahamas being close. In other words, relatives intermarrying.

“The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were first discovered in 1990 and have since been linked to a genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer in women. Several other studies have linked BRCA genetic mutations to other types of cancer including pancreatic and prostate.”

 In local studies, greater than 90 per cent of the associated BRCA hereditary breast cancer was linked to one specific mutation: IVS13+1G>A, an African founder mutation.2 While I would be the first to admit that I am not a scientist nor do I have any advance medical training, what I do possess is common sense. If intermarrying or being of African descent is the stimulus that activates this mutated gene that leads to cancer, then why is it that only the Bahamas is experiencing this epidemic? Many other counties in the western hemisphere have a large population on African decedents, including Brazil which has the largest population of African decedents outside of Africa.

Further, if the gene pool being close is another cause then why isn’t the Royal family plagued with some form of cancer? They have intermarried for hundreds of years. The argument of an African mutated gene and the local gene pool being to close in the Bahamas is highly arguable and in my humble opinion, doesn’t hold much water. Common sense will tell you that something outside of nature has greatly contributed and is continuing to contribute to this wide spread dilemma.

Based on my research and undeniable evidence, the Bahamian cancer epidemic is in great part attributed to the action of the British government having carried out biological and chemical tests in the Bahamas on Bahamians many years ago. This program was activated and authorized under the leadership of Mr. Winston Churchill, the then British Prime Minister. Under the program, the British Government tested a series of Biological and Chemical weapons on Bahamians in The Bahamas in the 1950’s in a secret operation called Operation Ozone and Operation Negation. Between 1953 and 1964 top secret trials were carried out using a chemical concoction of zinc cadmium* sulphide to simulate how a cloud would disperse biological agents. The unsuspecting population was sprayed covertly with the poisonous compound at least 76 times.3 These tests took place on British as well as Bahamian soil.

*”Cadmium is a poisonous heavy metal. If uncontrolled, it can produce toxic effects on humans. Ingestion of significant amounts of cadmium can lead to poisoning and damage to the liver, kidneys, and respiratory organs. High doses of cadmium over long periods of time cause bone and kidney problems and cancer”.

These operations are more than likely contributing to the root cause of this wide spread cancer we see in the Bahamian population since there is an undisputed link to cadmium and breast cancer. In an article posted on the internet by Anti Oligarch entitled, “How naval intelligence tested lethal ‘plague bombs’ off the British coast”, dated January 4, 2011 the article revealed that “The then Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, felt that Scottish coastal waters were not the best location for biological tests and ordered a new site to be found. Scientists and intelligence officers then settled on a tiny area of the Bahamas which they described as “the best place we could find on the surface of the globe”. This Caribbean experiment was codenamed Operation Ozone and it began in 1954.”

The article goes on to explain that, “During the initial meetings, one of the board members, Lord Stamp, raised concerns about testing plague and “questioned whether the services required an agent which would give rise to an epidemic”. But leading scientist Sir Paul Fildes said that “the employment of P pestis [plague] as an agent would be contrary to our present policy” but it should be tested as “a potential enemy might use it against us”. In other words, secret, live tests were done as if the enemy was using it on the British.3

In another shocking article written by The UK Guardian, Monday 10 September 2001 04.58 EDT entitled.” Britain ordered germ bombs in cold war Anthrax and plague bacteria tested for 'biological retaliation'”, the Article explains that, “In 1994, the Conservative government said in a parliamentary answer that five open-air trials of dangerous bacteria and viruses had been carried out at sea, in the late 1940s and 1950s - three in the Caribbean and two off Stornoway on Lewis.

Dr. Balmer has uncovered the wide range of pathogens used. Among the biological warfare agents trialled was anthrax. There was also brucella and francisella tularensis, which cause severe fever. Pasteurella pestis, the plague bacterium, was released in the first Hebrides trials, despite safety concerns.

A highly infectious and debilitating, if rarely fatal, virus causing Venezuelan equine encephalitis was deliberately released in trials off the Bahamas, 60 miles south of Nassau, in 1954. Planning Operation Ozone, defence officials carefully suggested there would be "no adverse effect on the tourist trade" 4

This dreadful act by the British Government in the 1950’s on an unsuspecting people was a cowardly act of barbarism and savagery. Today there is overwhelming evidence that chemical weapons were used on Bahamians and there may be a direct link between the high levels cancer in our population and the British Biological weapons experiment on Bahamians. Such acts should not go unanswered.  The British Government needs to come clean about their secret tests. In addition the Bahamian people need an official apology and explanation from the British. The Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must demand that the British Government release all information related to its chemical weapons experiment program in the Bahamas.

Further, the Bahamas government must seek assistance from the Unite Nations for independent scientist to collaborate the link between the British chemical weapons program and the high rate of cancer in The Bahamas.

In the event that there is a direct link between the British chemical weapons program and the high rate of cancer in the Bahamas, The British Government must be held liable and full reparation must be given to all the victims and families in the Bahamas who have had and are suffering with the devastating disease.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bahamian Heroes

Bahamian national heroes

by Philip C. Galanis

“I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.” – Bob Dylan

Next week, we celebrate Discovery Day in The Bahamas.  This day is also celebrated in several Caribbean countries as well as North, Central and South America.  While that date was initially named Columbus Day, there are some who will challenge whether the person for whom this holiday was named was a real hero, since his “discovery” of the New World led to the extinction of the native Carib and Arawak Indians of the region.  Therefore, this week, we would like to Consider This... is it time for us to bring into force a national honors system for Bahamian heroes?

Hero defined

Various definitions are used to describe a hero.  Invariably they usually refer to a person who is admired for acts of bravery or for the achievement of legendary feats or for possessing noble qualities.  The hero of classical mythology fame normally represents a legendary personality, often of divine descent and endowed with considerable strength and prowess.  In the literary sense, the hero is usually the principal character or central figure of such work.

Developing a Bahamian national honors system

Historically, our national heroes are recognized through Great Britain, principally by the national honors bestowed by the monarch, notably in the Queen’s New Year’s or Birthday Honors.  The British honors system is a means of rewarding individuals for their personal bravery, achievement, or service to the United Kingdom, to former British Colonies that have attained political independence, and to the British Overseas Territories.  The system includes three types of award: honors, decorations and medals.  Honors generally recognize merit in terms of achievement and service; decorations are used to recognize specific deeds; and medals are used to recognize bravery, long and/or valuable service and/or exceptional conduct.

We have become very familiar with such honors, including knighthoods and other auspicious awards such as the designation of Member of the British Empire (MBE), or Order of the British Empire (OBE).  All of these honors, decorations and medals are rooted in British conventions and culture.  This is perhaps the most compelling reason for establishing a Bahamian national honor system where we are not dependent on the British to confer such honors upon us.

In our region, Jamaica is far ahead of most of the other English-speaking Caribbean countries, including The Bahamas.  Jamaica developed a unique system of national honors with the passage of the National Honours and Awards Act by its Parliament in 1969.

The quintessential Jamaican honor, “The Order of National Hero”, is conferred upon Jamaican citizens who have rendered service of the most distinguished nature to Jamaica and entitles the recipient to the pre-nominal style of “The Right Excellent” and to the post-nominal title “National Hero of Jamaica”.  At the other end of the honors system, the “Order of Jamaica” is fifth in the order of precedence, and is awarded to Jamaican citizens of outstanding distinction.  Membership in this order is considered the equivalent of a British knighthood, and entitles its recipients to the pre-nominal style of “The Honorable” and to the post-nominal title “Order of Jamaica” or “O.J.”

Trinidad and Tobago also developed a similar national honors system of awards after its independence from Great Britain in 1962, the same year as Jamaica.  These awards supplanted the British honors, were approved in 1967 and first awarded in 1969.

Accordingly, there is precedence in our region and elsewhere within the British Commonwealth for the development of an indigenous, national honors system.  It really begs the question: Why don’t we have our own, indigenous national honors system in The Bahamas?  Sadly, it is for the very reason why we are habitually late at advancing progressive movements and institutions in our society.  It seems that Bahamians possess an innately, indescribable, illogical and inherent love for things foreign.  And sadly, it bespeaks a lack of confidence in ourselves, characteristic of our slender sense of sound self-worth and a deep-rooted lack of creativity and ingenuity.  The challenge for us is how do we overcome such deficiencies?

Bahamian national heroes, past and present

It is very difficult to present a persuasive argument that there is a shortage of Bahamian heroes.  Within minutes of cursorily considering this matter, we arrived at the following list of a few national heroes.  This list is by no means all-inclusive, but simply demonstrates that we have a very large population of persons who qualify as national heroes in the following descriptive disciplines:

• Freedom fighters: Pompey, Sir Milo Butler and Sir Clifford Darling.

• Politicians: Sir Lynden Pindling, Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, Sir Kendal Isaacs, Sir Stafford Sands, Sir Randol Fawkes, Arthur D. Hanna, Sir Arthur Foulkes, Sir Orville Turnquest, Hubert Ingraham, Perry Christie, Loftus Roker, and George Smith.

• Religious leaders: Archbishop Drexel Gomez and Monsignor Preston Moss.

• Educators: N.G.M. Major, C.V. Bethel, Dr. Keva Bethel, Leviticus ‘Lou’ Adderley and Vincent Ferguson.

• Artists: Amos Ferguson, Brent Malone, Jackson and Stan Burnside, Max Taylor and Patrick Rahming.

• Entertainers: Joseph Spence, Paul Meeres, John Berkley ‘Peanuts’ Taylor and Ronnie Butler.

• Sports icons: Tommy Robinson, Sir Durward Knowles, and the Golden Girls who won gold medals in the Olympics in the 4x100 relay.

• Cultural icons: Eugene Dupuch, Winston Saunders, Sir Sidney Poitier, Bert Williams, Randolph Symonette, James Catalyn, Jeannie Thompson, Junkanoo greats Vincent ‘Gus’ Cooper, Percy ‘Vola’ Francis, again, Jackson Burnside and Paul Knowles.

• Suffragettes: Mary Ingraham, Georgiana Symonette, Mabel Walker, Eugenia Lockhart and Dame Doris Johnson.

A Hall of Heroes

The time has come to recognize our national heroes and to confer upon them locally developed honors to recognize their contributions to national development in various fields of endeavor.  It is also urgent that we establish a “Hall of Heroes” which need not necessarily be situated in a single location or facility.  Our national heroes, once appropriately named to the Hall of Heroes, can be recognized in designated locations which could include the Dundas Centre for Performing Arts, the National Art Gallery, The College of The Bahamas, the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, (which should be renamed after a Bahamian sports icon), Lynden Pindling International Airport, Clifton Heritage Park and other locations, such as some of the roundabouts on our various islands.


The urgent need for the development of a Bahamian national honors system cannot be overstated.  Some Bahamians have lobbied for this for many years, with substantially unimpressive progress from the political directorate in a nationally established, systematic and sustained manner.

The bill that was passed during the previous Christie administration that established a national heroes holiday and national honors was ignored by the Ingraham government, notwithstanding the unrelenting pressure from many sectors to recognize our heroes with Bahamian awards.

It is now time for this Christie administration to not only resurrect that act and bring it to life, giving honor to those among us who deserve it, but to do it in the grand and respectful manner that Bahamian honorees deserve, finally joining our Caribbean counterparts in celebrating our own, in our own way, and showing the world how much we value ourselves and the contributions of our countrymen to this 21st century nation.

• Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to

October 07, 2013

Bahamian National Heroes pt. 2


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Simon Potter, Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) chief executive ...hopes that there would be enough Bahamian investor interest indicate “a momentum of support” for Bahamas Petroleum Company ...and its oil exploration activities in The Bahamas

Oil Explorer Share Issue In Year-Long Gov't Approval Wait

Tribune Business Editor

The Bahamas Petroleum Company’s (BPC) planned share offering to local investors has been delayed for over a year by the wait for the Government to give its consent for exchange control approval, Tribune Business can reveal.
Simon Potter, BPC’s chief executive, declined to comment on the issue when questioned by this newspaper, but sources familiar with the situation said the company’s application to the Central Bank of the Bahamas had been submitted around 12 months ago.
While the Central Bank has nominal authority on this issue, the real power lies with the Government, which has to give the ‘nod’ on applications by major investors for exchange control approval.
Such approvals are sometimes long in coming, as Cable Bahamas recently found out in seeking approval for its $100 million worth of US deals, and Tribune Business understands that, in similar fashion, BPC’s application has been sitting on the Government’s desk, not moving.
Exchange control approval is a vital prerequisite for BPC to launch its long-promised Bahamian Depository Receipt (BDR) share offering.
This is because the proceeds raised from the offering to Bahamian investors will have to be converted into UK sterling to purchase BPC shares listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM). These will then be backed by the BDR derivatives, listed and traded on the Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX).
Mr Potter, though, did reiterate BPC’s intention to proceed with its share offering as a way to give Bahamians an opportunity to buy into, at the start-up stage, an investment that could ultimately be enormously profitable.
Confirming that the oil exploration firm was in discussions with BISX and the regulators over the proposed offering, Mr Potter acknowledged that BPC as an investment was “not for everyone”.
Pointing out that an investment in the company carried “technical” as well as the usual ‘financial’ risks, Mr Potter said that because there were no commercial quantities of oil yet confirmed in Bahamian waters, BPC was a high reward/high risk offering.
But, while “success isn’t measured by take-up”, Mr Potter expressed hope there would be enough Bahamian investor interest to indicate “a momentum of support” for BPC and its oil exploration activities.
“Can I sit here and tell you when it will occur? No, but in terms of our prospectus, it’s in at the Securities Commission,” Mr Potter told Tribune Business, in response to queries over when the BDR issue might come to market.
“They’ve [the Commission] got their job to do, and we’re answering their questions. There are some considerations, and we’re listening to suggestions from BISX, the Central Bank and the Securities Commission.
“The company has its objectives, and these commissions have their statutes and rules. We’re listening to their suggestions.”
Added spice to BPC’s relationship with the regulators has come through Hillary Deveaux’s appointment as the Securities Commission’s acting executive director.
Mr Deveaux suggested as recently as late July, just prior to his appointment, that he would be “shocked” if the Securities Commission approved BPC’s share offering, on the grounds that the company’s primary listing was not on a top-tier stock exchange.
He explained that the oil explorer’s planned share issue to Bahamian investors did not meet the rules criteria he had left in place for such BDR issues.
This required companies, which decided to offer BDR shares to Bahamian institutional and retail investors, to have a primary listing on the world’s top stock markets - such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or London Stock Exchange (LSE).
This was designed to ensure BDR issuers complied with the necessary reporting and governance requirements for public companies, but Mr Deveaux argued that BPC’s primary listing - on AIM - did not meet the previously set criteria.
He described AIM, the UK’s junior stock market for incubator and developing companies, as one more focused on growth rather than regulation of its listed companies.
As a result, Mr Deveaux said BPC would be better advised to seek a listing on BISX’s ‘main board’.
And, failing to do that, he suggested Bahamians should go through the investment currency market and Central Bank exchange control regime, and buy shares on the London market if they wished to invest in AIM.
Mr Potter did not comment on BPC’s relationship with the Securities Commission or whether Mr Deveaux’s appointment may impact the BDR issue’s approval.
Sources close to BPC had previously described Mr Deveaux’s comments as “rather strange”, pointing out that it had to comply with numerous AIM listing, governance and financial reporting/disclosure requirements.
And Michael Anderson, president of RoyalFidelity Merchant Bank & Trust, which is acting as BPC’s financial adviser and placement agent on the BDR issue, said earlier that the rules referred to by Mr Deveaux had “changed quite substantially” since he left the Securities Commission.
Given that BPC has yet to prove beyond doubt that commercial quantities of oil exist in Bahamian waters, investors will effectively be speculating on the prospects of a ‘black gold’ discovery coming true.
In essence, the BPC BDRs are a venture capital investment, or ‘high risk, high reward’ play. There is a high risk that the company might find nothing, but by participating in equity ownership at the ground level, Bahamian investors would position themselves for potentially tremendous upside and wealth creation.
Mr Potter acknowledged this, telling Tribune Business: “An investment in a company like BPC is not for everyone, and the reason I say that is not only because there are the usual financial risks that occur with any investment, but for expansion companies there are technical risks that need to be understood and appreciated.
“Therefore, there are investment risks at either end of the spectrum. It can be a spectacular success, but if we don’t turn up any oil, we will have to get our thinking caps on.”
The BPC chief executive indicated there were ways to address any regulatory concerns about how the BDR issue would be pitched, agreeing that the offering had to be marketed “sensitively”.
“I’d like for there to be a large take-up where clearly there’s a momentum in support of the company and its objectives in exploring for oil in the Bahamas,” Mr Potter added.
October 02, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Value Added Tax (VAT) exempt companies

No industry VAT ‘zero rated’ except exporters

Domestic travel will not have VAT added

Guardian Business Editor

Domestic and international transportation, educational, medical and dental services, as well as some financial services, sales and rentals of residential homes and certain bread basket items​,​ will all be VAT exempt, Guardian Business can confirm.

While some of these areas were anticipated as likely to be VAT exempt in the government’s white paper, others were not, including domestic and international travel. This includes both air travel and taxi and bus services, Guardian Business understands.​

International travel would be VAT exempt if purchased through a local supplier of travel services.

This selection of VAT exempt services and goods was revealed by VAT consultants at a recent meeting between the government’s VAT personnel and the Bahamas Society of Engineers.

​It adds to what is already known about the way in which financial services will be treated under the regime, including that most commercial bank services ​would be sold without VAT added, as would health and life insurance, while property and casualty insurance would be sold with VAT added.

​The VAT consultants confirmed that no industry, except exporters, would be categorized as “zero rated” under the VAT regime.

While VAT exempt companies would not have to charge VAT on goods or services sold, they would pay VAT on inputs. Unlike VAT registrants, that could not claim back credits on those inputs. Zero rated providers would not have to charge VAT but would also be able to collect VAT back from the government on inputs.

Exporters, as businesses which by definition sell goods outside The Bahamas to

non-Bahamians who are not targeted by our revenue regime would be encouraged to remain competitive by being given the opportunity to reclaim tax on inputs into their production processes despite not collecting VAT from their purchasers.

Yesterday, Randy Butler, president of Sky Bahamas, a domestic and internationally-active Bahamian airline that services destinations both within The Bahamas and in Florida, said that while he would be happy not to have to add a 15 percent VAT charge onto tickets sold to Bahamian travelers, he cannot say for certain if this category will benefit the industry.

Noting that aviation fuel is currently subject to significant taxation, Butler said he could only make an ultimate judgment on how the VAT exempt category would work out for the airline once he knows if there would be upwards or downwards adjustments to taxation charged on fuel and maintenance-related parts.

“I may have to increase the cost of tickets anyway due to increased input costs. (Being VAT exempt) sounds good but I need to see what my vendors and my costs will be. I may automatically have to pass that on; I dont know how it will pan out,” said Butler.

September 30, 2013


Perry Christie and his blah, blah, blah Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration

Perry Christie and the PLP’s blah, blah, blah government

By Simon

Imagine many years hence an anthropologist at the University of The Bahamas using digital recordings of the ZNS evening news broadcast to conduct research on Perry Christie’s years as prime minister. What might they discover?

As a gift to posterity and to help future researchers save time and effort, we are already able to pass on some insights which will only solidify over time.

Notably, Christie and the ZNS evening broadcast share a singular trait. They are incorrigibly late, again and again and again. It seems that ZNS, despite decades in operation, is daily caught by surprise that the evening news is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., not 7:02 or 7:05 or 7:07.

ZNS, like the Christie administration, seems incapable of being embarrassed by the poor quality of so much that it does and its sheer and entrenched incompetence.

As an aside, the day that the two leading print journals revealed details of a report on alleged abuse at the detention center, the state evening broadcast news failed to report the story. Were they commanded to do so as an act of censorship by their political minders and bosses?

How free is ZNS today to report stories critical of the PLP? For many, why is 2013 starting to feel like the 1970s and 80s at ZNS?

Meanwhile, forget the numbers’ houses. Perhaps the government might consider a national lottery that has as the winning combination the exact time that the ZNS evening news broadcast begins, with the additional prize of a ZNS news mug for anyone guessing 7 p.m. Supplies of the mug are unlikely to run out.

Perhaps there can be a “Straight Seven Jackpot” payout, the winner having wagered correctly the staggered times the news begins seven nights running, which will be a monumental accomplishment. There can also be payouts for three out of seven nights or five out of seven. The combinations are endless.

How foolish to imagine such a lottery. It was already defeated in a national referendum that proved to be a spectacular failure for Christie and his new and improved Gold Rush PLP that would be ready in the First 100 Days and from day one to build a bridge to the future as the government of hope and help committed to Urban Renewal 2.0 and putting Bahamians first.

Were there an international prize for sloganeering as a substitute for ideas and governance, the PLP would consistently win it, with its endless ability to produce more slogans than common sense and action once in office.

Then there would be the Bahamian television broadcast award for political showboating and theater, jointly awarded to ZNS and the Christie administration.

Story one on the evening news: Perry Christie said today, “Blah, blah, blah.” Second story: Perry Christie said today, “Blah, blah, blah.” And just for a change in the third story: Perry Christie said today, “Blah, blah, blah.”

This is the blah, blah, blah government in two senses. First, it is an uninspiring and visionless government. Secondly, as before, this is a government of plenty talk and little action.

During and after his rambling meanderings, one knows that the prime minister said something. The problem is that one is not exactly sure what he’s actually said.

As opposed to those times, sometimes he literally says nothing, despite promising a fuller accounting. The country is still waiting for Christie to provide more details on his and the PLP’s relationship with Peter Nygard.

Then, there is Christie’s pretzel-like comments. Having repeatedly postponed speaking before the Constitutional Reform Commission, the prime minister sought a clever out, perhaps convincing to him, but unconvincing to most Bahamians. His excuse: He didn’t want to prejudice the commission. Really?

Perhaps ZNS can provide a useful service, namely a canned laugh track as used in situation comedies. It can be played whenever the prime minister offers a comment for which laughter is the best medicine and response.

As reported in the press, the governor general, the leader of the opposition and many notable Bahamians found the time to prepare for and to appear before the commission.

Cue laughter: Christie contradicted himself by stating that his attorney general had already offered the government’s thoughts. Why didn’t he say that when he canceled appearing before the commission for the second time and counting?

Did the attorney general prejudice the commission by speaking on behalf of the Christie administration?

The saying goes, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll weep.” Listening to the prime minister’s tortured rationales for his inaction and bumbling incompetence is likely to produce tears of laughter, sometimes just weeping, and sometimes the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Mind you, the same prime minister who did not find the time to appear before the commission did find time to deliver a lecture on constitutional reform. He had plenty to say on that occasion.

What he did not say and did not do, was to accept responsibility for making the referenda process in The Bahamas more politically difficult and charged, more of which in a subsequent column.

When he’s not too tired to answer questions, answers to which he solemnly promised long ago, Christie is busy making speeches and excuses as a substitute for governing.

He seems still to believe that talk is action. Like a genie, he must believe that when he speaks, things are supposed to materialize. See for easy reference: National stadium, National Health Insurance and doubling the investment in the national education budget.

The prime minister recently said that he knows that Bahamians are frustrated. The problem is that he may not appreciate that Bahamians are mostly frustrated with his poor leadership of a government that is performing even worse than the do-nothing years of 2007 to 2012.

Ranking PLPs and younger PLPs, including many professionals, are soured on and vex with a feckless administration careening from one crisis to the next, with a prime minister barely in control of his own government.

Christie’s response, “Blah, blah, blah...”, all of which can be seen on the ZNS evening news beginning at only God knows when. Stay tuned and be prepared to laugh and to weep.

September 26, 2013