Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Value Added Tax (VAT) is unfair, untimely, unreasonable and undesirable ... says Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader, Branville McCartney

Vat Is 'Unfair, Untimely And Unreasonable' - Dna


DNA leader Branville McCartney continued his push for the government to rethink the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT), calling it an “unfair, untimely, and unreasonable” burden to place on the backs of Bahamians.

Noting that in September 2012, five months prior to the failed gambling poll, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis, in response to the sovereign credit downgrade by Standard & Poor, indicated that the Government was planning to release its Tax Reform White Paper for public consultation “next month” (October 2012), Mr McCartney said it is clear from all indications that the idea of introducing VAT was well in play prior to January 2013.

“The Prime Minister confirmed this during the mid-term budget debate in February 2013 saying; ‘The Government is implementing a broad tax reform package that includes the introduction of a Value Added Tax (VAT) in July 2014. While that is an ambitious timeframe, I would note that we have had the benefit of detailed studies of the feasibility of VAT in The Bahamas’.”

Mr McCarntey added: “Mr Christie in the House of Assembly continued: ‘The White Paper (which was completed in September 2012) contains a fully articulated policy framework for VAT. Following the public consultation process, the Government will present a refined proposal, and advanced legislation to bring VAT into effect’. We are gravely concerned about Mr Christie who recently suggested to Parliament and the nation that the Prime Minister had high level talks with the Minister of Finance on the VAT issue.

“At this meeting the Prime Minister confirmed that the Minister of Finance, who apparently does not listen to the Prime Minister, was moving ahead on VAT and for this reason he (the Prime Minister) left him (the Minister of Finance) at home and would only let the Prime Minister speak.”

With these comments in mind, Mr McCartney said the public needs to worry that Mr Christie’s views are “schizophrenic” on this issue as he appears to be blaming “his alter ego for VAT”.

“Mr Michael Halkitis, the Minister of State for Finance, stated earlier this year that, apart from the imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT), the Bahamas has no other viable option to spark the required streams of revenue it needs to arrest government debt.

“However, Prime Minister Christie, speaking either as Prime Minister or one of his alter egos, stated that if anyone in the public sector has a better idea he is ready to listen. Numerous local and foreign consultancy groups later, we in the Democratic National Alliance ask, is this the same Christie who in 2013 rejected the Nassau Institute commissioned independent research study of ‘The Potential Impact of VAT for our country’ by Mr David Godsell accusing him of ‘distorting the truth’, and dismissed the DNA’s ideas as ‘nonsense’?

“Our country has not rebounded from the most devastating recession we have ever had and in light of the pending introduction of Value Added Tax we in the DNA are left to wonder if this current government truly cares about Bahamians. It cannot be fair for struggling hard working citizens of the Bahamas trying to make ends meet to now be faced with the fear of not being able to afford the basic survival items because of VAT. Moreover, the people of the Bahamas must be reminded that this government campaigned on putting people back to work and instead they now propose to put extra taxes on their backs,” he said.

At this time, the DNA leader noted, VAT is unfair, untimely, unreasonable and undesirable.

He said: “Mr Prime Minister there are alternatives… you just need to listen. Bahamians are living in a state of fear. Fear of crime, fear of increasing financial insecurity, and now, fear of VAT. There is no clear vision in sight from this group of merry men in the PLP. Their leader has been late, inconsistent and out of touch with the issues that face Bahamians daily.

“Our country is at a critical crossroad and demands that we make the tough decisions to lead our country to prosperity. We need strong dynamic leadership with a clear vision for our country. We need leadership that is not afraid to lead.”

February 24, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

...Value added tax (VAT) is an inappropriate tax for a tourism-based economy

Value added-tax ‘anti-tourism’

Central Bank of Barbados chief says VAT system ‘a mess’ there and urges government to replace it with sales tax

Guardian Business Editor

BARBADOS – Claiming he has seen “declining enthusiasm” for the tax over the years in his own country, the governor of the Central Bank of Barbados has called value-added tax (VAT) an “anti-tourism” tax which has hurt its local industry and which he is lobbying to see removed there.

In an exclusive interview with Guardian Business on VAT and its effects, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr. Delisle Worrell, who has held the post since 2009, said that VAT is “horribly complicated” to administer and called Barbados’s own VAT system “a mess”. Worrell said that in his view a “simple sales tax” would be a far preferable means of revenue generation for the Barbadian government.

Admitting that his position on the tax is considered “very radical” among his colleagues and does not necessarily represent that of the bank as an institution, Worrell said that he has been opposed to the tax in Barbados since its inception.

The government of Barbados introduced VAT at a rate of 15 percent in 2010; it was later increased to 17.5 percent in 2010 for what the government at the time said would be a period of 18 months and has remained at that level since.

The economist, who has recently concluded a study on VAT for the Central Bank, said: “I take a very radical stance on VAT. I think VAT is an inappropriate tax for a tourism-based economy. The rationale for VAT is that it is an export promoting tax, because if you are exporting physical goods (VAT is not charged on) those goods, but the producers are able to claim refunds/rebates on their inputs.

“They are ‘vattable’ goods but because their sales are external you’re not going to charge VAT on the exports, only on the domestic sales. So if they are a sugar producer they will pay VAT on local sales but anything they export they won’t pay any vat on, but they will claim a rebate on all of their inputs. So there’s a bias in the VAT in favor of export industries; that is if you are exporting physical things that are consumed outside, but not if you are exporting tourism, because the tourists come to you to consume.

“So VAT is an anti-tourism tax if you are a tourism producer because it makes your tourism more expensive than the people who don’t charge VAT, and that’s why all tourism countries who apply VAT have to apply it at a lower rate. A simple sales tax would be much better.”

Barbados applied a 7.5 percent rate of VAT to its tourism sector when it implemented VAT in 1997. This was later increased to 8.75 percent when the general rate rose to 17.5 percent, but as is proposed in The Bahamas, the lower rate was only applied to room-related transactions, and other tourism services such as restaurants on the hotel property, tours, activities, car and boat rentals, for example, remained subject to the full rate of VAT.

Worrell suggested that a sales tax, something a number of Bahamian business owners and operators, most prominently Rupert Roberts, President of Super Value, have proposed, “a more efficient way to raise the same level of revenue” for the government of Barbados, or The Bahamas.

Confirming the fears expressed by a number of Bahamians regarding the administration of VAT, Worrell said it “puts a tremendous burden on government administrations” and businesses.

“It’s a very complicated tax, especially if you are selling services - what are your inputs? If I am making a cell phone I know I need silicon, I know I need different materials and so on so I can inventory the materials I’ve brought in and say for each cell phone I need X amount of these materials, it’s clear. But if I am an engineer and I am supplying engineering services, what are my inputs? And so it becomes horribly complicated,” he told Guardian Business.

With reference to the refunding of excess VAT paid to the government, the Governor confirmed that the government has not managed to pay these sums back to businesses in a timely fashion, despite interest being owed by the government to the business if it takes more than six months to pay the refund after it is owed.

“They are in arrears on refunds and they are also a known quantity of refund claims that are outstanding, and there are cases where the companies have claimed the refund and the VAT office has not necessarily accepted those,” he added.

On the plus side, Worrell said that VAT has been successful at raising revenue for the government. In a recent study, titled “A Review of the VAT system in Barbados” Worrell and his three co-authors at the Central Bank said there was “some gain” in revenue yield relative to the tax rate with the establishment of VAT in Barbados, but the administrative costs of collecting the VAT were higher relative to the revenue received than for the taxes they replaced.

Finding that VAT has been “less elastic and less buoyant” in response to changes in income than its predecessor taxes, the authors said that this indicated the need for “greater compliance” with the tax in Barbados, noting that the VAT division of the government could benefit from employing additional staff.

Asked yesterday if the Central Bank of Barbados is therefore recommending that the government of Barbados do away with VAT as a source of revenue, Worrell said: “Not the Central Bank - me.” He added that the government is not officially considering removing VAT.

February 21, 2014


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Value Added Tax (VAT) is viable in The Bahamas

“VAT is Viable,” says Leading Auditor, Calls VAT ‘Most Equitable, Transparent’

Kendrick Christie, President of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Bahamas Chapter asserted that “Value Added Tax (VAT) is viable in The Bahamas.”

“Business owners must be responsible with the information they purport as facts,” says Christie. “A lot of what I am hearing is at best anecdotal. The reality is the government is being prudent by aggressively tackling tax reform as the current tax system, led by customs duties experience high levels of leakage,” Mr. Christie explained. “VAT allows for enhanced checking ability for internal and external auditing and analysis that can be useful in business strategy.”

Mr. Christie’s comments come as the Bahamas debt is expected to reach just over $5 billion by June 30.

“The accounting profession has been conducting training for its members and the public for almost a year to ensure individuals are fully prepared for the transition to VAT,” Mr. Christie replied when asked about how prepared his industry is for VAT’s implementation.

“There will be opposition to any increase in taxes at any point in time,” Christie added.  “The truth is that to avoid downgrading of our fiscal and monetary position, the government must act. The government may feel that they are in a Catch 22, however, the decision is clear – a new tax system is needed and one of the most equitable and transparent is VAT.”

Mr. Christie complimented the government on its outreach to the different sectors of the business community. “It appears to be a multi-step educational process which started with the business community. I now note the consultation with consumers and I urge them (consumers) to prepare, ” he said , noting he expects the educational campaign to increase once the Value Added Tax Bill and Regulations are passed through Parliament.

VAT, since its introduction, has been the most successful fiscal tool worldwide for revenue generation.  No other taxation system has been adopted more rapidly than VAT and it has become the mainstay of national finances for developed and developing countries.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Value Added Tax (VAT) and the Bahamian economy

Imf Not Forcing Vat On Bahamas


The Bahamas’ decision to implement Value-Added Tax (VAT) did not result from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) holding a gun to the Government’s head, a key Ministry of Finance consultant says.
Ishmael Lightbourne, former senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Bahmas, told dozens gathered at Evangelistic Temple that VAT is just one of many remedies to get the Bahamian economy back on track, given that the national debt has skyrocketed over the past 20 years.
The former World Bank director said the Bahamas’ fiscal deficit is five times greater than what it was in 1993. What started out as borrowing to finance capital spending on infrastructure – roads, hospitals and utility plants – has evolved into borrowing for everything from operating public corporations to paying civil service salaries.
“If the IMF were in the position to force us to do anything, they would have done so 20 years ago,” Mr Lightbourne said. “There is a great deal of misunderstanding about that. The IMF has made no threats, and does not - and cannot - seek to impose their will on a sovereign government.”
He said VAT is the Government’s effort to balance out the unsustainable inequity between what the country brings in as revenue and what it spends.
“Governments,” Mr Lightbourne said, “have for the past two decades tried to fill the vacuum left by policies that once allowed foreign investors and developers to build without putting in their own capital investment in roads, utilities, parks and more.
“Succeeding governments were left to foot the bill, but expenses were greater than revenue under an increasingly outdated tax system of heavy reliance on Customs duties.”
“For the past 20 years, in the absence of major private sector investment, this is what we have done,” he added. “As a result, our debt has more than doubled and growth has been stagnant. So today we can no longer be inactive.”
The Government’s series of consultations on VAT continue this month at Government High School on February 19 at 11am; AF Adderley High School on February 19 at 9:30 am; SC McPherson High School on February 20 at 10am; the Bahamas Human Resources Association on February 20 at 11:40 am; Alexiou Knowles & Co. on February 21 at 8:30 am; and BEC on February 21 at 11:30 am.
For more information on the VAT implementation, call the Ministry of Finance VAT hotline between 9am and 5pm, Monday-Friday, at 225-7280. Persons can also visit the official Facebook
February 18, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

We do not support value added tax (VAT)

Some Family Is. residents “clueless” about VAT

Guardian Staff Reporter

With fewer than five months before the implementation of value-added tax (VAT), several residents on two Family Islands said they have been left in the dark about the planned tax.

Iris Charlton, an English teacher at Abraham's Bay High School and a member of the Coalition for a Better Mayaguana, said many residents are “really afraid” that VAT will significantly reduce their standard of living.

Noting the high cost of living, and “exorbitant” charges on mail boat services, which bring food and other supplies to the island, Charlton said, “As a result, the things that customers have to buy in the local convenient stores are really, really high.

“It is tough. We do not support VAT.

“We do not see how it is going to work for us because we are struggling already.”

The government has said it will introduce VAT at a rate of 15 percent in most cases and 10 percent for the hotel sector.

Huel Williamson, a retiree, said the majority of residents are struggling to get by and many of them are unemployed.

Mayaguana has fewer than 300 residents, according to the Department of Statistics.

It is unclear what the unemployment rate is on the island.

“The economic situation here in Mayaguana is stagnant, very stagnant,” Williamson said.

“The I-Group wants to employ approximately 80 people, but right now they have a very limited number of people [on the project].”

According to I-Group officials, around 30 Bahamians are employed on the airport redevelopment project.

Asked whether residents have been adequately informed about VAT, Charlton said, “The way they had the forums for the (gambling) referendum, and the constitutional forums, something like that is needed...because a lot of people are clueless.”

Williamson said residents have been expecting government officials to visit the island to explain VAT, but that has not happened as yet.

Johnie-Mae Colebrooke, a mother of two and business owner in Andros, also expressed concern about VAT.  She said many residents are challenged to provide for their families.

“I feel very bad because I am a business woman, me and my husband George Colebrooke,” she said.

“We are praying for something to move in Andros where everyone can work because we have a lot of bills and there are no jobs.”

Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said the government will cover all Family Islands before July 1, having already visited Grand Bahama, Abaco and Andros.

Mount Moriah MP Arnold Forbes said in a recent interview that on average nine out of every 10 people in his New Providence constituency do not understand VAT.

He said the government must get its education campaign to the “grassroots people”, something government officials have said they are in the process of doing.

“We will have the business owners who will have their say, but it is really the regular guy on the street, who is in the majority, that I believe we need to educate them on this in a major way,” Forbes said.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Perry Christie said he can still be persuaded by the private sector to introduce an alternative tax model if it proves to be viable.

Christie also said the Ministry of Finance is in an “advanced” stage of preparation for VAT and is moving ahead with its implementation.

February 17, 2014


Friday, February 14, 2014

Can anyone imagine two Romanian women landing on Columbus’ island of San Salvador ...scooping up 13 frightened iguanas, stuffing them in socks, then into a suitcase ...and getting as far as London on their way to deliver them to an unknown accomplice in Dusseldorf, Germany ...without some kind of local assistance?

Investigating Theft Of Iguanas


AS Deputy Prime Minister “Brave” Davis said in a press statement yesterday, it is important that the mysterious appearance of 13 Bahamian iguanas — one dead— discovered in luggage at Heathrow Airport, London, should be thoroughly investigated.

Can anyone imagine two Romanian women landing on Columbus’ island of San Salvador, scooping up 13 frightened iguanas, stuffing them in socks, then into a suitcase and getting as far as London on their way to deliver them to an unknown accomplice in Dusseldorf, Germany, without some kind of local assistance? No, we can’t, nor can Mr Davis.

“This story is troubling in many ways,” said Mr Davis. “These animals are an endangered species, living in isolation from regular human contact. They run away from intruders. To secure 13 animals and to remove them from San Salvador in secrecy would seem to be a daunting task.”

Quite rightly, Mr Davis was concerned that these foreign ladies “probably had assistance from someone or others resident on San Salvador as well as in Nassau before boarding the flight to London”.

It is obvious that there is a local racket going on — if it’s not drugs, it’s our endangered species.

The question is what else and how many more of our rare species are being smuggled out? Were these the first iguanas to leave our shores, or were there others that unfortunately missed detection?

We are certain that all concerned Bahamians, in the words of Mr Davis, are “anxious that this criminal act is fully investigated and that all parties involved in this despicable attack on our natural heritage are dealt with by the law in all relevant jurisdictions. We must all play our part in protecting our natural heritage.”

Not only should any Bahamian who aided and abetted in this despicable act, all along the transit chain, be held accountable, but so should the two Romanian couriers, and whoever was to receive them at their final destination.

“I have been in contact with our security organisations and other agencies of the Government, to ensure that The Bahamas is intimately involved in finding a resolution to this theft and, hopefully, to arrange the safe return of the still living iguanas to their habitat in San Salvador,” said Mr Davis.

He called on “citizens everywhere to be mindful that there will always be those who try to use our islands for trafficking of drugs, people and our natural treasures to other jurisdictions. We must all be vigilant and play our individual parts to the fullest to protect our Bahamas from criminals of all sorts.”

“With only a few of these creatures native to the Bahamas in existence, the San Salvador rock iguana is considered extremely rare and is near extinction. All rock iguanas in the Bahamas are protected by the Wild Animals Protection Act,” The Tribune reported in “The Big T” over the weekend.

With all the publicity that this ugly escapade has attracted in Europe these are certainly 13 of the world’s best known iguanas. They will probably be delighted to return to the warmth of their own sandy shores.

However, Bahamians should take the protection of their heritage seriously. We recall that as a child — many, many moons ago — the delight we took in gathering the most beautiful shells from our beaches.

These precious pieces were in such abundant supply that no one ever thought that they could disappear — we believed that shells were washed ashore with every incoming tide. And then, over time they were no longer there. The only time that we see anything resembling these shells is in special shops in other lands.

Every summer we watched as American tourists walked our beaches, collecting the shells. We remember one gentleman in particular.

Every summer barefooted with rolled up trousers on Montagu Beach, he collected the shells for sale in the US. We watched him grow old on this beach and eventually take Bible in hand and establish a small church here.

He was not the only one. The desecration was happening before our very eyes, but no one realised what it meant for future generations until it was too late.

The only one who seemed to notice enough to take it seriously and warn Bahamians through these columns that they should protect their possessions was the second editor of The Tribune. He predicted that soon there would be a generation of Bahamians who would never understand the treasures they had lost — thanks to an earlier generation that did not protect what nature had bestowed upon them.

The busy pen was that of the late Sir Etienne Dupuch —nicknamed by many as the “Voice of Doom” – who daily through these columns told Bahamians truths that they did not want to hear. It is now up to this generation to become aware and protect what is left of our heritage for future generations.

February 12, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Serious concerns over endangered iguana smuggling

DPM expresses concerns over iguana smuggling

Guardian Staff Reporter

Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis yesterday expressed concern that 13 rock iguanas were stolen from San Salvador and smuggled into the United Kingdom.

“I am anxious, as are all concerned citizens, that this criminal act is fully investigated and that all parties involved in this despicable attack on our natural heritage are dealt with by the law in all relevant jurisdictions,” said Davis, the Member of Parliament for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.

“We must all play our part in protecting our natural heritage.”

According to the BBC News, a customs team at London’s Heathrow Airport seized 13 iguanas on February 4.

The report said the iguanas, which were stuffed into socks, were found in a suitcase after officers stopped two Romanian women who had arrived from The Bahamas.

Twelve of the endangered lizards survived the voyage, according to the report.

Davis expressed concern that the women may have had assistance from residents on San Salvador as well as New Providence before boarding the flight to London.

“This story is troubling in many ways,” said Davis in a statement.

“These animals are an endangered species, living in isolation from regular human contact. They run away from intruders. To secure 13 animals and to remove them from San Salvador in secrecy would seem to be a daunting task.

“Further, the atrocious act was compounded by taking endangered animals out of the country into a foreign country by two women, with the explanation, apparently, being offered by them to British officials that they were in the process of delivering them to a third party in Germany.”

Davis said he has been in contact with Bahamian security organizations to ensure that The Bahamas is “intimately involved in finding a resolution to this theft and, hopefully, to arrange the safe return of the still living iguanas to their habitat in San Salvador”.

February 11, 2014


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bahamas Endangered Iguanas Intercepted in London

Endangered Iguanas Intercepted in London

The Bahamas High Commission London:

Endangered Bahamian Iguanas
Endangered Bahamian Iguanas in London
The High Commission can confirm that thirteen endangered iguanas were identified and seized from two arriving passengers from The Bahamas at London's Heathrow Airport on Monday 3 February 2014. Two Romanian women, aged 24 and 26, were arrested on suspicion of importation offences and are being held without bail.

On instruction of the Government and in order to assess the animal's welfare and potential for repatriation, the High Commission dispatched an Officer to Heathrow's Animal Reception Centre to meet with Customs Officers where the twelve surviving iguanas are being cared for by Officials from the UK Border Force and City of London.

The High Commission can confirm that the animals were inspected and micro chipped by a specialist veterinarian on Thursday afternoon and the initial results are positive. The High Commission will continue to monitor the welfare of the iguanas while awaiting official test results, before a time frame can be set for their potential return to The Bahamas. A number of partners have offered their assistance in repatriating these animals and the High Commission wishes to express its gratitude to these partners.

The High Commission wishes to further express its gratitude for the assistance received by UK Officials and will continue to provide updates to the public when available.

Photo Caption: The twelve surviving iguanas which were intercepted on Monday are being cared for at Heathrow's Animal Reception Centre by Officials from the UK Border Force and City of London.

Photo Credit: BHC London

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The lingering legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and chattel slavery in Caribbean societies

 World Structure May Not Bring Reparations Justice


THE Caribbean’s claim for reparations over “the lingering legacy of the Atlantic slave trade” is so fundamental to the current world structure that there may be no real, just way to respond, social anthropologist and College of the Bahamas professor Dr Nicolette Bethel told The Tribune.

CARICOM maintains that Caribbean societies have been built upon transatlantic slave trading and chattel slavery. It encouraged the slave-owning nations of Europe – principally Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark – to engage Caribbean governments in reparatory dialogue to address the “living legacies of these crimes”.

This dialogue took place on a smaller level recently in one of Dr Bethel’s classes at COB. She was joined by Dr Gilbert Morris who discussed with the students, via Skype, among other things, the legal foundations of a reparations claim.

Dr Bethel said she invited Dr Morris to lecture her class because she and Dr Morris have different positions on the question of reparations.

“The students need to know that scholars don’t always agree and need to learn how to think for themselves,” she said.

One of the issues surrounding the debate is the question of whether it is possible or even realistic to believe that reparations could take the form of dollars and cents.

Dr Bethel believes the debate should involve both the tangible and intangible.

“For me, the main point is the intangible, immaterial, and fundamental issue – that fundamental issue that when crimes are done to human beings and the world takes note, reparations are paid.

“The fact that people of African and indigenous descent have not been treated the same way suggests that the same lie that was invented to justify the slave trade still holds: that we are somehow less than human, and don’t rate the same respect.

“But the monetary side is also fundamental. The modern capitalist world was built on the forced labour of the people of the ‘new world’ and that debt has yet to be paid.

“Rather than Europe and North America paying back the Caribbean, Caribbean countries’ debts are being multiplied under the current world economic system, which, despite all mouthings to the contrary, is in no way ‘free’, unless the ‘free-ness’ is still free, forced, unwaged, underpaid labour,” Dr Bethel said.

Dr Bethel said that Bahamians have a difficult time addressing the issue of slavery because they were mistaught their history.

“We have deep shame about that history and we have not faced it or discussed it. I think this is by design. We imagine that it might be dangerous to our social relations to do so. Our social relations, whether we talk about the enslavement and dehumanisation of our past or not, are endangered. Perhaps one way of fixing that is to re-humanise us all, and one way of doing that is sitting down and reasoning together,” she said.

Slavery, Dr Bethel said, has created a society in which brutality is still the most accepted way of functioning.

“If we are not brutalising one another in every way, little and big, physical and psychic, we wish to brutalise those people on whom we place the label of ‘brute’ – our poor, our disempowered, the criminals.

“The institution of slavery dehumanised everyone, no matter what their origin. The process of beating down the enslaved dehumanised the enslavers. We have only to look at how we have designed our city and our public institutions to understand that we don’t really believe in our full humanity, our people-ness yet,” Dr Bethel said.

While there are many who feel something should happen in terms of reparations, it is doubtful that anything will.

One recent reparation claim levied against Lloyds of London in 2004 by a coalition of Rastafarian groups argued that European countries formerly involved in the slave trade, especially Britain, should pay 72.5 billion pounds to resettle 500,000 Jamaican Rastafarians in Africa.

The claim was rejected by the British government, which said it could not be held accountable for wrongs in past centuries.

So, in a perfect world, how should the Caribbean’s claim for reparations be answered?

Dr Bethel says she doesn’t know but feels that the Caribbean’s claim is so fundamental to the current world structure that there is no real, just way to respond.

“...So I cannot imagine a perfect world. However, let us look at what the Caribbean, what the new world lacks: we lack a real, fundamental connection to and agreement that our humanity is worth celebrating.

“What we lack is the luxury of spending money on things we deem ‘unnecessary’ but which are critical for the development of democratic and civil society, and that is what we need now.

“A fund for the creation of that kind of infrastructure? I don’t know. A return of all that we have lost – all our ancestral knowledge, our ancestral civilities? Can they be returned? Can they be rebuilt? Can we fund the healing that is necessary?

“Even if it is not possible, the gesture, the foundation, the funding must be provided somehow, somewhere, now,” she said.

February 04, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What's the precise meaning of the death penalty test imposed by the London-based Privy Council?

Call To End Confusion Over Death Penalty


ONE of the country’s top judges has called for an end to the confusion surrounding the imposition of the death penalty.
Amid escalating crime and growing calls for capital punishment, Court of Appeal President Justice Anita Allen said the precise meaning of the death penalty test imposed by the London-based Privy Council must be made clear.
“We’ve considered these decisions, listened to and appreciate the concerns of the public and what the Constitutional Commission has recommended. I suggest that the time has come to bring clarity to the dispensation of justice in these cases,” Justice Allen said.
Speaking to politicians and members of the judiciary yesterday during the annual special sitting of the Court of Appeal, she noted that a 2006 Privy Council decision outlawed the mandatory death sentence for murderers then on the books, and made capital punishment discretionary.
But, Justice Allen said, the high court’s definition of a capital case as the “worst of the worst or the rarest of the rare” has caused “consternation in the ranks of legal scholars and the general public at large.”
“The test,” she said, “even appears to confound judicial thinking as (Privy Council member) Lord Kerr himself admitted in the case of Maxo Tido, when he said that the epithet ‘worst of the worst and rarest of the rare’ gave rise to conceptual difficulty as to which cases qualify for the death penalty.”
Responding to calls for the Privy Council to be replaced by the Caribbean Court of Justice, the government-appointed Constitutional Commission warned last year that this move would not necessarily lead to a different stance on capital punishment, or eliminate concerns about “foreignness”.
“In reality, London is not much further away from Nassau than Port-of-Spain (Trinidad),” the commission said.
Justice Allen’s call for clarity comes on the heels of anti-crime activist Rodney Moncur’s claim that his upcoming march to “remove impediments to capital punishment” will attract thousands of participants.
“The society is tired of the number of murders and mayhem which are taking place in the Bahamas and we believe these murders can be reduced through swift justice,” said Mr Moncur.
“We are marching once again to bring pressure on the Parliament of the Bahamas to remove all of the impediments which prevent persons charged with murder from getting bail and to move all of the impediments which prevent murderers from being executed.”
The last person executed in the Bahamas was David Mitchell in January 2000.
He was convicted of stabbing two German tourists to death.
Mitchell’s execution was controversial because it was carried out while he had an appeal pending before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
International criticism of the move was followed by a moratorium on capital punishment which lasted until the Privy Council’s 2006 decision in the case of Maxo Tido.
January 31, 2014