Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to study Haitian migration from the North Coast of Haiti The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos islands (TCI)

IOM Conducts Study On Illegal Migration

By Jones Bahamas:

Despite countless repatriation exercises conducted annually, migrants continue to risk the treacherous sea voyage to The Bahamas and for this reason the government is adopting a different approach toward addressing this vexing issue by supporting a study by an international organisation on the illegal migration woes affecting The Bahamas and the neighbouring Turks and Caicos islands (TCI).

“Considering the proximity of our countries to the United States of America, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands have been prime targets of illegal migration from the south,” said Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis during a meeting with delegates from TCI at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.

“Migration statistics show that there are between 20,000 – 50,000 undocumented Haitians living in The Bahamas. As neighbours of the TCI, The Bahamas recognises the importance of cooperation in formulating an integrated response to combating irregular migration. For this reason The Bahamas looks forward to collaborating with TCI and Haiti in conjunction with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to prevent irregular migration. As part of this collaboration, The Bahamas intends to help facilitate a preliminary study to be conducted by the IOM on Haitian migration from the North Coast of Haiti to The Bahamas and TCI.”

He added that this preliminary study will help to support the formulation of migration polices and allow for enhanced regional communication.

During the bi-lateral meeting, TCI’s Governor Peter Beckingham said that his government has implemented a number of measures to tighten its grip on illegal migration.

“It’s costing human lives and its costing our government money and for those reasons and others we want to do more about it, we believe that by meeting jointly with the government of Haiti, there may be areas where we can insert some persuasion to encourage them to do more about the problem that they face and we face jointly,” he said.

“I think by showing that we are united in this enterprise and in this discussion, we will underline the seriousness of the problem and the hope that we can do something about it.”

A tri-lateral meeting between Haiti, The Bahamas and TCI is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

July 29, 2014

Jones Bahamas

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The value-added tax (VAT) implementation date nears ...despite the widespread lack of understanding about it in the Bahamian society

To Be Or Not To Be - Bahamians Want Answers On Vat

Tribune 242 Editorial:

BAHAMIAN businessmen are becoming more agitated as the date for the implementation of VAT nears with only reassurances from legislators that draft legislation as to what it will mean to them is on its way.

Gowon Bowe, a Tax Coalition co-chair, has urged that the proposed legislation be brought to parliament before it takes its summer recess.

“If we don’t do a lot in the next six to eight weeks,” he said, “we would be right back in the same situation we were facing when we were looking at July 1 as the implementation date, with the business community again saying that they don’t have enough time.”

Mr Bowe said that the business community has still not had “the critical elements. There is no legislation, no regulations on what will be exempt, or what is ultimately going to happen. We need to urge the Government to be proactive.

“There is a concern,” said Mr Bowe, “that time isn’t on our side in that regard. We understand that there was a lot going on in the Budget, but now that is out of the way, this is the most critical time in terms of our fiscal course of action. We have had some casual conversations with the Financial Secretary and he had indicated that they were just waiting on Cabinet now.”

John Rolle, the Ministry of Finance’s financial secretary, recently confirmed to Tribune Business that VAT preparation/readiness efforts were being delayed because they were waiting for “final directions” from the Government.

Government brought two tax experts from New Zealand — one of the few countries that has a good word to say for VAT – to advise legislators on its merits and how to implement it.

Dr Don Brash and Mr John Shewan, both closely involved in the implementation of New Zealand’s Value Added tax in 1985-86, could not emphasise enough the importance of an extensive education programme, both for business and the general public. It was this programme that was the secret of New Zealand’s success. Such a programme would be even more important for the Bahamas, a country, unlike New Zealand, that has no income tax, but relies solely on indirect taxation and trade tariffs. In other words, Bahamians in general are not tax savvy.

“The reason our education campaign was so successful,” said Professor Shewan, “was because there was a commitment to an 18-month educational programme, six months of which was prior to the implementation date, but the most important things happened 12 months after the implementation because there were a series of detailed explanation programmes targeted at all kinds of groups.”

Government, which had planned to implement the tax on July 1 —13 days ago — was forced to delay it to January 1 next year — six months away – because, not only was legislation not ready, but there was not enough time to discuss it with the business community or to educate the public. Soon, if government continues its thumb-twiddling, another delay for implementation will have to be announced.

In their report, the New Zealanders expressed concern “at the widespread lack of understanding of how a VAT would operate in the Bahamas”. They were also “concerned at the complexity of the VAT proposal as currently envisaged (obviously government’s first draft on their arrival). This complexity would lead to high compliance costs and potentially extensive abuse of the system,” they predicted. Hopefully, this complexity has since been simplified. The state of business in the country today can certainly not absorb high compliance costs.

It was explained that VAT was urgently needed, not only to expand government’s tax base, but also for the country to be eligible to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Having had to reduce its original 15 per cent tax proposal to 7.5 per cent, the government maintains that it cannot afford to also reduce Customs duties. If joining the WTO is its objective, then Bahamians can count on the VAT rate being increased so that the Bahamas – a non producing country — can qualify for WTO membership. Qualification means that all Customs duties have to be abolished. Government, while explaining VAT, should also explain in detail the advantages of the Bahamas having WTO membership.

Several months ago, Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin outlined how our sluggish economy has hurt those in the lower income brackets – the group with the potential of being the most affected by VAT. With the September opening of schools, Mrs Griffin said, there was a substantial increase in demand on Social Services to feed and equip children for school. At the time, she was being interviewed she said that 1,606 out of just over 3,500 children had requested uniform assistance.

There was also more demand for food stamps, a relief system that is growing, she said.

Mrs Griffin appealed to corporate Bahamas and private citizens to partner with government to assist children in need. Recently the 58-year-old Ranfurly Home for Children appealed for financial aid. Mrs Griffin said government would assist to make certain that the Home, which has cared for so many children sent by Social Services, would not have to close. She also said that her Ministry will have to step into the breach to assist those who might be severely affected by the implementation of VAT.

A few days ago, we were discussing VAT with a businessman who said that what his company had traditionally set aside as donations for the various charitable organisations and student scholarships would now go to VAT. This shift in donations will put an even heavier strain on Mrs Griffin’s Ministry. In other words VAT will force the public sector to curb its generosity.

No matter how we look at it, VAT is going to create a vicious circle, and regardless of how it is introduced, Bahamians will not be satisfied until the government demonstrates that it too is making substantial cuts in its unnecessary spending. Bahamians are not going to pay taxes to give government a licence to spend foolishly. 

July 14, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Youth unemployment in The Bahamas

Halkitis concerned about youth unemployment

Guardian Staff Reporter

Although the unemployment rate has generally improved, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis yesterday said the rate of joblessness among young people remains a concern and will require “focused attention”.

Unemployment among young people aged 15 to 24 decreased from 32.3 percent to 28 percent, but remains higher than all other groups.

Halkitis said the rate of unemployment historically has been considerably higher than any other age group. However, he said the government is working to “open new doors of opportunity” for the youth and improve the economic conditions for all.

“The emphasis is on growing the economy so everyone in all age groups benefits while at the same time making the investments in education and training to equip everyone but especially young people to take advantage of the opportunities that are becoming available,” Halkitis said.

According to the latest survey, 8,390 net jobs have been added to the economy since May 2012.

The number of people employed in May 2012 was 160,650 compared to the 169,040 people employed as of May 2014.

Halkitis said the government is looking to improve upon that figure by focusing on education as well.

“We believe that the creation of the national training agency is helping young people in the area of skills development to help them to take advantage of opportunities,” Halkitis said. “This had been a major concern among employers, the lack of skills particularly the so-called soft skills. For example, customer service.

“Also, the minister of education is introducing an equivalency diploma geared towards individuals who have not finished high school. The diploma will open new doors of opportunity for young people.

“The development of BAMSI (Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute) will provide training in the area of agriculture and marine science and allow all including young people to exploit opportunities in the area of agriculture and marine science.”

Unemployment in The Bahamas dropped from 15.4 percent in November 2013 to 14.3 percent in May 2014, according to the results of the latest Labour Force Survey released on Friday.

The survey conducted in May references the period April 28 to May 4, 2014.

While the economy isn’t where the government wants it to be, Halkitis said things are looking up.

“[I would be] happy with a faster pace of growth but [I am] pleased that things are moving in the right direction,” he said. “It gives cause for continued optimism.”

The survey shows that discouraged workers declined by 27.8 percent nationally, from 6,765 in November 2013 to 4,880 in May 2014.

The number of discouraged workers fell from 3,335 to 2,920 (12.4 percent) in New Providence and dropped from 1,915 to 760 (60 percent) in Grand Bahama.

Halkitis said the decrease in the number of discouraged workers is a “positive indication of the improving health of the Bahamian labor market.”

July 21, 2014


Monday, July 21, 2014

Support what it means to be Bahamian ...Remove the anti-Bahamians show, the Kreyol Connection

Petition by Kishon Turner 
Nassau, The Bahamas:

To: Brent Dean, The Nassau Guardian: Guardian Radio

“Those who wish to be Bahamian also have a responsibility. They have a responsibility to try to be like us; to try to share our hopes and aspirations; to help us build  and achieve. They do not have a responsibility to try and remake us in someone else’s image; they have no responsibility to retard our progress or to destroy everything Bahamian.

-Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling-

                                                 The Kreyol Connection

"The Haitians didn’t come to the Bahamas to take over. Haitians go through the Bahamas. They happened not to get to the United States and they got STUCK HERE. They still want to go…Some people have waited 20 years to go to the United States. Forty percent of himself is in the United States, thinking that he’s already there. His family is there. Twenty percent of him is still in Haiti. The rest of him is here riding a bike, refusing to buy a house here."

-Louby Georges-

The main focus of the Kreyol connection is not to promote, “Loyalty to our Bahamas over and above all other; zeal for our Bahamas unmatched by any other; concern for other Bahamians over all others”, but rather disdain for our National Leaders like Mr. Loftus Roker and to trample on the Legacy of Sr. Lynden Pindling and his vision for the Bahamas.

The show which is undermining Bahamians authority through its clandestine approach, assists the “underground network” of illegal Haitian nationally, who undermine Bahamians and authority at every level.  The Illegal Haitian Nationals have proven to have no respect for our laws; they pay no taxes, yet benefit from our healthcare services, social services assistance and free education. 
There are 44 different Shanty Towns in New Providence benefiting from information provided by this show and the owners of the Nassau Guardian only sees dollar signs from this underground community.  The show represents a national security risk in that the main audience of the show cares little for this country; hate our way of life, our customs and morals.  The show is pandering to this group who has shown they are willing to undermine what is Bahamian and to show a betrayal to the Bahamas.

What does it take to be a Bahamian?

“Loyalty to our Bahamas over and above all other; zeal for our Bahamas  unmatched by any other; concern for other Bahamians over all others.”

-Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling-

Court grants permission to have a judicial review of the government’s consultation process ...over Mr. Peter Nygard’s applications

Injunction Imposed Against Government Over Nygard Cay

Tribune Staff Reporter

IN a move being hailed as a victory for greater transparency in government processes, Supreme Court justices granted injunction requests against the government yesterday that prevents the Christie administration from making decisions on billionaire fashion mogul Peter Nygard’s applications for building permits and Crown land.

The environmental group Save the Bays (STB) and 103 Lyford Cay residents and property owners suing the government were given permission to have a judicial review of the government’s consultation process over Mr Nygard’s applications.

The justices’ decision came despite the government’s move last week to extend its consultation process after admitting confusion and flaws in the process thus far. As the latest controversy to raise questions about the government’s actions when granting certain permits and approvals, some residents are concerned about the effects Mr Nygard’s activities at Simms Point could have on the environment.

They fear that the government may try to not only sanction his requests as a favour for his financial contributions to the Progressive Liberal Party over the years, but also retroactively sanction his reclamation of Crown land.

Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, STB attorney Fred Smith said his group was forced to seek an injunction after government officials failed to respond to a letter he sent requesting that it not act on Mr Nygard’s applications until a judicial review had been concluded.

“When we filed our judicial review on July 7, we wrote to the government and invited them to give an undertaking not to continue with the process and not to make decisions on Mr Nygard’s applications pending the results of judicial review,” he said. “They failed to even reply to our letter and consequently we were forced to file for an injunction to restrain the government.”

Explaining the results of yesterday’s court proceedings, which were closed to the general public, he said: “Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Bain granted permission to issue a judicial review against the prime minister, deputy prime minister, Director of Physical Planning Michael Major, the Town Planning Committee, Minister of Environment Kenred Dorsett, Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin, and Building Control Officer Greg Delancy.

“This application for judicial review relates to the consultation process which the government purported to embark upon and Save the Bays’ application says it is fundamentally flawed and procedurally unfair with a view to retroactively authorising illegal construction, dredging and land reclamation activities that have taken place at Nygard Cay since 1984, where Mr Nygard has reclaimed nearly three acres of Crown land by constructing walls, concrete docks, helicopter pads, buildings, temple and other structures on the sea bed on the north side and south side, mostly without permits and without a Crown lease.

“The PM holds Crown land in trust for the benefit of the Bahamian people and Mr Nygard’s works affect the ecologically sensitive and culturally important Clifton heritage site, critical for diving recreation for Bahamians and tourists.”

Mr Smith said the court’s decision restrains the government from considering Mr Nygard’s current building permit applications, future building applications, his Crown lease application and anticipated applications for works relating to existing and nonexistent sea bed structures. He said the injunction restricts the government from granting any permits, approvals or leases with respect to the aforementioned applications until the judicial review is completed.

The court, he said, ordered that there should be an inter-party hearing of the injunction on August 12. In the meantime, the government’s consultation process has been suspended.

As for the Lyford Cay residents and/or property owners who collectively filed for judicial review, their injunction request was granted and will remain until the attorney general either applies to set it aside or the trial of their judicial review ends.

Mr Smith said: “We are pleased that we have been given permission to issue this judicial review which deals entirely with a process and it continues the work of Save the Bays in promoting regulated development, ie, just follow the rules rather than making it up as you go along. Parliament is responsible for making the laws and has passed Acts.

“These cases are being mounted by Save the Bays to ensure that the executive branch of government respects throughout the Bahamas laws passed by the legislative branch. Unfortunately we have to resort to the judicial branch to keep the executive branch in line. This is not how a country should be run. The government is not only Office of the Prime Minister; it also comprises Parliament, the executive branch and judiciary branch. Each must respect each other’s roles.

July 18, 2014

Tribune 242

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Stop The Haitian Invasion of The Bahamas

The Stop The Haitian Invasion of The Bahamas petition to Hon. Fred Mitchell MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration was written by Bahamas_Nationalist_Alliance and is in the category Government at GoPetition. Contact author here. Petition tags: , ,

The electorate pleaded with every administration for four decades, to implement measures to protect the Bahamas and Bahamians from the enduring illegal Haitian migrant invasion without resolution.

This lack of action has lead to total mistrust and feelings of betrayal in those elected based on promises to the citizenry of the Bahamas.

General consensus of Bahamians today is, we are about to cross the point of no return with illegal Haitian migration, as their prevalence in our society strongly indicates their numbers are equal to, if not greater than ours with 10.5 Million more Haitians at the ready to risk life and limb to get here.

Tax paying law abiding Bahamians are deprived of jobs, adequate education and medical care because our society, schools, hospitals and clinics are absolutely overwhelmed with Haitian nationals.

Thousands of Bahamians are unemployed since Haitians have systematically infiltrated virtually every profession by acquiring trades from Bahamians then undermining those Bahamians by filling these trades, jobs and services for lesser wages.

As evidenced by 6 article links below, Haitians smuggle themselves into our country, engage in every illicit and corrupt activity imaginable, incontrovertibly compromised the police force, defense force, immigration department, passport office, civil services’ and the highest levels of government.

Inherently corrupt, Haitians clandestinely network nationally to undermine Bahamians and authority at every level, have proven to have no respect for our laws, pay no taxes, yet benefit from free education, medical and social assistance, on the backs of tax paying Bahamians, whom they reduced to second-class citizens by efficiently disenfranchising them from rightful State conveniences.

In the interest of protecting present and future generations of indigenous Bahamians, our way of life, and the national security of our country, and to discourage and reverse the perpetually escalating Haitian invasion:

As your employers, we the undersigned citizens, registered voters and peoples' of the Bahamas, standing in solidarity, hereby petition the Government of the Bahamas to expeditiously legislate the following policies and measures:

1) Revoke, recall and review for authenticity every work permit, citizenship and passport issued to Haitian nationals post Independence July 10, 1973.

2) Revoke citizenship's granted to all Haitian nationals and their offspring obtained post Independence July 10, 1973.

3) Post Independence July 10, 1973 qualifying Haitian nationals and any offspring will qualify for residency status with a right to work only.

4) Table all treaties with Haiti post Independence July 10, 1973 for public review.

5) Define the path to citizenship as by marriage to Bahamians only after 10 successful years of said marriage retroactive post Independence July 10, 1973.

6) Impose a fine of $10,000.00 and or 2 years imprisonment for any individual found guilty of aiding, abetting, harboring, smuggling, hiring or otherwise dealing with illegal migrants of Haitian and or any nationality.

7) Revoke the citizenship, regularization, residency and or work permits of any naturalized or regularized person found guilty of aiding, abetting, harboring, smuggling, hiring or otherwise dealing with illegal migrants of Haitian and or any nationality, and deport and blacklist such individuals’ from reentry to the Bahamas.

8) Any individual found guilty of hiring illegal Haitian migrants in addition to imposed finds shall be held responsible for all repatriation cost.

9) All funds obtained by any illegal migrant(s) thru unlawful gainful employment shall be confiscated prior to deportation.

10) Revoke all applications for name changes which facilitates identity theft of indigenous Bahamian names.

These measures are designed as disincentives to, and the denationalization of Haitian nationals as they have proved beyond doubt to be the single major threat to national security, the very existence of Bahamians as an indigenous people, our way of life, and sovereignty of the Bahamas.

After four decades of procrastination by all administrations without remedy, it is necessary that WE THE PEOPLE demand far-reaching measures are implemented for our own self-preservation as a people.

Naturally, we expect some backlash and negative feedback from various international and human rights quarters. However, WE THE PEOPLE OF THE BAHAMAS, stand firmly in our belief that inaction short of the above would certainly lead to the self-inflicted genocide of our people.

We know and understand you are under pressure from various sides on this very controversial issue. Please rest assured that WE THE PEOPLE OF THE BAHAMAS stand 100% firmly behind you, and look forward to demonstrating our support with your compliance.

Sign the petition

Monday, July 14, 2014

Peter Nygard’s proposed expansion plans at Simms Point/Nygard Cay...

Flawed Process For Nygard Plans

Tribune Staff Reporter

IN the face of mounting legal pressure and international attention, the government has been forced to extend its public consultation process on Peter Nygard’s proposed expansion plans at Simms Point/Nygard Cay for a further 21 days. In an embarrassing climbdown it has also had to admit to confusion and flaws in the process thus far.

Letters obtained by The Tribune yesterday, signed by Director of Physical Planning Michael Major and sent to Save The Bays (STB), the environmental group leading the opposition to the development, show that the consultation period has officially been extended because of the department’s failure to obtain certain information about Mr Nygard’s plans and its failure to disclose certain documents.

Concerned residents had requested the information and documents in order to make meaningful representations with respect to Mr Nygard’s applications.

Lawsuits were filed this week against the government by STB and wealthy Lyford Cay property owners, including Baha Mar Chairman Sarkis Izmirlian and retired British actor Sir Sean Connery, seeking a judicial review of the process.

On June 18, the government announced the start of the initial 21-day public consultation period that ended on Wednesday with respect to Mr Nygard’s applications for Crown land and approvals for building, dredging and other types of development in the surrounding seabed.  

Mr Major noted in a letter dated July 6 that despite the start of the public consultation process, his department has not received applications from Mr Nygard with respect to certain “future buildings” in his site plan.

He said that Mr Nygard’s “set of architectural plans displayed are incomplete and insufficient to secure a building permit.”

He added: “The plans displayed represent all of the plans submitted with the application. It is customary that more plans are required by the relevant agencies as the application progresses through the approval process.”

Mr Major also said that copies of certain relevant documents cannot be given to residents and apologised for not having a study that considers the sustainability of Mr Nygard’s work electronically available for inspection.

“While it is not possible to provide copies of the documents for each request, three printed copies of each document are available to accommodate simultaneous inspections,” the letter said. “The department will continue to make available for public inspections, all of the information submitted in respect to planning applications during the consultation period.”

“We apologise for the unavailability of the electronic version of the study referenced ... and instead another relevant study was posted on the BEST Commission’s web page.”

“In light of the initial difficulties in obtaining the digital information, consideration will be given for a reasonable extension to the consultation period.”

That extension was granted in a letter dated July 9. 

Earlier this week, American television personality Nancy Grace and former US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady were among the 103 people who jointly sued the government while expressing concerns about environmental degradation and alleged unauthorised activities by Mr Nygard that they believe have already taken place in the area.

The government’s consultation exercise has been labelled a “farce” by some critics who believe that the government might try to sanction Mr Nygard’s plans as a favour for his financial support to the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) over the years.

The Tribune understands that STB will be before the Supreme Court on Monday to continue to press the case for judicial review. 

July 11, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The first confirmed case of Chikungunya virus in The Bahamas

MOH Officials Move To Fight Chikungunya Virus

By Jones Bahamas:

In light of the country’s first reported case of the Chikungunya virus, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has teamed up with the Department of Environmental Health in an attempt to combat the further spread of the disease.

Director at the Department of Public Health Dr. Pearl McMillan told the Bahama Journal Monday that both the MOH and Environmental Health officials have been taking initiatives to stop the virus from progressing throughout the country.

“We are working with our partners in Environmental Health, and they are also promoting that individuals in communities do the necessary vigilance as it relates to preventing the proliferation of the mosquito,” she said. “We do not want to have a situation where we have more cases. Environmental Health has already started doing the spraying and they also do the water treatments. That has been ongoing.

“We work with them regularly; we do not wait until we have a case. Once we have a suspect then we inform them and then they go out and do the necessary activities that will assist in preventing the breeding of mosquitoes.”

The MOH, in a press release issued over the weekend, documented the first confirmed case of Chikungunya in The Bahamas.

“The case occurred in an adult visitor who travelled to The Bahamas from the Dominican Republic on June 29, 2014,” the report read. “His symptoms reportedly began the day before travel to The Bahamas.

“He was seen at the Princess Margaret Hospital on June 30, 2014 and was subsequently tested. A confirmed positive test was received on July 4, 2014.”

The report went on to say that the patient had been treated and was recovering well.

Dr. McMillan confirmed that there has only been one confirmed case to date, meaning that the presence of the disease does not mean that there is an outbreak. She did say that in light of a startling new revelation regarding the disease’s carrier, the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, persons definitely need to take preventative measures.

“This mosquito lives around the house,” she said. “It’s not like other types of mosquitoes that you have to go out into the bushes and into the wild. This mosquito is a house bound mosquito. So we urge individuals and communities to work with us as we seek to prevent having any additional cases. This one case was imported, and we are hoping that we have zero additional cases.

Chikungunya was first reported in the Caribbean on December 6, 2013. To date, 22 countries in the Caribbean have reported confirmed cases.

July 08, 2014

Jones Bahamas

Monday, July 7, 2014

Peter Nygard and the Proposed Redevelopment of Nygard Cay goes Global

Nygard battle goes international

Guardian Business Editor

The battle between environmentalists and Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard over whether he should have the right to receive permits for redevelopment and land has gone international, ahead of the close of a public consultation period on the matter in The Bahamas.

The Guardian of London, and Der Spiegel of Germany, both reported this weekend on the case of Nygard's controversial application currently being considered by the government for permission to expand his property and to obtain leases for land.

Meanwhile, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of a 200-group strong global marine environmental movement, the Waterkeeper Alliance, also called on the government of The Bahamas to reject the application by Nygard, citing concerns over expected environmental implications.

Back in Nassau, Fred Smith, attorney and director for environmental group Save the Bays, alleged yesterday that the government has yet to release pertinent information relating to the applications made by Nygard; Smith claims the information was promised by Director of Physical Planning Michael Major.

While Smith had initially applauded the government for holding a consultation on the permit applications as a new step toward much-needed transparency and accountability, the attorney said that without such details the consultation is pointless. Information sought includes a government-commissioned report of 2014, which a notice announcing the public consultation on the applications said would "guide" the government in its deliberations.

In its report, The Guardian called the dispute over whether Nygard should be granted the right to rebuild parts of his property and obtain a lease of certain areas of seabed around his property, a "battle to stop fashion tycoon building on Bond beach" - a reference to the appearance of Clifton Bay in the 1967 James Bond movie "You Only Live Twice”. The article pointed out campaigners’ concerns that it could lead to "environmental calamity".

The government launched a 21-day consultation period over the permit applications, which ends on Tuesday. Opponents have urged the public to react during the consultation period or face seeing environmental damage done to the area.

"The beaches and azure waters of Clifton Bay in The Bahamas are at the center of a real-life drama that would surely compete with anything Hollywood could invent," said The Guardian.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in a statement released over the weekend on the issue of Nygard's application by the Waterkeeper Alliance, said that the application submitted by Nygard should be rejected.

"The people of The Bahamas are taking action. More than 5,000 have signed a petition calling on Prime Minister Christie and the Bahamian government to enforce the law and protect Crown land and sea beds at Nygard Cay, and we add our voice of support to this cause,” he said.

Kennedy promised to "keep a spotlight on the Bahamian government and...mobilize concerned citizens in The Bahamas and across the globe to take action until Bahamian officials are transparent with the public and demonstrate a commitment to the preservation of these precious and fragile environments."

The Guardian article notes that Nygard's spokesman did not respond to questions on the matter but added that the businessman has previously accused the Save the Bays campaign of being a tool of a neighbor, Louis Bacon, a billionaire hedge fund manager with whom he has been in a land dispute - a claim the campaign has denied.

The Save the Bays campaign confirmed that Bacon was a large donor, but insisted that it was a coalition of concerned residents and environmentalists, added the newspaper.

Smith has urged members of the public to engage in the consultation process by submitting opinions or concerns on the proposed redevelopment of Nygard Cay to the director of physical planning. The public must send a letter or fax in order to do so.

In an interview with Guardian Business yesterday, Smith added: "The environment, as the rest of the world sees, is important and thankfully if the world is now paying attention to The Bahamas, our own politicians might finally begin to respect our own home."

Save the Bays has urged all members of the public to attend tonight’s town meeting on the future of Clifton Bay. The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the BCPOU Hall on Farrington Road.

A message sent to a spokesperson for Peter Nygard seeking comment was not returned up to press time.

July 07, 2014


Friday, July 4, 2014

The Bahamas trade deficit declines

Trade Deficit Narrows 9.7%

Tribune Business Editor

The Bahamas experienced a 9.7 per cent drop in its trade deficit to $2.554 billion in 2013, largely due to an almost-$300 million fall in its import bill.

The Department of Statistics’ 2013 Annual Trade Data report, which covers just the Bahamas’ merchandise account or trade in goods, noted that total imports fell year-over-year by 8 per cent or $291.6 million, dropping from $3.658 billion to $3.366 billion.

While it is unclear whether the import drop is the start of a trend, and if it will be easier for the capital account (FDI and tourism earnings) surplus to finance the merchandise deficit, the narrowing was certainly not caused by any increase in Bahamian exports.

These, too, also fell in 2013, dropping from $828.7 million in 2012 to $811.7 million - a decline of $17 million or 2 per cent.

“The 2013 balance of trade (total exports minus total imports) continued to result in a deficit,” the Department of Statistics noted. “However, between 2012 and 2013, there was a noticeable decrease of some 9.7 per cent in the trade deficit, resulting in a net trade balance of $2.6 billion in 2013 compared to $2.8 billion in 2012.”

The $2.554 billion trade deficit incurred in 2013 was the lowest since 2009, when it fell to $2.114 billion at the recession’s peak.

“Data on merchandise trade for the year 2013 show that the value of commodities imported into the Bahamas totalled nearly $3.4 billion, resulting in a moderate decrease of 8 per cent below 2012’s total of $3.6 billion,” the Department of Statistics.

Mineral fuels, likely including gasoline and other oil-based products were the largest import category at $726.9 million or 21.6 per cent of the total, with machinery and transport next at $657.4 million or 19.5 per cent of the total.

Diesel fuel imports were worth $328.7 million in 2013, with unleaded auto gasoline and jet fuel accounting for $161.3 million and $46.9 million, respectively. Other fuel oils were worth $124.1 million.

Manufactured goods totalled $460.3 million for a 13.7 per cent of the Bahamas’ total import bill, with fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and processed foods coming to $466.5 million or 13.9 per cent.

On the exports front, Polymers International’s polystyrene products at $174.7 million, ‘other compounds’ at $61.6 million, lobster at $84.4 million accounted for 88 per cent of exports.

The US remained the Bahamas’ main trading partner, supplying $2.75 billion or 81.8 per cent of total imports. Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago accounted for $249.6 million and $81.9 million worth of imports respectively.

The US also accounted for the lion’s share of Bahamian exports at $678.8 million, taking 83.6 per cent of the total.

July 03, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government simply does not care about the rights of women

The PLP has Failed to Protect the Rights of Women

Democratic National Alliance - Press Release:

History has shown that Bahamian women continue to make up a significant block of this country’ voting electorate; however this Christie led administration – whose victory at the polls was due in large part to the high voter turnout among women – has proven itself unworthy of that vote of confidence.

This PLP government simply does not care about the rights of women. Over the course of his term in office thus far, Mr. Christie has paid only lip service to the idea of female empowerment and equality while allowing those under his direction to further trample on the freedoms of Bahamian women across this great country; women who continue to contribute in meaningful ways to the development of our communities, and our democracy.

The PLP campaigned and won on the promise of a referendum which would finally address constitutional inequalities against women; however, more than 50 years since the women’s suffrage movement, months after receiving the recommendations of the constitutional commission, and more than two years in office, this government has not seen fit to make good on this promise.

Prime Minister Perry Christie has instead postponed the date of the planned referendum twice and his administration has, during this time, failed to undertake the promised educational campaign intended to make the public more aware of the key points at the heart of this very important issue.

While the Democratic National Alliance is saddened by this reality, we are not at all surprised. Since taking office, this administration has failed to meet its own deadlines on issues of national importance. As with issues such as Value Added Tax, National Health Insurance, the Freedom of Information Act, the implementation of the Sexual Offender’s Registry and countless others, the government has faltered consistently, failing not only to meet its own self-imposed deadlines, but also in providing the public with the necessary updates required to inspire confidence in the electoral process.

The government’s amateurish handling of the gaming referendum and the subsequent decision to go against the will of the people in that regard is additional proof of this government’s ineptitude and lack of focus. The decision to regulate the industry after a resounding “NO” at the polls has only further undermined the public’s faith in our country’s still developing democracy and has undoubtedly cast a shadow of doubt over any future referendums. How can the electorate be sure that the government will honor the outcome of the vote? How can Bahamian women trust that the rights they vote to protect will not be overturned at the whim of an indecisive leader?

This PLP government has failed the women of the Bahamas. They have denied women across the country basic rights and have compromised the process by which those rights can be achieved in the future. Sadly, on the issue of gender inequality this Christie led government has shown itself, ill-equipped and unwilling to protect future generations of Bahamian women.

July 01, 2014

Branville McCartney
DNA Leader - Facebook