Sunday, September 28, 2014

Her Majesty Prisons (HMP) and the harsh realities of crime and punishment in the modern Bahamas

Prison reform must be a national priority


The Nassau Guardian Editorial


Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) is obsolete. Built in simpler and more peaceful times, the country’s only correctional facility has seen its physical capacity simply overwhelmed by the harsh realities of crime and punishment in the modern Bahamas.

Today, HMP holds more than 1,500 inmates – a far greater number than envisioned by those who designed it – with the Maximum Security Unit housing more than double the 400 convicts it was originally intended to accommodate.

In addition, there are serious health and sanitation issues, staffing shortages, security concerns and infrastructural problems.

Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage is aware of the situation. Blaming the chronic overcrowding on the slow movement of the courts and a consequent build-up of remand prisoners, earlier this year, he said it could be alleviated if more inmates were granted bail or sentenced to community service instead of prison time.

While it is true that there are currently hundreds detained at HMP awaiting trial, there are a number of problems with Nottage’s suggestion.

For one thing, despite the repeated promise to usher in Swift Justice, it is unclear whether the government will ever manage to influence the speed at which the judiciary operates – or even whether such an outcome exclusively of the government’s doing is desirable, given the country’s constitutionally-enshrined separation of powers.

For another, the public at large can be expected to express some level of discomfort at the idea of certain categories of accused persons being released on their own recognizance, particularly in light of the many recent claims of persons committing violent offenses while on bail.

Perhaps most importantly, Nottage’s solution seems rather modest considering the severity of the problem and its potential consequences for society.

Back in early 2012, an era of grand political promises, the then opposition PLP said the state of the prison was unacceptable and could not be allowed to persist.

Its election manifesto said: “The increase in crime in our society and the number of offenders at HMP has resulted in severe overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. The ratio of officers to inmates is not ideal, and the health and working conditions are a concern to both inmates and the officers assigned to watch them.”

The PLP promised that, if elected, it would build a much-needed clinic at the prison, increase staff numbers to “safe levels”, establish halfway houses to smooth the entry of ex-offenders into society and even consider building a new prison complex.

The now governing party made a number of pledges in the run-up to the May 2012 election, many of which have been forced onto the back-burner by unpleasant economic realities.

Even in these cash-strapped times, addressing the state of Her Majesty’s Prisons must remain among our top national priorities.

The majority of HMP inmates are young men who will one day rejoin this society, but it is very difficult to rehabilitate a person under inhumane and unsanitary conditions. Whether they return to us as promising assets or dangerous liabilities therefore hangs in the balance.

September 27, 2014

thenassauguardian editorial

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bahamas National Energy Policy 2013-2033

20-Year Energy Policy Outlined


By Jones Bahamas:


Environment and Housing Minister Kendred Dorsett on Monday released the Bahamas National Energy Policy 2013-2033 a document which serves as the road plan to securing the energy future of The Bahamas.

Minister Dorsett said recognising the critical need for reform within the energy sector of The Bahamas, the government has set out to effect transformation through legislation and policy changes.

“In August of 2013, Prime Minister Perry Christie, released a document on behalf of the government, stating the case for energy sector reform with several key objectives. All of which when achieved would lead to a, modern, diversified and efficient energy sector, providing Bahamians with affordable energy supplies and long term energy security towards enhancing international competitiveness and sustainable prosperity.’

“The document also foreshadowed, at the time, the realignment of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), which is key to real reform within the sector. In the past two years, in the furtherance of our objective to change the energy sector, this administration has established an Energy Task Force which was charged with advising on solutions to reducing the high cost of electricity. We eliminated the excise tax on fuel used by BEC in the 2013-2014 budget.

“We eliminated tariffs on inverters for solar panels and LED appliances to ensure that more our citizens would be able to afford these energy saving devices. With the assistance of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the government was also able to advance two pilot projects devised to collect data on renewable energy technologies. The first project provided for the installation of solar water heaters and the second project for the installation of photovoltaic systems in Bahamian homes.

The minister added that The Bahamas National Energy Policy 2013-2033 is a document which serves as the road plan to securing the energy future of The Bahamas, presenting the government’s vision and goals for a reformed energy sector after consultation with industry stakeholders.

The four goals covered in the policy are to ensure that Bahamians will become well aware of the importance of energy conservation, use energy wisely and continuously pursue opportunities for improving energy efficiencies with key economic sectors embracing eco-efficiency; ensuring that The Bahamas will have a modern energy infrastructure that enhances energy generation capacity and ensures that energy supplies are safely, reliably, and affordably transported to homes, communities and the productive sectors on a sustainable basis; ensuring that The Bahamas will be a world leader in the development and implementation of sustainable energy opportunities and continuously pursues a diverse range of well- researched and regulated, environmentally sensitive and sustainable energy programmes, built upon geographical, climatic and traditional economic strengths and ensuring that The Bahamas will have a dynamic and appropriate governance, institutional, legal and regulatory framework advancing future developments in the energy sector underpinned by high levels of consultation, citizen participation and public-private sector partnerships.

“This document provides the country with a guide to total energy reform by the year 2033 through strategic steps such as fuel diversification, infrastructure modernisation, renewable energy source development, conservation and efficiency. It also includes a table for target evaluation and monitoring,” Minister Dorsett said.

“As it states in the policy, ‘to ensure that the goals of the policy are achieved, the government in consultation with the private sector and civil society will develop three year action plans that will enable the development of key actions to support the strategies articulated in the policy document. These plans will provide detailed information on specific actions to be undertaken, the implementing agencies or stakeholders, time lines and costs.’”

In conjunction with the release of this policy document, Cabinet has also approved the framework for the Residential Energy Self Generation (RESG) and Renewable Energy Power Purchase/Inter- connection agreements prepared by BEC.

“The Electricity Act will be amended in short order to enable the government to advance the programme which will provide a framework for residential and certain commercial customers with renewable energy generation capabilities sited on their respective properties for serving their own electricity requirement to connect to the grid,” he added. “The applicable renewable energy technologies will be wind turbines or solar photovoltaic power sources. BEC will reserve the right to limit the number of services per individual, entity or classification.”

Minister Dorsett and Prime Minister Christie left the country yesterday as part of a delegation representing The Bahamas at the United Nations climate change summit being held in New York.

According to a statement released by the UN on its website, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has “invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to Climate Summit to galvanise and catalyse climate action.

The prime minister is expected to address the general assembly today.

23 September, 2014

Jones Bahamas

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Bahamas government’s gaming legislation has attempted to make fools of the Bahamian voting public ...and has again shed light on the corruption ...and dishonesty which have become hallmarks of the Progressive Liberal Party - PLP’s term in office

THE GAMING BILL: A BAD BET TO REPAY AN OLD DEBT!





A few days of Parliamentary debate culminated Monday evening, with the passage of the government’s gaming legislation during which time Bahamians watched as some of their elected officials made a mockery of our democratic process by ignoring the results of last year’s gaming referendum, while others failed to show up at all.

In the wake of what is becoming yet another political snowball for the Progressive Liberal Party, the Minister responsible for elections and referenda issued what can only be described as a lackluster apology for the government’s decision to ignore the will of the people. That apology, comes several months too late and reeks of political manipulation. A government truly apologetic about this decision would abide by the results of the referendum as the Prime Minister previously committed to.

During his contribution to the debate, the Prime Minister called the finalized legislation the result of months of effort, and focused dialogue with the relevant stakeholders. He further intimated that the legislation was designed to, as he put it, “engender public confidence” in the gaming sector. Sadly to say, the Prime Minister has failed on both fronts.

Clearly, the response from the church and other sectors of the country disproves the PM’s assertion that he truly listened to the dissenting voice on this issue. Instead, it suggests a desire to repay the web shop owners the reported millions contributed to the PLP’s election campaign and further highlights the utter DISTRUST that Bahamians feel toward this administration.

Even more egregious however, was the posture taken by this PLP government against the Church. After years of courting the country’s religious leaders and their parishioners the PLP’s hostile response to criticisms from the church was not only unnecessary, but also ill advised; particularly during a time where the many social ills facing the nation will require the assistance of ALL NON GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES – especially the church –to help improve the lives of Bahamians.

There is an old proverb which says: “In a Bet, there is a fool and a thief”. The government’s gaming legislation has attempted to make fools of the voting public in this country; and has again shed light on the corruption and dishonesty which have become hallmarks of the PLP’s term in office.

As described by the church, the government’s actions constitute a direct attack on the foundation of this country’s democracy. Their continued disregard for the will of the people is bound to backfire for this Christie administration.

Branville McCartney
DNA Leader - September 17, 2014




Friday, September 19, 2014

No reduction in the excise tax to offset value-added tax (VAT) tax

Price hikes likely on price-controlled items after VAT


By K. QUINCY PARKER
Guardian Business Editor
quincy@nasguard.com


Auto dealers and likely other businesses that deal in price-controlled items may hike their prices by more than the proposed value-added tax (VAT) rate of 7.5 percent proposed by the government in order to compensate for losses incurred by VAT compliance.

As Bahamians contemplate the impending institution of a value-added tax regime, the Bahamas Motor Dealers Association (BMDA) is sounding the alarm about the ability of price-controlled industries to remain profitable given an already onerous tax burden.

“There are some misconceptions that even the government has,” said Automotive Industrial Distributors (AID) Ltd. General Manager Jason Watson.

The government, according to Watson, is assuming that in the case of the BMDA, prices will be able to be kept at the same level, and as far as price-controlled items, that is so. However, for a company like AID that also sells items that are not price-controlled, the price of those items will go up in order to compensate for the losses on price-controlled items.

“That’s just an economic fact,” he said. “There’s just no getting around that.”

In fact, Watson said the likely price hike will be more than the VAT rate, because dealers will be compensating for losses due to inventory devaluation, gross profit declines and the costs of VAT compliance.

Fred Albury, president of the BMDA and owner of Executive Motors, talked about the “very negative” effect of recent changes to the government’s tax regime on the cost of doing business, even before adding VAT.

“It started in 2010. The business license fee increased from 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent. That’s a 50 percent increase when you translate that into dollars and cents,” Albury said.

He explained that there had been a revaluing of properties for property taxes – whereas he had been paying $20,000 a year for his parts and services building, the cost shot up to $75,000. He said that for a showroom, which had been $4,000, he is now paying $12,000 a year.

“All of that goes as an expense to the bottom line,” he said.

“If I was paying $200,000 a year in business license fees, that went to $300,000 (using the formula given above). And on top of that, we’re under price control, so we can’t up the prices to absorb these additional costs.”

“We have some of the same issues [as Albury and the other dealers], being under price control ourselves,” Watson explained. “Vehicles, parts, paints, accessories – it’s all under price control. Whenever we receive a price increase in our business costs, we’re not able to pass that on to the consumer.”

Watson admitted that potential layoffs were on the table in the long-term.

He said that even if sales remain constant, costs will increase, cash flow will decrease, gross profits will decrease because duty will be applied at a lower level in the cost structure. Still, he expects that sales will decrease. And he said that while business at AID is good now, and no layoffs are predicted in the near future, with no alterations in the governments plans, the current business model is “unsustainable.”

The two appeared on the ZNS economy-themed talk show “You And Your Money,” which airs at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday nights and is rebroadcast at 9 a.m. Fridays.

Watson talked numbers. Accounting software to be able to invoice VAT and file for returns is valued at $300,000, and loss of value on inventory and other matters means a loss of $1.4 million; it will cost his company $1.7 million to become VAT compliant.

Watson said that it will take him six months to be completely compliant, and Albury added that his company, Executive Motors, has more than 30,000 different part numbers that would have to be revalued individually in order to comply with the VAT regulations. Both men said it was impossible to be ready for VAT by January 2015. Albury admitted that he would have to seriously consider whether to remain in business if the VAT is to be implemented in the current iteration.

“Having it where the VAT is a line item, based on what you’re selling – that’s simple. I’m ready for that. But if they say it’s gotta be built into the pricing, I’ve gotta think twice about whether I can stay in business.”

The BMDA is part of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, and through the chamber’s Coalition for Responsible Taxation (CRT) has expressed its concerns about the impact of VAT in addition to the government’s tax and fee structure. It is understood that on three occasions, State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis has declined to meet with the BMDA representatives. BMDA members have instead met with Financial Secretary John Rolle and economist Simon Wilson of the Ministry of Finance.

“The Motor Dealers Association has attempted to get some meetings with [Minister Halkitis] but was unable to do so,” Albury confirmed.

“We’ve made it known that its going to have drastic negative effect on sales due to the fact that there’s going to be no reduction in the excise tax to offset the VAT tax,” he said. “The impact to the consumer is going to be tremendous [in terms of] increases.”

September 18, 2014

thenassauguardian

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New immigration restrictions designed to clamp down on illegal migration ...particularly from Haiti

New Rules To Tackle Illegal Immigration


Tribune242:


IMMIGRATION Minister Fred Mitchell announced that government will impose new immigration restrictions in a bid to clamp down on illegal migration, particularly from Haiti.

This includes the consideration of a ban on people who have previously entered the Bahamas illegally and have been deported from ever obtaining legal status. As of November, the government will also impose new work permit procedures, the Fox Hill MP said.

He said the government will also mandate, as of November, that all people living in the Bahamas have a passport of their nationality.

“With effect from November 1, 2014 new procedures are to come into force with regard to work permit procedures, and it is envisaged that the regulations will be amended and the policies accordingly,” he said.

He said that as of November 1, the government aims to have employers who are applying for first-time work permit holders who are residents of Haiti to come to the Department of Immigration and pay the $100 processing fee, provide a labour certificate, cover letter, stamp tax of $30 and the employee information sheet in Nassau.

He said that information will be forwarded to the Embassy of the Bahamas in Port-au-Prince, Haiti where the applicant will fill out the application form and provide the supporting documents. The applicant must be certified as personally seen by an embassy officer in Port au Prince, he said.

“I also wish to announce that we will as of November 1 require all persons who live in the Bahamas to have a passport of the country of their nationality,” Mr Mitchell said. “Those people who have been born here will get a particular residence permit which will allow them to work and live here until such time as their status pursuant to any application under the terms of the Constitution is decided.

“This will also allow access of children to school. This will not apply to the children of those who are here illegally. The Haitian president and the ambassador have confirmed that they will be able to meet the demand for these passports.”

Mr Mitchell said that holding a foreign passport does not prejudice the right of anyone under the Constitution to apply for citizenship of the Bahamas.

He also said that “with immediate effect” the government will not accept applications for people who do not have legal status to work in the country.

“Anyone who comes to do so, the application will be refused and the applicant will be arrested and charged and deported,” he said in the House of Assembly. “The Cabinet is considering a permanent prospective ban on all people who have come here illegally and have been deported so that they will not ever be able to qualify for a permanent status in the Bahamas.

“We are allowing a period for comment before proceeding with a formal proposal in this regard. The intention is to have new regulations or policies in place on this subject by January 1, 2015, subject to any exigencies,” he said.

It is also proposed that as of November 1, the practice of issuing certificates of identity to non-nationals born here will cease.

“These will only be for Bahamians who have a need for an emergency travel document or where in accordance with our international obligations we are to issue them to non-nationals,” the minister said.

He said the new rules are necessary to crack down on the “criminality involved in immigration”.

“This requires the efforts of all Bahamians to guard our borders and protect our country. We are particularly concerned about what is happening in Abaco and special attention is being paid to that island and to Eleuthera where many residents believe that things have gotten totally out of hand. It is important for us to address it before it gets out of hand.

“There are reports that there are in some sections of those islands no go areas for public officials. This cannot stand and this will be stopped.”

Nearly 100 illegal Haitian immigrants were picked up by Defence Force officers on Monday. On Tuesday five Cubans were picked up by officials on Cay Lobos. 

September 18, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is simply a disaster

D’Aguilar: BEC is a Disaster


By Jones Bahamas:



A leading businessmen is urging the government to tackle energy reform.  Super Wash President and member of the Coalition for Responsible Taxation Dionisio D’Aguilar said that today’s electricity costs are twice what they should be and said the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is simply as a disaster.

“BEC is in just an absolute horrendous condition.  I’m a former director of BEC.  I was on the board of BEC until the last general election and I can tell you it is a disaster, it is bankrupt and if they won’t tell you, that’s what it is, they have no money,” he said.

Mr. D’Aguilar’s comments came during a recent Rotary luncheon meeting.

He said that BEC is plagued by a vicious cycle and questioned how the power company would support the demand from the upcoming mega Baha Mar resort.

“People don’t pay their bills, you don’t get the parts, so you don’t get money in to buy the parts in order to fix your generators so you can't do advance purchasing, so your generators are constantly down,” he said.

“When Baha Mar kicks in we’re going to be in an even worse position.  When you speak to the people at BEC, their essentially generating what we demand now.”

Earlier this month, customers took to social media outlets to vent their frustration over repeated power outages after BEC experienced three engine failures.

At last report, BEC Chairman Leslie Miller renewed calls for the government to invest in a new $200 million power plant in an effort the meet the increasing demand for electricity.

He also told the Bahama Journal that the power company is looking to bring in more generators to meet the additional demand from Baha Mar.

Due to the numerous engine failures at Clifton Pier, Mr. Miller also said that Bahamians can expect to see an increase in their electricity bills by next month.

“The surcharge is going to go up appreciably due to the fact that we had to rely more on Blue Hill than Clifton Pier.  Every day that we have to rely on Blue Hill over Clifton with the total output at Blue Hill – it cost us an extra quarter of a million dollars per day for fuel, its $10,000 an hour, its approximately $250,000 a day extra that compute out to as much as five sets per kilowatt hour on your next electricity bill,” he said.

In an effort to get the ball rolling on tackling energy reform, last month, The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) along with the Coalition for Responsible Taxation presented the Christie Administration with a report on how the government can efficiently generate energy.

The report lays out an action plan to reduce electricity cost within the next two to three years and the construction of new power plant by 2016.

The report emphasised the critical importance of reducing energy costs in an effort lessen the long term negative effects on disposable income due to the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT).

15 September, 2014

Jones Bahamas

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The issue of legalized gambling in The Bahamas: ...Web shops ...and access to casino gambling by ordinarily resident Bahamians ...threatens the moral, social and economic fabric of the Bahamian society...

Pandora’s Box: Why residents should not be allowed to gamble in casinos


By SIMON


There are few physical reminders left of Hobby Horse Hall, such as the stables, converted into apartments.

The eponymous roadway near Commonwealth Bank in Cable Beach, is another reminder of the defunct racetrack once located in the vicinity of the new golf clubhouse at Baha Mar.

A younger generation of Bahamians have no memory of the racetrack which was shuttered decades ago. While many Bahamians over 50 have some memory of and others over 60 may be somewhat nostalgic about Hobby Horse Hall, many older Bahamians recall the downsides.

Racing was seasonal and when in season it was not daily. Even with limited opportunities for gambling, quite a number of families suffered as scores of gamblers placed bets on the horses in person or by proxy.

A friend recalls that his grandmother rarely missed an occasion to bet on the horses, much to the dismay of his grandfather. The usually sober-minded lady and daily churchgoer was obsessed with the races.

Vastly more Bahamians than tourists attended Hobby Horse. During the relatively short season grocery stores reported a drop in sales, mortgage payments fell off, and many essential family obligations were neglected, because many breadwinners were chasing the dream of easy money. Quite a number of working people exhausted their weekly pay check in a single day of betting.

The Pindling administration resisted calls to reopen the track. As casino gambling expanded and with the experience of Hobby Horse Hall in mind, the UBP and the PLP agreed that residents should be restricted from casino gambling, because they feared the social and economic havoc it might wreak on the country.

Many church leaders were opposed to gambling. A sort of historic compromise was reached in which visitors would be allowed to gamble, but not those ordinarily resident.

Insights

The compromise was based on a number of insights and had various components. Casino gambling was not an end in itself as the vision was not to make The Bahamas a gambling Mecca. That was not our brand.

Licences were granted as incentives for investors seeking to build resorts of a certain size on New Providence and Grand Bahama. Importantly, the restriction on casino gambling was placed on those ordinarily resident, both Bahamian and non-Bahamian.

Visiting Bahamians and non-Bahamians living overseas are allowed to gamble in the casinos, an essential distinction largely obscured in many discussions on the gaming bill.

The question is not about foreigners versus Bahamians. It is about residents and non-residents. Residents who are nationals of another country are also barred from casino gambling. It is essential that journalists and others get the distinction correct.

There is a question as to whether those ordinarily resident should be allowed to gamble in casinos. Some use the language of discrimination, going so far as to compare the issue with the fight for gender equality. It is a specious argument in significant ways.

For now, one example: The restriction on Bahamians owning handguns is viewed as discriminatory by some. For many others, including this writer, it is a reasonable exception in order to avoid the development of a broader gun culture which would have negative social consequences.

Residents gambling in the casino and restrictions on gun ownership are not based on biological givens, such as race, gender or sexual orientation. Instead the former are reasonable exceptions based on possible wide scale social harm.

As noted in a previous column, there are three broad philosophical clusters constituting the body of opinion on gambling, ranging from the prohibitionist viewpoint to that of the libertarian. Prohibitionists would ban all forms of gambling. Libertarians would allow for all forms of gambling.

The third cluster represents a more moderate and intermediate position, prioritizing a communitarian or common good argument of the social effects of certain types of gambling over the question of individual choice and autonomy.

In debating whether those ordinarily resident should be allowed to gamble in casinos, the public policy debate concerns much more than the question of rights. We should be equally concerned about social and economic effects.

There is perhaps a generational divide on the issue, with older Bahamians recalling the effects of Hobby Horse Hall more likely to oppose residents gambling, as opposed to a younger generation with little or no memory more prone to see this as a rights issue. This may be a stark example of Edmund Burke’s admonition: “Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Realities

Public policy debates include both philosophical arguments as well as hard realities informed by historical and sociological insight.

Hothouse gambling in a casino environment with free drinks and a carnival atmosphere with flashing lights, scores of fellow gamblers, inducements to gamble and a panoply of games of chance, is emotionally quite different from buying numbers.

With the country set to legalize gambling activities by web shops, the addition of easy access to casino gambling by ordinarily resident Bahamians would have a devastating effect on the Bahamian society socially, economically, in terms of home life and a potential increase in various types of crime.

The Bahamas would become a gambling Mecca – for Bahamians gambling online and in casinos around the clock.

Add to this a 7.5 percent VAT, likely to go higher, amidst the ongoing decline of the middle class and increased poverty in a still struggling economy. We are courting disaster.

Cairns, a city of approximately 150,000, is the fourth most popular destination for overseas tourists to Australia. There is debate raging over plans for a mega resort and casino for the area.

The Cairns Post reports: “Social workers are struggling to treat large numbers of Far Northern residents for gambling addiction, claiming Aquis [the proposed resort] would push them over the edge.

“Centacare Cairns Executive Director Helga Biro said local social workers were already at saturation point assisting locals for gambling addictions.

“‘These are people who can’t afford to pay their electricity bills. They can’t afford to buy nappies or formula for their babies…so they need to come for social assistance’.”

A report on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website noted the concerns of “State Coordinator General Markham [who] warned that 1,500 extra poker machines will result in Cairns locals losing an additional $56 million a year by 2021.

“That would equate to each adult resident in Cairns spending an extra $240 per year on pokies [slot machines]. He says 60 percent of those new pokie losses would come from around 4,000 new problem gamblers.

“The modelling forecasts $22 million lost to poker machines by just 950 high risk problem gamblers.

“A further $12 million would be lost each year by around 3,000 so-called ‘moderate risk’ problem gamblers.

“Based on this modelling, Markham says the financial viability of the Aquis casino is likely to be propped up by just 4,000 people who are each spending between $3,000 and $23,000 a year.

“His research also shows that about 70,000 new recreational gamblers in Cairns would lose, on average, $16 million a year on pokies.”

Instructive

The experience of Cairns, with a population of approximately 150,000, is instructive and disturbing for a country approaching 400,000 residents. In such smaller communities, the issue of problem gambling is often more pronounced.

Substitute New Providence or Bimini or Freeport for Cairns, with Bahamians being allowed to play the pokies in casinos, in addition to playing through web shops.

The owner of a popular restaurant near Paradise Island noted to this columnist that he initially thought that the bulk of his revenue would come from tourists. Instead it is repeat business by residents that is his gravy train.

Imagine near 24-hour, year-round access to casinos by residents at Bimini, Freeport and New Providence, with most residents about half an hour or less away from a casino.

This might destroy Bimini and wreak havoc on an already struggling Grand Bahama. In the main population center of New Providence residents would likely gamble in casinos on the way home from work, on lunch hours, and especially on weekends.

With sports betting in the mix in casinos, the increase in gambling by Bahamians will be phenomenal. In the off-season, resorts will likely market cheap rooms to residents, offering incentives for gamblers, including one-night gambling stands and weekend specials.

Younger residents on New Providence looking for something to do on weekends may flood the casinos in droves, creating a new generation of gamblers.

All of this outflow of considerable sums of money will go out of the country, possibly seriously effecting our fiscal position as a country.

Those who are arguing this matter as a rights issue may be quite na├»ve. We may well happily delight in our newfound “right” or “freedom”, as we spin the slot machines and play other games of chance, all the while gambling away our pay checks, savings and future as a country.

It is a Pandora’s Box we should not open, yet another means for too many seeking to buy hope that rarely comes and instead often leads to despair.

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

September 11, 2014

thenassauguardian

Friday, September 12, 2014

Urban Renewal and One Bahamas

Urban Renewal - A Powerful Agent For Social And Economic Change

Insight - Tribune 242:



Urban Renewal is transforming lives in the Bahamas, free of political intervention, and is more than just a crime prevention tool. In a wide-ranging interview with The Tribune the organisation’s prime movers dismiss criticism of its operation, outline future goals and initiatives and pay tribute to their supporters and partners.



CO-CHAIRS of Urban Renewal, Cynthia “Mother” Pratt and Algernon Allen, have been responding to criticisms of the organisation and recently reiterated its vision at the Radio House studios of 100JAMZ, the ‘People’s Radio Station’.

“Mother” Pratt and Mr Allen, shared not only the focus of the social initiative but highlighted some of Urban Renewal’s goals, achievements and future plans.

“Some people have been asking what Urban Renewal is doing. What have we done?” asked Mother Pratt, the former Deputy Prime Minister. “We’re transforming lives. That’s what we are doing! We are making a difference in young people’s lives.”

“It’s about providing resources and opportunities to those less fortunate. We need to reach the children of this generation. To provide a path before they are taught by their older siblings to become criminals of the next generation,” she said forcefully.

As she nodded approval Mr Allen, the former FNM Cabinet minister, said: “Mother Pratt and I will not allow such a vital programme, like Urban Renewal, to be kicked around like some political football.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” interjected Mother Pratt.

“Urban Renewal does not compete with, nor tread on, the toes of government or any other party. It is a tool for social transformation,” explained Mr Allen. “In fact it complements and augments each government ministry, as well as other respective agencies.”

Urban Renewal has been touted primarily as an instrument for ‘crime prevention.’ “This is a great disservice and oversight,” Mr Allen complained. “It is an instrument of social transformation and in that process benefits all matters of anti-social activity. “Last Friday, thousands of children were provided books, materials, backpacks, uniforms so that they could be properly equipped for their back to school. Daphne Bannister deserves recognition for her invaluable assistance along with the kindness of Ron and Diane Cacatori and Rick and Rita Case from Florida. They enabled us to be in a position to help so many.

“Our friends from Florida have provided thousands of text books, teacher aids, filing cabinets, projectors and school furniture,” he said.

“My question,” asked Mother Pratt, “where on earth would these thousands of young children be without the programmes that we have already done? We have transformed thousands of lives.”

“We even had barbers, hair braiders and provided the children with simple lunch,” continued Mr Allen. “When the PM asked me to be co-Chairman with Mother Pratt in the aftermath of the 2012 election, I insisted on several things.”

“First, that Urban Renewal must not be driven by partisan politics. Second, that we cannot play ‘politics with poverty’ and as such Urban Renewal had the potential - if seen as an unbiased organisation - to be a powerful agent for social and economic change.

“Third, we had to have an independent body in the form of a foundation and a Board which could work alongside the foot soldiers finding ways to raise the funds, resources and establish the private sector partnerships which are so critical in order to make this programme a success. In this manner, we have the integrity, transparency and accountability that is needed.”

TRIBUNE, 100JAMZ AND DUPUCH–CARRON FAMILY

“I’m not sure many people know,” revealed Mother Pratt, “but Mrs (Eileen) Carron, The Tribune and 100JAMZ - through the kindness of their friends and partners - have been with me from the very beginning. That’s right! The Beginning!”

“We were doing urban renewal 20 years before Urban Renewal was even thought of,” she said proudly. “Together we have touched the lives of over 45,000 children; built 34 homes; provided computers; books; raised monies for a variety of PMH needs; provided assistance with parks; community centres, clothing and other needs. Together we’ve done things I never thought possible!

“Urban Renewal has touched the lives of schools, churches, clubs, communities, charities and countless others. I know Mrs Carron (doesn’t like publicity) but The Tribune/100JAMZ and Dupuch/Carron family have done so much for this country. It is sad that very few people know about it.

“Mrs Eileen Dupuch-Carron has never asked – as far as I am aware - in all these years whether anyone is PLP or FNM! We are all Bahamians. She is a Bahamian, a daughter of the our Bahamaland first and foremost!”

“Difference?! If Urban Renewal was not making a difference then Algernon and I would not be here,” she added. “We have 11 Urban Renewal centres in New Providence, nine in Freeport, two in Abaco, two in Cat Island, one North Andros, one opening in South Andros and one in Eleuthera.”

Mr Allen explained: “The centres have programmes focusing on youth activities; supervised homework; computers; education/learning, music, wholesome entertainment in a safe, secure environment in which our youth can have fun, socialise and learn.”

URBAN RENEWAL BAND

“Two years ago we started a band with 30 members,” Mr Allen said. “Today, thanks to the amazing generosity of a permanent resident who has adopted the Bahamas as their home, 450 musical instruments were donated to us. Today we have 1,000 members in the band,” a beaming Mr Allen revealed.

“Sociologists, educators and psychologists all agree I am told that music is a most transformational tool. Band have been a staple of youth development in the third world and developed world providing economic growth and team spirit. Music integrated with youth cannot be overly emphaised,” he continued.

“The Urban Renewal band is drawn from the lower socio-economic groups in the country,” Mother Pratt said. “When you see the children coming out of their homes with their uniforms and instruments the parents, neighbours - indeed everyone - can see the pride that they have.

“However, our success has left us in a dilemma,” she lamented. “We desperately need 600 more instruments!” with a big smile.

SPORTS PROGRAMMES

Mother Pratt revealed it was their intention to re-institute the Urban Renewal sports leagues for basketball, softball, track and field and boxing.

“Boxing! That’s right, boxing. Little boys seem to love to fight nowadays. Lets develop a sport that harnesses their energy, provides discipline and structure and teaches young men to have pride and to become leaders fighting for what is right,” she explained.

“Many of our less fortunate young men will never grace a classroom because they are being constantly suspended because they fight with one another. Boxing will champion this energy so that they can have a sense of pride in fighting. But fighting for their nation in our national teams.”

Mr Allen called it a “true blessing for me to meet, discover and have the privilege to know selfless, trailblazing women like Mother Pratt and Mrs Eileen Dupuch-Carron. Women who love, care for, inspire, provide opportunities for those less fortunate and can change the direction of nations.”

“They - and others - represent and espouse that which we call One Bahamas. They are an example and aspiration which I hope to emulate.” 

September 08, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NO to same-sex marriage in The Bahamas!

Poll: 90% opposed to gay marriage


By TRAVIS CARTWRIGHT-CARROLL
Guardian Staff Reporter
travis@nasguard.com


There is no public support for same-sex marriage in The Bahamas, according to the data from a scientific opinion poll conducted earlier this year.

The results, compiled long before debate began over whether one of the four proposed constitutional amendments will open the door for same-sex marriage, show that only a small percentage of people support gay marriage in The Bahamas.

The controversial bill would make it unconstitutional to discriminate against someone based on sex.

The poll was conducted in January by Public Domain, a local market research and opinion polling company.

The results show that 86.5 percent of respondents strongly oppose same-sex marriage; four percent somewhat oppose it; 3.7 percent somewhat support it; 3.1 percent strongly support it and 2.8 percent did not answer.

Researchers polled 575 people, a respectable sample size for the country’s population, according to Public Domain President M’wale Rahming.

“Normally, what we do when we poll is we poll conversations that are being had in barber shops and beauty salons and in restaurants on Saturday mornings, in an effort to figure out where people are on this,” Rahming said yesterday.

“Nobody is interested in this. This is not a conversation that is being had. It is not a national conversation and nothing is being discussed about this.

“This is not an issue in The Bahamas.

“It is a non-starter. There is no movement for this. There is no significant group that is pulling for this. There is no substance behind it, meaning they haven’t captured a segment of the market.”

He added that “no segment of our society is asking for this”.

“Not even gay people in The Bahamas are clamoring for this,” Rahming said.

“So this is not something that we are talking about as a nation, other than on the talk shows and in politics and on the news.”

Victor Rollins, of Vic’s Communications, who recently organized a gay pride event in Freeport, Grand Bahama, recently said that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are not pushing a gay marriage agenda.

“Frankly, for all the married gay persons who are married and living here, they went and got married and came back and are enjoying their life,” he said.

“Those who want to get married will get married and live happily ever after. It’s no real issue.”

Rahming said he was surprised that people were equating the issue of gender equality to same-sex marriage, stating “there is no link there”.

Although the poll is from January, Rahming said it represents a non-reactionary position.

“I would venture to say, if we were to poll today, the number would be higher simply because we have all this media talk about it,” he said.

September 09, 2014

thenassauguardian

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bahamians encouraged to unite to fight crime

Citizens Voice Concerns on Crime


By Jones Bahamas:



The incidents, victims and perpetrators of violent crime are oftentimes based in over-the-hill communities that have for years gotten a bad rap for the country’s crime woes, but on Thursday The Bahama Journal took to the streets to find out what some citizens in these areas had to say about this vexing issue that seems to grip headlines on a daily basis.

Residents in the Bains Town and Grants Town constituency care calling on the government to up the ante to fight a problem that is now out of hand.

A mother of four and resident of the Bain Town community said that she is in fear of her life and fear the safety of her family.

“This crime level is ridiculous and they need to start hanging because it’s getting worse each and every day, you can’t even sit down on your own porch, you’re getting shoot or gun downed something need to be done,” said Stephanie Burrows.

Others shared similar sentiments.

“I think it’s really out of hand now, the authorities really need to pay closer attention to it, I think it’s a shame, I think it falls like how everyone has been saying on the parents,” said Carla Jackson.

“If we had responsible parents bringing up the children in the right way, in my personal opinion I don’t think crime would be in the position that it’s in now.”

“I think they need to implement and do what they say they’re going to do rather than just locking them up, sending them back out with ankle bracelets and when you listen they get kill, they go out and commit more crime out on bail and they get their life taken away and it’s sad,” said Anishca Moxey.

“I think the problem with the crime is that the family members, if you have a brother who does a crime and you say nothing, if you see your cousin doing crap and come to your house with the money, you take the money, you’re not helping the country and that’s what really causing the problem,” said Julian Farrington.

A 33-year-old man and resident of the Bain Town community said that youth unemployment contributes to crime.

He also expressed dismay with young men who would decide chase fast money from crime rather than look for a job.

Marlene Dorsett, a 76-year-old store owner who grew up in the area of Bain Town said she has been a victim of robberies on a number of occasions.

Ms. Dorsett said that crime is everyone’s problem and encouraged Bahamians to unite.

“The government is trying its best but the government does not have children, parents have children and they need to learn how to train these children from small, we’ll just have to all work together and try to make it a better country, whatever we do crime will be here, when the end of the world come then we will have peace,” she said.

Prime Minister Perry Christie on Wednesday said that the country is now faced with a kill or be killed situation, adding that the justice system continues to be challenged by the revolving door of bail granted to people charged with serious criminal offenses.

However, Mr. Christie foreshadowed dramatic improvements in the judicial system as ten criminal courts are set to come on stream.

September 05, 2014

Jones Bahamas

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The sale of CLICO (Bahamas) remaining insurance portfolio ...and The Bahamas Government's $30 million pledged guarantee to underwrite the same

Christie Gov't Told 2 Years Ago: Fulfill $30m Clico Pledge




By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
nhartnell@tribunemedia.net


The Christie administration was urged within three months of taking office to fulfill the Government’s pledged $30 million guarantee to underwrite the sale of CLICO (Bahamas) remaining insurance portfolio, thereby securing the financial future of thousands of policyholders.

That request was made by Craig A. ‘Tony’ Gomez, the Baker Tilly Gomez accountant and partner, who is the insolvent insurer’s liquidator, when he met with the full Christie Cabinet on July 31, 2012.

“On July 31, 2012, I met with the Cabinet of the Bahamas and provided members with an update on the status of the liquidation,” Mr Gomez wrote.

“I further presented the Cabinet with a request for a government guarantee in the amount of $30 million to assist with the transfer/sale of the portfolio; settlement of amounts due to EFPA (Executive Flexible Premium Annuities are not being sold to a third party) and other policyholder expenses.”

The then-guarantee was said by Mr Gomez, in the report covering the period July 1-December 31, to still be in the hands of the Attorney General’s Office for drafting and not yet completed.

Thus the newly-elected Government was briefed just two-and-a-half months into its reign on the urgency of the CLICO (Bahamas) situation, with the $30 million needed to cover “the anticipated shortfall” in the liquidation.

More than two years later, the Christie administration has yet to make good on the $30 million guarantee first promised by its FNM predecessor in the wake of CLICO (Bahamas) collapse into insolvency in early 2009.

The details, revealed in Mr Gomez’s 13th report to the Supreme Court in his capacity as liquidator, make clear that he is unable to find a buyer for the ex-life and health insurer’s remaining 13,109-strong policy portfolio until the Government delivers.

Potential buyers have made clear they will not contemplate an acquisition without the $30 million guarantee, due to the risk involved in assuming a portfolio where there are concerns over quality and if there are sufficient assets to cover liabilities to policyholders.

Closing a sale, Mr Gomez’s report makes clear, is essential to moving the CLICO (Bahamas) liquidation forward to completion, and bringing much-needed relief to thousands of Bahamian policyholders who have been without their investments and life savings for five-and-a-half years.

It appears that Mr Gomez has ruled out selling the CLICO (Bahamas) portfolio to a foreign buyer, as his report refers to selling the life, health and pension policies only to “a qualified licensee of the Insurance Commission of the Bahamas (ICB)”.

This leaves only Colina Insurance, Family Guardian and BAF Financial in the game, with the report disclosing that Mr Gomez was talking to three potential buyers in the 2012 second half. It is likely the former two, BISX-listed companies would be the main candidates.

Tribune Business revealed this week that the Government is finally moving to resolve the matter, and is exploring whether it can raise the ‘guarantee’ via a $30 million ‘off-balance sheet’ bond issue. Three successive Budgets have contained no specific ‘line items’ or allocations to cover this.

Multiple sources confirmed to this newspaper that the Christie administration is examining whether it can raise the necessary ‘guarantee’ financing from investors and the Bahamian capital markets, using bonds that would be issued by a ‘special purpose vehicle’ or SPV.

For the Christie administration, the advantage of an SPV bond offering is that the $30 million borrowing could be kept off its books, thus ensuring there is no negative impact to the fiscal deficit or national debt.

With an historically-low interest rate environment in the Bahamas, debt servicing costs on the bonds, which would be repaid via policyholder payments until the portfolio is sold, would also be relatively low. And investor demand should be strong with bank interest rates low.

This newspaper understands that the Government is trying to formalise something ‘concrete’ in relation to the CLICO (Bahamas) guarantee by 2014 year-end, with Mr Gomez anxious to shed his unwanted role as a ‘receiver’ running an insurance company.

The liquidator’s latest report indicates that this responsibility has consumed much of his time, as he settled some 854 medical claims, worth $1.233 million, in the six months to year-end 2012.

And, over the same time period, Mr Gomez also settled 43 death claims worth $231,879, plus 68 endowment payouts worth $210,848.

Mr Gomez’s report, which was approved by the Supreme Court this week, contains little that is not new given the time that has elapsed.

However, it does reveal that John Bain, the forensic accountant from UHY Bain & Associates, was hired by the liquidator in September 2012 to review documents obtained from the US.

Tribune Business understands that Mr Bain has been hired to help build the case for legal action against Lawrence Duprey, the Trinidadian principal of CLICO (Bahamas) and its ultimate parent, CL Financial.

As at end-December 2012, CLICO (Bahamas) balance sheet was still showing a solvency deficiency of $28.808 million, based on liabilities of just $71.98 million and total assets worth $43.171 million.

Its Bahamian policy portfolio was 13,109-strong, with a total surrender value of $33.217 million and sum assured of $1.027 billion.

September 05, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Gambling with the Country’s Gaming Laws!

The Christie administration on Wednesday, tabled what was supposed to be a revised version of legislation which will govern the gaming industry in the Bahamas. The Democratic National Alliance (DNA), like scores of other Bahamians had hoped that the government’s delay in tabling the highly anticipated bill would have resulted in the presentation of a clear, concise set of laws which address issues of transparency within the sector and finally reverse years of discrimination against Bahamians in their own country.

Unfortunately however, the Minister responsible for Gaming tabled a document which not only upheld the status quo but further laid the foundation for greater levels of government corruption while attempting to appease number bosses who were major campaign contributors to the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) election campaign.

The DNA, while not surprised by the government’s decision to discriminate against the country’s citizenry, is appalled by the rank hypocrisy demonstrated by a government which claims to “Believe in Bahamians”.  Just days before the tabling of the bill, the Minister intimated to the local media that the government had taken steps to eliminate all forms discrimination against Bahamians within the sector, however, true to form, the Minister, from the floor of parliament reneged on that promise.

The DNA maintains that NO FOREIGNER should be allowed to do ANYTHING that a BAHAMIAN CITIZEN CANNOT! There should be no laws which give Non-Bahamians privileges which are not enjoyed by the citizens of this country. If this administration is truly serious about giving credence to the sector ANY CHANGES must first address the issue of discrimination.

How can a government which, in recent weeks, has advocated for equality among the sexes then endorse the continued and objectionable discrimination against Bahamians wishing to participate in casino gaming? It is not only hypocritical and deceptive but further endangers any efforts by this administration to succeed in securing equal rights for Bahamian women.

The tabling of the gaming bill is a further slap in the face to the tens of thousands of Bahamians who participated in the botched gaming referendum of January 2013 and is a further testament to the inability of the Prime Minister to effectively lead the country.

By choosing to ignore the will of the people on this issue, this administration has created levels of government mistrust never before seen in this country effectively destroying public confidence in the executive and legislative arms of government; and rightfully so. Since taking office this administration has found itself ill equipped to manage countless conflict of interests, scandals and an overall lack of transparency and accountability within government ministries and departments.

Now, through the gaming legislation, this government seeks to further encourage such corruption by granting the minister unnecessary discretions over the conduct of a national lottery in addition to granting him discretion to set license fees, which according to the minister would provide greater flexibility in the amendment of the fee and/or taxation structures in the future.

The DNA asserts however that such an important decision CANNOT and SHOULD not be left solely to the discretion of any one individual. We suggest instead that responsibilities be given to an independent body which will oversee the process and ensure transparency in a sector which has for years thrived in opacity.
 
Branville McCartney
DNA Leader
September 04, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Many Bahamians think homosexuality is the greatest threat to the continued existence of humanity


Gay hysteria in The Bahamas



The Nassau Guardian Editorial:



There has been an attempt at a gay pride weekend in Grand Bahama. Members of that community wanted to get together to have a good time and express pride in who they are.

This, of course, set off hysteria in The Bahamas. Many Bahamians think homosexuality is the greatest threat to the continued existence of humanity. A gay pride event, they argue, will help further spread the “plague” of homosexuality, taking our young people over to “the dark side”.

Dr. Myles Munroe, president of Bahamas Faith Ministries International, was leading the “band of the terrified” over the weekend. He said he has watched with horror over the years as people have “hijacked” and “raped” the meaning of the civil rights movement in an effort to fight for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

“I have, with all my logic, sought to understand, but still cannot equate the philosophy, ideology or purpose for the civil rights movement with the agenda of the homosexual LGBT community,” he said in a lengthy statement.

“I think the attempt to equate the historical civil rights movement with the demands for the right to dignify, glorify and accept as normal the practice of a lifestyle that could render the human race, for which they sacrificed, extinct is illogical, dishonest, and is the abuse of the blood and imprisonment of many.

“It’s a hijacking of the gains paid for by the blood of honorable men and women for an unnatural, human-destroying behavior.”

Munroe’s statement, titled “Homosexuality – Phobia or Principle”, was in response to the gay pride event.

While Munroe expressed his fears through words, others were belligerent. The event, which started on Friday and was supposed to continue through today, was cut short as members of the LGBT community abandoned it “out of fear” of repercussions from irate members of the public.

Victor Rollins, one of the event organizers, told The Nassau Guardian he received death threats on his Facebook page after posting pictures of event attendees holding gay pride flags along with Bahamian flags on a beach.

These attitudes are unfortunate. The Bahamas is not a Christian state – as too many like to exclaim. It is a secular democracy. In this democracy, we believe people have common dignity. Blacks, whites, women, Jews, Rastafarians, Haitians – they are all part of our multicultural community. In this inclusive society we prosper because we are able to use the talents of all of our people. The homosexual can work next to the Protestant. The woman can sit next to the Hindu. The atheist can go to school with the Haitian.

Societies that reject inclusion always devolve into a state of violence. That’s because they do not accept the common dignity of their brothers and sisters who are different. Those who believe they are absolutely right in their beliefs exclude “the others” from the benefits of full citizenship, the benefits of full humanity. Then, the move comes to push them out of the society altogether.

Homosexuals should not be feared. They are our cousins, our nephews, our teachers, our friends. They have been part of every human society that has ever existed. We must move away from the backward thinking that defines homosexuals as fiends.

People of African ancestry were once considered lesser than those of European ancestry in Western society. Some were even brought to zoos in 19th century Europe to be peered at as beasts. That was wrong then. Hating homosexuals just for being who they are is wrong now.

The belief in inclusion has bettered the human project. It has taught us that it is possible to live and thrive in communities with people who are not like us. Gay hysteria is based in fear and hate. Let us move more toward lifting up the common humanity of our brothers and sisters, rather than seeking to cause pain, exclusion and victimization.

September 02, 2014

thenassauguardian

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The agenda of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in The Bahamas

Greg Moss : Women’s rights being used to advance gay agenda


ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
royston@nasguard.com


Marco City MP Greg Moss said the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in The Bahamas is attempting to advance its agenda “under the guise” of the advancement of women’s rights.

His comments were made on Facebook in response to Bahamas Faith Ministries International President Dr. Myles Munroe, who said he has watched with horror over the years as people have “hijacked” and “raped” the meaning of the civil rights movement in an effort to fight for the rights of the LGBT community.

The statement has received strong criticism from the LGBT community.

Moss said, “Under the guise of standing upon their civil rights, they are attempting to intrude upon our civil and religious rights.

“By their attempt to enlarge their civil constitutional rights, they are attempting to whittle down our religious constitutional rights.

“That is why the present debate in Parliament is so important.”

He was referring to debate on the constitutional amendments bills.

There has been widespread concern about the fourth bill, which would make it unconstitutional to discriminate against someone based on sex.

Several members of Parliament, including those on the governing side, have expressed strong concerns that the word “sex” is open for interpretation and could lead to same-sex marriages.

The government has proposed to amend the bill to define the word “sex” as a man and woman.

The debate fueled a wider national conversation about the LGBT community.

Munroe’s statement, titled ‘Homosexuality - Phobia or Principle’, was in response to a gay pride event that took place in Grand Bahama over the weekend.

“In the guise of civil rights and human rights, the LGBT minority community [has] decided to celebrate the civility of [its] very uniquely chosen lifestyle and sexual preference publically,” Munroe said.

“I am not sure what their mission or goals are in this effort but obviously they have received enough incentive and motivation to attempt something that 90 percent of The Bahamas and Bahamians consider unacceptable and violates their collective convictions, moral standing and values.”

The event was cut short because members of the LGBT community expressed security concerns.

Munroe said he is confident that the LGBT lifestyle will remain socially unacceptable.

He spoke at length about the importance of fear and phobia and said there is a misconception surrounding homophobia.

He said people who express disagreement about those “who practice this lifestyle” are seen as having a “phobia”.

Moss said he agreed with Munroe.

He said the minority movement to advance the LGBT agenda and stigmatize those who oppose it as homophobic is “at its core, an attempt to impose a redefinition of the word of God by political means”.

“A call to righteous living is redefined as being homophobic,” Moss said.

“An insistence that marriage is a institution ordained by God between men and women is redefined as being hate speech.

“A fidelity to the word of God is redefined as being backward.

He continued: “Ultimately, the attempt to advance the LGBT agenda is an attempt to redefine the word of God in order to legitimize that lifestyle.

“And, therefore, the attempt to demonize religious resistance to the advancement of that agenda is implicitly a recognition by those who practice it that their lifestyle is wrong and needs to be legitimized.

“If they were content with their decisions, then they would not need to attempt to redefine the word of God in order to legitimize it. They would stand on their convictions.”

September 02, 2014

thenassauguardian