Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Bahamas is one of the most difficult places for its own citizens to do business or become entrepreneurs!

An Open Note To The Bahamas Prime Minister, The Hon. Philip Davis

As The Bahamas prepares to celebrate fifty (50) years as an “independent” country, one is left to ponder if we have truly made any real strides towards economic prosperity

As this is our country Mr. Prime Minister, then we the people should have more of a stake in it. As Voltaire said, “A multitude of laws in a country is like is a great number of physicians, a sign of weakness and malady.”

"The Way Forward"

By: Dr Kevin Turnquest Alcena
LLB (Hon-1st Cl.), LLM (Hon-1st Cl.)
PhD in Economics / Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
Ph.D. in Public Health / PhD in Herbal and Holistic Medicine
Titular Professor
Lawyer & Fellow—CILEx; ACIArb; & Snr. Fellow–AMLA

Sept. 21, 2022

Bahamian Nation
Great Economist, Adam Smith said, “A nation is not made wealthy by the childish accumulation of shiny metals, but is enriched by the economic prosperity of its people.” Well if the wealth of a country is incumbent upon the state of its economics, then Mr. Prime Minister - The Bahamas and its leaders have been “…weighed in the balances, and art found wanting” (Daniel 5:27)! As this nation prepares to celebrate fifty (50) years as an “independent” country, one is left to ponder if we have truly made any real strides towards economic prosperity.

The passing of Queen Elizabeth signified the ending of an era of which those left behind have broken through the barriers of hundreds of decades of forced tradition. The tearing down of these invisible walls and unrealistic expectations have now given the future generation’s options and choices their forefathers were forbidden to make.

However, can we as a “sovereign” nation say the same? When one considers the many archaic and draconian measures still in place that hinders progression in The Bahamas, are we really moving forward? Or are we stuck in decades of false traditions and mental slavery that keeps us in cycles of poverty rather than prosperity?

If Smith’s idea of economic prosperity is to be believed, then where is our wealth Mr. Prime Minister?

Do not get me wrong sir - this is not an indictment on you per se, but rather a question for all of those that have made themselves available to represent the public.

Granted Mr. Prime Minister, The Right Honorable Philip “Brave” Davis, you have made excellent headway in trying to transition this country through a pandemic and into recovery, as well as aiming to improve the social and economic status of the less fortunate. There are still some key areas that need immediate attention and with the right team of advisors I do not doubt some of these issues can be resolved.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the issue of Bahamians helping Bahamians. The Bahamas is one of the most difficult places for its own citizens to do business or become entrepreneurs! The process at Inland Revenue itself is nonsensical. It’s almost completely automated, which makes it difficult to speak to someone on the phone or even in person. What’s the point of having a building full of people if you cannot speak to anyone?

Moreover, if the system has been automated, why is the turnaround time so long? Furthermore, you are required to fill out the application for all agencies on one website, yet, we still have to wait for each of these agencies to separately respond, especially Environmental Health and Ministry of Works!

May I suggest that if one agency is used to fill out the application, then the system should be digitized so that all agencies can tap into a central portal that will allow all relevant parties to receive a notification of when requests come in, and they can begin working on them simultaneously so that the response time and confusion are drastically diminished!

Another issue with doing business in this country is the bureaucracy and the ridiculous criterion of having a “letter of good standing” from N.I.B. If this institution is supposed to have an entire unit dedicated to ensuring that employers are paying their contributions, why then is this letter necessary? If the personnel hired for this task are doing their jobs by prosecuting those who are not meeting their obligations - then this procedure can be quelled.

As this is our country Mr. Prime Minister, then we the people should have more of a stake in it. As Voltaire said, “A multitude of laws in a country is like is a great number of physicians, a sign of weakness and malady.”

Secondly, the government needs to devise a national plan to eradicate illiteracy and the decreasing national average. Social promotion has and still does not help in meeting the needs of our children.

There are over 5,000 students leaving school every year in this country with less than 20% attending college. So, what happens to the other 80%? What prospects do they have if they cannot meet the basic needs of reading and writing? Stephen Covey said one of the “Habits of Highly Effective Leaders” is being innovative.

It is imperative that technical schools be erected to help those that cannot comprehend or pass ten (10) academic subjects. Jamaica, for example has fourteen (14) Technical Schools and two (2) Agriculture schools, which means they are even training their students to feed themselves and their families.

If our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean understand the importance of alternative education, why haven’t we? The government should take a note out of Haiti’s book - in that it has asked Cuba to assist them with their illiteracy problem.

The Human Resource of our country is the most critical part of any nation because we are a service based economy. Another alternative to alleviating the educational problem could be the introduction of a National Service. This would assist those males and females between the ages of 17-21 who are delinquent and continue to be a menace to society, but are not old enough to be placed in Fox Hill Prison.

The programs in place are not helping and only making these young people aggressive and unproductive citizens of society. Something must be done, and the usage of the old Victorian system has already set our kids up for failure. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid” (Albert Einstein).

Thirdly, as I have said many times before, the national debt dilemma truly needs to be addressed. A national plan begins with having the right set of people in place that can not only give advice, but wise counsel. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors, there is safety.”

Mr. Prime Minster, wise counsel can keep you and this country from destruction. Simply appointing people to this post or this position does not expand knowledge or make for a great plan. There is no economic think tank or advisory board that can steer this country in the way forward.

We need persons with international connections that can help the country with debt management, and transition to a position of prosperity. Stephen Covey said, “Make time for planning; wars are won in the general’s tent.”

We are continuing the same old structure of bringing back and allowing bureaucrats to dictate or give advice on the way forward. We are looking to you for a paradigm shift in how we do business in this country, because at present - we are digressing.

We see a cycle of people repositioning themselves over and over again; the former this one or that one, and all at the expense of the taxpayer’s money.

The Opposition Leader suggested a good recourse for decreasing our debt; that being allowing Bahamians to buy bonds into our debt. This alternative makes good economic sense and is innovative. The old anachronistic structure at Central Bank needs to be change and rid ourselves of some of these committees. The country is too small and too deep in debt to continue down this path.

Recently, there have been some Bahamians who have decided to open a council in Miami and become digital nomads. This is because the taxes here are too high and defeats the purpose of trying to improve one’s social economic status.

How are we going to help the 49,000 people that is out of work with the existing structure in place? We need to deregulate the country, and allow for ease of doing business for both Bahamians and foreigners.

N.I.B. should be privatized before it goes broke from all the borrowing and mismanagement of money that takes place.

Another ingenious idea to assist in ridding us of this national debt is the implementation of a National Lottery. We have the knowledge and people with the ability and connections to direct the leaders on how to go about doing this. A National Lottery can aid in supplementing Social Services, Education and Youth and Sports, because as it stands - we have no monies to overhaul these ministries.

Also, looking at a Public Service Reform and reducing the public service by at least 20,000 as we can no longer maintain it - will be a big step in moving in the right direction.

In concluding, Matthew 20:26 states, “…Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Mr. Prime Minister, as a great leader - you are called to serve the people and to do so, you must meet the people where they are at.

Progression requires change, and it must begin with those who have taken a step forward and chosen to lead those they are in authority over. Many are still struggling to get by and need help in getting to their destination.

It’s time to be more than just innovative, but think outside the box; time for something new. As Barak Obama said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Saturday, September 17, 2022

My Take on the Marital Rape Bill

The Marital Rape Bill is a Serious Attack on The Holy Institution of Marriage

By Dennis Dames

The Marital Rape Debate in The Bahamas
The Martial Rape Bill is what King Solomon would refer to as: madness and folly, and a
chase after the wind.

It will, if passed, create more problems than it solves – in my view. For one, it will kill the sacred institution of marriage instantly - as who is the sensible man who would want to get married under
such a wicked law?

Sweethearts and ladies of the night are delighted about this situation- no doubt. Their standard of
living will improve dramatically with the a passage of a Marital Rape Bill. 

God is not pleased!

Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Official Opposition, Free National Movement (FNM) party is in political upheaval

Inside troublemakers who support the return of the former FNM party leader, Dr. Minnis are apparently trying feverishly/violently to frustrate the leadership of one Michael Pintard

Dr. Hubert Alexander Minnis is the seemingly bitter former FNM party leader who refuses to "Get Lost!"

Leadership challenges faced by Pintard historically infamous

By Fred Sturrup | GB News Editor |

Pintard and Minnis of The FNM
Recently during a high level meeting arranged by the Official Opposition in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Free National Movement, reportedly there was contention.  The situation boiled over into an embarrassing, brutal physical altercation that left a noted party supporter seriously injured.  Eye witnesses informed that he was savagely put upon by a fellow strong FNM proponent, who has differing views regarding Dr. Hubert Alexander Minnis who led the party to defeat last September.

The Hon. Michael Pintard is the sitting leader of the FNM.  He attained such status in a democratic fashion, decisively.  Dr. Minnis is the seemingly bitter former leader, who did not offer himself for the role when Pintard disposed of several others through the “in order” convention voting process.

As I pointed out in an earlier opinion piece it doesn’t appear that Dr. Minnis is going away.  The view here is that he continues to grandstand, is not really respectful of Leader Pintard, and there is, accordingly,  this emotional spillover to his supporters.  Thus the FNM party is in deep crisis.  Pintard’s leadership is being assailed.

This is unfair and unprecedented in Bahamian politics.

This atrocious scenario never came about before because politicians and their followers of the past, though many of them were strong-minded, their characters did not lend themselves to violence against each other. 

The country’s first political party, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) saw the leadership pass from Henry Milton Taylor to Lynden Oscar Pindling.  Taylor and a few others were bitter about the new kids on the block taking over, but there was not much of a thought of challenging the new order.

After Pindling’s 30-plus years of leadership, Perry Gladstone Christie emerged as leader.  There was the expected resentment and disappointment felt by those who preferred Dr. Bernard Nottage, but the party moved on handsomely.  Christie delayed his time in PLP leadership, by failing to live up to his own reported time table to demit office. However, present PLP Leader and Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis bided his time, and look where he is today!

The second political party in the country which produced the first government, the United Bahamian Party, had a very smooth transition from the longtime leader Sir Roland Symonette  era to Sir Jeffery Johnstone.

The FNM itself,  went through many changes, in true democratic fashion, never burdened by anything such as inside troublemakers, apparently trying feverishly/violently to frustrate the leadership of one Michael Pintard.

This is not right.  Let the man do his job in peace. 

From Sir Cecil Wallace to Sir Kendal Isaacs and back to Sir Cecil; to the three-time prime minister Hubert Alexander Ingraham; to Dr. Minnis; with interim leaders in place such as John Henry Bostwick, Cyril Tynes, and Tommy Turnquest; the FNM never faced anything even close to the present debacle.

It is therefore incumbent upon Pintard and the others within the FNM who have rationale, to immediately put the house in order.


Monday, August 15, 2022

Bank Report: Small firms in five Caribbean economies surveyed - reported high financing costs as a more significant barrier to business than larger firms

IDB Report: Better Access to Financing for Firms Could Drive Growth and Jobs in Caribbean

Bank Financing and Small Businesses in The Caribbean
A new report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and IDB Invest recommends Caribbean countries focus on overcoming obstacles to financial access and inclusion for businesses, because having more developed and inclusive financial systems could increase growth and reduce poverty and income inequality.

The report Finance for Firms: Options for Improving Access and Inclusion emphasizes the important link between deeper and more accessible financial systems, and faster and more inclusive economic development.  The publication compares financial systems of six Caribbean countries—The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago—to others from across the world.  It also assesses results of enterprise surveys in 2014 and 2020 to identify key financing challenges faced by firms, including small enterprises, and those that are owned or operated by women.

The report finds that firms across the Caribbean face outsized challenges, particularly when compared to global peers.  It also finds that the COVID-19 crisis appears to have further constrained access to financing, that smaller firms seem to face more significant hurdles than larger ones, and that businesses owned and/or operated by women face more severe challenges than others.  These challenges companies encounter include high borrowing costs, burdensome collateral requirements, inadequate funding mechanisms, and complex application procedures.

In 2020, 76% of firms in Suriname and 72% of firms Barbados reported that issues such as significant collateral requirements posed major or very severe obstacles to their performance and ability to do business, up from 22% and 35%, respectively, in 2014.

Meanwhile, in 2020, small firms in five of the six economies surveyed reported high financing costs as a more significant barrier to business than larger firms.

Surveys also suggest that women-owned or -operated firms (WOFs) face more significant financial constraints than other firms, with an average of about two-thirds of these enterprises reporting access to financing as a major or severe obstacle.

“It is key for the public and private sector in Caribbean countries to collaborate so entrepreneurs can better finance their ambitions to grow their businesses,” said David Rosenblatt, Regional Economic Advisor for the IDB’s Caribbean Department.  “This is important for strengthening the ongoing economic recovery, in the near-term, and improving growth prospects for the future.

The authors proposed several priorities, including ensuring macroeconomic stability and policy prudence, improving the availability of credit information, and promoting credit sector competition, among others.

Finance for Firms: Options for Improving Access and Inclusion is part of the IDB’s Caribbean Economics Quarterly series. In addition, it has country-specific sections for The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

This report is in line with the SMEs, gender and inclusion pillars of Vision 2025 – Reinvesting in the Americas the IDB’s roadmap to economic recovery and inclusive growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Thursday, August 4, 2022

REPORT: San Salvador Island tourism-based island economy is constantly under threat of climate change impacts such as submergence of coral reefs, flooding of coastal lowlands, loss of marine and terrestrial biodiversity, and destruction of cultural heritage sites

The Economics of Climate Change Adaptation and Ecosystem Services in The Bahamas


Lessons from San Salvador Island

From IDB

Climate Change Impact Bahamas
San Salvador island in The Bahamas is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts due to its limited land space, fragile ecosystems, population and assets exposure, limited human and technological capacity, and susceptibility to the vagaries of international trade and exogenous economic shocks.  

Higher temperatures, sea-level rise, and coastal flooding linked to extreme weather events are expected to impact crucial ecosystems such as coral reefs, and assets from the tourism sector, especially from the cultural, historical, and environmental heritage. 

This report provides a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on the economy and ecosystems to provide stakeholders with updated inputs for improved decision-making. 

First, the report presents an Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) assessment to identify and analyze the main impacts of climate change, estimate potential economic losses, and propose adaptation measures to improve the island's resilience. 

Second, it presents an Ecosystem-Based Service (EBS) assessment to identify the main ecosystems of the island, evaluate the services they provide, and determine their contribution to the economy of San Salvador.

Monday, July 25, 2022

It is possible to substantially improve the quality of education for all while focusing on the students who need it the most

All members of society benefit from improving the educational outcomes of all of our children

Does  Educational  Support  for  Struggling  Students  Also  Benefit  High Achievers?

From Research Insights - IDB

Education for all children is the absolutely correct thing to aspire for
What  effect  did  improving  low-achieving  students’   literacy   skills   have   on   their   higher- achieving  classmates?  We  investigated  the  relationship  between  the  performance  of  high  and low  achievers  and  found  that  the  test  scores of higher-achieving  students  negatively  correlated with the share of low achievers in their classroom.  Figure  1  plots  the  relationship  between  end-of- the-year literacy and math scores of non-eligible students  and  the  share  of  low  achievers  before the intervention, in the control schools only. 

We compared the test scores of higher-achieving students  after  one  academic  year,  finding  substantially greater achievement across the board in treated  schools - compared  to  control  schools.  In treatment schools where there were tutoring activities,  higher-achieving  students  outperformed similar  students  in  control  schools  by  0.108  of  a standard deviation. This coefficient is sizable and represents  roughly  30  percent  of  the  treatment effect  on  the  eligible  students  (low  achievers).  For  both  literacy  and  math,  average  achievement decreases monotonically with the share of low-achieving students. 

We also estimated the effect of peers’ contemporaneous  outcomes  on  high  achievers  and  found strong evidence of peer effects on academic outcomes.  Our  results  imply  that  a  one-standard- deviation  increase  in  peers’  contemporaneous test scores increases individual reading scores by 0.679 of a standard deviation.

Quality learning and education for every child of the world
To  address  whether  these  changes  were  due  to direct  (non-peer)  or  indirect  (peer)  treatment effects,  we  ruled  out  alternative  mechanisms coming  from  a  reduction  in  class  size.  Additionally,  we  did  not  find  evidence  that  teachers changed their effort or teaching practices.  Rather, we  found  suggestive  evidence  that  some  of  the effect  might  be  due  to  a  reduction  in  students’ misbehavior.  Finally, the effects were stronger in classes  where  eligible  (low  achiever)  peers  improved the most, consistent with direct peer-to- peer learning interactions.


Our findings suggest that policies looking to support the bottom of the achievement distribution have  the  potential  to  generate  social-multiplier effects for all students, providing a strong rationale that underscores why all members of society can benefit from improving the educational outcomes of only some.  It is possible to substantially improve the quality of education for all while focusing on the students who need it the most.    

Source/Full Report

Monday, July 18, 2022

Economist Herman Daly says, In ecological economics, we’ve tried to make a distinction between development and growth

"... When something grows, it gets bigger physically by accretion or assimilation of material. When something develops, it gets better in a qualitative sense."


By Professor Gilbert Morris

As I wrote in my final Economics paper so long ago: ”All development includes growth or its prospects. But not all growth is development: and our concerns should be to foster development”.

Economist Herman Daly on the distinction between development and growth
Now here is Herman Daly
- an economist who pioneered development over growth, along with our own Sir Arthur Lewis, for different reasons - now making headlines at last for these concepts, toward which intelligence, commonsense and our needs should have directed us long ago against Western/IMF orthodoxy.


"Mainstream economists don’t have any answer to that to the growth redundancy. The reason they don’t have any answer to that is that they don’t measure costs. They only measure benefits. That’s what G.D.P. is."

"In ecological economics, we’ve tried to make a distinction between development and growth. When something grows, it gets bigger physically by accretion or assimilation of material. When something develops, it gets better in a qualitative sense."

"What I call the empty world was full of natural resources that had not been exploited. What I call the full world is now full of people that exploit those resources, and it is empty of the resources that have been depleted and the spaces that have been polluted."

"globalism versus internationalism. Globalism says to erase national boundaries. Let’s have one global system that we manage globally. Internationalism says national boundaries are important, but they’re not the ultimate thing…”.

"Earth is not expanding. We don’t get new materials, and we don’t export stuff to space. So you have a steady-state Earth, and if you don’t recognize that, well, there’s an education problem."