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VOLUME:115 No.99, APRIL 16TH, 2018
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‘Pointe - we need a site headcount’
NO REMORSE $600K THIEF ‘SHOULD NOT BE JAILED’ By NICO SCAVELLA Tribune Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
A SENIOR probation officer on Friday recommended former College of the Bahamas employee Chimeka Gibbs be given a non-custodial sentence for stealing over $600,000 from the institution over a SEE PAGE 14
Contractors’ fury on govt failure to SO PROUD, BOYS check workforce By KHRISNA RUSSELL Deputy Chief Reporter email@example.com WITH the government unable to reveal the current ratio of Bahamian to foreign workers at The Pointe development, Bahamian Contractors Association President Leonard Sands yesterday said officials must descend on the downtown Nassau project to conduct a physical count of its workers to determine whether the Heads of Agreement is being adhered to. In an interview with The
Tribune Mr Sands said local contractors are angered to have been neglected in the construction phase of the project. This comes as government officials have failed to give answers on The Pointe’s worker complement in response to a Tribune investigation which raised questions about whether China Construction America (CCA), the project’s developers, were following the Heads of Agreement clause when it SEE PAGE FIVE
SHANTY CENSUS UNDERWAY By MORGAN ADDERLEY Tribune Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
THE national survey of shanty town residents began yesterday in New Providence. Assistant Director of Labour and Secretary of the Shanty Town Committee Morgan Graham spoke to The Tribune yesterday outside the Carmichael Road Police Station. Mr Graham explained the purpose of the initiative is to assess the state of the various communities and to gather demographical information about the
residents. He also promised the census will be handled sensitively, echoing earlier comments made by Labour Minister Dion Foulkes. “This afternoon we’re kicking off our surveying of the various shanty towns,” Mr Graham said. “We have three teams that are going to be doing surveying in the Carmichael Road area today and two teams will be up at Cool Air up off of Joe Farrington today as well. “This initiative has been SEE PAGE 11
THE BAHAMAS men’s 4x400m relay team of Ojay Ferguson, Teray Smith, Stephen Newbold, and Alonzo Russell wave on the podium after receiving their silver medals at Carrara Stadium during the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Saturday. See Sport for the full story. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
‘FED UP’ NURSES UNION PRESSING FOR STRIKE By KHRISNA RUSSELL Deputy Chief Reporter email@example.com
BAHAMAS Nurses Union intends to proceed with holding a strike vote despite filing a formal trade dispute with the Department of Labour. “We are still going to go ahead and do what we have to do,” BNU President Amancha Williams told
The Tribune Friday – the day after Labour Director Robert Farquharson said he was hopeful all grievances on the table could be amicably resolved. The formal dispute was filed on Wednesday. She said this was the decision of the union because it had no faith in the process. SEE PAGE 12
EASTERN ROAD – A BOTCHED JOB THOUSANDS of motorists have endured frustrating delays after workers botched resurfacing work on Eastern Road. And last night Minister of Works Desmond Bannister promised he would hold utilities companies to account for the “embarrassing” delays on one of the most important roads into Nassau. Resurfacing work on Eastern Road began nearly two weeks ago and was scheduled to finish tomorrow.
Instead, the blunders will mean motorists will have to endure detours and delays probably until the end of the week. “It is hugely embarrassing,” Mr Bannister said last night. “We had an agreement with the utility companies which they haven’t kept to.” The first major issue arose when Water and Sewerage came on the resurfacing site and had to do works leading to six SEE PAGE TWO
US PASTOR DIES IN PI HORROR CRASH A VISITING pastor from the United States is dead following a traffic accident that occurred over the weekend near Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge. The pastor, a backseat passenger, has been described as a “hero” after he grabbed the car’s steering wheel and tried to avoid tragedy when the car’s driver experienced a “seizure,” according to a long-time friend. Police said the incident occurred
shortly before 1am on Saturday. At the time, a dark blue Nissan Sylphy with four occupants was
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travelling north on Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge, when the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a wall, police said. Fire Services officers and paramedics were called to the scene. The driver was “extracted” from the vehicle and all four occupants were taken to the hospital. One adult male was later pronounced dead. The Tribune understands the SEE PAGE THREE
PAGE 2, Monday, April 16, 2018
EASTERN ROAD – A BOTCHED JOB FROM PAGE ONE properties adjacent to the area being worked on. “That cost us one day,” said Mr Bannister. “Unfortunately they did not do a good job and when we checked that cost another day.” Motorists had hoped come Wednesday last week that the resurfacing appeared to be coming to an end when some major tarmac was laid. It proved to be a false dawn. “Unfortunately we found they had cut off some BTC lines and we had to go in and repair that,” said Mr Bannister. That meant road which had seen new tarmac laid down had to be dug up. “That cost us another two days. It is very embarrassing for us,” he said. Fortunately equipment which could have remained idle while the mistakes were corrected was switched to other works. “It has been more annoying than costly,” said Mr Bannister. “The annoyance for drivers has been my
STILLS from a video showing ongoing roadworks on the Eastern Road. main concern. The utilities have not been as effective as they should have been and I am going to hold them to account. “We expect them to start pouring on Monday and hopefully by the end of the week we will have a paved road.”
PARTICPANTS took to the streets early on Saturday for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force walkathon. The event got underway at Goodman’s Bay Beach.
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Monday, April 16, 2018, PAGE 3
US PASTOR DIES IN PI HORROR CRASH FROM PAGE ONE
victim was Bishop Darryl Coleman, a visiting evangelist. A source told The Tribune that Coleman was a rear seat passenger in the car when the driver “appeared to have a medical condition,” prompting the accident. Bishop Larick Kemp, leader of Miracle Faith Praying Station Church of God on Marshall Road, said Coleman was in the country to preach at a three-day revival at his church. Bishop Kemp spoke with The Tribune yesterday in the wake of the tragedy. Describing himself as having a 30-year friendship with Coleman, the bishop said Coleman, 51, had multiple churches in the United States, under the name of Evangelistic Ministries. Bishop Kemp said Coleman preached at his church on Friday night and was being dropped to his hotel by Bishop Kemp’s armourbearer, Valentino Nottage. Apostle Shamar Williams, another visiting American clergyman, sat in the passenger seat. Coleman and his personal assistant were in the backseat of the car.
accelerator and Apostle Shamar Williams… was trying to take his foot off the accelerator. “Bishop Coleman took off his seatbelt and grabbed the steering wheel. “The car started actually to go off the bridge, but he grabbed the steering wheel and they ended up going through the toll booth and hitting the wall of Club Land’or. “The car spun over and as it landed – that’s about a 10-feet drop – as it landed it burst into flames.
BISHOP DARRYL COLEMAN, a visiting pastor from the United States, died after a traffic accident Saturday morning. According to Bishop Kemp, the accident was triggered when Mr Nottage experienced a seizure at the wheel. The other occupants, including Coleman, attempted to assist during the emergency. “(Nottage) suffered a seizure on top of the bridge and that’s when he lost control of the car,” Bishop Kemp said. “His feet locked onto the
Fire “There were some young men that were standing by and they were able to grab (a) fire extinguisher and put out the fire, thank God for them.” Bishop Kemp described Coleman as a “hero” to his church yesterday, in a service that paid tribute to the late bishop. “He saw what was happening and he actually grabbed the wheel and steered them (away).” The bishop said the other victims of the accident are currently in the hospital. The driver is in critical
condition while the other passengers have injuries ranging from broken bones to torn tissues. “We know there’s nothing too hard for God to do,” Bishop Kemp added. This is the 22nd traffic fatality for the year, according to The Tribune’s records. On April 3, Transport Minister Frankie Campbell expressed concern to The Tribune regarding the frequencies of traffic fatalities for the year. “This is the first time in a long time that fatality numbers seem to be attempting to keep pace with homicide numbers. “And that is frightening,” he had said earlier. Mr Campbell has offered condolences to the bereaved families of these traffic fatality victims. He added that his ministry has launched a programme to combat, not just traffic fatalities, but also all road traffic accidents. He also was in agreement for stricter penalties to be imposed for reckless drivers and said a portion of his ministry’s remaining budget will be used to have a public relations campaign speaking out on behalf of road safety.
MINISTER PROMISES TO ADDRESS GOVT BUILDING REPAIRS
By DENISE MAYCOCK Tribune Freeport Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
MINISTER of Works Desmond Bannister visited several government buildings on Grand Bahama last week and promised to address urgent repairs at the post office building and the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre in Freeport. He also toured the new fire station in Freeport and went to West Grand Bahama to see the progress of construction on the new government building complex and new Holmes Rock Primary School. Both projects were started under the previous Christie administration. Mr Bannister and his team first stopped at the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre, which houses Magistrate’s and Supreme Courts. For the past three years, the courthouse building has been in a state of disrepair. There are major issues with the roof. In January, while in Grand Bahama, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Carl Bethel and Acting Chief
MINISTER of Works Desmond Bannister.
Justice Stephen Isaacs had expressed concerns about the condition of the courthouse and said it was a “serious issue.” They said that the repairs to the building would be a top priority this year. Mr Bannister and a team from the Ministry of Works went up on the roof. After their inspection, the minister reported that the flat roof needs to be fully reinstated. “We have to peel the flat roof back, and we are budgeting now for full
reinstatement of the roof. Once that has been reinstated, we will address other challenges in the building.” He said there are many other challenges with the building that must be addressed once the roof has been repaired.
Challenges “There are many, many challenges… I believe the challenges concerning the initial construction was overlooked when the building was built,” said
Mr Bannister. At the post office, he said that successive governments had done a bad job managing government buildings. The old building is plagued with plumbing issues, there are missing ceiling tiles, and lack of air-conditioning in some areas of the building, making conditions unbearable for some workers, especially during the summer. “This is another building made of flat roof which adds to the challenges concerning maintenance,” Mr Bannister said. “And this is also an old building with cast iron pipes, and there are issues concerning the bathroom that has to be addressed.” Pineridge MP Fredrick McAlpine, who also accompanied the minister on his tour, said: “We had issues with the (post office) building for some time under successive governments, but the fact he (Minister Bannister) is here and wants to improve the infrastructure and correct the problems going on with the building, we are delighted to have him.”
The next stop on the tour was to the fire station on Cathedral Boulevard. The facility was completed in 2017 but is not yet occupied. Mr Bannister noted that the Ministry of National Security has to purchase furniture for the building.
Contractor He commended McDonald Construction Company for construction of the building. “The contractor did a professional job, and I wanted to commend him and the former administration for putting a facility here like this – this is a state of the art facility,” he said. There is a 14-room dormitory space for male and female officers, a day room, and kitchen. After his tour in Freeport, the minister travelled to West Grand Bahama. On Friday morning, Mr Bannister visited the seawall project at Smith’s Point, the Fishing Hole Road project and was expected to go to East Grand Bahama to see other projects underway in the area.
WOMAN ACCUSED OF MANSLAUGHTER GRANTED BAIL By NICO SCAVELLA Tribune Staff Reporter email@example.com
THE acting chief justice has granted bail to a 40-year-old woman accused of manslaughter after she allegedly set fire to her one-yearold daughter last year. Acting Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs on Friday granted Phillipa Marshall $15,000 bail with two sureties before her trial for the death of
Philicia Marshall. Additionally, as part of her bail conditions, Marshall, an outpatient of the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, must live with her sister-inlaw in the interim. Marshall is to have supervised visits with her two other children. She is due to return to court on May 14 for service of a voluntary bill of indictment. Earlier this month, Marshall, of
BEN CARSON WILL NOT BE ATTENDING EVENT IN the April 12 issue of The Tribune, it was reported that US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was slated to be the international keynote speaker at the 2018 CEO Network Global Empowerment
Conference. That information came from event organisers. However, a statement to The Tribune from a communications official in Mr Carson’s office has indicated he will not be attending the conference.
Kemp Road, was charged with a single count of manslaughter stemming from the December 2017 incident. It is alleged that Marshall intentionally caused the death of her child by means of unlawful harm. Prosecutors alleged that after hearing voices she doused her child with gasoline and set her on fire at her Faith Gardens home. The child died in February this
year, having been cared for at Princess Margaret Hospital. Marshall had previously been housed at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre for about 12 weeks for mental health issues. She was recently released from the centre, after which she was charged in connection with the child’s death. Marshall is represented by attorney Bjorn Ferguson.
SCHIZOPHRENIC MAN JAILED WITHOUT CHARGE FACES WAIT ON RELEASE DECISION By RASHAD ROLLE Tribune Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
A 42-YEAR-OLD schizophrenic man jailed for nearly four years without charge will have to wait until Wednesday to learn if he will be released from prison. Alfairs Agregory Higgs’ lawyer Fred Smith revealed during a hearing before Supreme Court Justice Andrew Forbes on Friday that representatives of the Office of the Attorney General filed an affidavit on April 11 raising a number of issues related to the case. Mr Smith said he received the files last Wednesday and he requested an adjournment so his team could review them and give a response. Mr Smith sought to have Mr Higgs released on bail, but Justice Forbes said the matter will be adjudicated on Wednesday. The substantive date for the hearing of the matter is April 26.
Rights Mr Higgs’ lawyers filed a writ of habeas corpus on his behalf last month, alleging his constitutional rights are being violated every day he is detained. On Friday, Mr Smith said in its affidavit the government contended that an order for Mr Higgs to be deported from the Bahamas was issued in 2015. He said such an order does not allow someone to be detained indefinitely. Mr Higgs was born to Turks Islander Linda Ellen Higgs and a Bahamian man on December 2, 1975.
Father His father is not listed on his birth certificate, however, The Tribune has spoken with Mr Higgs’ father and withheld his name due to his profession. Mr Higgs’ family claims he has been denied his medication since he was arrested by police for disorderly behaviour in 2015 and has been imprisoned ever since without being charged. Relatives fear his incarceration has taken an “irreversible physical and mental toll on him.”
PAGE 4, Monday, April 16, 2018
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The Trump-Comey show has just begun JAMES Comey is in the headlines again. It is likely that he will stay there longer than most news stories out of Washington and New York these days. Comey, a 6 foot 8 inch tall puritan moralist who was appointed FBI director by Barack Obama and fired by Donald Trump in May 2017, has produced a 300-page memoir entitled “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” in which Comey excoriates Trump’s character and attempts to explain why he felt the need to take steps that helped swing the 2016 election to Trump. The new book will be released tomorrow, but as usual, copies have found their way into newsrooms across the country as the publisher’s publicists drum up as much pre-publication buzz as possible. Most of the juicy parts have already been revealed, but Comey’s planned book tour will keep his book on people’s minds for a while. Some observers feel that Comey’s memoir is the largest story in a week full of big stories. The U.S. bombed Syrian military installations in reprisal for Syria’s deployment of poison gas on its own people, for instance, stimulating a few to recall the events in the Balkans in 1914 that led a largely reluctant Europe into World War I. This is because there are many Russian troops in Syria and fears arose that the U.S. attack would provoke face-saving countermeasures that could lead to an American armed conflict with Russia. Also, the FBI seized records from Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, as part of a widening corruption investigation that may pose a greater threat to Trump’s staggering presidency than the Mueller probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Lingering around the edges of the investigation are salacious reports of Trump’s interactions with prostitutes, porn stars and playmates, prior to and during his current marriage. And Republican Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin who for the past two and a half years has served as Speaker of the House of Representatives, announced he would not seek re-election this November. Ryan, who still stubbornly believes in supply side economics, a discredited dogma from
the 1980s, may have finally given up on the possibilities of working with Trump and his own fractious band of Republicans in the House. Meantime, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was testifying on Capitol Hill to two committees about the inordinate influence of unchecked social media on the course of world events. And former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, in a book of her own, warned of the dangers of American fascism that she sees as closer to realization than many believe. But it’s Comey who has the nation’s attention. And it is Comey who is clearly on Trump’s mind. Trump immediately called Comey an “untruthful slime ball,” and we can expect much more from the Twitter president. Comey is a person for whom “trying to do the right thing” is paramount. This stance is what led him to announce in the waning days of the 2016 election that the FBI had reopened its investigation into classified material in Hillary Clinton’s emails. Comey writes that if he had not done so, her election would have been “illegitimate.” Though Comey said two days before the election that the renewed investigation had cleared Clinton, many feel his moral certitude cost the Democrats the election. Clinton wrote that she had felt “shivved” by Comey. It is hardly surprising that someone of Comey’s strict values should collide with a moral agnostic such as Trump, and the two have been sparring publicly for a year. Comey’s book is the first significant memoir from someone who has played a major role in the 15-month-old Trump administration, so it will naturally receive outsized attention. In the book, Comey writes that Trump “is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values.” Working with Trump and his supporters reminded Comey of his investigations of the Mafia in New York, with “the lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.” Comey, relying on careful notes from his interaction with Trump, recalls other incidents that damn the president. We haven’t heard the last of this.
Blunder after blunder by the FNM govt EDITOR, The Tribune. POPULARITY of a sitting government has always to be crucial to their well being any politician disregarding a poll which concludes what the Domain Poll did has to be seriously conscious that the public perception - public gratification - public support has diminished appreciably actually to a level where if there was an election it would be hard
for the sitting political party to win. We cannot forget almost a year ago - May 12, 2017 the FNM won with a landslide taking 35 seats. The DPM to scoff at this is political suicide. As the Poll indicates the Minnis Government in its first year basically has lost all of the favour it had coming into office just 365 days ago. Blunder after blunder - PM Minnis’s refusal to be open to the press
and the public is suicidal but he persists - Mr Ace Newbold, don’t tell the press they have access when the PM does public events the Press - the Public wants to be able to ask the crucial questions and get straight responses then. If this sets in, Mr Prime Minister, be assured it will be difficult to dig out of. W THOMPSON Nassau, April 13, 2018.
Laws on loud music EDITOR, The Tribune. As a Bahamian I am writing to request that the laws pertaining to the playing of loud music be changed or enforced. I do not know what the law is now, but if one house in a neighbourhood is having a party why should the entire neighbourhood hear the music? The law should state that the music be played so that those at the event can hear it and no one else. Sick people and those resting for work should not have their
right to peace and quiet infringed upon by thoughtless people. This also applies to national events like concerts. The concerts at the stadium should not be so loud that people in surrounding neighbourhoods cannot sleep. The FNM government must do something about this. Let’s respect the feelings of others. TIRED OF NOISE Nassau, April 15, 2018.
Thoughts on the new National Breadbasket EDITOR, The Tribune. THE only constant thing in life is change, and the time for changes to our approach for improving our nation’s nutrition status is now! Last week, in the good company of numerous community members, civil society partners and other public health stakeholders, I attended The Ministry of Health’s Town Hall Meeting at the Theodore Grant (TG) Glover School. The setting for the meeting ushered in a sense of pride, not only because the evening’s backdrop paid homage to a formidable educator, but also because it was carried out in a space where our most impressionable citizens are being academically nourished for their roles in the future Bahamian landscape. The Minister of Health, Dr Duane Sands, Health Research, Policy and Planning representative, Dr Cherita Moxey and the country’s Chief Nutritionist Carmelta Barnes unveiled plans for changes to The Bahamas’ National Breadbasket items for the first time in over 40 years. The Minister and his team provided an historical perspective on price control and the National Breadbasket. Highlighting our alarming nutrition and health statistics, they discussed how Breadbasket modifications and a nutrition task force could serve to improve health statistics. The goal of the 2018 Breadbasket changes is to provide access to more affordable healthy food choices. The message was clear, the Government of The Bahamas is making the nutrition and health of the nation a top priority. With our high incidences of diabetes, steadily increasing rates of certain cancers, and other chronic issues like high blood pressure, overweight, obesity and heart conditions,
we can no longer underestimate the role of prevention vs cure! Nutrition is medicine, and the earlier we introduce the benefit of healthy nutrition practices, the better. The Breadbasket changes will take a huge amount of nutrition education, stakeholder support and nationwide marketing. It can be done! Consensus amongst all in attendance was that to truly shift the nutrition and health paradigm, we ought to begin with our littlest citizens! Yes, our babies and children! There is enough research to suggest that what we eat is not only influenced by our immediate environment, but also by what our mothers ate while we are in the womb! As a Bahamian Nutrition and Dietetics practitioner working at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, I am encouraged by the Ministry’s agenda. An even further commitment to developing more nutrition education curriculums for lactating mothers, early childhood, school aged children and our adult and geriatric communities would be beneficial. While the Ministry has outlined plans to solicit further feedback from families within the communities of New Providence, they were reminded to be cognisant of the nutrition and health status in the family islands. Our Family of Islands are faced with similar health issues. Accessibility to nutrition and healthy eating information is needed. Allocating a nutrition task force for the entire Bahamas is a crucial component to ensure that we avoid nutrition education
disparities while implementing Breadbasket changes. In my experience, when motivating people to embrace nutrition and lifestyle changes, accessibility, affordability and culturally relevant nutrition options are a must. So, while some core Breadbasket items like corned beef, full fat milk and sugar have been modified, I was encouraged that the alternative options included foods that are already a part of the Bahamian diet. Common healthy fish food items, fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains will still secure the benefit of price control. The most current population-based research continues to show that a diet of highly ultra-processed foods can be a direct risk for certain cancers, obesity and heart disease. The Ministry of Health ought to be commended for addressing this issue. The time to prevent and correct nutrition related diseases in our country is now. I encourage every nutrition and health professional to attend the upcoming Town Halls and offer their expertise. Attendees at TG Glover had many important nutrition questions. Promoting good health and nutrition for our country’s children and adults certainly require that we are all at the table. With the support of concerned parents and care givers, the Ministries of Health, Education, Agriculture and Fisheries and our civil society partners, I am up for the challenge and look forward to contributing with my fellow Dietitian/Nutritionists on the ground in Nassau and in our family of islands. DOMINIQUE SYMONETTE Nassau, April 13, 2018
Monday, April 16, 2018, PAGE 5
FROM PAGE ONE
to the site and with the exception of three or four Bahamians and a guard at the gates of the development, everyone else appeared to be Chinese. Previously, this newspaper observed workers on the site in both January and February and it was a similar story. Dozens of Chinese builders walked on to the site every day from a building, which lodges the workers opposite the development, and virtually no Bahamians were anywhere to be seen. “We don’t have any evidence of that,” Mr Foulkes said when he was asked about concerns the workforce ratio was not being adhered to last Tuesday ahead of a Cabinet meeting. “There haven’t been any complaints made concerning that.” Earlier in the interview he said: “The prime minister is concerned about the ratio but it is an agreement that we met in place that the former government signed off on, 30 (percent) to 70 percent. We are uncomfortable with that ratio but we have to honour the arrangement that the previous government made.” Asked about the concerns, Mr Symonette said while the matter is one for the Department of Labour, he was not aware of any excessive amount of work permits being issued by immigration officials to CCA or The Pointe. He said it was something officials would look into. Mr Symonette said he did not know how many foreign workers were on the site, explaining the current computer system does not allow officials to work out those figures. However, he said by July, the Department of Immigration’s new system should be functional and the numbers would be readily available.
‘POINTE - WE NEED A SITE HEADCOUNT’
comes to jobs. He also slammed the Department of Labour, which last week said no physical checks have taken place at the compound since May 2017. The Heads of Agreement between CCA and the government states 70 percent of the workers are supposed to be Bahamian and 30 per cent should be foreign. “The Pointe looks like Baha Mar part two,” Mr Sands said, “and that wasn’t good for us. When I say Baha Mar part two I am not talking about the project and the things that happened with CCA and the investor, no. We are talking about how it was built. “We understood at that time that there was an arrangement. This developer got the financing and the financier said ‘hey you are going to use my money this is what comes along with it including this amount of people have to be employed here and we want the project to be
WORKERS at The Pointe development on Bay Street.
done like this and only our guys can do it, we got that.’ “But The Pointe development is not the same bowl of oats. We are
GOVT ‘NOT ATTACKING CORNED BEEF, BUT UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLES’ By MORGAN ADDERLEY Tribune Staff Reporter email@example.com THE government is not attacking corned beef, but rather unhealthy lifestyles, said Acting Prime Minister Peter K Turnquest at the opening of the 2018 AgriBusiness Expo on Friday. The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources is once again hosting the three-day expo at the Gladstone Road Agricultural Centre. With Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis attending the CEO Summit of Americas in Lima, Peru, Mr Turnquest is acting prime minister. In his keynote address, Mr Turnquest referred to the controversial planned breadbasket food reforms led by Health Minister Dr Duane Sands. Corned beef is one of the items the government wants to move off the price controlled breadbasket items list to replace with healthier food options. “We’re not attacking the corned beef,” Mr Turnquest said. “We are attacking obesity and unhealthy lifestyles.” Although absent, Dr Minnis did release a statement published in the event booklet. In it, he promised that his administration will give “greater priority” to the “ideal of achieving self-sufficiency through increased agricultural output.”
Recognition Dr Minnis added: “It is my hope that this AgriBusiness Expo will continue to expose the public and business sectors to the deep and sincere recognition of the need and requirement for locally produced goods and services which are essential to the expansion and diversification of our economy.” Mr Turnquest also spoke about this, saying the government’s long-term goal is to “drastically reduce our reliance on imports by growing, processing, marketing, and exporting our food.” “Ultimately and simultaneously, achieving this goal will significantly reduce our balance of payment.” He added: “I heard someone say on the radio the other day, how do we reduce our balance of payment — meaning how do we maintain more of our foreign exchange here in this country? We earn a lot of money from tourism, but we turn right around and spend that money to import food. So this is one of the ways we do it – by encouraging and incentivising
local farmers, local producers to produce the foods that we eat ourselves as well as food that we serve to our guests. We want to see farming communities in our country prosper and grow and contribute even more to our national economy.” Mr Turnquest also said the government has taken steps to ensure that the mail boat operators’ services are expanded and upgraded. “Our island nation requires this to move people, goods, and services in an efficient way. We are assessing the packing house operations so that you, the farmers and consumers, are beneficiaries of modernised facilities that facilitate the transition of fresh, whole foods from the farms to your tables,” he said.
Opportunities Mr Turnquest encouraged young people to take advantage of the opportunities that “now present themselves as gaps.” He added that government agencies are collaborating to promote training and skills development in this area. Referring to the importance of new technologies, such as hydroponics and aquaponics, he said these will “encourage the efficient use of space for a larger, quantity yield that will help to feed our people healthy foods at affordable prices.” The efficient use of space is particularly important considering the damage to arable land caused by hurricanes in recent years and the needs of a growing population, Mr Turnquest noted. In terms of economics, he acknowledged that current tactics used to prioritise local farmers and producers will not always be feasible. “With respect to…artificial barriers to trade, we’re going to have to become more competitive in what it is that we do. Very shortly, we will not be able to get away with buying imports or putting high tariffs… to protect local producers. And so we’re going to have to come up with creative ways in how we incentivise farmers to ensure that they remain competitive,” he said. These may be through concessions, Mr Turnquest said, but he reiterated: “It can’t be at the border. “And so that’s going to take some thinking. And I encourage the farmers and the livestock producers to put some thinking around that. Because the way we’ve done it in the past will not do. Not in this world.”
looking at typical construction coming out of the ground, pouring reinforced concrete columns and beams and slabs and block work. That’s the stuff we do every day in the Bahamas. “But if you look at the site, the question we have to ask is we understand there is supposed to be a labour complement of Bahamians to foreign workers, that’s not happening and I dare anyone to tell me otherwise.” Asked how he could surmise this, Mr Sands said with access to the roof top parking garage with views of the entire site, it is clear there are not many Bahamians working there. “So when someone says the labour mix is supposed to be 70 percent Bahamians, 30 percent foreign, well where is that represented out there? “It is one thing to say something in the Heads of the Agreement, but it is a totally different thing
to police that and enforce it and I am saying that’s not happening out there. That’s the position I am holding until someone can prove to me different.” He claimed these concerns were raised with the Department of Labour with no satisfactory outcome.
Survey “Yes (we have) called and notified the Labour Board but the response is we haven’t done a survey since May 2017. We are almost at May 2018 and I am saying if you’re telling me that you are comfortable about leaving a situation that people are complaining about for a year to address it, then you are not really the person in charge there. “I am saying walk on the site and ask the person who is in charge, the superintendent or the labour relations officer and say
show me your head count – native Bahamians to Chinese workers because in your Heads of Agreement it should be 70/30. “We want them to physically go down there and demand a physical headcount. In fact, they could invite the representation of the Bahamian Contractors Association along (and) we’d gladly go. Let us help you count if it seems to be a daunting task.” Last week, Labour Minister Dion said his department did not have any evidence CCA has broken the agreed workforce ratio outlined in the HOA with the government for The Pointe. At the same time, Financial Services and Immigration Minister Brent Symonette conceded the government had no idea how many foreign workers were engaged on the project. More than a week ago Tribune photographers monitored who went on
PAGE 6, Monday, April 16, 2018
PM WELCOMES INCLUSION OF SMALL ISLAND STATES IN TAX DIALOGUE By KHRISNA RUSSELL Deputy Chief Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
THE inclusion of small island states like the Bahamas in tax information exchange dialogue drew the praise of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in Lima, Peru where he said such countries were previously disadvantaged. Addressing the Plenary Session of the eighth Summit of the Americas, Dr Minnis further outlined the work of his administration to combat corruption at a governmental level. The prime minister led a delegation to the summit which included his wife Patricia, Attorney General Carl Bethel, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd, Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield, Joshua Sears, senior policy advisor to the prime minister and Viana Gardiner, chief operating officer of the prime minister’s Delivery Unit. “We are pleased that the Lima Commitments acknowledge the importance of technical assistance to ensure that states have the necessary support to implement regional and international anti-corruption obligations,” Dr Minnis said as he addressed regional leaders in Peru on Saturday morning. “We also applaud the inclusion of a mandate to establish a hemispheric focus upon tax information exchange that has until now been a rather one-sided indeed lopsided conversation. “Too often, small states are subject to norms developed without meaningful engagement with us, norms that may not be applied uniformly to all jurisdictions. We look forward to a balanced dialogue where we meet as equals on matters that are of importance to us all. “When setting regional or international standards there is a need to minimise unintended consequences that negatively impact small economies in the hemisphere especially when devising regulatory mechanisms. “For many developing countries including small island states in the Caribbean for instance the unintended consequence of loss of corresponding banking
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis poses with other heads of state, during the official photo session of the VIII Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru. relationships requires a collaborative solution as stated by the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in 2016. “We must ensure that our efforts do not have as a backlash the erosion of regional financial stability and inclusion.” Underscoring his administration’s work to combat corruption, the prime minister said this falls in line with a demand in the region for greater transparency and participation in the democratic process.
Philosophy “Colleagues, in response to the demand for better governance, the Bahamas has adopted as a core governing philosophy, a non-tolerance for corruption policy. We are strengthening public institutions to enhance government transparency accountability and good governance. Recent initiatives include measures to establish an Ombudsman Office to act on behalf of the public in investigating and mediating claims of government maladministration, to establish an Integrity Commission to educate (and) spearhead reform and investigate issues related to corruption, financial disclosure and malfeasance while strengthening the public sector code of conduct and bolstering whistleblower protection to enhance provisions for confiscation of assets derived from corrupt means and to amend our nation’s Constitution to establish the independence and autonomy
of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. “The Bahamas firmly endorses the tenants of the Lima Commitments. “These commitments established a baseline that each country should aim to achieve. The tenants are tools for us to hold each other accountable. It is only through cooperation and collaboration that countries will be able to curtail the webs of corruption that often extend across our boarders,” Dr Minnis said. Dr Minnis also had a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the margins of the summit. Prime Minister Trudeau underlined Canada’s continued commitment to supporting Caribbean countries, including the Bahamas, in addressing climate-related challenges and vulnerabilities. Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, Canada pledged $100 million to support Caribbean countries in their reconstruction efforts and in strengthening longterm resilience. The two leaders also discussed the Venezuelan crisis. According to Mr Trudeau’s official website, the Canadian leader also recognised the important step that the Bahamas is taking in May 2018 when Dr Minnis is expected to launch his Delivery Unit, which will be charged with tracking government accountability on its commitments. Dr Minnis left Peru yesterday to travel to London, England to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
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generally satisfied with administration has by 18 percent. INSdeclined IDE The poll also shows MO RE CA RS & RS S CA , ICER RS OFF 200 CA RS , CA HILL number of INaFOX substantial THE Free National Move- CL AS SIF IED TR AD ER : CELLBLOCK people surveyed now ment’s “mistruths” ahead of KEDOWN SHA believe the country is the 2017 general election heavheaded in the wrong ily impacted Public Domain’s direction. poll showing a slump in the The poll was conMinnis administration’s popuSHOOTING ducted larity, Progressive Liberal VICTIM DIES from March 15 to s les AD als ’S HE ll reve OF INJURIES7 and relied on a April fied HE Party Leader Philip “Brave” Po S than half satis EL HE ER OV rd random, weighed sample with govt reco Davis insisted yesterday. WITH JOY of 1,000 Bahamians. It He added he doubts the comes as the administragoverning party could do tionNANprepares to mark its anything in the near future FER DER: N one year anniversary on STOP OBA to reverse the sentiments of ES – IF IMPACT May 10. BANNISTER PROMIS BILLS’ “bitter” Bahamians. STUDY’S BAD ‘WE’LL BE BEST ON When asked about the Speaking to The Tribune THE PUBLIC Domain poll made the poll on Thursday, Acting yesterday, the Cat Island, Rum news last week. Prime Minister Peter Cay and San Salvador MP said Turnquest admitted the it was a telling tale for the government to with the RENTS OFFENSIVE receive such ratings less than a year into its government’s communications T TES PRO S DOR STRAW VEN have sometimes missed the mark and public term in office. its public relations In a poll released last week, Public said it plans to ramp up THERE’S STILL HIDDEN GEMS Domain found the government’s popularity efforts soon. EAST OUT Mr Turnquest said the results did not was decreasing with fewer than 50 percent of Bahamians generally satisfied with its make him “feel badly,” nor would they disrupt the government’s agenda or prompt it to performance. change course. In a few years, he said, hopefully Bahamians will look back at this period and characterise it as a rebuilding phase. “At the end of the day it isn’t going to “The findings of the poll do not surprise affect what we are focused on doing,” Mr me,” Mr Davis said. “My own interaction Turnquest said last week. “We recognise that with the Bahamian electorate confirms what Bahamians have suffered, continue to suffer I have been hearing along my trek of visits a slow turnaround and we understand we with Bahamians. have a job to do. “The truth of the matter is they have come to accept that a lot of mistruth was told during the campaign trail and it’s like a jilted lover who would have fell in love with a bunch of mistruth. When you win the heart “We’re focused on that job and we will by mistruth the heart turns into something make improvements that are necessary bitter. and hopefully at the end of the day in four “The sad thing about it is we have allowed years from now they will see, touch and feel politics to be dictated by personalities than the result of the work we do and it will be philosophies and very often we embrace the demonstrably clear that this period is just a wrong personality and that is the unfortu- rebuilding, a planning period for what is to nate fact that we face today. Bahamians are come.” bitter because of it. When contacted for his reaction, Health “I don’t see it reversing right now,” the Minister Dr Duane Sands said the poll PLP leader continued. results do not surprise him. “They must have a vision and a plan and “There’s nothing in the poll certainly we have not been able to identify that. There about the Free National Movement’s adminis also the question of when they are going to istration that those of us who spend time on stop blaming the PLP? the ground wouldn’t have known,” he said. “Were it not for the PLP, where would the “People are talking, people are vocaliseconomy be today? What if VAT had not ing their concerns. People say, ‘I like what been implemented? They said it was stolen. you’re doing, but . . .’ or ‘I understand “What about Baha Mar? According to what you are doing but...’ There have been them it was a fake opening and they thought some things that have rubbed the public the we should not have intervened in the way wrong way, Oban is an example of that. The that we did, but look at it now.” prime minister has admitted we have made According to the poll – conducted by some mistakes with Oban that we intend the private research firm and released to to correct. There are some things that we the media on Wednesday – the number of have promised that we have not been able Bahamians generally dissatisfied with the to deliver and hopefully we will be able to administration has increased by 28 percent deliver some of those promises in the start of since last May even as the number of people the next fiscal year.” HIGH 85ºF LOW 69ºF
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Shock slump in Minnis’ support
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even as the since last May generally ROLLE number of people By RASHAD Reporter the adminissatisfied with Tribune Staff d by 18 media.net tration has decline rrolle@ tribune admin- per cent. shows a THE Minnis rity is The poll also cent per istration’s popula than substantial now fewer waning, with Bahamians of people surveyed y is of countr the 50 per cent its believe with d wrong generally satisfie according headed in the performance, from market- direction. was conto a new poll The poll 15 to ch firm Public resear March and ing ducted from relies on a and Domain. of of Bahami- April 7 The number dissatisfied random, weighed sample ans generally istration has SEE PAGE SIX with the admin28 per cent increased by
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r he nor although neithe any figures. BPL provided seek to Shell will now Providence’s meet New needs long-term energy ed Minis- by constructing a liquefi fuelled A CABINET l gas (LNG) pledged the ter yesterday have “the natura plant at Clifton by will power as , Mr Baham titive energy 2021. In the interimwould most compe ” BPL region said ter the Bannis shortprices in to manage ng Shell as costs through selecti & Light’s seek tion genera term Bahamas Power partner. a “signifition by obtaining price from (BPL) genera ter, minthe reduced” first medal for of 80 Desmond Bannis Tribune cantly Wilson won the ko, supplied told Gold ister of works, Shell North AggreWatts (MW) in short- JAMAL ‘Marly’ Commonwealth Games in in the Bahamas at the yesterday – clinching silver Business that offered to Meg generation. Coast, Australia America’s bidcut the cost term 11. N men’s high jump. also SEE Sport on page “significantly erSECTIO ESS Minist BUSIN Bahamian SEE for The ” of energy households, businesses and
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paper s’ Leading News
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MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2018
THE STORIES BEHIND THE NEWS
Finding a Bahamian at The Pointe is like playing
By MALCOLM STRACHAN
AST week’s revelations into the lack of native labour representation at New World One Bay St have created quite the punchline. Many concerned citizens across the nation are understandably irate and bewildered as to what the phantom Bahamian labour component is doing on The Pointe’s construction site. Despite the former government touting its negotiations with China Construction America (CCA) agreeing to a 70:30 ratio, favouring Bahamian contractors, spotting an actual Bahamian has become somewhat of a sport for people travelling along their daily commutes. This issue has resurfaced as a report in The Tribune this past week, disclosed an investigation that began as early as January of this year into if there is, in fact, an accurate representation of Bahamian construction workers, per The Pointe’s Heads of Agreement.
Report Much to the dismay of the Bahamian public, as images circulated social media substantiating the paper’s report, finding a Bahamian at The Pointe was like playing a game of “Where’s Waldo?” These discoveries have been disconcerting given the well-documented suspicions the prime minister had about the previous government’s dealings with the Chinese. In fact, seeing the prime minister touring The Pointe’s property looked like absolute night and day, as he was no longer the crusader for unveiling secret deals and empowering Bahamians by conquering our “Chinese masters”. Even more alarming is his government, which continues along its sharp trend of disappointment, is now scrambling, as one minister passes the buck to another, while the prime minister is presumably somewhere keeping his
head low. Immigration Minister Brent Symonette, when asked about The Tribune’s findings, told local reporters that local labour participation is an issue to be taken up with the Labour Ministry. He certainly opted for the safer road while seeking to wash the hands of his ministry by affirming there was no increase to the 400 to 500 work permits since the signing of the Heads of Agreement. Of course Symonette was simply side-stepping the Tribune’s report - the numbers of work permits issued had nothing to do what the paper’s story and images showed - CCA can be well within the number of permits it’s allowed - the issue is where are WORKERS on the site of The Pointe development.
“Much to the dismay of the Bahamian public, as images circulated social media substantiating the paper’s report, finding a Bahamian at The Pointe was like playing a game of ‘Where’s Waldo?’”
makes.” Too much has changed, yet, so much remains the same. Although the government has changed, Bahamians are still expected to settle for a bowl of porridge while millions of dollars in exempted taxes and concessions are given away.
the Bahamians who are supposed to be working alongside them? Similarly, but more surprisingly, Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labour, and his director, Robert Farquharson, both seemed curiously clueless about the day-to-day operations on the construction site. Meanwhile, based on the photos making the rounds on social media and from what we can actually see as we move to and fro around the island paints a very vivid picture that something is awry. Now, everyone is asking: “Will the real Bahamian contractors at The Pointe please stand up?” As it currently stands, no one is coming forward to validate what’s in the Heads of Agreement, which states that at the peak of construction there would be up to 200 Bahamians – a number that could still be a lot better. And while the Tribune has reported seeing dozens
Worse, while we know there is zero chance of there being any Bahamian ownership or profit sharing opportunities - and little to no local presence at the executive level of this property - we also have to settle for what wreaks to be foul play in CCA living up to the Heads of Agreement. While the prime minister will be, yet again, late to the party in voicing his concerns on this matter, we wonder which course of action will be taken and how forthright is the government going to be with the Bahamian people. The Bahamian people are beyond fed up with the patronizing speeches from members of the government on matters where we’d much rather have a dose of honest, plain speaking – especially from the prime minister (no pun intended). Moreover, we would like to know what the benefits
of Chinese construction workers, we’re not certain that as many as two Bahamian workers are on the site. What’s most unfortunate here is that we continue to sell ourselves so short. The Hotels Encouragement Act has legislated that we give away a bevy of concessions, however, what do we really get in return? Particularly in this case, our government seems ill-prepared to enforce what was stipulated in the Heads of Agreement – a labour complement of 70 percent Bahamians. Furthermore,
if regular citizens taking this drive ask these questions, shouldn’t our leaders be a few steps ahead of us? Surely, a labour minister should be fully aware of all Bahamian labour contingents on the island at hotel properties. They should especially be watching the ones involved with CCA after the prime minister was so vocal about their dealings with the former government. As we reflect on our hopes that things would be different with this government, we often wonder, “what a difference a year
of this deal with CCA are. Is it just the same old script – jobs – most of which will be occupied by line staff when the resort opens? Is that the best a government in 2018 can offer its people – a nearly 50-year old model that is no longer sustainable? It is absolutely maddening that forward thinking in this regard escapes those we call our leaders. While this government did not negotiate this deal, just as they so vigilantly went on their conquest to expose the former government’s acts of malfeasance and irresponsible government spending, the Bahamian people have the same expectation for them on this deal. Claims that site inspections have not been carried out since last year are unacceptable from this administration. Therefore, in the shortest period possible, we expect to hear from the responsible parties to provide clarity on what is taking place at The Pointe. Additionally, we want to know how CCA - a serial bad actor - will be dealt with for breaching this agreement with the Government of The Bahamas. It is time for the government to show some spine against China and go to bat for the Bahamian people. Is it not the people’s time?
PAGE 8 MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2018
Time for a radical overhaul of our tax system By FREDERICK SMITH QC
business licence exemptions, free crown land, etc. The first and most important change which must be made to our tax regime involves a total re-think of our relationship with the foreign entities that court
AHAMIANS continue to suffocate under the weight of hefty utilities bills, an unnecessarily high cost of living and daunting bureaucratic hurdles to making their own way in the world. The last thing they want to hear is the government intends to oppress them further with the burden of new taxes. At the same time, our economy continues to underperform and public services are woefully underfunded while virtually every government department, from the police to the schools to the hospitals, suffers from chronic shortages and deficiencies. Our system of raising funds, which relies disproportionately on import duties, has not been able to keep pace with the needs of a growing Bahamas. The fiscal path trodden by successive governments has produced a revenue starved, economically controlled, opportunity barren society and a growing gap between the wealthy and entitled elite and struggling regular Bahamians who can hope for little more than a menial job at the latest mega-development. Clearly this cannot go on, and any realistic plan to overturn the status quo and create real opportunity and prosperity for Bahamians while supporting an efficient and responsive public sector must include a radical and far-reaching overhaul of our
tax system. Currently, the main generator of revenue for the government is a combination of customs duty, value-added tax and business licence tax, all of which are considered forms of consumption or expenditure tax. On the face of it, the attraction of this kind of taxation is that it is self regulating; how much tax you pay depends on how much you choose to spend. Looked at it another way, however, what this means is consumption tax depresses economic activity by discouraging people from spending money. This decreases the earnings of local businesses and ultimately, lowers the amount of tax that can be collected. That is to say nothing of the hundreds of millions of dollars routinely lost through customs fraud and VAT scams each year. CORPORATE TAX The most significant losses by far are the extremely generous ‘gifts’ offered to foreign investors in the form of customs duty exemptions, casino tax exemptions, stamp duty exemptions,
“Without question, income tax can and should be applied as a progressive tax; that is, a tax the rate of which increases as the taxable amount increases. Under such a system, the more you earn, the more you pay . This is probably the only hope we have of shrinking the rich/poor divide ”. our government. Routine concessions must be done away with and a corporate tax introduced that would raise revenue from all large and successful companies which have a presence in the Bahamas. “But that would bring an end to foreign investment!” timid politicians are likely to lament. This is highly unlikely to say the least. What’s more, even were it so, it remains not at all clear that the practice of trading concessions for FDI investment was ever worth it in the first place. In a recent report, the Economic Commission for Latin America
Created by Makyzz - Freepik.com and the Caribbean (ECLAC ) urged Caribbean countries to reconsider the usefulness of the incentives used to attract FDI, because “on average, the repatriation of profits derived from Foreign Direct Investment is equivalent to more than three-quarters of the FDI inflows into the Caribbean.” In other words, foreign investors take far more cash out of Caribbean countries than they ever put in. Every foreign investor, developer, hotel and corporation operating here is taxed on their Bahamas income in their home country, while getting a free ride here. So their profits are generally 100 percent repatriated abroad. With such a favourable deal, it is safe to say the foreign companies will continue coming, concessions or not. Perhaps this is why, all around the Caribbean, corporate taxes have long been in place. For example, companies incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda pay corporate income tax of of 25 percent. It is the same in Aruba, Curacao and Dominica. The Dominican Republic charges 27 percent and in Jamaica, non-resident companies can pay as much as 33 precent of their profits to the government. Meanwhile, our proximity to the United States, US-pegged dollar and stable political atmosphere mean we will undoubtedly maintain our edge over regional rivals, whom we could undercut in any case by introducing a lower tax of 15 or 20 percent. INCOME TAX A far more controversial suggestion is the Bahamas introduce some level of
income tax. The fact is, however, such a tax would be a far better fit for the modern Bahamas, both in terms of raising government revenue and alleviating the financial burden on the average citizen. First of all, with income tax, it is far more difficult to commit fraud as a taxpayer, or theft as a tax collector. Salary and employment information for the vast majority of the population would be kept on file, meaning any shortfalls or inconsistencies can be quickly pinpointed and dealt with. Efficient, accountable, digitalised oversight would replace the murky ‘honour system’ of relying on the import declarations of consumers and the honesty of Customs officers. Secondly, because income tax spreads the burden more evenly across all of the employed population, the government will be able to raise much more revenue. Even if there is 15 percent unemployment, 85 percent of the public would still be regularly paying taxes. No longer will we have to rely on the whims of consumers, who may spend more or less depending on a host of personal, social and environmental factors, to fund our public services. With government raising more revenue on an increasingly consistent and transparent basis and from a greater number of taxpayers, the burden on the individual taxpayer would inevitably be less in the long run. Without question, income tax can and should be applied as a progressive tax; that is, a tax the rate of which increases as the taxable amount increases. Under such a system, the more you earn, the more you pay. This is probably the only hope we have of shrinking the rich/poor divide. And, any shift to corporate and income tax must be accompanied by a reduction in customs duties and a cap on VAT. Better yet, a government with real courage would simply abolish the old tax regime, thereby freeing Bahamians from the attendant administrative duties and making it far easier to do business. Income tax would not be difficult to implement as the new regime could simply adopt everyone’s existing National Insurance details, and the government could amend the National Insurance Act to provide for the new tax, along with social security and other potential benefits. PART OF A PROGRESSIVE PACKAGE There must be other strategic changes, for example the abolition of exchange control, which would facilitate the expansion of Bahamian companies into overseas markets and allow all of us to increase our capital by investing in international companies. The government would have to remove much of the red tape that chokes emerging businesses, and give financial support to new local enterprises or Bahamian-foreign partnerships that show potential in burgeoning, cutting edge industries such as: ecotourism; renewable energies and alternative fuels; information technology and software development; robotics and artificial intelligence; data
services and public sector technology. Other steps likely to increase confidence in the jurisdiction and foster a good environment for doing business include the further development of anti-corruption legislation, appointment of an independent Director of Public Prosecutions, creation an Office of the Ombudsman, full inaction of Freedom of Information and crucially, meaningful empowerment of local government. Local councils in the Family Islands should be given the ability to independently tax and effect collections in order to fund capital and maintenance expenditure, allowing locals to self-regulate, develop their own vision for their communities and provide for infrastructure and public service needs. Within such a framework of progressive economic change, which seeks to empower Bahamian entrepreneurship and unleash our people’s full potential, the introduction of income tax – or, more pointedly, the bringing to an end to our reliance on regressive and stifling consumption tax – can both spur economic activity and alleviate much of the government’s revenue woes. This, in turn, will increase international confidence in the Bahamas and help us maintain a solid economic reputation. The government could provide incentives to certain businesses or geographic areas, granting tax reductions or exemptions to spur economic activity and freeing up private sector funding for charitable causes that the public sector cannot currently fund, for example old age homes; shelters for victims of abuse; social, cultural and environmental NGOs, etc. The huge increase in revenue would also mean that struggling families could benefit from a real economic boost, as those who earn less than a certain annual income, say $30,000, could be exempted from paying any taxes whatsoever. At the same time, the government would be creating lucrative work for local accountants, auditors and tax collectors, while funding new regulatory agencies and hiring IT professionals to digitise the system. This would amount to a whole new industry for the skilled and intelligent Bahamians whom it is said we lose to the notorious ‘brain-drain’ through lack of opportunity. The benefits for Freeport in particular would be immense. Thanks to the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, the immense potential of this visionary city could finally be achieved as it would essentially become the only tax-free zone in the Bahamas, as it was always intended to be, thereby sparking huge foreign and domestic investment. One thing is for sure, we simply cannot continue on the current course. How many blacklistings and credit rating downgrades must we suffer, how much unemployment and economic stagnation do we have to tolerate, how large does the divide between the rich and privileged and everyone else need to become before our government will engage in a rational, deliberate and fully informed discussion with the nation about the future of our tax regime?
MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2018 PAGE 9
The Commonwealth: what’s in it for the small states? W
riting in the British Guardian Newspaper on April 10, my colleague, professor Phillip Murphy, the director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, recalled that for those who campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union, “depicting the Commonwealth as a huge potential trading opportunity for the UK was a useful fiction”. It was a fiction during the campaign and remains a fiction now. The reality is that the Commonwealth cannot replace the EU for Britain which sells far more goods and services to the 27 members of the EU than it does to the 52 other nations of the Commonwealth. About 54 per cent of total UK exports of goods and services went to the EU in 2017 with the remaining 46 per cent going to the rest of the world, including the United States, 13.1 per cent; China, 4.8 per cent; and Switzerland 4.5 per cent. In fact, 71.8 per cent of UK exports in 2017 were delivered to 15 trade partners – not one of them a Commonwealth country. The Commonwealth has not been a trade organisation since its former incarnation of the British Empire during which Britain imposed trade on its colonies that largely benefitted Britain. The death knell to any preferential basis for trade between Britain and other Commonwealth countries was sounded when Britain joined the EU in 1973. Since then Commonwealth countries have
developed trade links with other countries that none would now sacrifice. Today, six Commonwealth countries dominate exports to other Commonwealth countries, accounting for 80 per cent. They are: Singapore, India, Malaysia, Australia, Britain and Canada. The other 46 countries between them account for the remaining 20 per cent and they include big countries like Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya in Africa, and Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Asia. The small countries of the Caribbean and the Pacific account for less than five per cent of all Commonwealth exports.
Exports So, not only is the Commonwealth not able to replace the EU for Britain’s exports, it is also not valuable for trade to the majority of its other member countries. Looking to the Commonwealth to increase trade is, therefore, a pipe dream, particularly as global trade growth has declined between 2015 and 2016. Merchandise trade volumes declined from 2.8 per cent to 1.6 per cent, marking the third consecutive year in which trade volumes remained below
3 per cent. The value of total Commonwealth trade itself declined in the period 2014 to 2016 by US$200m in terms of average value in 2011-2013. The share of global trade in goods for Commonwealth small states particularly has declined. For the Caribbean countries, a progressive decline since 1980 has now reached 0.1 per cent. The figure for the small countries of the Pacific is 0.6 per cent. This situation is likely to worsen as countries, such as the United States, that are the huge markets of the world, adopt increasingly more protectionist policies, encouraging tit-for-tat responses from other big trading nations like China. Furthermore, with the World Trade Organization under attack from the present US administration and the beginnings of a policy to discourage internationally agreed rules, including settlement of disputes, in favour of bilateral trade negotiations, the prospects for fair trade and the narrowing of inequalities are dimming. As a 2018, Commonwealth Trade Review recently concluded, “Given this unprecedented decline in global trade, it is extremely challenging to make a medium to long term projection for global
and Commonwealth trade flows”. It is against this background that Commonwealth Heads of Government will meet in London on 19 and 20 April. Given the mood in the British Government to talk-up the Commonwealth as it prepares to take Britain out of the EU amid growing doubts about its wisdom, Commonwealth trade will undoubtedly be trumpeted by British representatives in whatever guise. But, they are promoting a myth unbecoming of the modern Commonwealth which still has many virtues and much value if the governments of its member countries can find common ground on which to advance a global agenda that would benefit all countries. The Commonwealth remains ideally placed to play the role of global bridge-builder and ideas-generator. It is as well to remind that its members span every continent and includes countries, rich and poor and small and large, embracing every religion and ethnic group. Consensus on issues that could be radiated into the many other organisations, to which its members separately belong, still has the potential for promoting economic development, including trade; peace; tolerance; and the upholding of human rights. At the London meeting, small states should argue that if trade is to become a matter for the Commonwealth to pursue in ways that are meaningful to
them, the emphasis must be placed on trade in services which has become the primary source of exports of small states with limited commodities. Trade in goods is no longer a means for sustainable growth in the majority of them. However, they have proven that they have the human capacity and the intellectual agility to compete globally in services. What they lack are the technologies to become world-class players.
Emphasis Therefore, for small states, amongst the matters on which emphasis should be placed at the Commonwealth meeting should be: helping small states to harness new technologies, including for e-commerce; and financial technology. High-speed internet lies at the heart of utilising such technologies. Ways should be identified and pursued in a plan of action that encourages investment in these technologies which can overcome the constraints of small size and remoteness. And, if governments scratch their heads about sources from which the seed money can come, they might consider capitalising a Commonwealth
Technology Fund for Small States. The Fund would encourage companies and financial institutions to invest in viable and economically sustainable enterprises, utilising technologies that would act as catalysts to improve exports of services, reduce costs of trade and promote sustainable development. The investments would not be grants; they would be share purchases and loans to Commonwealth companies to partner with small states in making themselves viable by trade in services in which they have already established a track record. The question is: would the big countries of the Commonwealth, which are also members of organisations that have helped to cripple the financial services of small states in the Caribbean and the Pacific, be inclined to help? • Responses and previous commentaries: www. sirronaldsanders.com The writer is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States and the OAS. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are his own.
Go Christine...Go! WE’RE ALL SO PROUD OF YOU You’re an inspiration to us all. We wish you all the best in the London Marathon and your efforts to raise funds and awareness for the children and families battling cancer. From your friends and family at The Sports Center.
PAGE 10 MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2018
GAIN AN EDGE A NATIONAL DIALOGUE ON HIGHER EDUCATION
options. One option was to sit the BGCSE and I did them. My results were good enough and I was accepted into COB, so I completely skipped the 12th grade and I was very proud of that,” she explains. At a very early age, Candilaria discovered she had very steady hands as well as a love for writing. In 1998, set on a career as a cardiothoracic surgeon due to the precision of her hands, Candilaria began her studies at COB as a Bio-Chem major. “I cultivated my work ethic at UB. If it’s anything I’ve taken away from UB it’s discipline. As a student you have to be very focused, disciplined and organised,” she explains. After completing two years at COB, Candilaria transferred to University of South Alabama where she recognised that she was enjoying her art electives more than her major courses. Conflicted by her aptitude for the arts and
her decision to pursue the sciences, Candilaria contemplated dropping out just months shy of completing her bachelor’s degree. She was reminded by her father that this was it – if she didn’t get a college degree, she would have no formal academic qualification, considering she did not receive a high school diploma. Candi hung in and completed her degree. As the world of employment beckoned, Candilaria sought employment at the Atlantis Resort and spent 11 years with the renowned hotel on Paradise Island. Although she enjoyed her work, there was always something nudging her to explore her creative side. Throughout the years, Candi’s fascination and love for lettering intensified and thanks to modern day technology, she was able to teach herself many lettering techniques thanks to the Internet. “As a small child I enjoyed handwriting and lettering. I didn’t do it so much in high school but
GAIN AN EDG
A NATIONAL DIALOGUE ON HIGHER EDUCA
Steady hands and a leap of faith I t’s not every day one hears the story of how an undergraduate Bio-Chem major – in pursuit of a career as a cardiothoracic surgeon – is not the optimal choice for the ambitious young heroine, but the story of Candilaria Thompson is just such a story. It’s a story about jumping off cliffs. It’s an adventure story. At 15, Candilaria had a tough call to make: remain in Canada and complete high school, or return home. And if she came home, which school would she attend? In a prophetic display of uncommon courage, Candi – as her friends call her – skipped the high school option, took her Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Examinations (BGCSE) a year ahead of her peers and sought direct enrolment into the College of The Bahamas (COB), now the University of The Bahamas (UB). In so doing, she fast-tracked her academic career. “I was making lifetime decisions at 15-16-years-old and I thought that I wasn’t ready to stay [in Canada] and so I want to come home but what are my other
CANDILARIA Thompson traded in cardiothoraric surgery for her passion of calligraphy. I remember distinctly in COB that in all of my notebooks you could just go toward the back of them and find words, just writing of random words,” she reminisced. The leader within Candi was still unsettled and knew she wanted more – that she could do more with her talent. Taking a leap of faith, Candilaria resigned from her job to pursue her
entrepreneurial endeavours in calligraphy and lettering and started Design Candi Studio. Today, she is sought after for menu boards, wedding stationary and anything requiring fancy and/or artistic writing. The handwriting was, as they say, on the wall all along. Her only regret is that she did not do it sooner. Candilaria was recently featured in the University
of The Bahamas Leaders for Life campaign which highlights notable faculty, staff, students and alumni. • “Gain An Edge” is a weekly collaboration of the Lyford Cay Foundations, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and University of The Bahamas aimed at promoting a national dialogue on higher education. To share your thoughts, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RULE NUMBER ONE AT WORK - SAFETY FIRST ACCIDENTS can be prevented by keeping workplace safety tips in mind when you’re on the job. No matter what industry you work in, applying safety tips can prevent accidents.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING SLIPS AND FALLS Falls are the leading cause of injury in the workplace. Keep these tips in mind to avoid an injury: 1. As you walk, keep an eye on the floor in front of you for spills. 2. If you see a spill, never just walk by it. Always clean it up or call someone to clean it up. 3. Wear non-skid shoes when you work in kitchens, outdoors, or any other place where you will commonly be walking on slippery surfaces. 4. Never climb on shelving units or storage units to get things. Use only approved ladders. 5. Never lean on railings, even if they look solid. They could be improperly secured, and you could fall. 6. Always use safety harnesses when working at heights.
TIPS FOR LIFTING PROPERLY You may work with patients who need help getting around or at a factory where you’re lifting boxes
necessity, not an option 6. Invest smoke detectors for every room or office. 7. Test your smoke detectors (and sprinkling system) once a month. 8. Replace the batteries at least once a year 9. Never disable a smoke alarm.
on a continual basis. No matter who or what you may be lifting, there are some key points to consider: 1. If you are approaching a box and don’t know what’s in it, try moving it a little with your foot first to see how easily it moves. This will help you gauge how heavy the box is. 2. Always wear non-skid shoes when you are lifting often or lifting potentially heavy objects. 3. Never bend at the waist and lift the box up with your back. Keep your upper body straight and parallel with your lower legs. Grab the item and push up with your legs, not with your back. 4. Never jerk your body around when lifting. You may feel fine after doing this once, but repeated occurrences can easily lead to injury in even the healthiest workers.
FIRE SAFETY TIPS Some jobs carry an increased risk of fire, but understanding fire safety is important for any occupation. Keep these tips in mind:
Have a fire plan in place for your worksite, and make sure your employees understand it fully. Having a fire drill every now and then is a good way for employees to keep escape routes, meeting spots, and procedures in mind. 1. Avoid the use of socalled “power strips” whenever possible. They are often prone to overuse and can start a fire if too many appliances are plugged into them. 2. Keep cleaning chemicals and other work chemicals in a well-ventilated room. Many chemicals emit vapour that are highly flammable and which can be set off with something as small as a spark from a faulty wire. 3. Know where all the fire extinguishers are throughout your worksite and know how to use them. 4. Remember that grease fires cannot be fought by dousing them with water. Oil is hydrophobic and also is the fuel source in grease fires. Water will simply splash the oil around and spread the fire even further. 5. Smoke alarms: a
CONSIDER SMOKE ALARMS FOR THE DISABLED. Audible alarms (pauses between the siren wail allow for auditory communication) are available for the visually impaired; visual alarms (with a flashing light or vibrating pad) are available for the hearing impaired.
PLANNING FOR A SAFE WORKPLACE Falls, lifting injuries, and fires are dangerous and common in the workplace, but that’s just the beginning. There are many possible safety issues that can occur at your office or factory. Sometimes the best workplace safety arises out of simple good planning and smart thinking. Every single workplace should have a safety committee and safety plan in place. If you don’t have safety committees at your workplace, then propose one. If you work at home,
you are the safety committee. Working at home or for a very small business isn’t a reason to get out of safety planning. If you don’t have a safety plan in place yet, follow these steps when you recognise a workplace safety issue: 1. Make sure that everyone else in your workplace is aware of the problem. 2. Notify your supervisor. 3. File any reports or documents about the problem. 4. Follow up. Telling someone there’s a problem is not a guarantee that the problem will be resolved satisfactorily. Report it and later follow up to make sure the problem was addressed.
CRIME PREVENTION DURING BUSINESS HOURS 1. Dial 911 immediately if you notice suspicious strangers loitering in or near your place of business. Take particular notice of people who loiter during the opening and closing times of your business. 2. Employees in charge of making bank deposits should always be alert for strangers lingering at the bank. If in doubt, do not make the deposit while a suspicious person is in the area. 3. Never block the view into your store by filling windows with multiple
displays. Robbers don’t want to be seen, and they are less likely to attack your business if a passer-by can see what’s going on inside. 4. Minimise the amount of cash you keep on the premises. 5. Make frequent pickups of money from registers and make regular bank deposits. 6. Try not to work alone. Studies have indicated that the presence of more employees may reduce the incidence of an armed robbery. 7. Install quality locks on doors and windows. Also invest in a monitored alarm system. Alarms are the best defense against property crime and knowing you have a system could be enough to deter criminals. 8. Always use interior and exterior lighting. Lighting may prevent an intruder from concealing his illegal activities. Installing and using motion sensor lighting is an inexpensive way to deter crime at your business. In the end, workplace safety is the responsibility of everyone at your job. Everyone has a part to play in keeping the workplace safe and free from unnecessary dangers and risks. By keeping these tips in mind and sharing them with others, you will be doing your part in keeping injuries, possibly deaths and robbery from happening on the job.
Monday, April 16, 2018, PAGE 11
SHANTY CENSUS UNDERWAY FROM PAGE ONE designated by the government for us to get an assessment of what is going on in these various towns and our assessors have all been trained and we intend to do this in a sensitive and compassionate way.” Mr Graham added each team would be composed of approximately five people from various ministries and departments. When asked if he had any concerns about the venture, Mr Graham said no, reiterating the census had been previously announced and that it has the co-operation of various pastors. “We don’t anticipate any difficulties,” he said. Mr Graham could not provide an estimate of the number of homes the teams would be able to visit. However, he explained yesterday’s venture would “set the groundwork” for what the committee could expect going forward. In terms of the demographical information they are looking for, Mr Graham
said they are interested in “overall numbers”. “We’re trying to ascertain exactly how many persons live in these shanty towns, how many are males, how many are females, how many are employed, how many are still in school, those with disabilities as well. Those are some of the questions that we intend to find out today. “So we’re interested in overall numbers.” The status of shanty towns in the country has been under recent debate following two fires in The Mud shanty town in Abaco earlier this year. Mr Foulkes, head of the government’s shanty town committee, has said a census of people living in the 11 shanty towns across New Providence will take place before any demolition. Last Tuesday, Mr Foulkes added any structures in these areas that do not adhere to building codes will be “demolished”. He also promised the matter would be carried out sensitively and humanely.
OFFICIALS as they prepare to begin the shanty town census yesterday.
Photos: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
ASSISTANT director of labour and secretary of the Shanty Town Committee Morgan Graham speaks yesterday.
QUEENS COLLEGE PAYS TRIBUTE TO SIR DURWARD
SCENES at Queen’s College on Friday at a special memorial paying tribute to the late Sir Durward Knowles. The Bahamian Olympic icon died in February at the age of 100. Photos: Terrel W Carey/ Tribune staff
PAGE 12, Monday, April 16, 2018
‘FED UP’ NURSES UNION PRESSING FOR STRIKE FROM PAGE ONE Although Ms Williams could not give a clear indication of when the strike vote would happen, she was passionate in maintaining the nurses needed to be compensated for the poor conditions they regularly face. “We’ve been there before. We have matters before the tribunal; nothing is happening from 2016 (and) this is when I came into the position as president of the Bahamas Nurses Union. These matters were outstanding from 2009 and this is 2018,” she said. “You have major clinics in Abaco and in Exuma (that) don’t even have cleaning.
Cleaning “The nurses are cleaning. This is what we are fighting for. No one talks about when we have to leave our two-year-old babies home with our husbands and go to the Family Island to relieve our colleagues because they haven’t had a vacation in over a year. They are the only nurses on the island. There is no doctor. They are keeping the people alive. “We are all up in the bushes looking for patients for the prevention of tuberculosis. “This is what the nurses (are) doing; that’s going beyond. One of my nurses on my executive team is now relieving a nurse and
she has a sick child and I said, you leaving your sick child? “She said, ‘There is no nurse on the island with a population of 200 people. There is no doctor, so I have to go.’ This is what she is doing for her country. That’s a sacrifice.”
Faith Ms Williams added: “We’ve had several meetings that the director brought us to to reconcile and the nurses always sat in good faith in hoping these issues be resolved. And apparently none of them are resolved. “Like I said before, almost six weeks ago we were with the Department of Labour in reference to not paying nurses the mileage provided that they are using their private vehicles. “We gave the government 30 days and they said they were going to resolve the issue in good faith; we sat there. It’s now almost two months going to three months.” The union threatened industrial action over a dispute with the Public Hospitals Authority concerning expatriate nurses on contract being asked to work 12-hour shifts. Ms Williams previously said while that matter specifically impacts expatriate nurses, it still concerns those covered by the union. Unionised nurses reportedly work four days and are off for four days.
GOVERNMENT ‘WILL NOT SACRIFICE GRAND BAHAMA ENVIRONMENT FOR MONEY‘ By DENISE MAYCOCK Tribune Freeport Reporter email@example.com
WHILE in Grand Bahama over the weekend, Acting Prime Minister Peter Turnquest took the opportunity to again allay fears residents might have regarding the Minnis administration’s decision to approve the Oban Energies oil refinery and storage facility, promising the government would not sacrifice the environment in Grand Bahama for money. It was the second time the MP for East Grand Bahama has commented publicly on continuing environmental fears over the proposed $5.5 billion facility in East End, Grand Bahama – an area known for its natural pristine beaches and ecotourism sites. “We understand the necessity of the environment in GB to be maintained and preserved and that is number one with respect to the government’s decisions around any project that we anticipate, or that we approve in Grand Bahama – there is no sacrifice with respect
ACTING Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.
to that,” Mr Turnquest said on Saturday. He told those attending a ceremony onboard the Grand Classica cruise ship celebrating the ship’s inaugural visit, the government has learned from lessons in the past and will ensure the necessary controls are in place.
Risk “You can be assured that despite the talk, the government is fully aware and cognizant of the risk imposed by our industrial sector, and we have known and understand the lessons learned from our experience. We are intent on ensuring that there are best practices and mitigation efforts in anything that we do. And so be assured we will not sacrifice our environment for the dollar, as they say.
“We understand and we certainly solicit the investment in the unincorporated areas of Freeport because they offer tremendous value in terms of the environment, in terms of the uniqueness of what we have to offer in terms of ecotourism, adventure tourism, in terms of what we have in the near-shore fishing and deep-sea fishing, and scuba diving – all of these experiences that we can benefit from the environment.” When asked whether he felt an oil refinery plant would impact eco-tourism in East Grand Bahama, Mr Turnquest said: “No, not at all. I think they can work in a symbiotic relationship.” He added: “This institution is not unique to us; this happens around the world, and it is a matter of making sure the controls are in place, and
the systems are in place to protect the environment and that it works together.” Concerns have been raised about the environmental impact the project will have on the beaches and the marine life, especially fishing which is the livelihood of many residents in East Grand Bahama. Many environmental groups have expressed opposition to the project being located in East Grand Bahama, including Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville, Shuffel Hepburn of the Grand Bahama Environmental Association, Eric Carey of Bahamas National Trust, and EARTHCARE. At a recent University of the Bahamas North Grand Bahama Sustainable Conference, Mr Turnquest also urged Bahamians not to be fooled by the noise surrounding the Oban project.
Developer He also shot down as “nonsense” speculation the government was “locked” into the project because a HOA with the developer has been signed. He said as a sovereign nation, the Bahamas has the right to terminate any agreement, adding just because a HOA has been signed it does not automatically mean a licence to operate will be issued. There have been criticisms against the government over the signing of the HOA with Oban before an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study was conducted. On completion the project is expected to create 250 jobs, and 1,000 indirect jobs during the construction phase.
HURRICANE NAMES HARVEY, IRMA, MARIA AND NATE BEING RETIRED
MIAMI (AP) — The names of four deadly hurricanes that slammed parts of the United States, Central America and the Caribbean last year are being retired. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that hurricane names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate will be replaced with Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel. The new names will make their debut during the 2023 hurricane season.
Eighty-six names have been retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1954. The names are retired if the storms were so severe that their future use would be insensitive. Harvey hit Texas Aug. 25, killing at least 68 people. Irma caused 44 deaths and 85 indirect deaths in the Caribbean and Florida. Maria killed 31 in Dominica and 65 in Puerto Rico. Nate’s rainfall inundated Central America and killed 45.
By DENISE MAYCOCK Tribune Freeport Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org ACTING Prime Minister Peter Turnquest has indicated the government is nearer to finalising a Heads of Agreement with new partners in the relaunch of the Grand Lucayan hotel property under a new brand that will revive the island’s tourism sector. While onboard the Grand Classica cruise ship on Saturday during its inaugural voyage to the island, Mr Turnquest said: “We have some exciting proposals before us that are about to go to final stretch with respect to finalising the HOA, but I would not make news today about that. “I want you to be assured that the government of the Bahamas is working diligently with new partners to bring that facility back to its full operation in the very, very near future.” The Grand Classica is the second of two cruise ships operated by Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, which also operates the Grand Celebration. The combined arrivals from both ships will result in some 400,000 passengers annually to the island. Mr Turnquest added that he believes what is being planned concerning the Grand Lucayan “is going to bring new excitement to the destination and our tourism product.” “It will give us the opportunity to expand off of what it is we have in Grand Bahama and to rebrand ourselves as a truly exciting destination, not just tourism destination but a vibrant
Monday, April 16, 2018, PAGE 13
GRAND LUCAYAN DEAL EDGES STEP CLOSER “It will give us the opportunity to expand off of what it is we have in Grand Bahama and to rebrand ourselves as a truly exciting destination, not just tourism destination but a vibrant destination.”
ACTING Prime Minister Peter Turnquest. destination. I look forward to what is to come in that regard because not only will it bring traffic, excitement and energy and entrepreneurial opportunities to Freeport, but it gives us the opportunity to launch other areas of GB that have been neglected.” In January, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the deal for the Grand Lucayan’s sale was “far from completed.” His statement came a month after the government announced a letter of intent had been signed between the owners of the Grand Lucayan hotel strip in Grand Bahama and the Toronto-based Wynn
Group. Commitment Meanwhile on Saturday, Mr Turnquest, the member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama, commended the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line for its continued commitment to bringing guests to the island. “This company has been a partner in GB for many years, and they have delivered quality guests and experiences, and entrepreneurial opportunity for many on the island. The fact is getting to this point today has not been easy. “We continue to face some challenges that we as
government, and they as a company need to address and overcome as we try to facilitate the rebound of GB as a tourism destination.” He also said high airport and seaport fees on Grand Bahama must be addressed. “We have a lot to offer… however, we continue to be faced with the challenge of access and getting people to this island efficiently and cost-effectively at the airport and harbour,” he said. “This is something we hope that as we go from here with this launch, we will be able to work together with our partners at the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Hutchison Whampoa, and Harbour Company, and government to come up with a strategy that allows us to overcome these difficulties. “None of us will be successful if we make the barriers to entry so high that it makes it difficult for us to attract the kind of traffic that we want. Our goal ultimately is to get
them here, and once we get them here then we have to work collectively on how we can benefit from their presence.” Mr Turnquest believes it is critical for the island’s leading stakeholders to work with the government to resolve the ongoing issue of high fees that have resulted in low air and sea arrivals. “We in government would like for you to be our partners and work with us and the community - we have to build what we have together because anyone of us taking the position that we will collect now upfront without looking at the long term will result in certain failure. “I put that out there for those to hear. We look forward to continued dialogue in this area in order to bring some resolution to ensure that what we started here today will be successful.” The East Grand Bahama MP said that Bahamas Paradise Cruise brings a “valuable” cruise and stay component that significantly benefits the island. The Classica will make daily sea arrivals from the US markets as opposed to the Grand Celebration which sails every other day from the port of Palm Beach. “That is a very important component of our product offering. We know air arrivals are difficult, it is expensive and inconveniencing, but sea arrival allows many the opportunity for enjoyable travel.
“We look forward to what this ship will bring to GB . . . and I want to congratulate and thank BPC for what they are bringing, and what they continue to bring to the island. “Unlike the other cruise ships that come for the day…and spend very little on the island, they bring passengers to overnight… and I think it is a very valuable component of our tourism industry.” Mr Turnquest said what the government is contributing towards the partnership with BPC is miniscule compared to the benefit and the economic return that Grand Bahama will reap from the operation. He encouraged BPC to make Grand Bahama its home port. Oneil Khosa, CEO of BPC, said the new ship has a crew of 600 and offers employment onboard to Bahamians. “We want to bring in a record number of passengers, and we will get there,” he promised. He said that it was a tremendous task getting the ship ready and here on time. “She came all the way from the Indian Ocean and was out at sea for 45 days before arriving in Freeport on April 9, and we carried passengers on the April 13,” said Mr Khosa. Some persons and local stakeholders in the tourism industry were invited for a welcome reception, tour and lunch onboard the ship.
PAGE 14, Monday, April 16, 2018
NO REMORSE $600K THIEF ‘SHOULD NOT BE JAILED’ FROM PAGE ONE
seven-year period. Kaylesa Simmons, from the Department of Rehabilitative Welfare Services, told Justice Cheryl GrantBethel it wouldn’t be in Gibbs’ “best interest” for her to serve a prison term for her actions, and said the 40-year-old is capable of rehabilitation and reform. When questioned by the judge on Gibbs’ prospects for counselling, the senior probation officer said as Gibbs has not admitted to the offences, there really wouldn’t be anything to counsel her on. However, Ms Simmons said if Justice GrantThompson decides to impose a custodial sentence, part of Gibbs’ rehabilitation should include her teaching basic computer skills to the female inmates at the Department of Correctional Services. Ms Simmons’ recommendations came during the sentencing stage of court proceedings concerning Gibbs conviction for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars between March 2008 and October 2015 while employed at the college. According to the probation report, completed on April 4, Gibbs’ various family members and/or acquaintances
recommended that she be spared imprisonment and instead be given a second chance or alternative punishment. Agatha Watson, the office manager at Gibbs’ previous place of employment, Watson’s Construction, described Gibbs as a “trustworthy” and “competent” employee for the four years she worked there.
Shock Mrs Watson thus expressed shock at Gibbs’ actions. Renee Mayers, the former division head of the Human Resources Department at the University of the Bahamas (UB), further described Gibbs as a “diligent, skilled and a technically savvy employee”. However, Samara Saunders-Hepburn, an information technology and human resources analyst at UB, said it is her belief Gibbs was allowed “too much control” at the college, as she was the only one responsible for entering payroll data. Nonetheless, Mrs Saunders-Hepburn, who trained Gibbs as well as her immediate supervisor on how to use the payroll system, she expressed shock at Gibbs’
involvement in the matter because she saw Gibbs as an “honest individual” for the nine years she knew her. Meanwhile, Anastasia Brown, a former coworker and friend of Gibbs for some 20 years, was of the opinion that Gibbs is “being used as a scapegoat.” She said it would be difficult for someone in Gibbs’ position to have committed the offences in question without anyone being aware. Nonetheless, Ms Brown further claimed Gibbs was a frugal individual and would seek financial advice from her on occasion. Gibbs’ attorney, Roger Gomez from the Public Defender’s Office, submitted that as his client has no previous convictions, she would be a “bigger asset to society” if she is not given a custodial sentence. When the issue concerning Gibbs repaying whatever remains of the monies she stole arose, Mr Gomez indicated that her various bank accounts have been frozen as a result of her court case. However, he said the court can simply seize the funds in her accounts. However, Crown prosecutor Al-Leecia Delancy disagreed with the suggestion that Gibbs be given
a non-custodial sentence, charging that she “must be held accountable for her actions”. Ms Delancy also submitted Gibbs is not capable of being reformed, based on the probation report indicating she has not admitted to the crime and thus shows no remorse. Justice Grant-Thompson ultimately said she will reflect on the submissions made and the information contained in the probation report before handing down her sentence on April 23. Gibbs remains in custody until that time.
Jury In February, a ninemember jury returned a 9-0 guilty verdict on all 24 counts Gibbs was charged with: eight of stealing by reason of employment and 16 of falsification of accounts, concerning her actions between 2008 and 2015. According to court documents, Gibbs served as both a senior clerk and a human resources assistant at the college. The jury was told Gibbs stole over $600,000 from COB by reason of her employment at the institution. The jurors were also told Gibbs falsified numerous COB direct deposit
FORMER College of the Bahamas employee Chimeka Gibbs pictured at a court appearance.
files, the result of which purported to show she was entitled to over $200,000 in salary payments. According to the evidence given at trial, Gibbs accomplished the latter feat by manipulating the information contained on certain documents to be submitted to the Bank of the Bahamas on behalf of COB. As a result, Gibbs
received up to $13,000 over and above her monthly net salary of $2,395 between 2008 and 2015. In total, Gibbs paid herself $640,000 extra between those seven years to various bank accounts at Commonwealth Bank, Scotiabank FirstCaribbean International Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada.
DAVIS WON’T APOLOGISE FOR CENTRAL BANK, STATISTICS COMMENTS PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis will not apologise for comments he made about the Central Bank and Department of Statistics regarding reporting standards under the Minnis administration. He released a statement on Sunday responding to Acting Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, continuing the war of words between the two over the country’s finances. Last Wednesday, Mr Turnquest accused Mr Davis of calling into question the integrity and reputations of key institutions in the country by making what he called “unfounded” and “unfortunate political” allegations. In a statement released a week ago, Mr Davis asserted that not only has Mr Turnquest “failed” as finance minister but that he does not understand the sophisticated world of public finance. He went on to accuse the minister of attempting to change the way the Central Bank reports its macro-economic information; the way the Department of Statistics calculates its data and
OPPOSITION leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis.
the way in which the Ministry of Finance accounts for its disbursements and receipts, saying all this was done in the name of politics. However, in the House of Assembly, Mr Turnquest hit back at the Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP saying his
assertions were “ill informed.” He said this was reason enough for Mr Davis to offer an apology to the named institutions he sought to “besmirch.” Regarding the Department of Statistics, the East Grand Bahama MP said: “The public comments regarding the Department of Statistics are equally false and damaging.” Mr Davis, who was not in Parliament on Wednesday, said Mr Turnquest took advantage of his absence. “As to the substantive matters raised by the deputy prime minister, there will be no apology from me and none is required,” Mr Davis said. “He cannot escape responsibility for the confusion over the country’s finances. The confusion is entirely of his own making by falsely accusing me of attacking public servants and the Central Bank. There was no attack on the Central Bank or the Department of Statistics by me. That is fiction and a further attempt by the deputy prime minister to cause confusion. I repeat, he will go down in history as the worst minister of finance ever.
“The record will show that the issue of accounting methodology, either cash basis or accrual, was introduced by the deputy prime minister. “This was done following last year’s budget debate in a vain attempt to justify paying off bills that he said were left by the PLP administration from the previous fiscal year.
Political “The premise was false and the narrative misleading and it was done for political reasons. The aim was to blame the PLP for the high deficit. “Identifying and paying off hundreds of millions in bills only as a pretext to come to the House to point finger, lay blame and level accusations of mismanagement, wrongdoing and a sinful use of public funds were pure political theatre, not sound fiscal practices and good governance. His actions smacked of manipulation to score political points. The theme of supposed PLP malfeasance connected to a high deficit was entirely the invention of the FNM and
their propagandists. This was unbecoming and inappropriate. If there was a desire to change the fiscal policy from a cashbased accounting system to accrual based then he need only announce the policy change, plain and simple. “No former finance minister has ever done that. “The country’s public finances are worse off because of his actions. I don’t want to hurt his feelings but if he were to ask any former finance minister they would tell him that his actions were imprudent. “For the record, when you disaggregate the actual figures, the only difference between the PLP’s deficit predictions and the actual outturn was the unanticipated emergency spending because of the hurricane. The PLP did not mismanage the economy. “That claim by Turnquest was an utter falsehood.” Mr Davis ended his statement saying the PLP hopes Mr Turnquest would remain true to his word and permit full cooperation with the requests of the Public Accounts Committee on the matter.
Monday, April 16, 2018, PAGE 15
UN REJECTS RUSSIAN ATTEMPT TO CONDEMN US AGGRESSION IN SYRIA UNITED NATIONS Associated Press THE UN Security Council overwhelmingly rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of “aggression” by the United States, United Kingdom and France against Syria on Saturday, a vote reflecting support for the allied airstrikes on Syrian chemical sites. But the vote at the end of an emergency meeting called by Russia also demonstrated again the paralysis of the UN’s most powerful body in dealing with Syria’s seven-year conflict. Russia’s demand for condemnation and an immediate halt to “aggression” and “any further use of force” by the three Western allies got support from only two other countries on the 15-member Security Council — China and Bolivia. By contrast, eight countries voted against the Russian draft — the US, UK, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Kuwait, Poland and Ivory Coast. Four countries abstained — Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea and Peru. At the meeting, the fifth in a week on chemical
weapons in Syria, Russia and its supporters again clashed with the US and its allies over a suspected poison gas attack on April 7 in the Damascus suburb of Douma. The US, UK and France said they launched airstrikes against Syrian chemical sites after obtaining evidence that a chemical weapon was used by President Bashar Assad’s government. Russia and its ally Syria called the attack fabricated and said no evidence of chemical weapons use exists in Douma. US ambassador Nikki Haley told the council “there is clear information demonstrating Assad’s culpability”. And she said President Donald Trump told her on Saturday morning that if the Syrian regime uses poisonous gas again “the United States is locked and loaded” to strike again. “When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line,” Haley stressed. “The United States of America will not allow the Assad regime to continue using chemical weapons.” France’s UN ambassador Francois Delattre said the result of the vote sends “a clear message” that
Security Council members recognised the need for the airstrikes, and “their proportional and targeted nature”. “And what’s most important is no one contests that the use of chemical weapons cannot be tolerated and must be deterred,” he said. “That is essential.” Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the meeting confirmed that the US and its allies “continue to put international politics and diplomacy in the realm of myth-making — myths invented in London, Paris and Washington”. “We put facts contrary to your myths,” he said. “If we continue on this path, we will soon reach the diplomacy of the absurd.” Russia and Syria also clashed with the three Western allies over the legality of the airstrikes and responsibility for the Security Council’s paralysis. Britain’s UN ambassador Karen Pierce blamed Russia for repeatedly vetoing resolutions on the use of chemical weapons in Syria and said the UK took military action “to save lives”, on the legal basis of “humanitarian intervention”.
PAGE 16, Monday, April 16, 2018
Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health HOUSTON Associated Press
FORMER first lady Barbara Bush is in “failing health” and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday.
“Following a recent series of hospitalisations, and after consulting her family and doctors, Mrs Bush, now age 92, has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care,” spokesman Jim McGrath
said in a news release. McGrath did not elaborate as to the nature of Bush’s health problems. She has been treated for decades for Graves’ disease, which is a thyroid condition, had heart surgery in 2009 for a severe narrowing
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of her main heart valve and was hospitalised a year before that for surgery on a perforated ulcer. “It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others,” McGrath said. “She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.” Bush, who is at home in Houston, is one of only two first ladies who was also the mother of a president. The other was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, the nation’s second president, and mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president. Bush married George H W Bush on Jan 6, 1945. They had six children and have been married longer than any presidential couple in American history. Eight years after she and her husband left the White House, Mrs Bush stood with her husband as their son George W was sworn in as the 43rd president. President Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement on Sunday evening that “the president’s and first lady’s prayers are with all of the Bush family during this time”. Bush is known for her white hair and her triplestrand fake pearl necklace.
Her brown hair began to gray in the 1950s, while her 3-year-old daughter Pauline, known to her family as Robin, underwent treatment for leukemia and
pneumonia and chronic bronchitis. He was hospitalised months earlier, also for pneumonia. He has a form of Parkinson’s disease and uses a motorised scooter or a wheelchair for mobility. Before being president, he served as a congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice president. Barbara Pierce Bush was born June 8, 1925, in Rye, New York. Her father was the publisher of McCall’s and Redbook FORMER magazines. President George H W She and Bush and his wife Barbara George Bush. A family spokesman said Sunday, April 15, 2018, H W that the former first lady Bush Barbara Bush is in “failing married health” and won’t seek when she additional medical was 19 and treatment. while he was eventually died a young naval in October 1953. She aviator. After World later said dyed hair didn’t War II, the Bushes moved look good on her and credto Texas where he went ited the color to the public’s perception of her as “eve- into the oil business. Along with her memrybody’s grandmother”. Her pearls sparked a oirs, she’s the author of “C national fashion trend Fred’s Story” and “Millie’s when she wore them to Book,” based on the lives of her husband’s inaugura- her dogs. Proceeds from the tion in 1989. The pearls books benefited adult and became synonymous with family literacy programs. Bush, who later said she The Barbara Bush Founselected them to hide the dation for Family Literacy wrinkles in her neck. The began during her White candid admission only bol- House years with the goal stered her common sense of improving the lives of and down-to-earth public disadvantaged Americans image. Her 93-year-old husband, by boosting literacy among the nation’s 41st president parents and their children. who served from 1989 to The foundation partners 1993, also has had health with local programs and issues in recent years. In has awarded more than April 2017, he was hospi- $40m to create or expand talised in Houston for two more than 1,500 literacy weeks for a mild case of programs nationwide.