Nassau Guardian Stories

Mitchell says govt won't tolerate abuse of migrants

December 11, 2014

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell vowed yesterday that those who abuse detainees will suffer the consequences.
Mitchell was referring to several allegations of abuse of Haitians.
He said recently there is no evidence of abuse and the allegations are being investigated.
"You have some people who call me as minister and say, 'This country is gone. These people have taken over. What you are doing is trying desperately to get our country back'," he said on the floor of the House.
"That's one side. The other side is the human rights issue. 'Why are you pushing these people out? Why are you treating them so unfairly?'
"The interesting thing about the people who made the complaints in the newspaper, [is they] all admit that they are in The Bahamas illegally.
"That is not an excuse for us to treat them badly or inhumanely, but Mr. Speaker, I submit with every fiber of my being that as far as the information I have, no detainee in this country has been abused by sanction of the Bahamas government.
"I can't speak for people's individual conduct. Those who infringe or break the laws in any way, they will meet justice and will bear the penalty. But the state is not associated in any way with that."
Mitchell's comments came during debate on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bill 2014, which seeks to, among other things, facilitate the creation of a Department of Foreign Affairs.
Last week, a woman claimed she was beaten during an immigration spot check.
The woman, identified by The Tribune as Dahene Nonord, claimed that she was punched, kicked and put in a headlock.
The woman has reportedly applied for citizenship but did not have her documentation on her when immigration officers questioned her. As a result she was detained.
The government's new immigration policy requires all non-Bahamians to have passports of their nationalities and evidence that they have permission to live and work in the country.
As part of the policy, the Department of Immigration will not issue certificates of identity to non nationals born in The Bahamas.
The department also will not accept first-time applications for residence or work permits from those who have no legal status in The Bahamas.
Mitchell said that as of last week, 254 migrants were detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, the majority being Haitians (177) and Cubans (33).

read more »

Butler-Turner questions lack of NIA legislation

December 11, 2014

Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner yesterday questioned when the government would table promised legislation to regulate the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Butler-Turner has claimed that the government may be using the NIA to "engage in domestic spying on the Bahamian people". Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage has denied that claim.
In May, he promised that legislation for the NIA would be tabled and passed in the House of Assembly before the end of the year.
He said a draft bill for the NIA is "virtually completed".
During debate on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bill 2014 yesterday, Butler-Turner said, "Transparency and accountability mean little to this government.
"Earlier this year I sounded the alarm on the domestic spy agency, the National Intelligence Agency, and its lack of legal footing.
"We were promised legislation by the end of the year.
"Where is the legislation? Is the government continuing to operate an agency with no legal foundation?
"The PLP has shredded transparency. They are seemingly accountable to no one.
"They continue to mock our democracy and this Parliament with their arrogance, smugness and highhandedness."
Nottage has said that the NIA will seek to prevent the emergence of any new threats to The Bahamas.
Its purpose is to be the eyes and ears of the country, not only locally, but beyond that to regional and international capacities, he said.
Nottage said through the agency, the government hopes to deter threats to The Bahamas' national security, including the trafficking of drugs and firearms, illegal poaching and migration, corruption, criminal gangs and crime in general.

read more »

'Good Samaritan' killed on Grand Bahama

December 11, 2014

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - Following the stabbing incident that claimed the life of a "Good Samaritan" Monday evening, police are requesting the public's assistance in apprehending the fugitive who is still at large.
Inspector Terecita Pinder, police affairs and communications officer, made an appeal to people in the community to bring the assailant to justice.
"On Monday, December 8, 2014 shortly after 10:00 p.m., police received information that a male culprit accosted a female while in a parking lot in the downtown area. The male snatched her purse out of her vehicle and fled. The victim screamed and made chase behind the culprit," said the press officer.
According to Pinder, two men in the vicinity heard the woman's frantic call and assisted her in pursuing the culprit.
The trio was able to catch up with the culprit a short distance away.
"A struggle ensued between the two males and the culprit," Pinder said. "The female was able to retrieve her purse; however, at that time, the culprit stabbed one of the males in the stomach area."
The victim was rushed to the Accident and Emergency section at the Rand Memorial Hospital and unfortunately, succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
The assailant, Pinder said, fled the scene of the crime.
While police did not release the identity of the victim, Pinder noted the deceased was 40 years old.
Noting that law enforcement officers are continuing investigations into this matter, she added, "At this time the police are sending an appeal to the public for anyone with any information, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, to come forward."
She said that it may be the lead that they need in finding the culprit and bringing the matter to a close.
Pinder said the "Good Samaritan" was brave and courageous for assisting the female in distress.
"We also want to send out a warning to the public to be very careful when it comes to these unscrupulous assailants. We are appealing to the Grand Bahama community and community at large, yes we are here to help our neighbors. We are not disputing that, but we are asking you to use caution and care," Pinder advised.
The culprit in this crime is described as being tall with a slim build and bright in complexion. He was allegedly wearing dark jean pants and a dark jacket with a hood.
"We would like to say to the family members of the young man, our hearts and prayers are with you," Pinder concluded.
Anyone that may be able to help the police with their investigation into this matter are urged to contact them at telephone numbers 350-3107/8, 911/919 or call your nearest police station.
This latest incident brings the murder count on the island of Grand Bahama to 10.

read more »

Teen gets probation for armed robbery

December 11, 2014

A judge on Wednesday sentenced a teen to three years' probation for robbing a man of a cellular phone while armed with a knife.
The sentence for Cecil Martin-Moxey, 18, was in accordance with the terms of a plea agreement.
Justice Roy Jones warned the convict, who was just 15 when he robbed Eugene Stuart of a Blackberry Torch on Collins Avenue in 2012, that if he committed any offense during the probationary period he would be sentenced to five years' imprisonment.
Martin-Moxey has to pay Stuart $500 by Friday in compensation for the phone.
Jones told Martin-Moxey that armed robbery is a serious offense.
He said, "The reason we are doing this is because of your age at the time of the offense and you have agreed to plead guilty and not waste the court's time. We have many cases to be tried. But it's a serious offense."
Jones said if the compensation is not paid, the agreement would be incomplete and Martin-Moxey would have to stand trial.
His lawyer Glendon Rolle said he would undertake to ensure the money is paid.

read more »

Grand Bahama Shipyard donates 30,000 to Eight Mile Rock High School

December 11, 2014

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - Santa came early this year for high school students in Eight Mile Rock as the Grand Bahama Shipyard helped them tick something off of their Christmas wish list.
This Christmas, Eight Mile Rock High School (EMRHS) received a huge present from the Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS) in the form of a much-needed $30,000 check towards the purchase of a school bus.
"Our financial donation towards the purchase of a school bus was desperately needed and will allow the students to continue to participate in academic and athletic programs throughout the community," said Kay Smith, Grand Bahama Shipyard's director of human resources and community relations. "We are thrilled to end the year with giving back to this school and these wonderful students."
The shipyard adopted EMRHS in 2002 and works to assist the school in various ways each year, assisting the school in addressing its most pressing needs. This year after hearing the pleas from the school's Principal Ivan Butler for a new bus, the shipyard decided that the bus would be our 2014 commitment to the school.
During the presentation, Shipyard CEO Carl Rotkirch noted that the shipyard is "committed to supporting the students and the institution and hope that students at the school will look at GBS not only as a company that helps their school, but as a career choice after high school through the apprenticeship program."
Rotkirch was pleased to note that a number of former Eight Mile Rock High School students have benefitted from the company's apprenticeship program.
"We are truly grateful and appreciate this huge donation, and what it will be able to do in terms of assisting us with getting a new school bus," said Butler. "Over the years the shipyard has been a good corporate sponsor to our school, assisting in many ventures, but this donation was the most significant since I became principal and I am still in shock.
"I want to extend thanks to the CEO and the other staff members who were instrumental in helping to pull this off. By early in the new year we expect to have a new school bus for students in the west GB area and we know this bus will serve them well."
Butler noted that the students participate in a variety of competitions, sporting events and debate events, many of which they go on to win. "My students are very involved in a lot of extracurricular activities and it involves a lot of bussing," he noted. "So everyone at the school is very grateful for the bus and acknowledge how much the bus will benefit them."

read more »

Kingsway primary students evaluate the amount of waste they generate

December 10, 2014

Kingsway Academy's lower primary school students and teachers have taken on the challenge to minimize the impact they have on the environment through proper waste management by being more mindful of how they generate garbage and where it goes, and as a result, the school was recently awarded the distinction of being the pilot school for the Innovative Science "Where does the garbage go?" project.
The program challenges the school children and teachers to evaluate the amount of waste they generate, and determine its fate. The goal is for them to reduce the amount of home and classroom waste going into the landfill. Students will explore what happens when garbage leaves their classroom and their homes. The journey began in their morning chapel assembly. The children of the lower primary section of the school (grades K3-3) listened to Christine Hepburn as she portrayed "Grammy Hepburn" from Cat Island as she read the story, "Where does the garbage go?" from the National Literacy Services.
"We are aiming to change the attitudes of students, teachers and parents towards waste management in The Bahamas. We hope to sensitize the next generation to the dangers of taking garbage disposal for granted," said Sheena Davis, president of Innovative Science.
Kingsway Academy Senior Mistress Ingrid Kerkulah said she welcomed Innovative Science sharing with her students and teachers exactly how they could minimize the volume of garbage being generated.
"We realize that garbage does not simply disappear once it leaves our campus or even our homes," she said. "As a school, we are happy to partner with Innovative Science and the [United States] Embassy [who provided a grant to fund the project] with this new initiative. We want to do our part by taking care of this beautiful land that God has given to us by continuing to reduce, reuse and recycle."
The project that got underway in October will take place in two phases and will run until June 2015. The first phase of the project involves students and teachers determining the amount of garbage being discarded in their classrooms. Students will record and weigh the garbage daily. The second phase will involve students learning which items are recyclable in The Bahamas and which items are not. Each classroom will be outfitted with its own recycle center for paper, plastic and aluminium cans.
"When the recyclable items are removed from the waste stream, students and teachers will see a reduction in the volume and weight of garbage being discarded," said Davis.
Funding for the project was provided by a grant from the US Embassy, along with sponsorship from Caribbean Bottling, Bahamas Waste and Waste Not.
Paul Stilley, acting public affairs officer at the US Embassy Nassau said they were pleased to partner with Innovative Science to raise awareness about conservation and protecting the environment in The Bahamas.
"We need to elevate the environment in everything we do, so supporting youth-focused conservation programs is very important to us. We applaud the efforts undertaken by students at Kingsway Academy Primary School to minimize the impact they have on the environment through proper waste management. By being more mindful of how we generate garbage and where it goes, we bring about a change of attitude that moves us one step closer to ensuring the environmental protection of this beautiful Bahamian archipelago," said Stilley.
Innovative Science is a company committed to providing hands on science education for students. This is accomplished through after school programs, in-class workshops, summer camps and science-themed parties and shows. The project is a part of its community outreach program.

read more »

URCA sponsors students to regional training workshop

December 10, 2014

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has made it possible for two technical education students to enhance their knowledge of the rapidly developing area of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) through a regional workshop.
Gerrard Russell, who studies Information Technology Management Security and Server Plus at The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) and Antonio Rahming, a Computer Information Systems major at The Bahamas Baptist Community College (BBCC) are the two recipients. The duo represented The Bahamas at the Regional Youth ICT Innovations Training Workshop in Antigua and Barbuda December 8-10.
According to URCA's CEO, Kathleen Smith, the support is in keeping with the authority's objective to promote the involvement of young people in the use and creative development of ICT.
"We look forward to Gerard and Antonio's return and to their sharing of any new and innovative ideas about how they can best use ICT to further the development of their entrepreneurial aspirations, involve more young men and women in the sector and enhance their level of productivity in their current studies or job environment," Smith said.
She said that URCA was excited that the workshop addressed youth employment and entrepreneurship.
Russell who wants to eventually launch a security audit company was eager to attend the workshop.
"I am looking to gain new, innovative ideas that I can bring back to The Bahamas and I want to be a part of reducing the global cost of IT. I'm also excited that BTVI paved the way for me and for my future," he said.
Rahming hoped to build on his IT knowledge through participation in the course, and raise awareness about ICT initiatives, an ever-changing field.
Workshop participants addressed implications of ICT use and adoption with an emphasis on innovative technology, examining the role markets play in the development and distribution of ICT infrastructure and services, and the conditions that lead to reduced investment risk and increased investment in the ICT sector. Participants were challenged to develop ideas for ICT-enabled, socially responsible businesses and programs that can be initiated by young people in addition to introducing the fundamentals of developing business plans and team proposals.
The training was organized by the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organization (CANTO). The workshop was geared towards youth wanting to pursue a career in the ICT industry, those who have businesses in the ICT industry or those who wish to gain ICT related skills.

read more »

Loving unconditionally

December 10, 2014

There are a whole lot of people who use a whole lot of words which they really don't mean. Now bearing this in mind, there are many who profess to love another -- a spouse, a parent, a relative, a child or friend who are in effect really just kidding both themselves and the people they profess to love. In other words, they'll love the person when everything is going okay, according to plan, however, as soon as something goes wrong, their so-called love seems to conveniently disappear as they actually leave the ones whom they supposedly loved so very much.
Yes my friend, we use this word love today in a rather flippant manner all too frequently not meaning what we say at all. You see, when you love -- really love someone and are not just trying to kid yourself and the other person involved that you love them, your love will be unconditional. So, what does that really mean D. Paul... unconditional?
Well it means you love the person no matter what they do, we never, ever put conditions on true love. The best example to illustrate this, is a parent's love for their child. A parent doesn't just love the child when they're behaving well and all is proceeding as planned -- oh no, a loving parent loves their child no matter what trouble they may get into. The love, which is unconditional love endures, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
I guess the easiest way in which to explain real, unconditional love which most people around the world can relate to, is the Creator's love for all humanity, all of His children, which thank God, pardon the pun, is indeed unconditional.
Of course, as I have stated many times before, in order to love another, we must first and foremost love ourselves. That's right, before I can start to love and respect you, I must first love and respect myself, and this love for ourself must also be unconditional so that we do not lose this love for self thus descending into a state of low self-esteem just because of some failure in our life, as our love and respect for ourself is deeply imbedded in our consciousness, it is unconditional even when we mess up real bad, it remains intact. Yes my friend, please remember today's most important message so that your love is always unconditional. If it's not, well then, it's really not true love.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

read more »

Eight Mile Rock student snags PSA competition win

December 10, 2014

Eight Mile Rock High School's Satori Curry claimed first place in the recent Keep Grand Bahama Clean (KGBC) public service announcement (PSA) competition.
Curry's PSA said "littering doesn't help us; the attraction of the land and beaches is what brings visitors to our country which helps expand the industry and bring money into the country."
Bishop Michael Eldon Anglican School students Sidney McIntosh and Katrina Dorsette tied for second, with Eight Mile Rock High School student Asia Outten named to the third spot.
McIntosh's PSA said: "Our number one industry is tourism, so we need to keep our island clean to sustain the industry so that it can prosper. Tell family and friends not to litter, what will we have left if we destroy it."
While Dorsette's PSA: "For our future and the next generation, I think that it's important to keep our island clean."
Outten claimed a third place finish with "I discourage my peers from littering, and try hard myself not to litter. I think it's sad to pass on the road and see garbage on the roads, beaches and parks."
The Keep Grand Bahama Clean (KGBC) initiative has hosted many competitions at the primary, junior high and senior high levels over the years, with the aim of raising the awareness of the importance of keeping a clean environment amongst the youth of the island. In commemoration of the eighth anniversary of KGBC, during youth month, the committee once again thought it fitting to incorporate a youth component in the celebrations.
"There is so much talent among our youth, and with this very important issue of keeping a clean environment which impacts us all as residents, it is both exciting and thought-provoking to learn from our students as they seek to make us all conscious about the environmental issues that exists and the need for us all be to better stewards of what God has given us," said committee chairperson and Grand Bahama Port Authority Environmental Manager, Nakira Wilchcombe.
"At the end of the day we want these messages to be heard, and who better to express them than our youth," she said.
Previous anniversaries have focused on competitions amongst various genres such as art, music and elocution, through debates, trash to treasure, photography, jingles and documentary.

read more »

Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation president appointed to Bethune-Cookman University's Board of Visitors

December 10, 2014

Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation President and CEO, Ricardo Deveaux was recently appointed to Bethune-Cookman University's (BCU) newly created Board of Visitors, a support organization created by the University's Board of Trustees to bring together distinguished Bethune-Cookman alumni, friends and former trustees as goodwill ambassadors for the university.
Reverend John Harrington, chairman of the Board of Trustees said Deveaux was invited to become a member of the Board of Visitors because of his past service to BCU.
Deveaux is a 1990 BCU graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with honors. He served as BCU's 1989-1990 student body president. In May 2009 at the age of 42, he was the second Bahamian and one of the youngest individuals to deliver the Commencement address at BCU. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

read more »

Lawyer: Court of Appeal ruling sets The Bahamas back to 1950s

December 10, 2014

The Court of Appeal has issued a ruling against the Commonwealth Union of Hotel Services and Allied Workers in its dispute with Hutchison Lucaya Limited, operators of the Grand Lucayan hotel in Grand Bahama. Union lawyer Obie Ferguson said the ruling effectively returns industrial relations in The Bahamas to the 1950s.
In short, the Court of Appeal has set aside Supreme Court Justice Hartman Longley's ruling that the workers are entitled to Christmas bonuses agreed under an industrial agreement, even after that agreement expired.
It is a ruling Ferguson intends to challenge in the Privy Council "as a matter of urgency" and an issue he feels so strongly about that he has urged Prime Minister Perry Christie and Labour Minister Shane Gibson to ensure that the people of The Bahamas help defray the cost of taking the case to the law lords in London.
The court held in a 14-page ruling that there was no express incorporation of the industrial agreement, nor could it be implied given the circumstances.
The court additionally noted that the proper parties to the action ought to have been the employers and the named employees.
Ferguson explained that it is long-standing practice in The Bahamas that once a properly registered industrial agreement expires, and in the absence of a subsequent registered agreement, the terms of the agreement are superimposed on the employment contract for the individual worker.
The ruling by the Court of Appeal - in Ferguson's view - appears to reverse that practice.
In fact, Ferguson said the Court of Appeal ruling will have "a sweeping effect" on 100 cases where the practice has been upheld, even by the Supreme Court and the deputy registrar of the Supreme Court.
"Now we have a complete reversal of those rulings and the workers are left high and dry," he said. "It has national importance and implications."
Ferguson told Guardian Business that "in practical terms the ruling means an employer can refuse to negotiate in good faith... and wait for the time to expire" and then treat the worker however the employer deems fit.
"I have filed an application to the Privy Council seeking to have the matter reviewed as a matter of urgency," Ferguson said.

Background
The hotel and the workers entered an industrial agreement in 2002. That agreement, which was registered, expired in 2006. Under the agreement, workers were entitled to Christmas payments and a ham or turkey of a specified size. After the expiration of the 2002 agreement, the hotel continued to pay the Christmas payments and give the hams and turkeys until 2010. The hotel said these payments were "ex gratia" and were given "in the interest of maintaining good industrial relations".
Beginning in 2011, the hotel varied the payments from what had been agreed in the industrial agreement. No payment was made in 2011: instead, a voucher was given. In 2012 and 2013, payments were given but they were less than agreed to in the industrial agreement. In both years, vouchers were also given.
The union - and a number of workers - sued the hotel, claiming that this was unilateral action by the hotel that constituted a breach of the employment contract.
Supreme Court Justice Hartman Longley agreed, referring in his February 2014 ruling to the continuing practice in The Bahamas that the terms of an expired registered industrial agreement become part of the terms of employment of the individual worker. He ruled that accordingly, the employees were entitled to the Christmas payments and the hams and turkeys, and that not paying them was a breach of the individual employment contract of the workers.
Last week, the Court of Appeal set aside Longley's ruling.

read more »

Christie courts Cuba partnership

December 10, 2014

The Bahamas affirmed its support for a move to end the United States embargo against Cuba, as the heads of state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba adopted the Declaration of Havana on Monday at the close of the fifth CARICOM-Cuba Summit.
Prime Minister Perry Christie asserted that CARICOM and Cuba have always been able to overcome challenges and to develop strategies for mutual advantage.
"In fact, our forty-one years of diplomatic relations have been markedly fruitful as a result of functional cooperation in the areas of health, education, sports, culture, agriculture, disaster management, energy and construction," Christie said, addressing the summit in Havana on Monday.
"We must continue to support each other in international fora, always providing reciprocal support for our initiatives, whether it is in advocacy for the rejection of any blockade against Cuba; support for the reclassification of middle income economies; negotiations for a strong post-2015 agenda that favors small island developing states; support for Cuba's leading role in the CELAC process; and support for candidacies for election or appointment to multilateral bodies," he said.
The prime minister said that The Bahamas and Cuba must continue dialogue on facilitating joint ventures in the tourism industry, particularly in concretizing the concept of multi-destination marketing initiatives and packages.
"This would surely make our region more competitive with other regions in the global tourism market," he said.
Noting that transportation is key to national and economic development and the travel routes of both countries' national carriers, Christie said Bahamasair and Cubana need to be further expanded to facilitate tourism, travel and international trade.
"The Bahamas, like Cuba, is also interested in seeking out new strategic partnerships for investment in renewable energy; partnerships that will facilitate access to new capital, more efficient technologies and new markets," he said.
Christie also welcomed ongoing progress towards the finalization of a CARICOM-Cuba trade agreement, and said that at a bilateral level, negotiations for two Bahamas/Cuba Agreements for Cooperation in Animal Health and Plant Health are now well advanced.
Those issues and more were enshrined in the Declaration of Havana adopted on Monday, wherein CARICOM and Cuba committed to strengthen South-South cooperation as an expression of solidarity and the promotion of bilateral and regional programs as well as triangular cooperation for development.
In the declaration, heads of state - citing the cooperation between Cuba and CARICOM in health, the development of human resources, construction and sports - reiterated a commitment to continue promoting social initiatives as well as the implementation of projects to improve air and sea infrastructure and connectivity, and to broaden economic and trade relations through the implementation of the revised trade and economic cooperation agreement between CARICOM and Cuba.
The declaration also hails progress in the negotiations to expand market access and improve economic cooperation under the trade and economic cooperation agreement. Heads of state noted a desire to conclude negotiations by the end of the second quarter of 2015.

read more »

Wilchcombe: Full recovery for tourism in 2015

December 10, 2014

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe said yesterday that 2015 will be the year of "full recovery" for The Bahamas' tourism sector.
While Wilchcombe acknowledged that The Bahamas faces stiff competition from other Caribbean countries, he noted that hotel room growth and a series of airlift initiatives will stimulate the recovering industry, particularly in New Providence and Grand Bahama.
"We've held our own. We've seen airlift in particular grow by about five percent, although that's not where we want it to be yet. Of course, with all of the inventory coming back on stream [next year], I think we're going to be good. I think next year is going to be the year of full recovery for tourism," he said, citing the rooms coming on stream through Baha Mar and Holiday Inn.
Wilchcombe said that forward bookings for the Rosewood and Grand Hyatt hotels are "well over the $1 million mark" ahead of the spring opening.
"We're on the upward climb right now and we want to get back to number one within the Caribbean and then we'll try to take on the bigger boys in terms of their hotel occupancies and inventories," said Wilchcombe.
He also anticipated a series of announcements related to Grand Bahama to be made in the coming week.
"There will be new cruise lines going to Grand Bahama and an additional 400-500 new jobs. I think Grand Bahama is going to see a great year and New Providence will see an even greater year," said Wilchcombe.
He also expected direct flights from Houston, Texas to Grand Bahama in 2015, following United Airlines direct flights from Houston into Nassau, which went into effect on December 3.

read more »

Recycling company: Massive leap forward in 2015

December 10, 2014

Renew Bahamas is poised to take a "massive leap forward" in 2015 as it prepares for a planned 2015 expansion.
Renew Bahamas President and CEO Gerhard Beukes told Guardian Business yesterday that while the waste energy company's recycling program is "still in its infancy", it would have broad environmental benefits for the country.
"I think from an environmental point of view, it's a massive leap forward for the country in what we are doing here.
"We are recycling some product already. We have finalized our planning for the large materials recycling facility that we plan to launch in 2015, and at that phase we will be recycling the majority of the recyclable waste that New Providence produces," said Beukes.
He confirmed that Renew Bahamas has already sent three waste shipments to China, India and Taiwan, respectively. He said that recently added infrastructure now allows the country to determine the volume of waste coming into the landfill facility for the first time in many years.
According to Beukes, Renew Bahamas maintains a close working relationship with Bahamas Waste and other waste collectors in the country as it moves from test volumes to larger-scale recycling.
"We built new weighbridges at the site and these are now operational and providing us with accurate tonnage that is coming into the site, as of the 24th of November. Once the larger facility is in place we expect the volume to increase substantially," he said.
Following last week's Bahamas Energy Security Forum, Beukes stated that The Bahamas needs to further invest in renewables while acknowledging that fossil fuels still play an important role in the country's energy sector at present.
"Obviously there's been a very large dependence on fossil fuels and one can understand the necessity to explore cheaper routes of exploring fossil fuels. But at the same time, if there are cheaper and greener routes available to relieve the burden on the country, such as alternatives, it should be explored," he said.
Renew Bahamas is financed by Aubaine Capital, a U.K.- based private equity firm which also has an interest in ITI Energy, a British company. ITI Energy manufactures a gasifier system that produces a synthetic gas from garbage that can be used in electricity generation.

read more »

BCH employees to meet, sign with new owners today

December 10, 2014

Employees of the British Colonial Hilton are expected to meet with management today to sign an assignment clause, which will have the effect of transferring their employment from the old owners of the hotel to the new owners, China Construction America (CCA).
It's the latest in the complex and lengthy process following the sale of the landmark hotel in October.
Guardian Business understands that all jobs have been retained and no redundancies are anticipated. The expectation is that nothing will change for the hotel's employees but the signature on their paycheck, according to sources close to the matter.
Hotel industry observers note that it is not always the case that ownership changes are accomplished with no job losses.
Guardian Business spoke with BCH Chairman Gerhard Beukes about the ongoing negotiations.
"We are very pleased with where we are now," Beukes said, declining to say more at this time.
"We are certainly very pleased that a pathway has been provided for all the employees to form a part of the future of this historic property," he added.
CCA purchased the British Colonial Hilton after 20 months of negotiations. While the sale price was undisclosed, it appears the hotel, the adjacent six acres of property and the two office buildings all sold for around $60 million. The closing is expected to take months still.
While the hotel's ownership has changed, the British Colonial will continue to be managed by Hilton.
CCA plans to create a luxury hotel and condominium units on the vacant adjacent land, along with a new multi-story garage building with a roof top garden and banquet rooms, high-end retail shopping, restaurants, a gymnasium, movie theater, nightclub, marina and boardwalk along the entire waterfront."

read more »

Telecoms CEO welcomes infrastructure sharing

December 10, 2014

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority's (URCA) proposed infrastructure sharing regulation is a vital step in providing a more "level playing field" for cellular providers, according to a telecoms CEO.
Speaking with Guardian Business yesterday, IP Solutions International (IPSI) CEO Edison Sumner said he supports URCA's proposed regulations aimed at reducing the entry barrier cost for new competitors in the electronics communications sector (ECS).
URCA released its proposed regulations earlier this week, which call for operators to share their telecoms facilities with competitors where possible as the country prepares for mobile competition.
"I think it's a fantastic idea if it is executed properly. Being able to enter into an agreement to do network sharing with the incumbents will save a lot of capital spending and reduce the amount of equipment and other infrastructure on the island by tapping into the resources that exist already.
"This something that we certainly encourage. This does not negate the fact that there will still be operators who have to put equipment in place to build up their own network, but what it does is give other operators an opportunity to compete on a more level playing field," he said.
URCA released a statement yesterday outlining the benefits of facility sharing, which included reducing the public and environmental impact of erecting new towers along with substantial cost reductions. More importantly, URCA argued that the proposed regulation would result in a much faster rollout of cellular services by future operators.
"URCA is conscious that with the imminent introduction of mobile competition, there will be an increased need for the construction of facilities by new operators.
"In an effort to reduce the need to duplicate all existing facilities, thereby reducing the capital investment required to enter the market, URCA proposes to introduce regulations which will require operators, where possible, to share their facilities," reads the URCA statement.
While the government will receive bids for a second cellular license next year, Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) CEO Leon Williams earlier stated that the government had already expressed its intention to award a third mobile license in 2016.
Sumner did not expect BTC to resist the proposed regulations, stating that facility sharing would help generate more revenue for the provider.
"This will help the incumbent operators to improve their level of service and also the efficiencies that they bring to the consumer while also bringing revenue to those companies sharing facilities," said Sumner.

read more »

Mitigate climate change now, local experts say

December 10, 2014

The Bahamas is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, and even as the Office of the Prime Minister ramps up work on a national development plan, and a Bahamian delegation attends the 20th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru, local experts say mitigation must be incorporated now.
The UNFCCC conference opened on 1 December and wraps up this Friday: it brings together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC - the parent treaty of the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol - in an attempt to hammer out the new universal treaty, which would enter force by 2020.
Guardian Business understands that Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission Director Philip Weech and a team are in Peru for the conference.
Meanwhile, Dr. Adelle Thomas of the Public Education and Outreach Committee of the National Climate Change Committee explained that, due to their low elevation and small size, Bahamian islands are vulnerable to the many impacts of climate change including sea level rise, flooding, more intense storms and hurricanes and higher average temperatures.
"These environmental changes can affect all aspects of life in The Bahamas including loss of land, damage to infrastructure, changes in disease patterns, loss of biodiversity and even changes to our tourism, agriculture and fisheries industries," Dr. Thomas said.
"In order to limit these potentially catastrophic impacts, The Bahamas must focus on adaptation, ways to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on the country."
Environmental scientist Dr. Rhianna Neely added that - as The Bahamas contemplates a national development plan - now is the time to work to mitigate the effects of climate change. Dr. Neely cited an international call issued by the Philippines for all nations to do what they can to mitigate the effects of climate change, not only those developed countries who have historically been the source of greenhouse emissions.
"Our National Development Plan must also include mitigation as we plan," she said.
"The fact that we are solely dependent on external factors for income (is added incentive)."
Dr. Neely pointed out as an example that when it comes to tourism and energy - two of the areas with the most impact on The Bahamas and Bahamians - the cost of those things will be determined by environmental factors as well.
"A lot of what we need to survive doesn't come from the country," she said.
"Climate change affects everybody, and there is more that Bahamians can know about climate change. There is much more that we can know."

read more »

Renewed call for fiscal reform bill

December 10, 2014

Coalition for Responsible Taxation (CRT) co-chair Gowon Bowe expressed frustration over the lack of tangible progress in providing wide fiscal reform as the country prepares to implement a value-added tax (VAT).
Bowe told Guardian Business that Bahamians needed to take a more active role in demanding fiscal reform from the government leading into 2015.
"The tangible movement on fiscal responsible as well as freedom of information has been slow to get out of the gate. The movement still has to be very strong, but it has to come from all quarters. It has to come where persons who made an outcry over the VAT implementation must continue the mantra to ask for fiscal responsibility.
"As opposed to simply doing it on the street corners or in conversation, we must be making a chorus line that goes to the government and says that while we've accepted tax reform, it must be accompanied by a reform of how you spend our money," said Bowe.
The CRT has largely broadened its focus from VAT-exclusive concerns to promoting wider fiscal responsibility through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA).
Bowe reiterated that the country required legislation that would hold the government more accountable for its spending while providing updated information services.
Overall, Bowe said that the process was necessary due to the poor quality of information and data systems in the country, stating the auditor general was "two years in arrears in terms of the information he's auditing" due to antiquated systems.
However, Bowe recognized some of the initiatives that the government had taken in streamline its purchasing process, listing the request for proposals for the implementation of an integrated electronic procurement program as a step in the right direction for reducing government expenditure.
"We still need a lot more from the government. We're doing things backwards where we are determining what it is that we need to spend and then trying to find revenue to fund it, when we should be looking the other way around and looking at what revenue we have available," he said.

read more »