Nassau Guardian Stories
January 03, 2014
Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez said yesterday the Office of the Attorney General is drafting several bills for Cabinet to consider that would toughen laws on crime, including a possible three strikes law and stricter anti-gang legislation...
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January 03, 2014
Although hundreds of people were left homeless after a fire swept through an Abaco shantytown late Tuesday, no one came forward to seek shelter from the authorities up to yesterday afternoon, Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin said.
However, of the nearly 250 residents affected by the fire, which destroyed at least 90 structures at Pigeon Pea, more than 200 people have received food and water, Griffin said.
She told The Nassau Guardian that many of those residents, who are believed to be undocumented migrants, fear repercussions.
"They need it, but they are probably not going to come," she said. "We are hoping that they will come as the word gets around because the shelter is available to them."
Assistant Commissioner of Police Emrick Seymour said a team of investigators was at the site yesterday morning trying to determine the cause of the fire.
He said investigators located the area where the fire started and were narrowing down the source.
A woman and a child were killed in that blaze, authorities said.
The fire, which raged over six hours, began around 9:30 p.m., according to Seymour.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, Griffin and other officials traveled to Abaco on Wednesday to conduct an initial assessment.
Davis pledged to assist those affected and said the government will also ensure residents "help themselves" by preventing them from rebuilding unsafe structures with improper electrical set ups.
He said a Ministry of Works official has been appointed to monitor the shantytowns on the island to assist in preventing any further structures from being built contrary to proper regulations.
Seymour said police were assisting in that regard and had already begun the process of clearing the area.
"Next, we will go about identifying the owner of that property to make sure that the owner plays a role too," he said.
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January 03, 2014
Work on the Mayaguana airport has come to a halt due to inclement weather and will not be completed until at least the end of February, according to MICAL MP V. Alfred Gray.
The airport, which was being paved in late November, was expected to be completed last month.
"Nothing is happening at the airport at the moment, and for the last three or four weeks nothing has happened," Gray told The Nassau Guardian.
"They (contractors) claim the weather conditions prevented progress. I reluctantly accept that because I really believe better could be done.
"I was told that they would start again in the new year, but I am waiting for the start. I am really very disappointed with the speed with which that airport redevelopment has taken place.
"I want to record my displeasure and I am hoping that the developers will get on with it."
Gray said while developers have claimed weather conditions prevented construction, people work on airports around the world in good or bad weather.
He said the developers simply need to "do what they have to do".
I-Group's Mayaguana Management Company Project Manager Tim Haffner, who was contacted for comment, said, "It was really bad. It just rained all the time and you just can't pave in those conditions".
He said work will pick back up on Monday.
"We'll be ready to fire back up and we will hit it hard," he said.
Work on the airport began not long after the mother, sister and brother-in-law of former Cabinet Minister Sidney Collie were killed when a LeAir plane crashed into their truck on the runway at that airport in April.
Police said they were inside one of two trucks that were using their high beams to guide the nine-seater plane onto the runway, a long-standing practice at the airport at night.
The two trucks were stationed on each side of the runway to light the plane's path as the airport had no lighting.
The lights were not functioning because of the I-Group's ongoing work, Gray previously said.
Under the I-Group agreement, the developers are responsible for the refurbishment of the airport and runway.
The government purchased emergency lights after a tendering process, and has said it will purchase permanent lights.
Work on the airport was delayed in October after an equipment malfunction, Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin said.
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January 03, 2014
Driving down the fear of crime and reducing violence in the country were major initiatives of Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade's policing plans in 2012 and 2013.
In the 2013 plan, Greenslade said reoffending criminals out on bail was a major challenge for the country.
"Our citizens continue to tell us of their concerns and fears because of the commission of crimes," the report said.
"Therefore, we will spare no effort in launching multifaceted initiatives which together will positively reduce the level of offending in our communities and give assurances of safety to our citizens."
The country ended 2013 with the murder count standing at 120, up from the 111 recorded in 2012 and down from the 127 recorded in 2011.
No crime statistics have been provided since July, but authorities have continued to say that crime overall is down.
The fear of crime is difficult to gauge, but authorities have also said repeatedly that this fear is too high as is the level of violent crimes in The Bahamas.
Many citizens continue to speak of that fear.
Ana Lockhart, who was robbed outside a Bank of The Bahamas ATM in December, said she was left traumatized by the ordeal.
Lockhart, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said she is living in fear, afraid to drive to the food store, the ATM, and even to work.
"I'm living in fear," she said.
"I've had to pray. I've spoken to people about it and they've told me that I need to go for counseling.
"I had an incident last week where I had to go out and I went to a flower store to get some flowers for my grandmother's grave.
"And the flower store door, once it closes it locks. So a patron was coming in and she came at me really quickly to catch the door and I almost had a coronary in there.
"When I got to my car I just broke down crying because I was like 'God, I cannot live like this. I cannot live in fear'."
Tina Ferguson said her home was broken into five times within two months in 2012.
Ferguson, whose name was also changed, said she went on vacation with her two children in July 2012 and left her neighbor to watch her home.
She said her neighbor thwarted two separate house break-ins that month.
Ferguson said when she came back home in August she met all of her and her children's belongings in black plastic bags in the front room.
She said it looked like the thieves broke into her home again, but had to flee.
In August 2012, she said her home was broken into again.
"The last time they took everything," she said. "They took my son's games, my daughter's computer, even my bed."
After that, she said, she could not sleep in her home anymore and moved out.
Recently, Prime Minister Perry Christie spoke of his concerns about widespread crime fears and the decision by some people to adjust their lifestyles as a result.
On Monday, Christie unveiled initiatives intended to escalate the crime fight.
They come ahead of Greenslade's 2014 policing plan, which is mandatory under law.
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January 03, 2014
A man who pleaded guilty to having an illegal gun was yesterday resentenced to 14 months in prison.
Jason Dumervert, 20, was sentenced to the mandatory minimum of four years when he entered his guilty plea in November 2012.
Senior Justice Jon Isaacs sent the case back to Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt for resentencing in December 2013 after he ruled that the mandatory minimum was unwarranted in that particular case.
Ferguson-Pratt said she did not feel that four years was an appropriate sentence but she had to comply with the statute.
Dumervert, who has already spent a little over 13 months in custody, will be freed on January 14, Ferguson-Pratt said.
The magistrate praised Dumervert for his honesty by saying that he owned the gun. She noted that the prosecution would have been hard-pressed to prove possession based on where the gun was found.
Ferguson-Pratt said that Dumervert, who was charged along with three others, had shown himself to be a man "because a man takes responsibility for his actions".
She said the country had to show a zero tolerance for firearms, which were "sullying the reputation of The Bahamas as a Christian nation".
Dumervert was represented by Glendon Rolle.
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January 03, 2014
The Bahamas recorded 51 traffic fatalities in 2013, according to Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin.
"We have a number of new roads and corridors in New Providence which have created an unfamiliar, and sometimes even disorientating, environment for road users," Hanna-Martin said in a statement.
"This creates a heightened imperative that we diligently navigate our streets, being cognizant of our own safety and the safety of every single other road user."
Police said there were 44 traffic fatalities in 2012 and 44 in 2011.
On Wednesday, two people were killed in separate traffic accidents.
Police said a male pedestrian was struck and killed on Prince Charles Drive opposite the Elizabeth Estates Police Station shortly before 8 a.m. The man's identity was not released.
Police also said that shortly after 7 p.m, Ricardo Edward Storr, 53, a resident of Cumberbatch Alley, off Wulff Road, was killed when the Nissan car he was in collided with a Mercedes Benz, which was being driven by a woman.
The accident happened near the Blake Road roundabout.
Storr's vehicle ended up in nearby bushes. Two female passengers who were in that car were injured and taken to hospital, police said.
Police said the driver of the Mercedes had minor injuries.
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January 03, 2014
Former Chairman of the National Advisory Council on Crime Bishop Simeon Hall said the criminals are "laughing" at the government's recent crime strategies announced by Prime Minister Perry Christie on Monday.
"I'm not sure that those [initiatives] did very much to send fear or to make a would-be criminal tremble," he told The Nassau Guardian during an interview at New Covenant Baptist Church yesterday.
"...Obviously, the criminals scoffed at Mr. Christie's 20-point plan because within hours they just went ahead and did what they wanted to do."
Hall was referring to the four murders that took place in the days after Christie revealed the plan to "escalate" the war on crime.
Another murder occurred on Taylor Street last night -- the third for 2014.
Many of the ideas are already in place or are plans the government previously promised to implement.
Christie said police will target prolific offenders, especially those on bail, and establish a gang unit.
He said the Ministry of Works has been given instructions to "work around the clock" to complete the refurbishment of additional criminal courts so that 10 facilities will be able to operate simultaneously.
The government will also expand New Providence's CCTV coverage; expand the use of reserve officers; accelerate the training of police recruits; expand the use of plainclothes officers and adopt a "strike force" strategy.
Other plans include the introduction of legislation aimed at career criminals with stiffer penalties for gun crimes and trafficking, witness intimidation and other serious crimes.
The government is also considering a gun amnesty and a special court for firearm cases.
But Hall said the country needs to take a more "serious national approach to this nightmare".
He said despite pronouncements of swift justice, repeat offenders are not afraid to go to jail.
Hall said the fact that many of the more than 100 murders committed in 2013 were allegedly committed by people already known to police clearly shows that the judiciary is nearing the edge of irrelevance.
"It is clear that some [people] in our society are impervious to whatever the laws of the land state," Hall said.
"They are indifferent to the best efforts of the church and the work of other civic groups. Such [people] do not respond to the best of civil society and must be put away for a lifetime."
Hall said the fear index is at its highest.
He called for all political parties to meet in a national conclave to develop a 10- to 15-year plan.
Hall said the fight must include more than just politicians. He said the Bahamian people must become more involved by providing police with information and turning in their criminal relatives.
The murder count stood at 120 at the end of 2013.
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January 03, 2014
Police had four men in custody yesterday in connection with a drive-by shooting at a Fox Hill park that left four people dead, Assistant Superintendent B. K. Bonamy Jr. said.
Bonamy confirmed that most of the 60 people who were taken into custody not long after the shooting last Friday have been released.
He said it was too early to say if the men will be charged in connection with the shootings, which Prime Minister Perry Christie called a "heinous" act.
Bonamy said police do not yet have a motive and are exploring several leads.
"We are still doing some door-to-door inquiries" he said.
"We are still speaking to some members of the families of the victims to ascertain what really happened."
He added: "We are investigating if it's a drug war, retaliation or if someone was looking for a person who was not there."
Just after 6 p.m. on Friday, occupants of a dark gray Honda drove to the Fox Hill roundabout and shot into a crowd, police said.
The group was gathered near the Fox Hill Original Congos Junkanoo shack waiting for the results from the Boxing Day parade for the B group category.
Community leaders and residents identified the victims as Shequille Demeritte, 19; Eric Morrison, 49; Claudzeno Davis, 37, and Sheniqua Sands, 30.
Demeritte, who was playing basketball at the time of the shooting, was shot in the head, according to eyewitnesses.
The Nassau Guardian understands that he died while being transported to hospital.
The shooting shocked residents of the close-knit community in eastern New Providence and many others across the country, and prompted Christie to renew his pledge to "beat back" the crime scourge.
Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage said he was outraged and saddened by the horrific tragedy.
Nottage has said no stone would be left unturned in locating the people responsible for the "atrocious act".
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January 03, 2014
Dr. Tennyson Joseph, of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, recently wrote that it would make a very interesting study to discover why the same groups who were opposed to independence, as pro-British anti-nationalists, are today masquerading as the most die-hard small-island nationalists, opposed to integration.
He then poses two questions. These are: Could it be that the same factors which explained their earlier anti-nationalism also account for their present day anti-regionalism? Could it be that those groups are so comfortable in their continued existence as economic masters within small island fiefdoms that they dare not risk the shift of political power to a more self-determining regional institution over which they would have reduced influence?
This is a very perceptive analysis by Joseph, and Caribbean history provides a context for his questions. Our history shows how nearly every effort to advance the welfare of the Caribbean populace has been met with resistance by a particular group, with its ancestry and ideology based on plantation politics. And this is the reason, as I have argued in another article, that plantation politics remains the operating social and political system in the Caribbean today, although its features have changed.
George Beckford, an eminent Caribbean economist, states that plantation society represents an institutional structure coterminous with the state, the objective being to make the most money for the plantation owners, not to enhance the welfare of the workers. Patterns of land and labor use are enforced to keep workers at the poverty level, and education, health and social services are minimal. Dependency is upheld and this discourages progressive values, and offers few incentives and rewards. The question is then posed as to whether plantation society reflects an image of the way economic interests are organized in Caribbean society today.
Beckford further notes that, within the plantation community, relationships reflect the authority structure of the plantation, and in every aspect of life, a strong authoritarian tradition can be observed. Anyone with power over others exercises it in an exploitative and authoritarian manner, and this deprives people of their dignity, security, and self-respect. It also saps motivation so necessary for development.
This view of plantation society mirrors its politics, since the structure of any society or system is intertwined with and determined by its politics. The plantation, the society, and its institutions were one. Plantation owners owned the politics and the economy. They were the ones with the wealth, and this shaped governance, since property was the qualification for membership of the political class and the institutions that crafted political policies. Race, class, and color were also interconnected.
C.L.R. James states with reference to St. Domingue, where the owners were concerned, that the big whites were opposed to the French colonial state since it restricted their opportunities to make profits, while the small whites opposed the big whites who lorded over them, and to whom they owed debts. Both these groups opposed the mulattoes who had inherited land from their white parents, and were therefore wealthy. Small whites hated the mulattoes, because "whiteness" alone conveyed status, but the existence of wealthy mulattoes contradicted this position. Also, the mulattoes despised the free black population, and both these groups despised the slaves who returned the hostility.
This was the structure of plantation society and politics, and in significant aspects, it remains so in today's Caribbean. This is why the UWI political scientist posed the questions he did. Generations of the descendants of these very groups over time became the economic and political power structures of Caribbean society. Those with wealth funded both parties in each country so they would continue to dominate the plantation.
Although elements of the economy have changed somewhat, the basic structure and operations of Caribbean society remain in the plantation mode. Privileged groups opposed independence because they felt their power and influence would wither away, and now they oppose integration sentiments for the same purpose. Their descendants opposed the abolition of slavery, and any semblance of a wider democracy at various points in Caribbean history. They want to exist on their separate plantations, despite the contradictions around them.
These contradictions include faltering economies, less influence in the wider world, persistent poverty, and stubborn underdevelopment. Their representatives in the political corridors increase taxes on the lower socio-economic groups, periodically offer the descendants of slaves mild incentives to manage their mood, and stage periodic political contests to give the false impression that one or the other political outfit is working in their interest.
According to one study, the economy of one Caribbean country is owned by 21 families. Certain social programs in health and education are now not so widely available as before in many others, validating what Beckford said about these goods being minimally provided, based on the plantation way of doing things, while many big commercial enterprises enjoy increased profits.
Politics has become a game, with the players on each side having their wealthy patrons to ensure their vision of politics holds. Whichever political outfit wins, their patrons win as well. These patrons, and many politicians across the plantation region secure shares in the various investments made, often have reasonable tax rates, and others are co-opted in the ranks of the plantation owners. Those descendants of the plantation not blessed with high color, continue to exist at the bottom of the economic and political structure, and are courted every election, since their support is needed to keep the plantation operatives functional.
Political institutions therefore legalize the inherited functions of the plantation, with legislation to keep others in their designated place in the structure. Their aim is to also shape a conforming, passive personality. And, as Beckford says, anyone with power over others exercises it in a most authoritarian manner. In politics it is seen where the governing party, when disturbed by critiques of its policies, often threatens its opponents. The legal system is dangled about to instil fear in others about court action. Manipulation of constituencies is done to give a particular party an electoral advantage, and, in one recent case, there is a charge of treason against a high parliamentary official. So authoritarianism is alive and well.
Even in employment in the public or other sectors, managerial authoritarianism is practiced. Many employees face fear of dismissal, demotion, or having their character commented on, so that the perpetrators can gain an advantage. Hypertension is common in some organizations, as well as stress issues. There is constant unease, and anxiety, and an atmosphere of punishment constantly prevails. Just like on the plantation. In this situation productivity and motivation suffer.
There needs to be a reformation in the way we conduct Caribbean politics. And the structure, and policies of Caribbean organizations, and the thinking that underpins them need to be transformed. Authoritarian practices also should be dispensed with. Respect for each other needs to be encouraged, and Caribbean institutions need to aim at growth and development for their owners, and for those who collaborate to run and sustain them. These institutions, and the society, will then be able to make the fundamental transition from the plantation mode to an egalitarian, more civilized way of being, and conducting its affairs. The purpose of politics will then be really about serving the people, and not about politicians being in it for what they can get.
o Oliver Mills is a former lecturer in education at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. He holds an M.Ed degree from Dalhousie University in Canada, an MA from the University of London and a post-graduate diploma in HRM and training, University of Leicester. He is a past permanent secretary in education with the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Published with the permission of caribbeannewsnow.com.
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January 03, 2014
A VAT (value-added tax) is a form of taxation that is levied on the "value added" to goods and services as they pass through each stage of the production process. Typically businesses collect the VAT on behalf of the government and pass the cost on to consumers. Based on historical evidence and economic research, it is clear that the implementation of VAT has many adverse consequences in addition to its benefits for governments.
"It is thought that a reform to a VAT system in The Bahamas could result in more than $100 million in extra revenue for the government - with no increases in net tax rates," Ryan Pinder, member of Parliament for Elizabeth, was quoted as saying. Pinder also noted that the International Monetary Fund, Moody's and Standard & Poor's, the Wall Street credit rating agencies, have all urged The Bahamas to implement a VAT.
Globally, over 140 countries employ VAT. Closer to home, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and others currently use VAT.
VAT expands the cost of government. Additionally, countries with VAT have a much heavier total tax burden than those without VAT. Before the creation of VAT, the burden of taxation in Europe was not that much larger than it was in the United States. However, since the late 1960s when countries in Europe began to adopt VAT, Europe's overall tax burden has increased by about 50 percent. The Bahamas government already had a tax system in place (customs duty) and should not be seeking to add an additional form of taxation. It requires setting up an entirely new agency and the cost can be prohibitive as in the case of Barbados, whose government had to borrow money just to set up the VAT system. If the government needs additional revenue, it can increase the rate of taxation already in force with no additional labor or capital being expended. Ultimately, the cost of the additional taxes will be passed on to Bahamians as local and foreign companies operating in The Bahamas seek additional revenue to offset this additional expense. The impact VAT would have on foreign direct investments is not known.
The Tax Policy division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published a 1986 study that examined tax and spending growth between 1965 and 1982. The study found that government spending grew 45 percent faster in VAT nations than in non-VAT countries and that, similarly, the tax burden grew nearly 34 percent faster in VAT countries. It should be noted that the United States has not implemented VAT.
A study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas noted: "Growth in government stunts general economic growth. Increases in government spending or taxes lead to persistent decreases in the rate of job growth."
VAT expands the size of the government. Also it takes resources out of the productive sector of the economy and transfers them to the government. VAT can slow economic growth and undermine job creation.
According to a 1988 study by Stotler Economics, a Chicago-based economic research firm, a VAT of only three percent would, by just the fifth year, reduce the typical family's income by $1,000 and destroy 2.1 million jobs (in the United States). The relatively weak performance of many European economies can be attributed, at least in part, to VAT.
No nation has ever implemented a VAT and eliminated other forms of taxation. VAT always has been imposed in addition to existing taxes. Additionally, the administrative cost of VAT is always placed on the shoulders of the people through a higher cost of living.
VAT would generate additional revenue for the government, but at what cost and where will this extra money come from? I fail to see how new taxes would attract more foreign investors or ultimately result in a lower cost of living now or in the future. I believe it goes without question that funds available in the Bahamas treasury are limited and the government needs additional revenue immediately. As the cost of living rises, households and local companies have had to make adjustments and learn to operate "within their means". Governments should not be exceptions.
There are many workable solutions to the national debt problem. I would like to suggest one. According to Byran Woodside, former minister of state for lands and local government, The Bahamas government owns 2,518,000 acres of Crown land - i.e., 73 percent of the land mass of The Bahamas. This consists of agricultural, commercial, residential, as well as beachfront properties. What is the purpose of this massive landholding while the public treasury remains bare and the government continues to borrow money every year, pushing the nation closer to defaulting on its obligations?
At a conservative average rate of $20,000 per acre, this 2,518,000 acres of Crown land is worth $50.3 billion. The Bahamas government is not broke. Indeed the Bahamas government is very wealthy. My suggestion is that the government sells 20 percent of its landholding (maintaining a 53 percent stake), collecting approximately $10 billion. With these funds the government can pay off all its current debt, reduce the tax burden on Bahamians and maintain a cash reserve of $5 billion in local banks.
Of course, this is not as simple as it sounds and would not happen overnight. But with time and careful planning it can be done. It would also dispel the notion that our burdening debt problem is insurmountable as we have been led to believe.
- Cornelius McKinney
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January 03, 2014
The Ghost of Christmas Present opened his robe to reveal two haggard, ashen, corpse-like children to Ebenezer Scrooge. And he said, "Look upon these".
Scrooge, stupefied with horror, asked, "What are these?"
The Ghost of Christmas Present replied, "They are your children! They are the children of all who walk the earth unseen! Their names are Ignorance and Want! Beware of them! For upon their brow is written the word 'doom'! They spell the downfall of you and all who deny their existence!"
I was moved by the aforementioned exchange after watching "A Christmas Carol" recently. "Ignorance and Want" are our children, of whose existence we are denying; that's why we are in the doomful position today in our nation - in my view. As we continue to walk the earth unseen, our downfall draws nearer.
The Bahamas has been a factory for "Ignorance and Want" for a few decades now, and the harvest is beginning to manifest itself. Our collapse is imminent if we do not turn things around quickly.
Let us all, therefore, be seen in 2014 and beyond doing meaningful and productive things for our children and country. It's the only way that we could transform "Ignorance and Want" into "Wisdom and Means". Our children will honor and cherish us for it.
- Dennis Dames
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January 03, 2014
The governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is not enjoying the best of times. The crime problem the PLP said it had the answers to in the 2012 election campaign remains. Unemployment is high. A massive tax increase looms.
For the official opposition Free National Movement (FNM), the evidence is there for it to make an overwhelming case that the PLP is failing. It should also be able to assert itself as a viable alternative. The political momentum should be on the opposition's side.
But, the FNM is floundering. The party has a leadership issue. Dr. Hubert Minnis, thus far, has not been able to inspire his troops or the country. He tries to take the fight to the PLP and Prime Minister Perry Christie but often seems alone - except for the support of Carl Bethel - in this effort. Minnis resembles a general on a hilltop who turns and looks and sees no army behind him.
The deputy leader of the party, Loretta Butler-Turner, wants to be leader and doesn't really hide it. She pushes in front of Minnis every chance she gets. Her profile, since the 2012 general election, has risen significantly. While Minnis struggles to lead people who do not really want to follow him, people in the party are wondering what the FNM would be like with her, or another, at the helm.
For as much as people may want to be rid of the PLP, how can Bahamians choose the FNM if its members are not even sure they want their leader?
The people accurately sense division in the opposition. And it is unlikely they will flock to the FNM in its current uninspired state. FNMs need to find the leader they can get behind. They need to find the person who can reinvigorate the party.
Hubert Ingraham was that man for the FNM for so many years. He led the party to government three times. However, he has retired now and the party tried to move forward with Minnis. That is not working and a decision has to be made soon on what will be its new direction forward - if, of course, it wants to win the next general election.
The FNM needs a leadership race and should use 2014 for this purpose. Another lethargic year in opposition only helps the PLP. A good fight might wake up the FNM. It might bring forward the one who can rally the troops.
So, instead of always pointing out in press releases what the PLP needs to do, the FNM needs to spend some time this year getting its own house in order. It can be so much better than it is now.
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January 02, 2014
The Bahamas' Men's National Beach Soccer Squad, which reached the doorstep of qualifying for the prestigious FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, was named as The Nassau Guardian's Team of the Year for 2013, with 26 points.
With the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Championships being held here in The Bahamas, the upstart squad took full advantage of home cooking as they rode the momentum of the fans to a 2-1 record during the round-robin section of the tournament, barely missing out on a semi-final spot.
During the five-day tournament, The Bahamas defeated Puerto Rico and Guatemala, but lost emphatically to the eventual gold medalists, the United States of America. Only the pool winners and the best second place team advanced to the semis. The Bahamas was among the best second place teams, but lost the tiebreaker to the eventual silver medalists, El Salvador. Only the top two teams qualified for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup which was held September 18-28, 2013, in Papeete, Tahiti.
The Bahamas finished sixth in the CONCACAF Championships, but it was the best ever showing for a Bahamian team in beach soccer. Also, with the new national beach soccer facility at the foot of the Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge, there are expected to be many more opportunities for regional prominence in the future.
Professional field soccer player Lesley St. Fleur led The Bahamas in scoring with four goals during the CONCACAF Championships. Nesley Jean added three goals, and two other players contributed two apiece. The squad is hoping for a breakthrough in the future.
The men's 4x100-meter (m) relay team, which destroyed the national record this year, finished second in voting for The Nassau Guardian's Team of the Year for 2013, with 23 points. The quartet of Adrian Griffith, Jamial Rolle, Trevorvano Mackey and Shavez Hart, in that order, ran a blazing 38.92 seconds in the heats of the event at the 24th Senior Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Track and Field Championships, to qualify for the final with the fastest time and erase a 13-year-old national record of 38.98 seconds. That same quartet came back in the final to lower the national record to 38.77 seconds and win the gold medal.
At that same meet in Morelia, Mexico, Hart became the second fastest Bahamian ever as he ran a personal best time of 10.16 seconds in the heats of the men's 100m to qualify at the 'B' standard for the world championships.
At those Moscow World Championships, Mackey was forced to sit out, but the team of Griffith, Rolle and Hart, to go along with newcomer Warren Fraser, bonded together and pulled off The Bahamas' best performance in the event, ever. The quartet ran a national record time of 38.70 seconds to finish sixth in their heat, and 14th overall. It was the third time in two months that the national record was broken in the event after not being touched for 13 years.
All of the sprinters, with the exception of Rolle who didn't run much of the shorter sprint last year, ran under 10.30 seconds in the open century in 2013.
The Scottsdale Vixens which won a ninth consecutive New Providence Volleyball Association (NPVA) women's title this year, finished third in voting for The Nassau Guardian's Team of the Year for 2013, with 20 points, The Bahamas under-20 girls 4x100m relay team from the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships, finished fourth with 19 points, and The Bahamas' under-15 girls volleyball squad, which won the bronze medal at the Caribbean Volleyball Championships (CVC), rounded out the top five in the voting process, with 17 points.
The Bahamas under-20 girls 4x100m sprint team from CARIFTA, inclusive of Devynne Charlton, Shaunae Miller, Carmiesha Cox and Keianna Albury, ran 44.77 seconds for the gold medal, almost a full second ahead of second place finisher Barbados, and the under-15 girls volleyball squad shocked everyone at the CVC Youth Championships with their bronze medal performance.Team of the Year scores1st - Men's Beach Soccer Squad (Beach Soccer) - 26 points
2nd - Men's 4x100m (Athletics) - 23 points
3rd - Scottsdale Vixens (Volleyball) - 20 points
4th - U-20 Girls 4x100m (CARIFTA Track) - 19 points
5th - U-15 Girls CVC Team (Volleyball) - 17 points
6th - U-16 Boys FIBA Americas (Basketball) - 15 points
7th - U-17 Boys 4x400m (CARIFTA Track) - 10 points
7th - CARIFTA Swimming Team (Swimming) - 10 points
9th - Creter's Bulldogs (Softball) - 6 points
9th - MailBoat Cybots (Basketball) - 6 points
Others receiving votes: Men's 4x400m (Athletics); CAC Team (Bodybuilding & Fitness); Sigma Brackettes (Softball); Bommer G. Operators (Women's Basketball), Scotiabank Defenders (Volleyball) and Women's 4x400m (Athletics).
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January 02, 2014
Local organizers for the inaugural International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Relay Championships are trying to keep within the five million dollars budget which is set for the games. However, they know that they could surpass that amount in a 'blink of an eye'.
It was revealed to Guardian Sports, by a source, that the senior executive management team of the Local Organizing Committee of the World Relays (LOC), now projects that approximately $12 million could be spent on the hosting the event, set for May 24-25, 2014, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. LOC members admitted that they are still in the planning phase of the event, and that the remaining two phases of mobilization and execution, will take effect shortly.
A number of unforeseen projects and items have already surfaced, this according to appointed executive chairman in the LOC Keith Parker. Topping the list was the resurfacing of the track inside the national stadium, and the warm-up track at the old Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium. Two games villages have been identified, as well as living arrangements for IAAF representatives. Knowing that safety is a major priority, high level security for athletes, IAAF representatives, and persons attending the event will be set up.
"Everything will sort of kick into high gear in short order," said Lionel Haven, managing director of IAAF World Relays. "The two hotels for athletes are the Paradise Island Harbour Resort and SuperClubs Breezes. Security is a major item on our list. We are in discussions with the Minister of National Security and high ranking officials in the Royal Bahamas Police Force. Security is the next step."
Even though they are still in the planning phase, Parker said the LOC has received favorable reports from the IAAF representatives. More IAAF officials are expected to return sometime this month to inspect the facilities again. The LOC is expecting more countries to confirm attendance, now that the event is just four months away. To date, 47 countries have registered, which means more than 1,100 athletes and coaches are expected to be here for the world relays.
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January 02, 2014
Everybody can be replaced. Life goes on despite the circumstances. Sometimes though, such a void is left that the recovery period is quite lengthy. This is the case with the late, great sports icon, Freddie Higgs. Higgs was 'Mr. Golf' in The Bahamas.
Although he played the game and was in fact one of the pioneers of the movement which saw persons of color break the barrier at local hotel courses, his forte was more in golf administration. He had more to do with the transformation of the local golfing program to respectability in the Caribbean region and the Americas, than anybody else, I submit.
Since his demise 18 years ago, golf in the country has not been the same. The successful achievements diminished and in general the national golf program is not respected anywhere near the level of when Higgs was the pivotal figure in driving the sport forward. Now, there is a chance for a revolution of sorts in the sport. Someone who knew Higgs very well and appreciated all that he did for golf, is now in the chair at the helm of the Bahamas Golf Federation (BGF).
I refer to Craig Flowers. It is because of the Higgs golfing background that Flowers' job is so challenging. I told him recently that if golf in the country remains the same under his leadership, his tenure would be considered a failure. There is much to be done in heightening the profile of the national program and recapturing the glory days of the sport.
The Freddie Higgs' act has been a hard one to follow in golf. I have often mentioned the phenomenal group of milestone golfers called the Young Lions. Carlton Harris, another of that "old school" golf fraternity, reminded me the other day that it was Freddie Higgs who was responsible for the 'Young Lions' term.
Higgs knew what ferocious competitors the cadre of young golfers of the day would be. A lot of attention was paid to the development program, under Higgs' leadership. There were several levels of golfers that were better than the best of what we have today. The core group consistently brought in low scores in the 70s and from time to time, turned in sub-70 rounds. They could be counted on for that level of production. This was during the Freddie Higgs' era of golf administration. There was so much more to Higgs.
He had a firm approach that rankled some, but his style motivated all who came in contact with him. I traveled and observed Higgs in action, managing the affairs of the delegation but finding a way also to assist the team captain in encouragement of the players. With Higgs around, you wanted to do your very best.
Higgs was wonderful for the sporting mix, golf, in particular, of the country. He set the administrative standard for golf that Flowers has to try to attain. Indeed, as this new Bahamas Golf Federation administration gets settled in, we remember Freddie Higgs, warmly and with reverence. May his soul continue to rest in peace!
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com)
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January 02, 2014
Bank of The Bahamas recorded a $1.92 million total comprehensive loss in the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, as its managing director said he sees "positive signs that things are about to turn" for the bank.
Paul McWeeney told Guardian Business that had the bank not set aside additional loan loss provisions in light of the "general economic outlook" as indicated in November when the bank released its annual report, it would have instead "almost broken even" in the most recent quarter, with a $300,000 loss.
He told shareholders in a letter issued alongside the results that the bank remains optimistic that improvements in the economy in the medium term will allow it to "claw back such provisions into income".
Speaking with Guardian Business about the results, McWeeney said: "This is not any surprise. We saw this coming and the important thing is that we once again went and put aside a general provision based on documented empirical data and that came in at about $1.6 million. We did that as a precautionary measure."
In his letter to shareholders, the managing director pointed to the overall weakness of the economy, "coupled with an anemic outlook", as a negative influence on the bank's financial results given the need for "specific and general loan loss provisions aimed at insulating the balance sheet against the realization of risks".
In its notice to shareholders issued yesterday, BISX-listed bank reported total assets of $906,178,894, total liabilities of $767,330,280, and total equity of $138,848,614. The company achieved net interest income of $10,500,726.
Despite the loss, McWeeney said the bank is "cautiously optimistic" that things "are about to turn in the third quarter".
The managing director explained that much of the bank's optimism is based on efforts to work with customers to improve their capacity to meet loan obligations.
Asked about the composition of the bank's loan portfolio in terms of the level and extent of arrears, McWeeney said that "at that point in time" - by the end of September 30 - the bank's loan portfolio remained "basically in line with the industry" standards on loans in arrears.
"The fortunate part I'd like people to focus on is that you can see that over the years the bank's profitability allowed it to adequately plan for days of this nature," he said.
"Our capital ratio remains very robust.
"We also continue on our course of doing other things. By now we would've completed retiring all of our debt; that was a significant initiative that we were able to fulfil and we continue to expand our private banking and trust areas and our ABM network."
In a recent statement the Bank of The Bahamas assured its customers that it adheres to "sound banking principles that are consistently tested and validated by internal and external authorities to ensure the highest standards of prudence".
McWeeney noted that the bank creates a "careful segregation between the executive and the administrative arms of the bank, on the one hand, and credit risk management and loan approvals, on the other hand".
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