Nassau Guardian Stories

Delicious and horrifying

April 25, 2014

Four episodes into season four of the much-loved HBO original drama series "Game of Thrones" -- Joffrey has gotten his just desserts, Sansa was in the clutches of someone who basically presented himself as her protector -- and that's just two of the jaw-dropping events that will make this season delicious and horrifying.
"There's explosion after explosion after explosion," according to Gwendoline Christie, who plays the warrior Brienne of Tarth, in the phenomenon that is the HBO fantasy-drama series based on the books by George R.R. Martin. The series is full of action, adventure and ambition.
Prior to the start of the season, Christie said she set aside two days to read the scripts because she was excited to see what the writers were going to do, especially after season three.
"I found it jaw dropping," she said of this season's scripts. "I would be reading it, and I would get to a point and put the script down and say 'Oh my good Lord, they haven't done that'." As they head into this weekend's fifth episode of the 12-week season, she said fans will have many jaw-dropping moments to anticipate.
Encouraged by the Red Wedding slaughter in Riverlands, which eliminated many of their Stark enemies, the Lannisters maintained the Iron Throne intact, but the question that arose was whether they would survive their egos, with the increasing threats from the North, South and East. While a determined Stannis Baratheon continued rebuilding his army in Dragonstone, a more immediate threat arrived from the South: the Lannister-loathing "Red Vier of Dorne", Oberyn Martell, played by newcomer Pedro Pascal. He arrived at King's Landing to attend Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell's wedding, and with a hidden agenda.
In the North, the depleted Night's Watch seemed overmatched against the unstoppable advances of Mance Rayder's army of wildlings, which in turn was being trailed by an even more formidable "enemy" the White Walkers. Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen, accompanied by her menacing trip of dragons and army of Unsullied, and was on the verge of releasing Meereen, the largest city of Slaver's Bay, which ultimately could provide enough boats to sail to Westeros and reclaim the Iron Throne.
"What we've had in the previous seasons of 'Game of Thrones 'is we've had a slow build, and then a climax. That's what we've established as the format for the 'Game of Thrones' series. And we have different characters that you wouldn't expect put in situations that you wouldn't expect, and then all sorts of weird and wonderful consequences. What [fans have] seen so far is nothing compared to what's going to happen," said Christie.
Impression
The actress who stands an imposing six feet, four inches makes an impression when you first meet her. Out of makeup from her loyal character, you may not even know who she is. She's drop-dead gorgeous. The Brienne of Tarth you see on television looks nothing like Gwendoline Christie. And that thrills her.
"What I love in acting is transformation. And I love that kind of opportunity to transform into someone else. I also love that people are watching the entertainment that you're in and are lost in the story," she said.
"I was quite girly in a traditional sense, and so it was very new to play that kind of character and to look that way, and now I love it, because it's just different. She's just a different kind of woman and I celebrate that she's a woman who is doing the best she can with what she has," said Christie.
Brienne of Tarth is a character who is loyal, but is still an enigma. Fans are left to wonder whether she wants to get with Jamie. According to Christie, Brienne of Tarth is quite happy where she is. From the actress' perspective, the character she plays is an unconventional woman who is carving out her own path -- she's a female knight where there are no other female knights, and doing what she has to do to get her work done -- work Christie said her character loves.
"The reason I love that relationship between Jamie and Brienne is because it feels new to me," said Christie. "It feels new to have a relationship between a man and a woman that is so dynamic and so powerful, but is based on a begrudging, mutual respect."
As for Christie, she said the uniqueness of the Brienne of Tarth character makes it almost impossible for her to look at the character and see anything of herself in it. But she said she admires that Brienne of Tarth has the best of intentions.
"I admire that she is very single-minded about achieving her goal [protecting her king]. She's not self-serving."
With season five and six of "Game of Thrones" already renewed, Christie said
her imagination is simply not as good as George R.R. Martin's, so she does not know what to visualize, but that she can't wait for the next lot of scripts to see what happens -- from a series that says every man must die.
Nothing is truly good, nothing is truly bad
"What I love about [the 'Game of Thrones'] is that I feel it's so reflective of our world of human experience. I think that as people we'd all like to be at the stage of global consciousness where we can all say 'I'm 100 percent proud of who I am, and I feel really secure in that and I just move forward in my life,' but as human beings I think we're a lot more complex than that. And what I see reflected in 'Game of Thrones' is that complexity. The reason why I love the show so much and why I think it's such brilliant writing is that we see that struggle where nothing is truly good, nothing is truly bad -- it's people doing the best they can. George R.R. Martin has created a female character like so many of the female characters in 'Game of Thrones' that is changing female archetypes in mainstream media. I think we've been given a plethora of characters in 'Game of Thrones' that are unlike the female characters we have seen in our mainstream media to now."
Christie who said she was a fan before landing her role said she does whatever she needs to do to prepare herself for shooting. The fight scenes she said are tough, and that she prepared for them by training many days a week for about three months. Prior to that she said she had never been to the gym.
"I love the show. It's great writing and I'm proud to be a part of that. As an actor I think you're lucky if you're on something that people watch. If you're on something that people like, that's even rarer."
Christie has also come to terms with the fact that any character can be killed off at any time with a show with that has the tagline every man must die.
"Everyone dies. I don't grieve. When I watched the 'Red Wedding' I was deeply affected by that. I have huge affection for [the cast], so as an adult you can detach with some degree of ease, but you're not going to work with them again."
What she finds absolutely exciting about the show is the fan base it has amassed and the fact that people don't spoil the show for each other.
"We're doing an amazing piece of work and what I love is everyone's so dedicated to making it as good as it possibly can be."
When she's not filming "Game of Thrones," Christie describes herself as a boring person who likes going to the cinema and who likes to read.

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REVTV and HBO 'Game of Thrones' Short Film Competition

April 25, 2014

A trip for two to the Toronto International Film Festival, inclusive of airfare and four days and three nights hotel accommodation, tickets to screenings at the festival, as well as a 20-piece Canon film kit are up for grabs in the REVTV and HBO "Game of Thrones" (GOT) Short Film Competition.
Fans and film makers can submit a short film from one of the episodes of GOT season four prior to the season finale event scheduled for June 15. Three finalists will be revealed -- with the winner walking away with the Toronto grand prize, and the first runner-up receiving a film kit -- and all you have to do is submit a five to 15 minute video to gothbo.cablebahamas.com from one of the season four episodes.
Submitted videos will be posted on www.facebook.com/getrevedup weekly. Fans will be given an opportunity to vote/like the videos of their choice. The three video submissions that score the most online votes/likes during the entire GOT season four will advance to the finalist round.
The top three video submissions will be judged on the following criteria, with each category -- originality/creativity, story line, overall production and GOT series scene spirit -- based on 25 points, with a maximum scoring of 100 points.
The competition rules state that all video submissions must be of a pre-aired scene from the date of submission. Videos must be in .mov or .mpgeg4 file or format. All participants must enter their full name, account number of phone number tied to their account and scene description.
It is open to new and existing residential REVTV+HBO subscribers in Abaco, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and New Providence whose REVTV accounts are in good standing. Contestants must be a REVTV+HBO customer, or show proof of residing in a home with REVTV+HBO services. They must also be 18 years of age or older, be able to travel internationally with the necessary travel documents and be able to travel on the dates noted to redeem the prize associated with travel.

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'Transcendence' is not the worst movie so far this year, but if you have two hours to waste, enjoy

April 25, 2014

Transcendence (Rated T)
Cast: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Morgan Freeman
Genre: Science Fiction
Dwight's Rating:

1 1/2 out of 4

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all! That's how the adage goes -- right?
Obviously, it's not a credo film critics live by. But let's give it a shot with the new film, "Transcendence". Here goes: It's nice to see Paul Bettany ['A Beautiful Mind'] again; it feels like it's been a while. And, um Morgan Freeman is looking well.
Other than that, I've got nothing!
Actually, there has been an unintended positive. "Transcendence", starring Johnny Depp as Dr. Will Caster -- the foremost researcher in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), working to create a machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions, reminded me of another recent film about AI: last year's remarkable "Her". I acknowledge that "Her" is a masterpiece, and one of the best movies of 2013. "Transcendence" makes "Her" look even better. "Her" must be recognized as one of the best "science fiction" movies so far this century. So there!
Like in "Her", the AI's thirst for knowledge and power in "Transcendence" gets out of control. But "Her" is able to tap into our emotions. We can clearly see that the future world in "Her" is not far from where we are today. So many of us are far too reliant on our devices -- our smart phones and tablets and laptops. They know all our information -- our secrets, our contacts. Most of us would be lost without them. Can you remember any dates or anniversaries without their reminders? When was the last time you memorized someone's phone number? They recommend things they think we'd like. They think they know us now, and they do! Sadly, we can easily picture someone we know or even ourselves in the exact scenario presented in "Her".
"Transcendence" however, fails to fully tap into this frightening new world. Instead, it is cold and unfeeling. I found myself not really caring about these people. Rebecca Hall tries her hardest as the beleaguered wife Evelyn to add an emotional aspect to this soulless production. Bettany also tries as best friend Max. But so many other things seem to be missing and not connecting. It's as if we're only getting eight-tenths or nine-tenths of a movie -- like someone left out all the seasonings in a dish -- or worse, like it was only half-baked.
There is a glaring lack of suspense. And moviegoers expecting some sort of horror film, based on the previews, will also be sorely disappointed. There isn't anything technically or visually notable about it either. And as things progress, there's even more confusion about what it's trying to be as it takes on the air of a zombie movie, with the AI soliciting an army of androids! What?
Both "Transcendence" and "Her" try to convey messages about the dangers of our modern world, specifically the evils of the Internet. It will be the apparent downfall of mankind, we're warned. To counter this, we're being told to recognize the importance of human interaction, and of appreciating the tangible things in life. But as I can't say enough, "Her" accomplishes this in a much more convincing manner, with all the suspense, drama and romance that "Transcendence" desperately needed.
No, it's not the worst movie so far this year. So, if you have already seen everything else in the theaters, and you really just want to waste two hours, then fine. Enjoy! But you'd do a lot better by renting or buying "Her". Even better yet, fly in the face of the messages of these films, and go on the evil Internet, and ask your smart device's personal assistant to help you (legally) procure a copy of it. Consider that a nice piece of advice.
o Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of " Morning Blend" on Guardian Radio. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email dwight@nasguard.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.

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Admit it!

April 25, 2014

As we all know, honesty really is the best policy as that well-known saying so aptly puts it. However, there are times when even those who are normally honest with others are not at all honest with themselves. For example, if someone gives you an assignment to complete, and because of a lack of knowledge and experience, you know deep down that you will not be able to complete it, the task you have been given, yet you accept it by stating that you will deal with it. Now you know full well that you cannot successfully deal with the matter, but you point blank refuse to admit it. This my friend, is indeed being dishonest, it's also being quite stupid as it's going to get you in trouble in the long run whilst also causing problems for the person who assigned you the task.
My friend, when you are unable to successfully deal with a task which another wishes to assign to you, please do not accept the task if you know that it's beyond your capabilities to complete it successfully. When someone asks you if you can do something for them and you know that you can't carry out their wishes, simply as today's title puts it, admit it!
After all, if you pretend that you'll be able to do something which is way beyond your capabilities, you'll end up letting both the other person and yourself down. In the end, this will damage your reputation within your particular community, as people will begin to realize that you're just a fast talker, who is dishonest and completely unreliable.
If you are to be deemed to be a completely honest person and thus beyond reproach, well then, you need to admit to your wrongdoings when you blew it. That's right, when you do something wrong, please do not rather stupidly, and indeed childishly try to deny it, because in the end this will really make you look like a fool, and a completely dishonest fool into the bargain. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes from time to time.
So, when you do something wrong, admit it, which will clear the air and allow you to keep your peace of mind and dignity. And when you're unable to do something requested by another, just admit that the task assigned is beyond your capabilities. In other words, always be honest.
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.

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The Bahamas dominating CARIFTA swimming event

April 25, 2014

After a disappointing showing in track and field, The Bahamas is halfway to its first title ever in CARIFTA swimming.
The team widened its lead significantly after the second day of competition of the 29th Annual CARIFTA Swimming Championships at the Pisina Olimpico Roly Bisslik in Savaneta, Aruba.
Through 54 events, The Bahamas has amassed a total of 356 points. Host country Aruba currently sits in second with 284 points, and Trinidad & Tobago is in third with 264.50 points. The Bahamas is trying to secure its first ever CARIFTA swimming title.
In the medal count, the country trails Trinidad & Tobago, but the CARIFTA Swimming Championships is based on points.
Trinidad leads the medal standings with 22 total medals - 11 gold, six silver and five bronze, The Bahamas is second with 25 total medals - 10 gold, 11 silver and four bronze, and Aruba rounds out the top three with 25 total medals as well - seven gold, eight silver and 10 bronze.
After the first day of competition, The Bahamas had a 38.50 point lead over Trinidad, but since then Aruba has taken over second place, and The Bahamas is ahead by 72 points, a significant margin with just two days of competition to go. The closest The Bahamas ever got to winning the CARIFTA swimming title was eight years ago in Wildey, Barbados, when the event came down to not just the last day, but the last swim. Had The Bahamas won the last swimming event, they would have prevailed as champions over the French Antilles. That's how close the competition was.
After 2008, the French Antilles was disbanded, and Trinidad & Tobago and Guadeloupe have dominated since. Trinidad & Tobago won two straight titles in 2009 and 2010, and Guadeloupe won three straight from 2011 to 2013. The Bahamas has consistently been in the top three over the past 10 years, except for last year when the country dropped all the way to fifth.
All of that is certainly behind Team Bahamas now.
On the second day of competition, gold medals for The Bahamas came in the 11-12 Boys 50 meters (m) fly courtesy of Samuel Gibson, the 15-17 Girls 200m free and Individual Medley (IM) courtesy of Joanna Evans and the 11-12 Boys 400m free relay.
What a meet Gibson has been having so far! He picked up his second gold medal of the meet in the 11-12 Boys 50m fly, swimming a time of 28.72 seconds. His teammate Darren Laing was right behind him, finishing second in 29.51 seconds. Heindric Champrobert from Martinique won the bronze medal in 29.54 seconds.
In the 15-17 Girls 200m free, Evans dominated as she won easily in 2:05.52, Danielle Van den Berg, from Aruba, was second in 2:09.23, and Charlotte Backovic, from Guadeloupe, won the bronze medal in 2:09.25. Evans came right back and took gold in the 15-17 Girls 400 IM. Again she won easily, this time in 5:06.47. Van den Berg was once again second, this time in 5:11.61, and Danielle Boothe rounded out the top three in 5:16.89.
The Bahamas' 11-12 Boys 400m free relay team of Peter Morley, Izaak Bastian, Gibson and Laing, in that order, set a new CARIFTA record of 4:33.43, for the gold medal in that event. Martinique was second in 4:42.73, and Suriname won the bronze medal, in 4:43.84.
Competition continues today, and will run through Friday in Aruba.

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World relays culminates sports tourism month for The Bahamas

April 25, 2014

The whole premise of sports tourism is not new to The Bahamas. In fact, the country has been involved with bringing athletes and their supporters to the country for years. However, the exciting venture is rising to a level in the country that has never been explored before.
"We are celebrating the year of our golden jubilee of tourism, and since the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) world relays are being held here, we figured that this would be a perfect time to celebrate sports tourism in the country," said Virginia Kelly, general manager of sports tourism development .
"We have always been involved with sports tourism, most people feel that it is something new that we are doing, but I can remember times when we hosted various NBA (National Basketball Association) players such as Charles Barkley and Earvin 'Magic' Johnson. We have always been interested in doing this, and now we have the facilities that allow us to host larger events."
The month of May will be dedicated to the industry, and the Ministry of Tourism will be putting on various events throughout the month as a way to celebrate. The major event will be the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2014, which begins on May 24 and concludes on May 25. The event is set to bring in over 1,000 athletes from around the world as well as their families, friends and training staff.
"Something as big as this is not only good for our ministry, but for the entire country. The economic boost that the relays will provide will be felt throughout the island," said Kelly.
The hotel industry is expected to receive a major chunk of the funds generated from the relays, but local business around the island should expect to see an increase in revenue as well, especially the small businesses closer to the stadium.
"We have been in contact with various hotels on the island, setting up information booths and other services that will help out with any concerns or needs that the guests may have. The stadium has allowed us to promote the country more as a tourist destination, and every time there is an event, people are hired to help refurbish it, so it is attracting money almost year round."
Last year, The Bahamas was chosen as the location for the Miami Heat's training camp. The event brought local and international media houses to the training ground of the two-time defending NBA Champions, thereby providing the country with immense publicity.
If everything goes well during the relays, the economic impact could be long term. For two days, the country will be under close examination by the world's governing body for track and field, the IAAF. The feedback from the event could either be detrimental to the growth of sports tourism or propel The Bahamas as one of the leaders for sports tourism in the region.
"Things have been going well so far with the IAAF. We see eye-to-eye on several points, and things are just so much easier because we all have just one common goal, for this event to be a success," said Kelly. "Working with them is not only good for the economy, but it helps with the way we do track and field moving forward. The IAAF has strict guidelines and they believe in things being done on schedule, so learning how to be more disciplined and knowing how to go about certain situations, we expect to put on a better event every time out."

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Top official 'challenges' govt to adopt new tourism model

April 25, 2014

One of the country's top tourism officials has pledged to challenge the government and private sector to buy into the idea that tourism should be "less about erecting huge hotels" and more about resort ownership which Bahamians can be a part of, arguing that the country's tourism potential is unmet because the average Bahamian "feels marginalized" from the tourism sector.
David Johnson, director general in the Ministry of Tourism since 2010, told Rotarians that a huge opportunity exists for The Bahamas to capitalize on its untapped earning potential in tourism by further developing the Family Islands through creating incentives for Bahamians to be owners of tourism infrastructure via the development of vacation communities where they can build and own vacation rentals.
Johnson, who has worked in the tourism sector since the 1960s, was addressing the Rotary Club of West Nassau at the Poop Deck Restaurant yesterday afternoon on the subject of "The Business of Tourism".
He painted a picture of a Bahamas that has been too heavily focused on the role of major hotels in the tourism sector, which has made development difficult to predict as it is reliant on the whims of major investors. The focus on hotels has also contributed to a tourism industry that is generally Nassau-centric, as well as too expensive for many visitors and difficult to operate in a sustainable way, Johnson charged.
He suggested that changing this approach is important, not just to the sustainability of business operations, but because today's generation is less interested in jobs alone, and more interested in ownership in the tourism industry. Given a perception that this is unattainable, Bahamians feel "marginalized by the very existence" of the tourism sector, and this has knock-on effects on visitors' experiences on the islands when they do come.
"We're not going to have Bahamians embracing and feeling proud about an industry when they feel marginalized by its very existence. They feel an emotive disconnect that we must fix, because a happy island is where people want to come to, not an island that is in conflict with what's going on in tourism," he said.
In light of this, Johnson said that he is on a mission to change the mindset of the government as it relates to tourism in The Bahamas, and plans to present practical steps that can be taken to move in a new direction - to focus on vacation communities made up of rental homes owned by Bahamians.
"What I think is that the way forward in tourism, in a very big way, should be and could be less about erecting huge hotels and casino complexes, because there's a limited market for that," said Johnson.
"So what I'm going to be doing is challenging the government and the private sector to have the vision, as we look at the Family Islands, to say what could be better than to design a number of new tourism communities, deed restricted, where you plan the activities, where you plan the ability to organize the fishing, your bicycle tracks, jogging tracks, it's properly landscaped, you've got all the facilities of a resort but you're living in a home, and these homes can be financed by Bahamians like yourselves.
"That is a far less risk than hoping one investor will roll the dice and make money or close up shop. That gives us ownership and gives us pride, and that can develop these islands and make them the envy of the world because that type of vacation is one where the families and people coming there really feel not just that they are visiting, but they feel too that they are a part of the community and they come back every year."
Calling the opening of Baha Mar in December of this year a "major, major business opportunity", he said that tourism will continue to "suffer" from the high costs in the sector, which have contributed to the fact that most hotels can target only "high-end customers" due to their prices.
"What this means is that we will still be faced with, in the very near term until we can tackle our costs, a very difficult challenge for those who have made that gutsy investment, to generate operating profits. It's going to be a fantastic, great opportunity, we'll steal business from the rest of the region because of the great product we have here, but it has to work on the basis of profits to be sustained and so we have a lot of work to do to offer a first-class product, to begin to manage our costs, so that these partners who've invested in Nassau can generate sufficient profit to sustain their operations," said Johnson.
The director general went on to argue that not only are many customers being priced out of this type of tourism, but they are also not seeking it to begin with.
"More of our potential travelers look at destinations like Ashville, North Carolina, or even Abaco, where 80 percent of the accommodations are homes, vacation homes. And guess what? It's easy to build them, and people will go over hurdles to get to them. That's their place, their special place. They have an emotional connection to it. They know the place, they feel like they are a part of it, and they'll come every year."
The director general said he pictures a Bahamas where every Bahamian has a vacation home in the Family Islands, that they can use to generate income six months of the year by renting out to visitors, and which they can use for their own enjoyment at other times.
"The way forward is to involve and engage our people in the mainstream of tourism ownership, and I think it needs to be less about hotels and more about resort ownership in a less traditional way," he added.
According to the tourism official, The Bahamas is in a unique position to capitalize on tourism. He claimed that many other major destinations in the region may have as little as 25 percent of their capacity remaining, while The Bahamas "hasn't even used up 10 percent" given that 80 percent of the tourism economy is Nassau-based.
"If you look throughout the entire Caribbean, there is not one country I know of which has the earning potential of The Bahamas. If we were stock we'd be the highest-rated stock in the industry. That's because we're only focused on Nassau, and most of the other 699 islands are bigger and in many ways more beautiful."
Responding to a comment from the audience suggesting that his views must be at odds with the government, Johnson said: "I'm not at odds with the administration in my view, but there's a process. We are here to provide not only our thoughts but how it can be done. You can often find that otherwise you get listening ears and nodding heads, but nothing gets done."
He said that after a couple of years in which the government was "fighting fires" in the tourism sector, with major resorts like Sandals Emerald Bay close to closure and in need of government assistance, Johnson suggested that the government is now more focused on looking at ideas such as his.

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Minister: 6.3 billion GB mega-resort 'moving closer'

April 25, 2014

The developers behind a proposed $6.3 billion mixed-use resort and industrial projected slated for East Grand Bahama have brought evidence to the government showing that they are engaged with partners who have "the capacity" to provide the funding for the project, a government minister has stated.
Both the government and the principal of the proposed $6.3 billion Blackwood Pointe Resort and Spa were in agreement yesterday that the group behind the project appears to be gaining ground in their efforts to garner government approval for the mega-project.
Larry McDonough, principal of the would-be developers, Kylin International Group, projected that there would be a "very positive announcement" on the project within the next few weeks.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments, also suggested progress has been made by the group, but confirmed that the government continues to remain ultimately unsatisfied at this point of their financial wherewithal.
He said that during a recent meeting those behind the proposed resort "brought some parties to the table that certainly have the capacity to provide the funding" for the mega-project.
"It's just a matter now of having concrete documents in place that support that financing is available," said Rolle, adding: "It looks as if they are moving closer."
The next anticipated move is for government officials to travel to China "shortly" for further meetings, said Rolle.
McDonough confirmed that his group recently had a meeting with the government and a task force which he said has been assigned by Prime Minister Perry Christie to deal with the project proposal. The meeting, headed by "excellent leadership and direction" from Christie, according to McDonough, is believed to have taken place in the last month.
Suggesting that the Chinese government may have an interest in the project, McDonough said: "Kylin and its partners will be arranging by invitation to the prime minister and the task force/government officials to join us in Beijing for an official signing and further discussions with our partners and other government officials about this cooperation that will be conducted on Grand Bahama.
"At this moment many of the details still need to be prepared as it is a logistical operation in itself to have all parties available. We will be working with our aviation partners Air France Consulting on some of the logistical components," said McDonough.
In a March interview with Guardian Business, McDonough said that if approvals for the project were given this year, a 2018 opening for the Blackwood Resort and Spa project would be feasible. This would ultimately require the hiring of 9,000 to 10,000 people.
He dismissed what he called "hearsay" about the project, which some have suggested is simply too huge to be realistically feasible, telling this newspaper, "We're not going anywhere".
The project is proposed to include a cruise port, airport, transportation system, industrial park, hospital, power plant, schools, housing, government buildings and six hotels including 2,900 rooms.
Under the terms of the deal, McDonough said he expects to put in 15 percent of the financing for the project, while the remainder would be put forward by a "large top tier financial institution".
McDonough has had a proposal for a major project in Grand Bahama before the government since prior to the most recent general election.
Guardian Business understands that efforts by McDonough to obtain approval from the Ingraham administration for his project, which has since evolved to become more large-scale and diversified, ran aground after the government was not able to obtain independent verification of his funding from Chinese financial institutions.
The government's efforts in this regard are understood to have included making a formal outreach to the Chinese government on the matter.

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Huge business surge for BORCO projected from ruling

April 25, 2014

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (UBP) ruling in the United States in favor of Buckeye Partners LP, which owns the Bahamas Oil Refining Company's (BORCO) oil storage hub in Freeport, has been heralded as likely to lead to a major surge in business for the facility.
The ruling would allow traders to use lower-cost foreign ships to transport fuels between the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast of the United States via BORCO, circumventing a near-century-old U.S. law called the Jones Act, according to the Reuters news agency, which first reported on the March 6 ruling on April 23.
That law demanded that U.S.-produced fuels would be moved between ports in that country using a small fleet of U.S.-flagged and crewed ships.
According to Reuters, it would cost three times more to use such ships than foreign-flagged ships.
Now fuel traders are legally permitted to export certain components of gasoline to The Bahamas on foreign-flagged ships and bring it back to the U.S. on foreign-flagged ships if it is blended at the Freeport facility to produce certain grades of fuel - RBOB and CBOB.
Messages left for representatives of Buckeye/BORCO seeking comment were not returned up to press time yesterday afternoon, however industry participants were reported as suggesting that the ruling could potentially open up a new trading route from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast.
Reuters quoted Jerry Lichtblau, director of research at True North Chartering in Wilton, Connecticut, as stating that going via The Bahamas would be "a hell of a lot cheaper" than using a Jones Act vessel.
Jones Act tankers can command as much as $100,000 a day in the spot market thanks to soaring U.S. energy production, meaning that shipping costs from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the New York Harbor can run as much as $6 per barrel, or 14 to 15 cents a gallon, shipping sources told the news agency.
Lichtblau estimated the transport costs for the same route via the BORCO terminal at less than $2 per barrel
The 25-million-barrel BORCO storage hub, the Caribbean's biggest, is located less than 100 miles (160 km) from the Florida coast.

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Nat'l debt grows 11.5 percent year-on-year in Q4 2013

April 25, 2014

The national debt grew by 11.5 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2013, to $5.5 billion, The Central Bank of The Bahamas has reported.
In the same period, the central bank recorded a narrowing of the government's overall deficit by 10.4 percent, even as domestic economic conditions remained "relatively flat" and revenue collection fell.
The reduction of the government's overall deficit was attributed primarily to a combination of lower lending to public corporations and lower capital spending outlays which contributed to a fall in aggregate expenditure. The lower spending outweighed a 3.2 percent, or $11.8 million, falloff in total revenues collected to contribute to an overall reduction of $13 million in the deficit to $112.3 million.
Total revenue collected for the quarter stood at $356.2 million. The information was recorded in the latest Quarterly Economic Review released by The Central Bank of The Bahamas.
In the area of revenue, tax receipts fell by 9.3 percent - $29 million - due to a 46.7 percent reduction in departure taxes. The central bank described this as a fall to "trend levels" following a one-off receipt of arrears payments in the corresponding period last year.
"In addition, a timing-related decline in foreign realty tax collections reduced property taxes by 22.5 percent ($11 million) to $37.7 million, and lower proceeds from hotel occupancy and gaming taxes explained the more than halving of selective taxes on services to $4.8 million," said the bank.
Non-tax receipts -- which constituted 21 percent of total revenue -- expanded by $17.1 million (29.6 percent) to $74.7 million.
Turning to government spending, the bank said that the decline in overall spending was led by a "marked contraction" in net lending to public corporations, down to $19.3 million from a $60.8 million boost a year earlier that was "primarily earmarked for aviation operations".
"Reflecting the winding down of a number of large infrastructure programs, government's capital outlays also fell by 12.6 percent ($6.7 million) to $46.2 million; however, current spending rose by 6.2 percent ($23.5 million) to $403.2 million. By proportion, recurrent expenditure accounted for the majority (86.1 percent) of total outlays, while capital spending and net lending comprised the remaining 9.8 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively," said the review.
Turning to the national debt, the central bank notes that the direct charge on the government (the total claims on the government) grew by $83.7 million over the previous quarter, and 13.1 percent year-on-year, to $4.97 billion. Budgetary financing for the fourth quarter was dominated by domestic foreign currency loans, totaling $125 million, short-term local advances ($39 million) and treasury bills ($31 million). Of the total claims on the government, Bahamian dollar debt made up 73.8 percent. The government guaranteed debt decreased by 15.1 percent to $601.1 million.
On the monetary sector, both bank liquidity and external reserves strengthened over the three-month period, bolstered by the government's foreign currency borrowing activities.
Speaking of economic activity more generally, the central bank said: "Ongoing positive contribution from foreign-led construction investment activity was counterbalanced by weakness in the high value-added stopover component of the tourism market. With gains mostly in the construction sector, employment conditions improved slightly, while domestic inflation remained relatively benign, despite modest firming in international oil prices."

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Secrets to sounding polished

April 25, 2014

Many people want to sound more polished when they speak, but sometimes it is difficult for an individual to know exactly what he or she needs to do to achieve the sound that they admire in others.
One of the things I am able to do for my clients is to pinpoint exactly why they may not sound the way they would like. I find that there are a few common habits that cause the way we sound to deteriorate.
My clients find that by implementing a few simple changes, their speech not only becomes cleaner and clearer, it improves the overall sound of their voice. You will find that if you dissect the speech of those you enjoy listening to they probably naturally implement the following linguistic sounds.
Firstly, 'ing' at the end of a word should be completely annunciated and not abbreviated to 'in'. You will notice the difference in the way you sound by comparing runnin', skippin' and jumpin' to running, skipping and jumping.
Another syllable that is often cheated of its full glory is 'er'. The word letter often morphs into letta', leather in to leatha', mother becomes motha' and so on. Simply pronouncing the 'er' at the end of your words brings a refreshing crispness to the way you sound, and in a world fettered with sloppy speech it makes you stand out.
Another phonetic casualty in the English language is the 'th' sound. The only way you can achieve the proper pronunciation of this sound is to put your tongue between your teeth. Uddawise you will wind up saying teet or tree for three, or dat for that. Your speech will lack clarity and you will come across as if you are not well educated. For most people these errors in pronunciation are just habit. They are acceptable as colloquial vernacular, however, when you are in the boardroom, these habits will greatly diminish the quality of your speech.
A fourth tip to sounding more polished is to simply put the endings on your words. Instead of tha', try that; instead of wha', try what.
My clients have found that as they practice the proper pronunciations, even their voices sound better. They are easier to understand and they do come across as more polished, which is an extremely important part of your professional persona. You will be surprised how these small adjustments can make a big difference in how people see you and even respond to you.
If you take the way you sound for granted, you may find it interesting to note that a study done by Harvard University found that people with great voices actually appear more attractive. In the experiment they paired bad voices to various faces and had the participants rate their attractiveness. They then paired the same faces with great voices and amazingly their attractiveness ratings went up.
Daily practice will help to create new muscle memory in your face and tongue; it's all about creating new speech habits. If you would like me to email free exercises you can practice on your own, send me an email.
o Kim Welcome is the CEO of Influential Voice, a communication trainer and coach. She assists businesses and professionals to achieve their goals by helping them to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication. She invites your comments at info@influentialvoice.com. For more information, visit www.influentialvoice.com.

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Air Conditioning Depot partners with BTVI

April 25, 2014

A local air conditioning company has partnered with the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) to give hands-on training and guidance to the students of the institute's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) program.
As part of ongoing efforts to increase the number of qualified workers in the industry, Air Conditioning Depot, and its sister company, Total Comfort Air Conditioning, donated a ductless unit to the program and spent a day at BTVI's campus giving an interactive demo showcasing techniques and tips in relation to installing the split unit system.
AC Depot's owner, Chris Knowles, spoke to the students about the value of learning a trade and the importance of having strong work ethics when entering the workforce. Knowles also stressed the abundance of opportunities in the country for those who are truly dedicated to learning a skill set.
"The HVAC industry is in high demand for qualified tradesmen who take pride in their work, and exhibit professionalism and strong customer service skills," said Knowles.
During the demo, Total Comfort technician Antonio Lewis spoke to the class about real-life scenarios he faces in the field, and the best ways to manage customers' expectations and requests. Lewis also explained the importance of doing the right thing for customers, their homes and one's company during an installation.
BTVI's Dean of Construction Trades Alexander Darville, is thrilled about AC Depot's involvement with the HVAC program and the resulting benefits for the students.
"This is an example to local companies to get involved with education. If every firm takes a more active role, we would see a significant increase in the overall standard of workmanship in the country," Darville stated.
The donation and demo was the first of many initiatives Air Conditioning Depot would like to participate in with BTVI in an effort to increase the desirability and skill sets of the institute's HVAC graduates.
"The problem we are seeing in the industry is that local contractors are struggling to find good employees, and there is a lack of confidence in hiring local companies because of a poor standard of workmanship. We are excited to get involved in preparing students to have the skills, experience and qualities necessary to not only be prepared to enter the field after graduation, but to be relevant in their respective industries," said Knowles.
Air Conditioning Depot has future plans to hold regular workshops and field trip exercises to allow the students to learn hands-on technical skills, strong work ethics and a high level of customer service, directly from experienced technicians.

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Diplomatic note 'inappropriate'

April 25, 2014

Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Hubert Chipman said yesterday it

was "irresponsible and inappropriate" for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell to send a diplomatic note to the governments of Malaysia, China and the United States distancing the government from comments made by Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis over the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Chipman said Mitchell elevated Minnis' unscripted remarks and made them the subject of a formal diplomatic correspondence that may seem "frivolous".
"This is a clear and sad case of the foreign minister using a tool of foreign policy to play domestic politics," he said.
"The governments receiving these notes will likely find them improper and question why they were sent, embarrassing The Bahamas, the government and especially the foreign minister.
"With these governments still working diligently to discover what happened to MH 370, the note from The Bahamas will seem frivolous, and these governments will recognize and perhaps be annoyed that the government of the day is using the diplomatic process to score cheap political points."
Chipman said it is obvious that Mitchell has "little appreciation for the conduct of responsible international diplomacy".
He said Prime Minister Perry Christie should not have allowed Mitchell to send the note and called on Christie to
"rein in his out-of-control foreign minister".
When asked if Minnis' comments warranted a diplomatic note, Mitchell said yesterday, "The note is self-explanatory. There is nothing to say really."
In a statement on Wednesday, Mitchell said the note indicated that "the remarks (uttered by the opposition leader) do not represent in any way the diminution of the seriousness of the loss of the plane and of the lives therein, nor does it indicate a lack of sensitivity on the part of the government and people of The Bahamas about the seriousness of this tragedy".
Chipman called on Mitchell to release the diplomatic note to the public.
Out of context
Minnis compared the Christie administration to the airline as he criticized the government for its handling of the proposed constitutional referendum.
"They are reminding me of the Malaysian airline that's lost and the entire world is looking for it," Minnis said.
He was responding to Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage, who said last Monday that he was unaware whether a date had been determined for the promised constitutional referendum on gender equality.
Chipman said he believes Minnis' comments were taken out of context.
"When you look at Dr. Minnis' background, he's a doctor who believes in saving lives," he said. "I don't think he would ever wish anything on the Malaysian people or the Chinese or for that matter any country that some ill fate could fall on.
"A better statement that he could have said was that they were lost in space."
When asked if he supported Minnis' statement, Chipman said, "I support my leader.
"Am I fine with it? It's out there; it's been said.
"I do support what Dr. Minnis said."
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing on March 8 during a flight from Malaysia to Beijing, China. There were 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers onboard.
A massive multi-nation search is continuing for the aircraft.
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has sharply criticized Minnis over his comments.
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts said Minnis should apologize for his "tasteless" comments and MICAL MP V. Alfred Gray called it a bad joke.
On Tuesday, Minnis refused to apologize for his comment and charged that Prime Minister Perry Christie should apologize for failing to deliver on many campaign promises.
Chipman said the government should "focus its attention at advancing the interests of all the Bahamian people instead of seeking to continue its two-year long political vendetta against its political opponents".

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Man found guilty of killing girlfriend

April 25, 2014

A man was convicted Thursday of stabbing his estranged girlfriend to death on a remote beach in Adelaide.
Douglas Pratt, 27, showed no emotion as the jurors returned a unanimous verdict of guilty in the November 22, 2010 murder of Shande Cartwright.
By contrast, Shande's mother, Mary Cartwright, convulsed with tears and had to be carried out of the courtroom.
Pratt, who was on bail during the trial, has been remanded to Her Majesty's Prisons until his sentencing hearing on June 19.
Sandradee Gardiner, the prosecutor, said the Crown was not seeking the death penalty in the murder that she described as a crime of passion in her closing address.
Cartwright had two children with Pratt.
Pratt told a doctor, and residents of Adelaide Village, that Cartwright, 23, was stabbed 17 times by an armed robber.
According to Pratt, two assailants - one armed with a knife, the other with a gun - accosted him and Cartwright as they had a picnic under the moonlight.
Pratt escaped with superficial wounds that he claimed were inflicted during a struggle with the man with the knife.
Dr. Ricky Ricardo Davis, the emergency room doctor who attended Pratt, said he expected to find more severe injuries from the assault described by Pratt.
In his opinion, Pratt's injuries may have been self-inflicted and were not consistent with defensive wounds.
Pratt admitted to stabbing Cartwright when questioned by police on November 23. According to his statement, Cartwright stabbed him but he wrested the knife from her and stabbed her.
Pratt, who exercised his right to remain silent, alleged through his lawyer, Murrio Ducille, that he made the statements under duress, an allegation that the investigating officers denied.

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Keith Bell: Fraser should not pastor

April 25, 2014

Convicted sex offender Bishop Earl Randolph Fraser should not be allowed to lead another church in The Bahamas and "there is no way he should be near children", Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell said this week.
Bell suggested the government should look at regulations that would govern who can lead religious institutions, especially in cases such as Fraser's.
"For me, the concern is not so much that he is a convict, you know, but the merits or the circumstances of the case are such that Bishop Fraser should not be allowed to start [a] church in the country," he told members of the Advanced Toastmasters Club 7108 on Wednesday.
"It is as simple as that because [in] a church, what are your responsibilities as a leader in that church? To administer the holy sacraments.
"And what is the first holy sacrament you have to administer? Baptism.
"I speak without fear of contradiction. There is no way he should be near children, and I think we all must agree with that."
As he spoke about the "erosion of Christian values" contributing to the crime culture in The Bahamas, Bell said several religious leaders, who are responsible for providing spiritual guidance, have fallen short.
He said while there is no legislation that prohibits Fraser from starting another church, he suggested that civil society and the wider public should voice their concerns on the matter.
"As members of this society, but more importantly as Toastmasters with a very strong voice in this country, one that is highly respected, there is no reason why a position paper cannot come from Toastmasters to say this is what the law ought to be," Bell said.
Fraser, who served three years in prison after he was convicted of having sex with a dependent, launched a new church, Palms of Victory Kingdom Ministry, earlier this month.
He was released from prison just under five months ago.
In January, it was revealed that the Vatican defrocked more than 384 priests for the sexual abuse of children in 2011 and 2012, according to statistics obtained and compiled by The Associated Press.
In The Bahamas, a person convicted of a sexual offense in addition to a prison sentence can be required to attend a psychiatrist for assistance and rehabilitation for a period set by the court, according to the Sexual Offences Act.
Failure to comply with such an order carries a fine of $5,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.
Last December, the House of Assembly passed amendments to the Sexual Offences Act and the Child Protection Act to create a sexual offenders register and a MARCO alert for missing children.
On Wednesday, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage said the government has not yet drafted regulations that are needed to create a promised sexual offenders register.
However, he said he expects the register to be active "well before the end of this year".
Asked whether Fraser's name would be put on that register if it was active today, Bell said, "There is a process by which one would have to go through.
"I would not necessarily want to prejudice him or the whole case surrounding that particular matter, but the legislation is clear in terms of a committee being formed, which would look at the entire case and then [it would] make a recommendation to the minister (Nottage).
"And the minister would make that decision."
Bell said while the amended act speaks to what happens when someone is placed on the register, there remains the question of if it prohibits such a person from starting a church.
Dr. Victor Cooper, of New Bethany Baptist Cathedral, said recently that while he believes in "second chances" it may be too soon for Fraser to lead another church.
Rev. Dr. Philip McPhee, of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, who attended the launch ceremony of the new church, has said Fraser would have done well to take more time before resuming pastoral duties.

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Man, 41, charged with raping teen

April 25, 2014

A man, 41, was charged yesterday with the rape of a 17-year-old girl.
It is alleged that Henry Sean Daron Gay, also known as Daron Gay, had sexual intercourse with the girl without her consent on Monday in San Salvador.
Gay, of First Street, Cockburn Town, San Salvador, appeared before Magistrate Andrew Forbes.
He was also charged with one count of causing harm to the victim.
Gay was not represented by an attorney and was not required to enter a plea to the charges.
He was denied bail and remanded to Her Majesty's Prisons until his next court appearance on May 27 for service of a voluntary bill of indictment that will forward the case to the Supreme Court.
According to police, the teen was at the dock in Cockburn Town around 10 a.m. when she was reportedly assaulted. The suspect was arrested two hours later.

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Another man shot dead

April 25, 2014

A man, 41, was shot dead in a drive-by shooting on St. Charles Vincent Street Wednesday night, marking the third murder in fewer than 48 hours on New Providence.
Superintendent Paul Rolle, head of the Central Detective Unit, said the victim and a friend were walking north along St. Charles Vincent Street when the occupants of a yellow Honda began shooting.
Rolle said the man was shot several times, but the pair managed to run through an alley near Ebenezer Mission Baptist Church and onto Homestead Street.
However, the man collapsed and was taken to hospital by emergency medical services personnel.
The victim, whose identity has not been released, died in hospital.
Rolle said police arrested three men, 29, 23 and 21, and a woman, 21, in connection with that incident late Wednesday night.
Just hours before, a man was shot and killed in the front yard of a residence on Dunmore Street, off Market Street.
Police identified him yesterday as Renaldo Braynen, 24, of Toote Shop Corner.
Braynen was reportedly standing in the front yard with a group of men when a gunman shot him around 12:20 p.m.
Rolle said police were still searching for the shooter in that incident and he appealed to the public for any information.
On Tuesday, police said a man was at his Jacaranda Street home shortly after 11 p.m. when a silver Nissan Altima drove up and its occupants opened fire.
Police identified the victim yesterday as Tyrone Beneby, 29, of Pinewood Gardens.
Police said Beneby was walking out of his home to enter a waiting car driven by a woman.
He also died in hospital.
Police arrested four men in connection with the incident hours later.
Rolle said there was no evidence to suggest that the shootings were related.
Several recent killings involved men who were either with or meeting up with a female friend, according to police.
Asked whether the women may have been a source of motivation for any of those crimes, Rolle said, "We don't want to draw any conclusions without facts.
"What we need to establish is why these incidents happened, but we do not have anything at this stage to suggest anything like that."
The latest incident pushed the murder count for 2014 up to 36, according to The Nassau Guardian's records.
Up to April 23, 2013, there were 34 recorded murders in The Bahamas.

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Christie declares Eleuthera economy on upswing

April 25, 2014

Declaring that tourism is on the upswing in Eleuthera, Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday that phase one of the Cotton Bay development in South Eleuthera is 75 percent complete and the developers have already invested $90 million to date.
"The resort aims to re-establish the legacy of the jet-setting families of the 50s, 60s and 70s that frequented the club community, making them homes away from home," said Christie at the Eleuthera Business Outlook at Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina.
"Cotton Bay will feature world-class golf courses that will attract golf enthusiasts from the world over. It will offer luxurious amenities, including two oceanfront hotel sites managed by Noble House Hotels and Resorts.
"To continue to enhance tourism on the island and support the Cotton Bay development, particular attention will be given to airlift in South Eleuthera."
The prime minister said Cotton Bay is a good example of a development that attracted the interest and investment of Bahamians. Franklyn Wilson serves as chairman of Eleuthera Properties Ltd.
Christie also reported, "We are well advanced in our negotiations with the Samiento and Four Seasons interests for a Four Seasons branded luxury resort also here in South Eleuthera.
"My professional advisors will meet again next week with Four Seasons representatives with a view to wrapping up the terms of a Heads of Agreement for approval by the National Economic Council."
Christie said from January to December 2013 a total of 249,017 visitors came to Eleuthera.
"However, I feel that we can improve on this number and will improve on it with the development of a few new resorts on the island," he said.
Christie said that as an island, Eleuthera continues to embrace its role as a leader in hospitality and position itself for major revitalization.
That revitalization has already begun, with developments such as The Cove, and Eleutherans are reaping the benefits, he said.
"However, there is much more that is being done to ensure significant growth in Eleuthera, and the government is continuously working to make Eleuthera a first choice destination for tourists, both foreign and domestic," Christie said.
"While the government will necessarily play a pivotal role going forward, there is no question that dedicated efforts must also be deployed by the private sector to further the development of Eleuthera's economy and community."
Christie said as Eleuthera grows, the right course must be charted for responsible engagement with these treasures. Such beauty should not and must not be spoiled in the name of advancement.
The prime minister encouraged Bahamians with roots in Eleuthera to build second homes and to resettle in Eleuthera.
"We see this happening in places like Governor's Harbour, Palmetto Point, Windermere and other parts of the Island," he said.
"In addition to building homes there are business opportunities to be embraced and community programs in which to become engaged."
Renaissance
Pointing to the ongoing development of the Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) in North Andros, the prime minister said this revitalization of farming is meant to impact all islands.
"In Eleuthera, we are looking to reintroduce large scale production of the world-famous sugarloaf pineapple," he said.
"This revitalization will help to significantly impact the Eleutheran economy and it will also support a thriving tourism economy.
"In fact, the revitalization of farming can go a long way in supporting all types of tourism. In the story of the sugarloaf, there are exact reasons why the pineapple export failed, all having to do with the cost of production.
"We hope to find innovative ways of mitigating costs and modern ways of increasing production to meet the demands of smaller hotels and resorts.
"Specifically, my government would like to see and support the re-establishment and re-imagining of the pineapple industry in Eleuthera. And we would like similar re-visioning to be done for all agriculture in Eleuthera."
He said while the course for tourism is set and bodes well for the economy of Eleuthera, there are other developments and changes that will and must happen to ensure growth in Eleuthera.
The building of a new hospital in Palmetto Point will go a long way in serving and supporting the immediate community and populations for the whole Island, the prime minister said.
He said the land has already been acquired with plans being drawn for a hospital that meets local and international standards.
"This should provide a boost for meeting the basic medical needs of residents and visitors alike," Christie added.
"While we work towards an economic renaissance in Eleuthera, we must remember that the pineapple is the symbol of hospitality throughout the world.
"As a significant part of engaging the hospitality community in the revitalization of Eleuthera, the government's National Training Programme is gearing up to train locals.
"This program will help to facilitate the education and skills development of the workforce with extensive training initiatives and standardization of service levels. Upon successful completion, persons will be provided with valid certification."
The prime minister declared, "With help from the government, public private partnerships and significant investment from both Bahamians and foreigners, this island is on a course headed for major economic growth. For this growth we require the cooperation of the entire Eleutheran community to stay the course."

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Gibson wants cellular license to go to Bahamians

April 25, 2014

Minister of Labour and National Insurance Shane Gibson said yesterday that a Bahamian company should be granted the country's second mobile service provider license.
Gibson was contacted by The Nassau Guardian after Bernard Evans, president of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU), told radio talk show host Ortland Bodie that Gibson told him this was his preference.
"Whenever there are any opportunities for ownership or employment in The Bahamas, my preference is always that Bahamians should be given the first opportunity and only when we can't find a suitable Bahamian, then a foreigner can be considered," said Gibson, a former president of the BCPOU.
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is the country's only mobile phone service provider.
Its monopoly ended this month.
The BCPOU is also against a foreign company getting the license.
"We all support competition, but we all thought that competition could be brought about by Bahamians getting involved in the business and not so much bringing a foreign entity to do it," Evans told The Nassau Guardian.
"If we had to bring in a foreign entity, then by all means, but if it can be done and we have the expertise here...we ought not need a foreign entity to come in here and provide competition for us.
"I know competition would be beneficial for Bahamians as a whole. It drives down prices...but we don't need a foreign entity to do that."
Evans said the union would not be happy if local cable and broadband provider Cable Bahamas receives the second license.
He said the BCPOU would "go to the highest hills we need to let government know" that it does not want Cable Bahamas to enter the mobile phone market.
The BCPOU is also against regional telecommunications provider Digicel entering the mobile market. "If it is one foreign entity that ought not to be allowed it is them," said Evans when asked about Digicel.
He claimed the company is not union friendly.
"They have stifled every opportunity for a union to be organized in the countries where they represent," Evans said.
Earlier this month, Digicel said it hoped the government would "imminently make an announcement outlining the process" by which the liberalization of the cellular market would occur in the "shortest possible timeframe".
Antonia Graham, Digicel's head of group public relations, previously said the company welcomes the liberalization process and wants The Bahamas to "enjoy the benefits of competition".
The Ingraham administration sold 51 percent of BTC to Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) in April 2011. A condition of that sale was a three year extended monopoly on cellular services.
According to the sale terms, a second cellular service provider can now enter the market.
The government has not released any details surrounding the liberation process.
On Monday, Prime Minister Perry Christie said he has appointed a liberalization committee headed by former Financial Secretary Ruth Millar.

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For govt, telecoms competition 'should outweigh profit concerns'

April 25, 2014

While the liberalization of the telecommunications sector could lead to lower profits for the government from its 49 percent stake in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), former Minister of State for Finance James Smith said yesterday it is more important for the government to ensure consumers have lower prices and better service.
"If competition brings down prices and increases quality, then the consumer is better off and that would override any concern about dividends going to the government," Smith said.
"The public good would [be better] served if at the end of the day consumers are getting better service at better prices.
"Beyond that, I don't think the government or BTC would want to be in the position of preserving profits by way of a monopoly."
Bradley Roberts, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) chairman and BTC board member, agreed with Smith.
"The government's role is to ensure that the consumer gets the best bang for [the] dollar and [that happens] through competition," Roberts told The Nassau Guardian.
Smith also said that competition in the mobile sector would mean lower prices, which could drive up profits for BTC and the new entrant.
"In regard to the sharing in profits, you're assuming the new company would outgun the existing BTC.
"For instance, if you now have 50,000 subscribers and prices go down and the service quality goes up, people might end up with two or three phones and both companies are making more money because the pie has grown."
BTC is the country's only mobile phone service provider.
Its monopoly ended this month.
Smith and Roberts both said they had no concerns about the government being in conflict by approving a license for a competitor to BTC, which the government has a major stake in.
Smith noted that the regulator of telecoms is the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA), which operates independently.
"I think the government has really no interference over URCA's decisions, plus there is the fact that it is very transparent," he said."So I think the question of conflict would not hold in this case."
Roberts added, "The government sets the sector policy and they [URCA] implement it. The sector policy has been established. I don't see it [as] a concern."
The Ingraham administration sold 51 percent of BTC to Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) in April 2011. A condition of that sale was a three-year extended monopoly on cellular services.
According to the sale terms, a second cellular service provider can now enter the market.

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