Nassau Guardian Stories

Gardiner, Cox, Albury miss 200m final at world juniors

July 24, 2014

The tall and talented Steven Gardiner, the Moore's Island product who came out of nowhere, ended his season as the 12th best junior half-lapper in the world.
Running at the 15th International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Junior Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, Gardiner finished third in his semi-final heat of the boys 200 meters (m), in 20.89 seconds, failing to qualify for the final. Only the top two times and the next two fastest times moved on to the final, and Gardiner was 15 hundreds of a second short. The final qualifying time was turned in by Trinidad & Tobago's Johnathan Farinha (20.74). Gardiner won his opening round heat in 21.10 seconds, and finished tied for the ninth fastest heading into the semi-finals, but got a bad start in the semis, and never recovered.
The other Bahamian in the boys 200m, Ian Kerr, didn't make it out of the first round. Kerr was fifth in his opening round heat and 31st overall, in 21.45 seconds.
In the girls 200m, both Carmiesha Cox and Kieanna Albury made it through to the semi-finals, but both failed to make the final.
Cox got one of the automatic qualifying spots for the semis, finishing third in her opening round heat in a season's best time of 24.18 seconds. In the semis, she finished fifth in her heat in another season's best time, 23.92 seconds, but failed to make it through to the final. Albury was fourth in her opening round heat in 23.96 seconds, and grabbed one of the fastest non-automatic qualifying spots for the semi-finals. She ran out of lane one in the first of three semi-final heats, and finished eighth in her semi-final heat in 24.17 seconds.
Cox was 14th overall, and Albury finished tied for 18th overall.
In the girls 400m hurdles, both Mesha Newbold and Talia Thompson failed to make it out of the opening round.
Newbold was right on her personal best time, but about a half of a second off a qualifying spot for the semi-finals, as she finished fifth in her heat and 28th overall, in 1:01.24. Thompson was significantly off her personal best time as she faded to seventh in her opening round heat, finishing in 1:02.33. She was 32nd overall.
Action continues today for The Bahamas in Eugene.
In the girls 100m hurdles, Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Champion Devynne Charlton will run out of lane eight in heat five. The first four in each heat and the next four fastest times move on to the semi-finals. That event will take place at 11:28 a.m. in Eugene, 2:28 p.m. here in The Bahamas.
In the evening session, The Bahamas' girls 4x100m relay team will take to the track in their opening round heat. The Bahamas will run out of lane two in heat one, at 6:05 p.m. in Eugene, 9:05 p.m. here in The Bahamas. Just the first two in each heat and the next two fastest times will move on to the final.
The Bahamas' boys 4x100m relay team will also be in action. They will run out of lane seven in heat three, at 6:54 p.m. in Eugene, 9:54 p.m. here in The Bahamas. Like the girls, the first two in each heat and the next two fastest times will move on to the final.
The men's 200m final will also be contested tonight.
On Saturday, the heats of the boys 4x400m will be held, and the final of the boys and girls 4x100m will be contested; and on Sunday will be the final of the boys 4x400m.
The world juniors features the best the best junior track and field athletes in the world, and The Bahamas is represented by a 24-member team. This year represents the first time that the world juniors are being held in the United States of America (USA).

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Burrows through to semis four others out in first round

July 24, 2014

The Bahamas competed in swimming and judo on the first day of competition at the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, and unfortunately, none of the five athletes in action advanced.
In judo, the brother and sister duo of D'Arcy and Cynthia Rahming came in ready to take on their challengers at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. D'Arcy competed first, in the men's 66 kilogram (kg) class, and fell to Joe Mahit from Vanuatu in the round of 32. Mahit managed to score a yuko just eight seconds into the fight, and he ended the match on an Ippon seoi-nage, which is basically a hand throwing technique. Both are throwing techniques. The match lasted just 55 seconds.
In the women's 57 kg. call, Cynthia took on Kristy Powell, of Wales, in the round of 16.
After two minutes of back and forth action, Powell was able to defeat Rahming by Ippon 2:23 into the fight. Both D'Arcy and Cynthia are eliminated from the remainder of the competition.
The swimmers would be the next Bahamian athletes to compete in Glasgow; they competed at the Tollcross Swimming Centre.
Vereance Burrows managed to finish fifth in heat seven of the men's 50 meters (m) fly in 24.83 seconds, to advance to the semis. In the semi-finals, he matched his national record time of 24.74 seconds, but it was only good enough for eighth place, therefore failing to make the final. Burrows will compete in the men's 50m freestyle on Monday.
Dustin Tynes competed in the second heat of the men's 200m breast, and finished in sixth place in his heat in 2:22.90. He finished 15th overall and failed to make it to the final. Tynes will have another chance today when he competes in the men's 100m breaststroke. He will also take part in the men's 50m breast on Sunday.
The final swimmer to take to the waters for The Bahamas on Wednesday was Joanna Evans. She competed in the women's 200m freestyle, and finished in sixth place in a time of 2:04. Evans failed to make the semi-finals, but she will be competing in the women's 800m free on Sunday, as well the women's 400m freestyle on Tuesday.
Today will be another active one for the swimmers. Flag bearer for The Bahamas Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and Ariel Weech will both compete in heat seven of the women's 50m free. Vanderpool-Wallace will be in lane three, and Weech will swim out of lane seven. That heat is set for 11:05 a.m. this morning, 6:05 a.m. here in The Bahamas.
Carl Hield will be the first boxer to see action for The Bahamas. He will compete in the men's 69 kg. class, in the round of 32, against Mbachi Kaonga, of Zambia. That match is set for 7:05 p.m., 2:05 p.m. local time.

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Team Bahamas Area fails in its bid to reach Little League World Series

July 24, 2014

Team Bahamas Area (New Providence) was perfect through three games of the Caribbean Little League Regional Baseball Tournament in Freeport, Grand Bahama, but once you reach the medal rounds, there is no room for error.
Unfortunately, the team came up short, falling to Puerto Rico in the crossover playoffs, 6-4, and won't get a chance to play for the gold medal. Only the top team from this tournament will qualify for the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania., from August 14-24, and The Bahamas won't get that chance.
According to reports, two crucial errors in the outfield ended Team Bahamas' hopes of getting past Puerto Rico and into the gold medal game.
In earlier action, the U.S. Virgin Islands scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to get past the nine-time regional champions Curacao. The U.S. Virgin Islands will now play Puerto Rico for the gold at 4 p.m. today for the
opportunity to represent the Caribbean in the Little League World Series.
Team Bahamas Area (New Providence) will play Curacao at 1 p.m. today in the bronze medal game. The closing ceremony and awards presentation is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Emera Baseball Park in Freeport.
Team Bahamas Area (New Providence) was flawless in the preliminary round, slamming the Dominican Republic 34-0 in four innings via the mercy rule, defeating Curacao 11-3, and getting past Aruba, 5-2. They entered the crossover playoffs as the top team out of Pool 'B'.
The U.S. Virgin Islands won Pool 'A' with a 3-1 win/loss record. Puerto Rico also finished with a 3-1 record in Pool 'A' but had to settle for the second spot. Bonaire was third in Pool 'A' with a 2-2 record, and Team Bahamas Host (Grand Bahama) rebounded to win their final two games after losing their first two to finish with a 2-2 record. However, they still failed to qualify for the crossover playoffs, finishing fourth in Pool 'A'.

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The Bahamas out-matched by Bermuda at CFU qualifier

July 24, 2014

The Bahamas' under-17 boys national soccer team got trampled by Bermuda late Wednesday evening, and are now in danger of not advancing further through the Caribbean Football Union's (CFU) qualifying process.
The Bahamas lost 4-0 to Bermuda in the second game of the tournament over at the Roscow A.L. Davies Soccer Field, at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex. In the first game of the tournament, Martinique took down Puerto Rico, 2-0, on goals from Marie Andrew in the 79th minute and Agot Kendrick in the 88th minute.
Against Bermuda, The Bahamas was completely overwhelmed.
Bermuda managed to control the time of possession for most of the game, and kept The Bahamas' scoring opportunities limited. They pressured the Bahamian squad for most of the match.
Bermuda's Jerome Bailey scored their first goal in the 42nd minute, and then added another in the 51st minute to give them a 2-0 lead.
The Bahamas had a good scoring opportunity early in the second half, but failed to convert and didn't get many chances after that.
Osagi Bascombe managed to put his team up 3-0, after he scored in the 76th minute of play. With time winding down and the game out of reach, Kacy Butterfield scored a goal in extra time to seal the victory for Bermuda.
"We learned quite a lot from this game. For a few of those plays it would not have mattered who was on the field. Bermuda scored two quality goals and overall they just played a good brand of football. We had a few opportunities, but we were not able to respond with quality possessions and goals of our own," said Team Bahamas Head Coach Dion Godet. "We knocked far too many passes back to Bermuda, whereas theirs went through the gaps and corridors and ended up being well placed balls. With what we learned, prepares us well for Martinique. We have to improve our passing, diagonal running and our overall spacing. We need to go out and win on Friday, and from what I saw we are certainly capable of beating Martinique."
Andrew Bascombe, Bermuda's head coach said, "We knew we would have to come out fast and aggressive. We were able to do that and once we got on top we tried to defend and counter. We knew The Bahamas would be hard to beat, but the guys were able to execute the game plan well tonight, control the time of possession and defend. Moving forward our biggest concern will be the heat and recovery, and overall just keeping the team focused."
Today, Bermuda will be squaring off against Puerto Rico at 5 p.m. which will be followed by The Bahamas taking on Martinique at 7:30 p.m. All of the games are played at the Roscow A.L. Davies Soccer Field.

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Top 50 Basketball Camp underway at D.W. Davis

July 24, 2014

The Bahamas Global Sports Foundation's NCAA Bahamas Top 50 Basketball Camp and the 2014 International Coaches Clinic tips off on New Providence this week featuring some of the top basketball coaches in the United States of America (USA) and The Bahamas, including Irving Thomas, National Basketball Association (NBA) scout with the Los Angeles Lakers; Susan Summons; retired National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Coach Ronnie Arrow; Mike Daniel, Carmelo Anthony's former high school coach; and Marvin Henfield, director of Mini Basketball Bahamas.
The official opening was held yesterday morning in the Sandy A&B Room in the Beach Tower of the Atlantis Resort. The U.S. Embassy is a proud sponsor of this event, and the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Neda Brown along with Bahamian officials were on hand to give remarks. The camp, featuring 50 of The Bahamas' top young basketball standouts, got underway yesterday at the D.W. Davis Gym on Wilton Street, in Palmdale, and will run until Saturday.
Visiting coaches attended two local camps on Wednesday, in partnership with the United States Embassy here in New Providence, and on Thursday at the Atlantis Hotel, there was a presentation by Thomas and Summons for the local coaches. Summons is the head coach of Miami-Dade College, and a retired hall of fame athlete. She has two players from The Bahamas playing on her team.

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KPMG: Energy company 'not shortlisted' in RFP

July 24, 2014

Stellar Waste to Energy Bahamas were told last year that their proposal was not approved to progress to the second phase of the energy reform process, KPMG (Bahamas) has confirmed.
Following a detailed review of the company's proposal by the government's financial and technical advisors and "consideration by the ministerial committee" the company, which is now at the center of a political controversy over the signing of a letter of intent with them by a junior official, was informed on October 1, 2013 that they would have to exit the request for proposal prior to reaching the "pricing" stage.
Simon Townend, head of advisory for KPMG (Bahamas), the government's key advisors in the energy reform process, confirmed the official status of SWTEB's proposal as far as the formal energy reform process is concerned in an emailed response to inquiries from Guardian Business.
He said the decision with respect to SWTEB's proposal was taken after they, like all bidders, were "assessed on a wide range of financial, technical and other appropriate criteria".
The disclosure would appear to raise yet more questions about why Renward Wells, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works and Urban Development, signed a letter of intent with the energy company, as first revealed by Guardian Business last week.
That signing, which Wells has yet to speak on, has led to calls for his resignation from both Prime Minister Perry Christie and Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis, out of concern that he may have breached parliamentary protocol given that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works Philip Davis has indicated he knew nothing of the signing and did not give instructions for it.
Minnis suggested that Wells, however, would not have signed the document had he not received such instructions and questioned the fact that SWTEB principal Dr. Fabrizio Zanaboni, in an interview with Guardian Business, said the company "has the support of the prime minister".
SWTEB, as outlined in the letter of intent seen by Guardian Business, wishes to develop a $625 million to $675 million waste-to-energy plant at the New Providence landfill, with the goal of producing 75 to 80 mega watts of power, or between 29 to 33 percent of New Providence's energy needs, from incinerating garbage.
The LOI would have provided for the company to engage in studies which would lay the groundwork for the construction of the waste-to-energy plant within six month's time, once a further heads of agreement had been
hashed out with the government.
Subsequent to the political drama that has spun out of the signing of the LOI, SWTEB's principal, Dr. Fabrizio Zanaboni, has sought to defend the project. In doing so, he suggested it holds major benefits for the country and has come to the fore via a legitimate process which saw SWTEB put forward their bid during the ongoing RFP process with respect to restructuring BEC.
Specifically, Zanaboni had indicated that SWTEB submitted a proposal under the "ancillary proposals" sections of the RFP, relating to renewable energies connected to the BEC privatization.
In comments made to Tribune Business, the investment banker said that this also negated the need to undertake any other tender process with respect to a waste-to-energy plant at the landfill site, telling that newspaper: "Personally I do not see the need to do a specific RFP for waste-to-energy, since the energy reform already gave scope to such add-on sections and we have taken advantage of such opportunity."
However, Townend's comments would appear to weaken this argument, given that SWTEB's proposal was ultimate rejected by the government and its consultants at a fairly early stage.
In his response to Guardian Business' inquiries about SWTEB's position that it had engaged in the RFP, Townend said: "We confirm that Stellar Energy submitted a technical proposal in the first phase of the RFP process for energy reform. After detailed review of their proposal by the financial and technical advisors, and consideration by the Ministerial Committee, they were informed on October 1, 2013 that they had not been short listed for the second phase of the process (the pricing proposal phase)."
Questioned about how these "ancillary" proposals fit into the broader energy reform process, given that the government had stated last year that it intended to delay dealing with alternative energy reforms until after the restructuring of BEC was complete, Townend stated: "Under the RFP bidders were permitted to provide alternative proposals to the approach outlined for the overall energy reform, on the condition that they submitted a primary proposal conforming with the RFP.
"In the case of entities wishing to offer renewable energy solutions under independent power producer agreements, they were advised that such projects would be considered at a later date subject to future renewable energy procurement processes once the overall energy reform process, and restructuring of BEC, were complete."
While Townend indicated that the decision to exclude SWTEB was taken based on an assessment of the project based on a variety of criteria, his statement that those who had not submitted "primary proposals" relating to the reform of BEC itself but only for independent power projects - as SWTEB appears to be wanting to do, based on the contents of the LOI now signed - suggests a failure to conform with this requirement in itself could have been a reason to exclude the company at that stage.
Some sources have questioned whether, despite SWTEB's proposal for a waste-to-energy plant having been shelved at this point, the delays in the government's efforts to overhaul BEC itself may have provided cause to rethink the SWTEB project as a less complex means of achieving some energy costs reductions in the medium term.
The LOI signed with SWTEB involved the company itself putting up all of the financing for the studies and construction of the plant.
Wells, a former chairman of the National Energy Taskforce, had long been a proponent of overhauling operations at the landfill, referring to it in August 2013 as a "lose-lose situation" for the country with "enormous potential" to be put to better use as a source for recyclables and energy.

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Bar president: 'Disrespectful' lack of VAT consultation

July 24, 2014

"Double taxation" of property transactions, lawyers going out of business over unpaid debts on which they will have to pay tax, and a lack of proper consultation with the government, are among the primary concerns of leading attorneys who have commented on the newly-related value-added tax (VAT) legislation.
Adrian White, chair of the Bahamas Bar Association's real estate committee, said VAT will be "tough" for many, creating an onerous financial situation for attorneys and buyers alike through adding an additional tax liability onto an already taxed property transactions, and requiring payment of tax to the government by attorneys prior to receipt of payment from clients.
"As a property buyer, you would be paying stamp tax (on land transactions) and VAT, because you are paying VAT on legal fees associated with the transaction as a service rendered," White said.
"A vendor could be looking at three taxes: one tax is real property which you should've dealt with before you sold property; one is stamp tax if you are splitting that cost, and another is VAT on legal fees."
Currently, stamp duty is levied at a rate of 10 percent on transactions valued over $100,000, eight percent on transactions between $50,000 to $100,000 in value, six percent on transactions of $20,000 to $50,000 and four percent on any property transaction of less than $20,000 in value.
White said the impact on the industry of adding VAT on legal services onto this cost is likely to be varied, with some attorneys likely having to "eat" the VAT by reducing their legal fee proportionately. On Wednesday, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis, introduced the VAT Bill in Parliament, which is intended to bring the tax into place in January 2015 at a rate of 7.5 percent.
White said: "It will depend on the law practice and the demands of the market. You'll find some people who will pay their VAT on top of legal fees, because it's required by law, and you'll find instances where the market is too weak to enable a transaction to complete if there is VAT payable on top of the standard legal fee amount.
"We've already had enough difficulty getting what is supposed to be correct legal fee paid, and we've had for a number of years people complaining about people undercutting on legal fees and going below the standard rate. In a weaker market you may find that to make that deal happen an attorney could even consider accounting for VAT amount payable against their legal fee.
"It will be tough for a lot of people. They will have to consider reducing further their fees in order for a transaction to occur, or take the road where it cannot complete. It's certainly going to be problematic because we're in a unique market that has either bottomed out or is recovering."
White noted that given the demand for legal services and the supply, with a Bar made up of hundredss of attorneys, many lawyers are already challenged to run a profitable practice. The requirement to pay VAT on services that may have been sold and invoiced but not yet paid will make this more difficult.
Under the new VAT legislation, all businesses with turnover over $400,000 are required to account on an accrual basis, while those with less than this amount can account on a cash basis.
While cash accounting would take the VAT liability to be created at the point payment is received for goods or services sold, accrual accounting would take this to occur at the point the sales or purchase invoice is raised, irrespective of whether a payment has been made or received.
"When you add these other factors on, maybe not in any great percentage, but to some degree the ability for offices to stay open, particularly single practitioners or smaller firms, is something we'll see less of," added White.
White, like Bahamas Bar Association President Elsworth Johnson, noted that while the sector had sought to be consulted and have input into the drafting of VAT legislation, its push in this regard was not successful. Both explained that seminars organized by the BBA which Ministry of Finance officials had promised to attend saw those representatives cancel their attendance at the last minute.
Johnson said he views the application of VAT to legal fees for property transactions on top of stamp duty already applied as "double taxation".
He added: "We weren't consulted. We wanted to put our position on that and persons just didn't come. In my mind it was somewhat disrespectful. You may see the income and accounts receivable for a law firm being $3-4 million but we haven't actually got that. So how do you tax on something they haven't got? In addition, the way VAT is set up now there is concern that non fee-earning monies would be taxed. You may have monies on escrow, but you can't use that money."

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New Bill creates stiffer fines for VAT breaches

July 24, 2014

The government has significantly stiffened financial penalties associated with non-compliance with value-added tax (VAT), increasing the fine associated with contraventions of the law ranging from the most minor to the most serious by between 100 and 200 percent.
The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) has welcomed the move, urging the government to do the same for other taxes while beefing up enforcement.
Under the new Bill, a minor contravention will now come with a $25,000 penalty. Under the previous draft version of the VAT Bill, released last November, such an incidence of non-compliance would have led to the offender being hit with a $12,500 fine.
A "serious" contravention, previously subject to a $25,000 fine, will now come with a $75,000 fine. Meanwhile the "most serious" incidences of non-compliance could see offenders hit with a $150,000 fine, up from $50,000 under the draft version of the VAT Bill released in November last year.
The government tabled the VAT Bill 2014 and accompanying regulations in parliament on Wednesday, following an announcement earlier this year that it would postpone introducing the tax until January 2015.
The Bill requires all businesses with annual turnover of over $100,000 to register to pay VAT to the government. The government has highlighted the need to overhaul the present tax system in order to capture a larger part of the economy in the country's tax base than currently occurs within the duty-based tax system, and to place the country's fiscal future on a firmer footing.
Robert Myers, chairman of the BCCEC said of the increased fines: "I think it's good as long as they think they can enforce it. The stiffer the penalties, the less people will want to try to cheat. However, we don't support it being a jailable offense."
Myers said he would like to see the government impose similarly harsh penalties for other taxes, such as real property tax, which need to have their compliance rates increased if fiscal reform is to be successful.
"If they can write these kind of laws with regards to VAT, surely they can clean up and write laws with respect to all the others. Tax collection is a major issue. For people not paying they need to lose their property, lose their house. I don't want to pay anyone else's tax but every time someone doesn't I pay more."
However, Myers expressed concern that the inclusion of provisions allowing for heavier penalties is not helpful if the law is not fully enforced.
"If you are not going to enforce the rule of law it doesn't matter what the fine is, and the problem we have now is that they don't enforce for their favorites. Some they shut the power off...some they don't. There is no equitable enforcement of the rule of law and that's a big freaking problem because people say 'Why the hell should I
pay if they aren't?'"
The Bill continues to include many of the provisions associated with trying to avert VAT non-compliance and to punish such non-compliance should it exist.
These include: giving VAT officers direct powers of entry and seizure; authorizing the VAT Comptroller to ensure the recovery of unpaid tax from people leaving The Bahamas; giving the VAT department the right to obtain a lien on the assets of delinquent tax payers; the ability to require an agent of a person liable to pay tax to pay that tax on their behalf; and the ability of the Comptroller to "declare certain persons as a representative of a taxable person thereby making them liable to perform the duties of the taxable person", among other provisions.
The Bill also provides for the publication of a list of names of those who have not paid their VAT.
However, the new Bill notably removes any reference to the creation of a Revenue Court, as was previously envisaged, to handle tax related offenses

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Airline: VAT 'creating crisis upon a crisis'

July 24, 2014

The president of a Bahamian airline has decried the likely "serious" impact of value-added tax (VAT) on the local airline industry, claiming that the government was "creating a crisis on top of a crisis" through rising costs of doing business and delayed educational programs.
SkyBahamas President and CEO Randy Butler claimed that the implementation of the 7.5 percent tax would put undue burden on local airlines and the wider tourism industry, given the host of taxes and fees already facing SkyBahamas and other local airlines.
"Without thought, [the government] continues to put taxes... and undue fees and pressures on us," said Butler. "Our business license fees increased from 0.75 to 1.25 percent... and terminal fees are now charged per seat, not passenger flown.
"In reality, when you add 7.5 percent directly, what is going to be the cost to implement it?
It's not going to be a push of the button. We have to go out and get the airline's accounting system changed; we have to employ more people to manage that, and the cost goes up to manage that."
With less than six months until VAT's scheduled implementation, Butler feared that Bahamian businesses would not have enough time to successful engage in VAT education programs.
"Our goal is to pay our taxes and to help build the company," said Butler, "But we've got, what, six months to do that? You're creating a crisis on top of a crisis."
VAT will be implemented at a flat rate of 7.5 percent for all sectors, with no broad tariff reductions or good exempted. Wednesday's tabled VAT legislation additionally rescinded previously outlined exemptions for domestic travel.
"VAT will impact us seriously... This is something that the government is not collecting directly from the passenger, so it's something that we have to manage.
"The government, we believe, doesn't quite understand the contributions that the private airlines, and airlines on the whole, do to the development of The Bahamas," said Butler.
Butler also feared that the tax would compound the tourist sector's concerns over airlift by potentially reducing the number of flights into the country.
"Think of what tourism is already [experiencing] with airlift, think of the other challenges... in five months you're going to have at least a 10 percent operating cost increase."
Given the challenges facing the local airline industry, Butler also called for the government to privatize Bahamasair to create a level playing field.
"The government continues to give more money to Bahamasair and subsidize other foreign carriers, which makes it hard for us to exist," stated Butler. "We do not want a handout from the government. We want the government to have a level playing field."

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Privy Council: 'No perversity of fact' in court's Bimini decision

July 24, 2014

The Privy Council has provided its reasoning behind its decision to reject the appeal of the Bimini Blue Coalition (BBC) against lifting an injunction against Resorts World Bimini (RWB), holding that there was, "no error of law or perversity of fact in the judge's decision" in the Court of Appeal.
BBC sought to prevent RWB from continuing the controversial dredging of a proposed 1,000-foot ferry pier and man-made island, arguing that it posed catastrophic risk to Bimini's marine environment.
However, the Privy Council yesterday presented its written judgment, which held that the permit granted to RWB by the Department of Physical Planning (DPP) was valid.
"The judge concluded that on the evidence it was arguable that the conditions necessary to be complied with either had been or were being addressed to the satisfaction of the DPP," stated the judgment, delivered by Lord Toulson.
"The Board rejects (BBC attorney) Ms. Jordan's argument that the judge erred in law in his approach to the developers' application to set aside the injunction... The purpose of granting a short injunction, with permission to apply to the Supreme Court to set it aside, was to preserve the position until such evidence was placed before the court which had the primary responsibility for granting or refusing interim injunctions."
The Board granted an interim injunction against the dredging when it was presented with a purported permit granted overnight to the developers by the DPP under the Conservation Act on May 23.
The Board noted that while, "there was no suggestion that the document was a fabrication... there was no written statement from anyone to verify it or to explain how it came into existence".
Despite the interim injunction on the dredging due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the permit, the judge eventually concluded that the permit granted to the developers under the Conservation Act was genuine.
The Board noted: "One matter of central significance was whether the provisions of the Conservation Act applied to the developers' activities. The majority of the Court of Appeal had concluded as a matter of interpretation that the Act did not apply; the dissenting judge considered that it did apply.
"On the question which caused the judge the greatest difficulty, that is, whether the developers were fully complying with the conditions of the licence, the Board rejects the suggestion that his approach or conclusions were perverse.
"He was entitled to conclude that the developers were at least arguably complying with the necessary conditions, and he was properly entitled to take the evidence from BEST (Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission) into account in reaching his ultimate decision whether to set aside the injunction."
The judgment is the latest development in the ongoing cruise ship terminal feud. Earlier this week, Justice Anita Allen ruled that the securities costs owed by BBC to RWB and the government if it was to continue in its efforts to seek a judicial review of the project would be reduced by over 50 percent from $650,000 to $315,000.

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Trade expert: Call centers not a Bahamas 'advantage'

July 24, 2014

An expert in international service trade policy has revised her initial outlook on Bahamian involvement in Global Value Chain (GVC) services after conducting research in The Bahamas, arguing that the country was "not going to be competitive" in low labor-cost services.
During an interview with Carlton Smith on Let's Talk Live, Senior Advisor for Services Trade at the Organization of American States (OAS) Dr. Sherry Stephenson said, "The Bahamas is a high skill, high talent, highly educated, and therefore, high cost society. So the advantage here is not going to be built on lower labor cost activities, such as call centers," she said.
"The advantage is going to be in the area of higher skills, sophisticated services activities, I think that's what we're looking at in order to strengthen. That is where the government... needs to focus, because you're not going to be competitive in the lower labor-cost end of the services scale."
Stephenson specifically argued that The Bahamas had far greater opportunities for growth in advanced services within the financial and arbitration sectors after three days of study in Nassau and Freeport, adding that additional skills training was essential to growth.
"We've been looking at the strengths in the financial services sector, how to build upon those strengths, how to develop niche markets in financial services such as advisory services, such as insurance services that can be strengthened," she said.
"We're also looking at areas in which The Bahamas might be able to develop a stronger competitive situation that they have now based on an existing skillset in the country, particularly in the area of legal advisory services... or arbitration services."
Stephenson also noted the potential for expansion at Freeport during a recent visit, stating, "The Bahamas has a great advantage in Freeport in the transshipment area, which is a service, and that clearly... could be expanded... so that the Bahamas could become more of a regional hub than it is at present."
However, Stephenson suggested earlier this week that low labor cost activities, including call centers, could prove beneficial for The Bahamas due to their low skill and education barrier. Those comments were made during a panel discussion which explored the opportunities of integrating Bahamian goods and services into GVCs.
Several persons expressed doubts over whether The Bahamas had sufficient skilled, appropriately educated laborers to meet the demands of the services industry. In response, Stephenson suggested that The Bahamas could adapt to these shortcomings through training and lower skill services.
"Your human capital can be shaped, but not all human capital has to be at the highest level to capture services tasks," said Stephenson.
Fellow panelist Edison Sumner, CEO of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), similarly felt that a lack of skilled workers represented a significant challenge to the country's services ambitions, and called for immigration reform.
"Part of the human capital... is having a look at our immigration policies to ensure that we can attract the kind of capital that we need to build certain industries in the country," said Sumner.
"Being mindful that when we bring persons in... that we also have a policy in place where we're able to have some knowledge transfer to other Bahamians in the country, so that when those persons who are workers on work permits vacate the country, we don't create a vacuum in various industries," he added.
Stephenson conducted research at the request of the Ministry of Financial Services from July 22-24 and will present her suggestions for Bahamian integration into GVCs to the government at a later date.

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BOB to graduates: 'Start saving today'

July 24, 2014

High school graduates obtained valuable advice on how to manage their present and future finances. That bit of advice came from Kevin Hanna, manager of the Treasury Department at Bank of The Bahamas Limited during a recent seminar.
Speaking on the topic "Savings - an absolute priority!" Hanna told those attending Executive Employment & Marketing Agency's "Successful Tips for First Time Employment" seminar at Sandals Resort that it's not necessary to be wealthy to be successful, but it is what you do with what you have that makes the difference between success and failure.
"Too many people have very little knowledge of basic concepts involving money. Too many of us have bad spending habits. But the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. If you have a job or receive an allowance, you need to open a bank account and you need to start saving today. We all have to start somewhere," Hanna said.
According to Hanna, the national savings rate is under stress at just 15-19 percent of GDP compared with 44 percent for some Asian countries, a fact which he said has serious implications for quality of life after retirement.
"Generally most Bahamians have less than $1,000 in the bank. They are under financial stress because they don't know how to manage their money. If you don't have financial discipline you will always be in debt. You need to get in your head that 'when I start working the first thing I'm going to do is save some money,'" he said.
Hanna told the graduates to make sure that they do not spend more than they make and to learn the value of a dollar over time. He said saving just the $1.99 that some people spend on breakfast every day will add up over a year.
"If you start saving now you'd be amazed at the results of compounding interest on your money but you have to start today. You have to be cognizant of the things you want to achieve in your life. You have to have goals. Keep them in front of you and use your money to further your goals," he said.
Some examples of goals young people entering the workforce might want to set would include saving towards buying a piece of property as soon as possible, or becoming a successful entrepreneur.
According to Hanna, one of the impediments to successful saving is materialism and the power of advertising which can destroy young people's hopes and dreams.
"There is nothing wrong with desiring nice things but you have to control your appetite. You don't need a new pair of shoes for every outfit.

You have to know your panic buttons or the things that make you overspend. You have to cut back and start saving money," he said.
Hanna said the most important key to successful savings is creating a budget and paying your savings first, before paying or spending on anything else. Additionally he said young people should consider investing in instruments such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds, including Government stock that can be purchased from the Central Bank for as little as $100.
"Let the time value of money work for you," he said.

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VAT on BEC

July 24, 2014

The new value-added tax (VAT) legislation tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday would tax electricity bills, other utilities, food and private healthcare.
Past incarnations of the legislation exempted many Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) customers, but Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said that the government decided not to exempt electricity bills and suggested customers could see an increase in their light bills.
VAT will be introduced on January 1, 2015 at a rate of 7.5 percent.
"That does not mean that the price goes up or that if it does, it goes up by the 7.5 percent, because they would have an opportunity to get credits for their inputs," he said in an interview outside the House of Assembly yesterday.
"As a matter of fact, our experts tell us that being exempt is actually a disadvantage for a lot of services, because they don't have the opportunity to get credit back for the VAT that they pay.
"We don't expect it to go up by the amount of the VAT.
"As it stands now, it might increase a bit or it might stay the same."
Halkitis said the government
is "finally taking up the challenge and shouldering the responsibility, of bringing our system of taxation up to the proper and appropriate standards of the 21st century".
The government had previously proposed to exempt a variety of breadbasket items.
However, it now has reduced the duty on over 20 categories of food items (from 10 percent to five percent) including meat, poultry, milk, cream, yogurt, cheese, curd, vegetables, fruits, nuts, coffee, tea, spices, pasta, jams, fruit juice, yeast and seasonings.
The Tariff Amendment Bill also listed duty reductions on over 100 items, including cameras (seven percent to duty free), watches (10 percent to duty free), refrigerators (25 percent to five percent), various types of apparel (25 percent to 20, and 35 percent to 20), footwear (25 percent to 20 percent), pharmaceutical goods (35 percent to 25 percent), beauty and make up products (45 percent to 35 percent) and more.
Among the list of items that will be taxed are services provided by persons living outside of The Bahamas relating to telecommunications services and electronic commerce that will be for the use, enjoyment, benefit or advantage of persons within The Bahamas. This will include services like web-hosting; distance teaching; political, cultural, artistic, sporting and entertainment broadcasts; image, text and information databases and the updating of software.
The new bill has also reduced the timeline for the payment of VAT refunds "allowing businesses that file monthly returns to request refunds within two months of the period in which the net credits arise".
The bill also increased the time for a business to file a VAT return from 21 to 28 days.
Exemptions
A major revision in the latest bill is the reduction in the number of exemptions.
As previously reported, Halkitis said New Zealand VAT experts advised the government to have as few exemptions as possible.
According to the bill, no goods will be exempted and the list of exempted services was shorted to 14 items.
Most financial services, the sale or rental of a dwelling, the transfer of vacant land, the lease of land and any service by a government entity in connection with a taxable activity will be exempt under the bill.
Education services, specifically tuition funded courses, services rendered by a day care business, public heath care services, religious services by an institution of religious worship and services by a recognized charity relating to charity function are also exempt.
Games of chance, insurance services and services provided directly by a facility to people in need of care are also exempt.
The direct service to a person living outside The Bahamas, who is not a taxable person, regarding the handling of any foreign going aircraft while in The Bahamas is exempt.
People involved in the operation or management of any foreign going aircraft or vessel are also exempt.
Zero rated supplies and services in the bill include legal, engineering, consultancy, accountancy and insurance services.
The bill also calls for the establishment of the Value-Added Tax Department that will be responsible for the administration and enforcement of VAT.
The bill empowers a VAT comptroller to ensure the effective and efficient collection of VAT as well as to prepare a national framework for the levy and collection of VAT, among other things.
It also allows the comptroller to seize "VAT-able" goods where VAT has not or will not be paid. The comptroller may also seize any car used in the removal of any "VAT-able" item that has not yet been cleared by the department.

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Wells and govt quiet on resignation issue

July 24, 2014

The fate of Parliamentary Secretary Renward Wells remained unclear yesterday as the embattled Bamboo Town MP refused to reveal whether he would resign over claims that he acted outside of his authority.
The government has also remained silent on the issue.
As previously reported, The Nassau Guardian confirmed that Prime Minister Perry Christie asked Wells to resign as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works for signing a letter of intent for a $600 million-plus waste-to-energy plant at the New Providence landfill without Cabinet instructions.
Wells was expected to make a statement in the House of Assembly yesterday, but he remained quiet throughout the proceedings.
Wells' wife and several constituents sat in the gallery of the House, but several of them left before it suspended.
When The Nassau Guardian attempted to interview Wells outside the House, he declined to speak on the issue. Asked if he intended to address the matter in Parliament, Wells said 'No' before walking away.
Wells signed the document with Stellar Waste To Energy Bahamas Limited (SWTEB).
By signing the document, Wells acted above his pay grade, sources said.
When asked for an update on the controversy, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said on Monday that he still needed to determine whether Wells did anything wrong.
"From all accounts there ought to be concern, but the question is whether he did anything wrong, or whether he did anything that in any way is contrary to established protocols," Davis said.
Davis told The Nassau Guardian in an earlier interview that Wells did not have the authority to sign the letter of intent.
Wells previously confirmed that he was prepared to resign, if it would mean protecting the integrity of the Westminster system he swore to uphold.
The letter of intent stated that it was signed on July 4 by SWTEB Principal Dr. Fabrizio Zanaboni and Wells, former chairman of the National Energy Task Force.
According to the letter of intent, SWTEB aims to construct a fully self-funded waste-to-energy plant at the landfill that would burn garbage in order to produce up to 70 to 80 megawatts of power, around 29 to 33 percent of New Providence's total power demand.
It would involve the project developer putting up 100 percent of the cost of the development of the facility, which would take two years to construct.

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Referendum set for November 6

July 24, 2014

Following three delays, the long-anticipated constitutional referendum will be held on November 6, Prime Minister Perry Christie announced yesterday.
The referendum, which will focus on gender equality, will be separated into four questions.
The Bahamas Constitution Amendments Bills were tabled in Parliament yesterday.
"These four bills, representing the first round of constitutional reform, are bound together by a common thread: The need to institute full equality between men and women in matters of citizenship and, more broadly, to eliminate discrimination in The Bahamas based on sex," said Christie in the House of Assembly.
The first amendment bill seeks to give a child born outside The Bahamas to a Bahamian-born mother and non-Bahamian father the same automatic right to Bahamian citizenship that the constitution already gives to a child born outside The Bahamas to a Bahamian-born father and a non-Bahamian mother.
"The bill is therefore simply equalizing the sexes and, in so doing, eliminating an area of discrimination against women that has persisted for the past 41 years," Christie said.
"It is important to emphasize, however, that in keeping with the present constitution, the right to automatically pass Bahamian citizenship to one's child will continue to operate only where the Bahamian parent is himself, or herself, a native-born Bahamian. This will not change under this amendment."
The second amendment bill seeks to enable a Bahamian woman who marries a foreign man to secure the same access to Bahamian citizenship that a Bahamian man enjoys under the constitution as it relates to his foreign spouse.
As a precaution, Christie said provisions would be made to ensure that foreign people who enter into bogus marriages with Bahamians will not be assisted by the constitutional change.
None of the first two bills would apply retroactively, Christie said.
The third bill seeks to reverse the law that prohibits an unwed Bahamian man from passing his citizenship to his child if he or she is born to a foreign woman.
The bill would require proof of paternity.
The final constitutional bill seeks to make it unconstitutional for any law or any person acting in the performance of any public office to discriminate based on sex.
However, Christie said that would not be all encompassing.
"It is for me to caution, however, that this bill makes it clear that the existing exceptions will continue to apply," Christie said. "In particular, this bill will not make same sex marriages lawful.
"Such unions are already treated as void under the Matrimonial Causes Act and the genesis of this particular legal position pre-dates the Independence Constitution. This will not change under the proposed amendments to Article 26."
Christie said the government intends to have the four constitutional bills debated and passed in both houses of Parliament in the shortest possible time so as to maximize the time available for the educational campaign.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Ruby Nottage will spearhead the public education campaign, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks, Christie said.
The referendum was originally expected to take place before June 2013 and later rescheduled to November 2013.
Christie later announced that the referendum would happen by June 2014.
In order for constitutional changes to take place, the bills must be approved in the House of Assembly and in the Senate.
The bills must then be approved by a simple majority of voters in a referendum.

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Minnis urges support for referendum

July 24, 2014

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday Bahamians should not be discouraged from voting in the constitutional referendum set for November 6, despite the government's decision to ignore the results of the 2013 gaming referendum.
"Let me emphasize, Mr. Speaker, that these constitutional bills will require a yes vote in a binding constitutional referendum," said Minnis in the House of Assembly.
"Those persons who might feel some way discomfited by events which have followed a recent referendum should not be in any way discouraged.
"This constitutional referendum will count. The results of this referendum will be important and binding."
The government yesterday tabled four constitutional referendum bills in the House of Assembly.
Minnis has been very critical of the government's decision not to honor the results of the gaming referendum, in which the majority of people who participated voted against the regulation and taxation of web shops.
The government decided to go against the results of that referendum.
Prime Minister Perry Christie announced earlier this year that the government intends to bring legislation to regulate the web shop industry.
Minnis previously said the government's decision on the matter shows it can not keep a promise.
However, Minnis said yesterday the constitutional referendum, which seeks to bring about gender equality, is a bigger issue and requires parliamentary support.
"Though there is much which divides us in this place, let us speak with one voice when the issue is equality before the law," he said. "Let us, Mr. Speaker, speak as one in this place.
"If we can do so, we will signal to every Bahamian and the watching world our unified commitment to the advancement of human dignity in our beloved Bahamas.
"The success of this effort will require a bold and unified, multi-partisan and multi-sectoral effort on the part, not just of the political parties, but of civil society organizations, the Constitutional Commission, as well as social, civic and religious leaders."
Minnis encouraged Bahamians to attend the educational meetings that will commence in the coming weeks, consider the proposals and vote their conscience.
While Minnis hopes for widespread support, Bahamas Christian Council President Ranford Patterson previously said he will not vote in the constitutional referendum.
"I'm not supporting it because it's a waste of my time," he said in March.
When interviewed earlier this month, Patterson reiterated his views.
"Bahamians, I believe, we don't care to hear about another referendum," Patterson said.
"That's my honest belief. Who knows? [The government] may be able to galvanize the people to go to the polls, but I can almost guarantee that the turnout would be less than what we [saw] in the last referendum."
About 45 percent of registered voters voted in the gaming referendum.

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3.5 mil. for tax reform effort

July 24, 2014

Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said yesterday the government has allocated $3.5 million for its overall tax reform process, including its education campaign for value-added tax (VAT).
Halkitis' comments came after he tabled the Value-Added Tax Bill 2014 and the draft regulations in the House of Assembly.
"As was explained in the budget communication, the government has accepted the recommendation of New Zealand consultants to enlist the private sector in the public education campaign," he said.
"A three-person task force will oversee this process and will be tasked to assist in explaining the reform process to the business community and the wider public."
Halkitis said the government has not yet appointed the task force, but has identified some of the members.
"They are going to be people who are recognized as professionals in their field who are versed on the topic, who will assist us in taking the information to the public," he said.
VAT will be introduced on January 1, 2015 at a rate of 7.5 percent.
Halkitis said the $3.5 million is allocated for the government's overall tax reform plans, including real property tax, as well as some other refinements to the existing tax regime.
Halkitis said he was not worried about the VAT education campaign conflicting with the campaign for the constitutional referendum, scheduled to take place on November 6.
"We are going to be proceeding and the Constitutional Commission is going to be proceeding," he said.
"A big step for us today was for us to get the legislation and the regulations in the public domain.
"What held us back in terms of the education campaign was we had to make a lot of decisions. Those decisions have been made."
Debate on the VAT bill is expected to proceed in the next two weeks, he said.

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Miller disagrees with BEC Friday disconnection plan

July 24, 2014

Although the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) said yesterday that it will resume its disconnection exercises this Friday, BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said he does not support the practice and will seek to "put a stop to it".
In the statement, BEC advised residential customers to pay all outstanding arrears on their electricity bills in order to avoid disconnection.
However, Miller said he was reluctant to agree to the exercise when he was approached about it, noting that the board had grave reservations about it.
"As you know I stopped that (Friday disconnections) because we thought that it was unfair," he said when asked to comment on the statement.
"However, what they have put in place is that BEC offices will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow you to pay.
"According to them, they would get about 30 percent of their funds in on Saturday, if they turn you off on Friday.
"I still don't agree with it. I may have to revisit that between now and Friday and probably put a stop to it.
"I am not supporting it fully. I told them that the board has grave reservations about it because it is unfair for you to pay your bill and your light is not turned on."
It was recently revealed that Miller and his family-owned business owed the corporation more than $200,000.
Miller said the problem that BEC faces is that the country is still in an economic crisis. He said most people who owe the corporation owe a significant amount, in excess of $5,000 for average homeowners.
"How did it get like that? Over the years, all of us have been to blame for it. The politicians, management and everybody else has been lax in doing it," he said.
"But because we cannot now pay our bills on time, especially our fuel bill, which now amounts to about $120 million, we have to now put the pressure and put the squeeze on the consumer to help us to pay our bills.
"I don't like it. I'm against it. It goes against everything the minister has given us a mandate to do, which is to turn your lights on. That's why it's a difficult situation. You either collect your funds and pay your bills or you go to the government and ask the government to give you another $50 million, which we have no intention of doing."
In the statement, BEC advised residential customers whose accounts have been disconnected to set up a payment plan with the corporation.
"We believe that this will assist our customers who are finding it difficult to pay off large account balances in full, while also improving BEC's bottom line," the statement read.

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FNM calls for transparency in BEC deal

July 24, 2014

Former Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour yesterday slammed the government over what he called a complete lack of transparency and repeated delays over the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's (BEC) restructuring.
Neymour said despite the government's promise to make public all details related to those plans, the government has failed to fulfill its promise and has ignored the repeated calls from the opposition for transparency.
"We believe that energy reform should be disclosed prior to the bidding for privatization, because this level of uncertainty creates a situation in which bidders may not give us the best price," he said in the parking lot of BEC's headquarters on Baillou Hill Road.
Since Prime Minister Perry Christie announced plans for companies to take over the management, power generation and transmission of BEC in August 2013, the deadline for the completion of that deal has been pushed back numerous times.
Christie originally said the contracts would be signed by the end of 2013.
Last November, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, who has ministerial responsibility for BEC, said he expected the contracts to be signed in January 2014.
Since January, the finalization date has been pushed back several more times.
When asked about the process and when the contracts will be concluded, Davis has responded on more than one occasion "within two to three weeks".
Earlier this month, Davis defended delays in the restructuring process and said while Cabinet has had a "busy schedule" as the government is dealing with other "important issues", the overhaul of the energy sector will be advanced "hopefully within another two to three weeks".
Neymour said more consideration should be given to Bahamian companies, although Davis previously said no Bahamian companies placed bids.
"We feel that the sale of BEC's power generation should not be offered to one foreign entity, as it is not in the interest of the Bahamian people," he said.
According to Davis, three companies remain in the running to become part of the overhaul of BEC.
While those companies have not been made public, it has been confirmed that U.S.-based PowerSecure is among them.
Many have speculated that PowerSecure is the preferred company, as the firm was recently contracted to assist BEC troubleshoot infrastructural problems following an island-wide blackout.
Neymour said while the FNM supports BEC's restructuring, it cannot support the way the government is going about the process, which has left all Bahamians "in the dark".
"BEC must be reformed," he said. "The FNM government previously stated and is still on the position that BEC has to be privatized.
"We are also of the position that the existing legislation is inadequate. It is more than 60 years old and has to be reformed.
"The problem is it is very complex and it will affect every agency in this country."

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Debate me on air, Mr. Minister

July 24, 2014

Dear Editor,
This is an open letter to Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson.
Minister, I have asked you several questions already and so far you have failed to answer any of them, yet you say you are being attacked because you are being asked to answer some questions from a citizen of this country.
No sir, it is the people of The Bahamas who are being attacked and ripped off to the tune of $9 million earmarked to be invested in another country's culture. At least you could have respected us enough to have put "Junkanoo" in the title of this "carnival" festival, and not hidden it in the background. Are you ashamed of the nation's number-one form of cultural expression? Answer my questions please.
Apparently, you think that I am in the House of Assembly where you can ignore my questions and hide behind the gown tail of the speaker of the House. No sir. I am out here in the real world. Out here with the people you work for sir, the voters. Remember us?
This is a new day; no more taking the people's money and spending it willy-nilly. You, the prime minister and the members of Cabinet must be held to account.
I was shocked when I read your response or, better yet, your non-response to my letter in the newspapers several weeks ago. Just the same ol' diatribe about making so much money with your foreign carnival idea; you ducked and you dodged like a politician in his adolescence and never answered the questions that were put to you. They were fairly easy questions. For example, what was the amount of money paid to the Trinidadian consultant that was brought in?
I do not worship, nor am I intimidated by any politician. In fact I would like to challenge you to a live debate on radio and television on this carnival idea y'all are wasting the citizens' money on.
Instead of answering my questions, sir, you chose to run on about how Junkanoo brings in no money. But sir, Junkanoo inspires the masses and brings us together. As minister of culture, you should have known that. The real reason for that argument is that neither you nor any of your predecessors have ever truly invested in Junkanoo in any substantial way. The same can be said for our rake 'n' scrape and the Goombay Summer Festivals but the cop-out is to blame Junkanoo. You all funded it just enough for it to fail, yet you want to pour millions of the taxpayers' dollars into a foreign flamboyant festival you have no clue about. Y'all really think Bahamians stupid eh?
Tell the truth, most of you politicians think you reside on Mount Olympus, don't you? That you are gods looking down on us lowly Bahamians. But guess what? Those same Roman and Greek gods have been placed in comic books where they and those like them belong.
How about this idea? We invest our money in our culture, in our festivals? You are the minister of what? Culture. Whose culture, again?
I'm ashamed of you guys. In hard times like these you want to take our little pittance and put it on someone else's culture. Let's build up our culture first, then at some point in the future you can find a donor that would gladly sponsor your ambiguous carnival idea.
The latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) report has slashed the forecasted growth projections for The Bahamas by almost 50 percent and y'all are still considering wasting the little we have on someone else's culture.
Question: Will the new VAT taxes be used to pay for this carnival thing?
Politically this is a bad move. Bahamians are hurting out here, minister. This carnival idea will fail; mark my words -- Bahamian culture or nothing. Please do us all a favor and resign if you do not care about our culture.
Just a few more questions, sir. Do you know anything about the Bahamian entertainment industry? Which of your festival commissioners knows about the industry? Which of them is a full time entertainer? Which one has sold more record or CD albums than I have? Who has performed live on stage to make their living from this?
Sir, leave Bahamian culture to the professionals, please.
Minister, we could have sat down and spoken on this matter face to face, instead of doing this through the newspapers and social media, but one of your brilliant advisors told you to ignore me and I would go away. They were wrong. Not when it comes to my culture and my nation's well-being, sir. I can do this all day.
We can find better uses for that $9 million of the taxpayers' money. If Atlantis, Baha Mar, Carnival Cruise Lines or Disney had funded this project, I would not have had a word to say on this matter, but to take the people's hard earned money in trying times and use it in this reckless way on a foreign festival is thoughtless and stupid.
In closing, answer my questions sir, do not evade them again. We need answers please.
- Kirkland H. Bodie

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