Nassau Guardian Stories
October 16, 2014
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said yesterday now that Prime Minister Perry Christie has fired Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells over a controversial letter of intent (LOI) he signed in July, Wells should provide an explanation on the matter.
Wells signed the document without Cabinet approval and was fired from his position as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works on Tuesday.
Davis said it's up to Wells to reveal why he signed the document.
"I think he has to explain that. It's up to him," he said.
"I think having now been relieved of his duties, it would be for him to speak of the circumstances [under] which he signed the letter of intent.
"He just has to explain what happened...As I said before, what he did, I would not have done, but I understand why he did what he did."
Christie asked Wells to resign 12 weeks ago after he signed the document with Stellar Waste to Energy for a $600 plus million project at the New Providence landfill.
Davis suggested yesterday that Wells should have dealt with the matter immediately.
"I think that was unfortunate," Davis told reporters outside Cabinet.
"I think he was misguided not to have followed any advice, if that was the advice given to him."
A statement from the Cabinet Office on Tuesday night advised "that the governor general, acting in accordance with the advice of the prime minister, has directed that the office of parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works and Urban Development become vacant".
The statement did not provide a reason for the firing.
Davis did not reveal Wells' explanation.
He said Christie would determine whether a new parliamentary secretary will be appointed.
"I can always use the help," said Davis when asked whether Wells ought to be replaced.
Davis said he hopes the matter will not impact Wells' position within the Progressive Liberal Party and he spoke highly of Wells' work ethic.
"He was playing quite an integral role," Davis said. "He was involved in most of the things I was doing. He was effective as a parliamentary secretary, but he's now gone."
Christie told reporters last month that he and Wells would address the LOI matter before the House broke.
He later urged Wells to speak truth.
The House has been adjourned to November 19 and Wells never spoke.
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October 16, 2014
Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis should provide answers about what he knew about alleged abuses at the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) when he served as minister of health, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts said yesterday.
"I hope Dr. Minnis bit his tongue during his media comments about the prime minister's decision to enforce discipline regarding Renward Wells and the letter of intent (LOI)," Roberts said in a statement yesterday.
Christie fired Wells from his post as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works on Tuesday, more than three months after he signed the letter of intent without Cabinet approval.
Roberts said, "Some advice for Dr. Minnis: When you call for an investigation into the letter of intent, also call for an investigation into the PHA inventory management and make yourself available to answer questions about what you knew, what you did and did not do during the time you served as minister of health."
Minnis has called for a parliamentary select committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the signing of the LOI with Stellar Waste to Energy for a project at the New Providence landfill.
Regarding the PHA, The Nassau Guardian revealed that a forensic report into the PHA's pharmaceutical and medical supplies shows that there was a $10 million difference in inventory between the physical count and the theoretical inventory balances at the Princess Margaret Hospital Pharmacy in 2013, and no satisfactory explanation was provided.
The report also questions the bidding system regarding contracts and raises serious concerns about other PHA matters.
The report covers the period July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2013.
On Tuesday, The Guardian asked Minnis if any of the concerns raised by the auditors were ever brought to his attention when he served as minister of health between 2007 and 2012.
He said no.
While Minnis did not address any of the alleged abuses that occurred while he was minister of health, he said the $10 million discrepancy in 2013 was due to "clerical errors".
Roberts pointed out that it was the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration that ordered the report into the alleged abuses at PHA.
He said, "For five whole years, Minnis failed to make a decision or act as the substantive minister of health where repeated systemic failures, irregularities, risks and vulnerabilities plagued the PHA.
"Addressing this PHA matter to protect the people's money and the public's interests was a no-brainer, but Minnis did not see his way nor did he care enough to make any decision in the public interest.
"His deafening silence during that period and in the wake of the audit findings indicates that he was asleep at the wheel, clueless or just did not care about what was going on under their nose."
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October 16, 2014
Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Chairman Dr. Duane Sands announced yesterday he will run for deputy leader at the party's one-day convention next month.
Sands said he hopes to make a difference in the party and in the country.
"I hope that, on November 21, that the delegates of the FNM, after careful deliberation, find that my offer to serve as their deputy leader is consistent with their choice for their party and country," he said at a press conference at his medical office on Hawkins Hill.
"I am prepared to serve."
Sands previously considered running for leader.
So far, FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner have put their names forward for the leadership race.
When asked why he chose to run for deputy, Sands said, "As you know, I do not currently enjoy a seat in the House of Assembly.
"Historically, the FNM has had a period where the leader of the FNM performed admirably from the Senate, but I think that a better model will be to not try to reinvent that wheel.
"I don't think that there will be any great problem from making a contribution, riding shotgun as opposed to being in the driver's seat."
Tommy Turnquest served as a senator and was the party's leader prior to the return of Hubert Ingraham as leader in 2005.
FNM Chairman Darron Cash has said that he, too, will vie for the deputy leader post.
Sands said it is no secret the party is challenged with internal conflicts.
"I think that Dr. Minnis has strengths, and Dr. Minnis has demonstrated that there is always room for improvement," he said.
"As the leader of the Free National Movement, it's an unbelievably challenging task. So I think what we need to do is build on those strengths and augment them.
"I am not a perfect person. I am not a perfect politician. I have my strengths and I have my weaknesses."
But Sands said the FNM must ask if it can "put together an effective team and a team that resonates in the hearts and minds of the public".
Sands sought the Elizabeth seat in the 2010 by-election .
He lost against the Progressive Liberal Party's Ryan Pinder.
Pinder also defeated Sands in the 2012 general election.
Sands said he expects those two defeats to be used against him, but said he knows what he has to offer to the party.
He has also launched a website, duanesands.com.
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October 16, 2014
Chief Medical Officer Dr.
Delon Brennen said it would be "nearly impossible" to prevent at least one case of the deadly Ebola virus from entering The Bahamas.
However, Brennen said the Ministry of Health has developed a plan it hopes would prevent local spread of the disease.
"We know that it is almost impossible to prevent that one case from entering into your borders," he said in a recent interview.
"But it's what you do with that case once it actually enters the country that makes the world of difference and that's what we've seen in other places as well."
There has been increased fear of the Ebola virus after two nurses in the United States contracted the virus after treating a patient who tested positive for Ebola following a trip to Liberia.
"That's what we are trying to avoid," Brennen said.
"You never know who is going to show up at your doorstep, but you can take the best care of that person and prevent the issue with your healthcare staff and with your population as a whole."
Brennen said the Ministry of Health has been conducting widespread training with health workers in New Providence and on the Family Islands.
He said everyone including maintenance and cleaning staff at medical facilities have been trained.
Health officials also met with personnel at the country's ports of entry.
Brennen said they were informed of what symptoms they should look for.
Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea and rash.
Brennen said it is "impractical" to screen all visitors, but added that steps can be taken to identify suspected cases.
"Everyone is being trained to be acutely aware of what the issues are surrounding Ebola," he said.
"So we really want to do as much as we can to bring down the hysteria that is related to it and really get people to understand that it is an infectious disease, much like other infectious diseases that we deal with.
"[Bahamians] need to focus their energies and be hyper vigilant that if it is introduced that we make sure that, that one case that is introduced does not become more because of local transmission."
Ebola is spread through human-to-human transmission.
Brennen said quarantine centers have been identified and the necessary equipment is in place.
However, he said treatment options are limited.
"We do know that if we were to identify a case we would be able to access some of the relief supplies in the region," he said.
The Ebola crisis has also captured the attention of the region.
According to reports, Trinidad National Carnival Commission is considering postponing Carnival celebrations in 2015 due to fears associated with the Ebola crisis and the large number of visitors who enter the country for the festival.
When asked if The Bahamas should also consider postponing or canceling major 2015 events such as Bahamas Carnival or the IAAF World Relays, Brennen said that should be a consideration but may not be necessary.
Brennen said the Ministry of Health is focusing on public education to prevent a local outbreak.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the Ebola death rate has risen to 70 percent. Up to Tuesday, the death toll was tallied at 4,447, nearly all of them in West Africa.
The WHO warned there could be up to 10,000 new cases in West Africa per week by December, if the crisis is not controlled.
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October 16, 2014
A man yesterday apologized for the sexual assault of a girl of six during his sentencing hearing.
Justice Carolita Bethell will sentence Kendrick Rolle on Monday.
The jury unanimously convicted Rolle, 33, of having unlawful sexual intercourse with the youngster in June 2013.
The incident took place at Saunders Beach, where Rolle was on a picnic with the victim's family.
He molested the child while he took her in the sea, the jury found.
Rolle has a previous conviction for sexual assault.
Basil Cumberbatch prosecuted. Rolle represented himself.
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October 16, 2014
Three men who say they were wrongly convicted of the murder of a policeman will have to wait longer for an appellate court to review the case.
The Court of Appeal yesterday set a status hearing of November 20 in the appeal of Stephen "Die" Stubbs, Andrew "Yogi" Davis and Clinton "Russ" Evans because transcripts were not ready.
Murrio Ducille, who represents Stubbs, told the appeals panel of Justices Stanley John, Abdulai Conteh and Neville Adderley, "We would have been raring to go but we are devoid of transcripts."
Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin said he was in a "similar position," having only received 281 pages of the record which consists of over 2,000 pages.
John said, "It takes so long to complete an appeal here" before asking Gaskin to try to get the transcripts.
Ian Cargill, who appears for Davis, said he would make an application for bail if the transcripts were not available on the mention date.
According to Cargill, Davis has heart problems and had to be placed on a ventilator, which the prison was unable to provide.
Stubbs, Davis and Evans were sentenced to life imprisonment for the March 1999 murder of Constable Jimmy Ambrose and 10 years' imprisonment for the attempted murder of Constable Marcian Scott at the now-closed Club Rock Disco.
This is the second time the men have been convicted of the offenses.
At the time of their first conviction, the men received the mandatory death sentence. The appellate court quashed the conviction and sentence and made an order for retrial in 2004.
Due to developments in the law, the death penalty has been discretionary since 2006.
The appellate court was also unable to hear the appeal of three convicted drug traffickers due to an incomplete record.
Dion Minnis, David Colebrooke and Dwayne Henderson were convicted by then Deputy Chief Magistrate Carolita Bethell in June 2013.
Cargill, who represents Colebrooke and Henderson, said his concern was that the appellants were nearing the completion of their sentences.
He said the removal of stenographers from the magistrates' courts would make getting records for appeal worse.
He noted that the handwritten notes of Magistrate Linda Virgill were still waiting to be transcribed.
Colebrooke was sentenced to four years in prison. Henderson received three years while Minnis received three years and six months.
The men also return to court on November 20.
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October 16, 2014
The Crown yesterday conceded that a magistrate made an "egregious error" when she convicted a woman of stealing by reason of employment without giving any reasons for her decision.
Magistrate Subusola Swain convicted Marilyn Bain of stealing $40,000 from a safe at Atlantis, which she had access to through her job as a supervisor.
However, Swain did not set out the rationale behind her decision.
Bain was fined $50,000 or in default spend two years in prison.
Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin agreed the appeal should be allowed and a retrial ordered.
On the other hand, Bain's lawyer Ian Cargill asked for no order for retrial.
According to Cargill, the magistrate was unable to give reasons "because there was absolutely no evidence".
In the end, the appellate court ordered Bain tried by another magistrate.
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October 16, 2014
In the Business Section of the September 17 edition of The Nassau Guardian, under the headline "Wilchcombe lauds PM's proposed straw goods delivery system" there is an upsetting reference to the cruise ships banning Bahamian straw goods due to a supposed "red palm mite" infestation.
As the co-founder of a new community organization called "Creative Nassau" (www.creativenassau.com) whose mandate is to promote and celebrate the Bahamian straw industry and our Junkanoo traditions, I was quite concerned to read about this ban as it has the potential to have a direct detrimental effect on our straw industry.
Apparently the government has stated that the cruise ships were incorrect in their assertions and nothing further has been heard on the issue. It is hoped that government has taken a firm stance and made strong objection against any such incidents in the future, because once again there is an imbalance in our state of affairs when our dependence on external forces dictates how we must respond to them.
Are we to be masters of our own fate, or enslaved and beholden to them because of their threats to pull out from this destination? If we refer to a recent letter to the editor written by Dr. Rhonda Chipman-Johnson which highlights the power that these behemoths hold over us, we need to take stock of who we are as a nation, and let these entities know who controls this pillar of our economy.
In the same article, the minister speaks of the development of an e-commerce portal for the sale of Bahamian souvenirs which leads us right back to another instance of the country being dictated to by the foreign banks, the second pillar of our economy, which pepper this nation.
Whilst Bahamians send millions of dollars out of the country on a regular basis through the purchase of foreign goods online by credit card, Bahamian businesses are held hostage by foreign banks and have to jump through all sorts of hoops to establish reciprocal e-commerce networks for the sale of Bahamian products in order to get money coming into the country!
So if the minister and the prime minister are concerned, they need to take a stand to facilitate the proper development of the Bahamian people's businesses.
Are we truly independent, or are we content to merely pay lip service and remain enslaved to these foreign masters? Man up, government!
- Pam Burnside
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October 16, 2014
I bring up this question of value-added tax (VAT) somewhat late, and I take full responsibility for it not being presented in a timely manner.
I was reluctant to even bring it up; there were so many persons more learned and qualified than myself speaking on the issue that I expected my questions to be addressed, but they never were.
The definition of VAT has a phrase in it that has been ignored in all of the "discussions" to this date, and this indiscretion may be the cause of the program running into problems.
Here is the definition: A type of consumption tax that is placed on a product whenever value is added at a stage of production and at final sale.
The definition informs us that a VAT regime is applied to products that are being "produced". The concept is based on the presumption that whatever is being taxed has a market value that is able to support the tax.
It looks like there was no homework done by the government or those that the responsibility was given to. If they had done their work they would have seen that it was important for the necessary production entities to be in place, even before VAT is considered.
Presently, those who are in charge of the process are going about it backwards. They would like to place a tax on a platform that will not be able to support it in the first instance; and the government is looking for a sustainable revenue flow.
What the present tax amounts to is a flat tax of 7.5 percent with promises from a government in a struggling economy that they are going to fulfill their obligations regarding reimbursement.
Except for a radical improvement in the economy we are headed for a "grinding down" of the economy as we go into 2015.
The fact that the VAT program has not reached its targeted merchant groups in the way it should have at this point is not helping the situation. There is a hint of common sense coming out of this if it is true that the larger businesses have been given a February date for normalizing their stock.
However, as business goes in the real world, a year would have been a better.
We are caught up in a twisted circumstance, where those of us who are a part of the status quo do not see what the deal is. Some of us (who should know better) seem to be unconcerned as long as we can raise the sticker price and recoup what the government is asking for.
We have made the mistake of not looking at what VAT is and how it should operate. We have pulled a name out the air that does not really apply to what we are attempting to do. This is a tax that has no support and therefore, is unsustainable.
I also read where the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) convention in November is being moved to a later date. I find that to be strange news; if 2015 goes like I think it is going to, there will be a change in the leadership of the PLP, whenever that convention is staged.
- Edward Hutcheson
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October 16, 2014
The Bahamas AIDS Foundation is hosting the 21st annual Red Ribbon Ball on Saturday, November 22 in the Grand Ballroom of the Atlantis resort.
President of The Bahamas AIDS Foundation Camille Lady Barnett said on Tuesday that it raised $80,000 last year and hope for even more at this event.
"We need to raise more funds to support the work of the foundation, especially three of our most important and costly programs," she said.
The Bahamas has had the highest HIV adult prevalence rate in the region. Outreach to those suffering with the virus is important.
Lady Barnett pointed to the outreach program for adolescents infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. This program is holistic in nature and as such provides academic, psychosocial and financial support along with food, clothing, life skills, job training and preparation skills, computer access and peer support.
The annual cost per child for the outreach program is $2,000. The foundation currently works with 50 adolescents.
Another program is the purchase of medications. These are not the generic medicines currently provided free of charge by the Ministry of Health, but special medications that some patients need. They are costly, Lady Barnett noted.
The foundation has made a commitment to provide these medicines for four patients.
"That is all that we can presently afford to support," Lady Barnett said. "This program costs $24,000 a year."
The final program is "Combating HIV and AIDS through a culture of reading". This program is intended to sensitize primary school children to HIV/AIDS with age-appropriate storybooks. The books are donated annually to primary schools throughout The Bahamas, and in some cases, guest readers read the stories to the students.
Reputable charities such as the AIDS Foundation, the Ranfurly Homes for Children and the Salvation Army help the most needy in our community. Without their support, many would go hungry and without shelter. The AIDS Foundation was established in 1992 by the Zonta Club of Nassau. The Zonta Club was approached by Dr. Perry Gomez, then the director of the national AIDS Programme, with a view to establishing a non-governmental organization to assist in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Those who have enough to give should support the fundraisers held by organizations such as the AIDS Foundation. If you do not have the money to assist, consider volunteering or offering technical skills to help bring relief to those in need.
We should all be careful, however, with charitable giving. There are charlatans out there who create "so-called charities". These unscrupulous individuals give the impression that they are soliciting money for worthwhile causes. But, instead, the money is pocketed.
Make sure those you give to are credible and have backgrounds in service to the community. Also make sure that the charity has some tangible record of doing something for those in need that you can touch and see. Otherwise, your money may be going to fund the lifestyle of a fraudster who does nothing for the most vulnerable and desperate in our country.
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October 16, 2014
There is a single defining issue before the FNM at its upcoming convention: Who is the best person to lead the party's return to office? It is the question of electability, which all political parties in a democracy face.
If the FNM gets wrong its choice for leader, it may not return to office until 2022 at the earliest. With the right leader, an electorate hungry for leadership may well reward the FNM, indeed quite handsomely.
The drift of some voters to the DNA is driven largely by the current lack of appeal of the major parties. The right leader of the FNM can help to stem and reverse this drift.
In the U.S., Bill Clinton energized and made electable a Democratic party which was out of the White House for 12 years. In the UK, Tony Blair brought Labour back to office after four electoral defeats by the Tories.
The major political parties at home have also faced the electability question. In 1977, came the great split in the FNM, resulting in two opposition factions one with the FNM name and the other as the BDP.
Divided and dispirited, the opposition forces were handily beaten in the 1977 general election. The PLP garnered 54.7 percent of the popular vote and 30 seats. The BDP got 26.9 percent of the popular vote and six seats, while the FNM got two seats and 15.6 percent of the popular vote, for a combined total of 42.55 percent.
The seeds for the reunification of the opposition were planted on election night over a round of beers. The PLP won Delaporte, carrying more votes than the opposition's combined tally.
Still, many thought that a united opposition may have carried the seat, considering its vote and the number of voters who stayed home or disaffected to a united PLP. Five years later in 1982, the FNM won the seat.
On election night 1977 as the results came in, the opposition's two opposing and losing candidates in Delaporte, Sir Arthur Foulkes of the BDP and Bazel Nicolls of the FNM, started talking reunification over a round of beers at Sir Arthur's headquarters on Crawford Street.
This picture of two opposing candidates listening to results of an election they both knew they had lost was one of the oddest occurrences in Bahamian politics and set the stage for an extraordinary sequence of statesmanlike decisions in Bahamian politics.
The opposition's turmoil continued after 1977, with another split resulting in the formation of the Social Democratic Party, headed by Norman Solomon, becoming the Official Opposition for a period.
Meanwhile talks initiated by Foulkes and Nicolls continued between the BDP and the FNM factions, with reunification coming in time for the 1982 general election. The party now had to decide on the best person to lead it into the election.
That decision was made at a meeting at the home of the party's founding father and leader, Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield. The question was which individual could best unite the party and improve its electoral fortunes. Sir Cecil readily agreed to step aside in favor of Sir Kendal Isaacs.
Sir Kendal was highly intelligent and articulate. He understood our parliamentary system and was an effective voice inside and outside of Parliament.
Given his mild-mannered nature some thought of him as a conservative by nature. His record proved that he was fundamentally very much a progressive. He was a leader of the cooperative movement and an economic moderate. He was broadly liberal in his thinking on a range of social, economic and political matters.
He was also incorruptible, a stark contrast to Sir Lynden and the PLP. Whether they were inclined to vote PLP or FNM, most people thought that Sir Kendal had the intellectual depth and ability to serve as prime minister.
He famously repeated the well-known aphorism that, "Politics is the art of the possible." He unified the FNM, making it more appealing. In 1982, the FNM jumped to 11 seats, and by 1987, the number jumped to 16.
The 1987 general election is thought to have been one of the most fraudulent since the beginning of party politics in the country. The irregularities were widespread, including a compromised register of voters.
Having failed to run a candidate in St. Anne's, the Opposition may have opened itself up to one of the greatest floating ballot operations in a Bahamian general election.
There are many convinced that the FNM won in 1987, with Sir Kendal as leader. Still, he took responsibility for the defeat and stepped down. This saw the return of Sir Cecil as leader.
Even as far back as 1972, with the PLP at the height of its power, the opposition received 40 percent of the vote, a base that has only grown since then.
The major parties have their base, which may be somewhat comparable in terms of percentages. To be elected to office, they must maintain that base and reach enough swing or independent voters.
It seems that the PLP's base is more likely to come out and hold at a general election, with more of the FNM's base prone to staying home when dissatisfied, as appeared to be the case at the Elizabeth by-election.
For the FNM to regain office, it must strengthen and build its base while attracting a majority of independent voters and those giving the DNA a look over.
Bill Clinton's election team had a sign up in his campaign war room: "It's the economy, stupid." The mantra for the FNM is, "Electability, electability, electability", going with who is best suited to rally the party to electoral victory. The PLP has often been better on this front, with a strategic and single-minded focus on winning office.
To improve its electability, the FNM must provide a set of policy options to address crime, the economy, immigration and a host of issues. It will need to present an attractive slate of candidates, including more females. It must especially attract younger voters and women.
But, foremost, the party must have a leader who can articulate the party's values and policies, someone who will attract younger voters and those eyeing the DNA, and someone whom Bahamians believe can do the job of prime minister.
The FNM stands a good chance of being elected in 2017. But it will squander that opportunity and grab defeat from the jaws of victory if it goes to the polls with the wrong leader.
Victory or defeat at the next general election is in the hands of the delegates at the upcoming convention. They will decide whether the party moves forward, or stagnates and moves backward.
In deciding the question of who is the best person to lead the FNM's return to office, a prior question to help answer the ultimate one, is: "Who would the PLP prefer to run against?"
FNMs should choose the candidate in the November 21 contest of whom the PLP is most afraid.
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October 16, 2014
Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd on Tuesday night pledged support for the delayed constitutional referendum, urged a positive "attitude" as the implementation of value-added tax (VAT) approaches and highlighted the need to better sensitize Bahamians to the addictive nature of gambling.
The issues were among a series of national topics he focused on while delivering his charge at the opening mass of the Anglican Synod at Christ Church Cathedral.
"In light of the recession, the proposed implementation of value-added tax in The Bahamas will open up a new and challenging chapter in our lives," Boyd said.
"With the onset of VAT, the cost of living and the cost of doing business will increase because VAT is a tax on goods and services."
He added, "Brother and sisters, this is what the new year will bring for us. Let us bite the bullet and weather the implementation transition.
"It will be an adjustment for us all but the long-term effects will be for our good.
"It is what it is, so let us approach it with a positive and forbearing attitude, and a commitment to continue to expand this nation on all fronts, even in the area of taxation regimes."
On the issue of proposed amendments to the constitution, Boyd noted the four proposed amendments seek to accomplish four separate interrelated objectives.
They seek to enshrine the principle of equal treatment before the law for men and women, and also to address the specific citizenship provisions that at present, in the constitution, treat men and women differently, he pointed out.
"Bahamians are sensitive about who gets Bahamian citizenship, as any national should be," Boyd said.
"However, I am of the opinion that a lot of us simply need to grow up and come into the real world. We cannot have different strokes for different folks, i.e., different rules for men and women.
"Thousands of persons are disenfranchised and traumatized because of this. Families we all know and love are in anguish and turmoil and it is not right."
Boyd said a lot of the phobia against people obtaining Bahamian citizenship that is surfacing in this current referendum process has to do with our prejudice against Haitians and Jamaicans in particular, and foreigners in general, and about our fear of foreign nations overrunning this country.
But he said, "Do not see these amendments in terms of national prejudice or phobia about foreigners. See them as they fundamentally are: An attempt to bring justice and equality to our sons, daughters and grandchildren who desire to have their children and spouses qualify for the same rights that the other gender does.
"They are an effort to bring about equality between men and women when it comes to passing on citizenship and, more broadly, to eliminate discrimination based on sex, i.e., whether you are male or female."
There has been great controversy surrounding the proposed referendum questions.
The government had scheduled the referendum for next month but has put it off until next year.
Question number four, which would make it unconstitutional to discriminate against a person based on his or her sex, was particularly contentious.
"The concern is that this has the possibility of opening the door to same-sex unions," the bishop pointed out.
"With the greatest respect to those who hold this view, I cannot see how this can be so nor have I heard any argument that spells out how it can be so.
"Having fears and concerns is one thing, but do we deny tens of thousands their rights based on 'what if's?' I do not think so.
"These amendments are about establishing gender equality and seek to equalize the means of transmitting
citizenship. What the introduction of the talk about same-sex marriage does is have the effect of steering the discussion into matters that simply do not arise. I consider it to be a red herring."
Boyd added, "The vote on these amendments is so critical to our integrity and to justice as a nation.
"I shudder to think that we would go to the polls and vote against these amendments. What would we be saying to the world? That we do not believe in gender equality? That we do not believe in the equal rights of men and women to transmit citizenship to their children?
"That would be an unfortunate reflection on our Bahamian integrity and society in general. I get a headache thinking about it."
Boyd also pointed to the need for the long-awaited Citizenship Commission.
"I applaud the government for its intention to pursue this," he said.
"I do not know what the exact terms of reference of that body will be, but I do know this: There are thousands of persons who have made legitimate applications for citizenship - some of them decades ago - and whose applications have not yet been processed. Some have not even received responses.
"This is something that needs to be addressed now, having not been comprehensively addressed by successive governments in the past, in my view."
On the issue of gaming, Boyd said religious leaders have been in intense discussions with the prime Minister and the opposition on this matter and have been fully briefed on why the government feels that it should ignore the will of the majority in the recent opinion poll.
The bishop was pointing to the 2013 gambling referendum during which time a majority of people who voted, voted against the regulation and taxation of web shops and the establishment of a national lottery.
"We fully appreciate the extremely difficult position in which the government finds itself, especially the dire need to fund the most essential services in the country and to seek to track the vast sums of unregulated money which exist in and affect the overall economy of The Bahamas," he said.
"This has implications for us with many of our international financial and regulatory partners.
"The church has said what it felt moved to say. The government is doing what it feels it has to do in this matter.
"We have to continue to sensitize our people to the addictive nature of gambling even as we find help and support for those who fall victim to what could only be termed a national scourge, i.e., habitual gambling."
Speaking generally, the bishop also said the church does not have all the answers to every dilemma and issue facing the country.
"The church cannot even do all of the things that so many people call on the church to do," Boyd said.
"The reality is that it will take more than simply the church to heal the maladies of society.
"It will take many agencies and individuals, public and private, business, social and civic and religious, working together, to make a change. And it can be done.
"The collective good that is being done by so many is keeping our two societies (Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands) now, holding them together at the seams, keeping them stabilized and saving them from utter and complete self-destruction."
The bishop said despite the many challenges faced by the country, all is not lost.
"The church and Christians are called to do what only we can do and that is to be faithful, to believe that God is still in charge of his world and to remain hopeful, hoping beyond hope, as the Old Testament prophets and writings teach us," he said.
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October 16, 2014
No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. [Matthew 6:24 KJV]
I met Stan Holmes some years ago at the national prayer breakfast, which is hosted by the United States senators and Congress persons and attended by the president. From time to time, Stan would send me encouraging words, and as I opened my email this week, there was an email from Stan with the caption "CORE VALUES".
Wow!! This is good for body, mind and soul, not only for me but others. Sometimes God sends a word to you from another source, and, like the newspaper boy, does not write the news but sells the news!
This week I share what Stan sent to me.
What are your core values?
Your values are what you build your life on. They are what undergird your decisions and your reactions. They cause you to do what you do and think the way you think. They impact the way you interpret the world around you and how you engage it.
I recently spent a Saturday afternoon with a group of very sharp young people. These young people have asked to be mentored by some successful and socially engaged entrepreneurs to help them plan a future of business involvement and public service. They are very impressive young men and women! I had been asked to bring comments and lead a discussion on "servant leadership". As part of that discussion, I stressed their need to know and understand certain things about themselves. I encouraged them to look internally and see who they are and what values they are living out. Once they understand who they are, then if they want to grow or develop in a certain area, they can work on that specific area.
I emphasized to them the importance of wrestling with at least these seven things:
1. Know who you are.
2. Know who you are not.
3. Know who you serve.
4. Know why you serve.
5. Know what you believe.
6. Know what you value.
7. Know what you will not do.
I believe that these questions help lead you to what your values are.
I also talked to these young people about being able to articulate their core values. I showed them a wonderful website at values.com. The values.com people have some beautiful and powerful videos connected to many good values. The problem is they list 100 values. I told the group that is like believing everything and nothing. We have to boil things down to some basic, overall values that we know and understand and live by.
So what are your core values?
It is a good question to spend some time on, but the real profit is to live out our values every day!
Love God: Faith in God/reverence for God and his creation - This is the core and foundation of life/focus on God/grow in faith.
Love and faith cannot be passive/love and faith must be alive and passionate.
Love others: Compassion/have Concern for others - "Others" are your neighbors. Love your family first and then love further and further out, passionately.
Discuss and model what is important/treat others the way you want to be treated - Protect and help the poor and oppressed and those without sufficient resources or care. Have a loving and sensitive heart for the needs of others. Assume the best about others.
Authenticity/have integrity/be sincere/be committed.
Live consistent with what you claim/admit failings/engage/be passionate.
Have courage/be bold - Stand up for what is right. Don't be passive. Be strong, but not unnecessarily aggressive.Face fear. Control passion and anger. Be willing to risk. Protect others.
Generosity/be a giver.
Lovingly help others with time and resources/hold your time and resources loosely.
Desire the best for others/give grace to others/share your life and love.
Gratitude/enjoy life/celebrate life/be hopeful - Let your life be marked by joy, gratitude, grace and hope. Look for the good. Engage life and be fully in. Don't be anxious or worried or overly negative
Honesty/be truthful - Speak truth lovingly. When you make a mistake, own it and correct it. Honor your word/keep your commitments.
Humility/let your life speak, not your mouth - Look out for the interests of others/don't focus on self/serve others. Seek and give forgiveness/be teachable and keep learning.
Moderation/keep things in balance - Don't drift to extremes in anything.Know your center and your core values and keep coming back to them.
Respect/show respect and be worthy of respect in the seen and unseen areas of life - Live honorably and honor others/earn respect, don't demand it.
Respect others regardless of economic status, nationality, religion, race, education, etc.
Responsibility/work hard/have a sense of duty.
Use your gifts and strengths for the good of loved ones and others/apply yourself.
Honor your commitments/don't be passive/be disciplined and diligent.
Make each day count/exude energy and passion for work and life.
Righteousness/be honorable/do the right thing - Choose the right thing even when it is difficult (most everyone knows what is right).Grieve over sin/hate nothing but sin and evil/celebrate goodness and beauty. Stand against evil/resist sin and evil in yourself first, then you can speak to others
Stewardship/be thrifty/be responsible with your resources - Live on less than you make/be grateful for what you have. Don't waste.Know what your resources are and make decisions about use.
Wisdom/seek wisdom/honor wisdom/pray for wisdom.
Seek to turn knowledge and experience into wisdom that deepens your life and the lives of people around you/examine your life so you can learn and grow.
oE-mail firstname.lastname@example.org write to P.O. Box 19725 SS Nassau, Bahamas with your prayer requests, concerns or comments. God's blessings!
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October 16, 2014
I guess that when some people initially read the title of this article 'K.I.S.S.' they'll automatically think that I'm going to be dealing with the romantic side of life.
Well, if you thought that my friend, you'd be dead wrong.
The letters 'K.I.S.S.' are an acronym for 'Keep It Simple Stupid' which is a well-known saying which has been around for a long time.
Actually, now that I reflect on it, my mentor Earl Nightingale produced a very successful training program some years ago in conjunction with well-known and indeed respected Sales Trainer Fred Herman titled 'K.I.S.S.' which stood for 'Keep It Simple Salesmen'.
Hopefully by now my valued readers are beginning to get the gist of what this article is all about, and that is the power of simplicity.
Some people do indeed have a tendency to always try to complicate everything in their lives, which is not good, believe me.
I've been in the business of inspiring and motivating people for quite a long time now through lectures and seminars which I have facilitated all over the world, through my writings, radio and T.V.
Now, I honestly believe that one of the reasons why I've been so successful at what I do, is that I put ideas and concepts in a simple, understandable format which all can fully comprehend.
There are unfortunately many, many lecturers and teachers who do indeed possess a whole lot of excellent information.
In fact, many of them are quite brilliant. And yet these brilliant, knowledgeable people are not too successful when it comes to imparting their knowledge to others simply because they make everything sound so very complicated, thus it actually turns people off.
I know that just about everyone knows that the late Steve Jobs was a brilliant person, an innovator extraordinaire.
Jobs once said this about simplicity. He said "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication". Oh, how true that is.
Christianity, as all know, is one of the major religions of the world, whose members are supposed to be following the teachings of Jesus, the master teacher.
I believe that one of the reasons why Jesus was such a good teacher was because of the simplicity of his teaching.
He told stories, parables to illustrate the point he was making, which all could indeed fully comprehend.
So my friend, in conclusion, why don't you remember today's most important lesson, and then do your utmost to simplify rather than complicate your life.
oTHINK 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 AM & 6:20 PM
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October 16, 2014
This is another Christmas spending warning article. Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. It is a time for family togetherness, fun, sharing, relaxation and reflection. However, far too many people waste money, time and energy during the Christmas season. Banks, merchants and sales persons try to lure us into the trap of unnecessary spending. If we do not think carefully, we find ourselves sucked into the quicksand of deep spending. Most of the time it is because we want to give a good impression to our associates, friends and relatives.
I find it imperative to write about his topic every few years. Why? Because still far too many people who cannot pay their basic utility bills (electricity, water, cable, telephone) are spending lavishly on buying gifts, new furniture, cars, etc. It is money they do not have (borrowed money) or money they should be saving for other more important things. In 2009, I made this statement about Christmas bank loans: "While many are struggling to make the everyday payments on utility bills and the need for food, they will be mesmerized by the attraction of this easy money for Christmas. I warn everyone not to fall prey to these commercial tricks. It is unwise to borrow money from a bank or other lending institution to use for items such as Christmas gifts."
No Christmas loans
Why do people feel the need to get a loan to make their Christmas enjoyable? There are many reasons people rush to get Christmas loans. Here is what I shared five years ago and it is still relevant today.
"First, some have been taught that the giving of gifts is the only respectable thing one should do during Christmas-time, even when you do not have money of your own. Yes, it is a wonderful, caring thing to give gifts, but a gift is given when you have something to give. Some are embarrassed to admit they have nothing to give, hence, they will get an unsecured loan with high interest to buy gifts. How foolish.
Second, some feel giving gifts to friends and family can show affluence, even though it is stupid to borrow the money to get the gifts. I call this internal pressure. Too many have the wrong notion about affluence and are often driven by the need to be accepted by their peers and to be kept in good favor in the eyes of their associates. This is what materialism has done to many of us today.
Third, some people are actually under tremendous pressure to purchase gifts for family and friends because of family tradition or because they will be made ashamed by others (family members) in a public setting. I call this external pressure.
I encourage everyone not to give in to banks' seducing commercials. "Banks are putting out the honey pots to attract the eager 'shopping bees' to come into their establishments to get some Christmas money. While many are struggling to make the everyday payments on utility bills and the need for food, they will be mesmerized by the attraction of this easy money for Christmas. I warn everyone not to fall prey to these commercial tricks. It is unwise to borrow money from a bank or other lending institution to use for items such as Christmas gifts."
It is not necessary to break that fixed deposit you have for raining day, home expansion, or college education, to give a gift to a loved one. Say no to the temptation. Do not give in to the pressure.
What can you do?
You might be asking what then you should do. You are thinking you do not want to be embarrassed. I encourage you to be creative. "Find creative ways to fulfill your kind heart of giving. Write a letter, use the coconut tree to make a craft, draw or paint a picture, take a photo, bake a cake, etc. Remember, the greatest and most valuable gifts you give this Christmas is your time, your smile, and a warm hug. Let no one make you feel guilty if you cannot give a Rolex watch."
Start planning now how you can spend less for Christmas this year and still be happy.
o Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to email@example.com or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002
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October 16, 2014
"Say to them, 'This is what the Lord says: If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city a curse among all the nations of the earth'.
"The priests, the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the Lord. But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the Lord had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, 'You must die! Why do you prophesy in the Lord's name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?' And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the Lord." [Jeremiah 26:4-9]
Dr. Martin Luther was a priest in the Catholic Church during the 16th century. He lectured in Bible studies at the University of Wittenberg, Germany.
Luther observed some things happening in the church, which he did not consider to be scriptural. Consequently he voiced his disapproval and began to speak out about what he saw. As a result, he was persecuted for daring to speak the truth of biblical faith.
Often in our world, when a person stands up for right, he or she is ostracized. Repeatedly we are made aware of people being destroyed for bringing to light irregularities in companies and/or the government. The message is ignored and the messenger penalized.
John the Baptizer lost his head because he spoke truth about King Herod and Salome. He was God's messenger speaking God's truth. Unfortunately, people living in sin seldom want truth.
Jeremiah, in the text, preached a sermon in the temple and denounced the corrupt court of King Jehoiakim. He spoke words from the mouth of God, "Then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city a curse among all the nations of the earth." His adherence to God's instructions placed his life in jeopardy.
The priest, the prophets and the people seized him with cries of his immediate execution. The temple was the holy place of God and to speak of it in such a fashion was, in their view, blasphemy. Regrettably, they did not listen; the message came directly from God, not Jeremiah.
Shiloh was once a sanctuary of the Lord. Prior to the monarchy, the Aaronic priests served there. Eli and his family served as priests there. Samuel grew up in its temple.
However, because of the sins of the people, the Lord allowed his holy sanctuary to be destroyed. When Eli's wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas, took the arch of the covenant into battle, the Philistines captured the arch and supposedly destroyed the sanctuary of the Lord.
The Lord had sent the prophet to the king and the people to warn them about their wicked ways and to give them an opportunity to repent and seek his forgiveness. Instead, they neglected the message and sought to destroy the prophet who was only the messenger.
We in this country often seem to be following in the footsteps of the people of Jeremiah's time. Instead of paying attention to the message of the church, we get angry because our evil intents are exposed.
God still speaks to his servants. When people go astray, God gives them an opportunity to repent and seek his forgiveness.
Consequently, when the church speaks out against evil practices, don't ostracize the church and the men of God. The word of God is the benchmark of life. Therefore, hear the message and heed the word of God. He will hold you accountable, because you were warned. Amen.
o Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, Pastor The Lutheran Church of Nassau, P. O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bah. Phone: 426-9084 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.
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October 16, 2014
The first procedure at the Okyanos Heart Institute happened yesterday, inaugurating a new chapter in stem cell therapy in The Bahamas.
Mathew Feshbach, CEO of the institute, told Guardian Business that the Grand Bahama-based cardiac stem cell therapy facility performed its first procedure yesterday, but did not provide specifics regarding the nature of the procedure.
The announcement comes after more than two years of delays while the government reviewed Okyanos' proposal and crafted the recently passed Stem Cell Therapy Bill and Regulations, which will oversee Okyanos and any future stem cell therapy facilities. Okyanos was founded in 2011.
Okyanos raised $8.9 million in March, which according to sources, brought the company's funding to $14 million. In an article posted in Venture Capital Post (VCP) in July, Okyanos explained that it would treat heart patients using "autologous adipose derived regenerative cells (ADRCs) in The Bahamas". Adipose, or fat, is the richest source of regenerative cells in the body; "autologous" simply means that the cells are derived from the same patient undergoing the cell therapy treatment. Okyanos is offering cell therapies based upon the technology of San Diego-based Cytori Therapeutics. The VCP article's author, Ray Xeri, points out that the same technology is being used in Cytori's Phase II clinical trials for heart disease but is otherwise unavailable to patients in the U.S., if and until FDA approval is achieved.
"Thus, the opportunity to serve patients with few other options in the nearby Bahamas became an opportunity for Okyanos and its backers," Xeri said in July.
The multimillion-dollar facility currently employs 17 people and is seeking additional staff as it ramps up operations. Okyanos aims to treat coronary artery disease through cardiac stem cell therapy.
The government tabled the Stem Cell Therapy Bill and Regulations in August, prompting Okyanos to praise the government on "providing a legislative and regulatory jurisdiction so that this very promising standard of care can be brought forward".
The regulations would allow embryonic stem cell therapy only in "exceptional circumstances", stipulating that all embryonic stem cells intended for therapy must be previously derived, and prohibiting the use of all new human embryonic cells.
Under the proposed regulations, three regulatory bodies will be formed to regulate stem cell therapy in the country: the National Stem Cell Ethics Committee, Scientific Committee and Compliance Committee.
Initial application fees for stem cell research stood at $2,500 in the tabled regulations. Approved facilities would be required to pay annual license fees ranging from $15,000 to $50,000.
Okyanos' progress is an encouraging sign for the country's prospects in the burgeoning medical tourism industry, despite The Bahamas' failure to rank on the 2014 Medical Tourism Index.
The international metric, which published its most recent report in September, ranks countries' medical tourism sectors according to country environment, facilities, services and general health of the local medical tourism industry.
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October 16, 2014
Many in the financial services community are welcoming the advent of a credit bureau, particularly given the Central Bank of The Bahamas' (CBB) statement that lenders at present are not able to accurately assess the credit worthiness of potential clients due to a lack of comprehensive information on their outstanding debt obligations.
The inability to judge creditworthiness accurately has led, in a great many cases, to consumers taking on too much debt, given their income and level of assets. This has, in turn, led to foreclosures and repossessions if customers are unable to service their debts.
This is borne out by the CBB's Financial Stability Report December, 2013, which records that total private sector loan arrears rose by $101.7 million to $1.3 trillion, the second consecutive expansion in arrears. The bank notes, in particular, that non-performing loans grew by 11.4 percent to just under $1 trillion. The report also notes a 30 percent surge in commercial arrears, year over year.
In the credit bureau consultation document, the bank points out that greater claims on capital tends to reduce lending activity.
"The inability to accurately judge creditworthiness also means that financial institutions have been adversely affected if a significant number of clients are unable to meet their debt obligations. More risky loans impact banking sector stability; high levels of bad debt, higher provisions and write-offs," the bank says. "Problems in the banking sector present challenges for overall economic growth and financial stability."
The report notes that between 2009 and 2013, restructured loans totaled $778.8 million; write-offs were $462.7 million, and provisions
totaled $442.7 million.
How it works
Credit bureaus collect personal, financial and demographic information on individuals and small firms and provide this information to participating lenders by way of a credit report. Creditors then utilize these reports to determine whether or not to grant loans or extend credit, and at what interest rate. Typical clients or subscribers to credit bureaus include banks, mortgage lenders, credit card companies and other financing companies.
Some of the typical users of a credit bureau include banks, credit unions, the judiciary, tax authorities, insurers and landlords. The information these entities would use will have been supplied by banks and insurers, credit unions, credit card issuers, retailers, utilities and public registers.
Once a credit bureau is in place, research in other jurisdictions shows that borrowers are incentivized to improve credit and payment behavior. The CBB says the borrower benefits from faster credit decisions, protection against problems of over-indebtedness and lower collateral requirements and lower interest rates.
Lenders, on the other hand, look forward to increased access to accurate and comprehensive information about borrowers' credit histories and payment habits, enabling better assessment of true creditworthiness. This would streamline the credit decision-making process, lower exposure to risky loans could reduce operational costs, improve capital adequacy and reduce provisioning requirements.
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