Nassau Guardian Stories

The evasive energy deal

August 21, 2015

On July 22, the government signed a transitional agreement with PowerSecure, "formally engaging" the North Carolina-based company to conduct further analysis and to produce a business plan to reform the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC). This came after the government, at the end of April, announced that PowerSecure was selected as the management company for BEC.
BEC is bankrupt, its network is outdated, its prices are high and it can't keep the power on. Years of political interference and poor decision making have crippled the state power supplier. It is a burden to the Bahamian people.
As per the transitional agreement, the latest announcement, PowerSecure will gather key data and evaluate the corporation's finances, power generation and power reliability issues. It is also expected to hedge a fuel agreement with an oil company. The value of the transitional agreement is $900,000.
PowerSecure is expected to complete its business plan within 60 days and present it to Cabinet.
So, since the first announcement in April, all we have gotten is a second announcement saying we will pay nearly a million dollars for this American company to supply a business plan? There is still no deal.
Upon approval of that plan the government said it will sign a management agreement with the company. Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, the minister responsible for BEC, called the agreement an important step forward in reducing the cost of electricity and improving the reliability of power.
It seems strange that we are paying PowerSecure so much to prepare a business plan. The company will make lots of profits from its eventual management contract to run BEC. Additionally, it is bizarre that the government keeps making BEC reform announcements when there is nothing to say. There is no deal with PowerSecure and none seems imminent despite the optimistic promises. The company is just at the beginning stage of evaluating BEC. It will then have to formulate the plan and it and the government will have to have negotiations on what PowerSecure would like to do and what the government can accept. These negotiations could be contentious and take some time, depending on what radical suggestions PowerSecure might bring forward.
These press conferences and announcements on BEC are nothing more than public relations events. The government is merely saying something in front of the cameras to seem as if it is doing something when it really has not done anything tangible yet.
Bahamians want reform at BEC. It is a mess and a national disgrace. It directly slows economic growth due to its high rates; its intermittent service makes it hard to run a business. The government should not take advantage of our collective frustration over BEC and tell us action is on the way when it isn't. Change at BEC seems as far away today as it was the day the Progressive Liberal Party took office.

read more »

The View from Europe: Will Cuba's gain cause the region pain

August 21, 2015

One of the Caribbean tourism industry's greatest concerns may be about to materialize: U.S. citizens being allowed to travel to Cuba on an individual basis.
At present it is only possible for most U.S. passport holders to visit Cuba for one of twelve specified purposes through a tour operator holding a general licence. However, a new approach being considered by the Obama administration, when taken with two other developments, could all but free U.S. travel to Cuba by the end of this year.
Ever since a closed meeting took place at the White House on July 22, at which Cuban Americans, academics, lawyers, and business leaders who support President Obama's policy of engagement were present, it has been clear that the U.S. administration was preparing to ease the procedures that restrict individual travel to Cuba.
More recently, however, U.S. officials have confirmed that the president is considering an executive order that would allow U.S. citizens to book tickets for travel to Cuba by simply attesting online or at an airport, as they buy a ticket, to their compliance with the U.S. Treasury rules on travel to Cuba.
This development coincides with separate negotiations between the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and their Cuban counterparts to develop a new bilateral air services agreement. This is expected to the lead to the resumption of scheduled commercial flights by major U.S. and Cuban carriers, possibly as early as the end of this year.
In addition, in a related development, the U.S. Treasury is considering how to remove remaining impediments to the use of U.S. credit cards in Cuba so as to overcome U.S. banks' legal and practical caution about acting on previous permissions. Such regulatory changes will also facilitate the establishment of correspondent banking arrangements in Cuba.
There is also some suggestion that the new policy may also be extended to licensing individual travel on ferries and cruise ships sailing to Cuba.
Although the U.S. government's intention is that people-to-people contact will bring about a change in thinking and attitudes in Cuba, the most likely immediate practical outcome will likely be something just short of the full liberalization of all U.S. travel to Cuba.
While the Cuban government still has to finalize the arrangements for scheduled flights and cruise ship calls, it is clear that it will have an interest in agreeing measures that see hotel occupancy and yield increase as pressure grows on the relatively limited number of hotel rooms in Havana and popular destinations. There is also a view that increased U.S. visitor arrivals will stimulate investment in the hotel sector by foreign companies, and may eventually lead cruise ship companies to consider home porting in Cuba. Separately, Cuban officials have indicated that in order to meet increasing demand government intends encouraging the inclusion of the non-state sector within its tourism marketing programmes, will promote sailboats arrivals to make use of its newly completed marinas, and has plans to rapidly diversify and decentralize its tourism product.
All of which suggests that, from the latter part of this year on, The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cancun and the Dominican Republic may begin to feel the impact and, if U.S. cruise visitor regulations are eased, the region may later see ships calls reduced elsewhere.
As the official statistics show, Cuba has already become a hot destination for U.S. citizens. According to Cuban reports, the number of U.S. visitors there increased by 36 percent in the first five months of 2015; a figure that excludes the surging numbers of Cuban Americans, who Cuba counts as returning nationals. More generally Cuba has already become, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the second most popular tourism destination in the region after the Dominican Republic, with the arrivals gap between the two narrowing.
Cuba itself also believes that it will become a strong competitor if the U.S. market fully opens and that the country most at risk in the region is Puerto Rico.
The conundrum now for the rest of the region is how best to respond in the short and medium term.
At its most obvious this involves Northern Caribbean nations actively pursuing with tour operators two center holidays; finding ways to develop or significantly improve air services between Havana and Santiago de Cuba, with Montego Bay, Nassau, Grand Cayman and Puerto Plata; encouraging cross-destination investment and branding by regional and international hotel groups; and promoting joint ventures for the supply of Caribbean goods and services by exploring demand with the key buying agencies for the big Cuban hotel groups.
It also involves placing much greater emphasis in each country on service, quality, cuisine and training so as to ensure that the experience in the rest of the region remains one step ahead of Cuba's largely mid to low-end and weak repeat-business offering, as well as in continuing to diversify visitor feeder markets as rapidly as possible.
In the longer term, however, more attention should be paid to the thought provoking suggestions contained in the recent strategic paper produced by the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association: "Cuba: the great disruption for the good of the Caribbean". This notes that Cuba is using tourism as a development and diversification tool to deliver nearly U.S.$3 billion per annum in future new business from visitor expenditure, and asks how much of this will be at the rest of the regions expense.
The report, which warrants wider attention, welcomes Cuba as an integral part of the Caribbean and argues for collaboration in every aspect of tourism. It also calls for governments to embrace a new tourism development agenda involving high level discussions with the Cuban authorities and industry and the creation of a "U.S. Caribbean Basin Tourism Initiative" that supports development through tourism of a "economically viable, safe and stable Caribbean".
Next year Cuba may have a special visitor: President Obama. The White House has made clear that subject to certain conditions the U.S. president is giving consideration to such a visit. If he does, the signal to U.S. citizens to visit will be powerful and may start an unstoppable process that results in the restructuring of more than just the Caribbean tourism economy.

o David Jessop is the director of the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at david.jessop@caribbean-council.org. Previous columns can be found at www.caribbean-council.org. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

read more »

Bethel suggests litigation could block Baha Mar attracting new brand

August 21, 2015

Rosewood's move to sever ties with the troubled Baha Mar development was "entirely predictable" given the "protracted" dispute Baha Mar is engaged in, former Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday.
"Whether the other brands decide to follow Rosewood would depend entirely on the state of their economic interests," said Bethel when asked about Rosewood's motion to terminate its license agreement that was filed in a U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.
"No one wants to commit resources without a reasonable return. We need to follow the rules of the market. And those who understand the rules of the market know that one thing will follow another. I predicted that there would be years of litigation. It is most unfortunate.
"I predicted that there would be appeals by whoever doesn't get what they should in court. This could go all the way to the Privy Council. That's years worth of litigation."
Asked if he believes that Baha Mar could successfully attract another luxury brand, Bethel said, "All I can say is the market doesn't respond well to protracted litigation. And the market means those who you want to attract."
There is fear in some quarters that Baha Mar's other luxury brands will also seek to pull out given Baha Mar's inability to fund the project or pay workers.
But Bethel said he is not overly concerned about Rosewood's filing having a trickle effect.
In addition to a lack of funding, Rosewood said Baha Mar has incurred numerous "incurable" defaults. Among other things, Rosewood said Baha Mar is in violation of its representation and warranty to Rosewood that it owns the Cable Beach property on which the hotel and associated residences are situated; construction of the hotel has ceased for more than 30 consecutive days; Baha Mar has failed to pay both the rank and file employees and the senior executives at the hotel, some of whom Rosewood requires to run the hotel, and has failed to reimburse Rosewood for pre-petition and post-petition fees and expenses due under the Rosewood hotel agreements.
Bethel previously said the government should avoid litigation by any means before it sets the Baha Mar project back many years.
"I know how long litigation takes. I know how complex legal matters, particularly matters involving different jurisdictions, different countries, can be," said Bethel, who specializes in litigation.
Yesterday he reiterated his call for the government to "draw back".
Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware on June 29. The attorney general subsequently filed a winding up petition, which is currently being heard in the Supreme Court.
Baha Mar charged on Thursday that the government of The Bahamas is to blame for Rosewood's decision to end its arrangement with Baha Mar.
Baha Mar said the government's move to block the process that would have given it access to funding, in addition to the government's pursuit of a winding up petition, have created uncertainty surrounding the future of the development.
Justice Ian Winder is due to give his ruling on the government's winding up bid on September 4.

read more »

Mortimer disagrees job creation headed in right direction

August 21, 2015

Following claims by Labour Minister Shane Gibson that job creation in The Bahamas is heading in the right direction, Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Deputy Leader Chris Mortimer disagreed and accused the Christie administration of being out of touch with the needs of Bahamians.
"Mr. Gibson is absolutely incorrect," Mortimer said.
"Job creation is not heading in the right direction in this country.
"And it will not head in the right direction until they get serious about empowering Bahamians.
"And I don't mean Bahamians connected to Baha Mar.
"I am talking about ordinary Bahamians, Bahamians who have to sit around the table and make the determination whether or not they are going to eat or have the electricity on.
"That's the Bahamian I want Mr. Gibson to worry about."
The results of the Labour Force Survey, released last week, show that overall, the national unemployment rate dropped from 15.7 percent in November 2014 to 12 percent in May 2015, which is the lowest it has been in seven years.
The results provide information on the labor force as it existed during the reference period of April 27 to May 3, 2015.
The spike in employment this year is largely due to jobs created by the inaugural Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, officials said.
But they were temporary jobs.
Carnival took place over three days, from May 7-9.
The Bahamas National Festival Commission reported that carnival created 7,208 direct and indirect jobs.
"I'm not surprised," Gibson said when asked about the report.
"I [have] said in Parliament for a while now that thousands of jobs were being created. But I think that one of the things that some people didn't want to understand was that you always have many more jobs created than what you see directly impacting the unemployment figures."
Despite the unemployment decrease, Mortimer said it is not enough.
"We have a government that has lost touch," he said.
"They are completely clueless, from the top all the way down.
"They are not living in the world that you and I are in because if they did, they would be concerned about how do we find more jobs for Bahamians.
"And that's not going to be created by giving people couple of dollars more."
Mortimer was refering to the recent rise in minimum wage.
Minimum wage increased from $150 per week to $210 per week.
"It (job creation) will not be created by this whole flawed process of anchor projects, an idea created from a bygone era," Mortimer said.
"... Old thinking from old politicians will not transform this country regardless of the beautiful 'Believe in Bahamans' promise that they made to us."
He added, "[Baha Mar developer] Sarkis Izmirlian, as good as what he has done with his project, will not save us," he said.
"The Pointe (Hotel) will not save us.
"Thirty eight politicians sitting in that House of Assembly now will not save us.
"We can only save ourselves."

read more »

Artist Musician to freestyle in Pompey Square for worthy causes

August 21, 2015

On Thursday, August 27, 2015, one artist and one musician will take to Pompey Square for an 8-hour live art and music showcase. Dubbed "Freestyle: Outside the Lines pt. 1," Allan P. Wallace, of recent celebrity salt portraiture fame, and Arthol Gibson, local hip-hop and chill house DJ, also known as Ampero, hope to raise funds in support of two very worthy causes.
Both artists recognize the importance of giving back to their respective artistic communities and helping make things a little bit easier for the next generation of young Bahamian creatives. Chosen as beneficiaries of the event will be the Art Supply Drive, which raises gently used or new art materials to ease the financial burden of art students in the government school system. The Rhythym 'N' Youth Rake & Scrape Ensemble, born out of Gerald Cash Primary School, is another fantastic initiative led by Nathaniel Adams that ensures the cultural sustainability of our most precious traditional musical expression.
According to Wallace, "I want to give back [... and at this event] I'm going to be out there wildin' out, just painting. That's why I wanted to be a part of it. Freestyle should be about changing the energy of the downtown space, creating positive vibes and connecting with the wider community." Members of the public are invited to bring a brush and jam with the artist and also donate materials on site for the Art Supply Drive.
On the music side, DJ Ampero expects to surprise the audience with his range of musical taste as well as with guests performers who will visit throughout the day, including the talented Rhythm 'N' Youth ensemble. Ampero envisions that, "the next generation [of Bahamian musicians] will have so many opportunities and avenues available to them. I see things just getting a bit more amplified with people seeing more opportunities to tap into their creative value and expressing themselves."
While the future is bright for both these artists, they're heading back to the school next week to creative a positive impact. Transforming the square into their old art & music classrooms, the event should bring a touch of nostalgia to those who've long left these rooms behind. The event will be held from 11am - 7pm and is free and open to the public. For more information on the event, please visit facebook.com/supplyartbs.

read more »

World Championships start today in Beijing

August 21, 2015

The world's best athletes will be on display starting today, and The Bahamas' 25-member team will be right in the mix.
Kicking things off for The Bahamas at the 15th International Association of Athletic Federation's (IAAF) World Outdoor Championships here in Beijing, China, will be national record holder in the men's 400 meters (m) hurdles Jeffery Gibson. Gibson, who just turned 25 last Saturday, will run out of lane five in heat one of the event at 6:35 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) in The Bahamas. The top four in each heat and the next four fastest times will move on to the semi-finals.
Also in action today for The Bahamas will be two-time double sprint national champion Shavez Hart in the first round of the men's 100m. Hart will run at 7:20 a.m. EST in The Bahamas.
The semis of the men's 400m hurdles are set for 6:40 p.m. in Beijing tomorrow, 6:40 a.m. in The Bahamas, and the semis and final of the men's 100m will be held. The semis will get underway at 7:10 a.m. in The Bahamas, and the final is set for 9:15 a.m. EST.
"Everything is set in terms of the athletes wanting to go out there and put their best effort forward," said Team Manager Ralph McKinney on Friday.
"Jeffery has been focused this entire year, and the results are there to prove it. He is one of those athletes who we are counting on to do really well. He's progressively run extremely well this year. The interesting thing about him is that his main competition will come from his camp up there in Raleigh, North Carolina. So, he works with world-class hurdlers every day, and as you can see, he saves his best performances for the big stage, He's ready to go, and we have no doubt that Jeffery will get us off to a great start in these world championships."
Gibson trains with his college coach, American George Williams, at St. Augustine's University in Raleigh. Also up there are Americans Bershawn "Bat Man" Jackson and Johnny Dutch, numbers one and two in the world respectively. In fact, five of the top six on the IAAF's top performance list are Americans, and four of them are entered in the 400m hurdles this weekend.
As for the other events involving Bahamians this weekend, Steven Gardiner, Michael Mathieu and Chris Brown are scheduled to run in the heats of the men's 400m tomorrow in Beijing, tonight in The Bahamas; and Sheniqua Ferguson will contest the first round of the women's 100m first thing Sunday morning in The Bahamas.
The men's 400m will get underway at 11:10 p.m. Saturday night, and the first round of the women's 100m will be held at 12 midnight Sunday morning in The Bahamas.
"Everybody is ready to go. The main thing is that everyone has to be focused," said McKinney. "Winning medals will requires persons to do season's bests, personal bests and national records. Two events that I am looking at with great interest are the women's hurdles and the women's 4x400 meters. Those are two of the events that we have a very good chance of national records in.
"In the women's hurdles, in particular, it took a national record just for those two athletes to get here. The women's 4x400 meters, with Shaunae in the mix, could have an exceptional performance. Collectively, it should be a very good meet for us," he added.
Monday could be another busy day for The Bahamas with the heats of the women's 400m featuring Shaunae Miller, the semis and final of the women's 100m, and the semi-finals of the men's 400m.
Tuesday, the first medal for The Bahamas could come in the final of the men's 400m hurdles. Miller could be running in the semis of the 400m that day, and the first round of the men's 200m will get underway.

read more »

Hield's draft stock rises after productive summer

August 21, 2015

Following the announcement of Buddy's Hield's decision to return to Oklahoma for his senior season, the native of Grand Bahama has seen his NBA draft stock improve considerably over the past several months.
Prior to this year's draft, Hield was projected as an early second round pick, or a late first round pick at best. This month, reputed mock draft site www.nbadraft.net projects Hield as a mid first round pick at number 18 in its latest 2016 Mock Draft release. This summer, he significantly improved his stock with breakout performances at both the Nike Skills Academy and at Adidas Nations. At one point, he was projected at as the number 12 pick on a number of sites.
Also this summer, the 6'4" wingman hosted his first basketball camp in the Eight Mile Rock area.
"You have to be smart," Hield said. "You can't go in there and take a gamble and bury yourself. I knew the best decision was to come back and improve. That way when the time comes, I'll be ready."
Last season, he averaged 17.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 41 percent from the field. Coming off his most productive season as a collegiate player, many assumed that Hield would make the leap to the big leagues. He said that he thought long and hard about going pro, but after consulting with family, friends and coaches, he decided that returning would be the best choice. Hield will graduate with his degree in human relations at the end of next semester.
The senior guard scored in double figures in 32 of 35 games on the year, including 28 of the final 29, leading the Sooners to a 24-11 record and a trip to the "Sweet 16."
The Sooners will lose just two players that played in the Sweet 16 game and will welcome an incoming recruiting class, which features four star recruit Akolda Manyang.
"I feel like the best is yet to come with this team," Hield said. "My main goal is to go to the Final Four. Why not go there? It's my last year. Be the best player that I can be and help this program go forward."
Some of the main knocks against Hield during this summer's draft period was that he needed to improve his ball handling and his ability to create off the dribble.
"It's kind of embarrassing for me, because I'm always in the gym, but I never really work on my ball handling. I always work on my shooting. I need to accept the challenge and work on things I need to get better at. I'm ready to make that next jump in my game," he said, "I'm a scorer at heart. I love to score the ball. Being a two guard, most two guards know how to handle the ball really well to get them their shots. I like the challenge. I want to get better."
Hield already ranks fifth in OU history with his 202 career 3-pointers and 15th with his 1,366 points. His 183 treys over the last two seasons represent a two-year school record.

read more »

Marshall looking forward to serving on IAAF Women's Committee

August 21, 2015

At the end of this month, Dennis Marshall will become just the fourth Bahamian to serve in the IAAF family, and the second Bahamian to serve on the IAAF Women's Committee.
The International Association of Athletics Federation's (IAAF) 50th Congress wrapped up on Thursday here in Beijing, China, and Marshall was one of two Bahamians to be successful during their election of officers.
Pauline Davis-Thompson was elected to serve a third consecutive four-year term on the IAAF Council, after her herself being on the IAAF Women's Committee for four years. She was the pacesetter for Marshall.
All of the new positions, including that of new president Lord Sebastian Coe of Great Britain, won't come into effect until the conclusion of the 15th IAAF World Outdoor Championships which get underway today at Beijing's National Stadium, otherwise known as the "Bird's Nest", in Beijing. The nine-day biennial championships will wrap up on August 31.
"I'm looking forward to serving," said Marshall on Friday. "This process actually started a long time ago. We made contact with a number of groupings that we know very well, and we were able to put together sufficient support to get elected. We're thankful for the support."
Marshall is one of the 20 percent men who are mandated to serve on the IAAF Women's Committee. The remainder are women, and they will get to work on strategies to progress women in athletics once the world championships are over.
"I was confident straight through, and it held up for us," said Marshall. "Like any other election, there were other people with support as well. We were just hopeful that we would have a good result, and that is the way it worked out.
"I look at it as another opportunity for The Bahamas - another Bahamian getting involved in the IAAF family. I'm hopeful that I would make good representation. Pauline Davis-Thompson did an excellent job in her capacity on the women's committee, and she's still working in the system. She was most helpful every step along the way in myself being elected, and I'm grateful to her and our team."
Also on Wednesday of this week, long-time technical director in the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Frank "Pancho" Rahming received the Veteran's Pin from outgoing IAAF President Lamine Diack.
Meanwhile, the championships get underway today. National record holder in the men's 400 meters (m) hurdles Jeffery Gibson will be first up for The Bahamas when he runs in the heats of that event at 6:35 p.m. local time in Beijing, 6:35 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) in The Bahamas. Gibson, who just turned 25 last
Saturday, will run out of lane five in heat one. The top four in each heat and the next four fastest times will move on to the semi-finals. Also in action today for The Bahamas will be two-time double sprint national champion Shavez Hart in the first round of the men's 100m. Hart will run at 7:20 a.m. EST in The Bahamas.
The semis of the men's 400m hurdles are set for 6:40 p.m. tomorrow, 6:40 a.m. in The Bahamas, and the semis and final of the men's 100m will be held. The semis will get underway at 7:10 a.m. in The Bahamas, and the final is set for 9:15 a.m. EST.
Also tomorrow in Beijing, tonight in The Bahamas, Steven Gardiner, Michael Mathieu and Chris Brown are scheduled to run in the heats of the men's 400m. Sheniqua Ferguson will contest the first round of the women's 100m first thing Sunday morning in The Bahamas. The men's 400m will get underway at 11:10 p.m. Saturday night, and the first round of the women's 100m will be held at 12 midnight Sunday morning in The Bahamas.
Action continues on Monday.
"From the track side, I'm definitely looking forward to The Bahamas having some great results. We have a very good team here, and if everyone does their best, I'm sure that we will have great results to take back home," said Marshall. "From the new committee, we haven't met as yet, but I'm looking forward to it and assisting wherever I can."
According to team manager Ralph McKinney, the entire 25-member team is in high spirits, and they are all looking forward to competition.

read more »

Minnis failed to declare interest

August 21, 2015

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis declared in April 2007 that he had no contracts with the government, despite the fact that the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) was renting his company's building for $7,500 a month.
In a statement released to the media yesterday, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts attached Minnis' declaration dated April 12, 2007.
"Dear Sir, this is to certify that I, Hubert A. Minnis, of Nassau, Bahamas, Tropical Gardens, have no contract with the government of The Bahamas other than agreements with government corporations for the supply of utilities, including electricity, telephone and water," Minnis signed.
According to the Public Disclosures Act, the penalty for not disclosing or providing inaccurate information is a $10,000 fine and or two years in prison.
Minnis argued last night that his company, which he said is a separate legal entity, had a contract with the government and not him.
"Hubert Minnis had no contract with the government," he told The Nassau Guardian.
"A company is a separate entity.
"I did nothing wrong and I remained within the bounds of the law.
"Check every politician's [declaration], who has had a contract with the government and it would say the same thing straight across the board.
"This is nothing more than detractors far and wide seeking to besmirch my character."
While Minnis said in his 2007 declaration he had no contract with the government, he said on Wednesday night that when he became minister of health he disclosed his interest to the prime minister and the prime minister (Hubert Ingraham) told him to have the government move out of the Stat Care facility.
Minnis said he told the PHA to do accordingly, but it continued the arrangement on a month-to-month basis while it was looking for another facility to rent.
Minnis is the beneficial owner of Leechez Investments Limited, which owns Stat Care.
On Monday, Roberts threatened to reveal documents that will expose the full extent of Minnis' conflict.
"In my statement of August 12, I placed some questions to the leader of the opposition regarding his involvement in a lease of the premises at Nassau and Delancy Streets to the Public Hospitals Authority during 2007 to 2012 and whether the minister was guilty [of a] conflict of interest and abuse of his office," Roberts said.
"Dr. Minnis denied the allegation and called me a political dinosaur amongst other things.
"Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Senator Michael Pintard came boldly to the defense of his leader and challenged me to bring proof I claimed to possess.
"I am delighted to respond to his demand."

Conflict

Minnis has repeatedly denied he was involved in a conflict of interest as the agreement predated him becoming a member of the government.
Leechez signed a two-year lease with PHA in May 2005.
The lease was in the amount of $180,000. Hubert Ingraham Chambers is named as the attorney on the 2005 lease.
The $7,500 monthly payments to Minnis' company continued while he was minister.
Though the lease expired in 2007, PHA has continued to engage Leechez on a month-to-month basis.
Minnis said when he as minister advised the PHA to end the arrangement, "their response at that time [was] they would look for such a facility that would be adequate for them as opposed to undergoing hundreds of thousands [of dollars] of renovations".
In response to Roberts' threat, Minnis invited him to do so and challenged him to reveal the contracts and the dealings when he (Roberts) was at Ministry of Works.
He said he will not be threatened by Roberts, Prime Minister Perry Christie or anyone else.
Yesterday, Roberts asked, "For five consecutive years the PHA ignored Dr. Minnis' directive to relocate to another premises?
"Does Dr. Minnis expect any reasonable person to believe such a claim?
He said Minnis, by his own admission, allowed the PHA to continue renting his company's Stat Care building for years instead of ensuring as the owner of the company and minister of health that the PHA moved out.
Instead, he continued to benefit financially from renting to the PHA while he sat in Cabinet, Roberts asserted.
But Minnis said last night that the PLP and Roberts have realized that they cannot beat the FNM in the next general election with him as leader and they have resorted to "attempting to beat me in public opinion by attempting to assassinate my character".
"Bradley Roberts is a dinosaur and a relic of the past, and should go back in the past," he said.
"The next election with me leading the FNM, the PLP will be in the past."

read more »

Rosewood files motion to pull out of Baha Mar

August 21, 2015

Claiming that Baha Mar "induced" it to enter into an agreement on the premise that it held the title to the Cable Beach property when it in fact did not, the mega resort's luxury brand Rosewood has filed a motion in a Delaware court seeking to sever ties with Baha Mar.
In its motion, Rosewood Hotel and Resorts International said Baha Mar has "incurred numerous defaults under the various Rosewood hotel agreements, many of which are incurable", including Baha Mar's failure to pay key hotel staff and its inability to secure funding.
It categorized Baha Mar's "failure to own the land" as a violation of "a core precept of the Rosewood hotel agreements".
The Rosewood hotel includes approximately 99 guest rooms and suites and up to 92 residential units to be sold to purchasers.
Rosewood contended that Baha Mar "can not sell what it does not own".
In the U.S. court document filed on Wednesday, Rosewood also said its brand is "being tarnished" daily due to controversy surrounding Baha Mar.
Rosewood said it is also losing money daily and as a result "is now suffering, and will suffer additional irreparable harm if it is not permitted to terminate the Rosewood Hotel Agreements and be relieved of its association with Baha Mar".
As it relates to the land, Rosewood said when it entered into the agreements with Baha Mar, it was made to believe that Baha Mar owned the land.
"In addition, as a material inducement for Rosewood to enter into the Rosewood Hotel Agreements, Baha Mar represented and warranted to Rosewood that Baha Mar owns the land," the court document said.
"...However, Baha Mar has told Rosewood that it does not in fact own the land, and, a preliminary search performed on August 14, 2015, of The Bahamas Registry of Records reflected that Baha Mar did not own any real property when it entered into the Rosewood Hotel Agreements and still does not.
"Therefore, Baha Mar has incurably defaulted under the License Agreement and the Hotel Management Agreement."
Explaining its arrangement with Baha Mar, Rosewood said it was to license the 'Rosewood Marks' to Baha Mar and Baha Mar was to compensate Rosewood through, among other things, the sale by Baha Mar of the residences at the hotel.
"Additionally, Rosewood is to manage the residences and Baha Mar is to compensate Rosewood for such management," the motion said.
Rosewood added, "Baha Mar cannot perform its core obligation to compensate Rosewood under the License Agreement and the Hotel Management Agreement without having title to the land."
Also listed among its reasons behind its request to terminate the agreement with Baha Mar, Rosewood pointed to Baha Mar's financial state.
"Baha Mar has extremely limited access to funding to perform its obligations under the Rosewood Hotel Agreements and in fact is not timely performing its obligations to Rosewood under the Rosewood Hotel Agreements," the motion said.
Rosewood said Baha Mar has also failed to pay both the rank and file employees and the senior executives at the hotel, whom Rosewood requires to run the resort, and has failed to reimburse Rosewood for pre-petition and post-petition fees and expenses due under the Rosewood Hotel Agreements.
Additionally, Rosewood said Baha Mar's filing its Chapter 11 case is a default under the license agreement.
Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 29. Since then all construction has ceased.
Rosewood also highlighted Baha Mar's mounting public relations difficulties and its impact on the luxury brand.
"Given the controversy of the Baha Mar project, its failure to open and honor reservations from the public, the litigation and public acrimony between Baha Mar on the one hand, and all of its protagonists -- the Government of The Bahamas, [its contractor and lender] -- on the other hand, the existence of the DIP Financing Defaults, and the numerous incurable defaults under the Rosewood Hotel Agreements, Rosewood believes that its brand is being diminished and tarnished each day as a result of its ongoing association with Baha Mar," the motion said.
"Moreover, as set forth above, each day Rosewood continues to incur costs and expenses for which it is not being compensated.
"Additionally, Rosewood is prohibited under the License Agreement from exploiting the Rosewood Marks elsewhere in The Bahamas during the term of the License Agreement.
"Similar radius restrictions on Rosewood's ability to manage hotels in The Bahamas exist under the Hotel Management Agreement while that agreement is in effect.
"Suffering such restrictions while Baha Mar is hopelessly in default under the Rosewood Hotel Agreements further diminishes the value of the Rosewood brand and otherwise prejudices Rosewood because, at the same time Rosewood is not profiting from its relationship with Baha Mar as a result of Baha Mar's failure to perform and other incurable defaults, Rosewood is prohibited from exploiting the Rosewood Marks elsewhere in The Bahamas."
Rosewood is the first brand to seek to terminate its agreement with the development.
The other brands involved in the resort aside from the central Baha Mar Casino & Hotel include the Grand Hyatt and SLS Lux.

read more »

Ernst and Young denies Baha Mar conflict

August 21, 2015

Ernst and Young has denied it is in a conflict of interest in relation to Baha Mar.
The government has identified accountants from that firm as proposed provisional liquidators for Baha Mar.
The allegation was contained in court documents and was read in court yesterday during the hearing to consider the winding up petition filed by the government against Baha Mar.
U.K. attorney Peter Knox, who appeared for the government, read the allegation.
It says that Ernst and Young did legal work for Baha Mar and is listed as a creditor of the company.
But attorney Megan Taylor, who appeared on behalf of Ernst and Young, dismissed the claim.
"There is no conflict," Taylor said. "The allegation that Ernst and Young provided advice to Baha Mar is erroneous.
"There was an economic impact assessment done for all the major hotels. Baha Mar was a part of that.
"We would say that there is no conflict and Ernst and Young is not a creditor of Baha Mar.
"In the circumstances, Ernst and Young would like to ensure the court that neither Ernst and Young nor its independent parties has any potential conflict of interest."
The government had originally proposed to have liquidators appointed from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), but that fell through when the company revealed that it had done work for Baha Mar's contractor, China Construction America (CCA).
The government then proposed to appoint liquidators from Ernst and Young.
U.K. attorney James Corbett, who appeared on behalf of Baha Mar, argued that the court should dismiss the government's petition.
He said the argument that the appointment of joint provisional liquidators will solve Baha Mar's problems is misguided and compared it to someone sprinkling "fairy dust" on a situation and hoping for the best.
"For over 10 years enormous effort and tremendous resources have been put into trying to develop the project," Corbett said.
"It might be worth noting that it did not happen on its own or purely because of government action.
"It is not meant to be a swimming pool for the citizens of The Bahamas. It wasn't simply to make money.
"The management, which has been criticized, brought the project to 97 percent completion.
"The suggestion here is that a provisional liquidator can get the three percent completed. But that ignores the 97 percent done by someone else."

Defective
Knox wrapped up his submissions yesterday, arguing that if "a provisional liquidator is appointed there is at least a reasonable prospect of the completion of the project".
"Provisional liquidators will prevent the dissipation of the company's assets," he said.
He added that the liquidators will try to reach a compromise with the parties.
"The need to complete the resort is fundamental to this case," he said.
"We resist the notion that there be some sort of consultation process regarding the provisional liquidator."
Maurice Glinton, QC, who also appeared on behalf of Baha Mar, said the government's petition is "defective and misguided" and should be dismissed.
He accused the government of playing "musical chairs" regarding the appointment of a liquidator.
He said, "At one point we are given sight of two/three proposed liquidators then they are gone.
"Then another group is proposed and then they are gone. Now we have a third group.
"They have brazenly put to this court that a provisional liquidator should be appointed who can magically do what the current management has not been able to do."
Attorney Wayne Munroe, who appeared on behalf of the Gaming Board, noted that a court document was filed in Delaware on Wednesday where the Rosewood Hotel and Resorts International is seeking to sever ties with Baha Mar.
Corbett said the document was "someone asking for something".
But Munroe argued, "It may be indicative of things to come."
Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. district of Delaware on June 29.
Munroe argued in his submissions that Baha Mar is putting its casino license in jeopardy.
"We contend that this is not responsible behavior," Munroe said.
"We say it is enough to replace the board with a provisional liquidator.
"You shouldn't tempt us to revoke your license.
"The fact is you are behaving badly. Because of that the court should appoint a provisional liquidator."
But Corbett dismissed that argument.
"We have never snapped our fingers and said it is the Gaming Board, so what," he said.
"That is more than misplaced; it is a misdescription."
The matter continues today.

read more »

Police: Suspect shot dead was linked to 29 armed robberies

August 21, 2015

Rony Jean, 32, the suspect shot and killed by police on Spikenard Road on Wednesday, was linked to 29 armed robberies, police said yesterday.
According to Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dean, police also recovered eight vehicles they believe Jean stole.
These robberies took place over the span of the last two months.
At the time of the shooting, Jean was wearing a stolen police uniform shirt with sergeant stripes on his shoulders, police said.
He was wanted in relation to multiple armed robberies, including three on Wednesday morning.
Police said the first robbery occurred shortly after 10 a.m. on Carmichael Road. A man was robbed of a red Jeep Cherokee.
Moments later, a woman was held up at gunpoint, also on Carmichael Road, and robbed of her cell phones.
Police said a short while after this, a man was robbed of his silver Honda CRV.
Dean told The Nassau Guardian yesterday police see this breakthrough as a success.
He said there is still a possibility Jean was also involved in several other matters. Police said they are continuing to investigate.

read more »

Fred Mitchell highlights country's resources problem

August 21, 2015

Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell suggested yesterday the country's resources are so limited that the government is having to choose between different areas of national importance.
"There is a resources problem," said Mitchell, who was a guest on the Guardian Radio program "The Revolution" with guest host Quincy Parker.
"We have finite resources in the country.
"So in order to carry out immigration exercises, in order to remove an unlawful settlement, [it] requires money and resources."
Mitchell was referring to the removal of shantytowns throughout The Bahamas.
He said the country's needs are competing for the resources.
"Do you fight crime?" he questioned.
"Do you fight unemployment; do you get the hospitals?"
Mitchell noted this is an issue that every government faces.
"And the only reason I raise it in that context is because when you speak to individual citizens, you get the impression that there is a feeling of there being an infinite pool of money and resources when in fact the whole business of government is balancing one thing over the next," he said.
Mitchell said that although The Bahamas does not have the infinite resources as other countries, it does have adequate resources that can be used through proper management.
"In other words, I'm saying this country is not broke, but it is not Saudi Arabia either," he said.
"With the management talent and with the resources that we have, we have enough space to carry out the functions of government.
"And it's a question of how we manage those resources."
Mitchell also suggested that the country needs more young people to assist in the management of these resources.
"I think that we need to let go to some extent and allow some of the younger people to run some of these systems, because they tend to be less parochial and less influenced by parochial concerns because they are newer to the system," Mitchell said.

read more »

Baha Mar blames govt for brand's decision to pull out

August 21, 2015

Baha Mar charged yesterday that the government of The Bahamas is to blame for a decision by one of its luxury brands to seek to terminate its agreement with the mega resort.
Baha Mar said the government's move to block the process that would have given it access to funding, in addition to the government's pursuit of a winding up petition, have created uncertainty surrounding the future of the development.
Rosewood Hotel and Resorts International filed a motion to terminate its license agreement with Baha Mar in a U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Rosewood cited Baha Mar's inability to secure funding as part of the reason for its motion.
"Unfortunately, as the motion itself makes clear, this action is a direct result of the efforts of the government of The Bahamas to both oppose the recognition of the Chapter 11 process in The Bahamas and pursue its current course of action, which has injected uncertainty and disruption, and prevented Baha Mar from moving forward in a productive manner to complete and open the resort," said the Baha Mar statement.
Baha Mar filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States on June 29 and was seeking recognition of that process in the Bahamian courts.
The government objected to Baha Mar's recognition bid.
On July 22, Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder rejected Baha Mar's application.
The ruling means that the various orders handed down by a U.S. judge after Baha Mar's bankruptcy filing cannot take effect in The Bahamas.
Among other things, the U.S. judge authorized $30 million debtor-in-possession (DIP) funding, which Baha Mar says is crucial to meet operational expenses and payroll. A portion of that money was also set aside for severance payments for Baha Mar staff.
Baha Mar previously expressed alarm that the government objected to its application and on more than one occasion questioned if the government was truly neutral.
The attorney general has since filed a winding up petition, which is currently being heard in the Supreme Court.
In its motion to terminate its agreement, Rosewood said as a result of that ruling, "The debtors (Baha Mar) have extremely limited access to post-petition financing or cash collateral.
"Indeed, counsel for the debtors stated in open court on July 20, 2015, in response to the court's questioning about the debtors' ability to make certain payroll payments: 'Your honor, all I can say at this moment is that with respect to what the Northshore debtor has, it can only currently allocate $64,000, at this particular moment'."
Rosewood went on to state that it has on multiple occasions since the petition date asked Baha Mar how it intends to be able to perform its obligations to Rosewood including specifically asking about the status of funding; however, Baha Mar has been unable to provide any assurance of funding.
"Although Rosewood has taken a patient course since the surprise filing of these Chapter 11 cases, it is now apparent that Baha Mar has been unable, despite nearly two months in Chapter 11, to secure adequate financing to perform its obligations under the Rosewood hotel agreements."
In addition to a lack of funding, Rosewood said Baha Mar has incurred numerous "incurable" defaults. Among other things, Rosewood said Baha Mar is in violation of its representation and warranty to Rosewood that it owns the Cable Beach property on which the hotel and associated residences are situated; construction of the hotel has ceased for more than 30 consecutive days; Baha Mar has failed to pay both the rank-and-file employees and the senior executives at the hotel, some of whom Rosewood requires to run the hotel, and has failed to reimburse Rosewood for pre-petition and post-petition fees and expenses due under the Rosewood hotel agreements.
Additionally, Rosewood said Baha Mar's filing its Chapter 11 case is a default under the license agreement and other Rosewood hotel agreements.
In response to the motion, Baha Mar said, "Under the U.S. Chapter 11 process, property of a debtor's estate is protected by the automatic stay, and we will address this request for relief from the automatic stay with the bankruptcy court in due course."

read more »

Mitchell: Level of anxiety over Baha Mar not warranted

August 21, 2015

Following the revelation that Rosewood filed a motion to sever ties with Baha Mar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell suggested yesterday there is no need to worry.
"This is first and foremost a legal issue," Mitchell said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
"And I think people have raised it to a level that has caused a level of anxiety, which is simply not warranted.
"We should allow the legal measures to play out and at the end of the day, I think it is all going to be resolved to the satisfaction of everybody."
Claiming that Baha Mar "induced" it to enter into an agreement on the premise that it held the title to the Cable Beach property when it in fact did not, Rosewood filed a motion in a Delaware Court seeking to end its relationship with Baha Mar.
In its motion, Rosewood said Baha Mar has "incurred numerous defaults under the various Rosewood hotel agreements, many of which are incurable", including Baha Mar's failure to pay key hotel staff and its inability to secure funding.
It categorized Baha Mar's "failure to own the land" as a violation of "a core precept of the Rosewood hotel agreements."
In the U.S. court document filed on Wednesday, Rosewood also said its brand is "being tarnished" daily due to controversy surrounding Baha Mar.
Adding to that, Rosewood said it is also losing money daily and as a result "is now suffering, and will suffer additional irreparable harm if it is not permitted to terminate the Rosewood Hotel Agreements and be relieved of its association with Baha Mar".
The Rosewood hotel includes approximately 99 guest rooms and suites and up to 92 residential units to be sold to purchasers.
"In terms of the specific things with regard to Rosewood, they would have their own reasons for taking the decisions they did," Mitchell said.
"But in any legal maneuver of this kind, the result would be that those things that have been changed, might be revisited to the benefit of the country and to the benefit of the enterprise.
"So it's simply important, in my view, for people to keep calm and be rational and wait for the result of the court processes."
Mitchell said he believes the problem will be solved in the long term despite the current state.
"My view is that when 30 years have passed, 30 years from now, people will look back at this and they probably won't remember any of the details of it," he said.
"This only seems important to us in the short term.
"In the medium to the long term, the matter is going to be resolved.
"And I believe it will be resolved to the satisfaction of all the Bahamian people."
When asked if he is afraid of the state that Baha Mar is in, Mitchell said, "Bahamians have an expression, 'I ain't never scared'."
Rosewood is the first brand to seek to terminate its agreement with the development.
The other brands involved in the mega resort aside from the central Baha Mar Casino & Hotel include the Grand Hyatt and SLS Lux.
Baha Mar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 29 in the United States, bringing the project to a standstill.
On July 22, Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder rejected Baha Mar's application seeking approval for recognition of the Chapter 11 filing in The Bahamas.
The government is seeking the appointment of provisional liquidators to manage Baha Mar's affairs with a view to getting the stalled project completed and operational.
The winding up proceedings continue today.

read more »

Happy 72nd birthday, prime minister

August 21, 2015

Dear Editor,
Dear Prime Minister, Happy 72nd birthday. You are energetic as ever, bouncing around The Bahamas and world at one hell of a pace. You still look good. You must, as it's disconcerting to me when young, attractive women ask me who is the older of the two of us. If Bernie sees even half of that energy, you are a bigger hero in the eyes of your two younger brothers.
In politics and relationships with the media life for you is the same as it has always been. The inheritors of that Englishman's vile pen still adhere to the agenda to "take you and the PLP out" with whatever skewed views they can concoct. At least you now have a companion for media bashing in the form of my college buddy, Hubert Minnis. Only time will tell whether he is able to withstand the assault and one day exult in singing as you have, "The storm is over now." I reminded you in a previous letter that all of this is "cookie-cutter punditry". For example, President Obama has been criticized as too slow to engage in major debates and too timid to make difficult decisions.
There is no doubt about it. In this term of office you have been more deliberate and willing to shoulder the criticism that comes with making bold, controversial decisions. The issues of gaming regularization, VAT implementation, Junkanoo carnival, National Health Insurance, minimum wage and now Baha Mar are "big matters" that all impact the common good.
The latter issue is a major troubling consideration, but what is important is that your government's response to the matter was prompt and decisive and, in your view, the right course to follow as the democratically elected government of the country. That's governance. One prominent businessman expressed shock and awe at the speed and result you sought for Baha Mar.
Daddy did not live to see you become PM. He existed under the leadership of your former law partner, Hubert (Ingraham) and seemed to like his "biggityness style". Daddy must have whispered to you from his place in heaven because he always felt that if you were to be prime minister it would be important for you to know when to send the message "if you go for my throat, you should first cover yours".
Returning to the media, I do not know why they feel that they can editorialize you out of office. Each week they are at it. I have been at your side for every election you have contested and I have never seen any of them offer you support in Centreville or nationally. Maybe they should be banished to purgatory. I have to admit, my terminology on where elements of the media can go does sound more prime ministerial than yours.
The new twist is that you can win elections but you cannot govern. At a PLP council meeting once I told some of your younger parliamentarians that politics is like the NBA playoffs, "win or go home". Governance comes when you win, otherwise you will sit around the table at Starbucks over coffee and pontificate as you like on good/bad governance.
No one understands winning better than you. It's why I know you have lost no sleep over the media injecting bursts of false political muscle into rogue PLP politicians. I remember you and Hubert being placed in that category back in the 1980s. When I went to Abaco with Hubert for his very first meeting he had a full house. In Centreville crowd support was never our problem. So I know it's difficult for you to give political credence to rogue PLPs who can't even command the support of their own branches.
Prior to the last election there were two rogue PLPs as pricks in your backside. So what's new? You have weathered all of the storms. Your once friends and foes have attacked you as they like. But there is no way of appreciating winning if you don't have your butt kicked on a regular basis. I am sure that each time you walked into the opening of new parliamentary sessions over the many years you have silently pondered with satisfaction, "Where have all the faces gone, long time passing?" They all went home.
We are quickly approaching that season of political open warfare. Your key support base needs to be buttressed. I sat in an open session of PLP stalwarts recently and just listened quietly as they "poured their hearts out". In the words of the poet Langston Hughes, for many of your supporters "life ain't been no crystal stair".
The irony of it is that these older key supporters understand the value of patience as they seek opportunities for their children and grandchildren, or whatever else they want. But at their stage in life they also appreciate the values of respect and common courtesies. And as I listened closely it appeared that for many a simple telephone call or response to a written query would have gone a long way to alleviate their concerns.
The Japanese have appointed individuals called "Denshosas" to keep alive the experiences of those who lived through the atomic bomb tragedy on Hiroshima 70 years ago. The Denshosas practically live with the remaining Hiroshima survivors until death and become the inheritors of that catastrophic experience to be in the position to keep telling the story for posterity. These stalwart councilors are your party's Denshosas. They have walked with the past giants of the PLP and they have walked with you. Every Saturday you personally bury them and their memories. Lift up your party's Denshosas in the eyes of your younger colleagues and if you need some new scripture to quote in support, refer them to Job 12:12: "Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?"
The big question in your mind, your family's, your party's and the country's is what comes next for Perry Gladstone Christie? I have always approached your offering to run again in 2017 with ambivalence. A part of it is related to campaigning. It is not the fun it used to be many years ago and I have wondered aloud, "Why would Perry want to do this again?" A part is related to business. People, who know you know that those in your family who have an entrepreneurial spirit will enjoy greater freedom to accomplish more with you gone. You don't do deals. On the other hand, even though I am your brother I can objectively say that you remain the best man for the job as party leader and the next prime minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
I say this in knowledge of others who I have strong personal regard and affection for and who aspire to your position. The ground out there is soft for the PLP. There are none with your experience and skills to firm up that ground. You will out-talk, out-walk and out-hustle anyone and all to win. Additionally, this coming election is going to be about you and your stewardship. Whether you are frontline or not, you will be bloodied and bruised in election crossfire. At least, if you are frontline you can engage and swing back. Yes, there is the risk of the legacy of losing. But you are a gladiator supreme and as your predecessors found out, sometimes gladiators meet an honorable death in the arena.
I have concluded that you, leading a coalition of those colleagues who want your job, give the PLP the best chance of re-election. Pope Francis traveling in Latin America has given you a very basic message to take to the Bahamian electorate: "I wish to join my voice to yours calling for land, lodging and labor for all our brothers and sisters. These are sacred rights."
Enjoy your birthday, prime minister.

- Gary Christie

read more »

More questions than answers

August 21, 2015

Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis has broken his silence on the conflict of interest claims leveled against him by the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). However, his explanation seems to have raised more questions than it answered.
While serving as minister of health in the last Free National Movement (FNM) administration, Minnis said he disclosed his interest in a building being rented to the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA), a department under his ministerial portfolio. Then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham advised him to have the PHA move out as soon as possible, Minnis said.
"I, the permanent secretary and the ministry would have informed the PHA to do accordingly, and hence month-to-month (rental, as opposed to continuing with the long term lease).
"Their response at that time [was] they would look for such a facility that would be adequate for them as opposed to undergoing hundreds of thousands [of dollars] of renovations," he said.
Meanwhile, the $7,500 monthly payments to Minnis' company continued through the entirety of his term in office and are still being received today.
The first and most obvious question is: In what way does his explanation absolve Minnis of the appearance of a conflict?
The Manual of Cabinet and Ministry Procedures, the official document for senior government officials, mandates that, "When a minister possesses, directly or indirectly, an interest which conflicts or might reasonably be thought to conflict with his public duty, or improperly to influence his conduct in the discharge of his responsibilities in respect of some matters with which he is concerned, he should disclose that interest to the prime minister or Cabinet."
Minnis says he did this. However, the manual goes on to say: "Should circumstances change after an initial disclosure was made, so that new or additional facts become material, the minister must disclose the further information."
Having said the PHA must vacate the building, the former prime minister would have expected his instructions to be fulfilled. When things did not go according to plan, and the rental continued, did Minnis report this fact to Ingraham?
If so, why would Ingraham issue a directive on the one hand, only to allow its contravention for five long years?
As the minister responsible for the PHA, could Minnis not have caused the search for a new building to be prioritized? In his private capacity as the owner of the building, could he not have notified the renter of a reasonable deadline for its vacation?
Failing all else, and if the PHA was really saving "hundreds of thousands" by being in that particular building, should Minnis not have divested himself of his interest in the company in a timely fashion?
Now we understand that in Minnis' 2007 official declaration before the general election he said that he had no contract with the government of The Bahamas other than with state corporations for basic utilities. At the time Minnis made that declaration the company Leechez Investments Limited, in which he is the beneficial shareholder, held that lease with the PHA whereby Minnis' company was renting its Stat Care building to the PHA. That arrangement continued the whole time Minnis was minister of health.
Minnis must answer these questions to the full satisfaction of The Bahamian people. Especially as he has made so much of the conflict of interest claim facing Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson regarding her family's business involvement in Baha Mar.
If he does not, many are likely to regard his attacks on Maynard-Gibson as hypocritical.

read more »

Man's body washes ashore at Rose Island

August 21, 2015

A man's badly decomposed body washed ashore on Rose Island on Wednesday, police reported yesterday.
His body was found around 4 p.m.
While the man's identity has not been released, police believe he was a passenger on a small boat that capsized in waters off that island on Sunday.
An autopsy will be performed to confirm the cause of death, police said.

read more »