Nassau Guardian Stories

MrShipIt.com partners with small businesses

January 19, 2015

As one of the leading new players in one of The Bahamas' most bustling industries, MrShipIt.com is always looking for better ways to serve its customers and community. One of its goals for 2015 is to support small businesses by offering them a platform to introduce their products and services to their own large fan base.
"We want to build community between entrepreneurs," said MrShipIt.com's Managing Director Jurelle Nairn of the initiative. "We want to succeed together. Building relationships with local businesses helps us and our partners reach new markets."
The first of these partnerships came just in time for the holiday season. The Cookie Caterer contributed 1,000 cookies for MrShipIt.com to give away to customers on delivery days from December through January.
The Cookie Caterer's founder Gregory Collie sees this as great publicity for his business. "We were excited that Mr.ShipIt wanted to join forces," he stated recently. "Getting our cookies in the hands of their customers has garnered even more exposure for us!"
Nairn adds, "We are happy to not only partner with small companies to bring in their raw materials at the lowest rates in the country, but also to support them by promoting their products to our thousands of members! The Cookie Caterer is hopefully the first of many."
Any businesses interested in becoming an exclusive partner is encouraged to email Jurelle Nairn at: smallbiz@mrshipit.com.
MrShipIt.com currently boasts a membership of nearly 3,000 members. The freight forwarder provides customers the ability to shop at any U.S. retailer and have products shipped to them in Nassau or any family island. Free U.S. addresses are available online at www.mrshipit.com or via the phone at 328-SHIP (7447).

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Renew chief: Business as usual after dump arson

January 19, 2015

Renew Bahamas President and CEO Gerhard Beukes said yesterday that the waste management company was proceeding as planned with routine operations at the New Providence landfill and plans for its materials recycling facility following the most recent fire at the site.
Beukes told Guardian Business that the landfill and its recycling facilities were operating following the suspected arson in the northern part of the landfill. He noted that the initial fires appeared to have started in straight lines in various parts of the northern side of the landfill, adding that Renew had found evidence of more attempted fires on the eastern side of the landfill.
"We're open and operating. We sent three more containers of recycling materials to the port [yesterday], so we're certainly not allowing this to slow us down.
"We'll be looking to have [a large materials recycling facility] completed by the end of March and put test loads through in April. That plan remains completely unchanged, so our biggest effort now is to ensure that we smother as much of the smoke as quickly as possible," said Beukes.
While he said that he could not comment on speculation, he added that the firm is looking into potential leads related to the blaze. He also dismissed speculation that the landfill had experienced a slowdown in operations prior to the fire.
"To us it was very clear that there was a concentrated effort to set everything alight yesterday and the night before," he said.
The fire stared on Saturday night and continued Sunday before being contained. However, Beukes urged everyone to manage their expectations regarding the heavy smoke still affecting the area.
"There is still going to be a lot of smoke coming up from [the landfill] over the next several days, maybe for the next seven to ten days unfortunately. We're putting as much water and fill material on it as possible. We've got our plant operators working very aggressively to cover as much of that as possible, but there will still be a lot of smoke," he said.
Renew Bahamas signed a contract with the government to manage the New Providence landfill last June, with responsibility for studying the site's waste inflows and constructing a recycling plant.
Beukes had previously told Guardian Business that the company had sent several waste shipments to China, India, and Taiwan and was positioned to have a profound environmental impact on the country in 2015.

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PM: Minnis not a threat

January 18, 2015

Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis has been touting his party's "victory train" ever since his re-election at the FNM's convention in November, but Prime Minister Perry Christie said Minnis is not a threat to him.
In fact, Christie said many people have been asking him to lead the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) into the next general election, although he stressed he has made no decision on this.
Asked by The Nassau Guardian whether he feels threatened by Minnis, Christie responded: "No. I don't feel threatened by Mr. Minnis. Mr. Minnis has to work at getting his party united.
"He has a lot of work to do in terms of his leadership. It's easy to win a party election if you program winning it.
"It's easy to do that on an innocent and unsuspecting competitor (Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner), who as she sits in here (the House of Assembly) debating, you are out there machinating and putting your things together, so that's not difficult."
Christie added, "The difficult part now is winning [a general election], being able to get people to believe in you and get people to accept you and get people to understand you and get people to believe that you actually have a vision for the country.
"That's a challenge that all leaders have, getting people to follow you because they believe, not just that you can win, but you have a sense of what you want to do for The Bahamas, and if Minnis can stand up in Parliament and convince me of that, by what he says, I would be happy, but he can't do that, or at least he hasn't shown me."
While Christie said he feels no threat from Minnis, he said he is not yet in a position to speak to whether he intends to retire from public life after this term.
"There are lots of people who are asking me to stay and lots of people who may mistakingly have arrived at a conclusion that I have the skill or what not to win an election for them and ultimately their job is to ensure that people win," said Christie, adding that he understands there will always be people critical of his leadership.
"...I think when it comes to me, when it comes to my family and what not, I'm going to make the right decision. I'm going to make it at the right time or announce it at the right time, and I'm not going to allow now any speculation to distract me, any side debate to distract me from what I'm doing.
"I'm working very hard knowing that people are skeptical about even our producing results. I believe we are going to produce magnificent results for this country over the next 18 months.
"I believe it's going to be able to help those who run in the next election to win again. I believe those things and I am therefore going to see to it that it happens."
Many FNMs have been working hard at keeping their party united in the weeks after Minnis trounced Butler-Turner in the party's leadership race.
In his victory speech back in November, Minnis declared, "I'm sure Christie realizes his days are numbered."
Since convention, the FNM has announced a series of meetings in various islands.
On the weekend, the party held a meeting in Central and South Eleuthera, where MP Damian Gomez has said none of the projects he highlighted as priority items in 2012 has yet been realized.
The Nassau Guardian understands that Gomez is considering leaving the Cabinet to return to the private sector.
Despite numerous challenges Christie has had with several first-time MPs on his side, he told The Nassau Guardian he remains confident and focused in fulfilling his party's pledges.

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Police confirm arson at BAMSI

January 18, 2015

A fire that ripped through the male dormitory at the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) in Andros last week was intentionally set, Director of Fire Services Superintendent Walter Evans revealed yesterday.
Evans said firefighters concluded their investigation into the fire yesterday.
He said "several persons are assisting us with information".
Evans would not say what led firefighters to conclude the blaze was the result of arson.
The fire started in the roof before 7 p.m. on Thursday, he said.
Volunteers and officials extinguished the fire around 8:30 p.m., according to Superintendent Bruce Arnett, officer in charge on the island.
The blaze raged for over four hours.
Evans, who visited the island, said his team had to use garden hoses to extinguish the flames due to a lack of resources on the island.
The fire only impacted one of two dorms at the campus.
Agriculture Minister V. Alfred Gray led a small delegation to the island on Friday morning to assess the damage.
The government has spent over $23 million of BAMSI.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said the government was "saddened" by the event but will not be distracted.
He said, "We will rebuild".
North Andros and the Berry Islands MP Dr. Perry Gomez described the ordeal as unfortunate.
Since taking office, the government has touted BAMSI as one of its most important initiatives.
While it faced several delays and a protracted construction period, the first group of students started at the institute last year.
BAMSI also recently signed an agreement on technical and research cooperation with China's Ocean University.

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Miller says he will sue BEC union

January 18, 2015

Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said he has instructed his attorney to take "immediate legal action" against the corporation's line staff union and its president over allegations made against him.
In a letter dated January 13 addressed to Labour Minister Shane Gibson, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Paul Maynard accused Miller of signing a contract recently with a foreign company without the board's approval to maintain the engines at BEC's Clifton Pier Power Station.
Key among numerous
allegations made against Miller, Maynard said the union has learned that Miller is also a consultant for the company.
When contacted for comment, Miller said nothing could be further from the truth.
He said he was never a consultant for the company.
Miller said BEC has no contract with BWSC Denmark Power Plant.
He said the corporation has used purchase orders, a commercial document generated to acquire goods or services, since the 1990s for the company to maintain and overhaul the engines at Clifton.
"It's a purchase order, of which the board is fully aware," Miller said.
"In fact, we just approved that a few weeks ago, for BWSC to come in again, as we did summer before last, and last summer.
"They have been here since 1990 doing the work that Bahamians could do at Clifton, but won't do on a regular basis.
"That is why they are here; not because we want them here, but because we do not have a choice."
Maynard charged that while Miller has railed against overtime at the corporation, this is to "smoke screen" the issues concerning the Denmark-based company.
Maynard said BWSC has maintained engines at Clifton for $500,000 per engine.
He claimed the costs, including overtime for employees to maintain those engines, is around $150,000 per engine.
Maynard said the only way to bring down these costs is to change several outdated engines, which he said have continued to break down, to gas turbines.
Miller revealed that BEC pays BWSC $1.5 million to maintain the engines at Clifton, a cost he said is "more than value for money".
Asked how that cost compares to what BEC would have to pay employees in overtime, Miller said, "We tried our [employees] and had them do it last year and you saw the hell that we caught last summer.
"The year before we had BWSC do it. Every day our engines were anywhere from 105 to 110 megawatts. That is what we were putting out.
"Last summer, and a few weeks ago, we got down to 26 megawatts at Clifton.
"Clifton now needs to be totally rearranged and that is why BWSC is here now with a group of men."
While Miller did not provide a cost comparison, when pressed on the matter he said, "When we look at the figures of what we had to pay [employees] last summer it works out almost the same.
"...But with them [BWSC] we have a guarantee with the engines. That is the difference."
But Maynard said the union refuses to sit idly by and watch its members be "victimized by the chairman for his personal gain".
"At this point, we are now forced to do whatever it takes to secure our livelihood and to make sure bread is not taken out of any of our members' mouths," read the letter.

Overtime
Miller said the union's refusal to resolve rostering in its industrial agreement signed in December is further evidence of its "greed".
He did not sign the contract and was not present at the contract signing.
The contract provided the union with 180 days to discuss rostering before the minister will intervene.
Miller repeated that two years ago BEC was spending $12.7 million a year on overtime, where in some cases workers took home $14,000 in overtime in one month.
The repeated release of employees' salaries and personal details was also lamented in Maynard's letter to Gibson.
He claimed that several BEC employees, who have been robbed and harassed, were targeted because of that information.
"The union wishes to put you (Gibson) on notice and inform you that we have had enough of the chairman," Maynard said.
"[He] appears to want a war between himself and the union.
"Therefore, we intend to do whatever is necessary to protect our members and livelihoods."
Maynard said he is disappointed the government has allowed Miller to reveal employees' salaries after it informed the union Miller was asked to discontinue doing so.
He said it has become evident that the government has no control over Miller.

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Man, 21, killed in road accident

January 18, 2015

A motorcyclist was killed yesterday afternoon after he lost control of his trail bike and hit a lamp pole, police said.
The victim, who was identified by his parents as Ometri Ferguson, 21, was riding along Baha Mar Boulevard, toward Gladstone Road.
Head of the Traffic Division Superintendent Craig Stubbs said no other vehicle was involved in the crash.
"From our understanding, he is an employee of Sandals Resort," Stubbs said.
"He just left [and] was headed home when he lost control of his cycle and collided with the utility pole."
Ferguson's relatives and friends gathered on the scene and consoled one another.
His mother, Kayla Ferguson, said she received a call shortly after the accident happened.
She was also upset because officers refused to allow her to see her son's body.
Ferguson said she waited on the outside of the police tape for more than an hour and a half hoping to see him.
"The officer just ran us back like we are dogs," she said.
Several of Ferguson's other relatives were also angry because they were unable to view his body.
His co-workers said he just got the bike yesterday and was excited to ride it home.
The traffic fatality is the second for the year and came nearly a week after a man in his late 50s was killed in a hit and run accident on Carmichael Road.
The victim, a resident of Rocky Pines subdivision, was struck at the intersection of Golden Isles Road and Carmichael Road by a dark colored vehicle traveling east, police said.
Stubbs said the man was dragged well over 1,000 feet.
His body was found in the road near a Scotiabank branch, Stubbs said.

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Chipman insists PAC hard at work

January 18, 2015

Despite public criticism that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is ineffective, PAC Chairman Hubert Chipman said yesterday the committee is hard at work and met regularly over the last three months.
He said the committee is looking at matters raised in the 2012 Report of the Auditor General, which was tabled in the House last October.
"I know there is much concern in the public about whether in fact the Public Accounts Committee has been meeting," Chipman said.
"I have said that we have had problems conducting meetings. But we have been meeting over the last month.
"Prior to our last set of meetings, we have had problems meeting because of problems with getting a quorum."
At least three members of the PAC have to be present for a meeting to commence.
Other members of the PAC are East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest, Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn, Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder and Golden Gates MP Shane Gibson.
The 2012 Report of the Auditor General raised several issues worth investigating, Chipman said, including outstanding debt from closed casino properties, which totaled $51 million.
Among that debt is $5.1 million owed by Phil Ruffin, former owner of the Crystal Palace Casino, according to the report.
However, according to Prime Minister Perry Christie, Ruffin's debt was paid.
Either way, Chipman said the outstanding debt is a major concern for the PAC.
The PAC is also looking into several other matters, including Urban Renewal.
Last February, Chipman requested that the auditor general audit the program.
"We've been promised on numerous occasions to receive that audit," he said.
"We were promised that prior to our last meeting on December 12, that we would have it and I am now told by the auditor general that we will have it sometime next week."
Chipman said the committee has also started looking into BAMSI.
"I think the Bahamian people are very concerned about the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) and the contracts that have been issued to date, whether in fact there was competitive bidding, whether thus far the government has gotten value for money to date," he said.
During his new year's address, Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis promised to expose wasteful spending in the government through a "revitalized" PAC.

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BAMSI contract concerns lingered before fire

January 18, 2015

Prior to a fire at the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) in Andros, the project was already behind schedule, according to Minister of Agriculture V. Alfred Gray.
Gray had suggested that the government revisit contracts or cancel them altogether if progress is not made in the coming weeks.
"I'm not sure what the government is going to do with those contractors who are lagging behind," Gray told The Guardian two days before the fire.
"My reaction to that would be that the government may have to revisit those contacts and if they [have] been breaching them we would have to determine whether we give them deadlines again or we bring their contractual obligations to an end.
"But I don't think the government is going to continue to say okay, we'll give you another chance. I think the government is very serious that those buildings, as they promised us, must be ready for opening... at the Easter break.
"[If] we see that, that is not going to happen I think the government is ready and willing to make whatever decision is required of us."
The government hired 14 contractors.
Fire severely damaged the male dormitory, which was 80 percent completed. Officials said it was intentionally set, but no motive has yet been revealed.
Yesterday, Gray said it is even more critical for all of the other buildings to be completed on time.
He said the government will rebuild the dorm, adding that the setback would not hamper the government's plan to attain food security.
"I'm saddened by the setback, but we are soldiers," Gray said.
In the meantime, he said the government would have to continue to house the students elsewhere.
The students are being housed in Westside Fishing Resort and CJ's Resort.
Gray previously revealed the cost of the temporary accommodations for students and staff will total $120,000.
Classes started in September.
Fewer than 50 students are enrolled. Asked about their progress, Gray said many of their grades are not up to standard.
"I'm told that there are some students whose grades are not what we would like them to be over the last term and they have been advised on that," he said.
"They have to keep their grades up if they want to be in BAMSI because BAMSI is not a place for rejects. It's a place where students want to learn. And it's a place where we only accept the best."
Gray noted that the students still have a chance to get their grades up.
"But I would encourage them to keep their standards high and work hard," he said.

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Arson suspected in dump fire

January 18, 2015

A fire that raged at the city dump over the weekend is believed to be the work of an arsonist, Renew Bahamas said last night.
The fire, which started shortly before 11 p.m. on Saturday, continued yesterday.
Director of Fire Services Superintendent Walter Evans said officials used heavy duty machinery to fight the fire.
In a statement, Renew Bahamas said the blaze started on the northern side of the landfill and spread rapidly.
Shortly after, a second blaze started on a separate part of the site, but did not spread.
"We believe this latest incident indicates a concentrated arson attack on the site and facilities, as our sources and surveillance indicate individuals entered the landfill after sunset and deliberately started the fire," the statement read. Renew warned residents that they can "expect some discomfort over the next several days from the smoke" as wind will continue to pose a challenge.
The smoke from the fire blanketed the Cable Beach area yesterday during Marathon Bahamas.
Evans said residents of Victoria Gardens and the Gladstone Road community must be vigilant because of the smoke.
"We have advised the public at large, for those who have any respiratory challenges, because of the smoke to seek medical help," he said.
"We are going to do all we can to ensure that, that fire is extinguished in the shortest possible time."
Renew Bahamas signed a contract with the government last June to manage the landfill.

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2015: A watershed year for the PLP government, pt. 2

January 18, 2015

Every life has a watershed moment, an instant when you realize you're about to make a choice that will define everything else you ever do, and that if you choose wrong, there may not be that many things left to choose. Sometimes the wrong choice is the only one that lets you face the end with dignity, grace, and the awareness that you're doing the right thing.
I'm not sure we can recognize those moments until they've passed us.
- Mira Grant

Two weeks ago, before we took a break last Monday to observe the majority rule holiday, we thanked our readers for their encouragement and support of eight consecutive years of the weekly Consider This columns, as well as their constructive criticisms and alternative viewpoints to our weekly columns over the years.
Part one of the first column for this year invited us to Consider This... will 2015 be a watershed year for the PLP government?

A watershed
We defined a watershed as an important period or factor that serves as a dividing line. It is a turning point, a defining or pivotal moment or tipping point. Consequently we asked whether, in this context, 2015 will be a watershed year for the PLP government.

Visited issues
In answering this question, we addressed several salient issues that the government must effectively address if it will inspire the electorate to give them another mandate when the next general election is held in 2017 or earlier.
We spoke about the importance of containing crime, the most intractable challenge facing the government. We also recognized that it is vitally important to implement policies and programs to rapidly grow the economy.
We identified the introduction of value-added tax on January 1, 2015 as the most dramatic fiscal phenomenon in modern Bahamian history which could arrest and hopefully reverse the out-of-control fiscal deficit and national debt.
We also suggested that a successful referendum on constitutional changes will significantly signal the government's likely general election success the next time around.
Finally, we observed that the extent to which the government is successful in raising the anticipated taxes from the newly regulated web shop industry will also signal whether the public is satisfied that this watershed event will place the country on a positive pathway to raise urgently needed revenue in order to reverse the national debt and the fiscal deficit.

New challenges
In addition to crime, the second most important challenge facing today's government is the intractable level of unemployment, especially among our young citizens. We were recently informed that there are approximately 30,000 Bahamians who are unemployed, a totally unacceptable statistic.
Closely connected to the level of Bahamian unemployment is the extent of hunger and poverty that has afflicted too many of our citizens, young and old. There are reports that many school children go to bed hungry, eagerly looking forward to their next meal, not at their breakfast table, because they have none, but at their schools during the lunch hour which is offered by the school system. The extent of this problem needs to be fully documented and definitive action must be taken to eradicate this unpardonable reality.
The extent to which the government improves its communication with the public will also test its commitment to openness and accountability. While there is no need to rehash them here, there have been too many unexplained or poorly explained matters in the past two years that have left the public wondering what really happened in one case after another.
This will also be a watershed year for The Bahamas as far as the international ratings agencies are concerned. If those agencies believe that we have taken the appropriate regulatory steps to strengthen our established institutions, we should be fine. If not, we can anticipate that the country's rating will be adversely affected.

Hopeful signs and
great expectations
Sometime later this year, the Baha Mar mega-resort will open with much fanfare and great expectation of more jobs being created, an improved tourism product and an enhanced number of stop-over visitors who will spend more and thereby improved both the gross domestic product and our foreign reserves.
In May, the much-heralded and inadequately explained Junkanoo Carnival will be featured. There is considerable hope riding on the success of this event and hopefully, as is our custom, we will be able to pull it off in fine form as the event approaches.
Perhaps the most controversial issue that is looming in the wings is the government's intention to launch its National Health Insurance plan. While there is no doubt that too many of our citizens do not have access to catastrophic insurance, the proverbial question remains: What will it cost and who will pay the bill? The prime minister recently indicated that the initial cost will be approximately $600 million, although he anticipates that the first tranche will cost the Bahamian people $250 million. Again, greater public discussion is needed about this urgently needed social service, but, in light of the recurrent deficits, the national debt, the increase in taxes from VAT, the question remains: Can we afford this bill at this time?
Some of our Family Islands are suffering from want of urgently needed capital improvements. The clinic in Exuma, which has been erected but has not yet been opened, is badly needed for the delivery of satisfactory health care on that island. The hospital that was been promised to the people of Central Eleuthera during the last election campaign seems to remain only a figment of the imagination of the political directorate. The roads in Central and North Andros remain a constant challenge for the residents of that island.
Too many of the airports around our archipelago remain in an unacceptably deplorable state and are in urgent need of upgrading.
There has been considerable talk about the development of a national development plan for the future. Few will dispute the need for such a plan, but will this exercise be approached in a realistically practicable manner in order to enhance the orderly development of our country?

Conclusion
We repeat that the government should be given high marks for its herculean efforts in addressing many of the tough issues that face us. The government has taken several unpopular decisions that have been controversial, but needed to be made in the challenging exercise of governance.
We again observe that the prime minister has not replaced the Senate vacancy that was created by the resignation of Senator Cheryl Bazzard nearly two months ago. And while he seems to have had a successful visit to China, the prime minister has yet to name a Bahamian ambassador to that country. Similar attention should be given to appointing a resident ambassador to Brazil if we are to benefit from formalizing such an arrangement.
For all of these reasons - and more - we believe that 2015 will indeed be a watershed year for the PLP. We hope that they recognize that these are important watershed moments before they pass by and how crucial they are for its future as the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to pgalanis@gmail.com.

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Institutionalizing culture

January 18, 2015

Dear Editor,

I recently read an article which stated that the prime minister wished to "institutionalize culture" which made me wary, as I tried to figure out what exactly that phrase meant. Was he referring to an "institution" such as those in existence decades ago where the mentally challenged were institutionalized, cut off from the real world and pumped full of drugs to keep them docile and incoherent? Or on the very opposite end of the spectrum, was he referring to the formation of a center of learning where culture could be nurtured and cultivated for enrichment of the mind and soul of the people?
I pondered whether this was a Freudian slip, as Bahamian culture to my mind is being dehumanized and debilitated in this present stifling environment.
Culture is a living organism that undergoes constant change - it adapts to the environment and is a unifying force for a country and should be embraced in unison by its people. Culture must be nurtured and enriched, polished and praised in a nourishing environment so that it can continue to grow and flourish. Culture is a humanizing force. It defines who we are as a people.
If we examine the recent actions of this government we are led to believe that it is following the path of stunting Bahamian culture by polluting it with foreign entities and burying it beneath a barrage of toxic waste. Bahamian culture is being poisoned and stunted. It has no encouraging environment in which to flourish and grow because it is being strapped down by unenlightened persons, many of whom come from a legal background whose direction is adversarial and confrontational - me against you/who will win? It is being predicated upon old precedents rather than being exposed to an awakening of the mind. How many "cultural" lawyers have readily embraced their artistic side and allowed their humanity to flourish? Persons such as Jeanne Thompson, Winston Saunders, Cleophas Adderley come to mind.
In order to create, one must first deconstruct. There must first be chaos in order to bring order. When you are cooking, the kitchen becomes a flurry of activity and "stuff" is everywhere. But are you the type of cook who makes a mess and leaves it behind for others to clean up, or do you clean as you go (which is how professional chefs are trained) in order to keep your work area organized? When you build a house the same thing happens. "Stuff" is everywhere but there is an organized process to be followed in order to reach the goal. When you plant a garden you have to clear out the weeds, dig up the soil and empty the pots before the final product is put into the ground, and then it must be watered, nurtured, watched, cared for, fertilized in order to flourish.
The same is true for the arts and creativity. It is a process which needs to be recognized, understood, given encouragement and allowed to organically create and recreate itself. Can you understand that, politicians? Are you cognizant of the fact that in your school environment when you had music, art or literary classes, your teachers were preparing a creative environment in order for you to embrace the "arts"? Or did you consider it (as males) too "effeminate" to get involved in? Is this the underlying problem of our lack of male-politician-creativity-understanding in this macho-ridden society? If so, you are killing our country slowly with your ignorance.
I also shudder to think that I myself might have been a product of such an environment. I am so happy that upon receipt of my acceptance to study law at the Inns of Court, I did an about face and decided to walk the road of creativity by pursuing a tertiary education in English literature and fashion design. I breathe a sigh of relief every time I think of it.
I do not claim to have all of the answers, but I certainly lay claim to having expertise in the field of culture with decades under my belt. I have spent my life surrounded by cultural activities since my childhood days watching my mother, a founding member of the Carver Garden Club, take part in flower arranging and decoration; or my sister at ballet classes with Hubert Farrington; or seeing photos of my eldest sister in piano recitals with Meta Cumberbatch and later on assisting her in the formation of the National Arts & Crafts Exhibition, and later on in life when I became a founding student of Shirley Hall Bass' dance classes, which led to spending years at the Dundas enjoying performances, followed by active participation as an adult, along with my late husband Jackson Burnside, as we focused on promoting and celebrating our rich Bahamian culture in its many rich and diverse forms.
I cannot, however, claim any knowledge of what to do in the halls of Parliament - when to speak, stand, bow, wear "animal hair" wigs and robes - and I cannot assume to be able to make comment on the same, but I sure know a thing or two about culture. And I know that it does not mean, for example, giving a Hawaiian image pride of place on all the independence cultural invitations, or showing a photo of oneself wearing an authentic Chinese dress as an example of being a Bahamian Junkanoo, or scraping the saw in a suit and tie, or putting the word "Junkanoo" before the word "carnival" to make it Bahamian.
If we do not condemn these abominations we run a serious risk of losing our Bahamian-ness. Our Bahamian culture is in critical condition due to a lack of focus, understanding and appreciation by those persons who consider themselves the powers that be, but are incorrect in that assumption. The power resides in we the people, and we the people must make our voices heard.
On December 1, 2014, Nassau became a member of UNESCO's prestigious global Creative Cities Network as a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Arts due to six long years of hard work by ordinary, passionate and committed Bahamians - and without any governmental help. This is a positive acclamation of the power of the people to make things happen for our benefit, because that is where our focus must lie. We need to set our culture compass on course to use what is ours to do what is right and make this country great again. It is our legacy. It is our right. It is our mission.

- Pam Burnside

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Family, friends and lovers

January 18, 2015

Dear Editor,

The widely perceived mantra of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is: family, friends and lovers. The past two and a half years of their administration have only reinforced that perception. However, they have a unique opportunity to somewhat "redeem" themselves.
Value-added tax (VAT) became effective on January 1, 2015. VAT is the PLP's baby, never before applied in this great commonwealth. It (PLP) has a golden opportunity to (at least) get one thing right in five years. As I understand it, businesses will not be registered if they owe outstanding amounts to other government institutions (NIB, property tax, etc.). This is in keeping with "best business practices".
This administration has demonstrated that it can in fact "collect outstanding" taxes when it suits its agenda. I was truly impressed at the warp speed in which they forced the numbers industry to cough up millions in taxes in three months. Wow! This indicates to me that they are "selective" in applying the law. Come on man, they can assess and collect seven million in three months from illegal enterprises, how come they cannot collect taxes from established businesses sanctioned by the government? Family, friends and lovers?
As a citizen of this great commonwealth, I am posing the following questions to the prime minister and his Cabinet: Are there any businesses that should be registered and are not? Are there any businesses that presently owe government taxes in excess of $50,000 that are in fact registered? Are there any businesses that are in fact not honoring their existing "payment arrangements" that have been registered?
I am aware that this "haughty" government may ignore my relevant request. Consequently, I am appealing to the deputy leader of the Free National Movement, K. Peter Turnquest, to raise the issue in Parliament at the earliest opportunity.

- Bradley L. Armbrister

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An inadequate response

January 18, 2015

Dear Editor,

Renward Wells, in the course of his latest evasive ramblings, claims he signed the Stellar Waste LOI to enable that company to "carry out studies" free of charge to present to the Cabinet.
According to Wells, there are many things that must be studied before proceeding "but before you do any of that, the first thing you have to study is the garbage".
Having studied the garbage he is currently spouting, I am reminded of that old saying, garbage in garbage out.

- Ian Mabon

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Striking is not the answer

January 18, 2015

On January 9, the Department of Statistics announced that the unemployment rate in The Bahamas went up. The national jobless rate rose from 14.3 percent in May 2014 to 15.7 percent in November 2014.
The survey, which has a reference period of October 27 to November 2, 2014, shows that both New Providence and Grand Bahama saw increases in unemployment.
In New Providence, the unemployment rate grew from 15 percent to 16 percent, and in Grand Bahama it increased from 14.7 percent to 18.6 percent. The Department of Statistics also conducted a survey in Abaco, which recorded an unemployment rate of 20.3 percent.
The jobs market is still weak in The Bahamas nearly seven years after the financial crisis. Those who have jobs should be grateful and be working to do all they can to maintain them.
The survey shows that 31,540 people were listed as unemployed -17,145 women and 14,395 men. Youth unemployment stood at 31 percent in November compared to 28 percent in May 2014.
In this context the stance of the workers at Melia Nassau Beach resort is misguided.
Line staff at the resort on Friday voted overwhelmingly in support of a strike amid a dispute between the union and the hotel over gratuities, according to Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) General Secretary Darren Woods.
The union has challenged Baha Mar's decision to remove an automatic 15 percent gratuity from the food and beverage bills of hotel guests at Melia as it transitions into an all-inclusive resort.
In December, Melia obtained an injunction that prevented the union or employees from taking industrial action. However, the union said that injunction expired on Wednesday.
The two sides were engaged in negotiations for months, but union executives have said those meetings were fruitless.
Woods accused hotel officials of attempting to hold the union's members hostage by withholding gratuities as leverage with a new industrial agreement.
"Either we agree to what they want or there is nothing," he said. "What they have done is actually hostage our people by withholding their pay.
"That is a form of slavery. If you take a man's money away from him he is subject to whatever it is that you to do."
The workers at Melia must be careful and not allow the leaders of the union to lead them to unemployment. If there is a legal agreement and the hotel, via that agreement, should extend the 15 percent gratuity to the workers then Baha Mar should live up to the agreement until it concludes. However, if the extension of gratuities is a matter under the control of the company, the workers should embrace the new norm.
The Bahamas has a weak economy with high unemployment. Baha Mar is the only hope during this five-year political term for that jobless number to fall - and Baha Mar is struggling to open and get started.
With a competitive tourism market in the region, The Bahamas has to find ways to get more competitive. We are an expensive destination. The resort appears to be trying to make its offerings more enticing to guests. This includes doing away with the mandatory 15 percent gratuity. If this lowering of the cost of the destination works and helps make Melia more attractive, that decision will help the workers keep their jobs.
Bahamian workers must understand that what used to be may no longer be possible. The government just ushered in the largest tax increase in modern Bahamian history via value-added tax. Businesses are now being forced to cut costs and find new ways of being competitive to adjust to this new situation. Workers who are employed may have to renegotiate some of the benefits they used to receive in order to keep their jobs.
If the workers at Melia strike and the resort is so harmed that some of them have to be let go, the leaders of the hotel union will still be employed and will still receive their salaries. The workers should be smart and urge their representatives to come to an agreement with the resort that allows the business to remain competitive while also preserving employment. Striking in this economic climate makes no sense.

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Gomez 'considering leaving Cabinet'

January 18, 2015

Damian Gomez, the minister of state for legal affairs, is considering resigning from the Cabinet of Prime Minister Perry Christie, according to trustworthy National Review sources.
We would not be surprised if he does resign.
Gomez is obviously frustrated that things are not happening quickly enough, particularly in his Central and South Eleuthera constituency.
When we asked Gomez to respond to reports that he is contemplating handing Christie his resignation, his response was interesting.
While he did not confirm it, he also did not deny it.
Instead, he told us, "I don't have any comment at this time."
Two weeks ago, National Review revealed the contents of a letter Gomez wrote Christie on Christmas Eve expressing worry that the government has not given his constituency the kind of attention he and his constituents had expected.
In our original reporting on the letter, we opined that Gomez might not still be comfortable sitting around the Cabinet table, being a member of a government that is failing to deliver for his constituents.
There is widespread disaffection toward Christie and the government in many other constituencies. Many people are not feeling good about things, Christie's oft expressed optimism notwithstanding.
We are still adjusting to value-added tax and unemployment is high. Hearing that Baha Mar and other projects are about to come on stream is not enough to placate those who are most weary of the wait for things to start happening.
Keeping the PR going is not enough to address profound discontentment among many.
So, Gomez's exit from cabinet should catch no one off guard.
We have pointed out that Gomez is a well-respected, highly-skilled attorney with decades-long experience in his field.
He no doubt was earning a handsome income while in private practice. He could be in a better position to assist his constituents in private practice.
In our January 5 article, we also stated that, "We would not be surprised if Gomez, like Ryan Pinder did last month, leaves the Christie Cabinet where he serves as minister of state for legal affairs."
Since then, Gomez has been appointed a Queen's Counsel.
This could give him a greater incentive to return to private practice.

Leak
While the substance of the minister's letter is certainly something to pay attention to, the leak itself has also gotten some attention.
It seems to us from a recent comment Christie made to National Review that he thinks Gomez leaked the letter himself.
National Review can confirm that he did not. But of course, our source remains protected.
Christie expressed some disappointment that Gomez went public with his concerns about his constituency without first allowing him to handle those concerns privately.
"It is difficult to understand really why one would choose to make points publicly before they're made privately and whether that's Damian Gomez, and whether that's [Marco City MP] Greg Moss, whoever it is and what not, but for me I think people should be guided by party policies and rules," the prime minister said.
When we informed Gomez that it seems to be the prime minister's view that he leaked the letter to National Review, the MP said, "If I've told him that I've not leaked it and he insists that it could only be me then that means I lied to him."
Asked whether he is disappointed in Christie's suggestion that he leaked the letter, Gomez said, "Yes, because I don't like people questioning my integrity. I have no reason to lie.
"In any event, what was in the letter could easily be stated publicly, the same way that [MICAL MP V. Alfred] Gray has made statements about Salina Point needing the road, and he has said that several times in the House, and he has said he doubts that he can go back to his people if the road is not built."
Gomez added, "When I listed what I needed on my shopping list and sent it to him in the letter, that did not change the nature of what was stated. I could easily say that publicly. What criticism could he give me for doing that?"
We also asked Gomez whether Christie accepted when he informed him that he did not make the letter public.
"Obviously not because what he has said in the press to you tells me that he does not believe me," the MP said.
Gomez stressed that his letter to Christie did not call into question the prime minister's ability to do anything.
"I just said these things need to be attend to," he said.
In the letter to the prime minister, Gomez wrote that none of the projects he listed as priority items for his constituency in May 2012 has materialized.
"Many constituents are disenchanted by the failure to address critical capital works projects which may have stimulated the economy of Central and South Eleuthera and alleviated unemployment and poverty," he wrote.
"Their bemusement is exacerbated by our adoption of projects in Abaco and North Eleuthera in an apparent prejudice against the economic interests of Central Eleuthera and South Eleuthera.
"Indeed, it might appear to outsiders that we have ratified our predecessor's decision to divert $30 million from the construction of a new Glass Window Bridge to the construction of a deep water harbor in North Abaco."
Christie has called a meeting of the PLP's Leadership Council for tonight.
In addition the matter of whether to discipline Fort Charlotte MP Dr. Andre Rollins for his strong public criticisms of the prime minister, we suspect the Damian Gomez issue might also get some attention.

Perry's law
When he responded to the issue of the leaked letter last week, Christie said he has no intention of debating publicly whether the government is doing as much as it should be doing for Eleuthera.
"I'm feeling very optimistic knowing what my ministry (finance) is doing now about Eleuthera," Christie said.
"Mr. Gomez may or may not accept that, as the case might be.
"But he is a member of the Cabinet and he would be made aware of this and I'm sure he is.
"He is probably reflecting the anxiety of his constituents."
It is clear from Gomez's letter that he indeed is reflecting the anxiety of his constituents.
As we reported previously, Gomez started his letter by saying to Christie, "I trust that your Christmas is much better than mine or that of my constituents."
He ended it with the phrase "through thick and thin".
It is not surprising that constituents of Central and South Eleuthera are becoming antsy.
The Progressive Liberal Party gave them and many other voters the impression that things would get done more quickly.
At a rally in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, on April 25, 2012, then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham warned voters: "Remember Perry's Law: The more he promises, the less he'll deliver."
Of course, those voters rejected Ingraham and the FNM and accepted that Christie could deliver.
But according to Gomez, his constituents are still waiting.
When Christie and the PLP came to office they were supposedly stunned by the true state of public finances.
They informed that they would need more time to fulfill certain pledges.
Christie has reminded us that his late mother is from Eleuthera, so there is no way he would neglect that island.
We doubt that is reassuring to the people of Eleuthera.
Besides, the statement is a silly one.
All islands should receive the government's attention and resources.
As the government decides how those resources should be shared, the politics of the Gomez letter is not lost on many.
If Gomez does resign, it would likely be another embarrassing moment for Christie, whose new generation team has created for him the kinds of distractions he no doubt wants to avoid this lap.

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PM's disappointment at new generation team

January 18, 2015

Prime Minister Perry Christie has nothing personal against Dr. Andre Rollins.
At least that is what he told National Review in our first interview for 2015 during which time he admitted his disappointment in several of his so-called new generation leaders.
Christie named Rollins, the MP for Fort Charlotte, on his list of disappointments.
The prime minister has called a meeting of the Progressive Liberal Party's (PLP) Leadership Council tonight.
Among the matters to be addressed is whether to accept a recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee to suspend Rollins from the party for no less than six months.
National Review revealed the committee's recommendation two weeks ago.
Since then, the matter has been placed back on the radar and party sources say Christie feels more urgency to act.
We have no doubt that this is a matter Christie wishes would go away.
For him, there is much to consider.
Rollins has no doubt annoyed and embarrassed him publicly by declaring in Parliament last August that the country needs new political leadership.
The young MP was relentless in pounding the leader publicly.
He was fired as Gaming Board chairman after those verbal attacks.
But the party apparently feels that was not enough.
The Disciplinary Committee, headed by senior party man Valentine Grimes, determined that he should be suspended.
Suspending Rollins, as we pointed out before, would have little practical effect.
While he may be banned from party meetings, he would still be a PLP MP.
He would still represent the people of Fort Charlotte.
There is really no upside to penalizing Rollins.
Such action might come off as vindictive and silly.
It would give the impression that the party cannot handle free expression.
Christie told us that in considering his position on the Rollins matter, he cannot help but reflect on his own troubles with the PLP 30 years ago when Lynden Pindling fired him from his cabinet.
In 1987, Christie ran as an independent. His victory was assured after the Free National Movement decided not to run a candidate against him.
Referring to Rollins' open criticisms of him, Christie said, "I've been around public life much too long for me to take [personally] any manifestation of opposition or even dislike by persons who are in my party about me or my leadership because from time to time that manifests itself within the established ranks of the party, meaning colleague members were elected who may determine that they would rather support someone else to be leader of the party.
"So what happens in this kind of situation that we're in, we're aware of people's feelings, we're aware of people's right to express those feelings. I think one has [to be] very careful in how one deals with situations when people's careers are at stake."
Christie added, "I would only go as far as saying that I've had the personal experience of being the subject of discussion and the subject of discipline and the subject of not getting a [nomination] before, and so all of those issues are relevant to what is happening in our party and the leader does not make the decision by himself.
"He obviously has some influence and I would like to think that I have influence."
How Christie decides to use that influence should become evident this evening.

Moss
Christie's disappointment in the new generation team extends beyond his feelings about Dr. Andre Rollins.
Christie also feels let down by Gregory Moss, the MP for Marco City.
The prime minister fired Moss as chairman of the National Insurance Board in 2013 after Moss lashed out at Christie over his handling of a debacle that ensnared NIB early in this term.
But Moss has not taken his seat on the back bench quietly.
He has been highly critical of certain government policies. He predicted value-added tax will lead to the PLP's defeat at the polls, and he recently pledged in an interview with The Nassau Guardian to campaign against two of the four constitutional referendum bills.
Last week, Moss told The Tribune that the political fallout Rollins has faced due to his criticism of Christie is "undemocratic and silly".
Moss also said he intends to run in the next general election regardless of whether the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) gives him a nomination.
We imagine such a statement has annoyed Christie.
When he spoke to National Review, Christie suggested that Moss's comments were unfortunate.
"Greg Moss and I were closer than say Darville and myself on the campaign," said the prime minister, referring to Pineridge MP Dr. Michael Darville, the minister for Grand Bahama.
"We spent a lot of time together during the campaign. And I would expect of someone like Greg Moss, for example, if he has strong views that he would know that we have a relationship where those views can be expressed, and I would expect Greg Moss, a person who I believe is a party person, to be able to express his views in party circles.
"It is difficult to understand really why one would choose to make points publicly before they're made privately, and whether that's Damian Gomez, and whether that's Greg Moss, whoever it is and what not, but for me I think people should be guided by party policies and rules."
He said those rules dictate that such concerns should be dealt with internally and should only be made public if they are rejected or ignored by the party.
"The party does have an organ that can deal with your issues," Christie said.
"Take it to that organ, present it, persuade your colleagues that you are right and then if you are rejected, ignored, not respected, then you can make your own decision."

Challenges
We have analyzed this issue before.
Christie has had multiple challenges with new generation leaders.
In addition to firing Rollins from the Gaming Board and Moss from the National Insurance Board, he has fired Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works.
Christie admitted his disappointment in Wells, saying he had considered him to be "the brightest of the lot".
Last month, Ryan Pinder left his cabinet for greener pastures in the private sector.
There are now growing signals that Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez is unhappy in the cabinet.
According to sources, he is considering leaving.
One senior party insider said yesterday, "The lesson Christie should have learnt from these developments is that in seeking out standard bearers he should be satisfied that they are sufficiently grounded in the philosophies and beliefs of the PLP. This was not the case in some of the choices made in 2012."
"Why should he be surprised when some of the persons he chose to be standard bearers had no credentials or pedigree in the PLP?" asked the insider, who said he was referring to Moss, Wells and Rollins.
However, other observers view free expression from these backbenchers as refreshing.
As Christie's new generation circle dwindles, there are growing expectations that certain of these MPs will not be renominated in 2017.
In the interim, it appears likely that the prime minister will continue to face challenges with them.

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Still in the dark

January 18, 2015

It has been three months since Prime Minister Perry Christie fired Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works over his signing of a letter of intent (LOI) with Stellar Waste to Energy for a project at the New Providence landfill.
With the firing came no explanation.
But the firing brought the matter to a head.
Many people grew tired of hearing about it.
There was really nothing left for the media to say.
In time, it was no longer a headline.
It was not even a matter for the back pages.
But last week, Wells finally explained why he signed the LOI.
We, however, use the word "explain" warily.
There was not much of an explanation and the public is still left in the dark over a matter that dragged on since last summer.
About an hour or so before Wells told the House of Assembly last Wednesday that he signed the LOI in a bid to save the government and the people of The Bahamas millions of dollars, Christie told us that he did not see a reason why he (Christie) needed to provide any explanation on the firing.
In our discussion with the prime minister over his disappointment in several young MPs who he had expected to be the future of the PLP, the LOI matter came up.
We pointed out to the prime minister that the public was "still in the dark" months after he fired Wells.
Christie disagreed.
"I don't know that the public remains in the dark," said a straight-faced Christie.
"Enough has been said on the matter. It was a situation where in fact there is no consequence.
"In other words, he (Wells) could not influence by that document any decision.
"All of the decisions had been made, the matter was in a process involving KPMG, involving the deputy prime minister, (energy minister) Ken Dorsett and people like that on a task force and a committee.
"He (Wells) was a member of the task force, and so I didn't see that I would have been able to add anything or take anything away from it and I've made my decision to have the appointment revoked, to vacate the office and I left it there.
"And so, if the opposition brings it up I'll speak to it."
That Christie felt he could not "add anything or take anything away" from the LOI affair is concerning.
We reminded him that he had committed to providing an explanation on multiple occasions.
But Christie suggested he saw no real value in speaking to the specifics of the issue and so he left it there - up in the air.
Speaking directly of Wells' signing of the LOI, Christie admitted that he was disappointed.
"Again, that is another disappointment for me, because Wells probably was regarded by me as the brightest of the lot," Christie told National Review.
"So I think the experience was a big disappointment for me. I didn't think there was any value at the time to be going beyond my dismissal and I assumed both of us were going to speak publicly in the House at one stage to this issue. I didn't have a problem with it."
While Wells eventually spoke to the issue in the House last Wednesday, the prime minister still has not.

Lacking
Like many who have followed this matter, the opposition is not satisfied that it has been fully explained to the public.
Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn told The Nassau Guardian he found Wells' explanation lacking.
"It's ridiculous that the country spent three months being, in some degree, traumatized by this whole issue and this is the explanation we get," Lightbourn said.
"I do feel that the country would expect the prime minister to give a full story as to what transpired."
We agree with Lightbourn that the explanation was lacking.
Wells seems to be taking some kind of political gamble in raising the issue again but in obviously not going all the way.
The public has waited months for the full airing of this matter. We do not have a sense that, that has taken place.
Wells' explanation that he signed the LOI to save the government from having to spend money on conducting its own waste to energy studies indeed does seem lacking.
Many people just cannot believe that this explanation is what he held to himself for so long.
The LOI matter and the Bamboo Town MP's apparent decision not to provide a fuller explanation will likely haunt his political future.
To have raised this issue once again and then provide the explanation he provided has left us and many others wondering what he knows but still has not said.
We do not think for a moment that Wells was corrupted in the LOI process.
There is nothing about him that suggests to us that he had some financial benefit in signing the LOI.
That said, he is much too smart to think the public will accept his explanation as the end of this story.
We surmise that his explanation is a part of some political strategy he expects to play out at some point.
Wells' raising of this matter once again has also placed pressure back on Christie to speak to an issue he has long turned his back on.
But transparency is not Christie's style.
The prime minister seems misguided in his thinking that there is no reason for him to ever provide an explanation on the LOI matter.
We remain in the dark, even if he cannot see that.

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FNM's BOB protest has little traction

January 18, 2015

The Free National Movement's (FNM) protest against matters relating to Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) was successful in getting the Official Opposition on the front page, but was lacking in any real impact.
For one, the FNM did not show up with any force.
The march appeared to be more of an exercise in trying to stay relevant than anything else.
Outside the bank's Shirley Street location, FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis said, "We have assembled here at the people's bank to declare with one loud voice that enough is enough.
"The government must act and they must act now. The use of government voting power to prop up failed leadership in the bank is unacceptable when the Bahamian taxpayers have been made to swallow a $100 million increase in the public debt load in order to prop up the same bank."
Still, many people did not understand the purpose of the march, other than to win a headline or two.
The FNM's protest came months after former FNM Chairman Darron Cash appeared to be a lone voice in the opposition wilderness crying for some attention to be given to the state of BOB.
Two senior members of the FNM told National Review they felt privately that the time for demonstrating had long passed, but they needed to publicly support their party, which is intent on portraying a unified front under its recently re-elected leader.
During the protest on Wednesday, Minnis called for a shake-up of the bank's management.
The impact of his call for a shake-up was diminished though as it had already been revealed that Managing Director Paul McWeeney will depart in six months.
We are not suggesting that the bank's restructuring is still not necessary, but the FNM's "outrage" over the BOB saga is questionable.
We too await a comprehensive announcement on this restructuring.
"It's a work in progress," Richard Demeritte, BOB's chairman, told National Review.
"We've been able to get a very clear view of where we're headed and a draft report has already been put together."
The key reason why the march did not gain traction was perhaps that sensible people know that BOB's troubles did not start under the current board appointed by the Christie administration.
The troubles that climaxed with the October 31 announcement that the government was transferring $100 million in bad loans to a new entity called Resolve, have been festering for a very long time.
Those who showed up last Wednesday in their red shirts to protest should be aware of this.
In the absence of any concrete suggestions on how to improve operations at the bank, the protest came off as disingenuous, ineffective and misdirected.
It reminded us of Minnis and the FNM's consistent criticisms of value-added tax without any alternative proposals for fiscal reform.
Demeritte told National Review, "The things which were given specific spotlight cover the period 2007 to 2012.
"That's the period under scrutiny and what is happening is the board of which I am chair we're tidying that up.
"We're not looking at what administration did what. It's a banking issue to us. It's not a political issue and we're doing everything we possibly can to ensure that we give the bank the strength it needs back.
"It belongs to the Bahamian people and we've got the responsibility to tidy it up and that's what we're doing."
Demeritte said he did not pay attention to the FNM's protest "like most Bahamians would not pay attention to it".
Responding to the march, Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts said the FNM-appointed BOB board of directors approved the $100 million worth of bad loans.
He pointed out that Minnis was a Cabinet minister.
Asked about the bad loans approved under the FNM administration, Minnis responded: "If bad loans were made under the FNM, does that make it right? Transparency is the order of the day."
In a press statement early last year, BOB said "virtually all" of the loans involving so-called political persons were made in the period 2008-2010 when these persons were not in government.
"Indeed, since 2011, there have been very few new commercial relationships established at all, the bank having decided instead to concentrate on potentially more profitable areas of the retail banking market," BOB said.
It added that the time period was significant in dispelling the idea that politics played a role in the granting of loans.
On Wednesday, Minnis called on the government to reveal which politicians owe the bank and how much they owe.
"I can say with confidence that none of my members [have] gotten any money," he said.
Demeritte said none of the loans from politically exposed persons (PEPs) were transferred to Resolve.
"Certainly, all the loans put together, whether they're PEPs or otherwise, together they would have caused us to get into the difficulties that the bank got into," he said.
Following the FNM protest, Prime Minister Perry Christie accused the party of making a "direct attack on the bank's shareholders".
Christie accused the FNM of being reckless and irresponsible.
Demeritte also believes protests could undermine the bank, but he said if handled properly the bank could avoid being negatively impacted by politics.
"People who don't understand how banks operate and feel that their funds might not be safe will certainly become concerned," he said.
"But in due course as time blows away and we're back on a proper road to making the bank liquid, how it ought to be, and cleaning up all the bits and pieces that need to be done, that's where we're focusing at."

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Don't force it, faith it!

January 18, 2015

I remember very well an instance when I was deeply infatuated with a pretty young lady. However, it appeared that she didn't have the least bit of interest in me. However, I chased and chased her trying to force the situation, which of course didn't work at all as she was just not interested in me .....period. My Friend, perhaps you have experienced similar incidents in your life when you tried and tried to force something to happen which you deeply desired at the time. I'm also quite sure that it didn't work, for no one can force anything to happen in their lives. As someone put it in a lecture I attended some years ago "Sometimes we try too hard".....yes indeed we do!
Now incidentally, I don't want anyone to get me wrong here today as I do indeed believe that in order to be successful at anything, we do indeed need to be very persistent in our efforts to make our goals in life become reality. However, there's a time when I believe it is both prudent and wise to back off, and just 'Let Go & Let God' take care of the situation, let Him take over and thus guide you in the right direction. As another well-known saying puts it "If it's to be it will be".
Joel Osteen was talking about this very same subject which I'm addressing here today in a talk he gave on television recently, and he likewise advocated, that we should not try to force a situation to take place. He then used the phrase which is indeed the title of this article when he advised people as follows 'Don't Force It --- Faith It!'
Now My Friend, here's an important question for you to answer. Is there something which you deeply desire to happen in your life which you have been quite aggressively pursuing for some time to no avail, and the more you come up against a brick wall, so to speak, the more you try to force the situation to work out as you'd like it to? Well if the answer to that question is a resounding Yes, I suggest that you back off, relax and give the matter in its entirety to the greatest power in The Universe, your Spiritual Father, God as you relax KNOWING all the time that all is well. Yes My Friend, 'Don't Force It --- Faith It!'; that is give the matter to God and believe that everything is in Divine Order, thus all will work out for the best in the end.

o Think about it!
Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com.
Listen to 'Time to Think' the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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