Nassau Guardian Stories

Greenslade says he will not arm all off-duty officers

December 15, 2014

Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said while his "heart grieves" for Sergeant Wayne Rolle, who was recently murdered, it is "nonsense" for anyone to suggest that the off-duty officer would have stood a better chance if he was armed.
Around 7 p.m. on December 11, Rolle was shot dead on Montrose Avenue and Durham Street. He was found slumped over in a jeep.
The day after the shooting, Police Staff Association (PSA) Executive Chairman Inspector Dwight Smith said officers should be allowed to carry firearms when off duty.
Asked whether he believes Rolle would have stood a better chance of surviving had be been armed, Smith said he did not want to speculate.
However, he said whether an officer is off duty or not, that officer is expected to fulfill his duty to protect the public.
When asked, Greenslade said any suggestion that Rolle would have survived if he was armed is "nonsense".
"Let me take away from the public and from my officers, and for many of you listening, this view that because you have a gun you are all powerful and you are safe," Greenslade said.
"That is a flawed impression. If you have a gun and your back is turned, and the bad person knows you have a gun, you're dead if they come upon you from the rear."
Greenslade said he has spoken to Smith previously and intends to speak with him again today.
"I have reminded him of the laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas...that he does not speak for the commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force on matters of discipline or promotion," he said.
"...As commissioner I have been very respectful and decent as far as my utterances.
"I am going to ask him finally to stop it.
"I have said it to him privately and...I blame the press for entertaining it.
"Stop encouraging disrespect. I have had sufficient of that. The law is clear that he is to consult the commissioner, speak to me, write to me and bring to my attention issues of concern."
Greenslade said focus should be placed on solving Rolle's murder.
"What I would like to hear him or any other officer say, if authorized to speak, [is] that you should please turn in the murderer," he said.
"Please turn in the person that murdered Sergeant Wayne Rolle.
"Please turn in the people [who] have murdered our citizens."
Greenslade said no one should assume an officer is not armed.
"I have a duty of care and I have exercised it," he said.
"I am telling you, notwithstanding what you hear, police officers are well-trained.
"They are well-armed and in sufficient numbers that this public can be comfortable.
"What I am more concerned about, is that given the number of firearms this commissioner has in the hands of police officers of all ages, that the officers understand how heavy that obligation is if they use that weapon."

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Man tries to pass cell phone to prisoner

December 15, 2014

Police thwarted an attempt to pass a cell phone to a prisoner on the police bus last week, Chief Superintendent Leamond Deleveaux confirmed.
Deleveaux said the man was unsuccessful due to the vigilance of police officers through Bank Lane.
The Nassau Guardian understands that the man tossed a brown paper bag that contained the cell phone to his brother who had been boarded on the bus for transport to the prison.
The man was arrested and the phone seized
Since the incident, officers have been keeping the area clear of civilians.
In the mid-90s a teenager threw a gun to her boyfriend as police were escorting him from court to the cell block.
The prisoner, Jackson Clarke, escaped and car-jacked an off-duty policeman on East Street. He was captured a short time later.

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Moss wants revised immigration policy

December 15, 2014

The government should do more to protect and help foreign nationals who have become integrated into Bahamian society, Marco City MP Gregory Moss said.
Moss was asked his views on the government's new immigration policy.
During a recent interview with NB12, the outspoken MP said the policy should go further to protect those who have contributed to The Bahamas.
"Most Bahamians do not accept the idea that such persons should ever have citizenship," he said. "That has been my experience.
"Most Bahamians do accept the idea that the adults falling within that category should be regularized, should have the right to work and reside so as to protect them from being the victims of unscrupulous persons within our country who threaten them because of their insecure status.
"I look forward to when we get to the point, and I hope it's sooner rather than later, of articulating a policy which allows for the transitioning of persons who have been here and who are integrated into our societies; not new arrivals, not new immigrants, but persons who by and large culturally, nationally and for a long period of time would have been integrated into our country and their children to be regularized in some way."
The new policy, which took effect November 1, requires all non-Bahamians to have passports of their nationalities and evidence that they have permission to live and work in the country.
As part of the policy, the Department of Immigration will not issue certificates of identity to non-nationals born in The Bahamas.
The department also will not accept first-time applications for residence or work permits from those who have no legal status in The Bahamas.
Though the government has said that the policy is not aimed at any particular nationality, the majority of people picked up have been Haitians, according to data from immigration officials.
The immigration checks have also drawn the ire of a local human activist group, the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, which alleges that some foreign nationals have been unfairly detained, abused and had their civil rights violated.
GBHRA President Fred Smith has described the checks as "unnecessary" and a mechanism only to "strike terror" into the population.

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Court reporters get new contract

December 15, 2014

The government last week renewed the contracts of 22 stenographers, almost three months after the previous one expired.
According to Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) President John Pinder, the contract renewal has created "confusion" as the workers were all given higher positions than their civil servant counterparts.
Pinder said the 18 permanent and pensionable reporters have not been promoted in 10 years. A 2004 report by the Court Reporting Review Committee suggested that the government should take over management of the unit and end the dual system which fostered tensions between the contracted workers and their counterparts in the public service.
He said, "I can only assume the intention is to create more positions when the new courts open."
Pinder said he hopes to sort things out when he meets with Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson this week.
The contracted workers had also hoped to become permanent in accordance with the 2004 recommendation, Pinder said. Instead, their contracts were extended for another three years.
The government continued the contract that the 22 workers had entered into with LET Consultancy when it prematurely terminated that company's contract last December. That contract expired on September 30 and the reporters were working monthly.
Court reporting was first introduced to The Bahamas in 1989 by Czerenda Court Reporting Service (CCRS), which was owned by American Randal Czerenda. CCRS continued to provide the service until 1999, when the contract was awarded to Ludell Theophilus of L.E.T. consultancy.

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Slippery smooth

December 15, 2014

Dear Editor,
Whatever the reason or reasons for Ryan Pinder choosing to resign his post as the minister of financial services, those reasons or the reason are his own. Some of us may want to speculate as to what this portends but this will be revealed in time.
However, what the prime minister had to say about the "deal of a life time" should have been left unsaid or reserved for a later date. If one of your Cabinet ministers is making his exit and he is going to be employed by a major financial institution you should be more wary than congratulatory.
What I have seen of Pinder in public life gives me every indication that he is an honorable person and his employers would have no problem in this regard, but what will come into play is that he is going to be under a microscope as he takes up his new appointment.
The prime minister may see it as the deal of a life time, giving the public the impression that this is a smooth departure; but he knows that if we were in another jurisdiction, Pinder would have had to sit still for a year or two before venturing into the financial services arena because of the knowledge he now possesses.
He is in possession of this special knowledge because you would never find any other government in the world with a "Ministry of Financial Services" -- it is unheard of. This is not saying that governments cannot have them, but the amount of legislation it would take to police; especially in matters of conflict of interest and ant-trust legislation would be mind-boggling.
Can I mention here that in this regard we are still in the dark ages? We are having problems getting the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) moving to the place where it should be.
I do not think that this prime minister is going to make it to 2017, he gives the public the view that he is out to lunch on too many issues. If he wants to make it there, he is going to have to get his game straightened out or have his more knowledgeable Cabinet ministers straighten it out for him. The "smooth departure" of Pinder may be just the beginning.
- Edward Hutcheson

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Not a compliment to compare Myles Munroe to Tillich

December 15, 2014

Dear Editor,
Please kindly permit me to respond to Rev. Dr. J. Emmett Weir's December 8 letter to the editor in The Nassau Guardian. As a doctor of either theology or philosophy, Weir is obviously a highly credentialed clergyman. While I appreciate him taking the time to read my write-up regarding the tragic loss of Dr. Myles Munroe and eight others on November 9, I believe he was sincerely misinformed.
The gist of the write-up is that Bahamians should not misconstrue the untimely passing of Munroe as divine judgment. Many godly Christians have died in traffic, boating and aviation accidents. For instance, noted Christian personalities Rich Mullins, Keith Green and David Wilkerson all died in accidents. American gospel singer Rev. Timothy Wright died in 2009 as a result of injuries he got in an automobile accident in 2008. His wife and grandson died in that car crash.
Christians are not immune to death and suffering. Weir stated bluntly that Munroe was not scared to death, in refutation of what I had written regarding Munroe's final sermon at Bahamas Faith Ministries International that was preached hours before his death.
In that sermon Munroe clearly stated that he followed Jesus because he was scared of death, which he said was the number one fear among humans -- a claim which appears to be in direct conflict with Weir's main thesis. This information regarding Munroe's sermon was gleaned from an article in the religious section of The Nassau Guardian, which was published on November 13 -- four days after the tragic aviation accident.
The title of the article is ''Dr. Munroe's last sermon.'' The Nassau Guardian is a reputable newspaper. I do not believe they misquoted or took out of context Munroe's statement; therefore, Weir's beef should not be with me; but with the newspaper instead.
Furthermore, I do not think Munroe would have been amused at Weir's claim that his thinking and teaching were in line with the late German-American existentialist theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich's teachings. With all due respect to Dr. Weir, I find it befuddling that he claims to have read many of Munroe's books and listened to his sermons, yet concludes that his teachings are similar to those of Tillich's -- a man who denied the personality of God, which led many to charge him of being an atheist.
He referred to God as the ''ultimate ground of existence.'' Tillich also rejected personal sin and rebellion against God. He denied the historicity of the Fall in Eden, as recorded in Genesis 3.
Tillich argued that salvation is not in the historical person of Jesus Christ, but in a symbol. Tillich's Jesus is not the historical person in the scriptures. According to evangelical theologian Paul Enns, Tillich taught that salvation is not through atonement for sin but through ultimate concern. If anything, Tillich's theology was more in line with the teachings of neo-orthodox theologians Karl Barth, John A.T. Robinson, Emil Brunner, Reinhold Niebuhr and Soren Kierkegaard. In fact, Paul Enns argued in his book ''The Moody Handbook of Theology,'' that Tillich was more of a philosopher than a theologian who dealt with ideas and concepts rather than the historical events of Scripture. His books Systematic Theology, The Courage to Be and Dynamics of Faith are difficult to read.
From an evangelical standpoint, this man was a rank heretic. Yet Weir calls him one of the world's great theologians. He is way too generous.
Munroe was an evangelical Pentecostal minister who adhered to the tenets of scripture -- the very tenets Tillich repeatedly denied in his writings. While I believe that Weir meant well, I do not believe that it is a compliment to suggest that Munroe's teaching and thinking were in line with the teachings of an heretical Protestant philosopher and theologian who routinely trampled of biblical doctrines.
- Kevin Evans

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A convenient time to get serious about illegal gaming

December 15, 2014

Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said last week that officers will soon begin shutting down web shops found operating outside the framework of the new gaming laws.
The commissioner warned that patrons found in such venues would be arrested and charged with breaking the law, while gaming equipment would be confiscated.
He said while the hands of the police were tied in the past, they now have the information they need to take action. Following the new rules for legalized gaming, which came into effect on November 24, the Gaming Board provided police with a list of all the web shops that have applied for regularization.
"We will follow the letter of the law, which is crystal clear," Greenslade said. The commissioner does not have to dance around anybody or anything because we did not have the ability to do what we needed to do. We will in fact go in (and) arrest those people that we find illegally gambling. We are going to take the equipment and we will confiscate the equipment."
The gung-ho attitude and display of independence on the part of the commissioner is commendable.
The public should keep in mind, however, that this is not the first time we have heard such fighting words.
In September of last year, the letter of the law, as it stood at the time, was also crystal clear: All web shops offering gaming activities were breaking the law. At the time, they were all subject to being shut down - a fact repeatedly attested to by Commissioner Greenslade himself, who issued a series of calls for the operators to cease and desist.
In response to criticism, following the failed January 2013 referendum which would have legalized gaming, that the police were slow to act, Greenslade asked the public "not to put a time limit" on law enforcement, adding that "when you least expect it, you may see lots of activity from the police department."
He claimed the police were waiting so as to ensure that "the element of surprise" was on their side.
But action - surprising or otherwise - never came, despite the promises of both the police and the government to respect the outcome of the referendum.
When after months of police inaction, it was announced that gambling would be legalized and the will of the public ignored after all, many were upset but few were really surprised.
The word all along had been that certain web shop operators had supported the PLP's campaign financially in 2012 and that the new government felt compelled to assist them in turn.
Today, with those operators securely among the ranks of those who have applied for gaming licenses and been ratified, it is surely a much more convenient time, politically speaking, for the commissioner to follow bold words with real action.
Let us all hope then, that this time, the police truly have no one to "dance around" in the fulfillment of their duties.

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Economic empowerment -- part 2

December 15, 2014

"It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us."
- William J. Clinton
Last week in part one of this series, we suggested that one of the greatest challenges facing The Bahamas in the 21st century will be the economic empowerment of our citizens.
We discussed methods by which we can seriously encourage economic empowerment in the years ahead and proposed several definitive actions that can be taken to accomplish this objective. Those methods included demonstrating greater confidence in ourselves as we transition from political to economic empowerment.
We also suggested that a concentrated effort should include Government's effective and efficient use of Crown Land as a viable tool of economic empowerment. Finally we suggested that we should look beyond the previous paradigms of expatriate "plantation plutocracy", eradicating the archaic models that have shackled us for too long, and become owners of those industries that will transport us to a more secure future.
This week, we would like continue this discussion and invite our readers to Consider this... what are the key success factors for economic empowerment?
A culture of entrepreneurship
For many years, the political directorate has placed great emphasis on job creation. While this is an important component of upward mobility and wealth enhancement, it is only one track on which we should focus our efforts. Jobs are important, but equally important is business ownership, another term for economic empowerment.
If Bahamians are going to participate in a greater share of the economic pie, a more determined, deliberate focus must be placed on developing a culture of entrepreneurship from the very early days of our education system in order to foster an appreciation for the role that this activity can play as our young people plan their futures.
It is important to place as high a priority on business ownership or entrepreneurship as we do on obtaining a job.

Revisiting and expanding the Bahamianization policy
In the early days of the Pindling administration, tremendous emphasis was placed on the importance of Bahamianization -- a policy which accentuated the need for businesses to hire Bahamians in jobs where they were qualified to work in lieu of foreigners who previously held those positions.
The Bahamianization policy also required businesses to provide the Department of Immigration with manpower projections or a detailed plan of action to ensure that those businesses trained Bahamians to assume positions that were then held by foreigners within reasonably specified time periods.
The Immigration Department closely monitored the progress of those businesses and how well their projections were realized. Businesses understood that if their manpower projections were not achieved within reasonable time frames, work permits would not be renewed for their foreign employees.
The policy worked and successfully contributed to advancement of Bahamians in the accounting, architectural, engineering, legal, banking, medical and other professions.
Today, the Pindling-instituted Bahamianization policy has become obscured by "excuses" of globalization, resulting in Bahamians being frequently displaced by foreigners where the former are qualified to hold such positions.
We submit that the time has come for the Government to revisit and even expand the Bahamianization policy relative to ownership of our economy. While we fully appreciate the importance of foreign direct investment as a tool for economic development, there is an equally pressing need to apply that policy to entrepreneurial activity.
We maintain that, like other developed countries, the Government should become more proactive in encouraging foreign investors to include greater participation of Bahamians in their investments in The Bahamas. This can be accomplished in several ways.
First, foreign investors should be encouraged to offer shares in their enterprises to the public, by way of public share offerings in our local capital markets.
Secondly, Government should encourage foreign investors to set aside a percentage of their intended investment to include Bahamians who have the expertise, interest and financial capacity. Without compelling such investors to include Bahamians in their Bahamian investments, investors should be advised that their investment proposals will be more favorably considered if they have found qualified Bahamians to participate in their investments.
Third, in the case of businesses that are presently here, the Government can use its moral suasion to encourage such businesses to offer Bahamians a way to participate in a private offering of their shares.
We believe that many foreign investors would see the wisdom of this and would embrace such a policy if it were properly presented to them.

Business planning
In the case of Bahamian entrepreneurs, the importance of business planning cannot be overstated. Too many start a business without the benefit of a business plan, which is a vital tool that will significantly increase the enterprises chances of success. The absence of such a business plan represents a built-in blueprint for that enterprises failure.

The role of mentorships and directorships
Bahamian businessmen must recognize the importance of mentorship as a critical success factor in their enterprises. Many entrepreneurs with excellent business ideas often fail because they do not investigate or obtain assistance from mentors who could help them to avoid some of the basic pitfalls that many start-ups experience.
In this regard, some Bahamians believe that the only important ingredients for business success include a well-considered business plan and adequate capital. Too often they neglect to appoint a board of directors to guide the business through the challenges that most start-ups invariably face. An astute board can enhance their success rate if adequate consideration is given to such important variables as market share, human resources, marketing, budgeting, cost controls, and financial accounting and reporting. Just some of the concerns that are often overlooked in starting and running a business.
Wisely chosen mentors and board members can also assist the entrepreneur in establishing best business and corporate governance practices which will enhance the enterprises chances of success.
Overcoming bureaucratic red tape
Many entrepreneurs complain about the excessive amount of bureaucratic red tape that they encounter in starting a business. It is vitally important to successfully reduce or minimize the level of frustration encountered in this area. Many feasible enterprises are still-born because this impediment cannot be adequately overcome. The role of the appropriate business advisor, mentor, or consultant can be very helpful in successfully navigating the treacherous waters of Government bureaucracy and red tape.

Business incubators
As the College of the Bahamas continues its march to University status, this institution can play the vital role of a business incubator which will offer assistance to start-up businesses that seek their help by creating a "one-stop shop" for entrepreneurial support.
Although most incubators offer their clients office space and shared administrative services, the heart of a true business incubation program is the services it provides to startup companies.
Business incubation is a means of meeting a variety of economic and socio-economic policy needs, including new business creation, fostering an entrepreneurial climate, technology commercialization, economic diversification, and business creation and retention.
The amount of time a company spends in an incubation program can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the type of business and the entrepreneur's level of business expertise. Business incubation is a powerful tool for economic empowerment.
Access to capital
Unquestionably the greatest and most timeless challenge which entrepreneurs encounter is accessing capital to take their business ideas to fruition. God willing, this will be addressed in detail in a future column in the New Year.
Conclusion
The benefits of economic empowerment, especially through entrepreneurship, will be felt throughout our society. Besides the obvious financial advantages, widespread Bahamian entrepreneurship will uplift our fellow countrymen and fill them with a pride of accomplishment in their own endeavors, as well as those of others.
It will inspire not only this generation of entrepreneurs but also those who will come after, to strike out in ways not yet imagined which will make The Bahamas a shining example of what can happen when a nation is motivated by the hard work and creativity of others. And that kind of Bahamian economic empowerment will always be, as Bill Clinton says, "morally right and good economics".
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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The BNCC: the courage of common sense

December 13, 2014

The Bahamas National Citizens Coalition (BNCC) published in one of the local dailies a 25-year development plan for The Bahamas. This plan was published, almost simultaneously, with the national development plan launched by the government of The Bahamas a few weeks back.
As I discussed at length in a previous article "A National Development Plan: What should be expected?", I tried to make the case of the importance of long term planning for The Bahamas, and highlighted some of the merits and challenges the planning committee may face in addition to addressing some of the bottlenecks that may occur. I wish to afford the BNCC the same level of respect that their courage to publish their views on planning deserves.
Through speaking to one of the progenitors of the BNCC's plan, I was assured that a fair amount of research went into their statement and that one can conclude that it was not prepared in a peloton.
A statement of intentions is more in line with what was published, to be quite frank. One can't really fathom how lengthy the back notes, white papers, green papers, policy notes, analysis and impact assessments went in to their published product. But we should take the team at their word that work was done.
Without rehashing what was written earlier with regard to the plan launched by the government of The Bahamas, I wish to give a little more context into the thinking behind the BNCC in an attempt to grasp the spirit of what was produced and why it seemed so important to bring it to the public at this particular point and time.
The tenor of the BNCC's plan was harmonized around one particular theme: the Stafford Sands Economic model of tourism (that of the Promotion of Tourism Act, 1965) and financial services (in the Bank and Trust Regulations Act, 1964), and the schemes born out of it these, has retarded growth in the BNCC's estimation.
I would like to add that the reliance on the Holy Grail of economic models in The Bahamas, the Sir Stafford Sands model, has in fact served its usefulness, and perhaps is retarding growth if more than a healthy share of people fail to see any way past it.
There was an interesting report given at the Bahamas Economic Outlook 2011 by Dr. Olivia Saunders from the College of the Bahamas. At this forum, she had challenged the understanding of the Sir Stafford Sands model for economic development in The Bahamas.
She had asserted that it really should not be credited to him to any great extent. She further claims that the Sir Stafford Sands model is based solely on economic activity that was already present in The Bahamas from the 19th Century. I could not have agreed more. In fact, I think the insipid repetition of the "model" is not only mystifying, but also borders on cult-like rabidity.
Just to add some clarity on what the Sir Stafford Sands model is, it is a model for economic development for The Bahamas, using the pillars of financial services and tourism as the primary base for economic activity.
Without fear of sounding as if I am bashing the efforts of a deceased former Cabinet minister, the ballyhoo over the "economic model" of Sir Stafford is overplayed to a great extent. The brilliance of Sir Stafford relied not in some grand mental faculty that was overlooked by mere mortals, but in fact the genius of it rested in basic common sense.
Tourists have been coming to The Bahamas from the 1700s. In fact, The Bahamas, as with colonies like Jamaica, Barbados, the Caymans and Bermuda, were all vacation hideaways for the rich and the famous of Britain, a tradition which extended to wealthy American and Canadian elites.
We had what every other Caribbean country had - sun, sand and sea, with a more than amenable government structure that was kind to European visitors and controlled the masses as if they were cattle.
We also inherited our financial services model from the British. In fact, most, if not all of the former and current British colonies have large offshore banking sectors. This was not something Sir Stafford created, but facilitated because it was already happening.
The Banking Act of 1964 was repealed in 2000 due to OECD anti-money laundering strictures and replaced with another, which directly means that at least half of the Sands model was either quashed or neutered; and the Tourism Act '64 had minor changes to include taxation provisions in 1970, etc, etc. but too has been rendered antiquated and under constant threat from crime, other rival destinations in the region and the threat of the opening up of Cuba.
All of this indicates that the obsession with a Sir Stafford Sands model that never really was, is now proving injurious to the growth and development of The Bahamas, as it chokes out anyone and anything that merely mentions ideas challenging its genesis, usefulness then and now and practicality on any level.
This makes calls for things to be new, like the BNCC has provided for us, a breath of fresh air, even though some of the ideas, concepts and features should be fleshed out in detail.
For example, we all can agree that a Sovereign Wealth Fund for The Bahamas is perfect common sense. There is no empirical reason why we can't and shouldn't have one, with the capitalization of such an institution taken into consideration.
More importantly, the opening up of our natural resources to Bahamians, which shifts away from the current practice of open secrets concerning its viability, the persons currently engaged in mining our natural resources and seeking to mine our natural assets, also makes perfect common sense.
It has been noted that Caribbean countries that use their natural resources for their benefit can and in fact are able to control economic cycle dynamics for the better, and hence control the growth of their respective economies.
Some of the other portions of the BNCC's statement are also ideals we should strive for and finds ways and means to achieving: from the elimination of the pre-requisite of grossly unneeded concessions for foreign direct investment; public service transformation to a model that is more accountable and efficient; and the goal of creating 1,500 new millionaires over the first five years.
A lot of the BNCC's plan hinges on the exploitation of natural resources as a key pillar of economic development, but a lot of it hinges on the participation and the willingness of citizens to see the fundamental core of some of our problems and seek new and meaningful ways of correcting them.
While the BNCC's statement is not clear on the "how much", the "where do we start" and "the mechanics of getting all of this done", common sense is what many of their proposals are, even before we begin to discuss the realistic mechanics of some of their proposals.

o Youri Kemp is president and CEO of Kemp Global, a management consultancy firm based in The Bahamas. This article was published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.

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A Christmas story

December 13, 2014

Dear Editor,
Once upon a Christmas time in the islands of The Bahamas the golden emperor, a.k.a. "he who knows all things" decided that it was time to fertilize the money trees recently planted by Mr. BAMSI in the blue holes of Andros by adding some more rich manure, because his friend Bob had $100 million of the people's money to throw away in them (and we all know the blue holes are bottomless!).
Whilst loftily directing his minions to complete this task, he also ordered them to carry him in his golden chariot to the BAMSI money tree fields so that he could pick off another $900 million to use as decoration for NHI to bring in the New Year in a style that was befitting of his stature. It was of no concern of his that the hundreds of millions spent on the 'new' Critical Care Block at PMH were going to waste - after all anything biodegradable made for good manure to add to the bottomless blue holes, and although the structure lay fallow and unused for over a year whilst the ancient crumbling structure was patched and painted for the annual Christmas visit - such was the nature of manure - to generate growth.
He would show his ignorant subjects what expensive decorations looked like. The emperor's superior decoration plan was formulated whilst he was busy picking from the money tree. He decided that he would use his money tree money to import a direct copy of the foreign carnival - plenty feathers, a bunch of semi-clad ladies shaking and winding up, lots of bling and loud speaker music would dazzle everyone's senses and have them following behind him just like the Pied Piper - it was brilliant!
The poor people of the settlements had no say in any decisions of the empire. They had to be content with their meager scraps from the golden table whilst being sternly cautioned under penalty of harsh fines and imprisonment to cough up money from their own resources to pay the newly instituted VAT tax because they were strictly forbidden from going anywhere near Mr. BAMSI's compound, much less to even think about trying to pick money off the money trees - that privilege belonged only to the golden one - their job was to do what they were told and to toil long and hard for the emperor's pleasure.
However, one dark night soon after, as the people were sitting around the settlement fire listening to 'ol story time' with the elders, they heard in the distance a strange, but somehow familiar pulsating sound. What could it be? The sound came closer, increasing in tempo and volume, bouncing from tree to tree, reverberating in the air all around them and traveling deep down inside their belly. Without knowing how or why, they began to dance joyfully to the beat, around and around the fire, reveling in the flight of their spirit, and basking in the freedom of their soul.
Suddenly, scales flew off their eyes and they saw the world with new eyes. This was a new feeling, this was a revelation, this was a revolutionary connection with the universe which reached out to them through the navel strings of their ancestors - this was the spirit of Junkanoo, a spirit that had been hidden from their sight and buried beneath the mounds of rubbish and toxic waste that had been imported into the land over decades of ignorance and greed in an attempt to squash their very being.
As the people danced, their spirits soared and they became infused with a feeling of renewal, of power and strength. From that day forth they understood their purpose, they became the masters of their own fate, they became the captains of their soul. They were no longer the slaves of the emperor but danced to the rhythm of Junkanoo which led them along a path of prosperity and peace.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
- Pam Burnside

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Guardian editorial on airline industry oversight raises interesting questions

December 13, 2014

Dear Editor,
Your editorial of December 4, 2014 asks where the oversight of the aviation industry is after two recent fatal crashes. It raises concerns about passengers being switched between airlines, sometimes to an airline they might not have normally travelled.
And you ask for consumer protection, more regulations, as well as airline worthiness records and safety ratings of the local aviation industry and suggest the International Civil Aviation Organization will "likely add pressure" to improve infrastructure etc.
While one understands the concerns raised as a result of the two recent tragedies, if one compares statistics over the last 20 years, there have been remarkably few plane crashes when we consider the number of flights in and out of our archipelago.
Before we get to the point of the taxpayer having to support yet another ineffective government bureaucracy should an analysis of current regulations be undertaken?
Instead of another expensive government bureaucracy, or increased "oversight", the industry should voluntarily release the information requested to assure their passengers of their safety as far as humanly possible.
Examples of government regulatory agencies ignoring their requirements or failing to enforce them as a result of the lack of resources, financial and otherwise abound. To simply burden society and public officials with more regulations because it sounds and feels good to say that's the way it should be is not the way to enact public policy.
I'm not saying there should be no regulation, but I am saying we should not overreact to perceived problems and create government fiefdoms more suited to rent seeking (bribes) than solutions.
- Rick Lowe

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There should be fairness with tax collection

December 13, 2014

Value-added tax (VAT) is scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2015 at a rate of 7.5 percent. The purpose of VAT is not to grow the economy or to modernize the system of tax collection in The Bahamas. The tax has been created to increase revenue intake for the state.
The budget deficit for the 2012/13 fiscal year was $647 million. The projected deficit for the 2013/14 fiscal year was $550 million. With a debt-to-GDP ratio of 66 percent in 2013, The Bahamas is not in the crisis zone. Our debt level, however, has more than doubled in just over a decade. It was only 30 percent in 2001.
This fiscal year, the government kept its spending level at its highest level. We, the people, are being called upon to finance the growing needs of our state.
While we all will theoretically be called upon to pay more, the government needs to do its part to ensure that everyone is paying what is owed. This is a big problem in The Bahamas. We see where people and businesses that owe state organizations just do not pay them. Favoritism comes into play when it is time to pay.
In some industries, zombie businesses exist only because their owners are politically connected. These companies do not pay their taxes and fees, and when it is time for enforcement of the laws to compel them to pay, a call is made to a politician, who then makes a call to someone in the state agency, who then stops action from being taken.
This practice deprives the treasury of money. It causes financial problems for the corporations. It also causes an unfair advantage to the bill dodgers. It is hard for honest companies and individuals to compete with people who do not have to pay the taxes and fees legally owed to the state and its agencies.
VAT will only work to bring in more revenue if the government finally gets serious about tax collection. As minister of finance, Prime Minister Perry Christie should seek to break this culture of slackness and cronyism. We should all equally be made to pay what we owe. Those who fall on hard times can go on the payment plans these agencies have. But no person or company should be allowed to not pay anything just because a friend can be called for a favor.
Honest citizens and businesses want fairness. Our current practices reward too many who should be out of business.

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Major's fight changed to a no contest

December 13, 2014

The Bahamas Boxing Commission (BBC) has decided to reverse the decision of the lightweight bout between Bahamian Meacher "Major Pain" Major (21-6-1) and Brazilian Roger Rosa (5-5-1) from a technical knockout (TKO) in Rosa's favor to a no contest.
The December 7 bout entitled "Pain and Glory 2: The Revenge" was held at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, and was stopped at the beginning of the fourth round due to Major suffering an ankle injury. Major was making a side step to try and avoid a punch from Rosa when it appeared as though he slipped and twisted his ankle. Shortly afterwards, he went down to the canvas and was deemed unable to continue.
"Official inspector Fernley Palmer reached his verdict based on the fact that when the injury occurred it had nothing to do with the opponent, and the fourth round was not finished," said Deputy Chairman of the BBC Fred Sturrup.
"The fight has to make it past the fourth round for it to be considered a no contest. Another factor was that Meacher was ahead on points when the fight was stopped, so it would have been unfair to award the opponent the fight. After analyzing all of the data, the inspector decided on a verdict of no contest and the commission met and decided to make the decision official."
Rosa's manager Raul Alvarez, expressed his disappointment with the commission's final verdict, and said he felt the original decision was the right one.
"I checked with head of boxing commissions for the USA and they said Roger Rosa wins the fight with no discussion," he said. "Also, the head of the New York Boxing Commission gave a perfect example of a fight that ended just as this fight did, and the correct call is to name Roger Rosa the winner. So why can't the Bahamian commission get it right?"
Major is months away from making a return to the ring, and as of right now, there is no word on a rematch from either party.
"Pain and Glory 2: The Revenge" was a rematch of their December 2013 bout at the Rainforest Theatre inside the Wyndham Nassau Resort that Major won by unanimous decision.

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Shockers, Rockets pull off victories in the NPBA

December 13, 2014

The Real Deal Shockers and the Pyramid Food Rockets both pulled off victories on Wednesday night as the New Providence Basketball Association (NPBA) continued its regular season at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium.

The Shockers knocked off the Island Luck Pros, 106-103, and the Rockets edged the Patron Regulators, 89-88.

Shockers 106, Pros 103
Floyd Armbrister led the way for the Shockers with 26 points. He shot 8-20 from the field and 8-11 from the free throw line in 37 minutes of action. He also dished out five assists and pulled down two rebounds.
William Rigby finished with a double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds, and Lamont Armaly added 19 points, eight assists and eight rebounds.
The Pros seemed to take control of the game after they took a 46-37 lead into the half, but a strong second half led by Armbrister and Rigby powered the Shockers and forced the game into overtime. In the extra session, the Shockers outscored the Pros 11-8 and sealed the game.
Livingston Munnings led the way for the Pros with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Ron Marshall added 19 points and six rebounds and Dion McPhee chipped in with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Rockets 89, Regulators 88
Christorr Stuart finished with 26 points on 9-15 shooting from the field for the Rockets; he also had nine rebounds and an assist.
David Taylor and Corey Williams added 19 points each, Tameko Moxey scored 11 and Kenrico Lockhart chipped in with seven.
The Rockets had to fight their way back from a 41-37 deficit at the half. In the third quarter, the Rockets outscored the Regulators 30-22 and took a 67-63 lead into the fourth. In the fourth the Regulators outscored the Rockets 25-22, but it wasn't enough to overcome the deficit.
Cruz Simon had a team-high 19 points on 7-16 shooting for the Regulators. Gamaliel Rose added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Kenneth Pratt came off the bench to score 12 points.
The NPBA is scheduled to be back in action at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium with another double-header tonight. In the opener at 7:30 p.m., The Regulators will take on The College of The Bahamas Caribs, And at 9 p.m., the Pros will be up against the MailBoat Cybots.

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Miller: Get rid of MPs against hangings

December 13, 2014

Politicians who do not wish to enforce the death penalty in the country should "stay the hell out of Parliament", Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller said.
"If the politicians... sit back and allow this thing to continue any longer, then you all know what to do; Get rid of them and vote for people who are going to look out for your interests, instead of the foolishness that is going on in this country today," Miller said in an interview.
"You don't want the death penalty? You don't want to enact our laws? Then stay the hell out of Parliament."
Miller's comments came after Constitutional Commission Chairman Sean McWeeney said there has been a "very strong push" for the next constitutional referendum to deal with the death penalty.
Though the government has not revealed what issues it intends to address following the referendum on gender equality, McWeeney said he would not be surprised if a death penalty referendum is accelerated.
Miller said unless the country enforces its death penalty law, "we are going to perish just like Jamaica".
"We are headed down a slippery slope and there is no coming back," he said of the rising crime rate.
"This country is in peril. A man would come here right now, he and a few guys, and take all of our lives, knowing that his life is not going to be taken.
"Once you take his life he is off the streets [and] he wouldn't kill again.
"In the United States of America, a country that we emulate in everything, they have the death penalty and it's fully enforced. We like to emulate them. Why can't we do what they do?
"But we are so gutless, we are never going to do it. You know why, because 12 guys in London, who [don't] face the problems that we face on a daily basis, decide our future.
"It is a disgrace that we call this country free and independent and we are depending on them to decide our future. But that's the way it is."
The mandatory imposition of the death penalty was abolished in 2006 after the Privy Council ruled it was unconstitutional.
The Constitutional Commission has recommended that the government further amend the law to "tie the hands" of the Privy Council on the death penalty issue.
The commission said to ensure that the executive is able to carry out the death penalty in a case, which the courts have determined would warrant it, the government may have to consider amending the law to prevent challenges to the death penalty.
Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis tabled a proposed amended to the constitution earlier this year that he said would allow for the resumption of hangings in The Bahamas.
The last hanging took place in January 2000.

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Fraud decreases by 16 percent

December 13, 2014

Police recorded a 16 percent drop in fraud related matters in the first three quarters of the year, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said yesterday.
Although the commissioner believes the drop is largely attributed to under-reporting of such crimes.
According to Greenslade, 283 fraud-related matters were reported in the first nine months of the year. Of those matters, 156 were solved.
In comparison, there were 338 fraud-related matters reported in 2013, of which 212 were solved, Greenslade said.
"That does not mean that we don't have the same level of crime," Greenslade said.
"Sometimes there's this business of underreporting. We find a lot of [business] institutions who we say, for want of better words, want to save face and don't want wish to diminish the image of the institution and so we settle it. We cut the loss and attribute it to bad debt. We back away from it.
"We find a way to categorize it for accounting purposes. There's a way to do that so as not to hurt our pubic image."
But commissioner warned against such practices.
"It's a very difficult line that you walk," he said. "... That person walks away scot-free and will do it again."
Giving a breakdown of the statistics on fraud related matters, Greenslade revealed that millions of dollars have been defrauded from companies this year. However, the losses during the first three quarters of this year decreased by 60 percent compared to the same period last year.
Greenslade said in 2013 just over $8 million was defrauded from companies in the first three quarters.
That's compared to the $3.2 million defrauded up to September this year.
"I believe that's a function of underreporting," he continued.
"Out of the total dollar losses, the breakdown of offenses by categories indicated that stealing by reason of employment accounted for 58 percent, or in excess of $1 million. Fraud accounted for 24 percent, or in excess of $770,000. And stealing by reason of service accounted for 18 percent, or in excess of $500,000.
The commissioner is expected to release full statistics on all major crimes in January.
Crime statistics were last released in June.

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Police release suspect in officer's murder

December 13, 2014

Police have released the suspect in the murder of Police Sergeant Wayne Rolle, Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dean confirmed yesterday. Police are not satisfied that the man, who is on bail for a double murder, is responsible for Rolle's death.
Sergeant Wayne Rolle was found dead in his jeep on Durham Street and Montrose Avenue on December 4.
Rolle was shot in the head around 7 p.m., police said.
Asked about the investigation on Thursday, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said the information that police received "might not [have been] 100 percent correct".
He appealed to the public to come forward with information.
Police revisited the scene of Rolle's murder on Monday.
Dean said police will not stop until they bring Rolle's killer to justice.
There have been 115 murders for the year so far.

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Union leader laments 'failure to enforce laws'

December 13, 2014

National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas (NCTUB) President John Pinder yesterday blasted what he views as the lack of action by the government over the high crime rate, and charged that officials need to do more to prevent illegal guns from entering The Bahamas.
"Ninety percent of the murders we had were committed by people with guns," Pinder said.
"We have a problem with illegal guns and ammunition entering our country. I don't think we are doing enough.
"We need to do more to find these weapons and take them out of the hands of would be criminals."
According to police, 377 firearms and 7,401 rounds of ammunition were seized this year.
"It always saddens me the amount of murders that are taking place in our country," Pinder said.
There have been 115 murders for the year so far.
"Crime is cheap, but freedom is very expensive," Pinder said.
"You get yourself in trouble and what will it cost to get out of that trouble? Thousands of dollars."
Pinder charged that the failure of officials to enforce all of the country's laws has led to a lack of faith in the justice system.
Opposition Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis has said the failure to properly enforce laws is a key reason for the high crime rate.
On Thursday, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade admitted that police have to do more to stem the tide of violence.
"There is a spirit of conflict that prevails where nobody wants to take, as we used to say in school, last, and if you wronged me, people want to take that to death," Greenslade added.
"That is why those numbers are so high."

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Plans finalized for inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

December 12, 2014

The countdown is on for what is expected to be the largest collegiate football game to ever take place in The Bahamas.
On Christmas Eve at 12 noon, the Mid American Conference's (MAC) Central Michigan Chippewas (7-5) will take on Conference USA's Western Kentucky University (WKU) Hilltoppers (7-5), in the inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
The game will be televised live on the ESPN Network, and will be a rematch of the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl that saw Central Michigan score a 24-21 win over WKU.
The two teams will be the first to play a postseason National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) game outside of either the United States or Canada since the 1937 Bacardi Bowl between Auburn and Villanova in Havana, Cuba.
It also marks the first time Popeyes has sponsored a collegiate football bowl game.
"Popeyes is honored to partner with the Bahamas Bowl to bring this historic bowl game to college football fans everywhere," said Hector Munoz, Vice President of Marketing for Popeyes. "Like college football, Popeyes enjoys a rich tradition and passionate fans, and we look forward to a great game and a lot of fun in The Bahamas."
Dan Enos has coached Central Michigan for the past five seasons, and they come into the bowl game with the strongest defensive unit in the MAC. The Chippewas led the conference in total defense (331.2 yards per game), rushing defense (119.8 yards per game) and were second in the conference in scoring defense (23.2 points per game).
"I want to thank the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl for the invitation to be a part of its inaugural game," Enos said. "Playing in our sixth bowl game in the past nine seasons is a great accomplishment for this program. WKU is a great team, and I expect a hard fought game when we face off on December 24. I know our players are extremely excited to have this opportunity and can't wait to get going with bowl camp later this week."
On the other side of the field, the Hilltoppers boasts one of Conference USA's top offensive teams. They enter the bowl with a four-game winning streak, including a 67-66 overtime victory in their regular-season finale over then-No. 19 Marshall.
"It is a tremendous reward and opportunity for our players and coaches who have worked incredibly hard this season," said WKU Head Coach Jeff Brohm. "A bowl game is one of our goals at the beginning of every season, and to be able to realize and achieve that goal is a credit to their attitude and willingness to put in the effort to get better each and every week. We look forward to getting back to practice and preparing for our second bowl game in school history."
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson noted that it is a privilege for The Bahamas to be able to host such an event, and he expects an even larger turnout than the one at the HBCUX (Historically Black Colleges and Universities Experience) bowl game between Central State University and Texas Christian University in September.
"This is the first bowl game played outside the United States since 1937, it will be broadcasted on ESPN with 110 million viewers in the United States alone and it gives us the position we always wanted in the sports tourism world," said Minister Johnson. "We will have a bowl week, and I think that's what gives the game a bang at the end of it. It's a week of activities leading up to the event and that's something we will learn and do more about instead of just having one event."
The Popeyes Bahamas Bowl exists to promote the Islands of The Bahamas, and in turn, promote educational and athletic opportunities to the youth of The Bahamas through college football.

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