Nassau Guardian Stories

Three Bahamian artists represent at this year's VOLTA NY

February 27, 2015

The Bahamas will be maintaining its reliably strong presence at VOLTA NY this year with the participation of three visual artists and National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) Director Amanda Coulson.
The international invitational art expo, held in New York City and acknowledged by Fodor's Travel as one of the top 10 art fairs in the world, has strong ties to The Bahamas through Coulson, who continues to act as a consultant for the fair's artistic direction. Her influence and interests at home - particularly those revolving around the subjects discussed in the Seventh National Exhibition (NE7) Antillean: an Ecology, such as race, class, economy and gender - will be echoed in the 2015 VOLTA NY. Taking place March 5-8, VOLTA NY will showcase the works of 90 artists reflecting a strong emphasis on identity and cultures within Caribbean, African and African-American societies. Some of the countries represented at the 2015 edition of VOLTA NY include Kenya, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, South Africa, The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
Frequented by discerning collectors who come to see cutting-edge emerging art, VOLTA NY offers Bahamian artists a significant platform for international exposure. This year, VOLTA administrators expect to tally up a headcount in the region of 40,000 visitors over the four-day run.
Coulson has emphasized the importance of exposure to artists, particularly those from smaller countries like The Bahamas.
"With resources such as these finally within reach of Bahamian artists, our artists will be able to develop and foster relationships with the important global markets needed to sustain them," said Coulson. "In turn, the world will see that we can easily operate on an international level with equal success."
For the third year in a row, PopopStudios will be present. A local independent art studio and gallery, Popop was established by artist John Cox for the advancement of "alternative Bahamian visual culture". This year, PopopStudios Resident Artist Kendal Hanna will represent the organization with a suite of new paintings for the fair's discerning audience.
At 79, Hanna is one of the expo's most senior participating artists, but the abstract painter easily holds his own among other visual artists whose works have been exhibited the world over. As a participating artist in the NE7, Hanna's work can currently be found on display at the NAGB.
His paintings will not be the only ones to represent The Bahamas in VOLTA NY. Hanna and fellow participating Bahamian artist, Lavar Munroe, were selected by an independent panel to be featured in VOLTA NY's promotional video, which is expected to reach as many as 45,000 international art collectors and enthusiasts.
Munroe - known for exhibiting internationally in his London 2014 show, Grant's Town Trickster - will be present at VOLTA NY with gallery NOMAD. NOMAD is based in Miami and Brussels, and is known for being the first Belgian gallery to highlight work by artists from the African continent and diaspora. Munroe will be honored doubly at the fair as one of the 12 exhibiting artists selected to design a limited edition artists' T-shirt, which will be premiered at VOLTA NY and later be made available at the NAGB Mixed Media store.
The third Bahamian artist is Arnold Joseph Kemp, who be representing Portland gallery, PDX Contemporary. Based in Portland, Oregon, PDX Contemporary is known for featuring artwork with a "slight conceptual edge". In doing so, the gallery hopes to appeal to the visual sense and stimulate the mind, simultaneously. Like Hanna, Kemp is one of the NE7's participating artists whose work can currently be seen at the NAGB.
For more information on the 2015 VOLTA NY, visit http://www.voltashow.com. To find out more about participating artists in the NE7, visit http://nagbne.org.

read more »

The presence of absence: A lecture by Dr. Jonathon Holloway

February 27, 2015

The presence of absence was disturbing. It is disturbing that I can continue to be absent, even though I know that I am present. I can continue to be invisible to all which people then call bad luck. But it is not bad luck; it is structural absence. The power structure has chosen what can be seen and unseen, what can be silent or what can be heard. Historically, blacks in the Caribbean could not be seen or heard, even though they were the economic producers. In fact, they produced for the economies in Europe as much as the locals. What they grew here was consumed there. So, their bodies, their strength, their prowess was consumed in the metropole, although they were exploited here. By the time the products arrived in London, Paris, Madrid, they were cleansed of the taint of exploitation. The colonizers did not have to sit with the blacks at their tables nor near them, at least not the field blacks.
Silence is profound, and this kind of silence is even more profound because it removed the entire unit of production from the process. Labor is erased, much like the young women in Bangladeshi sweatshops. They do not exist, but the products of their labors do. In The Bahamas, our gardens are usually well-maintained and our kitchens clean, but the units of labor that 'cause' this are absent.
Absence means that people do not exist, except for themselves. In the Travon Martin case, the verdict showed the invisibility of the black population in the United States when it came to possibilities; but it highlighted the presence of black people when it came to being murdered, racially profiled and exploited - even in the 21st century, a period that is supposedly post-black. We are told that slavery is done, skin color is no longer an issue, even though blacks in Jacksonville,
Florida can be shot because they are listening to the "wrong" kind of music. Slavery ended, when? Ironically, blackness is as absently present as is whiteness in the Bahamian context. You are not Bahamian if you are not black. Yet you cannot be Bahamian if you are too black! How does this work? There is only a level of acceptability to darkness. So, the history of the African presence is too black, yet the blackness of the country under majority rule is taken as a given but never really examined. Let's not dwell on blackness too much, lest we feel uncomfortable with our internalized inferiority.
In The Bahamas, despite living under majority rule, we rarely speak about true blackness. True blackness means accepting the culture of Africa and embracing the blackness that was an integral part of our history. We choose, though, to ignore the slaves who peopled the then colony and to somehow romanticize slavery and emancipation as being less hostile here than elsewhere. What is more, tourism insists that we can no longer talk about the differences between whites and blacks because that makes for a charged environment and not for good tourism. We erase the history of us and plasticate it with a history that is comfortable for tourist consumption. We white-out struggle and poverty in favor of resorts and gated communities where history lies cemented under mansions.
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas began its Seventh National Exhibition, Antillean: an Ecology, in December 2014, and it has been a revealing and troubling look at race and identity, among other themes, in our country. As a part of this, the gallery has sponsored a number of talks. It most recently sponsored the talk by Dr. Jonathon Holloway, dean of Yale College, (in fact, the first black dean of Yale). The lecture took place on Monday, February 2 at 6 p.m., and was preceded by a performance of "Haitianize", an installation and performance work by Dr. Keithley Woolward of The College of The Bahamas. The performance/installation explores and problematizes the ways Bahamians see Haitians and the ways they/we refuse to see Haitians. We see them as dirty, having too many children, black, etc., yet we refuse to see their humanity. We deny that they are present, except through their absence, notwithstanding the reality that they have been residing in this country for over six decades. The piece disturbingly troubles our perceptions of Haitianness and our understanding of our place in the cosmos. It comes at an interesting time when Haitians, much like under Roker in the 1980s, are being rounded up and detained--only this time, much of the activity is actually ultra vires the law of the land, (although lawyers will always talk their way out of illegality). Meanwhile, foreign direct investment (FDI) is buying up as much acreage as possible. Once again, the reality of the absent presence is poignant; although Bahamians are aware of the land sale bonanza, do we understand the significance and long-term impact that this has on people?
Dr. Holloway's talk presented a stark reality of silence and absence of black bodies and black history from the official discourse. While there are no museums of blackness or the black American experience, the black presence is profound, just highly ignored. He troubled the discourse on racial stereotyping and the production of history to make it palatable to tourist consumption. Further, as racial profiling in a black country cannot be the same as it is in a majority white country like the U.S., so fathers do not need to have 'the talk' with their sons about their experiences with racism and segregation, the reality of police intimidation and brutality against poor, black youth remains a constant. How can this be? Is the majority-rule Bahamas really post-racial? Or is it a country where neither whiteness nor blackness is really dealt with in a real way? They are left under the carpet of darkness and when someone too light marries someone too dark, the resistance is obvious. Though people 'try not to talk about it', Aunty or Grammy will say "Don't bring no black girl or boy home dat I g'a have ta strike a match to see". But to us, this is fine. We don't think about the damage this does to our own psyche.
Blackness is seen as less than. It is the absence of intelligence of potential, of brain power. Why do we perpetuate this myth that has been created in order to subjugate the former enslaved, to justify slavery, to justify why the master was "superior"? Haitianize depicts Haitians as we render them - as untouchable, sick, diseased, demonic, poor. This is not what we believed, but what the myth of Haitians has become, and that myth, like the myth of blacks being inferior to whites that came from slavery, resonates with some people. Usually, though, it is used to maintain their position of power and control. Race does not disappear because we no longer live in colonialism or because we are no longer enslaved. Race remains a marker of difference, and can be positive or negative, but it is always there. We cannot be post-racial, as only those who have what they would like to think of as absolute power and control, will argue that there is no longer race. However, all those who inhabit a skin that is not the same as the dominant group, live a different reality. They live a reality where race has gone nowhere. They cannot escape from their race nor the limitation or possibilities it exposes them to.
Living in a majority-black country does not mean that everyone understands the complexities of the colonial and slavery past. These things are virtually absent in the lived experiences of the people. The danger of this is that it allows the horrors of history to be repeated. Colonialism was awful. The Belgians were famous for being particularly brutal during their colonial period. They put blackness on show. They opted to exploit what they saw as retrograde, as different, as inferior, in a museum for public consumption. This meant that people normalized the idea that blacks were inferior. Imagine, never seeing black people except in a museum or in an exhibition where they are posed as exotic animals, who are built for exploitation. The idea quickly sinks in that they must be what the exhibit says they are. Art has power and museums have even more power to sway the way we think. The way an exhibit is hung or presented can completely alter the message the viewer receives. Museums did not change this way of presenting blackness for centuries. The world expos and fairs also sold the same image. When the image did begin to shift, the Atlantic world, particularly the Caribbean, became an exotic place for curing oneself of consumption while being waited on by blacks.
Slowly, the trend shifted, and exhibitions of blackness began to discuss the presence of blacks as opposed to ignoring their presence in 'white' art. The museum holds power. And the curator holds even more power to change, mold and manipulate a show to deliver a particular message or to create a certain outcome. Blacks are dangerous - they have a show that can depict that. Blacks are diseased - as U.S. policy began to exaggerate the disease of Haitians at the dawn of the AIDS pandemic.
Museums have changed in Europe. They have begun to embrace the absent presence of blackness. However, in this country, where slavery was real, we still do not really see the reminders of slavery around us. Those are erased in preparation for more and better resorts. History is erased in order for development to occur. The only site left is Clifton. Holloway's lecture brought home the serious damage being done by eradicating the history of a black people. It matters little that the government may look like some of the people they claim to represent, they no longer see themselves like them. The erasure of history and recreation of mental slavery are simple enough. As a country built on the coast, historically dependent on it for survival, it is odd that we should cede so much of our coast to be developed out of our reach. Yes, tourism is our bread and butter, but tourists do not inhabit this space, nor will they be here when life gets tough. We are creating an Atlantic World trope of inferior blackness that the Caribbean has trumped out. Holloway's lecture illuminated not only the vanguard work of the NAGB, and the curators of the NE7, but also the profound presence of absence of black history in The Bahamas. We would not want to scare off the tourists now, would we? Tragically, Holloway also underscores that they want to see that history, and not in palatable morsels that are lovely and digestible. History is filled with unsavory events and bitter characters; that is no reason not to remember it.
The memory of the past has been so utterly wiped out that we are happy to render ourselves dependent on the new FDI master, so as to throw off the shackles of farming and fishing. Where are the slave graveyards if history and slavery were so benevolent here? Where did the African graveyards that are not white and brown disappear to? Why would we pluck out our history if it only means that as a people, we have no idea where we are going? Holloway's talk and Haitianize, if not the entire show, bring all these to the fore and underscore that a nation without history, silenced by development, is rudderless on the sea of life.

read more »

Three wood artists exhibit at Doongalik Studios

February 27, 2015

The work of three emerging wood artists, Robin Hardy, David McGorrin and Jeremy Delancy is currently on display at Doongalik Studios in a show titled From Within. The exhibition, which opened on Sunday, February 22, highlights the talents of the trio, who specialize in woodturning and between them have over 40 years of experience in the art.
According to Doongalik Studios owner Pam Burnside, the show's name alludes not only to the organic beauty found within trees but also the talent, skills and vision that are within each artist. The primary purpose of the show is to expose visitors to the idea that wood can be an excellent artistic medium with multiple properties extending far beyond everyday, functional purposes.
From Within also seeks to pay homage to the ancient craft of woodturning - an invention of the ancient Egyptians and one that has grown far beyond its humble beginnings. Modern day woodturning artisans produce high-end fine art fit for display in any home or gallery, as is evidenced in the exhibition.
Delancy, Hardy and McGorrin are known for using wood from native trees, particularly those that have been salvaged from the paths of storms or construction sites.
From Within is the first show for the three artists, who unveiled their skills to collectors, fellow artists and the general public.
Of the show, Burnside said, "Doongalik is pleased to be providing the venue to expose the work of these extremely talented artists. This will be the first time that the gallery has exhibited an all-wood show so we are very enthused."
From Within will be on display at Doongalik Studios on Village Road until March 13. The exhibition can be viewed from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday to Wednesday, and 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Saturdays. For further information, contact the gallery at 394-1886 or doongalikart@batelnet.bs.

read more »

QC Comets dethrone SAC's Big Red Machine

February 27, 2015

Since the inception of the inaugural Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) track and field champions 25 years ago, the Saint Augustine's College (SAC) Big Red Machine has reigned supreme winning 25 consecutive titles in impressive fashion. But yesterday, at the original Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, the Queen's College (QC) Comets, who were runners up the past two years, managed to do the unthinkable.
The Comets managed to knock off the former champs by 150 points to capture the first BAISS track and field title in the school's history.
QC ended the three-day meet with a total of 1,408.50 points, followed by SAC with 1,258 points. St. Anne's finished third with 447, while St. John's ended the meet in fourth place with 401 points.
Nassau Christian Academy came in fifth with 295.50, St. Andrew's finished sixth with 238.50, followed by Jordan Prince William with 168.50. Kingsway Academy finished eighth with 160 and Temple Christian ended the meet in ninth with 148. Aquinas finished 10th with 64, Bahamas Academy finished 11th with 26 and rounding out the group was Charles Saunders with 21.
The Comets dominated both senior girls relay races. In the 4x100m relay, they won in a time of 47.39 seconds, followed by SAC in a time of 49.03 seconds and St. Anne's with a time of 56.07 seconds.
They won the 4x400m relay in a time of 3:55.06. St. Johns came in second with a time of 4:06.21 and SAC finished third in 4:17.18.
In the senior boys 4x100 meter (m) relay, SAC captured the gold with a time of 42.60 seconds. St John's finished second in 42.69 seconds and Kingsway took third in 44.27 seconds.
SAC also won the senior boys 4x400m relay in a time of 3:22.16 seconds. St. John's came second with a time of 3:26.13 and St. Anne's finished third in a time of 3:35.34 seconds.
In individual performances, Xavier Coakley from SAC set a new meet record in the senior boys 400m hurdles with his time of 53.04 seconds. Travis Pratt from Queen's College finished second with a time 53.16 seconds, while Mikhail Bethel from St. Andrews finished third in a time of 58.03 seconds.
Drashanae Rolle from SAC managed to qualify for the CARIFTA games in April with her time of 1:01.87 in the senior girls 400m hurdles. Mehsa Newbold from Queen's College came in second with a time of 1:03.06, and her teammate Lakeisha Taylor finished third with her time of 1:06.80.
Branson Rolle from Queen's College qualified for CARIFTA with his time of 55.57 seconds in the intermediate boys 400m hurdles. Alexander Storr from SAC came second with a time of 1:00.46, and his teammate Tamarco Collie finished third in a time of 1:05.83.
Over on the field, Denzel Pratt from SAC set a new meet record in the senior boys discuss throw with his toss of 44.20m (145'). His teammate Perry Adderley finished second with a throw of 42.35m (138'11") and Kristian Rolle from QC came third with a throw of 30.96m (10'7").
Laquarn Nairn set a new record in the senior boys triple jump with a leap of 15.58m (51'1"). Tamar Greene from Queen's College came second with a jump of 14.07m (46'2") and his teammate Joshua Dames came in third with his jump of 13.12m (43'1").
In the intermediate girls high jump, Doniesha Anderson from SAC set a new meet record with a jump of 1.70m (5'7"). Daejha Moss from Queen's College finished second with a jump of 1.65m (5'5") and M'Kayla White from SAC finished third with a jump of 1.47m (4'10").

read more »

Wrinkle reigns in NC wrestling

February 27, 2015

The Bahamas has a reigning state champion in wrestling.
Sean Wrinkle, a senior at Asheville School, won the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) state high school championship at the weekend. He defeated Bentley Dalton of Charlotte Latin School to win the 152 pounds title and help Asheville to a fifth place finish among 16 schools.
"What I love about wrestling is that it isn't like other sports," Wrinkle said after the state tournament. "You play baseball, you play soccer - you don't play wrestling. There's no ball, there's no finish line, there's no team to blame - it's you and your opponent fighting as hard as you can for six minutes.
"But when I'm out there, I know I'm not alone, because my teammates and my coaches pushed me to get better and brought me here. Wrestling is the hardest sport there is, and to watch the improvement in my team and in myself over the years has been an awesome experience."
Wrinkle now advances to the U.S. National Championship, where he will compete this weekend at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. His whirlwind season will continue in May in Havana, Cuba as he has been selected to The Bahamas' Junior National Team to compete at the Junior Pan Am Wrestling Championships from May 6-9.
Clarence Rolle, president of the Bahamas Amateur Wresting Federation (BAWF), said Wrinkle's success is due to the hard work he put into the sport, and he looks forward to Wrinkle's contribution to national teams. Wrinkle is now 37-2 on the season.
"It's clear that Sean has tremendous talent," Rolle said. "He is a hard worker, and he has a great support system from his family, his school and, of course, the BAWF. He has a bright future and certainly medalling in Havana is a possible."
Rolle said the junior national team would also include Ozeke Swain, an Abaco resident who has also competed on The Bahamas Junior National Judo Team.

read more »

Local gymnasts put on impressive show in Florida

February 27, 2015

Nassau gymNastics would like to congratulate its athletes who recently participated in the Presidential Classic and the Magical Classic Gymnastics meets in Orlando, Florida. "I am so very proud of Danielle. I have been coaching her for one-year now and she gets stronger and stronger each time she competes," said coach Toneka Johnson.
At the Magical Classic Meet, the team took two first place medals one of which was from 6-year-old, level 2 gymnast Danielle Moore on the balance beam scoring 9.175. Danielle also placed second on the uneven bars with a 9.350 and tied for third on the vault with a score of 8.300. These placements helped to secure her first place overall in her age division. Another first place medal was awarded to 9-year-old level 3 gymnast Alia Beneby on the floor event scoring 9.250. Alia, who only started gymnastics last summer at Nassau Nastics Summer Camp program, also placed fourth on the uneven bars with a score of 9.150. Another fourth place was also awarded to Hope Smith at the meet; she scored 8.725 on the vault.
At the Presidential Classic Meet, Danielle Moore again received two first place medals on the uneven bars and the balance beam and a second place medal on the vault, placing second at this meet with an all-around score of 36.100. Hope Smith took a first place medal on the vault, scoring 9.400 and a fourth place medal on the floor event scoring 9.125. Rachea Knowles competing at level 6 for the first time, received a score of 8.725 on the floor and scored 8.900 on the vault coming in ninth place over-all in her age division. Also competing internationally for the first time at the two meets was 4-year-old Alexandria Moore. Alexandria was the youngest gymnast in her age division of 5-6 years old, and definitely the cutest. She did a great job at both meets and had an awesome time competing. Tears only came at the end of the trip when she was told by her mom that it was time to go home and there were no more gymnastics meets tomorrow.

read more »

'I thought BAMSI dorm was insured'

February 27, 2015

The contractor who built the male dormitory at the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) that was severely damaged by fire last month said yesterday he was under the impression the building was insured at the time of the blaze...

read more »

Man sentenced to 12 years for molesting girl

February 27, 2015

A man accused of beginning a sexual relationship with an 11-year-old girl and forcing her to have an abortion when she became pregnant at 17 was yesterday sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
In passing sentence, Justice Vera Watkins said, "Dwight Bethel is a mature person who was convicted of having sexual intercourse with a minor.
"The question is not whether he would go to prison. The question is how long he should spend in prison.
"I therefore find that it is not appropriate to impose a non-custodial sentence on Bethel. I further find that it is not appropriate to exercise any leniency in this case."
Bethel's lawyer, Stanley Rolle, had asked the court to place him on probation for three to five years. By contrast, the prosecutor, Algernon Allen Jr. recommended a sentence of 14 years.
Bethel, 41, began having intercourse with the complainant in 2008 when she was 11 or 12.
The abuse came to light when the girl became pregnant in June 2013.
Bethel took her to a clinic to get an abortion on October 7, 2013.
The doctor administered medication, which caused severe discomfort, but she did not pass the fetus until the following morning when she was home alone.
The complainant called Bethel and he instructed her to wrap the fetus in something and bring it to him. They met at a graveyard and he took the fetus. He was about to take her back to the clinic but took her home after her mother called her.
Her mother took her to the hospital and she was hospitalized for a week for a septic incomplete abortion.
A jury unanimously convicted Bethel of two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and one count of abetment to abortion last October.
He was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment on the unlawful sexual intercourse counts and seven years for abetment to abortion.
The sentences are to run concurrently and take effect from October 20, 2014 when he was convicted.

read more »

Jail, fines for fraud marriages

February 27, 2015

Immigration Director William Pratt petitioned Bahamians against "selling the country cheap" by entering into fraudulent marriages, which he said have become "a serious problem" for the Department of Immigration.
Pratt was discussing the Immigration Amendment Bill (2015), which would also give immigration officers the power to file criminal charges against those who enter into marriages of convenience.
The legislation, which was tabled in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, also makes it illegal for landlords to rent residences to those who have no legal status.
"So the onus will be on [landlords], to ensure that the persons who are renting their homes are legal in the country," Pratt said.
If the bill is passed, the harboring of illegal migrants would attract a fine of up to $10,000, up to five years in prison or both.
As it relates to marriages of convenience, the penalty for those Bahamians or residents convicted would be the same, according to the bill.
Foreign nationals would face deportation.
"So we hope that this would send a strong message to the public, particularly Bahamians, some of whom... are being paid to marry foreign nationals," Pratt said.
"So we are really cracking down on this. And we are sending the message out strongly to any Bahamian citizen: do not sell your country cheap. Marriage for love is what it should be.
"We also want to send a message out to the justices of the peace and marriage officers."
Pratt said it is their responsibility to ensure that people are getting married for the right reasons.
"It should not be a marriage or convenience or for some gain of status," he said. "It should be for love."
Pratt said the Department of Immigration has come across several cases of fraudulent marriages but never had the authority to file charges.
"Now we're going to have teeth in the law so that we're going to be able to charge persons. People find this as a quick way to gain status in the country," he said.
Foreigners who marry Bahamians can apply for spousal permits, which allow them to live and work in the country.
Spousal permits cost $250.
Work permit fees can cost up to $12,000.
As previously reported, the amendment bill also allows for the introduction of a resident belonger permit to cover foreigners who are constitutionally entitled to apply for Bahamian citizenship on their 18th birthday.
Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said yesterday that there has been some "push back" to the bill, but he said it is "largely overblown. People did not take time to study what the proposals are."
He said the Department of Immigration will have to issue some clarifications on the matter to ensure that people fully understand what changes will result from the passage of the bill.
Mitchell noted that the resident belonger's permit would give residents a form of identification and status in the country.
Most of the people who will benefit from the permit currently rely on a certificate of identity to give them an immigration status in this country, Mitchell said.
"But just like any other citizen, people should get the passport of their nationality," he added.
According to the bill, a resident belonger's permit could be granted to a person born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents who is entitled to apply for registration as a citizen and is residing permanently in the country at the time the application is made.
The permit would entitle an individual to live and work in the country.

read more »

Baha Mar calls on govt to live up to agreement

February 27, 2015

Baha Mar said in a statement yesterday it entered into its heads of agreement with the
government in 2011 in good faith "and the terms are quite clear".
Baha Mar said the government is trying to change the agreement and it called upon the government to live up to the agreement as it
relates to its share of payment for the rerouted West Bay Street and related infrastructure.
The resort development company was clearly responding to Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, who said in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that the Baha Mar deal was "poorly negotiated".
Davis also accused Baha Mar of being uncooperative in the negotiations to settle how much the government owes Baha Mar to cover its portion of the road work.
In its statement yesterday, Baha Mar said it has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the government for quite some time regarding the reimbursement for the JFK Drive connector road, the new West Bay Street, and associated public infrastructure, including landscaping, signage, lighting, footpaths, jogging trails and other amenities.
The statement says that under Baha Mar's formal and restated heads of agreement signed with the government in 2011, Baha Mar agreed to pay the entire cost of the works, and the government agreed to reimburse Baha Mar for $43.5 million for the West Bay Street improvements and $2.8 million for the cost of the JFK connector, for a total of $48.1 million.
Under the agreement, the reimbursement from the government came due when the project's superstructure was constructed 100 feet above grade, which occurred in September 2012, the company said.
"Now the government is, in essence, trying to change the contract after the fact," Baha Mar said.
"The heads of agreement states that if the cost of these works were less than $70 million, Baha Mar and the government would split the costs evenly.
"If the overall costs of these improvements exceeded $70 million -- which they did -- the formal agreement calls for the government to pay $48.1 million.
"We entered into the 2011 heads of agreement with the government in good faith, and the terms are quite clear.
"It's not a matter for interpretation and we expect the government of the Bahamas to honor its contractual obligations."
The government paid Baha Mar $30 million last year, but has not made any further payments since, The Nassau Guardian understands.
Davis said Baha Mar is seeking a further $19.7 million.
"Two reasons can be given for the protracted road to settlement of this issue," he said.
"The first is that Baha Mar in my view has not been cooperative in this process.
"There is no doubt that a greater amount of due diligence is required for settlement of the accounting.
"This includes independent verification of monies paid to contractors for works directly related to the road work and the scope as defined within the agreement.
"Baha Mar, though, has not been forthcoming with very specific information requests and has not attended agreed meetings.
"There are exchanges of correspondence that will back up these statements.
"The second reason is the fact that the provisions that provided for the testing of sums at industry standard in the original heads of agreement of 2006 were removed when the heads was renegotiated."
He said, "When that was negotiated and signed off the then administration didn't think that we should test the sums that were going to be spent against industry standard so they took that clause out.
"Given this result, it can only be concluded that this was a poorly negotiated deal for Bahamians, but we commit to ensuring that we get full and justifiable value for any monies that are to be paid once it is in the scope defined by the agreement."
Baha Mar Chairman Sarkis Izmirlian said recently he was not happy with the pace of the negotiations.
Prime Minister Perry Christie told The Nassau Guardian it appears the matter is headed to arbitration.
Baha Mar is set to open next month.

read more »

GB human rights group applauds govt on tabling bill

February 27, 2015

After months of criticizing the government's immigration policy, Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA) President Fred Smith yesterday commended Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell and the government for tabling the Immigration Amendment Bill.
Mitchell, who tabled the bill in Parliament on Wednesday, said it would bring about the "reform that many people have been asking for".
Smith said earlier this year he would sue the government over alleged wrongful detentions and abuses during immigration checks.
He said yesterday the GBHRA welcomes the bill.
"We consider this a significant victory for due process and the rule of law in The Bahamas," he said in a statement.
"Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell, along with the rest of the Cabinet, [are] to be congratulated for acknowledging that the actions of elected officials must at all times remain within the framework of legislation passed by Parliament.
"The Bahamas is a democracy and cannot be governed according to arbitrary ministerial dictate, otherwise known as policy."
The bill would provide for the introduction of a

belonger's permit.
According to the bill, a resident belonger's permit could be granted to a person born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents who is entitled to apply for registration as a citizen and is residing permanently in the country at the time the application is made.
Those who were born outside The Bahamas to a Bahamian man or woman who is married to a foreigner, are also eligible to apply for a resident belonger's permit.
The permit would entitle an individual to live and work in the country for a period, which would be determined by the director of immigration.
According to the regulations, the permit would be valid for three years or less.
The permit would not impact the right of the applicant to apply for citizenship.
Smith said the GBHRA will review the bill and plans to comment further on whether it complies with the fundamental protections enshrined in the constitution.
He said the association also looks forward to the government tabling additional bills to cover other aspects of its immigration policy, including "what at present remain illegal detention and deportation exercises".
"We take this opportunity to once again urge the government stay its hand in this regard, until the actions of immigration officers can be brought within the confines of the law," Smith said.
"In the meantime though, we wish for the record to commend the Christie administration for bringing this matter before the people's elected representatives.
"[There] it can be examined and debated in full transparency in accordance with proper procedure in a parliamentary democracy."
The government implemented its wider immigration policy on November 1, 2014.
The policy requires all non-Bahamians to have passports of their nationalities and evidence that they have permission to live and work in the country.
Since its implementation, Mitchell has insisted the government is not in breach and said any suggestion to the contrary is "nonsense".
He acknowledged that there may be issues surrounding the immigration policies that are open to debate or may be challenged.
But he denied the government is targeting any national group and said it does not sanction abuse of any kind against migrants in The Bahamas.

read more »

Baha Men still in the dark on carnival headliner

February 27, 2015

Two weeks after he demanded that the Bahamas National Festival Commission reveal to him the name of the international artist his group will open for during Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, Baha Men founder Isaiah Taylor said yesterday that he's still waiting.
"Baha Men is prepared, either way," he said.
"It's just that we need to know where we are headed. But we are prepared."
The Guardian spoke with Baha Men during a rehearsal session at Luna nightclub. The band has been rehearsing since last year.
"We started rehearsing before carnival came into play, you know," Taylor said.
"So either way, it's not going to bother us in that sense.
"It is just that we need to know if we are opening for someone or are we the headliners. That is it."
Taylor brought a press conference to announce the Bahamian artists who will perform during carnival to a standstill when he demanded the name of the headliner.
"We have to be selling this to Bahamians," he said.
"It cannot be outsiders because we are not fully prepared in terms of marketing and promotion. It is not there.
"You can [tell that to] other people, but with us, you can't do that. We know exactly what time it is.
"We've been in the business long enough to know how long it takes to get something like this off the ground the right way.
"We are definitely on the wrong tack."
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe has said he was surprised and disappointed by Taylor's remarks.
But Taylor said,"No one needs to be surprised because when I talk, I'm going to tell you the truth.
"You may not like it and you may not agree with it, but I will tell you how I see it. We are behind."
Lead vocalist Rick Carey said he was not surprised by his boss' outburst.
"We might not have been there in the meetings but we understand that these things take time to promote," Carey said.
"I personally would have handled [the organization of the festival] a different way if I had that much control on it. Our focus is getting the show right."
Carnival is scheduled for May 7-9.
Dyson Knight, vocalist and choreographer, said this ordeal has brought to light the treatment of musicians in The Bahamas.
"This is something that needs to be addressed on a national scale, not just on Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival," Knight said.
"We need to appreciate the fact that there is a lot that entertainment brings to the country as a form of expressing our culture."
The government has budgeted $9 million for carnival.
The commission had originally sought to bring American superstar Usher to perform and later Janet Jackson, but both deals fell through.
The Guardian understands that the government is in talks with Barbadian superstar Rihanna to headline the event.
It remains unclear if she has agreed to perform.

read more »

PM calls for CARICOM plan on Cuba-U.S. ties

February 27, 2015

In an address to representatives of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states yesterday, Prime Minister Perry Christie suggested that CARICOM take action to neutralize any adverse impact that could result from the United States' decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Christie, who previously said the announcement by the U.S. "ought to be a very serious concern" for The Bahamas' tourism product, said the region ought to find ways to partner with Cuba.
Cuba's impact on regional economies was among the topics under discussion at the 26th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM at the Melia Nassau Beach resort.
Addressing the opening ceremony of that two-day conference, Christie said the region needs to move quickly on the matter for the benefit of all countries.
"With a view to strengthening our relations with our sister nation...I reiterate that sooner rather than later, CARICOM should engage in feasibility surveys with a view to developing multi-destination tourism initiatives with Cuba," said Christie, who is also the chairman of CARICOM.
In December, U.S. President Barack Obama announced the policy shift, which is widely viewed as a step toward lifting the 54-year-old embargo on Cuba.
Obama said the United States plans to open an embassy in Cuba and possibly make changes to the travel laws that restrict traffic between the two countries.
Immigration and Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell, who spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, expounded on the need to partner with Cuba.
"The change in the attitude of the United States towards Cuba is a significant one in the region that has obvious economic implications, in the sense that there would be a kind of forbidden fruit impact in the first few years of any open relationship with the United States," he said.
"So it behooves the region to act in a manner that is strategic and that is what the call from the prime minister meant.
"We must start speaking with Cuba on the synergies that can operate between ourselves and Cuba out of necessity and out of ensuring that our economies don't suffer adverse impacts, but, in fact, the pie grows bigger by having a larger market."
Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe and Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle have both recently said that The Bahamas needs to improve the quality of its offerings if it wants to be able to compete with Cuba.
The meeting also focused on leveraging the region's human, cultural and natural assets to enhance the development of the community.
Key discussion areas include youth development and marijuana legalization.
Christie also called for gender equality during his address.
"...We must also ensure that female empowerment is a priority not only as a moral imperative but also as a social necessity," Christie said as Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller clapped loudly.
"In this latter regard, it is a statistical fact that over 50 percent of our families are run by single mothers. Recognizing, as we do, that the family is the most basic, most fundamental building block of society, the case for female empowerment, inclusive of full equality for women in relation to their male counterparts, is therefore too compelling to countenance any serious dissension."

read more »

Another delay in appeal of Stubbs, others

February 27, 2015

The appeal of three men who say they were wrongly convicted of the murder of a policeman has been adjourned to May as their lawyers are still reviewing the 2,000-plus pages of transcripts.
Stephen "Die" Stubbs, Andrew "Yogi" Davis and Clinton "Russ" Evans were convicted of the 1999 murder of Constable Jimmy Ambrose and attempted murder of Marcian Scott in 2013.
But attorneys Murrio Ducille, for Stubbs, Ian Cargill, for Davis, and Ramona Farquharson-Seymour, for Evans, just received the transcripts two weeks ago.
The matter is now scheduled for hearing on May 4.
Court of Appeal President Anita Allen presided over the appellants' first trial and sentenced them to death.
Depending on the composition of the appeals panel on the hearing date, the attorneys will make an application for recusal.
Davis, who is seeking bail pending appeal on medical grounds, returns to court for that hearing on March 17.
Stubbs, Davis and Evans were sentenced to life imprisonment for Ambrose's murder and 10 years' imprisonment for the attempted murder of Scott at the now-closed Club Rock Disco.
This is the second time the men have been convicted of the offenses.
At the time of their first conviction, they received the mandatory death sentence.
The appellate court quashed the conviction and sentence and made an order for retrial in 2004.
Due to developments in the law, the death penalty has been discretionary since 2006.

read more »

The meaning of responsibility

February 27, 2015

Dear Editor,

It is startling to see the level of contempt shown nowadays for diplomacy. Oh, less and less respect being displayed for the God-given right of nations to conduct their own affairs and to be able to do so in the manner laid out in the laws of the country.
Whenever I travel to the United States and before I am received there, another sovereign country, I respect their laws and the execution of those precepts, or articles being enforced there.
I am able to do so, because I presented valid or legal travel documentation, approved by the state.
Ever mindful while there of where I am at, as a consequence, I conduct myself as the decent tourist that I am, respecting their rights to enforce the laws of that land.
Incidentally though, if the duration of my stay is three days for example, by day two, I am usually ready to return home - eager and can't wait at that. Because there is no place like home, no place I'd rather be, than in Nassau down by the sea.
Editor, there is, in any issue, a common sense approach, and many times the answers are not very far away. If the bare-truth is sought the right answers will be found just below the skin as it were, easily retrievable.
As I think about it, I am reminded of all this talk in the media and other countries, about people being born in The Bahamas. In some cases, that they lived here all of their natural lives and even though they might have been the perpetrators of breaches of the immigration laws, the laws enshrined in The Bahamas' Constitution, in some circles, there are those who would rather these offenses by the violators of the law not be tried or dealt with.
Now wait a minute, not very long ago, the Americans deported over 1,000 people from their country to The Bahamas. Many of them were born in the United States to immigrant parents, we suspect, and others of them arrived there as children, but they were raised in America and perfected the adoption of their criminal crafts there. Spent their jail sentences there, these socially delinquent convicts fair to say, had not been rehabilitated, during the process over there.
We in The Bahamas bore no blame for their criminality, their lives of crime in the United States, yet, they were dumped on our shores, all 1,000 plus of them. No one said anything about this in the news media, both locally and abroad.
These people, many of them I see daily, and there is something quite peculiar about them - while they may be of the black race, there is no question that they do not speak like me, like us. They dress differently; many of them are on the daily hustle, and the same old obscenities, the drinking at neighborhood bars and God knows what else, are their mainstay, etc.
What am I saying? I think that while we may claim that a person is a Bahamian, a country other than The Bahamas was responsible for their downfall, their upbringing and that country, I believe, should shoulder its responsibility, and not drop this load off on our doorstep.
There must be responsibility for how you allowed them to behave in your land and to go unchecked, rather than intervene at a time when corrections may have worked. It is unfair to now force the Bahamas government to have to cope with these foreigners and their poor social habits.
The definition of the word "responsibility" in the Oxford large-print dictionary, reads as follows:
1. Legally or morally obliged to take care of something or to carry out a duty; 2. Having to account for one's actions; you will be responsible to the president himself. 3. Capable of rational conduct; trustworthy; a responsible person. 4. Involving important duties; a responsible position. 5. Being the cause of something; the plague was responsible for many deaths.
Minister of Immigration Fred Mitchell, the Bahamian people appreciate you and love the good job that you are doing. We also applaud the efforts of the Department of Immigration and we trust that God in his infinite wisdom will reveal his shore-up measures, apropos your department.
I wonder if, when something is the law of the land and is pursued in the execution of duty by law enforcement, be they Department of Immigration, or others, how obstruction fits? And international posturing, how does that fit? If it does, I wonder.
Finally, editor: the detention center. We are a small country, with economic and financial constraints. As such, we are only able to do what these meager resources allow us to do.
It is true that as human beings, we should occupy surroundings that are livable, and we are sympathetic about the economic conditions in some other countries. We also know it is only natural to want to venture elsewhere, in the face of hardship, (once colonizers, some of the major countries carry the mother-tongue of some of the poor nations).
The Republic of Haiti is an example and the mother-tongue of this country comes from the Republic of France, located in South West Europe and the world's fourth largest industrialized power, after U.S., Japan and Germany. A country with population numbers of well over 60,000,000 people, and she essentially must step up to the plate, and help to rescue Haiti's people, as a matter of obligation.
The Bahamian people only ask that you respect our territory, as we do yours. If you want to come, there are rules. The same way, if I want to go to another's country, there are rules. Is that too much to ask?
If you on the other hand, do not wish to abide by Bahamian rules made to protect its territory, then what you find, when you arrive, is what you must live with. It is what we have and we did not ask you to come.
Simply, collateral damage will be meted out and it was by your own choosing that you arrived in The Bahamas illegally and end up at the Detention Centre, which will ensure your one way ticket back to your homeland.
There seems to be more focus on forcing The Bahamas to do things for people coming here, but no interest in demanding that the Republic of France account, the mother of the Republic of Haiti. We have done enough for Haiti, Fred Smith. Perhaps you ought to put more pressure on actual Caribbean countries to get together and do for their sister country Haiti.
The Bahamas as I can recall from my geography classes, is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, along with the country Bermuda, so suffice it to say, who then should be more obligated to dispense this help?
If you were to check the numbers per country from the Caribbean, you might be surprised that we harbor more of their people than any other country.
As for these conventions that politicians have signed onto, blind-folded it seemed, I would think that very many of them are not in the best interest of The Bahamas. The people's suggestion to the government is that those ones that are not in our best interest, we ought to de-sign from, if that is a word. Because you cannot have a group, and a foreign one, giving ultimatums to our democratically elected Bahamian Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government, "that it has two weeks to comply with making adjustments at the detention centre" ... or else? I do not speak to my adult children, this way.
This heavy-handedness, God has said he has a problem with.
He gave every country the right to its sovereignty and the right of its citizens to choose.
He also gave all of humanity the right to choose, He God, or the devil. God is the only absolute sovereign authority on Earth. Anything else is a counterfeit.
To God, is all the glory, for great things he has done, is doing and will continue to do, even when man in the flesh is no more. He will continue to be the Almighty Creator, Elohim-Hebrew for God.

- Frank Gilbert

read more »

What does the belonger's permit mean for students

February 27, 2015

The further we get from November 1, 2014 the more haphazard and ad hoc the government's new immigration policy appears to be.
At first, it seemed the aim was to cause every person in The Bahamas to hold a passport, thereby ensuring that all who reside in this country have the means to live a normal life - open a bank account, pay National Insurance, qualify for a loan, etc. Soon, however, the focus shifted to the detention of suspected illegal immigrants, followed by their swift deportation.
It is obvious that the two priorities clash: Insisting that people be documented for their own benefit, only to remove them before they have a meaningful chance to acquire the relevant documents, is the definition of a contradictory stance.
No clarification was forthcoming, and the conversation soon shifted to school children. Last month, Minister of Immigration Fred Mitchell announced that all students would need a passport or "student permit to be in The Bahamas", beginning September 2015.
It was and remains unclear whether this move was intended to bar the children of suspected illegal immigrants, including those who were born here and have a right to apply for citizenship, from school.
A myriad of opinions were presented on both sides of the argument, with Prime Minister Perry Christie finally stating that the government will not prevent any child from attending class. The nation's leader and the minister of immigration seemed to be at odds, and government appeared to be making up the policy as it went along.
The latest development though, is commendable. On Wednesday, Minister Mitchell brought legislation to Parliament to amend the Immigration Act and create the belonger's permit. This document is intended to cover non-Bahamians who are constitutionally entitled to apply for citizenship at the age of 18, thereby ensuring that they cannot be labeled undocumented or stateless.
Many of the questions that have surrounded this policy since its inception arose due to the lack of a clear legal framework outlining aims and methods. Therefore, the tabling of the bill was a step in the right direction.
It is only a first step however. The government must follow suit and clarify other aspects of the policy, particularly with regard to the impact on school-age children who were previously mandated to hold a student permit.
Presumably, many of these children would also qualify for a belonger's permit. Having been born in The Bahamas to foreign parents, they enjoy a consequent right to apply for citizenship.
Does this new bill mean that the student permit has been scrapped? Will these children require both permits in order to attend class come September? How does either permit square with the prime minister's pledge not to bar any students from school?
The government could spare both Bahamians and foreigners who reside here a great deal of anxiety by definitively answering these questions, while encoding its entire immigration policy in law before the start of class in September.

read more »

Exchange control and the Bahamian dollar

February 27, 2015

Since the introduction of value-added tax (VAT) in The Bahamas in January 2015, there has been some turbulence. This is as expected for a new initiative, one that places an additional cost on goods and services. One can only hope that, with this additional cost to Bahamians, there would be additional revenue and spending reforms placed on the government.
The information or proof of movement towards greater fiscal responsibility has been a little dodgy, to say the very least. But, let's trust and verify that these reforms will be delivered as promised.
What came as a result of VAT's implementation was something very extraordinary, something that I did not expect to be brought into the debate post-implementation. Persons began making statements pertaining to the valuation of the Bahamian dollar, claiming that the Bahamian dollar is worth 7.5 percent (or cents) less after VAT implementation.
Of course that's not how it works. That's not how any of that works. It didn't stop people from saying it, and most likely won't stop people from thinking or feeling that it may be the case. But, let's try to discuss the importance of the valuation of the Bahamian dollar and by extension, the fixed exchange rate's usefulness at this time.
Just coincidentally, over the last week or so, discussions about the exchange rate and its usefulness was brought up in a very heated debate in the House of Assembly during the mid-term budget debate by two back-bench parliamentarians from the governing party. On one side, pro-fixed exchange rate, was Ryan Pinder, MP for Elizabeth and former minister for financial services; and on the other side, Dr Andre Rollins, MP for the Fort Charlotte constituency.
Through this I began to think, and harkened back to the notion that the Bahamian dollar would be devalued by the VAT, and at what risk would it be devalued, whether on purpose or not, and how this almost means that a discussion on the fixed exchange rate system needs to be undertaken, and undertaken in the proper way.
I'm more than receptive to the idea of removing the fixed exchange control. It's something that should be in serious consideration at this time in our country's development. How we go about doing this and to what extent it happens is up for debate.
For the most part, persons in favor of keeping the fixed exchange rate hinge their rationale on two main tenets:
1. Removing the fixed exchange rate would lead to a direct devaluation of the dollar; and
2. There really is no need to remove the fixed exchange rate.
Let's examine the first point. Removing such a peg will in fact devalue the local currency against the currency it is pegged to, for example the Bahamian dollar versus the U.S. dollar.
How does this happen? It's quite simple. The U.S. dollar is the universal currency that is used to settle payments worldwide. Despite some competition from the Euro and to some extent the British pound, the USD is the new "gold standard".
Countries try to make payments and use the U.S. dollar in international trade and exchange because the U.S. dollar is strong, universally accepted and in frequent supply and demand.
However, this automatically means that all other smaller nations' currencies are of lesser importance and to a significant extent of lesser value than the U.S. dollar to begin with. So, before we speak about the merits of valuation and devaluation, we need to begin from that premise and understanding.
How is a nation's currency valued? Well, there are two main factors. The first is that a currency is valued is based on the macroeconomic perspective of trade and exports minus imports, or in other words the balance of trade and the differences in the current account.
When exports are higher than imports, this affects the value of a currency through the exchange rate by signaling that a country's goods and services are worth more than what they import. In The Bahamas, this is the exact opposite, or so it seems.
From the information that trading economics has compiled from reports from the Central Bank of The Bahamas, The Bahamas recorded a current account deficit of US$533 million in the third quarter of 2014. The current account in The Bahamas averaged US$309.34 million from 2005 until 2014, reaching an all time high of US$49.20 million in the first quarter of 2010 and a record low of US$533 million in the third quarter of 2014.
The methodology of balance of payments; i.e., current account balance, is slightly outdated. Glaringly, the balance of payments neglects the impact of tourism receipts on exports. Tourism is now and should be defined as an export, as per the World Centre of Excellence for Destinations (CED) in conjunction with the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
With tourism accounting for 60 percent of GDP in The Bahamas, which at any given year hovers around $5 billion worth of value annually, with an average of $2.5 billion in actual tourism receipts since 2012, considering all of new information, The Bahamas is accounting for a balance of payment surpluses year-on-year.
Be that as it may, the fundamental point for one side of a country valuing its currency is based on the balance of trade. The second fundamental determining factor for valuing a currency is with regard to capital inflows.
Capital inflows, quite directly in the Bahamian experience, almost solely means foreign direct investment (FDI) for major projects that require land and human resources for construction and development, in addition to other receipts from sovereign bond issuances. Countries that have balance of payment deficits, but not exclusively, follow a capital inflow or a "FDI" based growth model for development, for obvious reasons.
Because of the current prevailing notion on the balance of payment deficits and as that relates to capital inflows/FDI, policy makers, most likely, feel there is no need to tinker with things if removing the exchange control carries with it the psychological damage of currency devaluation and thus the self enforcing notion of the second point with regard to persons seeing no need to tinker with exchange rate in the first place.
To further bolster the position on at least thinking along the lines of considering models and methods in which to relax exchange control, we must take into consideration several things now:
1. The balance of payment methodology used by the economic establishment is outdated;
2. Rejecting a change, off the top, for psychological reasons associated with currency devaluation, is meaningless considering the fact that when compared to the U.S. dollar, almost all other currencies are meaningless because settlements are almost always denominated in U.S. currency;
3. Not having a concerted effort with regard to bolstering foreign reserves has not worked well in the past and targeting a foreign reserve quota per quarter would be more helpful;
4. International payments and trade is denominated in U.S. dollars, and even the Euro-Zone and the ASEAN and APEC zones, even with the prevalence of the Euro, British pound and the Chinese Yuan, still use U.S. dollars predominantly and especially when they are doing business with North American, Latin American and some European countries;
5. The current thinking and rationale on keeping the exchange control, based on the outdated balance of payment methodology, and also based on the fact that now devaluing the currency would make production for export cheaper if we take into consideration that tourism is an export, only if in services; and
6. While imports would be more expensive, it also means exports - including tourism - would be cheaper to produce relatively speaking and that would mean more U.S. dollars to spend with local shops and venues.
The value as determined of what we pay for imports is inconsequential because our major exports are service related and not manufacturing based and also because The Bahamas imports "inflation" from the U.S., primarily.
Even with regard to inflation, as The Bahamas is a "price taker", increasing the Bahamian dollar supply would not necessarily indicate a decrease in value once U.S. dollars are still being brought into the country via tourism, primarily, and also by capital inflows once brought in as U.S. dollars or another convertible currency that can be held in foreign reserves as already is the norm. An additional best case scenario would be to allow simultaneous U.S. dollar accounts with Bahamian dollar accounts.
The operative term is "value", and not in a dollar for dollar or monetary sense, but value in terms of the quality and value of life and living in The Bahamas.
For example, while the U.S. dollar is trading at $1 for every 0.88 in Euros, can we with certainty say that every country in Europe has a better quality of life than America?
The UN's Human Development Index (HDI) states that the United States has the fifth highest HDI with Norway at #1, Australia #2, Switzerland #3 and the Netherlands #4. Conversely, for the Australian dollar, you would need $1.28 for every US dollar. Are we to say that Australia is doing more poorly qualitatively speaking because of their lack of equal parity with the U.S. dollar?
As it stands now, with the latter issue of imports requiring U.S. dollars in any event, if we move away from exchange control and it results in currency devaluation based on the old methodology for balance of payments, a devaluation that really would be normal under any circumstance when faced with the obvious fact that the U.S. is the dominant economy in the world would not make much difference when the quality of life is the ultimate goal and not necessarily keeping exchange controls for superficial reasons.
The considerable reliance on customs duties that has now started along the process of being replaced by VAT would still make thinking on the possible benefits of moving away from exchange controls fruitful even at this stage.

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.

read more »

Resorts World Bimini to feature truly Bahamian beer

February 27, 2015

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company is continuing to forge relationships with hotels in The Bahamas and recently offered a tour to food and beverage executives from Resorts World Bimini as a part of its plan to have truly Bahamian beers available everywhere in The Bahamas.
The Resorts World property will be having a soft opening next month, with a full opening in 2016, and is looking to partner with Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company to feature their beers at the resort. Food and Beverage Manager at Resorts World Bimini Patrick Fortemps noted, "We are pleased to be here and visit the brewery. We are opening the full resort soon and want our weekly visitors to have a truly Bahamian experience and we want to see them sippin' a Sands."
The group of seven executives experienced a brewery tour led by Gary Sands, sales executive, and learned about how all the local beers are produced at the Grand Bahama facility.
Former Grand Bahama resident William Martinborough, who now works at the resort, commented, "It's exciting to be back in my hometown and showing off our own brewery. We are making an effort at the resort to showcase and promote everything Bahamian and Bahamian Brewery has a great story and history for our guests - and great beer!"
The Resorts World team was flown in for the day by the brewery and after an exclusive tour of the premises they were given an island tour with lunch at Garden of the Groves. "It's important for the food and beverage team to know where the beer they are selling is brewed and how it's bottled," said Sands. "They interact with the guests and it helps sell our products when they explain where Sands and our sister products are created."
Resorts World Bimini has recently released news about the millions of dollars it has spent and continues to spend with local businesses including those food and beverage, transportation and entertainment. Fortemps noted, "I've worked all over the world, New York, Paris, Chicago and more, and this is one of the most exciting projects I've ever worked on. The guests all comment on the great service and we hope to make that even better by providing Sands beers."

read more »