Opinion

That silently loud no campaign

May 25, 2016

The loudest no campaign is not being run by the pastors in the press, but by a large silent mass of Bahamians who will surely have something to say on June 7.

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Call for effective national system of local government, pt. 2

May 25, 2016

A cursory review of the Commonwealth's best practice in the area of local government reveals that The Bahamas is out of step with its sister Commonwealth countries in not providing constitutional protection for local government, failing to vest revenue raising powers in local government authorities and failing to expand the functions of local authorities to areas such as local economic promotion, training, environmental protection and cultural and touristic development.

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Call for effective national system of local government, pt. 1

May 24, 2016

Although both major political parties have pledged to put public power in the hands of Bahamian communities, through local government, about 70 percent of the Bahamian population living in New Providence have no organized structure or resources, apart from a vote once every five years, to make decisions about matters which affect their communities - from issues of safety, environmental stewardship, town planning to economic promotion and development.

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All eyes on the Bahamian Parliament

May 24, 2016

The drama that defined the mid-year budget debate is still fresh in the minds of many, and the invaluable lessons learned from that debacle will hopefully not be forgotten in a hurry.

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Doing the right thing

May 23, 2016

"The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law." - Aristotle

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What does Haiti want

May 21, 2016

I wrote an opinion piece two weeks ago inquiring what does the Dominican Republic want? This week my esteemed colleague columnist David Jessop in his weekly column The View from Europe shows the writing on the wall.

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The view from Europe: alternative routes to energy security

May 20, 2016

A little over a week ago, Caribbean and Central American leaders met in Washington to discuss an extensive program intended to diversify energy sources in the countries of the Caribbean Basin.

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They'll know we are Christians by our hatred

May 19, 2016

There is a well-known Christian hymn entitled "They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love", often vigorously sung by Bahamian Christians.

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A reasoned response to Archbishop Drexel Gomez

May 18, 2016

On May 12, 2016, retired Archbishop Drexel Gomez issued a statement on the four constitution amendment bills and strongly recommended that voters cast a yes vote for each one.

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Charles Dickens and the Bahamian times

May 17, 2016

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us..."

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Thuggery and national development: No sissy allowed

May 14, 2016

As times change, people get frightened and provoke fear in others. When the slave master saw a threat of change he reacted violently by beating it down, so he survived to rule another day.

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Why we should vote yes at the referendum

May 13, 2016

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by a super-majority vote, approved a bill to make four amendments to the constitution of The Bahamas, the supreme legal authority of The country.

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Junkanoo Carnival: Mass confusion and missed opportunities

May 12, 2016

The Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival was conceived in and continues to be mired in confusion.

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We just don't get it about Freeport

May 11, 2016

Freeport needs global entrepreneurs more than it needs concessions. All this talk about the need or non-need to extend concessions under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement is nauseating.

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Why Bahamians should vote yes in the referendum

May 11, 2016

It is never too late to do the right thing. And so for my part I apologize for the failed effort in 2002.

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A damning report on the Road Traffic Department

May 10, 2016

The report of the auditor general on the Road Traffic Department has revealed a culture of slackness and likely corruption at the state agency.
The general audit covers the period July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2015. The report revealed that a minimum of $10 million in motor vehicle license revenue has been lost at the department due to a "severe lack of order and control around the safeguarding of assets, collection of revenue and reporting of the same".
The report, signed on May 3, 2016 by Auditor General Terrance Bastian, was tabled in Parliament yesterday.
It stated that based on inquiries with management, the Road Traffic Department has not maintained a register of the registered number of all licensed motor vehicles, which is a requirement of the law, and a listing of all active and inactive license plates could not be produced for audit inspection.
What is unaccounted for may actually be far more than the $10 million figure.
"If a forecast would be performed based on the total number of license plates produced and issued, approximately 374,000 plates, to the public as of June 30, 2015, one would estimate that the motor vehicle license revenue should be at a minimum of $73 million (374,000 multiplied by $195) instead of the reported average of $26 million per annum," according to the report.
"If the approximate number of 374,000 plates was reduced by 50 percent there would still be an estimated loss of $10 million as compared to the actual recorded revenue noted herein."
That is a startling remark by the auditor general. He is indicating that there may be nearly $50 million unaccounted for per year from the vehicle registration system.
As a result of the report, Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin said yesterday in the House of Assembly police will investigate instances of malfeasance and fraud.
"And persons found to be allegedly associated with such activity will be immediately removed from the department in accordance with procedures of the public service," she said.
Road Traffic Controller Ross Smith emphasized the same thing.
The audit found that the West Bay Street and Carmichael Road locations do not produce customer receipts and accountability of revenue collected at these locations is dependent on a handwritten listing of vehicles inspected and a cashier's calculator tape.
"Without proper retention of records related to revenue collection, there is no way of determining whether all assets disbursed to the Road Traffic Department's locations are being accounted for in the end of day revenue collection," according to the report.
"Allowing revenue collection office to operate without being accountable for producing receipts, reconciling assets, and retaining documentation around the same creates an environment conducive to fraud."
The minister iterated that an $8.3 million automation project began in April 2015, an initiative she said the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was close to beginning before it lost office in 2007. She blamed the Free National Movement (FNM) for not following through on the reforms.
Automation is necessary; intervention by police is necessary; intervention by the Ministry of Finance is necessary to fix the mess at Road Traffic. The report, though, speaks to such an unaccountable culture that the government needs to make sure its cycles out as many of the employees who have been part of these inappropriate practices as possible. Widespread change is needed. The culture must be broken.
People accustomed to taking some for themselves and leaving a little for government are not going to change because of automation. New people are needed at Road Traffic under a more strict and orderly regime. This is not to say that all or the majority of the department's employees are dishonest. But clearly there are quite a few unsavory characters who have been filling their pockets.
We shall see if the government follows through with overhauling the department or if today's statement by the minister was only a public relations effort to counter what the auditor general said. The people's money needs to be protected. We hope the government is serious about change.

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One year to go!

May 09, 2016

"Tomorrow is not just a day that can't be seen, it is a day that can only be seen by the decisions we make today."
- Auliq Ice

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One year to go!

May 09, 2016

"Tomorrow is not just a day that can't be seen, it is a day that can only be seen by the decisions we make today."
- Auliq Ice

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The UN Paris Climate Change Agreement: One world, one climate?

May 07, 2016

The United Nations Paris climate agreement was signed in New York last weekend. A turning point in reducing global warming was ushered.

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The PLP and opportunities in nation building for the 21st century

May 06, 2016

I thank the Fort Charlotte Branch of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) for its invitation to me to apply to be the candidate for Fort Charlotte constituency for the next general election and the National General Council of the PLP for ratifying me as the candidate for Fort Charlotte, on the recommendation of the Candidates Committee.

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