Business

GB consultant outlines policies for 'powerhouse' status

August 21, 2014

A prominent Grand Bahama consultant has called on the government to extend tax incentives in Freeport to the rest of the island, and to use the Hawksbill Creek Agreement as a template for the development of other family islands.
Rather than having Freeport "conform" to what is happening in the rest of The Bahamas, the government should "exploit its diversity", Kevin D. Seymour told the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers during a recent speech.
However, Seymour said that in order for Grand Bahama to attain "economic power house status" the government must not only extend incentives but place additional demands on the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Grand Bahama Development Company (GB DEVCO).
These would include making their boards of directors "more representative" of the community they service, and allowing for regulatory powers to be transferred in the event of shareholder disputes or a failure to carry out undertakings which have been committed to.
Guardian Business understands that Seymour is currently one of a number of executives at the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce who are drafting a proposal to present to the government on how it should handle the question of tax incentives on the island as August 2015 approaches. On this date, certain tax incentives which benefit Freeport licensees are due to expire, creating great concern among certain business
stakeholders, who believe it could lead to a further decline in business activity on the island of around 52,000.
Speaking in what he said was his personal capacity, Seymour, a director of the GBCC and a former Pricewaterhouse Coopers partner, suggested that it would benefit the island and The Bahamas at large if the government not only extended the tax incentives that are set to expire in August 2015 but also allowed other parts of Grand Bahama to enjoy the same incentives.
"These settlements (to the east and west of Freeport) should also be incorporated into the Port Area, to create greater critical mass and economic efficiencies," he added.
"The resurgence of Grand Bahama as the country's industrial powerhouse will not only inure to the benefit of its key stakeholders, business owners and residents, but to the nation at large," he said.
Seymour said that the Hawksbill Creek Agreement has created a competitive advantage for Grand Bahama, by tying the government's desire for large scale development to fiscal incentives.
However, in order to allow Grand Bahama to compete globally, Seymour pointed to accession to the WTO, upgrading the College of the Bahamas to university status, increasing competition in the island's energy sector and facilitating easier immigration of high net worth and skilled workers would be key to this.
"It is vital that prospective investors, be they local or foreign, see Grand Bahama as being an investor friendly, safe, moderately regulated business environment, with a skilled, competent and adaptable work force, where they are able to conduct business at a reasonable cost," said Seymour.
In addition, Seymour suggested that more credit and training for small businesses and the "resurrection" of plans for a sea/air business centre and foreign trade zone would push Grand Bahama towards greater competitiveness.
Seymour also lamented that the relationship between the GBPA and the government appears to be at an "all time low" and said that for there to be increased investor confidence great collaboration is needed between the government and the GBPA with respect to planning and development.
The consultant blamed Grand Bahama's decline over the years to a combination of natural, economic, and political factors.
Beyond the slew of hurricanes to which the island has been subjected, these included "consistent meddling and overreach" by the central government that has seen the government "dilute" the tax concessions available to licensees.
"I should add that the above actions by the Government and its agencies over time, coupled with the inaction of the GBPA in vigorously defending its licensees, has eroded investor confidence and in a few instance have even caused investors to pack up and leave," he added.
He also made call for the public disclosure of certain information, including taxes collected by the government from Grand Bahama residents, the GBPA and its licensees; costs incurred by the government in providing civil services to Grand Bahama; who GBPA licensees are and costs incurred by the GBPA in serving them; and a disclosure of the criteria used to determine license fees for licensees.

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Sands: Still time to effect hotels' VAT requests

August 21, 2014

A senior hotelier said the tourism sector is "satisfied" with the government's response on the majority of concerns that were put to it by the sector over value-added tax (VAT) legislation, and remains confident that "there's still a time frame to effect the requests".
Speaking a day after Parliament passed legislation to allow for VAT to be implemented on January 1, 2015, Robert Sands, Baha Mar's senior vice president of administration and external affairs, said the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) and the government "have reached a final position on a number of the positions [the BHTA] put before [the government]".
"We're satisfied they've been addressed positively. We are very encouraged by the movement of the government and the government has also assured us they'll continue to review the outstanding submissions that we've made," said Sands.
He said that "productive discussions" were held between the two sides in the weeks leading up to the passage of the VAT legislation on Wednesday.
In an interview with Guardian Business in July following the release of the latest version of the VAT legislation, which took into account a number of concerns raised by the private sector, Sands said that the tourism sector could not comment on the extent to which it was satisfied with the new framework as it was still awaiting "clarity" with respect to a laundry list of concerns over VAT.
Sands suggested the BHTA was waiting for the government to deal with "nine or 10" points in the legislation that were still deemed problematic by the sector.
Yesterday, Sands said the sector was pleased with the government's response on seven of these points.
"Obviously what we have seen is the bill and regulations but obviously there are some administrative processes that the government has to put in place to effect all of these arrangements," he added.
Sands declined to comment on the substance of the point on which the government has responded to the BHTA, or those which it has not. It is unclear at this stage if the government's response involves promises made to the sector that it will amend the legislation subsequent to its passage on Wednesday to take into consideration the sector's concerns.
Guardian Business understands that one of the issues put forward by the tourism sector was a desire to see casino gaming "zero-rated" under the VAT legislation, rather than exempted. "Zero rating" would mean that not only is VAT not charged on casino services, but the casinos would be able to reclaim VAT paid on inputs, thereby lowering their costs.
It is likely that if the government made this concession for the casino sector it may come under fire from numerous other sectors that would also find this tax-free "zero-rated" status to be preferable under VAT. The government has indicated its desire to keep such "special treatment" of sectors to a minimum, and has exempted far fewer sectors from VAT under the new version of the legislation than previously.

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Abaco suffers under 'unthinkable' outages

August 21, 2014

A representative from an Abaco resort has strongly criticized the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) over a string of recent "unthinkable" power outages, which have taken their toll on residents and the local tourism industry.
Green Turtle Club representative John Sawyer claimed that while the resort is currently winding down operations for its annual maintenance period, the recent outages, some of which lasted for over half a day, had made their remaining guests "very uncomfortable".
"It's been unthinkable. You know, 12-hour blackouts and then two days later we have another nine-hour one. It's been horrible," said Sawyer.
A BEC statement claimed that the lengthy blackouts were due to problems with the firm's backup battery systems and the continued theft of copper grounding, particularly in the northern end of the island.
BEC has argued that the ongoing copper theft left key equipment and material, including overhead power lines, vulnerable during lightning strikes.
Timothy Roberts, a reporter for The Abaconian, felt that the continued outages had serious consequences for the island's hotels and resorts.
"It spoils the vacations of many of the tourists that are here. There's the concern that it'll leave a bad taste in the visitors' mouths. They spend a lot of money to get here and then they have to endure power outages," stated Roberts.
He confirmed that the Water and Sewerage Corporation's (WSC) backup generators also failed during the power outages, resulting in a lack of running water for parts of the island.
"The utilities here just makes it a real hardship being here sometimes," said Roberts.

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25 bil. impact projected from LNG power overhaul

August 20, 2014

International consultants commissioned by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation have projected an increase in gross economic output in the Bahamian economy of between $10.1 billion and $25.2 billion over a 27-year period through the implementation of new power production facilities by a U.S. energy consortium.
A report by U.K.-based consultants Oxford Economics finds that under three possible power project scenarios involving the Bahamas Generation and Utilities Corporation (BGUC), the country stands to benefit in a major way, experiencing increased economic growth and employment levels as a result of the direct and indirect effects of lower energy costs expected to flow from the power projects over an extended period.
At the request of the BCCEC, Oxford Economics analyzed the economic impact of an initial proposal put forward by BGUC to the government in September 2013 under a Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) request for proposal, along with two additional proposals added in July 2014.
BGUC is, according to the BCCEC, one of the bidders currently involved in the BEC request for proposal.
In the extensive 50-plus page report produced in July 2014, Oxford Economics looks at the economic impact, both direct, indirect and induced, of BGUC developing and constructing at its own cost either a diesel-fired power plant, a plant fueled by liquified natural gas (LNG) shipped to The Bahamas, or a plant fueled by LNG entering the country via a specially-constructed pipeline from the U.S.
In doing so, the report, titled "Economic impact of the Bahamas Generation and Utilities Corporation (BGUC) proposed power plant facilities in The Bahamas", provides forecasts based on what was the original proposal put forward by BGUC to the government in 2013 as part of the BEC request for proposal, in addition to two other proposals made when the company was invited to collaborate with the BCCEC and Oxford Economics on a project to look at the impact of other scenarios.
The BCCEC has stated that its collaboration with BGUC on the project does not represent an endorsement of the company specifically, but rather a means of highlighting the potential impact of a given set of energy reform proposals.
U.S. Embassy support
The company already has the support of the U.S. Embassy. In a September 27, 2013 letter from the U.S. Embassy to the government, then U.S. Embassy (Nassau) Charge d'Affaires John Dinkelman recommends the Bahamas General and Utilities Corporation to the government. He describes it as a consortium of U.S. companies "with over 100 years of combined experience developing and implementing innovative solutions for complex projects".
The diplomat said he was "confident [of] the technical and commercial merits" of BGUC's proposal.
Via a purpose-built input-output model that looks at the impact of construction spending, additional spending by households and businesses driven by savings in power costs, as well as incremental visitor spending, as "direct" effects of the various proposals, Oxford Economics reaches the conclusion that the total economic impact of the BGUC project would be "significant and positive, and distributed over time".
However, the economic impact becomes increasingly more positive under the shipped-LNG scenario, and in particular, the scenario in which LNG is piped to The Bahamas.
Under the original diesel-fueled generation scenario, BGUC had put forward plans to construct, at its own cost, a $200 million diesel-fueled power generation facility in early 2015 that would replace roughly 40 percent of the current power generation in the country.
Looking at this proposal, Oxford Economics finds that in its 27-year project gross economic output in the country would increase by $10.1 billion. Additionally, the contribution of value-added production (total output less the cost of inputs) to GDP would be boosted by $6.8 billion, and an additional $2.8 billion in income would be earned by workers. A range of roughly 1,200 to 6,200 full-time equivalent jobs would be generated per year.
"The proposed power purchase agreement (between BGUC and BEC) would average more than 32 percent less than the price BEC would likely offer absent the BGUC project over the time horizon of the analysis, and approximately 41 percent less than what BEC charges today," the analysis states.
Oxford Economics projects that the lower power prices would increase The Bahamas' regional competitiveness and its share of tourism; add to visitor spending; create extra employment between 2.5 and 3.4 percent higher than the baseline forecast, and boost growth by around 0.1 percent year-on-year. Other impacts would be higher levels of investment by Bahamians, keeping capital in the country.
"The benefits of lower power costs would likely extend beyond the tourism industry to other sectors not captured in the analysis, such as transportation and manufacturing, which rely heavily on energy inputs," it adds.
Government tax revenues would rise by $1.1 billion over the 27-year project horizon of the diesel plant, averaging out to $41.1 million per year.
LNG
In the second scenario, which involves the construction of a plant that would produce power from liquified natural gas (LNG), and would involve additional capital expenditures and greater power generation, the total economic output generated by the energy overhaul is again forecast to grow.
Gross output would now be increased by $13.2 billion; value-added production by $8.5 billion, and an additional $3.4 billion in income for workers would be earned. Between 5,100 and 6,400 full-time jobs would be generated during the two-year construction period, while between 5,400 and 7,500 full-time jobs would be generated per year during the 25-year power purchase agreement period, during which BGUC will be providing power to BEC.
National GDP would rise by 2.4 percent to 3.2 percent per year versus baseline forecasts, year-on-year growth would rise by 0.1 percent and employment levels would be increase by 2.7 to 3.9 percent over baseline, net of any employment reduction that may come about at BEC.
The cumulative boost to government tax revenues is estimated to be $1.4 billion over the 27-year horizon, or $51.6 million per year on average.
"The use of LNG is the primary driver of the greater benefits reported here and would have impacts through two conduits," states Oxford Economics.
LNG would be associated with a lower cost of fuel and more efficient power production. The overall price of electricity would be around 31 percent less than what would have been the case in a baseline scenario.
Further benefit would arise from the relief of $450 million of existing government debt by BGUC under the scenario, about 10 percent of national debt, the consultants found. While this benefit is not quantified in the report, Oxford Economics says it "could be substantial in the context of broader fiscal reform".
"A reduction of 10 percent in the national debt, along with other meaningful and credible changes, could lower borrowing costs faced directly by the government, and indirectly, borrowing costs in the private sector as well," states the report.
With lower interest rates for government, there could be a savings passed on by government through lower taxes and boosts in spending by the private sector in the economy, along with stronger growth in output, income and employment, Oxford Economics adds.
Under the final scenario - the implementation of an LNG pipeline as the fuel input for the plant - economic benefits would include an increase in gross output by $25.2 billion; a boost in value-added production by $15.9 billion; an additional $6.5 billion in income earned by workers in the economy; and between 5,100 to 6,400 jobs generated in the two-year construction period along with 12,400 to 13,500 jobs during the 25-year power purchase agreement period. This would equate to employment that is between 5.9 and 7.1 percent higher than the baseline forecast, year-on-year growth that is 0.2 percent higher, and a national GDP increase of 5.5 to 5.9 percent versus the baseline forecast.
Construction costs would rise to $744 million, $536 million more than in the original analysis. An additional $330 million would go to the construction of the pipeline from Florida to The Bahamas, however, because most of the benefits of this part of the project would likely accrue in the U.S., Oxford Economics did not include it in its analysis as local spending.
Electricity costs are projected to be, on average, 57 percent less than what would be the case in the baseline scenario. Government revenue, meanwhile, is expected to be boosted by $2.6 billion over the 27-year period, or $97 million per year.
'Challenging'
Describing the current state of power generation in The Bahamas, Oxford Economics calls it "challenging", with production facilities "aging" and limited funds available to maintain equipment. As a result, overall production is "at times inefficient" and the high cost of production has caused Bahamians to pay "some of the highest rates for electricity in the region". Simply producing power costs just under $0.20 per kwh, while at one station the rate for production alone is $0.40 per kwh, according to the report. Reliability is also a major issue, with outages causing equipment damage and some businesses subsequently choosing to simply run their operations off generators alone.
Paying for power accounts for around 10 percent of total spending in the economy, and likely depresses business investment, tourism market share and consumer spending, states Oxford Economics.

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Chamber: 'Time is of the essence' on energy reform

August 20, 2014

"Time is of the essence" when it comes to energy reform, and a government decision that will reduce energy costs must be made "as soon as practically possible" to offset the "long-term negative effects" on disposable income of value-added tax (VAT) and other measures, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) has warned the government.
Writing in a letter sent to Prime Minister Perry Christie, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis and other key officials, the BCCEC, which yesterday released a major report on the potentially massive economic impact of an energy overhaul, spells out the importance of minimizing any further delays in a decision on reform.
"It is critical that decisions that will reduce energy costs are implemented as soon as practically possible in order to lessen the long-term negative effects on disposable income as a result of the introduction of value-added tax (VAT), along with other increased taxes and costs implemented in the past 18 months. While there will be no immediate dramatic decrease in electricity costs, the selection of appropriate sources of energy generation and service providers, along with upgrades in transmission and distribution channels, could provide significant reductions in costs in less than two years," BCCEC Chairman Robert Myers and Vice Chairman Gowon Bowe state in the letter.
The chamber also argued that it is nonetheless "imperative" that the government include all stakeholders, including the BCCEC, in the process, imploring the government to reconsider an offer made by the BCCEC to "collaborate with it in the process of evaluating the appropriate means of power generation, transmission and distribution, and ultimately the selection of suitable service providers".
The chamber suggests that it has specific expectations for any provider selected through the reform process. These expectations arise out of a report produced for the chamber (see page B1 of Guardian Business) by consultants Oxford Economics, on energy generation and its economic impact, which looked at the major cost savings, and spin-off economic benefits, to be derived from incorporating alternate fuel sources Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and pipeline gas into the country's energy generation matrix.
Their expectations include ensuring that any provider selected must "guarantee significantly reduced" energy costs; have ties to "low cost sustainable fuel sources"; a proven track record, "vast experience, and impeccable references" based on provision of services in the Caribbean, Central America and/or North America; and have a solution for the "extinguishment of the existing debt at BEC and related government guarantees".
In addition, the provider should deliver "better quality power, cleaner emissions and less pollutants to the environment," state the two BCCEC executives, with such specifications key to ensuring that any deal signed provides for the opportunity for higher GDP growth and lower unemployment.
The letter was sent out by the BCCEC this week to Christie, Davis, Minister of the Environment Kenred Dorsett and Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle, along with the report by Oxford Economics, a U.K. consultancy, titled "Economic impact of the Bahamas Generation and Utilities Corporation (BGUC) proposed power plant facilities in The Bahamas".
BGUC is one of the bidders in the BEC reform process, and includes U.S.-based Caribbean Power Partners, Fluor Corporation and Pro Energy Services.
The analysis suggests that installing new power production facilities, which BGUC proposes to do at its own cost, along with utilizing natural gas - either shipped or better yet, piped - would generate major power cost reductions in The Bahamas.
In doing so, it should spur significant increases in GDP, employment and investment.
Guardian Business understands that the BCCEC partnered with BGUC and Oxford Economics to produce the report after finding itself locked out of the BEC reform decision by the government, which has been shrouded by the use of a non-disclosure agreement that binds all involved from discussing the process openly.
"People may pick on how we arrived at the end result, but if the government had collaborated we wouldn't be in that position. The only way we could get that information to feed into Oxford Economics was to pick someone who had the information. We picked someone, and the process wasn't perfect, but the focus needs to be on the numbers versus how we got the numbers.
"Rather than this being a recommendation of BGUC specifically, we wanted to use it to show them what savings are possible. We chose a route that would allow us to understand the economic impact and this company helped us get there," said Myers in an interview with Guardian Business yesterday about the decision to go ahead with the report, adding: "They can't dispute the numbers; the energy cost savings".
Myers reiterated that the chamber does not understand why there has been such a significant delay in concluding the BEC reform process which began in August of last year.
By releasing the report, the chamber could essentially be construed as putting further pressure on the government to justify why it is delaying the BEC decision and further energy reforms which could reduce the cost of power to Bahamians, and spur growth in the economy.
Should the government move ahead with a proposal that involves primarily powering the country through natural gas this would mean a major shift from the current status quo, cutting out BEC's current major fuel supplier, BISX-listed FOCOL, from a large chunk of business. However, the report suggests that in doing so, it could generate major economic benefits as a spin-off.
"The numbers with whatever form, diesel, or gas - gas being the preference - the reductions in costs to the consumer, the government and the public are massive. The knock-on implications are even larger; you become more competitive, you've got considerably more disposable income now left at the feet of government and the public, so that will have a positive impact on GDP and it will counter balance to a great degree VAT," said Myers.

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Top attorney: State of records 'absolutely unforgivable'

August 20, 2014

Calling the state of the Supreme Court Registry "absolutely unforgivable", a senior lawyer has thrown his support behind the need for a fundamental overhaul of the management of court records and the implementation of a statute of limitations on Supreme Court judgments.
The lawyer, a partner at a major law firm, said the condition of court records at the Supreme Court Registry is "an outrage" that "makes The Bahamas look like a fifth-world country".
"It is in shambles and it's in a deplorable state, and it's absolutely unforgivable that the records at the Supreme Court should be in such a state that they are in. Everyone you talk to should say pretty much the same thing. It's overdue (to be addressed)," the attorney said.
He commented after Guardian Business investigations revealed the deteriorated condition of cause lists at the Supreme Court Registry. The books, strewn within the registry in no particular order, are, in many cases, missing covers, all or portions of their indexes and/or sections of the cause lists themselves.
The cause lists are a critical source of information for attorneys seeking to provide opinions on title in a property transaction, as they outline whether there is a judgment against an individual; this is important because Supreme Court judgments "attach" to property.
On Tuesday, another attorney speaking on condition of anonymity said the condition of the cause lists at the registry means that they are "unreliable" and could bring into disrepute the Bahamas as a jurisdiction in which to invest, in addition to increasing risks to which attorneys and banks are exposed, among other concerns.
The senior lawyer, contacted for comment yesterday, said the "embarrassing" effect of the poor condition of the court records is exacerbated by the fact that there is no statute of limitations indicating a specified period of time in which a Supreme Court judgment is enforceable.
"So now what we do is we do a judgment search against people from the date when, at our best guess, they turned 18, the age of maturity, and you can imagine that if you are 70 years old and you have been active in business you'll come across a whole slew of actions where judgments have been rendered, which create a lien on the property of the judgment debtor.
"If you had a statute of limitations which even applied to judgments for 20 years that would get rid of an awful lot of heavy lifting in going back behind the 20 year period (in the court records)," he said.
The senior attorney said he has long advocated for improvements to the situation but has seen none.
"I mean, really, give us something to work with...We've written to the attorney general, to the chief justice; absolutely nothing has happened. They don't have the will to. No one seems to fully appreciate the plight that property lawyers are in trying to sign off on title," he added, echoing an attorney who spoke with Guardian Business earlier this week who said it is now almost impossible to give an "unqualified" opinion on title.
The senior attorney speaking yesterday called addressing the statute of limitations a "quick fix" solution to at least part of the problem. His position supported that of Andrew O'Brien, former head of the Bar Association's Real Estate Committee, who also spoke with Guardian Business on the issue earlier this week.
"It can be easily done. I offered to draft the legislation; an amendment to state of limitations. It's a two-liner, but nothing's happened. It just goes on and on," added the attorney.
In an interview earlier this week, Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damien Gomez said that the government is "working feverishly" to address the problem, but noted that it is "difficult to give a timeline" by which improvements will be completed.
He described addressing the state of the records as among the "whole purpose behind the physical overhaul" of the Ansbacher Building, which will allow the Supreme Court Registry to move into new quarters.

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Local beverage entrepreneur awarded 40,000 EU grant

August 20, 2014

A local beverage company is celebrating becoming the recipient of a $40,000 business grant from the European Union (EU), and has called on the government to help stimulate small business growth.
Switcha President Mervin Sweeting Jr. thanked the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) for approving Switcha's application for grant funding, stating that the money will go toward raw materials and equipment as the business continues to expand.
However, Sweeting felt that The Bahamas needs to do more to encourage local business.
"It's a great opportunity. We're lagging behind in terms of developing our economy, creating an environment conducive for creating start-ups...We cannot continue to rely on foreign banks to build our economy," stated Sweeting, noting that financing remains a major issue for most Bahamian small businesses.
While CEDA selected Switcha for the grant, the funds will come from the European Development Fund, the EU's primary instrument in Caribbean developmental aid. The grant funds will not be directly dispersed, but will be used to reimburse Switcha for its expenses within a six-month period.
Kirk Brown, CEDA senior grant advisor, confirmed that CEDA received only five Bahamian applications for the type of grant Switcha has been awarded and two for a smaller grant that was also available, and suggested that the country had significant room for improvement in future grant processes.
"The truth is, I don't think we've had a quality issue in terms of the content of the proposals from The Bahamas.
"What seemed to happen, and The Bahamas is not alone, but a large number of applicants did not submit the requisite supporting documents with their email submissions...It can be interpreted many ways," said Brown.
"One of the things I've noticed is that the participation from The Bahamas has not been as great, not necessarily because companies are not aware, I think for whatever reason companies might not see it as a lucrative opportunity.
"We've had repeated training sessions there (on applying for grants)...we do that and get a lot of interest, a lot of participants, but when you translate that into applications it's not as great as it should be.
Sweeting also found the number of properly registered Bahamian applicants alarming and hoped that involvement from the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) and improved workshops would boost future numbers.
"I think the [BDB] should be leading the charge for us. I offered to help them so more people can be afforded the opportunity to get the grant. Filling out an application is not that difficult," stated Sweeting.
Earlier this year, Sweeting announced plans to invest $8 million in acquiring a farm in Andros to produce limes after lime prices surged from $19 a box to roughly $115. Switcha also plans to develop a new 22,000-square-foot facility at the Airport Industrial Park (AIP) in New Providence to accommodate its growing operations.

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Bahamian woman in London insurance 'first'

August 20, 2014

A Bahamian insurance broker, who recently became the first female Bahamian insurance broker to work at Lloyd's of London, has advised all young Bahamians eyeing careers in financial services to gain work experience abroad, if given the opportunity.
Deandra Major, a broker for Endeavour Insurance Services (EDV) in London, has become arguably the first Bahamian to earn a permanent job with a Lloyd's insurance firm, the world's largest specialty insurance market.
"If you have the opportunity to work abroad, I would definitely go for it because I can't put a value on the experience I've gained," said Major during an interview with Guardian Business.
Major started as a part-time office assistant at Morgan-White Administrators Bahamas (MWAB), which manages a Lloyds medical program, in 2008 while she was still enrolled in a business studies program at The College of The Bahamas.
MWAB Director David Reynolds claimed that Major's accomplishments represented several firsts for the country.
"I believe that this has got to be a first for The Bahamas; the first Bahamian to be given a permanent job with a firm of Lloyd's brokers, the first Bahamian placing broker qualified to go into Lloyd's and definitely the first female Bahamian Lloyd's broker," said Reynolds.
Major's foray into the London insurance market began when, after five years working with MWAB, she was offered an internship with EDV, Morgan-White's corresponding brokers in London.
Major began her internship with EDV in July 2013 and was promoted from her back-office internship position to a position as commercial property broker placing individual risks with underwriters within the Lloyd's building after only a few weeks.
Endeavour offered several extensions before offering
Major a permanent position, which she gladly accepted. Major is currently in The Bahamas spending time with family.
"I'm basically a woman working in a man's world," said Major, noting that she aimed for a senior broker position before returning to The Bahamas in the future.
"Morgan-White was where I decided I wanted to have a career in insurance. Working at Morgan-White, dealing with the policies and people, learning from Mr. Reynolds and his great knowledge of insurance, and going through the examinations, at that point I decided that this was what I wanted to do.
"If you're doing something that you love, it's not really a job. I love my job and wake up every morning ready to go," said Major.
Reynolds argued that The Bahamas needs more people like Major in the international financial services sector and felt that Major's achievements should encourage fellow Bahamians to seek international qualifications and experience, thereby reducing The Bahamas' dependency on foreign financial service experts.
"She obviously has a lot to offer the insurance market. The experience she's gained in the past year has only been brought in by expatriate staff in the past. Yes, you can get somebody from London, but it relates so much better when it's a Bahamian coming home and they've done it, been there, and understand the market.
"We want to be an international insurance center. The Bahamas government has expressed their intent of becoming an international insurance and reinsurance center, as Bermuda and Cayman have done, and you're not going to ever do that unless you have a pool of professionally trained people," stated Reynolds.

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CEO: Bahamas 'Super Bowl' to drive slow season tourism

August 20, 2014

Ministry of Tourism officials have revealed more details surrounding the upcoming inaugural Bahamas HBCUX Classic (BHC) college football game, welcoming it as the "Super Bowl of The Bahamas" and the next phase of the ministry's efforts to promote sports tourism in the country.
President and CEO of the Historically Black College and University Experience (HBCUX) Network Curtis Symonds joined Ministry of Tourism officials yesterday to promote the event, which Symonds believes offers a unique sports tourism product for the country.
Symonds hopes the event will help stimulate the local tourism industry during its traditional off-season, stating: "We're trying to drive more people from the U.S. over here during the months of September and October."
Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism Harrison Thompson confirmed that the ministry had invested $500,000 into the project as part of a series of upcoming sports tourism events, including February's LPGA golf tournament and the 2015 IAAF summer relays.
Thompson, along with the ministry's senior marketing manager Jeff Rodgers and Director General Joy Jibrilu, expects a substantial return on the government's investment over the course of the ministry's current three-year deal with HBCUX.
Ohio's Central State University (CSU) will play against Texas Southern University (TSU) in the first BHC, which is scheduled for Saturday, September 13 in the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
Several events, including a celebrity golf tournament and educational seminars for local students, are scheduled for September 12.
"We've created tremendous hype over the last two to three months. The buzz in the United States has been growing," said Symonds, confirming that ticket prices would start at $25 for general admission, with $50 and $100 VIP tickets; $15 student tickets are also available.
"Remember, this is the first year of a three-year deal right now, so it's going to take some time for us to build this, but I can tell you right now we are going to do a great job year after year after year."
The arrangement with the HBCUX presents an opportunity for educational networking between The Bahamas and historically black colleges and universities. TSU and CSU have each set aside three full four-year academic scholarships at their respective universities for Bahamian students.
The update comes one week after the government announced a $10 million motorsports complex in New Providence as yet another sports tourism attraction for The Bahamas.

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Frontier adding Nassau flights

August 20, 2014

Frontier Airlines has announced that it will be introducing flights to Nassau, Bahamas from Trenton-Mercer starting in November - an initiative that tourism officials are lauding.
Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes announced the move this week in a press statement noting that it is the first time a commercial airline from Trenton-Mercer Airport would be introducing an international flight.
"We're excited that, for the first time in our long history, Trenton-Mercer Airport will host a commercial carrier that offers direct flights to an island resort, and we're optimistic that this is a sign of future growth," Hughes said.
The flights will commence on November 20.
Flights will run twice weekly on Thursday and Sunday on Frontier's 138-seat Airbus 319.
Director of Sports Tourism Development in the Ministry of Tourism Tyrone Sawyer said flights from this area are welcomed.
"We are pleased to see Frontier widen its market to Nassau/Paradise Island, and we see this as a very good addition to our total airlift to Nassau/Paradise Island," he said.
"Frontier, as a low-cost carrier, would give us the opportunity to generate more tourism by virtue of their low fares into the market place. They tend to offer very good rates which would make the destination more attractive to potential visitors."
Nassau joins a list of Frontier's destinations from Trenton-Mercer that includes Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago-Midway; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Detroit; Indianapolis; Milwaukee; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and St. Louis. The airline also offers a host of direct flights to various Florida airports, including Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, St. Augustine, Tampa and West Palm Beach.
Frontier is the only passenger airline flying out of the airport.

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Bahamas Striping to establish regional manufacturing plant in GB

August 20, 2014

The Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC) is in the embryonic stages of acquiring Crown land in West End, Grand Bahama to build a $750,000 cold mix patch manufacturing facility. The plant, which is scheduled to come on-stream in mid 2015, will produce a value-added product which will be distributed throughout the country and the Caribbean region.
BSGC realized that global trends are shifting away from the traditional industry concept of manufacturing a product from the ground up. The company will import the binder, which is the proprietary product, and will add locally-produced aggregate to produce an environmentally-friendly product for road repavement and pot hole repair.
As there is not a hot asphalt plant readily available, the government spends millions per year to import traditional cold patch to conduct road repairs on trenches and pot holes in the Family Islands, as well as for Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) and the Water and Sewerage Corporation. Most Caribbean countries use cement to patch pot holes, which does not bond. Recently, Jamaica has also adopted a similar product to cold patch. Once the product is applied correctly, it can last for three to five years.
Manufacturing in The Bahamas is slowly entering a dynamic new phase as there are now new substantial opportunities that will propel this industry into becoming an important sector in the Bahamian economy.
"This investment reflects our continued commitment to meeting the growing market demand for maintained and safe roads in The Bahamas," said Atario Mitchell, president of BSGC. "Our ability to produce these products will strengthen our will strengthen our supply
reliability as the government, small contractors and distributors will be able to purchase cold patch from a local manufacturer. Cold patch is a mix of black tar like binder and rock aggregate. Both of these products will repair and rejuvenate hot mix asphalt pavements as well as double tar, sand and seal surfaces commonly found in The Bahamas."
He added that the products are guaranteed to provide huge savings in the public and private sectors because it will have a less expensive price point.
BSGC envisages that the recent announcement of duty free concessions for the businesses in East End and West End, Grand Bahama, will provide the needed stimulus and incentives for BSGC to relocate its plant to West End, as well as boost the economy by providing jobs.
"We believe that this plant will provide well beyond the needs for the country, as cold patch will be produced on a daily and monthly basis. This augurs well for the economy in West End, as we are projecting that we will hire fifteen locals and one international trainer who will teach West Enders how to use the plant and create the product," said Dr. Allen Albury, BSGC managing director. "West End has the necessary international trade logistics and shipping infrastructure which will allow us to transport the cold patch not only throughout the country but to other Caribbean Islands."
In the next few years, West Grand Bahama will be recognized as a manufacturing and shipping mecca. BSGC is welcoming and inviting dynamic and mature investor networks, with expendable income and a proven ability to partner and interconnect with them as they are positioning BSGC for regional and global expansion through investment in the plant and equipment.
Member of Parliament for West End and Bimini, and the Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe said the duty free concession incentive will serve as a stimulus to turn the economic and social circumstances of West Grand Bahama around.
"You don't want to have growth of the foreign businesses and Bahamians are left behind. We have gone through political and social revolutions and the next revolution will be an economic one. Bahamians are better educated and exposed to the business world and they have access to capital, which allows them to invest," said Minister Wilchcombe.

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BTC in 'concerted' push for women in leadership roles

August 20, 2014

BTC is making a "concerted effort" to incorporate women into leadership positions, a BTC executive said at a regional telecoms conference.
The Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organizations (CANTO), the Caribbean's information and communication technology (ICT) organization, recently highlighted the advancement of women as a vital factor in the development of the sector at its 30th annual Conference and Trade Exhibition.
At the regional conference, which was co-hosted by BTC, CANTO debuted its Caribbean Women in ICT (CWIC) program with an inaugural breakfast at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island that focused on better engaging women at all levels of ICT in the region.
Spearheading the initiative was Secretary General Regenie Fraser, who stressed the important roles women play in ICT and their under-representation within the industry, which were the motivating factors for Tuesday morning's "Caribbean Women in ICT" breakfast.
"Over the years, CANTO programs for women in ICT have lacked formal structure. Therefore, we wanted to address the issues facing women in the industry in a more structured way. There is significant research indicating that women are underrepresented in the industry, and that those who enter the field do not stay. It was clear to CANTO that an ongoing forum was needed to solidify commitment to implement projects that will attract and encourage young women from the region to pursue careers in the ICT sector."
Mitzi Miller, editor-in-chief of Ebony Magazine, was invited to deliver the opening address. Mitzi shared the journey that led to her current position and left the audience with a very simple message: "No matter how many hours you put into your work day, take time for family and friends and to enjoy your life - finding and maintaining the balance is important; family is most important."
Panel Presentations were given by Patricia Walters, SVP customer operations, BTC; Ingrid Seeratan, permanent secretary of science and technology for Trinidad and Tobago; Jennifer Britton, deputy Program manager, ICT4D CARICOM secretariat; Lisa Lewis, group projects director, Digicel and Rhea Yaw Ching, corporate VP sales/marketing, Columbus Communications.
The panelists emphasized that the time had come for women to play a more important role in the ICT industry and that, as Caribbean women of influence, it was their responsibility to ensure that young women are exposed to the possibilities and opportunities available in the sector.
Patricia Walters, BTC senior vice president of customer operations, said that one need only look at the statistics to see that the forum is much needed.
"Recruiting and retention of women is an issue in the sector worldwide. Only 30 percent of people employed in ICT at the entry level are women. At mid-level this drops to 15 percent, and at the senior strategy and planning levels, this drops again to nine percent. We, as leading women in the industry, have to find ways to keep women in the workforce. Women have lots of knowledge and experience that can be used to better the industry and research shows that companies with gender diverse leadership make better decisions and higher profits."
Walters added that BTC is happy to join with CANTO and has been addressing this issue in its own organization.
"BTC doesn't have a quota system, as we believe in promoting the best person for the job, but there has been a concerted effort to better incorporate women, especially in leadership positions. So what you are seeing evolve is jobs that were once perceived as male-dominated now have many females in them. We are committed to our employee development, offering flexible technical training and e-learning suites to all employees, which women have been making fantastic use of. So we really look forward to partnering with CANTO as CWIC progresses."

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A-LISTERS Align for a Star-Studded Partnership at Baha Mar
A-LISTERS Align for a Star-Studded Partnership at Baha Mar

August 20, 2014

Jamie King & Emilio Estefan Join Forces to Produce Resort’s Grand Opening Gala, Welcoming the World to the ‘New Riviera’

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Bahamas Stripping To Establish Regional Manufacturing Plant in West End, Grand Bahama

August 20, 2014

The Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC) is in the embryonic stages of acquiring crown land in West End...

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'No setbacks' at Baha Mar over new opening date in 2015
'No setbacks' at Baha Mar over new opening date in 2015

August 20, 2014

ROBERT "Sandy" Sands, Baha Mar's Senior Vice President of Administration and External Affairs, said yesterday that the $3.5 billion resort is currently experiencing "no setbacks at all" with its new "late spring 2015" opening date...

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Power out yet again - and BEC blames a thunderstorm
Power out yet again - and BEC blames a thunderstorm

August 20, 2014

NUMEROUS areas in New Providence were again without power for at least five hours following a fierce thunderstorm in western New Providence yesterday morning...

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Court records' 'deteriorated' state criticized

August 20, 2014

Attorneys have decried the state of records held at the Supreme Court Registry, citing the impact on the ability of those purchasing land to gain an unqualified opinion on the title of property sought, and on the reputation of The Bahamas as a place to do business.
Investigations by Guardian Business have revealed that critical records have deteriorated severely. This includes books containing Supreme Court "cause lists", which were found in disrepair, with records missing. Bahamian attorneys must search the cause lists in order to see if there are any judgments against property vendors, and therefore if they have clear title.
Legal sources suggest the problem has the potential to impact the property market, investment and the probating of wills, and increases the risks posed to lawyers and the banking sector.
As a result, the issue has led to an increasing number of major firms offering title insurance to protect an owner or lender's financial interest in real property against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters, further adding to the cost of a transaction.
Guardian Business investigations found cause lists, which should contain information on any actions in the Supreme Court involving a particular individual, strewn in cupboards in the Supreme Court Registry in no particular order.
With many of the books missing their covers, locating a particular book may be difficult for attorneys seeking to give opinions on title to their clients. Further, a number of these books were found to be suffering from the whole or partial removal of their index sections.
It is in the index that an attorney must search in order to find the name of a proposed property vendor on behalf of a client who may be wishing to buy property from that individual to see if there are any court actions involving them.
With portions or all of the index missing, attorneys are left to manually scan the entire cause list book in search of an action that may or may not be there. This leaves them with little assurance that they can assert if such an action, or any judgment emanating from it, exists.
Inside several of the books themselves, entire sections containing the details of actions, whether they were resolved and if judgments were issued, are also missing and are believed to have fallen out.
When an attorney is able to locate an action involving a property vendor, he or she will be able to see from the cause list if a judgment was issued, but not whether the judgment was found against the vendor or not.
In this case, the attorney has to follow up by taking the case number and requesting that Supreme Court officials search manually for the file on the case, since there is no computerization of orders and judgments made.
If attorney reaches this stage, delays can result from the availability of staff to search for the files, and at times, their ability to locate particular files once a search is conducted. This week, Guardian Business understands, the staff member primarily responsible for these searches was out of office after suffering an injury in the course of her job.

'Source of frustration'
Contacted for comment, Andrew O'Brien, former chairman of the Real Estate Committee of Bar Association and partner with Glinton Sweeting and O'Brien, called the situation a "constant source of frustration" that jeopardizes an attorney's ability to determine if there is clear title to the property in question.
"Some records go missing. Some indexes go missing, so you don't know if (a judgment) is out there," he said. O'Brien noted that Supreme Court judgments automatically "attach" to property, meaning that someone with a judgment against them cannot be deemed to have clear title to their property such that they could sell it freely.
If it is determined that a judgment has been issued in a matter, O'Brien said that often the file on the matter cannot be located. "And then you are left with a question mark," he said.
"Sometimes we get a report back saying file not available for inspection. Sometimes we have to contact the parties, the lawyers and worst case you have to tell a client to make a business decision on 'Do I accept the property with this uncertainty?'" said O'Brien.
He said the situation only exacerbates already high legal fees.
"When you take a case you don't know what skeletons are in the closet, and sometimes you spend a tremendous amount of time researching it," he said.
Another attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the system, which sees records at times incapable of being located, belittles the "blood and sweat that goes into fighting a case", in addition to disadvantaging the client.
"It's urgently in need of computerization. It's reached a deteriorated state where it's unreliable. This is not good for the legal profession; it makes it extremely difficult to give an unqualified opinion on title and it reflects poorly on our jurisdiction," said the attorney.

'Working feverishly'
Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damien Gomez said that the government is "working feverishly" to address the problem, but noted that it is "difficult to give a time line" by which improvements will be completed.
He described addressing the state of the records as among the "whole purpose behind the physical overhaul" of the Ansbacher Building, which will allow the Supreme Court Registry to move into new quarters.
"That is intended to effect vast improvements to both criminal and civil matters and to provide us with a state-of-the-art registry. The actual physical construction is coming to a close and we would want to be judged as a society after we've moved in as opposed to before."
As to specific efforts to upgrade the registry beyond the physical environs of the department, Gomez said that these will be "intensified" after the move into the new building has occurred. The building is intended to be finished in October of this year.
"This is a wonderful time actually, in the legal system, because so much change is being worked on as we speak. It's a work in progress," he said.
Guardian Business sought to reach Supreme Court Registrar Donna Newton for comment, however she was said to be on leave for two weeks. Acting Supreme Court Registrar Marilyn Meers declined to comment, referring this newspaper to Newton.

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Renew Bahamas: No to Stellar

August 20, 2014

A foreign company contracted to manage the New Providence landfill has said it will deny Stellar Waste to Energy Bahamas (SWTEB) access to the site. SWTEB stated yesterday that it intends to move ahead with engineering and design studies that would require it to access the landfill in order to proceed.
Renew Bahamas told Guardian Business that, under the terms of its agreement with the government, it is obligated to deny Stellar Waste to Energy Bahamas (SWTEB) entry onto the landfill.
Gerhard Beukes, president and CEO of Renew Bahamas, said: "We have a contract in place with the government that was duly approved by the appropriate channels in government, including Cabinet. Under the terms of our agreement, we are obliged to secure the Harrold Road landfill site and will not consider allowing any group access to conduct studies at the site at this time."
Beukes commented when contacted by Guardian Business regarding comments made by Chief Operating Officer (COO) of SWTEB J.P. Michelsen.
Michelsen said in an interview that SWTEB fully intends to press ahead with concluding front-end engineering and design studies called for in a controversial letter of intent (LOI) signed by SWTEB and Parliamentary Secretary Renward Wells, despite the prime minister and the deputy prime minister stating that Wells did not have authority to sign the LOI and denying that it would be binding on the government.
Breaking the company's silence since top government officials shot down the LOI's legitimacy, Michelsen said that he does not understand what all the "hoopla" over the LOI is about. He argued that the company only wishes to finance and conduct the studies so that it can put more information before the government, so the government can make an informed decision on whether to move ahead with a waste-to-energy plant at the site, which would be funded by the company.
The LOI does, however, provide for compensation to be paid to the company if the government does not proceed with establishing a power purchase agreement (PPA) with SWTEB under which the Bahamas Electricity Corporation will buy power from the waste-to-energy plant SWTEB wishes to develop. It adds that this compensation is "to be agreed upon".
Michelsen said that no agreement was ever reached in this regard.
Christie initially called for Wells to resign over the signing of the LOI, but has not made good on this call. He then said an investigation would be launched, but no outcome has yet been revealed.
Michelsen claimed on Tuesday that there is "plenty of conversation going on" between SWTEB and the government.
Renew Bahamas is financed by Aubaine Capital, a U.K.- based private equity firm which also has an interest in ITI Energy, a British company which manufactures a gasifier system which produces a synthetic gas from garbage that can be used to generate electricity. Beukes is the managing director of Aubaine Capital and the chairman of the British Colonial Hilton.

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Davis, KPMG defend BEC non-disclosure agreement

August 20, 2014

In the wake of criticism from the private sector, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis has defended the use of a non-disclosure agreement in the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) reform process, suggesting that without it, the government would be in a weaker negotiating position.
"Each party is attempting to get the best deal they can for their side." said Davis. "It's not good negotiating practice to weaken your hand at the negotiating table. You could weaken your hand by exposing things that the other side could exploit to get a better deal for themselves."
However, Chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) Robert Myers has stated that the chamber is opposed on principle to non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in relation to government contracts and deliberations for anything other than matters related to "national security".
His concerns have arisen in particular with respect to the NDA governing bidders involved in the delayed BEC reform process, which has limited the amount of information that has been made available to the public about who is bidding, what they are offering, where government deliberations stand and other key information. Myers said the level of secrecy that has shrouded the process is not in the public's best interest, particularly when it involves such a critical entity as BEC.
"If we can't talk about things openly then clearly there is something wrong, unless it's an issue of national security, and I can think of very few of those," Myers told Guardian Business in July.
In an interview on Tuesday, Davis first stated that NDAs are intended to protect "intellectual property rights and systems of business" that may be made known by parties involved in a negotiation.
Davis said while a company could come forward and state that it is part of the process, it should not discuss the "inner workings of the process".
Bidders in the BEC reform process contacted by Guardian Business in the past have declined to comment, stating that they are under an NDA. The government has never formally announced which companies are bidding in the request for proposal (RFP) process, which began last year, with this information only forthcoming as a result of investigations by the media.
While some have suggested that the lack of transparency engendered by the establishment of the NDA could encourage the striking of deals that are not in the public's best interest, Davis suggested that this is a perception the government cannot help.
"First of all, I don't like to speak to the vagaries of the human mind. Anything is possible and those who are with you and those who are against you and those who just don't have any interest or are indifferent to you, they all have their opinion as to what is happening, even when you are transparent.
"They read into something. At the end of the day, one of the problems we have is that people judge others as they judge themselves, and if you see a boogie man all the time, maybe you should look in the mirror and see whether you are not seeing yourself," he added.
A source close to the BEC bidders said the NDA required that those involved could not discuss the RFP process or anything arising out of it with anyone other than their own team members, financial advisers and consultants.
"While they may defend it by saying 'we are giving you a lot of confidential corporation information that can't get out there', specific data related to generators, litigation, problems, I think not being able to talk about the process is problematic.
"(The bidders) have seen NDAs which talk about confidentiality with respect to data before, but not a prohibition on talking about the process. That's problematic. The public has got a right to know."
Simon Townend, head of advisory with KPMG (Bahamas), who has been advising the government throughout the RFP process for BEC, said that NDAs are "standard in virtually all transactions".
"The primary purpose is to protect the confidential non-public business information and intellectual property of a company, in this case BEC. It also protects against bidders freely going and talking to company personnel or suppliers, at least until a certain stage in the process when an agreement is reached, as this can be disruptive to operations, business relationships and the process itself.
"In a public competitive bidding process, it is also not appropriate for a bidder to be making public statements or publicly/privately lobbying, and the NDA is intended to protect against this," Townend added.
Meanwhile, Davis rebutted suggestions from the BCCEC that the government should seek to engage the private sector more closely in decisions on major contracts, such as in the BEC overhaul. Myers had charged that the government could improve the public procurement system for the benefit of all by including appropriately qualified private sector individuals on selection committees charged with determining who gets contracts.
He said that the government "has involved the private sector" in the BEC contract process, in the form of KPMG, and does not see the need to involve others.
Myers made his comments in the wake of the release of the U.S. Department of State's Investment Climate report, which criticized the government's public procurement process, alleging that some companies had complained to the U.S. Embassy about "undue government interference" in the process.

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Water companies merge new firm doubles staff

August 20, 2014

A local water bottler has unveiled a new water company which aims to be fully operational within the next six months, following the merger of the Echo and Nautilus bottled water brands.
Former Cabinet Minister and Head of The Source River Limited (TSRL) Tennyson Wells announced that Ni Limited, named after an Arawak word for water, began its operations on June 1 and is currently handling both brands. The company has "doubled" its staff in the past month.
"We are still in the development stages. Even though we are producing some water now, it will probably take us three to six months before we bring everything online. Right now...we're still doing the five-gallon Echo and some five-gallon Nautilus," said Wells.
Ni Limited Managing Director Dwight Sawyer confirmed that the company has conducted tests and extensive maintenance to its facilities during the past two months after assuming control of the Echo and Nautilus brands from TSRL in April.
Wells confirmed earlier reports that the two brands would be marketed separately, with Echo branded as Ni's premium water product, while Nautilus would be targeted to compete with Chelsea's Choice and Aquapure.
"Echo will be marketed as a premium water brand. In order to do that properly, we have to redevelop the distiller. We will bring on a new distiller...[which] costs several hundred thousand dollars.
"We believe there is a market here for that. The problem is that when we were producing it with the old distiller that we had, it was too expensive. It costs 40-45 cents a gallon to produce, and we now need to be able to produce it for less than 10 cents per gallon," stated Wells.
Despite the overhaul in operations, both Wells and Sawyer are confident that renovations will only take a few months, given the pre-existing infrastructure for both brands. Ni Limited aims to produce roughly 70,000 gallons of water per day once the revamped plant is fully operational.
Nautilus confirmed that it had shut down in April of this year after depleting its supplies in January. However, Wells and Sawyer confirmed that Ni Limited had rehired a substantial number of employees from Nautilus.
"We have doubled the size of our staff in the past month. We brought on quite a number of former Nautilus employees who operated the machinery we got from them. So we've probably got about 50 people right now.
Former Nautilus President Jason Evans has also joined Ni Limited as its operations manager.

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