April 11, 2014
Baha Mar Academy representatives recently traveled to Abaco, reaching out to approximately 170 recent high school graduates and professionals on the first trip of several to the Family Islands that are scheduled over the coming months.
The audience met the team from Baha Mar which included Kristin Wells, director of the Baha Mar Academy; Vonya Ifill, Baha Mar Academy associate and representative for Rosewood at Baha Mar; Benjamin Sims, director of human resources for Mondrian at Baha Mar; Beth Cantor, roving director of human resources for Hyatt hotels (representing Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar), and Jarrel Hall, outreach associate and acting representative for the Baha Mar Casino & Hotel.
In addition to interviewing potential candidates for positions at Baha Mar, the team also provided information about career opportunities, the recruitment process and general expectations about belonging to the Baha Mar team.
"Our outreach to Bahamians throughout the entire country is another part of Baha Mar's ongoing recruitment and training efforts," said Paul Pusateri, chief operating officer at Baha Mar. "We are looking for people with an aptitude for hospitality who will be as committed as we are to building a world-class destination and transforming The Bahamas."
The Baha Mar Academy Family Island tour will also include visits to Grand Bahama, Bimini, Exuma, Eleuthera and Long Island.
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April 10, 2014
FNM LEADER Dr Hubert Minnis said yesterday the Bahamas Telecommunications Company cannot outsource Bahamian jobs overseas without the current government's permission...
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April 10, 2014
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party chairman Bradley Roberts has "categorically" denied the Free National Movement's claim that the Bahamas Telecommunications Company is set to begin a major outsourcing programme that could lead to job losses for Bahamians...
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April 10, 2014
The United States has called for The Bahamas to immediately drop all of its duties on U.S. products coming into this country on "day one" of The Bahamas' accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) - a request which the government has rejected on the basis that it could wipe out the domestic economy, according to the minister of financial services.
Disclosing some of the background to The Bahamas' bilateral negotiations over the terms of its bid to join the WTO, Ryan Pinder said that the U.S. government has not been "amenable" to The Bahamas' phasing in tariff reductions on U.S. goods. "Phasing in" refers to the ability to reduce the duty rate levels over a number of years.
However, he suggested that the government has struck back on the issue, suggesting that a phased-in reduction of tariffs on U.S. goods - the vast majority of all imported goods coming into The Bahamas - would be more appropriate.
He was speaking at a meeting yesterday between members of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation and David Shark, deputy director general of the WTO, who is in the country to engage with stakeholders over The Bahamas' accession process.
Among the requirements of joining the WTO is that The Bahamas lowers its duty rates on goods imported into the country. It is this requirement that contributes in part to the decision by the government to push ahead with introducing a new form of revenue collection in the form of value added tax (VAT), although the WTO deputy director said the WTO itself has no preference about what form of tax the government chooses to replace former duty taxes with.
In a question and answer session, Pinder said that how quickly and how low The Bahamas would have to reduce its duties is not a decision of the WTO, but one which is determined in bilateral negotiations with other WTO members.
Pinder said, "The EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement trade deal with Europe) is phased, and they phase to zero, so at some point in time there will be no duty paid on items sourced out of the E.U., but it's not a huge deal because I think there's $8 million of revenue a year to the government on E.U. products.
"Now the U.S.: day one that's what they want. Imagine if they said let's phase it to zero like the EPA, because that's what they'll use as a precedent: You negotiated the EPA, you phased, you phased to zero. So imagine if we phase to zero (on goods coming from the U.S.) - you would not have a domestic economy because you would not have 35 percent on ready made items anymore, you'd have zero. So you have to be careful what you push for at times.
He added: "Right now the U.S. is taking the posture that they want on-day one reductions. They've taken the posture they want cuts straight across the board. We've taken the position we're not going to negotiate on that basis but we will negotiate trying to protect domestic industry.
"I think they got the point but there'll be further negotiations on that. So they haven't been too amenable to phasing. We anticipate that in some time in the future we will have to re-negotiate the Caribbean Basin Initiative on a bilateral basis which is a whole other issue with respect to the U.S. and their trading regime," said Pinder.
In terms of how the government would make up the lost revenue, the government has a plan of sorts in place in the form of the implementation of value added tax, or - if the private sector has its way - some other form of alternative taxation.
However, replacing the revenue lost to the government when duties are reduced under WTO accession does not address the challenge of how the reduction in duties would impact local manufacturers, who rely on the fact that the goods they produce have high rates of duty applied when they cross the border.
In this regard, seven months on from when he announced that the government would be undertaking a study to examine the "vulnerabilities and opportunities" that would arise for Bahamian businesses from joining the WTO, Minister of Trade, Ryan Pinder, said yesterday that the government is now moving to shortlist who will conduct this study so the government will have a clearer picture of the impact on industry of acceding to the WTO.
At present, Pinder has stated a goal of December 2014 for The Bahamas to complete its lengthy accession process, but has also indicated that the process could well continue into 2015.
In an interview with Guardian Business yesterday, Shark touted the benefits of WTO accession. He said that WTO members have been seen to have recovered more quickly following the global economic downturn, as a result of having a more certain environment for investment.
"The Bahamas is already heavily integrated into the international trading system, so for a country that's as deeply enmeshed in international trade as the Bahamas the better question is 'Why not (join)?'
"As a member of the WTO, you get to level the playing field with some of your neighbors. You're the only CARICOM member who's not a member of the WTO, and when companies are trying to decide where to invest, being a member of the WTO provides assurances to investors of the conditions of their investment...and all of that matters a lot in terms of being a part of global supply chains.
"The rules of international trade, whether you are a member of the WTO or not, affect you, so why wouldn't you want to be at the table in negotiating those rules?
"It's protection against protectionism; if someone does something that causes you harm you can challenge them whether you are a large or small country, under the WTO system," he added.
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April 10, 2014
A Bahamian-owned company is planning a $40 million investment in telecommunications infrastructure if it obtains government approval to join forces with an international mobile services provider and become the next company selected to gain a mobile license in the newly-liberalized mobile environment.
IP Solutions International Limited (IPSI) currently has an application before the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) to approve a share purchase agreement and change in control for the company, which would permit it to bring in Limitless Mobile Holdings as an equity and strategic partner that would assist the local company in continuing to build out its infrastructure and its network.
Limitless Mobile owns and operates a mobile network in the United States, which is currently being upgraded to 4G/LTE. In Europe, Limitless owns and operates a mobile network in the UK, Germany, Denmark, Poland and Sweden.
Those currently involved in IPSI include CEO and major shareholder, Edison Sumner, Sir Orville Turnquest, Virginia Damianos and Larry Carroll. Limitless Mobile Holdings is led by Richard Worley, former chairman of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and Charles Ryan, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Deutsche UFG, one of Russia's leading investment companies.
BTC's mobile exclusivity period lasted for three years after Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) bought a 51 percent stake in BTC, as a condition of their purchase.
IPSI, which has been in existence since 2008, has already received the necessary individual spectrum and operating licenses that would enable it to offer fixed line, television and broadband Internet services - known as "triple play".
IPSI claims to have already built and deployed most of the infrastructure necessary to deliver its IPTV, broadband wireless internet and landline (voice over internet protocol) services in new Providence and Abaco and until recently has been servicing the communications needs of the Baker's Bay development on Guana Cay, Abaco for over three years.
In a release sent by Sumner late yesterday afternoon confirming information obtained by Guardian Business, IPSI disclosed that it is waiting for government approval of its partnership with Limitless Mobile before it moves ahead with building out its network and launching its planned rollout of full multi-play media and communications services throughout The Bahamas, which it hopes will include mobile data and voice services.
Sumner told Guardian Business that IPSI is "aptly qualified to get involved in the mobile space" and is prepared to begin the build out of its infrastructure in this regard immediately after they get the approvals from the government on the foreign direct investment component.
"The company intends to spend in excess of $40 million building out its network, the 4G LTE network, and completing the build out of the IP TV infrastructure. The fixed line and broadband infrastructure is already in existence and we just need to begin to migrate our customers onto that. We were already approved in doing it but wanted to wait until we got all of these approvals before moving ahead," said Sumner.
Guardian Business understands that the company has officially made known its hopes of becoming a mobile service provider in The Bahamas, and shortly intends to formally announce its intentions to the public.
Among other companies, Digicel has expressed its continued interest in becoming involved in the mobile space in The Bahamas, telling Guardian Business on Monday that it would hope the government will "imminently" outline how it expects potential participants to go about that. However, Digicel has also elicited a strong negative response from the union that represents BTC staff, the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union.
Consequently, IPSI is hoping it may be able to - despite Digicel's stronger financial clout - put itself forward as a more union-friendly company as a means of gaining more union and potentially political favor in the process.
As it stands, the ball is now in the prime minister's court, as the minister responsible of outlining how companies interested in gaining the license to become mobile operators in The Bahamas should proceed in doing that. This would, consequently, open the door to the formal launch of the bid to find a new provider.
There are various types of processes which governments can typically engage in to identify new providers, including auctioning the opportunity or issuing a request for proposal.
In a statement to Guardian Business on the end of BTC's exclusivity period in mobile phone services, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation said that it supports more competition in all sectors of the economy as it "simply creates broader economic and commercial opportunities, while at the same time ensuring that the power is rightly placed in the hand of the consumer."
"We do acknowledge the progress that the new BTC has made with expanded offerings and competitive pricing. We are encouraged by the competition that we see emerging within the marketplace for broadband and land line services.
"For us to see optimal service delivery and best possible packages and prices though, we do need strong robust and fair competition in the sector," said BCCEC Chairman Chester Cooper.
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April 10, 2014
The dispute between the marine pilots and their former employers in Freeport has been taken to another level, with a top official of the International Marine Pilots' Association (IMPA) telling an international conference that there are "dismal standards" for pilotage in Freeport Harbour.
Throwing his support behind the Bahamas Marine Pilots Association (BMPA), Nick Cutmore, secretary general of IMPA, told delegates at the 22nd IMPA Congress in Panama that he was shocked to learn about the situation in Freeport as it relates to pilotage when he was invited there by the BMPA earlier this year.
Cutmore said, "You'll remember a battle at the International Maritime Organization over new rules they wanted to introduce over pilots, following, amongst other things, an accident involving one of their vessels in Canada. Notwithstanding the fact that the vessel in question had a steering failure, and the fact that the authorities in Canada were already investigating it, the distinguished delegate from The Bahamas decided they needed new rules for your profession.
"Imagine my surprise, then, two weeks ago, to find in The Bahamas' own backyard as far as pilotage is concerned, dismal standards, no oversight, commercial expediency, a
long list of accidents and just plain stupidity.
"The pilots there are trying to form themselves into one cohesive group and shake off the sloppiness ...They are struggling and they have all resigned their posts to press the issue. I would like you to think about that. That's a staggering leap of faith. I am pleased we have a representative here from The Bahamas and I hope you'll be able to hear him on Friday," said the IMPA secretary general.
Fifteen marine pilots resigned their posts with the Freeport Harbour Company and the Bahamas Oil Refining Company International Limited (BORCO) in early March, alleging concerns over a lack of sufficient training and oversight, and committing themselves to forming an independent pilotage authority that would allow them to provide their piloting services to large vessels entering Freeport Harbour free of commercial pressures.
Their former employers, the FHC and BORCO have denied any safety issues exist at the harbor, and refute the pilots' claims that independent pilotage is necessary to ensure safety of the vessels entering. They have stated that the pilots are being motivated by profit alone, and they have hired replacement pilots.
The companies assert that business is continuing as usual, but the former pilots say that there are not enough pilots and they do not have sufficient experience.
The BMPA pilots have been seeking to obtain a business license which would give them the opportunity to continue to provide their piloting services, but have struggled to do so given what their attorney, former GBPA in-house counsel, Carey Leonard, called "unusual" delays in the process.
Yesterday, BMPA Managing Director, Erin Carey, said they see "no solution" to the situation, as yet, and they continue to believe there are too few pilots operating at present.
"All we have requested is that the government issue us a license to pilot as a company. All of the pilots are already individually licensed. We are waiting for the Ministry of Transport," said Ferguson.
Guardian Business sources close to the matter have previously alleged that at the heart of the situation is concern over the loss of revenue to the Freeport Harbour Company if they allow private marine pilots to provide services, rather than collecting the service fees themselves.
In a statement issued yesterday, Minister of Transport, Glenys Hanna-Martin, suggested that the government does not consider the matter resolved.
"The government through several ministries has been in dialogue with the relevant stakeholders and we are hopeful of an amicable solution for all concerned," she said.
Offered an opportunity to respond to Cutmore's comments yesterday neither the FHC or BORCO chose to do so.
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April 10, 2014
Name: Rochelle M. Rolle
Industry position: Head of compliance, executive director at Julius Baer Bank & Trust (Bahamas) Limited.
Education and training: Bachelor of business administration (with distinction), certified public accountant and successful completion of the ICA diploma in compliance and anti-money laundering.
What attracted you to the sector?
My initial attraction to the financial sector started in high school when I took courses in accounting. After completing a bachelor of business administration degree, with a concentration in accounting, I joined the former Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) and there, through interaction with my clients, I discovered the various career possibilities available in the industry and how essential it was to the Bahamian economy.
With the changes in the financial services sector during 2001 came the creation of this new position of compliance officer. Around the same time I was invited to join an institution in this capacity. It was a position that seemed both interesting and challenging because of its novelty and the responsibilities assigned to it. I therefore accepted the position.
How long have you been working?
I have been working in the financial sector since 1998, first as an accountant/auditor, then in 2001 as a financial and compliance officer with a Swiss bank. Since 2006 I have worked as head of compliance.
What keeps you motivated?
Well, there are several things that have kept me motivated throughout the years and continue to do so. First, the function that I perform is vital to ensuring that not only the good reputation of the company is maintained, but that of my country as well. Having an appreciation of this awesome responsibility energizes me to perform at the best of my ability at all times. Furthermore, I enjoy being a part of a dynamic team dedicated to the achievement of the company's goals and objectives. Knowing that others are depending on me, fuels me. Also, given this shifting industry, I am excited by the expectation of new and diverse challenges that create learning experiences. In my role, I am fortunate to have gained international exposure by working with colleagues on a global scale, allowing me to demonstrate the capabilities within The Bahamas. Finally, knowing that my function within the organization is appreciated by my employer, evidenced by my recent nomination as BFSB Professional of the Year 2014, keeps me motivated.
Why do you think you have been successful?
Of course all of the basic ingredients for success are important. These include hard work, commitment, diligence and enjoying what you do. However, I have added another secret ingredient, called lifelong learning. Because of the ever-changing environment of financial services, I have realized that professionals who stay abreast of the constant changes are the ones to succeed. Therefore, I am continually expanding my knowledge on various topics. Of utmost importance is the love and support of my family, who are always rooting for me.
Did mentoring play a part in your success?
Yes, mentoring has played a role for me. I credit my mentors with instilling in me the need for continuous education. Also, they have helped me to hone my professional skills by providing advice on work ethics, attitude and business acumen that they had gleaned from their years of experience.
Because of what I have gained through mentorship I see it as a responsibility to pay it forward and offer myself as a mentor to new joiners in the industry and often speak to those considering entering into the industry.
What qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?
Given the dynamics and competitiveness of this industry a college degree with a professional qualification (e.g. CPA or CFA) is a must for entry level. However, one must keep in mind that as we venture into markets beyond The Bahamas, possessing a foreign language skill is the new normal. This, coupled with certain character traits such as a willingness to learn, openness to constructive criticism, attentiveness and versatility are bound to advance you in the industry.
Why is it important to encourage our youth to think of careers within financial services? Are there specific suggestions you have for sustaining or growing the financial services sector? What advice would you give young people just starting out in the industry?
Because financial services constitute the second most important sector of the Bahamian economy, it is important that we think of sustainability. In my opinion it can only be achieved by attracting young talent and encouraging them to enter this arena.
As the Bahamas Financial Services Board is charged with the responsibility of developing and promoting our financial services sector, it is important that it in turn seeks young talent and grooms them for this industry. My Swiss counterparts always speak about internship programs whereby young talent is identified from high school and groomed through on-the-job training and mentoring. We would do well to emulate them in this regard.
Throughout my career I have sought mentoring, inviting advice from seasoned, well-placed professionals in the industry. It is therefore advisable that they do the same. Seek out and align yourself with those individuals that have already made a mark in the industry. Familiarize yourself with the term "service excellence" and always be prepared to give this daily. Give your all to the task whether it is minute or daunting.
Continue to invest in your future. Keep learning and seeking new challenges that would expose you to new learning experiences. This also requires you to measure your qualifications against the industry's needs, and seek to bridge those gaps.
Finally, master a second language commensurate to the market needs. Study the industry to determine its market focus and learn the language and culture of that market.
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April 10, 2014
The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) participated in the annual Hedge Fund Brazil Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on April 3-4.
Described as Brazil's premier public equity investor event, the Hedge Fund Brazil Forum, in fact, is Latin America's most specialized international meeting of hedge funds, long-only funds, Brazilian pension funds, Latin American pension funds, Latin American family offices and global endowments, foundations, sovereign wealth funds and pension funds.
The program delivers cutting edge due diligence for investors and managers alike on key questions such as hedge fund asset allocation among Brazilian as well as global pension funds, E&F, family offices and fund of funds, hedge fund regulation in Brazil and key considerations in operational and manager due diligence and economic and hedge fund strategy trends in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
As a sponsor, BFSB also had the opportunity to field a promotional exhibit during the three-day event.
BFSB CEO Aliya Allen said, "Our sponsorship and participation in this conference is in line with the consistent interest and business opportunities we are seeing from Brazil. Brazilian multimarket funds are being transformed from inward-looking domestic focused to alpha-seeking investments abroad. Managers are trying to offer more globalized structures and strategies so that clients have access to international diversification. Brazil is just a small part of this and it is clear that the strategies will continue to incorporate international diversification utilising competitive jurisdictions like The Bahamas."
Commenting on statistics released by the Securities Commission of The Bahamas, Allen pointed out that the 25 percent growth in SMART Funds is not an outlier; it is indicative of the growth potential The Bahamas has in the funds business largely driven by demand in Latin America. She added, "A few major BFSB projects this year will build upon this demand, including the new legislation we've been working on steadily since the middle of last year."
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April 10, 2014
Some things just don't seem to be on the cards or fall into place when we want a particular thing to happen quickly in this shifting real estate market.
If you have an apartment or home that you've outgrown, or that costs too much to maintain, and on top of that, the market may be too soft for a sale, you may want to consider transitioning that property into an income producing one.
This might just be the right time to join others who have bypassed appealing to the local market and instead, have focused on securing a rental with those in the international market.
In my opinion, many Europeans appear to prefer vacationing in a private home as opposed to hotel, and, for them, in most instances it's a whole lot cheaper. Aside from that, it is suited to what they're looking for while they maximize their vacation experience.
For a prospective landlord, it is profitable because you are able to receive top dollar for the rental on a short term basis and those tenants won't be on property 24 hours a day because they will want to explore the island.
Top dollar may be relative, based on the amenities you are able to offer, such as whether it's on or very near to the beach, vehicle rentals and meals. Those are things you may want to consider, if you want to be competitive and a viable option - people are always looking for a bargain.
There are websites that cater to this mega business like www.homeaway.com and www.airbnb.com, which, for a small fee, will provide pictures and the amenities you offering, with the benefit of regular traffic to your rental property.
Obviously, the better experience your guests have, the more chances you have of them telling their friends about the wonderful experience in that vacation home in The Bahamas.
This may be something Family Island residents may also want to consider or potentially consider linking it closer to a bed and breakfast experience. Tailor the rental project to your specifications and what you think will provide the best returns.
It goes without saying that your place should be spotless with everything in proper working condition.
It would be nice to stock the fridge with drinking water and other essentials until your guest are able to make it to the food store to purchase their own grocery items. Additionally, a list of attractions with things to do, public transport and basic safety guidelines is not a bad idea either.
So, be that roving ambassador, make some extra cash, and possibly earn some life-long friends in the process.
o William Wong is the co-partner at Darville- Wong Realty. He was also a two-term president of The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and The Bahamas Real Estate Association. Questions or comments can be emailed to William@wongsrealty.com.
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April 10, 2014
Community Billfish Grill Adds 20 Jobs. Palm Cay, the fast-growing nautical development on New Providence’s southeastern coast, this week delivered a key component of its commitment to community building -- The Palm Cay Marina & Beach Club...
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April 09, 2014
A man who has had his land trespassed upon by the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) for 16 years disagreed yesterday with a ruling by the Court of Appeal, which ordered BEC to pay him $540,255 in profits and damages and ordered a conveyance of the land to the corporation yesterday, and he promised to appeal to the Privy Council.
Joshua Haeward, owner of Delta Properties Ltd., which owns over 16 acres of land between Windsor Road and West Bay Street, said that a decision by the Court of Appeal to order that the land belonging to him, which was trespassed upon by BEC for the purposes of installing utility poles in 1998, be conveyed to the corporation also now effectively "landlocked" the remaining property where he had hoped to develop a 75-lot subdivision.
Haeward had gone to the Court of Appeal to overturn a decision of the Chief Justice in November 2012 that had determined, amongst other things, that an award of damages to him for BEC's "continuing trespass" on his land near the airport should be based on the compensation he would have been entitled to had his land been "compulsorily acquired" under the relevant statutes in 1998.
While the Court of Appeal expanded the financial value of the award that would be made to Haeward to include so-called "mesne" profits - a form of damages common in land disputes, which involve the person who has had their land encroached upon by a profit-making entity receiving a portion of the profits made by the illegal tenant in the interim - and added that interest on the sum would run at seven percent per annum from the date of judgment until payment by BEC to Haeward. The judgment also went further to suggest that the 1.197 acres property upon which BEC had constructed its utility poles should be conveyed to BEC with costs borne by the corporation.
Haeward said he disagreed with this assessment and the value of the mesne profits and damages awarded, suggesting that a portion of the profits made by BEC from running power cables across his land would have far exceeded the $151,468 suggested by the court.
BEC began its encroachment on Haeward's land in 1998, placing utility poles which ran power cables across the land without his permission; proceedings were initiated against the corporation in 2007.
According to the original ruling by the Chief Justice in the matter, BEC had originally claimed that it had "an easement which permitted the erection of the poles and the power lines across the property, but that claim was abandoned and (BEC) conceded the acts of trespass."
The Court of Appeal noted that an appraisal made in 2007, when the proceedings against BEC were initiated, found the total value of the 16.34 acres to be $4 million. Based on that figure, the 1.197 acres of which the power lines hang would be $299,067.
In an interview with Guardian Business after the court's ruling yesterday, Haeward said that he would take the court matter to "the next level" by seeking to appeal to the Privy Council in London.
"They went on the land without my consent. If I conveyed this land to them, that would give me a difficulty in accessing the rest of my land, because it would be blocking the road. So they would be inhibiting me making the kind of development that I want to do with it.
"I also wanted a portion of the income they made from passing through my property. I estimated they would have made over a billion by passing through my property, and I would've settled for $144 million.
"It makes a mockery of private property rights. What's the point of me having land if they can just walk onto it and use it?" said Haeward.
Haeward also expressed concern that the ongoing efforts to bring in private entities to become involved in the operations of BEC may impede his chances of seeing a payout in relation to the dispute, as more interests become involved.
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April 09, 2014
Prime Minister Perry Christie has hit out in relation to crucial trade talks with Canada over continued access to its market, suggesting there is a "fundamental disequilibrium" in Canada's approach to the matter.
Addressing the University of the West Indies' St. Augustine's campus in Trinidad and Tobago on the topic "Role of The Bahamas in CARICOM", Christie pointed to the trade talks with Canada as an area of cooperation between CARICOM and The Bahamas, but said meetings with Canada have "proven difficult and a settlement has been nettlesome".
His comments echo those of other governments in recent weeks, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Jamaica, which said in a statement that "there is little time remaining in which CARICOM and Canada can seek to bridge the gaps in the negotiations."
In his address on Monday, Christie argued that it should not have been so difficult for The Bahamas and Canada to reach an agreement on the crucial trade pact.
"We must harness the political will to settle the issues. We remember that it was Canada who came to us to ask us to support their resistance to the move of the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) from Montreal. They did so on the basis of our traditional friendship, yet our traditional friendship has not been strong enough so far to be leveraged into the conclusion of a trade pact. It is highly arguable that there is a fundamental disequilibrium in that."
In a recent address to the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers' Confederation's first National Conclave of Chambers of Commerce, Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder pointed out the importance of concluding a trade pact with Canada, noting that without it Bahamian exports such as lobster, salt, pharmaceuticals and blended fuel from BORCO would be subject to a 35 percent duty going into Canada.
Goods going into Canada from the Caribbean had been going in duty-free under a waiver obtained by Canada from the World trade Organization (WTO) for the so-called "preferential" arrangement. Under the WTO, WTO members such as Canada and much of the Caribbean are not permitted to offer each other trade terms which are better than those that they offer to other WTO members, and as such talks have been underway since 2007 to conclude a "reciprocal" agreement whereby Canada gets equal benefits to those offered to the Caribbean for its goods and services entering this region.
As with the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe, the new agreement would cover not only trade in goods, but also in services and investments.
In January 2014, the region was able to obtain an agreement from Canada to hold off on raising duties on Caribbean goods until Caribbean-Canada Trade Agreement (CARIBCAN) negotiations had been concluded, following the expiry of the WTO on December 31, 2013.
Admitting that the talks to conclude a new agreement are "very tenuous" at present, Pinder said last week that while all Caribbean countries would also be disadvantaged by an increase in the duty charged on their goods, it would not be as severe as in The Bahamas' case, given that they are members of the World Trade Organization, and therefore while the duty rates applicable to their products would rise, it would not be as high.
He used the example of what would happen in the case of a lack of agreement in the Canada trade talks as evidence of the importance of The Bahamas finally acceding to the WTO.
"You may as well say to our crawfishermen we have no access because it's not competitive on price.
Morton Salt (will be charged) 35 percent duty on salt (exported to Canada). You might as well say to them that market is closed to you, that's the implication we face. This is a real world, real time implication and effect of us not being members of the WTO."
A fifth round of negotiations on CARIBCAN was held in Barbados in January. Part one of the sixth round was held in Kingston, Jamaica on March 3 to 7. Part two is being held in Ottawa, Canada and was slated to end on April 4, having started on March 31, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.
Contacted yesterday for an update on the latest round of talks, Pinder said that there is "nothing to report, except that they are ongoing".
Negotiations on the agreement have to date been projected to conclude no later than June 2014.
The region's leaders have called for a "pro-development agreement which takes account of the differences in the levels of development between CARICOM and Canada, and which would support the sustainable economic and social development of the peoples of the region.
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April 09, 2014
The president of the Bahamas Bar Association (BBA) has said he supports the push to develop The Bahamas as a center for global arbitration "only to the extent" that Bahamians with suitable expertise are given priority for opportunities that may arise from it.
Elsworth Johnson said that bringing in outside professionals when the expertise they offer is available in this country could "create a serious difficulty" for the BBA.
"I think it's a brilliant idea, but I am tired of people saying, 'Bahamians first' when you're always last," said Johnson.
At the Pre-ICCA (International Council on Commercial Arbitration) conference, held last week in Nassau, a number of local and international panellists said that issues with work permits and immigration policy could stand as a potential obstacle to the development of this country as an arbitration center which would attract international persons to bring their cases to The Bahamas for resolution.
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson was among them, pledging the government's support towards having The Bahamas established as a center for arbitration, but noting that such an effort will only be successful with the "buy in" of the Bahamas Bar Association and the judiciary. "If they don't buy in, we'll have a terrible problem," she said.
Maynard-Gibson said that it will be important to have"flexibility" in work permit policy to help facilitate the development of the sector and enjoy the spin-off benefits it can bring, a point backed by other panelists based on their experience elsewhere.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Johnson said that he views the push to create an arbitration center in this country as "wonderful", but feels it is important that The Bahamas gets "the full benefit from it".
"I understand the concept of arbitration and what it will do for The Bahamas. It's excellent. If we have to make certain concessions that's a decision the Bar has to make; that's an internal discussion, but most certainly, where we have resources, we have to use it. I support arbitration, but use local expertise where they exist," he said.
"If the arbitration they're going to do doesn't require legal expertise, doesn't require for that person to be a lawyer, then the Bar doesn't have a concern. If they need specific knowledge about accounting, then you know BICA (the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants) will be in on that; if they need architects, then they'll be in on that; if it requires medical expertise then you bet your bottom dollar the Medical Council will say 'are you crazy?' (if doctors are brought in). You're dealing with the Immigration Act. You've got to look at your pool of resources to say you have a house and children, why would you feed someone else first?"
During last week's pre-ICCA conference, The Bahamas won the support of a number of international bodies,including the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, and P.R.I.M.E. Finance, a group of expert financial arbitrators, for its interest in establishing itself as a center for arbitration.
The message was that there is demand for arbitration arising out of the region and beyond which could more conveniently be conducted in The Bahamas if the right conditions were to be established.
However, local attendees were repeatedly advised that developing a reputation as an arbitration hub takes time, and - at least in the initial stages - attracting international arbitrations to come to The Bahamas relies on the ability to bring in expert arbitrators from elsewhere to conduct their deliberations.
jump headline: Bar: Arbitration must involve locals where possible
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April 09, 2014
A national shortage of magazines has emerged after the sole U.S. supplier shutdown unexpectedly in early March, leaving its local distributor scrambling to find a replacement.
Local retailers such as Bookworld, Hallmark and Chapter One, as well as all of the supermarkets, are now running low or have run out entirely of magazines on their shelves as a result, leaving customers with nowhere to turn.
All except Bookworld, who sourced directly from the US supplier, were supplied by Delivery News, a Bahamian company which worked as the local distributor for Caribbean Management LLC, a Medley, Florida-based company, which Guardian Business understands supplied both The Bahamas and other Caribbean countries.
An employee of Delivery News told Guardian Business yesterday that the company began experiencing problems with deliveries of magazines in late February, and was initially told that bad weather may have been the cause of the delay, ultimately, they were informed that Caribbean Management had gone out of business.
"We are trying to find someone to replace them but we haven't made any progress as yet," said the employee, who declined to be named. They stated that magazine supplies was just one part of their overall product offerings and as such the shortage has not had a severely detrimental affect on their business.
It is unclear what led to the closure of Caribbean Management LLC. Calls to the company went unanswered as an automated message said the line had been disconnected.
At Bookworld, staff said that customers have been repeatedly returning in search of their favorite magazines, only to be turned away. "We told them that until we get the new supplier, there's nothing we can do," said an employee.
Hallmark confirmed that they, too, have been unable to supply customers with magazines, while at Supervalue, on top-of-the-hill Mackey Street, the magazine offerings have been largely replaced by children's coloring books.
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April 09, 2014
A focus on "stimulating growth" will guide the second annual Eleuthera Business Outlook, which has been slated for April 24th.
The Eleuthera event, the newest of the multi-island series, will take place at Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina, South Eleuthera, with Prime Minister Perry Christie as keynoter speaking to the theme "Charting a Course for Growth in Eleuthera."
"The theme for all our Business Outlook forums this year has been basically the same--a focus on stimulating economic growth after what seemed to be an entrenched recession, which slowed or put growth on hold in a number of areas," said Joan Albury, president of TCL Group and chief organizer of the Business Outlook Series.
"Growth has certainly been the government's focus this year. It is important for Bahamians throughout the archipelago to hear directly from the country's leader what the government's plan is for their community, specifically, and to be able to ask him questions. We are most grateful that Prime Minister Christie and a number of other strategically chosen speakers have agreed to join us in Eleuthera."
Joining Christie on the podium will be Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Sands, Jr., who will update the audience on the developments in Eleuthera since the last Business Outlook.
"We are fortunate to have the support of the Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce again this year and its dynamic president, Thomas Sands, who has a finger on the pulse of business and society on the island, especially in the south. This is a partnership we hold in high regard because it is so necessary to create the kind of cooperate efforts that will continue to energize the Eleuthera economy. It was, in fact, Mr. Sands who invited TCL to bring the forum to his home island. He saw the value of the Business Outlook programme in pulling together the right players from key sectors to share the necessary information to drive things forward," said Albury.
Completing the slate of speakers for the 2014 Eleuthera Business Outlook are: Christel Sands Feaste, partner, Higgs & Johnson, Attorneys-at-Law; Scott Gorsline, VP operations, Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina; James Malcolm, VP & managing director, Sand Piper Inn and Destination Schooner Bay Ltd.; Juan Pulido, project manager at Cotton Bay Holding Ltd.; Angela Cleare, founder, ABC Tours & Consulting Co.; Christopher Maxey, founder and director, Cape Eleuthera Island School; Arinthia Komolafe, managing director, The Bahamas Development Bank, and Edrin Symonette, farmer and entrepreneur.
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April 09, 2014
Another Exuma school has had its technology upgraded by the Sandals Foundation.
Rolleville Primary was the recipient of a brand new computer lab.
And while the lab will be used to advance the students of Rolleville Primary, its principal, Lavone Knowles, said the computers will benefit the entire community.
The students were happy to receive the new computers and created a special hand-made sign for the opening of the lab saying, "thank you Sandals". They also presented Sandals Foundation representatives with a beautiful plaque.
Community leaders, like Reverend Adam Brown, made a commitment to assist in the upkeep of the new computers.
This is the fourth computer lab the Sandals Foundation has donated to Exuma schools. In a release, the company said it is looking forward to completing many more.
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