Business

Closer monitoring for cash for gold

October 08, 2014

The attorney general has pledged to "beef up" support of regulatory agencies to monitor cash for gold businesses following an amendment to the Financial Transactions Reporting Act (FTRA).
Maynard-Gibson noted that the amendment, which categorizes any store dealing with secondhand precious stones and metals as a "financial institution", is a vital part of the country's efforts to meet anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing (AML/CTF) efforts.
"It was one of the requirements for The Bahamas to have a largely compliant rating in accordance with the FATF 40-plus recommendations.
"[The amendment] is already in force. Right now the regulations are being promulgated, and also the resources are being allocated to beef up the regulatory agency," said Maynard-Gibson.
The amendment would require the Securities Commission of The Bahamas (SCB) to monitor the activities of cash for gold businesses and pawnshops, requiring increasing know your customer (KYC) standards, including reporting foreign exchange earnings, in a bid to decrease the risk of money laundering in the country.
The current state of secondhand precious metal and precious stone stores poses considerable risks for the country's compliance with international anti-money laundering practices with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Maynard-Gibson added that the government will work with the appropriate regulatory bodies to efficiently handle the new responsibility.
"They are being asked to take on the responsibility also of dealing with cash for gold enterprises, which are different. We're making sure that the proper resources are deployed to them to enable them to do their job effectively," stated Maynard-Gibson.
With the appropriate oversight framework in place, the jurisdiction would be allowed to engage such trading by meeting international transparency and accountability standards.
Under the recent amendment, any business that participates in the "buying for the purpose of trade, sale, exchange or otherwise dealing in any previously-owned precious metals or precious stones, whether altering the same after acquisition or not," is labeled a "financial institution" subject to the FTRA.
The amendment additionally applies to pawn businesses lending money "on the security of previously-owned precious metals or precious stones of which the person takes possession, but not ownership, in expectation of profit, gain or reward".

read more »

Bahamas ties down new airlift opportunities

October 08, 2014

The Ministry of Tourism and its industry partners participated in 2014 World Routes, an annual forum held at different cities around the world, where airlines, airports and tourism promotions officials come together to discuss new route development opportunities.
The 2014 World Routes forum was held in Chicago, Ill.
Attending the event were participants from the Nassau Airport Development Company, the Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
Ministry of Tourism Senior Director of Airlift Development Tyrone Sawyer said: "World Routes is, for us, a very cost-effective way to strategize with existing airline partners who already serve the islands of The Bahamas. Additionally, there is an opportunity to explore new route development opportunities with other airlines not presently serving The Bahamas."
"Baha Mar, in particular, generated tremendous interest at World Routes. This was a very good opportunity to share a more up-to-date report on Baha Mar and to give an update on new resort developments taking place on Grand Bahama Island and the Out Islands which would require increased airlift support in the future," Mr. Sawyer said.
Sawyer hinted at more airlift developments to follow.

read more »

BPC: Our operation won't result in Clifton-like spills

October 08, 2014

In the aftermath of yet another oil spill at Clifton, and in response to news of imminent publication of new regulations and legislation governing oil exploration, Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) chief Simon Potter said the Clifton spill is a distinctly different type of problem than might exist for oil exploration such as that which BPC would do. He pointed out that the company's environmental mitigation plan (EMP) in the event of a spill has been in place for years.
Potter told Guardian Business on Wednesday that the difference between what has happened at Clifton and BPC's operation come down to four points: location, technology, capabilities and support.
On location, he pointed out that the closest land to BPC's preferred site for an exploratory well is Cuba, 80 miles away from Cay Sal and 50 miles from Andros.
The technology BPC would bring to bear would be "completely up to date", he said.
He said the BPC operation's capabilities would center on a state-of-the-art oil rig and associated vessels. There would be constant monitoring by a large complement of highly trained professionals.
And, as for support, Potter pointed out that BPC is part of the Oil Spill Response Limited group.
"[That means] we have $10 million worth of equipment available for our use within 24 hours," he said.
Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) is an industry-owned cooperative which exists to respond effectively to oil spills around the world.
"The two operations are completely [different]," Potter said.

read more »

BDB doubles down on 'no sacred cow' policy

October 08, 2014

Managing Director of the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) Arinthia Komolafe vowed there are "no sacred cows" as the bank once again ramps up collection efforts on delinquent loans.
Komolafe spoke with Guardian Business, and said there was a "positive response" to the bank's recent collection initiative, while acknowledging that the recovery process would be gradual.
"The BDB has internally launched a collections campaign in an effort to make contact with our customers. We've engendered a spirit here that collections are everyone's business at the bank.
"As a result, September was very promising for us, as we experienced increase in recoveries. We're achieving positive results and it's a trend moving forward as we close out the fiscal year," said Komolafe.
The BDB launched an aggressive recovery campaign several months ago, encouraging delinquent borrowers to meet with the BDB to address its non-performing loans.
"We've received a positive response. We've been airing ads on multiple stations and getting message out there as part of our continually increasing recovery efforts," said Komolafe.
"We're applying the collection policy across the board. There are no sacred cows. We are experiencing slow and gradual process, but our efforts will pay off," stated Komolafe, noting that the creation of a credit bureau under the draft Credit Reporting Bill and Regulations (CRBR) would lend further credibility to the BDB.
In an earlier interview with Guardian Business last month, Komolafe revealed that the BDB's non-performing loan ratio had risen from approximately 38 percent in 2005 to roughly 70 percent as of September 2014. Komolafe also noted that the bank's asset base has declined due to loan loss provisioning.
Komolafe added that the bank's campaign aimed to increase visibility with clients, particularly in Family Islands, where delinquency rates are significantly higher.
"We're also increasing site visits with our Family Island customers. Delinquency rate is much higher in the Family Islands. The economic climate has contributed tremendously to that," said Komolafe.
Although Komolafe did not have updated recovery figures available, she noted that the BDB's monthly report for September showed signs of improvement and would be available in the coming week.

read more »

Higgs Johnson talks taxes to clients

October 08, 2014

While a new era will begin in January with the implementation of a value-added tax (VAT) regime, State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis told attendees at the annual Higgs and Johnson client seminar that the government would also focus efforts on more efficient collection of existing taxes.
Halkitis gave opening remarks at the seminar, which Higgs and Johnson held under the theme "Bankruptcy, inheritance & taxes".
The seminar featured associate Alexandra Hall's presentation on VAT. Hall, based in The Bahamas, highlighted the impact of VAT on the financial services and discussed the likely challenges to be faced by the sector.
There was also a presentation by partner Tara Cooper Burnside (Bahamas) and senior associate John Harris (Cayman Islands) on both the Bahamian and Caymanian statutes on international insolvency and recognition of foreign proceedings.
Gennette Faust, associate of Greenberg, Traurig spoke on the topic 'Practical FATCA'. She elaborated on the practical aspects of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and discussed FATCA classification of non-U.S. trusts and their underlying companies. Faust focused on issues facing practitioners making such classifications and the compliance options which exist once an entity has been classified.
In its ongoing effort to promote education in The Bahamas, Higgs and Johnson sponsored the attendance of faculty and students of both the UWI/COB law degree program and the Eugene Dupuch Law School.
Sponsors of the Higgs and Johnson seminar included H&J Corporate Services Ltd. and H&J Fiduciary Services Ltd. both of which are affiliates of Higgs and Johnson.

read more »

Domino's delivers top honors to high achieving Cable Beach store

October 08, 2014

Domino's Pizza International has awarded Ominique Davis, store general manager, Domino's Pizza Cable Beach, top honors for achieving record breaking new store opening sales and 52 consecutive weeks of positive sales growth at the Domino's Cable Beach location.
The Cable Beach location is five out of 11 Domino's Pizza locations that have been remodeled to fit the global Domino's Pizza Theater Concept. The new stores include many new and exciting features like an open kitchen so customers can watch the pizza making process, and a digital pizza tracker, that allows electronic tracking of carryout orders. The Pizza Theater Concept stores also include a sizeable chalkboard that allows guests to express their creativity or simply leave feedback on the service, and new and improved in-store seating as well as lighting.
Ominique credits her store's sales success to her team's consistent attention to customer service. "Our focus is on service and getting our valuable customers their pizzas hot, fresh and with a smile."

read more »

Investor magazine sells Bahamas story to Asian market
Investor magazine sells Bahamas story to Asian market

October 08, 2014

Financial Services Minister, Ryan Pinder takes publication on three-city trip. As a high-powered government delegation makes its pitch to entice some of Asia's wealthiest individuals to these shores, The Bahamas Investor...

read more »

Slow, steady economic growth pushes unemployment down

October 08, 2014

The government earned $1.15 billion in tax revenue in the fiscal year 2013/2014. Due to a revised fee structure, it also raked in $63.6 million in business and professional fees. The numbers signify a whopping 54.7 percent jump over the previous fiscal year. Additionally, the new customs processing fee regime helped earn the government $35.5 million in fines, forfeits and administrative fees.
The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBB) reports that, for FY2013/2014, the deficit narrowed by just under 15 percent to $379 million, due to a $77.1 million gain in aggregate revenue - to $1.3 billion - which overshadowed an $11.7 million increase in spending, to $1.7 billion.
In its Quarterly Economic Review for June 2014,
published October 6, CBB says the data suggests that the economy "maintained a modest growth pace during the second quarter of 2014, amid gains in tourism output and steady contributions from several foreign investment-led construction projects".
"As a consequence, the unemployment rate improved over the six months to May. Consumer price inflation firmed slightly, in response to higher global crude oil prices largely brought on by the geopolitical unrest in a number of oil-producing states."
The fiscal situation through FY2013/14 improved, as broad-based increases in revenue negated a modest rise in overall expenditures to achieve a reduction in the overall deficit. Budgetary financing was obtained from a combination of domestic and external sources, including a US$300 million external bond and internal short-term foreign currency loans.
Employment
The bank notes that employment conditions - buoyed by economic growth, however mild - improved over the six months ending May 2014. Information obtained from the Department of Statistics Labour Force Survey, shows that the jobless rate fell by 1.1 percent to 14.3 percent, a turnaround from a 2.2 percent increase in the comparable six-month period of 2013.
"The movement reflected the addition of 2,445 persons to the workforce and, as a potential sign of improving job prospects, the number of individuals categorized as discouraged workers fell by 27.9 percent to 4,880," the CBB says.
Breaking the numbers down by major labor markets, the jobless rate in New Providence dropped to 15 percent from 15.6 percent, as the number of employed persons rose by 1,515. In Grand Bahama, the jobless rate dropped to 14.7 percent, reflecting an increase in the employment count by 110.
"Unemployment among young people, those in the 15 to 24 age group, and the worst affected category, narrowed by 4.3 percentage points to 28 percent," says the bank.
Revenue
Looking at the fiscal performance of the economy in FYT2013/2014, CBB notes that the government's new fee structure led to business and professional fees of $179.9 million, due mainly to growth in receipts from general business ($46.2 million) and banks and trust licenses ($17.7 million).
A slight 1.2 percent gain in hotel occupancy taxes of nearly $4 million offsets a fairly precipitous 34.1 percent drop in gaming receipts.
The bank reports that taxes on international trade contracted by 5.5 percent ($30.6 million) to $526.7 million, amid broad-based reductions in excise ($7.2 million), import ($4.0 million) and export ($3.5 million) taxes.
Similarly, other miscellaneous taxes contracted by 3 percent ($12.4 million) to $402.0 million, mainly driven by a $20.3 million (15.5 percent) decrease in departure tax receipts and a $2.7 million (2 percent) fall in stamp taxes associated with property purchases. Meanwhile, taxes on existing property were reduced by $1.3 million (1.3 percent) and, in a modest offset, taxes yet to be classified firmed by $11.1 million (43 percent) to $37.7 million.
Non-tax income, at 13.3 percent of the total, grew by 36.8 percent ($47.6 million) to $176.9 million.
The 40.9 percent ($35.5 million) expansion in fines, forfeits and administrative fees was primarily linked to the implementation of a new customs processing fee regime, while total income receipts were higher by 30.8 percent ($12.5 million), as increased dividend payments by a local telecommunications company buoyed the $18.5 million (59.1 percent) gain in collections from other "miscellaneous" sources. In contrast, revenues from public enterprises declined by $6 million (64.1 percent), due to a falloff in inflows from the aviation sector and receipts from the sale of government property were lower by $0.4 million at $1.3 million.

read more »

Carnival request for private port 'under review'

October 08, 2014

Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments, has refused to discuss whether the government is open to Carnival Corporation's overtures to secure a private island in The Bahamas for its flagship brand, Carnival Cruise Line.
Guardian Business can only say the government has received the application, and that it is "currently under review".
Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald spoke plainly about the company's desire to have a private cruise port for Carnival, particularly in light of the fact that two Carnival Corp. brands already have that amenity - Holland America has Half Moon Cay, and Princess has Princess Cays.
Donald was frank about the company's desire, and indicated that negotiations may even have progressed to the point at which they are considering specific locations.
"We've discussed a number of spots," he said.
Donald was reluctant to go further.
"I don't want to get into anything here that I shouldn't. The bottom line is that we're working in close concert with The Bahamas government and with the private entities involved to try to make that a reality.
"We're excited about it, and we've been at it a long time. It's time for it to happen. It's going to be great for the Bahamian economy, and it'll be good for our brand, so we're very focused on it. We're optimistic that the government and the private entities involved are going to work with us and help make it happen."
Rolle was present when Donald made the pitch. He had no comment.

read more »

Major casino operators split on junkets

October 08, 2014

Representatives of the country's largest hotels and casinos have offered diverging opinions of the country's prospects in gaming junkets, with one official arguing that the new gaming market offers "more downsides than upsides".
Speaking with Guardian Business, Baha Mar Senior Vice President of Administration and External Affairs Robert "Sandy" Sands suggested that VIP gaming was only a part of Baha Mar's "broader" gaming offering, which will likely expand to include mobile gaming and proxy gaming.
"Each of the world's most successful gaming jurisdictions has a distinct business model. The new Gaming Bill will enable The Bahamas to regulate its casino industry responsibly and successfully by capitalizing on its unique location, amenities and customer base," said Sands.
Although Baha Mar officials praised the government following the passage of the 2014 Gaming Bill, Baha Mar has yet to settle on how it will capitalize on gaming junkets moving forward.
"The Bahamas is world-renowned as a beautiful beach destination with its own unique market. Although the new Gaming Bill will allow for junket play in Bahamian casinos, it will be one element of a much broader customer mix at Baha Mar," stated Sands.
Gaming junkets, also known as VIP gaming, works like this: a promoter arranges for a group of players to gamble with a partnered casino operator in exchange for a commission on the player's chip buys or other payment from the casino operator.
The Bahamas' recent gaming legislation could position the country to capture part of the global junket market currently dominated by Macau.
Although VIP gaming has generated huge amounts of revenue in Macau in recent years, accounting for 70 to 80 percent of its overall gaming revenue, China's recent anti-corruption and money laundering probes into the industry have led Deutsche Bank analysts to cut their annual junket revenue projections from 5 percent growth to 5 percent decline for the year.
A recent UBS report additionally indicted that Macau's VIP gaming revenues fell between 14 and 18 percent for the month of July.
Given international junket concerns, President and Marketing Director of Atlantis George Markantonis told Guardian Business that Atlantis is unlikely to capitalize on junkets following the updated legislation, arguing that VIP gaming offers "more potential downsides than upsides".
"The gaming regulation regarding junkets was not initiated by Atlantis, it was requested by other Bahamian casino operators. ?Atlantis has never had any interest in pursuing junkets, and nor are we likely to going forward. As far as we are concerned, [there is] more potential downsides than upsides.
"We have been able to take this position because the success of our business model has never been based purely on casino revenues, but rather on multiple revenue streams," stated Markantonis.

read more »

Real estate agents 'in the dark' on VAT

October 08, 2014

The country's real estate community is "still baffled" by the potential impact of a value-added tax (VAT) on the industry, according to a realtor and Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) official.
Speaking with Guardian Business, Chairman of the BCCEC Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Committee and Bahama Island Realty Sales and Marketing Associate Matt Sweeting stated that members of the real estate sector are still "in the dark" following a seminar hosted by the BCCEC and Ministry of Finance earlier this week.
"The real estate community is still baffled by how [VAT] is going to affect them to a large degree. The sector is still very much in the dark, even though we had a two-hour presentation," stated Sweeting.
Sweeting claimed that several transaction scenarios remain unclear following the presentation, specifically those between VAT registrants and non-VAT registrants.
"Transactions between a non-VAT registrant and a VAT registrant brokerage are unclear. The non-VAT registrant is not required to pay VAT, and he may be associated in a sale with someone that is a VAT registrant, who is required to pay fees on their commission. There are still a lot of misconceptions," said Sweeting, noting that Ministry of Finance officials were unable to adequately resolve the issue.
"It's still unclear on how it's going to work. The suggestion is that whoever the VAT registrant is they're going to be responsible for the entire portion of the VAT fee," said Sweeting.
Despite these ongoing concerns, Sweeting remains optimistic of the continued education efforts of the BCCEC and Ministry of Finance.
"While the government may not have done the best job in getting the message out there, what [the chamber] has done is reach out to their membership, put all of the stakeholders in one place, and develop experts within our own chamber circle to get this information now disseminated," said Sweeting.
The BCCEC unveiled the members of its VAT task force last week, which will lead multiple educational outreach programs throughout the country.
The four-member task force is comprised of BCCEC CEO Edison Sumner, Fidelity Bank President Gregory Bethel, immediate past president of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Jasmine Davis and Bahamas Aluminium Manufacturing chief Andrew Rodgers.
VAT will be implemented at a rate of 7.5 percent on January 1, 2015. However, the VAT task force will continue to work with local businesses until mid-2015.

read more »

BDB head: Credit bureau long overdue

October 08, 2014

The Bahamas Development Bank's (BDB) managing director has welcomed the potential establishment of a credit bureau in The Bahamas, stating that the initiative is "long overdue" ahead of educational initiatives between the BDB and The Central Bank.
BDB Managing Director Arinthia Komolafe told Guardian Business that the 90-day public consultation of the draft Credit Reporting Bill and Regulations (CRBR), which calls for the creation of a credit bureau, would benefit the country's financial institutions by improving credit risk management, transparency and disclosure by assisting banks' credit assessments of their customers.
"It is a positive thing, a good initiative that is long overdue. It is groundbreaking legislation that requires a paradigm shift by our customers.
"It will equip us with provisions and mechanisms that can benefit financial institutions and the country as a whole and improve the state of affairs of the average borrower in the country," said Komolafe, noting that many bank clients with good credit history were also penalized under the current credit infrastructure.
Komolafe revealed that the BDB had recently met with The Central Bank regarding the draft bill, and was engaged in discussions with The
Central Bank and the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC) to rollout education programs for the organizations' clients and the general public.
The educational initiative, which is currently slated to begin in November, will focus on the provisions of the CRBR and the Credit Bureau, as well as advising customers of their rights regarding personal information.
"We're going to be educating them about the structure of the bureau itself and the types of information that can be extracted from various persons requesting information from bureau," stated Komolafe.
The public consultation of the draft bill follows announcements that commercial banks had over $1 billion in outstanding loans by the end of July 2014, and $463 million in write-offs between 2009 and 2013.
Komolafe also suggested that the bill and subsequent credit bureau would increase the BDB's credibility.
"The bureau will bring additional credibility to BDB's operations and eliminate the stigma that it caters to political patronage," said Komolafe, adding that the BDB had recently been listed as a mandated institution for participating in the Credit Bureau after Central Bank considered BDB's request.
In a statement issued last month, the Clearing Banks Association of The Bahamas (CBA) voiced its support of establishing a credit bureau, stating that the initiative was "long anticipated".
"The Clearing Banks Association (CBA) welcomes the establishment of a local credit bureau," the statement reads. "This initiative is one that has been long anticipated and our member banks will fully cooperate with the regulators to facilitate its creation and commencement."

read more »

Grand Bahama affirms participation in 2015 Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival

October 08, 2014

A contingency from Grand Bahama inclusive of representatives from the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (Grand Bahama), Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board and Immerse Bahama recently met with The Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) to discuss Grand Bahama's participation in the 2015 Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival scheduled for May 7 - 9, 2015.
Mega events are proposed for Grand Bahama for the weekend of April 17 - 18, 2015, with other events leading up to the main events in Nassau in May 2015.
Following the visit to Nassau, Junkanoo leaders Percy "Vola" Francis and Quinton "Barabbas" Woodside traveled to Grand Bahama to present prototypes of carnival costumes to an audience of Junkanoo leaders, local artisans, makeup artists and interested persons, at a meeting held at Pelican Bay Resort on Wednesday, October 1.
The vibrant costumes were worn by models from Grand Bahama and the designs depicted the azure blue waters of The Bahamas, a sunshine goddess and an indigenous Bahamian male called the "Lucayan Prince". Costume instructors Francis and Woodside emphasized the difference between materials used to produce Junkanoo costumes and carnival costumes.
The Bahamas National Festival Commission plans to host a week-long workshop on costume design and construction in Grand Bahama to introduce the methodology in costume making and use of local materials.
Marketing Coordinator for BNFC Samia Donaldson showed a video of the recent Road Fever Costume Expo, which was held at the Melia resort in Nassau on September 27. The expo showcased the costume designs of more than 25 road fever companies that have already registered for the 2015 carnival.

read more »

Business success is only a mouse-click away

October 08, 2014

Due to the ever increasing globalization of markets and customers, it seems appropriate that The Nassau Guardian should provide some insight on how any Bahamian business can operate successfully within e-commerce.
As managing director of a top U.K. web design company, Jed Wylie spent years researching the best online techniques used by the most successful e-commerce companies. The result is a book providing a practical step-by-step strategy to create online success titled "Make Your Website Sell".
You don't need to be an IT expert to understand and implement these strategies, and Wylie makes good use of humor. "Make Your Website Sell" provides a nine-step strategy that includes: turning visitors into customers, generating website traffic, seven principles of Internet marketing, website planning and performance analysis as a route to online success. This is underpinned by practical ideas and simple how-to guides dedicated to increasing online profits.
Wylie explains that, although web designers create commercially successful websites, they are not experts in promoting your business. This remains your responsibility and successful website marketing involves exploiting multiple channels including: search engine optimization, Google AdWords, joint ventures, affiliation with other organizations, blogging and using social media.
A key theme within "Make Your Website Sell" is that you must focus on the benefits your product/service offers to customers using the AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) technique. It's alarming to note that, on average, 99 percent of visitors leave websites without actually doing anything. However, Wylie suggests offering free incentives in exchange for your visitors' contact details to address this.
Amazingly, few businesses realize the potential of Google, despite it handling over 4.5 billion monthly searches. Google Adwords can be used to display appropriate adverts when keywords are typed into their search engine. Google Analytics provides free access to website performance data, including the pages visited and sales that people made upon visiting your website. Wylie underpins this goldmine of information with his unique Profit Calculator to benchmark your marketing efforts.
Consumers and businesses are increasingly using the Internet to find suppliers of products and services, thus placing websites at the heart of e-commerce. By applying the strategies within "Make Your Website Sell", Bahamas businesses can start accessing this multibillion-dollar global marketplace - today.
"Make Your Website Sell" by Jed Wylie and published by Marshall Cavendish Business.
o Keith Appleton JP, BA (Hons), N.Dip.M, MInstLM has extensive experience within an academic, managerial and strategic leadership role. He is a member of the U.K. Institute of Leadership & Management and can be contacted at KeithAppleton@hotmail.co.uk.

read more »

In response to 'financial center rankings drop'

October 08, 2014

If you will permit me an immodesty, it was more than a decade ago, that at financial centers around the world and with laborsome petition here at home, I warned over and again about the "capitulation mentality". That is to say, I warned over and again that whilst we must always be wise and canny enough to see and accept that we are a small nation, it was - at the same time - important never, under any circumstances, to leave any impression that we were to be harassed, hustled or harangued into accepting another country's financial rules. My reason was, and reasonings were, simple: We are a sovereign nation. And sovereignty is not something you wait and wish others to respect. It is what you must project and demand.
I warned, in addition, at a lecture at Jesus College, Cambridge (at which the justices of The Bahamas Supreme Court were in attendance), saying the following: "International financial centers must not misunderstand this blacklisting initiative by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is not new. This has nothing to do with financial services. What we are witnessing is the first stages of the economic philosophy of the future. In this new game, large nations, which have been responsible for every global crisis will use every means to pressure smaller nations into bogus initiatives masquerading as 'international standards'. The danger for Caribbean financial services jurisdictions is that we have been in this business, without the slightest understanding of our role in the global financial system. When taken together with our tendency to value and validate foreign initiatives over our own interests, we are likely to capitulate quickly under the notion that capitulation will be taken as compliance. However, it is a tragedy to capitulate under the hope of being compliant, when the objective of those imposing initiatives upon you are intent upon your annihilation".
There is an additional foundational point: The OECD, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) initiatives on "cross border" financial services regulations are utterly unconstitutional. Our government ministers who find themselves as members of these organizations and their subordinate agencies are in breach of our constitution. Our agencies that pass information on account holders with no legitimate probable cause effect a breach of the constitutional rights of those account holders. Let us say, that the "regulations", change in our laws, unconstitutionalities were done in the short term because we had to act to save our financial services sector. The article in Tuesday's Guardian, titled "Bahamas falls in financial center ranking", lays waste to that strategy, such as it is. The Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI), which is put out by the Z/Yen Group stated: "Offshore centers continue to struggle with reputation and regulation".
But how could this be, when for 14 years, the nations the Z/Yen group places at the top of its rankings, which are mostly members of the G-20, have imposed regulation upon initiative and constraint upon constraint - even by means of threat - on small financial centers? And after all these impositions, how could it be that our financial centers continue to fall these rankings, when in the last 14 years, we have pretzelized ourselves by twisting capitulations to every initiative imposed upon us, whilst in that same period those nations whom Y/Yen rank at the top nearly destroyed the global financial system twice though outrageous criminal activity? How can New York rank so high when it was the source of outright larceny and conscious habitual theft, aided by their very agencies that define us as corrupt? How is London ranked so high when, to this day, no one has gone to jail over the LIBOR scandal in which millions of people worldwide were snookered into paying bogus interest rates and suffered loss?
I shall tell you: The Z/Yen Group in their rankings right in the midst of the global financial crisis stated that the "risk to the global financial system was offshore financial centers", this in the teeth of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Royal Bank of Scotland and others. This is rather like saying that the threat to your home is the water twirling at the bottom of your sink, when a category five hurricane is twirling outside. The problem is, as I said, we are not financial centers. We are jurisdictions that offer some financial services, and we came into existence by accident and never advanced beyond that. And so, regrettably, as I advised so long ago, drunk on our own Kool-Aid, we continue to fall in these rankings, because they were not designed for us. It was designed in the interests of larger nations using their position and power to redefine us to the world, even as we break our necks to conform to their unconstitutional demands. However, had we, as I also advised, formed amongst ourselves, an international financial centers organization, registered as an international body with the United Nations, we would have had by now a true rankings system, in which at least our own reasons and reasonings would have projected and demanded a resonance in the world.

read more »

Slow improvement, but growth overall in tourism

October 08, 2014

The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) is cautious, but believes, overall, the islands of The Bahamas show a slow improvement in key tourism indicators.
Figures from the Ministry of Tourism show an overall increase in air and sea arrivals to The Bahamas up to June 2014.
Grand Bahama air arrivals were particularly strong across the period, up 31.7 percent from last year over the same time.
The BHTA noted stronger performance of the Family Islands of The Bahamas over the 2013 performance in both air arrivals and stopover arrivals by more than 10 percent.
According to Suzanne Pattusch, BHTA executive vice president, and Stuart Bowe, BHTA president, the rise in numbers can be attributed to growth in "key markets", including Europe, Latin America and North America.
The executives credited Canada with being one of this year's significant drivers of "stopover business" to the Bahamian Family Islands.
In the Nassau/Paradise Island properties, hotel occupancies and average daily room rates showed an overall increase year-to-date, with steady increases for the period of April to August 2014. August 2014 had the best month's performance since 2007.

read more »

Fidelity Bank donates 13K to Ranfurly

October 08, 2014

When the Ranfurly Homes for Children made the appeal for financial assistance, Fidelity Bank and its employees sprang into action. Together, they raised $13,905 from employee contributions and matching funds from the company, to assist in supporting the home's monthly operational costs.
The Ranfurly Home has served thousands of orphaned, abused, neglected and abandoned children since its beginnings in 1956. The home currently houses 28 residents between the ages of 11 to 18, and is equipped with three dormitories, a study room, living room, a computer and library center and a kitchen and dining facility. Apart from providing housing, the Ranfurly Home provides a structured, secure and stable environment for children to grow up in.
The home is constantly evolving to ensure that no child is left behind. One of its future projects is a transitional home for children upon their arrival into adulthood. This transitional home is proposed to resemble an apartment complex with each unit complete with a stove, refrigerator and bathroom and kitchen fixtures, offering independent housing to the young men and women transitioning out of Ranfurly.
Providing these services to disenfranchised young people in the community is no small feat, as the costs to manage the home are great. "The annual operating costs are nearly $500,000," said L. Alexander Roberts, the home's caretaker. Since Ranfurly is a non-profit organization, it relies heavily upon public donations both financial and volunteer, and other private and government subsidies to meet its budgetary obligations.

read more »

Sandals Royal Bahamian graduates 20 people from its Hospitality Training Programme

October 07, 2014

Sandals Royal Bahamian recently prepared 20 individuals to enter the world of Hospitality after they successfully completed the resortís Hospitality Training Programme (HTP)...

read more »

Baha Mar Sponsors Bahamas Rake N Scrape Company
Baha Mar Sponsors Bahamas Rake N Scrape Company

October 07, 2014

Students Set To Perform At United Nations in New York. The Bahamas Rake N Scrape Company Poses Outside the United States Departures Terminal Before Jetting Off to New York City...

read more »