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Senior FN Reporter
Now that the Supreme Court has dismissed the judicial action against the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's multi-million dollar Wilson City power plant, the corporation's chairman Michael Moss said yesterday work on the project is moving full steam ahead.
"We are elated with the ruling that has been handed down,"he toldThe Nassau Guardian.
"In terms of the way forward, we are continuing with the work at Wilson City and we are hoping to have a formal takeover of the power plant certainly by not later than mid to late November."
Responsible Development for Abaco(RDA)filed a suit in Grand Bahama against the prime minister, ...
Policy changes at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation have enabled BEC to reduce customers' bills, Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said yesterday.
During a press conference at BEC's headquarters, Miller said the corporation was able to cut overtime pay last year by 35 percent or $4.2 million, over the year before.
He said BEC has cut overtime pay by a further $2.2 million for the year so far, and projects it will reduce overtime pay in the next quarter by a "substantial margin".
Miller said "double-dipping" -- the practice of employees receiving 100 percent of their salaries and national insurance pay when sick -- has been discontinued.
As a result, he said, the corporation will save $1.8 million this year.
He said those savings resulted in significantly reduced maintenance and operational costs.
"Your maintenance and operational costs, we have decreased those by 24 percent and you have now seen a reduction in your fuel surcharge of 24 percent for 2014 versus 2013," Miller said.
"We are getting there, but we have a long way to go because there is still a lot of wastage in BEC that we need to deal with."
Miller said limiting overtime pay of employees on the Family Islands, namely in Abaco, Eleuthera and Bimini, remains a challenge.
"But we are doing our best," he said.
"We just ask the public that you work with us, bear with us a little longer, and we are going to do the best we can."
Miller also announced that the corporation's electricity assistance program, which was scheduled to end this month after a previous extension, could continue indefinitely.
"The minister has told us he wants every light on in this country, the Honorable Philip Brave Davis," he said.
"And we have done everything possible to do so even when management raises hell and says, 'Listen we are not getting in enough funds to enable us to pay our bills.
"And we still say, if the man pays 20 percent of his bill turn him on."
According to Miller, there are around 4,700 residential customers without power.
Asked when the program will be discontinued, Miller said, "I guess until we have all 5,000 of them on, so as long as it takes."
He was unable to say how many people signed onto the program since it was implemented June 2013.
At the time, Miller estimated there were around 7,000 delinquent residential customers without power.
Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Charles Maynard spent the last few minutes of his life on a phone call with his wife talking about their children and taking a vacation together.
Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour Marina in The Bahamas has announced the appointment of Brent Ingraham as the director of sales and marketing.
A veteran of the hospitality industry, Ingraham brings with him over 20 years of experience and a history of proven success, said the company.
In his new role he will be responsible for developing and implementing initiatives that seek to increase overall sales and create strong marketing campaigns for the resort's group, leisure and marina offerings.
"Brent's strong sales and marketing background combined with his in-depth knowledge of hotel operations will be a great asset to Abaco Beach Resort and our guests," said Manny Alexiou, owner of Abaco Beach Resort.
"As a former resident of The Bahamas, Brent deeply understands not only this market but also what makes it a unique destination."
Ingraham most recently served as the business development and marketing consultant for the Beck Group in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to his role there he held positions as the marketing and sales operations consultant for M&M Quality Solutions. During his tenure in The Bahamas Ingraham served as vice president of sales and business development for Old Bahama Bay Resort and Marina, director of catering and convention services at Westin and Sheraton Our Lucaya Resort, regional director of sales and marketing at Royal Oasis Golf Resort and Casino and general manager at Holiday Inn Junkanoo Beach Hotel.
Ingraham holds a bachelor's degree from Hampton University and earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of Miami.
Over a period of less than two years there have been four different individuals at the top rung of the Bahamas Cricket Association’s (BCA) executive ladder.
Greg Taylor ran afoul of a solid faction in the BCA. Despite some positive steps taken by the BCA during his tenure, he became quite unpopular. Former president Sidney Deveaux stood in the breach and in the aftermath became the chief again.
Amid infighting inclusive of court action, Deveaux, although very dedicated, moved aside due to intense pressure that kept mounting within the cricket ranks. In stepped interim president Ivan ‘Abaco’ James. The cricket climate did not change for the better.
Instead, according to ma ...
Only six male teams are competing in the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) National Round Robin tournament, currently going on in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
This is the first year no female squads are participating in the annual tournament. President Charles Rubins apologized for not having female teams at the national event which crowns the top team with the Commonwealth title.
"There were some problems in Nassau," he said. "The girls were not able to come so we implemented a second division to fill the void. I am a little disappointed that we don't have them here. We really want to see the growth with that so I must take the blame on some of that. I didn't open it up like I did last year where we had teams play in exhibition games, which the crowd really enjoyed.
"It is about time Grand Bahama see the caliber of players that we have in Nassau, especially on the female's side. I am really disappointed in that and I will take the blame for that."
The four teams playing in Division I are New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and Bimini. Grand Bahama and Andros are in the two divisions. So far, Grand Bahama B has picked up a win over Andros B, 96-50. Top scorers in that game were Antoine Bevans and Deondre Jones with 16 points each, and Keno Russell chipped in with 14 points.
Leading the way for Andros was Calsey Fowler with 12 points, Richard Miller added 11 points and Gary Gibson 10 points.
Abaco A got past Bimini A 62-38 and New Providence defeated Grand Bahama 62-59.
"Things are going very well," said Rubins. "The fans' participation is great, the games are going good, even though we had one or two blowouts. The only reason why we had blowouts was because some of the teams came in late and most of them weren't ready. I think things will pick up as the tournament continues. I expect a better showing from Bimini and Andros."
Grand Bahama and Bimini will take to the court today at 1 p.m., followed by New Providence and Abaco at 2:30 p.m.
On the July 20 edition of his radio talk show Issues of the Day, Jones Communication Network (JCN) CEO Wendall Jones took grave exception to former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham endorsing Cable News 12.
Ingraham told reporters at a press conference in the House of Assembly that he now watches channel 12 news. He also advised the Bahamian public to do the same. The former prime minister accused the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration of abusing the state-run media (the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, or BCB).
This was the complaint that was levelled against the Pindling administration during its 25-year tenure in high office. Few can look at you with a straight face and deny that ZNS was the unofficial propaganda mouthpiece of the then PLP government. I remember watching those old boring Shakespearian plays on Sunday afternoons back in the eighties. We had no cable TV back then so we had to put up with the foolishness ZNS rammed down our throats. It was ZNS or nothing.
There were talk shows back then on ZNS TV 13, but they were ferociously partisan and boring. On more than one occasion, a ZNS news reader would leave the world of journalism and enter into frontline politics.
I can think of at least two who ran for the PLP. To be fair, though, I know of one former ZNS newscaster who ran for the FNM (Mike Smith in South Beach). Still, as a young man growing up in the turbulent eighties, I thought that the PLP literally owned ZNS. It never dawned on me that the state-run media was fully subsidized by the taxpayers of this country.
Nobody had the temerity to call a spade a spade while on the air. And if anyone did so, he would have been fired either that day or the next. And when that happened, you had nowhere to go. Open dissent was simply not tolerated at ZNS. Today, however, if ZNS fires a newscaster for openly disagreeing with the incumbent government, he can go to one of the many privately-owned media houses that are in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and even Exuma, I think. For example, the BCB fired Chrissy Love from Immediate Response. But she was soon afterwards hired by Guardian Radio. In the eighties, a fired ZNS newscaster would either move to another country in order to find work in his field or change profession.
Bahamians should thank God that Hubert Ingraham opened up the airwaves. Now, the Bahamian people don't have to put up with ZNS TV's subpar programs like they used to before August 1992. We can now watch Cable News 12.
For some reason or another, Ingraham said that ZNS has been turned into a propaganda station by the PLP government. I am not in the position to say if the former FNM leader is accurate or not with his latest accusation against the Christie administration, because I don't watch ZNS TV News. Its news production, in my opinion, is not up to 21st century standards. Cable News 12 just started broadcasting TV news either two or three years ago, yet it has left the dinosaurian ZNS TV News in the dust.
ZNS TV News has been around since the late seventies. It continues to frustrate me that the government of The Bahamas pumps millions of dollars annually into a corporation that no longer has any justifiable reason for continued existence. ZNS TV is anachronistic and hopelessly irrelevant. Seeing that it has been in existence for so many decades, how is it even remotely possible that ZNS cannot stand on its own two legs? Like the Bahamas Electricity Corporation and the Water and Sewerage Corporation, the BCB is a financial albatross around the collective necks of the Bahamian people. The taxpayers are not getting their money's worth. Like BTC, ZNS needs to be privatized.
I can understand why Jones was peeved at what Ingraham said in the press conference. His JCN also produces its own TV news. But I believe that Ingraham was only saying what the majority of Bahamians who watch TV news are raving about: Cable News 12 is by far the number one rated TV newscast in The Bahamas. Its quality is second to none. Oftentimes I wonder if its newscasts are produced in the U.S. because of its superb quality and outstanding production. What's more, Cable News 12 gives you more news stories than either ZNS or JCN.
I have heard over and repeatedly from Grand Bahamians that they prefer Cable News 12 to ZNS. Therefore, I am not at all surprised that Ingraham would endorse Cable News 12. Like most Bahamians, he knows good TV programming when he sees it. Rather than chiding Ingraham for his endorsement of Cable News 12, Jones should do what they are doing in order to compete with them in terms of getting high ratings. Maybe then I would start watching JCN TV News.
- Kevin Evans
At least 11 people are dead as a result of a suspected human smuggling operation gone wrong off Abaco a few weeks ago. Authorities fear 10 other passengers, who remain unaccounted form the vessel 'Cosy Time', are dead.
Twenty-eight passengers were reportedly onboard the vessel and seven people survived. The victims are all thought to be of Haitian descent.
National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage has told the House of Assembly that one of the survivors, a man of Bahamian-Haitian descent, said he boarded the boat because his mother insisted he go to the United States on the vessel.
"The gentleman further stated that he believed each person paid a total of $5,000 a head for the journey," Dr. Nottage said.
The Bahamas is a major smuggling zone for people and narcotics to the United States from South America and the Caribbean. However, there are usually no prosecutions for human smuggling for some reason.
Most of the people smuggled here are Haitians and many die trying to escape the poorest country in the hemisphere.
Thus far one person has been charged in connection with the deaths in Abaco. Several others have been taken in to custody for questioning. The man who has been charged is innocent until proven guilty in a court. We make no comment on his guilt or innocence, but we commend the government for this time investigating this matter seriously and seeking to bring before the court those it suspects responsible so that a jury could decide their fates.
One of the ways to slow human smuggling is to aggressively prosecute those involved. When migrants are killed in human smuggling operations those who organized the operations and those who command the vessels are criminally responsible for those deaths. Manslaughter charges should be leveled against smugglers who survive these tragic occurrences.
If we do not get tough with this heinous crime it will continue and more desperate people will lose their lives seeking better lives away from their economically challenged homelands.
The witness told police one of the boat's engines kept cutting off, which slowed it down.
"He reported that the seas were very rough and the vessel began to take on water," Dr. Nottage said.
"The vessel eventually capsized and everyone began to scramble to save their lives. He reported that he did his best to save other persons, but the sea was too rough, so he had to save his own life."
We must not just view this situation as tragic. The Bahamas should use it as an opportunity to change how we deal with human smugglers. They prey on the desperation of poor people.
On July 14 you printed a letter to the editor from a Committed FNM. Is that FNM committed to staying in opposition or committed to the failure of the Free National Movement (FNM) party? They said that the FNM is having difficulty getting a candidate for North Abaco and that Hubert Ingraham should stay on as the representative. First of all, no one kicked Hubert Ingraham out of the House of Assembly or the FNM party. He decided to quit. I recall when he came out of retirement last time, saying they wanted him back and asked him to return. So the committed FNM must have been one of those people who asked him back last time, so I don't expect them to support anyone else but Hubert Ingraham and all of his political operatives.
No one man makes any party. There will be an FNM party after Hubert Ingraham just as it survived after Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, same as there will be a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) after Sir Lynden Pindling and Perry Christie. People need to accept that the organization will survive as long as the remaining people have the same goal. However, if there are more 'committed' FNMs like the one who wrote this article, the party is in deep trouble because they will destroy themselves before the next general election.
Supporters like Kevin Evans and the Committed FNM are trying to resurrect the political careers of the same political rejects the Bahamian people voted out on more than one occasion. Look at the track record of Tommy Turnquest and Dion Foulkes. Not only did voters reject them this time, but they were defeated before. They were not the dream team to lead the FNM into victory then and they are in a worse position to lead the party now. Carl Bethel has been in political exile for a while now. Not only was he defeated in the last election but his own party rejected him as chairman.
The Committed FNM feels that Loretta Butler-Turner is doing well in her role in opposition. At least she is better organized now than when Melanie Griffin was ripping her apart about her own ministry. Loretta Butler-Turner can argue a point to the gates of hell because she is good at being loud and boisterous, but she lacks organization and content. When confronted with the organized ministerial attacks of the then Shadow Minister Melanie Griffin, Loretta Butler-Turner would resort to below the belt personal attacks describing Melanie as uneducated. She may not have attended the best schools as you Mrs. Turner, but she sure did a better job as minister of social services. Many people think that Turner, though an eloquent speaker, lacks focus and is very disorganized. I wonder how Ingraham coped with her style, which is polar opposite to his? That must have been challenging for him.
Dr. Hubert Minnis, whose style is similar to Ingraham's in terms of organization, promptness and focus, will have his hands full with Turner, who will try her best to undermine and displace his leadership. Dr. Minnis has already led a conclave for the wounded FNM party to provide the vision for the organization moving forward. He seems dedicated to bringing more focus and improvements to the party. He seems focused on mentorship and leadership roles for the youth and women in the party, which would be attractive for those joining the party. If he brings the machinery and methodology of the FNM Killarney branch, with its pro-active communication, use of technology and his new style of politics to the FNM party, they will be well positioned to win the next government.
So Committed FNM, that is your leader you are dissing. You should be ashamed of yourself, causing this type of embarrassment to your party. Show you can be really supportive of the new leaders of the FNM. And, would the real committed FNMs stop writing destructive articles that air the dirty laundry and instead turn their attacks on the PLP who is laughing at these articles as we fight among each other.
- Concerned FNM
Comments attributed to the minister of foreign affairs on the conduct of unmanned surveillance over The Bahamas and commented upon in your editorial of June 26 are woefully uninformed and reflect a Cabinet minister seemingly ignorant of his role and responsibilities.
I am especially surprised and disappointed that rather than using this occasion as an education moment The Nassau Guardian used its editorial to feed the irrational xenophobia so often promoted by segments of the present government to obscure their ineptitude and to "whip up" anti-foreign sentiments among our people.
Bilateral anti-criminal and specifically anti-drug and anti-human trafficking initiatives between our government and law-enforcement agencies with those of the United States of America government have a long and respected history. These are joint and or approved surveillance programs and not "spying", which would suggest unauthorized, and hence illegal, surveillance.
Particularly since the 1980s and the introduction of "Hot Pursuit" initiatives which placed Bahamian law enforcement personnel on U.S. Department of Defense and or U.S. Coast Guard vessels and craft to facilitate the interdiction and detention of criminals operating in and through The Bahamas, cooperation between our two countries has been critical to Bahamian anti-criminal initiatives, especially as regards countering the impact of sophisticated trans-national criminal organizations.
Even before that time the U.S. government had established a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) presence in The Bahamas. And the formalization of the Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) anti-drug initiative resulted in the stationing of DEA agents and helicopters in both New Providence and Exuma. Today, millions of dollars are being invested by the U.S. government in constructing improved facilities for joint U.S. and Bahamas defence force operations in Inagua.
And, as you may or may not be aware, The Bahamas government maintains a Bahamian police officer and a customs officer presence in its Miami consulate general and an immigration officer or defence force officer presence in its embassy in Haiti. None of this is done secretly or covertly but rather with the full knowledge of the host governments, although I do not think that these initiatives were the subject of public announcements to the Florida or Haitian public.
It is a matter of public record that The Bahamas served as host to two U.S. government surveillance balloons beginning in the mid-1980s. Indeed when plans to launch a third surveillance balloon was abandoned in the early 1990s because of prohibitive costs, the U.S. undertook, at the request of The Bahamas government, to continue to provide aerial surveillance for joint Bahamian-U.S. counter-criminal initiatives from radars located on the U.S. mainland.
Surveillance technology is not static. Heightened threats to world peace from international criminal cartels and, particularly since September 11, 2001, from terrorist organizations and their client states, have resulted in the development of significantly improved surveillance capabilities by agencies of the United States government. One such capability is the use of unmanned surveillance drone aircraft; an untethered surveillance balloon so to speak. As a partner with the United States and all peace-loving states of the international community, The Bahamas continued to lend assistance to international and bilateral counter-criminal initiatives.
Certainly the minister of foreign affairs and your editorial board would agree that covert anti-criminal initiatives are frequently necessary if governments and law-enforcement agencies are to identify, locate and stop criminal activity detrimental to the public peace and to the general welfare of the people. Similarly, it must be understood by any minister of government that sensitive matters relating to national security and law enforcement are frequently time-sensitive and secret and are not responsibly disclosed to the media and the general public so as to safeguard the lives of dedicated law enforcement personnel.
As I said when asked by your newspaper about the existence of this drone testing exercise over The Bahamas, the government is aware of all bilateral and international anti-criminal exercises taking place in The Bahamas. A review by the minister of his turn-over notes and of his ministry's files would elucidate many things for him as would discussions with his senior advisors. He might also consult with the minister of national security and the prime minister on the matter, as handover notes and ministry files in those portfolios would be similarly informative.
Having served previously in the capacity of minister of foreign affairs (2002-2007), Fred Mitchell would be aware of U.S.-Bahamas bilateral anti-crime fighting initiatives. Simply familiarizing himself with developments over the past five years would bring him up to date on the current status of arrangements. I would have expected that this would have been the first order of business for a new minister.
Further, The Bahamas public service has a permanent establishment for a reason. Those professional and technical advisors in our ministries and in our law enforcement agencies are guardians of continuity. They ensure that governments do not make decisions in isolation or ignorance. The minister should, if he has not done so by now, engage his advisors in a discussion of his portfolio responsibilities.
I take issue with your editorial concern that small countries like The Bahamas need to be jealous of and safeguard their sovereignty and not give sanction to initiatives that we cannot "monitor or control". Let's be reasonable, if we could afford and if we had the capacity to monitor and control sophisticated radar surveillance of the entire Bahamas, we would not need to enter into bilateral arrangements with anyone to facilitate such surveillance. We are indeed fortunate that the U.S. government is interested to make this level of surveillance available in The Bahamas.
We are not so naive as to believe that the U.S. government does this only from the goodness of its heart. Bahamian governments recognize fully the considerable benefit gained by the U.S. government and its law enforcement agencies from the conduct of such exercises in a friendly country. This is in keeping, for example, with the benefits to the U.S. government from being able to operate an important research facility in Andros (AUTEC) which predates even our independence but which was continued by the first independent government of The Bahamas and which has been continued by every subsequent government of The Bahamas. Does The Nassau Guardian wish to suggest that The Bahamas government ought to be monitoring and controlling the U.S. research at AUTEC?
As regards your query as to what the U.S. will tell the minister, the minister does not need to ask the U.S. anything. He must simply inform himself from the records of The Bahamas government. He might then use that information to inform his future discussions with U.S. government representatives going forward. This is the normal conduct of government business and this is how diplomacy works.
Finally, my comments on this matter would be incomplete if I did not remind your editorial board of the significant and important assistance which results from the long-held joint cooperation initiatives between the U.S. and Bahamian governments which are not provided for in the terms of any of our cooperation agreements, but which are routinely called upon by us and provided by the U.S. government and its agencies: that is, U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue missions for missing Bahamian vessels and aircraft; emergency relief assistance to distressed seamen and passengers in Bahamian waters; medical emergency assistance, particularly in our Family Islands during inclement weather, and relief and rescue assistance directly connected to hurricanes. The assistance extended by the U.S. Coast Guard to the victims of the MV Sea Hauler tragic accident on the high seas, and more recently their safe rescue of all passengers and crew from the grounded MV Legacy off the coast of Abaco, are but two vivid reminders of the special relationship we share with the agencies of the United States government.
For all those acts of kindness, Bahamian governments and the Bahamian people are grateful and appreciative to our near neighbor, friend and ally, major trading partner and overwhelming market for our tourism sector.
- O.A.T. (Tommy) Turnquest