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The Ministry of
Finance and the Intersectorial Statistics Day Committee invites the general
public to attend a forum under the theme: "The Bahamas Through The Eyes of
Statistics", to be held on Monday October 15th, 2012 at the Sheraton
Nassau Beach Resort, Cable Beach.
From 9:30 a.m - 12 noon, come and hear speakers from The
Royal Bahamas Police Force, The Department of Information Technology, The
Department of Statistics and The Water & Sewerage Corporation. This event
is held free of charge...
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
"Close to" 100 Bahamian companies have been engaged on $100 million worth of contracts awarded on Baha Mar's $2.6 billion Cable Beach expansion, a senior executive yesterday saying the project was "on target" to achieve its projected economic impacts.
Robert Sands, Baha Mar's senior vice-president for external and governmental affairs, told Tribune Business that some 1,060 Bahamians had been employed on the Baha Mar project to date as Phase One construction moved to a close.
The "first coat of paint" was being placed on the bank and government buildings comprising Baha Mar's Commercial Village, Mr Sands said, with ...
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Each year The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation offers The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award at the Annual Heart Ball. This award has been presented since 1968. The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award was initiated by The Heart Foundation to applaud and give recognition to individuals who have selflessly given of themselves to promote human welfare and dignity, thus making life better for their fellow man.
At the 2012 Heart Ball Ms. Marjorie Davis received The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award. She is known for her work as an educator, and Girl Guides leader. She joined the ranks of noble giants such as Lady Camille Barnett, Mr. Lowell Mortimer, Ms. Mary Profilo and Dr. Donald Gerace. These persons were all chosen from a pool of worthy candidates, to be the winners of this award.
As the deadline for the award fast approaches, interested persons are invited to nominate an individual, to be accompanied by a letter or statement explaining why the person recommended should receive the award. Nominations are to be submitted to:
The Golden Heart Award Committee
P. O. Box N-8189
Nassau, The Bahamas
Alternatively, submissions can be hand delivered to Grosham Property, Cable Beach. This is the office site for The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation.
UNDER the distinguished patronage of Phil and Bridgette Smith, the Roadrunners Track & Field Club held its 11th Annual Presentation and Awards Banquet Saturday at the Wyndham resort, Cable Beach.
The theme of this year's event was "Achievement: Accepting No Limitation - A Pillar of Excellence; An Attitude of Success". Minister of Education Desmond Bannister was the keynote speaker.
The club, headed by coach Dexter Bodie, presented awards to about 100 members for their achievement during the past track and field and academic year.
One of the highlights was the recognition of O'Jay Ferguson, who is presently the fastest male junior athlete in the Bahamas. H ...
Nassau, Bahamas - A book
entitled Inspirational Sayings and stories from A to Z by Dr. Leonard
A. Johnson, president, Bahamas Conference Of Seventh 'day Adventists
was presented to Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham on
Thursday, September 2 at the office of the Prime Minister, Cable Beach.
Pictured from: Prime Minister Ingraham and Dr. Johnson...
Leading Realtor Mario Carey Urges Economic Stimulus Zone Around BahaMar to Jumpstart Business along Bahamian Riviera
Nassau, Bahamas - With
unemployment hovering at the 15% level and a $2.6 billion project underway in
the heart of Nassau, a leading Realtor® has called for the creation of an
economic stimulus zone on Cable Beach.
Mario Carey, founder of Mario Carey
Realty, believes that a commercially zoned four-mile radius along West Bay
Street spinning out from the BahaMar project would unleash entrepreneurial
opportunities, create jobs, increase property values, take pressure off
congestion in other areas and, in his words, "have the potential of
becoming the single biggest economic boost for a variety of small to mid-size
businesses in a concentrated area that we have ever experienced...
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
THE Bahamas Landscape Association's (BLA) co-chair yesterday said it was "wonderful" that the Government seemed to be recognising its certification accomplishments, after his company and others won a $2.2-$2.3 million contract from Baha Mar when a Florida-headquartered bidder withdrew.
The $2.6 billion Cable Beach developer had initially awarded the landscaping contract for the re-routed West Bay Street, and the road running south from the project site, to Austin Outdoor, a move that prompted an outcry from the BLA, which described it as a "slap in the face" to its bid to raise Bahamian industry standards.
However, Robert Sands, ...
By SANCHESKA BROWN
RESIDENTS in western New Providence were without cable and Internet services for most of yesterday after a major fiber optic cable was cut in Cable Beach.
David Burrows, director of marketing at Cable Bahamas, said the interruption in services was due to the cable being cut by Baha Mar workers.
"Baha Mar workers," he said, "accidentally cut the wire while doing their road works. This is the second time this has happened in eight weeks. This cut has caused most of the western areas to be without service. We got the call around 2pm and sent our team out immediately. It will take them about six to eight hours to fix the problem. So the services should be restored ...
A summer of record heat has led to extreme challenges for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) which once again shut down power to thousands of residences and businesses yesterday, as the demand for electricity simply could not be met.BEC blamed yesterday's rolling blackouts - the latest in a series of load shedding exercises - on another failed generator. This was the third generator to go offline this week.The generator has not been properly maintained due to the corporation's strained financial situation, said BEC in a statement. The corporation staggered yesterday's blackouts in two-hour intervals, impacting different areas of New Providence.BEC said between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. it would shut down power to customers in Lyford Cay, Old Fort Bay, Lyford Hills, Charlottesville, Jacaranda, Blake Road, Sea Beach, Caves Village, Sandyport and Soldier Road between Abundant Life Road and Balliou Hill Road.BEC expected to cut electricity supply to customers in Tyler Street, Nassau Street, West Bay Street (between Xavier's Primary School and Vista Marina), Augusta Street, Deans Lane, Meeting Street, Balliou Hill Road South, College Drive, Boyd Road and all side streets between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.BEC expected that between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. it would shut down supply to customers in Westward Villas, the Cable Beach strip, Lake Cunningham subdivision, Skyline Drive, Sanford Drive, Stapledon Gardens, Sea View Drive, West Bay Street, and John F. Kennedy Drive.Between 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. customers in Bamboo Boulevard, Pinewood Gardens, and South Beach were expected to have no electricity."Once again, the corporation apologizes to its customers and will continue to provide updates on the status of its generation challenges," BEC said in its statement.There have been rolling blackouts in New Providence since Monday when two of BEC's generators at its Clifton Pier plant failed.
One of those generators has since been brought back online. BEC said it has identified the problem with the second generator.
"The need for parts and extensive repairs means that the generator may be out of service for several days," said BEC.The corporation said the third failed generator is expected back online today. That generator is also located at the Clifton Pier plant.
"During this time, the corporation will continue to utilize the Generation Assistance Plan (GAP), relying on customers with large capacity standby units [capable of producing more than 1,000 kilowatts] freeing up capacity for other customers," BEC said. "Additionally, BEC is preparing to install the 20 megawatts of rental units. These units are expected to be operable by mid-month."BEC said with the GAP and the installation of the rental units, it would be able to limit the impact of any future generation problem on its customers.
Nassau, The Bahamas - The Government is committed to scouting for potentially great athletes in the country and preparing them for the 2016 Olympics and
other future sporting events, the Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry
Five real estate companies have been selected by Baha Mar to market its 307 elite residences to local and international clients.
Following a workshop with the property firms, the up-and-coming mega resort has officially launched residential sales here in Nassau, with prices starting at $1.5 million. According to multiple property sources, Baha Mar has sold approximately 50 of the residences since executives unveiled the product in June during an exclusive London soiree.
Damianos Sotheby's International Realty, H.G. Christie Ltd., Mario Carey Real Estate, Cross & Mosko Real Estate and Development Company and ERA Dupuch Real Estate will now bring their resources to bear in the sales push.
"It's an exciting product," said George Damianos, president of Damianos Sotheby's International Realty.
"I believe the market will definitely respond. The fact you actually own it and there are no condo fees and user fees is quite attractive, and you also get a chance to get points if you don't want to use it, for other hotels. It offers a good return on your investment."
The top property firm, routinely dealing in multi-million-dollar transactions, is rolling out a specific marketing campaign to reach clients. Damianos said his agents were "inspired and excited" by the workshops put on by Baha Mar last week.
Richard English, vice president of residential sales at Baha Mar, said initial interest has exceeded expectations.
Baha Mar's Senior Vice-president of Administration and External Affairs Robert "Sandy" Sands, said sales thus far have been "all over the map". He reported strong interest from the Middle East, the Far East and the UK in particular. And now that the focus has shifted to local realtors, the mega resort hopes to continue that momentum.
"The Bahamas has a tremendous amount of high-net-worth individuals who come to this jurisdiction. So it's important that the project is represented locally," Sands added.
Damianos said the lion's share of sales will not come from Bahamians, but rather international investors in the region.
The offerings include a $1.5 million junior one-bedroom unit, running up to a $6 million four-bedroom villa on the beach. Executives at the 1,000-acre, $3.5 billion development have launched the Baha Mar Collection to further entice international investors and add value to the residences.
As the owner of the property, investors have the option of using the units all year round, renting, or collecting points towards hotel and vacation experiences around the world.
Partners now working with Baha Mar include the Fairmont in Mecca, the Mandarin in Hong Kong and the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.
During last week's session, local realtors enlisted to sell the elite properties were introduced to a Baha Mar sales iPad app, which allows them to tailor their pitch using the popular technology.
Baha Mar, set to open in 2014, includes 2,200 new rooms within five well-known hotel brands, including Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, Mondrian, a Morgan's Hotel Group property, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and a casino hotel yet to be announced.
The latter is slated to become the largest casino in the Caribbean. A 200,000-square-foot convention center, 200,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space, an eco-water park, 3,000 feet of beach front and an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course round out the list of features and amenities for the Cable Beach resort.
Your editorial "Welcome to chaos" only touches the problems at the new Lynden Pindling International Airport. You give attention to the arrival of baggage and the customs procedure. But you do not mention the very long walk (it seems like a mile) from the gate to the immigration hall, with no travelators? Hardly a welcome to visitors or returning residents, who carry heavy bags as carry-ons.
On reaching the arrival hall a band such as Blind Blake's sometimes plays to keep the tourists and others in a good mood. The immigration officers do their best to process arrivals with a big smile. The delay is sometimes slow when three or four planes arrive at once. Sometimes the baggage never arrives on the same plane, a fact you discover only after waiting hours to locate it. Yet technology is supposed to record every bag on the plane. Cannot this same technology advise passengers when their bag is left to come on a later flight and that the airline will arrange delivery to their hotel?
My experience in the customs area has been that tourist arrivals are given preference, and are processed with only minor inspection. If a long wait is experienced it may be caused by the lack of operating conveyer belts. There should be better signs to direct tourists to tourist only customs officer lines, and better management of Bahamas residents only lines, where one person with excess baggage can hold up the line for half an hour.
If The Bahamas is serious about welcoming our visitors and sending them home with happy memories, there is need for an improved system for both arrival and departure for all travelers. We have a new airport, but unless thought is given to the problems of large numbers arriving at the same time, or leaving at the same time, there will be nothing but complaints. What will happen when the 2500 extra rooms on Cable Beach bring more and more travelers at the same time?
Word soon gets around the traveling public. As the retired population increases and enjoys more vacations, the quick trip to The Bahamas will be off their short list when word gets around of the long waits in arrival and departure halls. Senior citizens won't put up with this and may stay at home or choose other destinations. All the money spent on advertising The Bahamas is soon counteracted by such negative publicity and word of mouth.
There must be a better way to process all travelers including the sick, the elderly, the lame and young children. No preference or consideration is given to those travelers, except that airlines offer wheel chairs and preferential boarding. No preference is given to senior citizens proud enough to join the rest of the public. No seats are made available in the customs hall while you wait to be processed or wait for your luggage. Even the lowly auto parts shops have a ticket system so you know how many people are in front of you, so that if there are many you can return to your car, or spend time looking at other merchandise. As for the lame or elderly, if they all took advantage of the complementary wheel chair services even more chaos would result. And why is there not better information on plane arrivals and departures and delays? Surely this should also be posted in the U.S. customs hall. Once in the U.S. customs hall you are a trapped. There is no way out, no way to get to a toilet, nowhere to sit down, and the wait can be over 90 minutes.
The commercial banks give preference to senior citizens, and big commercial customers, and make no profit from doing so. All LPIA travelers are paying good money to travel, and much of that money goes to the government and the Airport Authority and the U.S. government. You cannot blame the airlines.
If The Bahamas has negotiated for U.S. customs and immigration to pre-clear passengers at a cost paid by the traveler of $20.00 or more per person, they should be required to provide a better service. They know the flight schedules. They know the number of persons to process each hour. Yet they limit the number of officers allocated at peak hours, resulting in waits of two hours from the time the electronic ticket is processed by the airlines, to the time you clear U.S. immigration and customs. If the planes decide to wait for passengers delayed in this queue, this is a cost and a disruption to the airline and the various agencies handling passengers, not to mention the delays in the next flights later in the day.
Much is made of new technology. The requirements of the U.S. to have all travelers listed 24 hours before departure so that they can be pre-processed means they have no excuse. There should be a system to weed out suspected persons needing more scrutiny, so that the honest travelers can avoid these long queues.
Don't blame the system of pre-screening passenger luggage and body searches. This works in a reasonable time, and cannot be accelerated when the U.S. immigration and customs line is already starting well behind the entry to their hall. The patient passengers think they will soon be processed, and then find another hour or more in another queue inside the U.S. hall. It is worse than Disney World at peak times. At least they tell you if the wait is half an hour or two hours and you can choose to go or not on the ride.
Why do travelers need to be at the airport 3 hours before departure, then find that the flight is another 2 hours delayed? Five hours wasted before you get on your flight to the U.S.A., sometimes only 25 minutes in the air before arrival in Miami, for example. Again the technology exists to keep passengers advised. We pay $350.00 for a return trip to Miami, 180 miles. yet only $1200 for a return trip to London of at least 9 hours each way.
- Concerned Bahamian resident and traveler
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
So close are we to the U.S. in terms of geography, history and popular culture that we remain ignorant of the history and culture of China, and often deeply suspicious of its contemporary intentions.
This ignorance and suspicion, studied and reflexive, is often stoked by a similar mindset in the United States.
None of this is to suggest that the People's Republic is singularly a benevolent giant dispensing its largesse and proclaiming friendship simply out of the goodness of its heart. Likewise, with our American friends.
Proximity, historically and geographically, breeds familiarity. Having achieved independence in 1973, the British Empire is a recent memory, and the American superpower is what the name implies. We are rooted in, and deeply influenced by Anglo-American culture.
But today, there is another international player capturing our attention in terms of economics and geopolitics, though only slightly in terms of culture thus far. Even as the British were getting ready to shutter its High Commission, China and The Bahamas were ramping up diplomatic relations.
When the Chinese Embassy near the Montagu foreshore is completed, it will mark the first time that a diplomatic partner has constructed its own embassy in The Bahamas. While the U.S. will clearly maintain an embassy in The Bahamas, the Chinese intention is equally as clear. China is here to stay.
One of the most consequential foreign policy decisions of a sovereign Bahamas was the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1997 during the first administration of Hubert Ingraham and the FNM.
It was not exactly U.S. President Richard Nixon going to China in reference to his 1972 visit to the People's Republic launching a new era of strategic engagement between what are now the world's leading powers. But it was in that vein of realpolitik, yielding significant results over the past 15 years and counting.
Though often cautious and conservative on various foreign policy matters, the launch of relations with China showcased Hubert Ingraham's pragmatism. Given the role the Chinese ruling party plays in its system and the weight afforded certain personal relationships, the Chinese remain mindful of which party established relations.
The PLP and the administration of Sir Lynden Pindling were readying to send former Cabinet Minister Ervin Knowles to Taipei as resident ambassador to Taiwan. That would have been a major foreign policy blunder.
We would have been more isolated, and taken less seriously by various international partners and in various forums. To put it less diplomatically, we would have looked foolish.
Which brings us to today. As China continues to "rise" or "emerge" or some other verb depending on one's strategic calculus, much of the analysis is obscured by all manner of tunnel vision including near-sightedness. Many fail to adequately appreciate China's thousands of years of civilization and its long-term vision.
China is not rising. It is rising again. China is not emerging. It is re-emerging. In 18 of the last 20 centuries, "...China produced a greater share of total world GDP than any Western society. As late as 1820, it produced over 30 percent of world GDP - an amount exceeding the GDP of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States combined."
Yet, there is something different about the China which re-emerged in the latter decades of the 20th century. It is moving past ideological and near-beyond geographic borders to secure its future and ambitions. China intends to secure its global position way beyond the South China Sea.
Many have written of the Chinese and Anglo-American worldviews as captured in the respective games of wei qi (pronounced "way chee") commonly known in the West by its Japanese name go, and chess.
In his latest book, "On China", veteran Chinese watcher and American foreign policy guru Henry Kissinger explores the Western and Sino approaches to international relations and the balance of global power as demonstrated in chess and wei qi. It is worth quoting Dr. Kissinger at length.
Positions of strength
Of wei qi Kissinger writes: "Each player has 180 pieces, or stones, at his disposal, each of equal value with the others. The players take turns placing stones at any point on the board, building up positions of strength while working to encircle and capture the opponent's stones."
Kissinger continues: "Multiple contests take place simultaneously in different regions of the board. The balances of forces shifts incrementally with each move, as the players implement strategic plans and react to each other's initiatives. At the end of a well-played game, the board is filled by partially interlocking areas of strength. The margin of advantage is often slim, and to the untrained eye, the identity of the winner is not always immediately obvious."
The former secretary of state notes of chess: "Chess, on the other hand is always total victory. The purpose of the game is checkmate, to put the opposing king into a position where he cannot move without being destroyed. The vast majority of games end in total victory achieved by attrition or, more rarely, a dramatic, skillful manoeuvre. The only other possible outcome is a draw, meaning the abandonment of hope for victory by both parties."
Kissinger then compares to two game theories: "If chess is about decisive battle wei qi is about the protracted campaign. The chess player aims for total victory. The wei qi player seeks relative advantage. In chess, the player always has the capability of the adversary in front of him; all the pieces are always fully deployed.
"The we qi player needs to access not only the pieces on the board but the reinforcements the adversary is in a position to deploy. Chess teaches the Clausewitzian [Prussian military strategist Carl Phillip von Clausewitz] concepts of center of gravity" and the "decisive point" - the game usually begins as a struggle for the center of the board.
Kissinger notes: "Wei qi teaches the art of strategic encirclement. Where the skillful chess player aims to eliminate his opponent's pieces in a series of head-on clashes, a talented we qi player moves into 'empty' spaces on the board, gradually mitigating the strategic potential of his opponent's pieces. Chess produces single-mindedness; we qi generates strategic flexibility."
In a March 2012 edition, the venerable magazine The Economist reviewed the Chinese presence in the Caribbean, especially in The Bahamas, in an article entitled, "A Chinese beachhead?"
The article concluded: "Yet it is hard to see the Caribbean becoming a Chinese beachhead on America's doorstep - a mirror image of Taiwan. Despite the presence of small ethnic Chinese communities in many islands, the Caribbean continues to look north. China keeps promising a stream of tourists, but few come. Baha Mar will be managed by Hyatt and other American companies."
The article and other observers are missing the point. China may not be looking for one big thing from The Bahamas - such as involvement in the financial services and oil sectors - or in the region.
By moving into many "empty spaces" in the region and around the world, it is gaining various strategic advantages while others are looking for the big Chinese play. The game is more advanced than many realize.
Reportedly, a WikiLeaks cable from the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas queried whether the intense interest of China in The Bahamas had something to do with the ongoing liberalization and opening up of Cuba. If this analysis is meant to be taken seriously, it also misses the point.
The Chinese don't have to come through The Bahamas to get to Cuba. China is already in Cuba. And, it is strategically encircling other powers through economic, political and military influence and alliances, occupying "empty spaces" left open by those who are missing the medium- and longer-term strategy.
For those interested in understanding the multiple threads of Chinese civilization, and its approach to international relations, one may study Mandarin at the new Confucius Institute at The College of The Bahamas as well as study the manner in which China courts allies through gifts large and small, diplomatic visits and flawless hospitality. And, is anybody up to a game of wei qi?
Guardian Business: Can you briefly describe your experience in the tourism sector and what your role is today?
Sonia: I had the privilege of working for the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island from 2002-2005. It was a breakthrough opportunity for me after serving seven years at the Ministry of Works as a design engineer and project manager. In the role at Atlantis I drew on my project management skills, as I had responsibility for executing an annual multi-million dollar capital budget for all the senior vice presidents of the company who were at the time my internal customers. Unlike in the public sector I was given a lot of autonomy to run the projects department. I, of course, closely coordinated with the heads of the facilities division but felt empowered, and I was expected to succeed.
I currently own and operate a full service mechanical and electrical engineering consultancy and, as it turns out, my major project is the Baha Mar Development resort being undertaken on Cable Beach. Graphite Engineering Ltd. has been selected as the Mechanical and Electrical Engineers of Record for this project.
GB: Why did you choose to work in tourism as a career?
Sonia: I did not choose tourism specifically as a career, but as a consequence of what was available in the economy. An opportunity in tourism presented itself and I was pleased to embrace it. Bahamian engineers continue to be under represented in major tourism projects at the level of design and onwards. This will only change if we continue to build capacity and, when given an opportunity, we provide stellar service.
GB: What has been your most memorable moment?
Sonia: My team was given the opportunity to oversee the renovation of the Crown Ballroom. By dollar value it was the largest project given to our department. It was not a technically challenging assignment but we had a very short time frame to deliver the project, and we were able to get it done.
GB: Has the industry changed since you started your career? How?
Sonia: As it specifically refers to the engineering services in hotels, there have been a myriad of changes because the mechanical and electrical systems that support these buildings, keeping them lit and cool, continue to be more sophisticated.
GB: What should The Bahamas focus on to stay competitive?
Sonia: We are currently sitting on an opportunity to aggressively push sustainable tourism and make this a given for any property in The Bahamas. We should require that our hotels in the first instance be high performance buildings, with excellent carbon footprints. We should be reusing, recycling and cutting waste. If we can do this without hurting our cost competitiveness we would set ourselves apart from the pack and demonstrate that we really care about our country.
GB: What advice would you give to a young person who is considering a career in tourism?
Sonia: Do your homework, literally. There a lot of opportunities very high up in the food chain of these resorts that Bahamians can fill. We must accept the fact that a lot of the developers are multi-national companies and it means we may be competing with international persons for jobs at home. This means we need to get international exposure and experience, and be prepared to function at the top of our game.
The new Quality Supermarket on Cable Beach is officially a "winner" and should only gain in popularity with the opening of Baha Mar in late 2014, according to the president of Super Value.
Rupert Roberts revealed that the former City Market, abandoned for months following its previous tenant's demise, is producing sales equivalent to a Super Value location that has been in operation for 20 years. The revamped supermarket, still bearing the name of City Market on the exterior, has fundamentally changed inside.
Residents in the high density neighborhood have responded to the resurrected location and shown up in droves. Roberts felt the reception is only the beginning for this up-and-coming area of western New Providence.
"Baha Mar is coming," he said.
"That end of the island is going to explode. Business is going to flock there, and it'll be a high volume area."
As for the failure of City Market, the top executive said when the economy was good, and the location run by Winn Dixie, the store did very well. City Market coming in and out of the area "really had nothing to do" with the true potential of the spot.
"When Finlayson took it over, it failed. He should have never touched it. When a business hits a slippery slope, it takes real experience in the industry to bring it back," according to Roberts.
With a Super Value just down the road, also in Cable Beach, the president told Guardian Business there is "more than enough room for both stores".
Roberts has decided to keep the City Market sign up on the outside for the forseeable future, as it "denotes location" and sticks in the minds of consumers. While the franchise might not have done well, he insisted that messing with names can sometimes do more harm than good.
"And it will get stronger every day," he added. "I'm not sure the total population knows it's open yet. It takes a long time for information to seep through. Lots of people were away for the summer."
As for the South Beach and Seagrapes locations, also acquired by Roberts during City Market's demise, the president reported that equipment is now on order for these locations, although it is expected to be many months before opening. The company will invest millions in the process.
He said work has already begun, however, on the South Beach location. The company is enlarging the warehouse section, the store room and taking some more space from the landlord to make it more convenient to do business.
In so doing, the company hopes to create more space for high-volume periods, such as Easter, Christmas and when the country is on the cusp of a hurricane.
Commenting that Hurricane Irene, for example, caused unexpected strain on the existing stores, Roberts expressed satisfaction that the expansion to South Beach and general acquisition of the three stores should widen his capacity.
"I always felt guilty not being able to serve the public better during those outstanding periods," he said.
The three new outlets are opening under the Quality Supermarkets banner, the Super Value chief said. The company is expected to gain a 40 percent share of the market once the acquisitions are complete.
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie met with His Excellency The Most Reverend Nicola Girasoli, Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See at the Office of the Prime Minister Cable Beach, Thursday, July 14, 2012.During the meeting, the Prime Minister praised the Catholic Archdiocese for its "defining role" in educating countless Bahamians, as well as for its creation and participation in numerous outreach programmes throughout the country.
Prime Minister Christie said he hopes that the Catholic Archdiocese continues its outstanding contributions to the Bahamian people.Furthermore, he noted that the Catholic Archdiocese and other church denominations would be called upon by the government to play a big part in the revival of the Urban Renewal Programme. Through the programme's rebirth, the government hopes to reduce crime and bring help and hope to individuals who are going through economic and other hardships.
The Prime Minister said progress has already been made so far as the programme gets underway under this new administration.Archbishop Patrick Pinder of the Archdiocese of Nassau, who was also present at the meeting, promised the Prime Minister and the Bahamian people that the Archdiocese would continue its good works in the country. Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Girasoli the new Apostolic Nuncio to the region, and the announcement was made December 21 by Fr Daniele Liessi, Chargé d'Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature.
Ten core businesses are set to open their doors as early as this month in the Old Fort Bay Town Centre, bringing western New Providence's new commercial heart into reality.
Bahamas Design Centre, HIS Fashion, The Gallery at Old Fort Bay, Sat Sound and Benetton are among the first stores now outfitting retail spaces.
A pharmacy, liquor store and travel agency are also poised for business, although the names have yet to be formally announced. In addition, two "bistro-style restaurants" have signed leases with the New Providence Development Company (NPDC) and should start business either this month or in July.
In the end, this summer should see Old Fort become the corporate hub of western New Providence, and indeed provide dozens of employment opportunities for Bahamians.
The first two blocks of retail space at the shopping center also feature office space above, and Jane-Michele-Bethel, sales and marketing manager, believes these will attract more interest once the businesses move in.
"What needs to happen is getting the first phase open and up and running. That will give people the confidence to invest further," she explained.
The 10 core businesses set to open have already invested ahead of the grand opening, however.
Bahamas Design Centre, for example, will feature indoor/outdoor furniture and home accessories, and carry Ralph Lauren Home products. HIS Fashion plans to stock brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Nautica and Kenneth Cole of New York.
Sat Sound, Bethel added, will include sound systems, home theaters and lighting systems, among other products.
"We also have two fantastic restaurants on-site," Bethel told Guardian Business. "We have signed letters of intent, and one is about to do the interior build. These are bistro-style restaurants."
While she couldn't reveal too many specifics, the NPDC executive said the restaurants are unique in nature and locally owned, similar in size and style to Olives on Cable Beach. The fact the restaurants are relatively small, comprising no more than 1,500 square feet, means employment at the restaurants will likely not exceed a dozen. But with so many retail outlets coming online, a number of other jobs should be on the table.
Meanwhile, phase two of the development is approaching completion, including putting the roofs on and starting the landscaping. Phase two will see the rise of two more sister buildings and finish off a strip of commerce, with "Main Street" running between them.
"We are high into phase two, with landscaping around the retail buildings. We're also getting ready to put up the monument signs that will say 'Old Fort Bay Town Centre'," said Marcus Grammatico, vice president of finance at NPDC.
"The stores are looking beautiful. By the look of it, the vendors are taking great pride in it, as we are positioning the town centre as on the whole upscale."
The retail outlets join the already successful Solomon's Fresh Market, which opened last year. AML Foods, the parent company, has reported robust sales in their recent financial statements, as residents in the west have responded to commercial options in this area of the island.
Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday expressed optimism over job creation and ongoing recovery in the national economy as he spoke on the final day of debate on the 2012/2013 budget in the House of Assembly.
Christie said he has been meeting with people with the capacity to add jobs to the economy.
"I'm optimistic, Mr. Speaker, that with hard work we're going to succeed in bringing this country back to where it should be," he said.
"...We feel encouraged about our new position in this country looking forward."
Christie previously said the country needs 43,000 new jobs over the next three to four years to reduce the high unemployment level.
He reported yesterday that he met recently with officials of Brookfield Asset Management, the new owners of Kerzner International, and they expressed a sense of optimism over the property's future.
Christie said that at some stage Brookfield will be doing things to make its product stronger.
He also said he is optimistic with respect to the Baha Mar project at Cable Beach, and added that the government will be involved in marketing both properties to ensure they are able to co-exist.
Christie also announced that the Albany development in southwest New Providence is getting ready to expand.
The prime minister also expressed optimism with respect to Grand Bahama, whose economy the new administration has pledged to place special focus on.
"I'm optimistic that when we look at Grand Bahama and the decisions we made to provide a reduction in the taxes for hotels... those reductions were calculated to signal to hotel owners that the Government of The Bahamas is prepared to work assiduously to ensure that Grand Bahama recovers," Christie said.
In his recent budget communication, the prime minister announced a reduction in the hotel occupancy tax for new hotels in Grand Bahama for 10 years.
Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis said after the budget communication that it is important to note that the cap on real property tax and the reduction in hotel occupancy tax are specifically designed to stimulate the Grand Bahama economy, attract tourists, create jobs and stimulate the construction of new hotels.
"The benefits of course will be more revenue, more jobs and more new business opportunities for Bahamians," Halkitis said.
Christie announced yesterday that the government is reviewing the Ginn development in West Grand Bahama "with a view to seeing how we can in fact cause that to be developed."
Grand Bahama's economy -- which was suffering serious challenges long before the global economic crisis struck in 2008 -- continued to limp along under the Ingraham administration.
Earlier this year, then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham admitted that there were disappointments relative to the Grand Bahama economy since 2007, including the Ginn project going bust and Harcourt failing to redevelop Royal Oasis Hotel.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Christie also indicated that his administration is reviewing a project for Grand Bahama that the Ingraham administration rejected.
"I met before the election with a partner in that development," he said. "I am reviewing as we speak the development that was refused by the former government. It has been reshaped and refashioned. We are having discussions. We will have to see what comes out of it."
The former prime minister announced that his government had no intentions of approving a major project for East Grand Bahama that was being proposed because the government had serious concerns about the proposal.
Christie said yesterday there is a will on the part of the developers and there is a will on the part of the government to get the project off the ground.
He said the country needs a quantum leap in employment.
The latest statistics from the Department of Statistics placed the national unemployment rate at 15.9 percent last fall, up by over two percentage points from 13.7 percent in May 2011.
The unemployment rate in New Providence stood at 15.1 percent, while in Grand Bahama it was estimated to be 21.2 percent.
Referring to Grand Bahama, the prime minister said, "We are well aware of matters that have been brought to the attention... of the former government with respect to the industrial sector and we are reviewing those."
Christie said there is on the horizon the hope of things getting better all around.
"And so, I am optimistic about developments that are taking place around this island (New Providence) and around this country," he said.
Referring to concessions, Christie said the government would ensure that the Bahamian people get the maximum benefits of developments.
He assured his administration will exercise care in the granting of concessions.
PRIME Minister Hubert Ingraham said last night that $400 million in construction work on the Baha Mar project will go to Bahamian contractors, marking what he called the largest sum ever awarded to Bahamians on a project in the Bahamas.
Mr Ingraham spoke before the House of Assembly unanimously (36 with four absent) passed the Baha Mar labour resolution that allows for 8,150 workers, but no more than 5,000 at one time to be employed on the Baha Mar Cable Beach project.
The Prime Minister also noted the concerns expressed by Kerzner International's CEO Sol Kerzner over a breach of the investment agreement signed with Atlantis. "I do not concede that we would be in breach of the deal with K ...