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News Article

September 21, 2012
Remarks by Attorney General at Crisis Center Peace Conference

Nassau, Bahamas -  Enclosed is Remarks by Attorney General at the Crisis Center Peace Conference
at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort, Cable Beach, Nassau on 20th Sept

When I think about
peace, I think of that popular song, "Let there be peace on earth and let it
begin with me, let there be peace on earth the way that it was meant to be, with
God as our father, brothers all are we, let me walk with my brother in perfect
harmony". That is exactly your theme, Peace at Home (let it begin with
me) and let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony (peace in our
community). Sy Miller and Jill Jackson were a husband and wife songwriting team. In
1955 they wrote this song about their dream of peace for the world and how they
believed each one of us could help create it

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News Article

September 02, 2010
'Shirking responsibilities': Chamber chief criticises government on Baha Mar


Tribune Business Editor

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce's president yesterday accused the Government of "shirking their responsibilities" over Baha Mar's proposed $2.6 billion Cable Beach redevelopment, telling Tribune Business that rather than move "full steam" on approving and supporting the project, the Bahamas was "weighting it in the direction of failure".

Pointing out that the Baha Mar project was effectively the only foreign direct investment project on the table with the potential to lift the Bahamian economy from recession, Khaalis Rolle said that by being cautious and slow in starting its approvals process, the Government was creatin ...

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News Article

August 17, 2011
Dengue fears driving insect repellant sales

The outbreak of dengue fever in New Providence is driving the sale of the popular insect repellant OFF!.
One consumer said in an interview that she went to two stores before being able to get the item.
"I went to the smaller stores in the Carmichael area - the Chinese stores," Margaret Beneby said.
"They were both out.  Their stocks were not probably major to begin with, but I was told that OFF! was their biggest seller."
Justina Adderley had a similar experience.
"I went to Supervalue in Cable Beach last week looking for OFF! because my mom is going to Harbour Island and we asked the worker and he said they were out," she said.
That store has since replenished it's stock, according to a representative.
Nikki Simmons, marketing manager at City Market, told The Nassau Guardian that OFF! is also moving off their shelves quickly.
Simmons said sales picked up over the last three weeks.  Sales increased further, she added, following a press conference held at the Ministry of Health last week when Dr. Hubert Minnis revealed a growth in the number of reported dengue fever cases.
Simmons said City Market is in the process of ordering additional shipments of OFF!.
"We're being as proactive as we can," she said.
Additionally, the chain has been giving out informational flyers to its customers, Simmons said.
Last week, health officials reported that there were more than 1,500 recorded cases of dengue fever in New Providence.
However, that number likely has grown significantly, as scores of people continue to flock to public and private health care facilties with symptoms of the virus.  Symptoms include fever, headache, eye pain and joint pain.
The large number of cases this year has burdened the public health care system.
The government has urged citizens to ensure there is no standing water in their yards in order to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for spreading the virus.
Over the past week there have been an average of 100 reported cases per day of dengue fever, according to estimates from the Ministry of Health.

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News Article

August 25, 2011
Hurricane warnings still active as Irene assaults Abaco

6.18pm - Initial reports out of Eleuthera indicate the damage caused by Irene was significant, but not as bad as expected, however the islands are still being battered by hard wind and rain.
Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder, who's father Marvin Pinder is from Spanish Wells, said he understands a fibre-optic cable has been severed in North Eleuthera cutting off all communications in the area.
However second hand reports out of Harbour Island indicated there was no major damage except for trees and shrubs, beach erosion and destruction of beach huts.
In Spanish Wells shingles have been ripped off roofs and trees are down, but residents said they have fared better than expected.
Mr Pinder said hi ...

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News Article
Air tax hitting Bahamas tourism
May 11, 2010
Air tax hitting Bahamas tourism

Travel experts assert the best way for The Bahamas and the Caribbean to combat challenges like the recent U.K. air tax hike is for regional countries to band together with initiatives promoting inter-country travel.

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News Article

August 23, 2012
Man accused of home invasion charged with another robbery

A man accused of a home-invasion robbery in 2010 is back in prison charged with another hold-up.
Prosecutors allege that 56-year-old Jeffrey Wilson, and Laron Grant, 19, robbed a Chinese couple at gunpoint of a deposit bag containing $12,500 outside the Cable Beach branch of Scotiabank on August 20.
Wilson, whose street name is 'Capone', was on bail in connection to the robbery of a family at Coral Harbour in February 2010.
Wilson, of Thurston's Close, Oakes Field, and Grant, of Malcolm Road, are accused of making off with the money that belonged to a Chinese restaurant.
The men are also accused of robbing another person of a purse that contained Chinese currency, $500 cash, a bank card and a driver's license.
Police allege the men fled the scene in a white Honda Accord. The car, a white 2008 Honda Accord, belongs to Donell Ferguson.
Wilson and Grant are accused of stealing the vehicle, which was recovered following their arrest, on August 16.
The men were not required to plead to the armed robbery charges, but they denied the car theft allegation at an arraignment before Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez yesterday.
They have been remanded to prison.

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News Article

November 25, 2010
Bahamas Business Outlook to Celebrate 20 years

Nassau, Bahamas - The Bahamas - Marking
its 20th anniversary, Bahamas Business Outlook (BB0) is scheduled to
take place January 13, 2011 at the Wyndham Nassau Resort, Cable Beach.

was in 1992 that The Counsellors Ltd, (TCL) developers and organizers of BBO,
launched the forum, with Ernst & Young, chartered accountants. Widely regarded as the foremost event of
its kind, BBO was created to assemble experts and other knowledgeable informants
from various sectors to present well- considered views and statistics to make
predictions on the economic outlook for the year. The symposium has steadily
grown in popularity to the point where it has been attracting an attendance of
hundreds for some years now...

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News Article

August 11, 2011
Cable Bahamas fiber optic lines cut

Cable Bahamas customers in western New Providence had their internet and cable television services interrupted for several hours yesterday, after an excavation crew at the Baha Mar site unintentionally cut several fiber optic lines.
Cable Bahamas officials said the incident occurred on the Cable Beach strip around 4 p.m.
The severed line provided service to most neighborhoods west of the Sheraton resort in Cable Beach up to Sea Beach estates.
Delaporte, Sandyport, Westridge and Caves Village were also among the areas where service was lost, according to Cable Bahamas officials.
The company said the lines should have been repaired and service restored, sometime after midnight.

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News Article

October 19, 2012
Nadia Smith named Bahamas Teacher of the Year

Nassau, The Bahamas -- We
believe that teachers are the lamps that light our way along the path
of knowledge, said  Ross Smi

th, Acting Deputy Director of Curriculum in The Ministry
of Education, Science and Technology Oct 13.

Mr. Smith was delivering the speech of Minister of
Education, Science and Technology the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald at the
10th National Teacher of the Year Awards ceremony at the Sheraton Nassau
Beach Resort Hotel, Cable Beach. The theme was Celebrating Outstanding
Educators Rewarding...

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News Article

November 23, 2010
Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham Welcomes RBC Executives

Nassau, Bahamas - Prime
Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham welcomes executives of the Royal
Bank of Canada during a Courtesy Call at the Office of the Prime
Minister, Cable Beach, on Monday, November 22.

Pictured from left to
right are: Ross McDonald, Nathaniel Beneby, Prime Minister Ingraham,
Suresh Sookoo and David Hockett...

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News Article

August 07, 2012
Problems at the new LPIA

Dear Editor,

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

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News Article

August 07, 2012
BEC eyes solar energy plan with China

The chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) says the government will be meeting with the Chinese ambassador to discuss a partnership for the proliferation of solar panels throughout the country
Leslie Miller revealed that talks are also expected to take place with the Chinese developers behind Baha Mar in an effort to reconcile demanding energy needs going forward. The chairman told Guardian Business "we need to get Bahamians involved in solar energy".
"We are looking at a situation where BEC would be able to get credits or receive those panels from China at a very affordable price," Miller explained. "This would enable BEC to sell those panels to the Bahamian people.
"We are hoping this initiative can get underway before the end of the year."
The intentions of the BEC chairman echo some of the bold statements made from the previous administration. Nevertheless, discussions with the Asian superpower could spark a renewed emphasis on green energy and ultimately change how Bahamians think about power.
Miller noted that Bahamians consume more energy, per capita, than any other nation in the region. He said the annual fuel bill of $350 million is a "known fact" and unsustainable for the long term.
Alternative energy continues to be a hot topic among those in the energy sector, with the prevailing belief that The Bahamas' low population, surplus of sunlight and comparatively low energy needs makes it an ideal candidate for the technology.
While duty incentives on solar panels have helped spur interest and resulted in a number of local companies offering the technology, the government has grappled with ways to make the technology more mainstream.
The need for fresh thinking when it comes to energy has never been more important than now.
As many Bahamians struggle to keep the lights on, Miller told Guardian Business that Baha Mar, the $2.6 billion mega project on Cable Beach, has indicated it will likely not be going with alternative energy for its air conditioning needs.
The agreement with U.S.-based Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC) has taken a hit in recent weeks. OTEC had planned to construct a $102.3 million seawater district cooling (SDC) system at Baha Mar that would have reduced its air conditioning bill by up to 90 percent.
However, Guardian Business understands that process has been derailed, partly due to plant's impact on the local environment near Goodman's Bay.
"They indicated they will not be going with that," Miller explained. "They were looking at them providing them with air conditioning and refrigeration. That appears to be on hold."
The chairman revealed that Baha Mar is now looking for BEC to generate an additional 25 mega-watts of power by October 2013, approximately a year before the resort comes fully on stream. "We need to order the new engines almost right away if BEC is going to be ready to serve Baha Mar," he said.
This anticipated demand makes the need for alternative energy, such as solar panels, all the more pressing.
Miller added that the current administration is also pushing forward with natural gas as an alternative to convention fossil fuels. Noting that all BEC engines are enabled for multi-purpose use, the chairman speculated that the country could reduce its fuel costs by up to 30 percent if it made a switch to LNG.
He pointed to the Dominican Republic as a neighbor in the region that is already having LNG shipped to its electricity plant.
Another initiative for the government-run corporation is bringing the Clifton Pier plant up to code.
"We need to get Clifton in a position where it generates 85 percent for New Providence," he explained. "When that takes place, you will see a 25 percent decrease of electricity for all Bahamians. The goal is to put our energy into bringing Clifton back to where it should be, which is the number one generating plant in New Providence."
At president, Miller said Blue Hills is producing the equivalent power or more than Clifton. Blue Hills was always intended to be a back-up power plant, he insisted, but at the moment it is functioning as the primary, causing more inefficiencies.
Clifton also requires significant upgrades to the engines now operating, as many of the machines are up to 30 years old.

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News Article

June 28, 2012
Alerting the public

There has been much discussion this week over an upswing of housebreakings, burglaries and rapes in parts of New Providence. Police have taken at least three people in to custody in connection with the problem, but it is unclear if these individuals are involved and it is also unclear how many people are committing the crimes.
Housebreaking has been a problem in The Bahamas for several years - particularly in New Providence. According to police statistics, there were 3,237 housebreakings in 2011, up three percent from the 3,141 cases of housebreaking in 2010. The 2010 figure, however, was 17.5 percent higher than the 2,673 housebreakings recorded in 2009.
Housebreaking is a serious problem that we have not been able to address. The crime, and its nighttime version burglary, is often accompanied by sexual assaults against women. These assaults are dastardly acts, with females at times being raped in front of other relatives and even their children.
The public feels particularly affected by and invested in these types of crimes. Women are afraid for their safety and men are afraid for the safety of their wives, sisters, daughters and friends.
Police have a policy of rarely mentioning rapes and sexual assaults to the media in their public crime reports. The argument is that they do not want to identity victims by naming the areas where the incidents occurred. If people know a rape happened last night on Malcolm Road, then everyone in the neighborhood who saw the police at a particular residence would know a woman who resides there was raped, so the argument goes.
Yes, police do have a responsibility to protect the identities of victims of sexual assault. However, they also have a responsibility to prevent other sexual assaults from happening by warning the public of disturbing trends when they begin. The current problem with break-ins and sexual assaults was only revealed this week because a reporter pressed a senior police officer on the issue.
Simply put, police should issue general area warnings about sexual assaults and break-ins. Rather than saying three rapes occurred on Skyline Drive, police could say that a problem with rapes has emerged in western New Providence, or in the Cable Beach area, giving those who live there the opportunity to change their habits and be more cautious.
Police always ask for the help of the public in solving crime. We the public now ask police to provide us with the necessary information so that we can protect ourselves.
Police must remember that the information held by the force is held on our behalf. It is not just special power or knowledge for police and senior government officials. Of course, police cannot release every detail of information the force has for obvious reasons. But a general notice to women about sexual assaults when the problem begins certainly should not be too much to ask.

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News Article

July 19, 2012
Defending the FNM's record

In his typical bombastic and inelegant style, the chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in a letter to the editor of The Nassau Guardian of July 3 responded to legitimate criticism from the leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) of the PLP's denial of the severity of the global recession by charging that the FNM administration made it worse.
This deceit was part of the PLP's propaganda when in opposition. Another part of that deceit was the outrageous claim of the billions of dollars of "notional" projects which they had lined up for inward investment prior to their defeat in 2007 and which they claimed the FNM's 'stop, review and cancel' policy had prevented from progressing.
The continued reference to billion-dollar projects that suffered from the alleged 'stop, review and cancel' policy must be a reference to the PLP planned massive land giveaways (as was contemplated at Mayaguana) to various prospectors who had not even secured the funding for some hugely exaggerated projects on which they could not possibly deliver even with the sale of Bahamian land.
But this was the propaganda engaged in at the time and presumably being resurrected by the chairman of the PLP now. The PLP seemed to subscribe to a policy of announcing huge investment deals, highlighting exorbitant sums which they hope will be invested and large numbers of new jobs they hope will result, but not making the terms of the agreements public so that if or when they did not materialize the government's embarrassments might be minimized.
The Free National Movement (FNM) does not go that way; that is why before the end of 2007 the FNM government tabled heads of agreement concluded by the PLP but never tabled in the House of Assembly as follows:
Project/co. name

Date heads of agreement signed
1. Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina

March 23, 2004
2. Rav Bahamas (Bimini Bay)

June 9, 2004
3. Kerzner International
(Supplement to heads)

December 7, 2004
4. Pittstown Landing

April 27, 2005
5. Cape Eleuthera Properties &
Powell Point Properties Ltd.

May 3, 2005
6. Baha Mar Development

April 6, 2005
(Cable Beach)
7. GINN-LA West End

Dec 9, 2005
(Amendment to heads of agreement)

June 8, 2006
8. EGI Ltd.

April 24, 2006
9. Sky Beach Development

April 20, 06
10. RC Rose Island Hotel Co.

February 13, 2006
(Amendment to heads of agreement)

April 12, 2007
11. Crystal Mount (Cat Island)

January 16, 2006
12. Royal Island (off N. Eleuthera)

December 14, 2006
13. Park Ridge Securities (Albany)

November 9, 2006
March 6, 2007 (Amendment)
14. Lignum Vitae Cay Ltd.

April 27, 2007
15. Bonds Cay (Berries)

May 1, 2007
None of these projects were stopped or reviewed by the new FNM government. Instead everything was done to facilitate them moving forward in a timely fashion. The worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression intervened and stopped virtually all of these projects. Those which proceeded - Albany, Baha Mar, Rav Bahamas - did so because of extraordinary efforts by the FNM.
Such efforts and support to others of the projects - notably GINN, Exuma Resorts Developers-Setai/Aman, RC Rose Island and the Harcourt Group in Grand Bahama - could not overcome the fallout for these projects from the recession and very directly the failure of important international financial groups like Lehman Brothers.
The record also shows that by February 2008 the FNM government had concluded and tabled in the House of Assembly three major agreements which had stalled under the first Christie government: those relating to the doubling in the size of the Baha Mar project inclusive of seeking and obtaining parliamentary approval to transfer a portion of the public road (now deviated West Bay Street) and other government-owned land to Baha Mar; the conclusion with the Park Ridge Securities relating to the Albany project and including parliamentary approval for the transfer of portions of south west Bay Street and of portions of South Ocean Boulevard in exchange for a new south west Bay Street now named Frank Watson Boulevard, and the conclusion of a superseding heads of agreement with the Exuma Resorts Developers for the development of a Setai/Aman Resort at Norman's Cay.
Bradley Roberts continues the PLP distortion that the FNM chose to award the New Providence Road and Utility Improvement Project to an international (Argentinian) company excluding presumably able Bahamian companies. He ignores the fact that the bid for this project was put to international tender (as required by the Inter-American Development Bank) by the PLP government. Under that government no reputable international company responded to the bid. The FNM's return to government brought a response from international companies and following a competitive analysis, Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles (JCCC) was awarded the contract.
Roberts also conveniently fails to acknowledge that every Bahamian road paving company was engaged by the FNM government between 2007 and 2012 on other important and significant road and utility upgrade projects - many of which are now ongoing in New Providence (deviated West Bay Street and the connector road to JFK Drive; Bay Street from Nassau Street to Mackey Street, intersection improvements along East Bay Street to the Montagu fishing ramp; Moss Road extension and access roads to the new sports center and all Family Island road projects).
Roberts also seeks to ignore that in each of the five budgets presented to Parliament during the FNM's last administration - 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 - there was a consistent reduction in customs duties and the elimination of duties on a number of products to ease the cost of living on the community, to improve the competitiveness of the tourism product or to provide specific incentives. This happened in each of the five budgets. It is worthy of recalling that the systematic reduction of customs duty rates and the reduction of the number of rates are policies introduced by the first FNM government between 1992 and 1997.
It is acknowledged that in the 2010/2011 budget, in addition to continuing the reduction in customs duties on selective products to ease the cost of living broadly, provision was made for increases in several taxes to ease the financial strain that was having an unfortunate impact on the country's fiscal circumstances. Roberts' claim that the policy was a failure is untrue. The policy produced an increase in revenue over the previous year of $160 million and led directly to a lower deficit.
It is never clear from these critics of that fiscal policy whether they are promoting lower spending or higher deficits. Balancing the trade-off between debt and unemployment in that global recession was probably an issue of such delicacy that it did not likely catch the chairman's fancy.
Roberts has also not been able to make the distinction between debt and spending that creates infrastructure - fixed assets for the country and debt for which no remaining evidence can be found. This is why he has been able to say such critical things about the increase in debt during a devastating global recession in which the opportunity was taken by the FNM to deficit-finance the construction of infrastructure to facilitate the economy's future growth while also easing the strain of unemployment. On the other hand he overlooks, and hopes that the public will not notice, the shame of the huge creation of debt during a period of economic growth with nothing to show for the spending during the period presided over by PLP from mid-2002 to mid-2007. He might consider this is why his party while commanding a majority of seats in the House of Assembly, does not command the support of the majority of registered Bahamian voters.
Roberts and the PLP already are getting a sense of the challenge of economic management in a period of economic adversity. Already they have demonstrated that their understanding of job creation is restricted to finding jobs for their members and supporters even if they can only achieve this by firing Bahamians they met working.
It is also to be noted that notwithstanding that economic circumstances have already begun to improve and the recession has ended, they began their term with the largest deficit in the country's history. No doubt they will seek to blame the previous administration for the size of their deficit, but they understand that they are in charge now, as they are quick to point out, and the choice was theirs to make.
Finally, Roberts objects to the FNM reminding that the PLP has failed to keep its promise and pledge to be ready to govern on day one. He seeks to excuse the failure of the PLP to name new boards including naming new chairmen for the most important public corporations where FNM political appointees resigned their posts at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) and the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas (ZNS) by comparing the PLP record to that of the FNM. The FNM welcomes such comparisons as the superiority of FNM performance in every segment of government can be readily seen. We have a record and we are proud to stand by it.
Roberts will have considerable opportunity to engage in vitriolic bluster in response to legitimate criticism of the PLP's governance and propaganda, particularly since so much of their governance seems to be conducted by public broadcast by way of the usurpation of ZNS news.

o Charles Maynard is the chairman of the Free National Movement.

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News Article

July 17, 2012
Wyndham to close doors for five weeks

The Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino will be closed beginning in September due to low occupancy levels.
Robert Sands, senior vice president of administration and external affairs at Baha Mar, announced that the resort usually experiences significant losses during September and October.
"Occupancy levels at the Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino have been pretty challenged most of the time, because of the major construction and demolition of the two towers taking place. It's also the slowest time of the year," according to Sands.
He confirmed that this is third time that the resort has undergone a temporary closure and the second time it is offering employees the option of taking an "early retirement and voluntary separation plan". The resort closed its doors temporarily both in 2009 for eight weeks and for six weeks in 2010. The closures impacted more than 1,000 employees.
Now it is being closed for five weeks.
"This is not the first time that this is happening. This is in fact the third time that we are doing this. We have done it once before when the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort was closing," Sands explained.
According to a statement from Baha Mar, all full-time staff members have been offered a one-time, completely voluntary opportunity to end their employment with the establishment and receive an attractive compensation package based on their position and length of employment.
"Actual early retirement and separation dates will vary based on the employee and his or her role and function. The plan is non-discriminatory as to age, gender, position and length of employment, and Cable Beach Resorts maintains the right to accept or reject any individual application to participate," it stated.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe told Guardian Business that he is hoping this won't happen again.
"We do understand the difficulty that the hotel faces, given the fact that you have construction going on just near the towers of the Wyndham. Once it's beyond the stage that it is at now in another three, four months, we believe that we will be in better shape," he shared. "Early next year, we begin the year with several major conferences that will be held at that hotel. We are hoping that they move with haste. The decision made by the company will also allow for employees to consider the future by accepting the package. It's an internal decision that can be made by the employees or they can remain at the property. We are hoping that this five-week closure goes by very quickly and we are hoping that construction remains on schedule."
The temporary closure takes effect from September 4 to October 17. Those employees interested in accepting the early retirement and voluntary separation plan will have a four-week window in which to accept it.
Sands said once the resort is re-opened, an assessment will be made as to how much was saved during the temporary closure.

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News Article

July 16, 2012
Atlantis would welcome locals in casino

While the government is not currently considering whether to change the law that prohibits Bahamians from gambling in local casinos, a senior official at Atlantis Resort said the property would welcome the move if it ever happened.
"Obviously, we will conduct our operations according to the laws of the country that we're in," said George Markantonis, president and managing director of Kerzner International Bahamas.
"We'd be delighted if there was a method to allow locals to participate in games of chance in the casinos, but realize that there are reasons why the rules are in place today.
"So we will wait and see what shows up in a national referendum and what the public debate leads to in the future."
Public debate on gambling heightened in recent weeks after Prime Minister Perry Christie said he intends to call the referendum before the end of the year.
But Christie reiterated last week that casino gambling for Bahamians in The Bahamas is not up for discussion.
"The referendum is about whether or not we have a national lottery, whether or not we legalize the web shop gambling, full stop. It's not about whether Bahamians gamble in casinos," Christie said.

Despite his comment, there continues to be widespread discussion about whether casino gambling should also be up for consideration.
Markantonis, who was contacted by The Nassau Guardian for comment, was asked whether it would be good for Kerzner's business if the restrictions were lifted.
"I think it would be good business for Kerzner, but I also think it is one more amenity for everyone who lives in The Bahamas, one more entertainment option," he said.
"Now you have to balance that with the fact that if it were allowed, the guidelines would have to make sure that they were responsible and that people didn't go and injure their personal incomes.
"So, as I said, we respect what the laws of the country are. We would like to see it spread out a bit more as it's done in other nations and we'll see how it all shakes out."
Robert Sands, senior vice president of administration and external affairs at Baha Mar, told The Nassau Guardian he is an advocate of "limited and not complete relaxation" of regulations prohibiting locals from gambling in casinos.
"I believe that gaming regulations as written today do not put The Bahamas in a very competitive position and require a major overhaul if we are to level the playing field, certainly in The Bahamas, and be competitive with other jurisdictions that exist... in North American and Europe and Asia," he said.
"I am also an advocate for the consideration and review of limited relaxations of Bahamians gambling in casinos."
In 2009, the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) presented a list of recommendations to the government to ease stringent requirements on gaming.
The proposal, however, did not call for the government to make it legal for Bahamians to gamble in local casinos.
The association asked the government to widen the net of people who can gamble legally, including permanent residents and people on short-term work permits.
At the time, Baha Mar CEO Sarkis Izmirlian told The Nassau Guardian that Baha Mar backed the proposal.
"It happens everywhere in The Bahamas," Izmirlian said, referring to gambling. "You might as well legalize it and let the government benefit from those tax revenues."
Asked whether he would welcome Bahamians gambling in his casino, Izmirlian said at the time that he already welcomes Bahamians everywhere on the properties at Cable Beach.
"One thing that we've done, not just in the design of Baha Mar, but in the hotels today, is we've tried to embrace the community," he said.
"I feel that some of the other resorts have turned their backs a little bit on Bahamians and some didn't even use the word Bahamas in their advertising. We're different from that; not only did we embrace the design and culture, but we want Bahamians to come into our resort."
In that 2009 interview, Izmirlian also said there are very few jurisdictions that don't welcome locals in casinos.
He added that gaming in The Bahamas was being hurt by outdated laws that fail to make the jurisdiction competitive.
"Our gaming laws in The Bahamas are just not competitive versus other jurisdictions in the U.S. and other places in the world, and we really need urgently to address our gaming regulations here in The Bahamas," he said.
"It's a detailed list of recommendations which we believe should be implemented as soon as possible. We need to be competitive on the types of games we can offer [and] how quickly we can implement new games as they become available on the market. And we also need to realize that there are certain residents here, whether it's permanent residents or others, who should be allowed to gamble."
Today, hoteliers still make similar statements about the need for the industry to be more competitive.

Hoteliers have long sought more competitive gaming sector

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News Article

June 28, 2012
Prime Minister Christie tells govt officials to express their views

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie told Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Department that they must express their views on how the Ministries and Departments must be directed.He was speaking at the Ministry of Finance Budget 2012/13 Budget Symposium at the Sheraton Cable Beach, Wednesday, June 27, 2012.
The Prime Minister said, "If when we make the final judgment, it flies in the face of your opinion, you would have done your job, because you have too much invested in you, to conform to what you think is politically right. "You are no good to me, none, if you just listen to what I say." He said when a new Government administration comes into power, offices are fixed up for Ministers and they also receive new vehicles, while in sharp contrast the Simpson Penn Centre For Boys and the Willie Mae Pratt Centre For Girls are in desperate need of repairs.
"These contradictions must be challenged by you," the Prime Minister said. "You have an obligation to recognise what is happening in our country, and when the systems that we have, do not allow that to happen, we know they are deficient. Therefore, make recommendations for them to change." He told the senior government officials that they represent an "incredible assembly of brainpower" that must be used for the maximum benefit of the country.

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News Article

June 12, 2012
The glass is always half full

Peter Nicholson has worked in the investment industry since 1987. Peter has specialized in tax reduction and philanthropic tax planning since 1995. He is the president and founder of WCPD Inc., a Canadian-based financial services company. His public foundation, the WCPD Foundation, has helped him and his clients give over $60 million to charities in the last three years. Peter started investing in Exuma in 2004 and has completed several real estate projects, including the recent purchase of 40 percent of Grand Isle Resort & Spa.

Guardian Business: What is the biggest challenge facing your business or sector? What measures need to be taken in The Bahamas to solve it?

Peter: My biggest challenge is attracting potential villa buyers and rental guests for the first time to Great Exuma and my resort, Grand Isle Villas (GIV). When people come once, they tend to return after discovering the gorgeous turquoise water, talcum powder beaches and the quality workmanship of our well-appointed villas. We are not only marketing to North America, Europe and South America, but also to residents of Nassau and Grand Bahama. As exciting as life is in bustling Nassau and Freeport, an escape to our outer island paradise can be relaxing, rejuvenating, and offers a retreat which is unmatched. I really believe once they visit Grand Isle, many will choose to purchase a villa as a close-by getaway offering an excellent return on their investment.
We need to rejuvenate the economy of Great Exuma, and with increased airlift, the support of The Bahamas Tourism Board and newly-elected Prime Minister Christie -- who is favoring the return of the duty exemption on construction materials bound for Exuma -- we will partner together to make Grand Isle Villas (GIV) an important economic catalyst for this beautiful, yet unknown to many, outer island.

GB: How has your business or sector changed since the financial crisis?

Peter: Everyone's business has suffered from the economic downturn. The important thing is to see the opportunities presented during these times, and take full advantage to prepare for the day when some measure of recovery is evident. Ironically, when the first owner of GIV ran into financial challenges, it gave me an opening to purchase 40 percent of the project and make plans to turn it into a world class destination resort. Our efforts are already paying off when GIV was named eighth best luxury resort in the Caribbean by the readers of the influential survey website, Trip Advisor. Finding success in a still uncertain economy means keeping a sense of optimism and an open mind. Change is inevitable and the economy will always have its highs and lows -- knowing how to turn adversity into success is why I enjoy being a business entrepreneur. In my Canadian business, I counsel my clients not to see the glass as half empty, but view it for the potential to be half full. Once recovery comes, it is often too late to get into the game. The most successful business executives are those who put themselves out there and aggressively pursue what is possible.

GB: Briefly, can you describe a life experience that changed how you approach your work today?

Peter: I really did have a life changing experience which brought me to my current involvement in GIV. My friend and business partner, Tyrone Monroe, was born in 1959 on the tiny settlement of Farmers Cay, Exuma. He left there in his early twenties and traveled to Ottawa, Canada to seek a better life and more opportunities. Twenty years later he returned to his home for a family reunion and was amazed to see his tiny community had modernized in many ways. Tyrone realized a computer chip had allowed his home to enter the 21st century with advancements including electricity, desalinated drinking water, high speed Internet and cable television. With that realization, Tyrone also recognized the potential beauty of his seafront village and the surrounding property as a prime real estate opportunity. While he had a vision for the future, Tyrone lacked capital. This is where I came in, and a friend made an introduction between the two of us. Tyrone's enthusiasm convinced me that Exuma presented a rare investment opportunity. He knew the local real estate and totally understood his native culture. The rest, as they say, is history. Tyrone and I have a close professional and personal relationship over the past eight years. I had the capital, and the ability to raise more, giving us the chance to seize opportunities when they arose.

GB: What are you currently reading?

Peter: I am an avid reader, and my tastes can best be described as eclectic. I tend to read multiple books at the same time, as well as Canadian and Bahamian newspapers, which are critical to keep up with political and economic changes. On my current book list is "Island Fever", an autobiography of Charlie Phleuger. A true pioneer, he was Exuma's Peace and Plenty Hotel general manager for thirty years. At the same time, I am also fascinated with the book "Dead Aid" by African born Dambisa Moyo. This PhD in economics has created controversy in the philanthropic world by making the argument that if wealthy Western countries really want to help Africa, they should cut economic aid and instead replace aid with significant investment. The Chinese are doing this already.

GB: Has the high cost of energy hurt your business? What solutions have you initiated or considered to combat it?

Peter: I am always looking for new and innovative techniques to reduce energy costs, whether in my Canadian business or in Great Exuma. The sunny, frequently windy weather in Exuma, coupled with its small 7,000 population makes it an ideal candidate to be an example to the world to have sustainable ways of producing energy. Exuma has a particular challenge because energy is mainly created by diesel generators run by Bahamas Electricity Corporation. Finding techniques and technology to reduce energy costs and introduce new options is a priority for me. I treasure the eco-friendly atmosphere on Exuma. While reducing energy costs and developing new resources is a lofty goal, I am looking for people who have ideas or projects which can help us meet the need. I invite them to share their thoughts and start a conversation with me by e mailing me at

GB: What makes a great boss? What makes a bad boss?

Peter: A great leader is not afraid to listen to their people and encourage their active participation in sharing new ideas. Grand Isle's Board of Directors is a group of inspiring, great bosses. Jon Wright, our board chairman, has a sign in his company which wisely advises, "None of us is as smart as all of us." On the other side of the equation, a bad boss takes all the credit for business success and blames employees for the failure. History shows us that whether a corporate president or a politician, being an inclusive chief executive makes for a good boss.

GB: If you could change one thing concerning business in The Bahamas, what would it be?

Peter: I would certainly like to see The Bahamas surpass other destinations, including the United States of America, as the leader in providing award winning service. The most successful hospitality economies are those who invest in training their service sector employees to see the advantages of providing exceptional guest service. This means being polite, attentive, and understanding that providing excellent service attracts affluent tourists who expect nothing less than the best. Excellent performance as a service provider opens the doors to many career opportunities and advancements. People will not return to The Bahamas if their experience is marred by indifferent service and impolite attitudes. The Caribbean is known for warm hospitality; we must continue to improve our dedication to visitors.

GB: What keeps you grounded? Do you have any major interests other than work?

Peter: My family (including my four children), friends and employees keep me grounded. They know my faults, but appreciate my positive traits. No one is perfect, but I continue to aspire to fix the things that need improvement.

GB: What should young businesses keep in mind in this current economic climate to survive?

Peter: We all encounter tough times. It is not always easy to see the glass half full, but research shows optimists survive tough times better than pessimists. You can take tough times as a disaster, or you can vow to work harder, identify the problems and remember the words I have always liked: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Nothing was ever accomplished by wallowing in misery during tough times. It may be very hard, but at the end of the tough times, opportunity awaits for those who have been prepared.

GB: How would you describe or classify the ease of doing business in The Bahamas?

Peter: Doing business in The Bahamas is a learning experience, which I have honed over the past eight years. Personal relationships with the people and influencers is the best form of networking. With more than 800 islands, logistics and communication can be an issue. I would not be here if I did not believe Grand Isle, Great Exuma and The Bahamas provide a world of opportunity. The scenic splendors of the region, the amazing waters and beaches, and the traditions of centuries make it the place where I am confident it truly is "Better in the Bahamas". I am here to stay!

oI invite interested people to contact me personally at if they would like more information on all Grand Isle Villas has to offer.

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News Article

June 18, 2012
Wishing for a better life: Ailing woman may benefit from govt's help

Rosander Clarke spends almost every hour of her life in a bed in a tiny room of her small Nassau Street home.
She needs help just to sit up and wishes she could do the things normal 37-year-old women do.
Holding her head in her hands as she wept, she said she leaves the house about once every three months and can barely afford the $70 she has to pay someone to transport her to and from Princess Margaret Hospital.

Clarke was diagnosed several years ago with lupus, a disease that affects the immune system. She said she has also been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which has left her left foot permanently twisted and her fingers disfigured.
She said she has dealt with the ailments for the past six years. When she does get out, she uses an old wheel chair her brother brought second hand and had repaired.
Clarke shares her small bed with her 18-year-old daughter. The only other bed in the house is even smaller. It is the first thing anyone sees when they walk through the door to enter the home. It's where Clarke's mother sleeps.
There's not much else that makes up the home -- a tiny kitchen and a small desk are the only other things visible.
Although her 59-year-old mother has a job as a janitress, Clarke said they barely survive. Clarke said her daughter never finished school because she dropped out to take care of her.
The young woman (Clarke's daughter) stared into the distance as she told The Nassau Guardian she gave up on her dreams a long time ago.
"If feel like I robbed my child of an education," said Clarke as she wept.
She said Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell visited her recently.
As part of the Urban Renewal Programme, Bell has been helping to identify structures in inner city communities to repair or tear down.
Clarke said she is unsure what help the family may get from the government or anyone else.
In contributing to the budget debate last week, Prime Minister Perry Christie said a portion of the $15 million specially set aside in the new budget will be used to assist the neediest Bahamians.
He advised that the relevant ministers will be involved in helping identify these people.
When contacted by The Nassau Guardian yesterday, Bell said he has been back to the home since The Guardian's visit on Friday and the government will see what it can do to help the women.
Bell said he is looking into getting the house repaired, but if a contractor determines it is too far gone for repairs he would have a proposal drawn up and submitted to the Ministry of Housing to determine whether any other assistance can be provided.
Madline Demeritte, Clarke's mother, said any assistance would be welcomed.
"There's nothing I can do. I'm trying, I'm struggling, I'm dong my best," said Demeritte, her voice cracking.
"I pray God that it will be a better life for us because she was sick so long. There's nothing I can do but keep praying to God that she will get well. I have to do everything for her. I have to go every where to get everything for her."
Lying in her small bed, Clarke -- who said she gained most of her weight from medication -- told The Nassau Guardian there is much she wishes she could do and see, like the simple things many people take for granted.
She said she has not yet seen the new Cable Beach strip but she heard it's amazing.
While returning from a visit to the doctor, she said she recently saw the new library of The College of The Bahamas -- a stone's throw away from where she lives -- and thought it was "beautiful".
"If I could go back and turn the hands of time, as they say, I would try to make everything right," Clarke said.

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News Article

January 23, 2013
Bahamian security experts from throughout the Bahamas participate in US government-funded aviation security training

NASSAU, Bahamas -- On Monday, January 21, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires John Dinkelman and the Minister of State for Transport and Aviation Hope Strachan attended the opening of a five-day aviation security course held at the Super Clubs Breezes Resort on Cable Beach.
The training was organized by the Organization of American States Secretariat of the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CITCE) with funding provided by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. 
The seminar will provide airport security officials with the opportunity to assess and review security procedures that are designed to deter, detect and prevent the introduction of illegal contraband on board an aircraft or into the secure area of an airport.
The course includes aviation security officials from New Providence, Andros, Exuma, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Abaco, Bimini and the Berry Islands, Inagua, Grand Bahama, Long Island and San Salvador who already serve as instructors of aviation security courses within their respective airports. They will be taught the highest standard of the screening techniques course as how to deliver this course to individuals working in airports throughout The Bahamas.
In his remarks, Chargé Dinkelman noted that with more than four million American tourists visiting The Bahamas annually, aviation security is a key area of interest for both the U.S. and The Bahamas.

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