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As a host of retail shops and restaurants sign the dotted line, the 21.5-acre commercial development in western New Providence is expected to generate close to 400 jobs when completed.
The multimillion-dollar Old Fort Bay Town Centre project has now entered the second phase of construction. According to Jane-Michele Bethel, sales and marketing manager at New Providence Development Company Limited (NPDC), all tenants will start interior buildings by the end of September, if not before.
An interior design store, spa, nutritional beverage company and a veterinarian have made commitments, while a sports store, computer shop and two boutiques have reserved spaces.
This second phase already joins an already extensive list of shops now taking up tenancy in phase one.
Bethel provided Guardian Business with no less than 10 establishments either open or in the process of outfitting their stories. Included in the list is the first restaurant at Old Fort Bay Town Centre - Sushi ROKKAN.
"Sushi ROKKAN will have a modern Japanese interior design, approximately 60 seats, including a comfortable sushi bar and outside patio seating. They will serve traditional sushi, sashimi, appetizers, charbroiled grilled meats (Japanese style) and seasonal signature dishes. All to be enjoyed with a huge sake selection," she noted.
The second restaurant to be included in the project's first phase has committed to signing a lease soon, with a planned opening date of November or December. A third restaurant has yet to be selected. Royal Bank of Canada also broke ground on their pad to the west of the Old Fort Bay Town Centre roundabout last week. Its anticipated opening date is set for Spring 2013.
In phase two, Bethel said stores will have 60 days to complete their build-outs, and restaurants have 90 days. As for phase one, Bahamas Design Centre, featuring indoor/outdoor furniture and home accessories, and The Gallery at Old Fort, are both set to open next month. HIS Fashion, stocking brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Nautica and Kenneth Cole of New York, has proposed a September opening date. The Keg Ranch liquor store and Going Places Travel are working on a similar timeline.
Sat Sound and Benetton are two retail spaces that are already open. Your Friendly Pharmacy is set open its doors at a later date.
The entire project, comprising seven one-acre pads, two anchor stores, and just under 60,000 square feet of retail and office commercial space, is expected to employ between 375 and 400 people.
"The degree of investment from the business community is of a very high caliber and we expect to see some spectacularly well designed stores, and a good variety and complementary mix of products and services," Bethel added.
The saying "Every little bit helps" can sometimes ring false when more comprehensive plans for empowering disadvantaged groups of people offer better long-term solutions that scattered donations.
Such is the sentiment behind the Lignum Vitae Center of Hope (LVCH), a nonprofit agency for positive social change in the community through their initiatives for collaboration and education. In order to rally support for the many programs they have their hands in, they will hold a night of beautiful classical music, Strings and Stars on the Harbour.
Featuring gorgeous selections from world renowned classical guitarist Julian Byzantine as well as Adrian D'Aguilar, Kim Welcome and Naomi Taylor, among others, the informal and light-hearted event will be held February 4 at 7:00 p.m. at the stately Lee Shore on the East Bay Street Foreshore.
Strings and Stars on the Harbour will also feature the culinary delights of Citrus Catering and chocolate tasting by "Cocoa Plums" of Freeport.
All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Lignum Vitae Center of Hope so they can continue to help others to help themselves by promoting self-sufficiency and sustainability.
Started in 2010 by 14 founders who had extensive backgrounds in charitable work, LVCH grew out of this sentiment after several of its founders realized a more comprehensive approach was needed in charitable gestures in order to ensure long-term solutions.
"We realized we could always keep handing out but we were enabling people," says Sheila Prichard, a director of LVCH. "We weren't achieving anything and motivating change. So two years ago we thought we needed to come together and find strength in numbers."
"We were perpetuating the problem by enabling them," adds another director, Anne Lever. "Now the whole focus is not giving hand-outs but rather hand-ups."
After spending time on the ground in communities that needed assistance, what many of the center's founding members discovered was not the need for more organizations and nonprofits to help out - indeed, many of them existed for the same causes - but the need to bring them all together in the name of community improvement.
To that end, one of the major projects by LVCH is BahamaVOICE, a directory of charitable organizations in order to promote collaboration and sharing of resources and information. It is only through bringing these groups together through their similar causes, explain the directors, that long-term and significant change can come about.
"What we're hoping to do through our supplement is to bridge these gaps by holding workshops and directing groups to one another who have similar causes," explains Lever. "So instead of us helping a few individuals, we can help groups that help lots of people. We thought we'd inspire or assist what's already there."
In a similar vein, their 4H program brings those together who share the interest of youth development in order to train them in leading workshops and classes to empower young people in the community. This program - which address the four aspects of development: Head, Heart, Hands and Health - has already shown success in various urban renewal centers around New Providence.
"It's all about teaching skills to young people to make good decisions and to be leaders," says Prichard. "But it's not about telling anyone what to do and how to do it."
Indeed the 4H program allows its members to make major decisions for the group such as electing group leaders - among other exercises - in order to provide educational experiences that form positive attitudes and values - something which they may not get anywhere else.
"The parents and grandparents aren't there at home because they're out working and come home exhausted," says Prichard. "The quality time to help children understand the rules of life and the rules of being part of a community; a lot of that isn't happening anymore. So this program teaches them empowerment and responsibility and possibility."
These are only two programs in a slew of already implemented and planned initiatives by the Lignum Vitae Center of Hope to promote positive social change in Bahamian communities - and they have a long way to go. Yet they believes with help by the community, they can get there, and one way to help is by attending their event Strings and Stars on the Harbour.
"We want it to be an enjoyable evening with a focus on something a little different," says Lever. "To date we have gotten ourselves to where we are through the kindness and assistance by the community. We want to invite people to come on the journey with us for positive social change."
By contributing to the event in their ticket sales, guests can be confident that their donations are not only going to one cause, but are in fact through LVCH reaching many other nonprofit organizations for more substantial and sustainable social changes in the community.
"We're all for doing things differently," says Prichard. "We want to give young people opportunities in this country so we see the potential in partnering with social entrepreneurs in the community. If this country is going to move forward successfully, we need to help young people change."
Tickets for Strings and Stars on the Harbour are $100 and are available at Custom Computers locations in Harbour Bay and Cable Beach or by calling 676-9240, 393-2046 or 324-0690. For more information about the Lignum Vitae Center of Hope, find them at Lignum Vitae Bahamas on Facebook or www.LignumVitaeBahamas.org.
Peter Dupuch is the president of ERA. Buying and selling property for more than 20 years, he is a former director of the Bahamas Real Estate Association and holds the elite distinction of Certified International Property Specialist. Peter is also a commercial pilot and once worked for Bahamasair.
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: The two biggest challenges that I have in my business:
1. Maintaining and managing our website and keeping it competitive in the search engines. It's a never-ending effort. I told somebody the other day, "I remember when I used to sell real estate. Now I do websites."
2. The increased government stamp tax. It's prohibitive to investment and commerce and it's unfair to the lowest income sector. Their stamp tax was doubled from 2 percent to 4 percent overnight for property under $25,000. Facts show that it's stifling the real estate market. Moreover, property tax rates are astronomical and modes of valuation seem random and antiquated.
We should be trying to stimulate a lagging economy (especially in the Family Islands) by facilitating the purchase of residential single-family properties. Instead we double the tax rates of those who can least afford it.
GB: How has your business or sector changed since the financial crisis?
Peter: The real estate business was one of the hardest hit by the financial crisis worldwide, but luckily we weren't hit as hard as our colleagues in other parts of the globe. Because our banks lent money more conservatively than abroad, we didn't have a complete real estate collapse. But we suffered because the foreign markets suffered, especially the U.S. market. But I feel blessed. My business has remained strong throughout the years.
GB: Can you describe a life experience that changed how you approach your work today?
Peter: Learning to fly 31 years ago changed my life forever. As a kid I dreamed of flying, but was scared to death of getting in a plane. On my first introductory flight in a little sardine can with wings, I was so scared. I reconciled with myself that I was going to die and I just accepted it. I've never looked back since that day.
I went from a first time pilot to a commercial pilot in seven months and eventually was hired by Bahamasair and flew their B737s. I still fly today and feel as comfortable in a plane as I do on my couch.
Flying has taught me to take calculated risks, set goals, to not be distracted by things I can't control, but to be competent and knowledgeable about the things I can control. It's taught me to concentrate, to prioritize and to take life head on. Learning to fly gave me the confidence to do anything I put my mind to.
GB: What are you currently reading?
Peter: I read a lot. Right now I'm just finishing "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. I read more fiction than non-fiction. But, I like non-fiction that relates to business. One such books I read recently was "Steve Jobs", the biography. He was driven! Was he a good boss? I wouldn't have wanted to work for him. But he was the most successful businessman in history - and against immeasurable odds. He was confident, competent and knew everything about his industry.
GB: Has the high cost of energy hurt your business? What solutions have you initiated or considered to combat it?
Peter: No, the high cost of energy hasn't hurt my business as much as other factors. Luckily we are a small footprint and don't burn a lot of energy. But I'm an impulsive light extinguisher. I'm famous for plunging our lunch room into darkness not realizing that people are eating in there.
GB: What makes a great boss? What makes a bad boss?
Peter: A good boss listens. I am guilty of being hard headed when I feel sure about something, but a good boss cares about his employees and tries to make the workplace a fun, fair, and happy environment. Most of my workmates went to school with me and we are lifelong friends. We're a team. Like family. We talk openly; we argue passionately. We have fun. But we work hard. We work together and we look out for each other. Our weekly sales meetings are loud and emotional but we're always laughing. I'm not saying I'm a good boss, but my team stands beside me.
GB: If you could change one thing concerning business in The Bahamas, what would it be?
Peter: I've never done business anywhere else so I don't have anything to compare it to. But, in my sector, I'd like to see better access to complete and accurate public and historical records through online computerization. Business license, drivers license, property tax records and payments, maps, plot plans, chain of title, national insurance etc. should all be available online. I want to be able to see everything from my desk without having to drive anywhere in my car. To research something in The Bahamas takes a team of people running all over the place sifting through volumes of paper records at multiple government departments. People want information "at the speed of light", as Bill Gates says, but we're still writing out car licenses by hand. Thousands of man-hours wasted standing in line.
GB: What keeps you grounded?
Peter: My wife. Who else? And my children, who are three, five and seven. I feel I have a responsibility to protect them and provide them with the best I can give. That's not easy in the world today. It's a very daunting task. But it keeps me grounded. I need things to keep me grounded though.
GB: Do you have any major interests other than work?
Peter: I love playing music on the piano and guitar. I've recently been teaching myself the drums and bass but I'm not there yet. I don't read music well and that's another of my goals but I'm impatient and always throw the book down and just play from my head. I also enjoy tennis, flying and boating.
GB: What should young businesses keep in mind in this current economic climate to survive?
Peter: Cut unnecessary costs and spend money wisely. Save for the rainy day and be prudent at any outlay of cash. I always ask myself - If we spend this dollar, what will we get back for it and when will we get it back? If I can't answer that question, then I don't spend it.
I probably get 50 emails and requests per day from people trying to sell me something that I don't need. It becomes overwhelming. So you have to pick and choose and be wise in your decisions when it comes to capital outlay.
GB: How would you describe or classify the ease of doing business in The Bahamas?
Peter: Well, I am a Bahamian and I'm used to doing business here. I've lived here all my life. I love it because I know everybody and everybody knows me. In larger countries, you're just a number - another salmon trying to swim upstream. We have our challenges with inefficiency and red tape in The Bahamas but I feel we have more personal and lasting relationships between colleagues. I like walking into a business where I know the owner or manager or employee. We have big city problems here in Nassau but there is still a certain small town feel to doing business. I like that a lot.
The Sew 'N' Sew Quilters Exhibition opens Tuesday, October 8, 6-9 p.m. at Doongalik Studios. For more information, call 394-1886.
An exhibition, featuring new works by Zena Burland, at the "North Winds" property on Orange Hill opens Saturday, October 5, 1-9 p.m. Also featured will be the artwork of Leroy McLean. Refreshments will be served.
The Gallery at Old For Bay presents A Two Day Art Extravaganza on Friday, October 11, 4-6 p.m. and Saturday, October 12, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Featured artists include Amos Ferguson, Anthony 'Big Mo' Morley, Antonius Roberts, James Bethel, Catherine Armstrong, Lisa Quinn, Kevin Cooper, Trevor Tucker, Natty Chenng, Nicola Angelica, Sharon Mould, Ann Morley, Imogene Walkine, Theo Tavoussis and Judith Papillon. For more information, call 242-377-7001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Feel The Rhythm", new works by Nadine Seymour-Munroe, continues at Hillside House on Cumberland Street.
"Shakespeare in Paradise Celebrates five years of Poster Art: 2009-2013" continues at Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts. For more information, visit www.popopstudios.com or shakespeareinparadise.org.
"The Sew 'n' Sew Quilters", an exhibition of quilts, opens Tuesday, October 8, 6-9 p.m. at Doongalik Studios Art Gallery. For more information, call the studio Village Road at 394-1886.
"40 Years of Bahamian Art" continues at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB). For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email email@example.com or call 328-5800/1.
"The Bahamian Collection", photographs by Duke Wells, continues at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB). The opening is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 328-5800/1.
"Master Artists of The Bahamas" continues at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Featured artists are John Beadle, Jackson Burnside, Stan Burnside, John Cox, Amos Ferguson, Kendal Hanna, Brent Malone, Eddie Minnis, Antonius Roberts, Dave Smith and Max Taylor. For more information visit www.nagb.org.bs, email email@example.com or call 328-5800/1.
The 5th annual Shakespeare in Paradise Theatre Festival opened Friday, October 4. This year's signature Shakespearean production is "The Shrew", an adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Taming of The Shrew". The signature Bahamian production is E. Clement Bethel's folk opera, "The Legend of Sammie Swain". Also featured will be "Speak the Speech 2" and "d'bi.young anitafrika: The Sankofa Trilogy" as well as the annual Play Reading Series, a dub poetry and drama workshop and a 5th anniversary art exhibition. The festival runs until Saturday, October 12. Tickets can be purchased from the Dundas Box Office 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday to Saturday, tel: 393-3728. For additional information on Shakespeare in Paradise, visit shakespeareinparadise.org or www.facebook.com/ShakespeareInParadise.
Shakespeare in Paradise will host a dub poetry/drama workshop on the sorplusi method, in conjunction with the "d'bi.young anitafrika: The Sankofa Trilogy" production on Saturday, October 12, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Registration is $50 and $25 for students. For additional information, visit shakespeareinparadise.org or www.facebook.com/ShakespeareInParadise.
The School of English Studies at The College of The Bahamas will host the 32nd annual West Indian Literature Conference, under the theme "Multiple Textualities: Imagining the Caribbean Nation". The West Indian Literature Conference Writing Workshops include "Publishing in Caribbean Studies" with Cathie Brettschneider, "Short Fiction Workshop" with Robert Antoni and "Writing for Film Workshop" with Kareem Mortimer. To reserve a space, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cob.edu.bs/conferences/wilc2013.php.
Gaulin Project Online Writing Workshops will be offered by Helen Klonaris for Fall 2013. "Writing Down a Life: Beginning a Memoir" runs October 11 - November 29. Additionally, "Remembering Ourselves: Healing Our Colonial Legacy", a day-long retreat will run October 12, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. To register, email email@example.com
The Nassau Music Society presents award-winning pianist Ah Ruem Ahn in concert on Saturday, October 5, 7:30 p.m. at St. Andrew's Kirk, and Sunday, October 6, 5:30 p.m. at St. Paul's Church Hall, Lyford Cay. Box offices are now open at Custom Computers, Cable Beach; Logos Bookstore, Harbour Bay, and Chapter One Bookstore, Oakes Field. For more information, visit www.nassaumusicsociety.org.
Islandz, having acquired Downtown Art Tours, offers its Islandz Gallery Hop tours, examining art spaces downtown on Saturdays. Tickets are $20 per person for the two-hour tour. For more information or to book tickets, call 601-7592 or visit Islandz online at www.islandzmarket.com.
Tru Bahamian food tours offers a "Bites of Nassau" food tasting and cultural walking tour to connect people with authentic local food items, stories and traditions behind the food and the Bahamians that prepare and preserve them, through a hands-on, interactive, educational tour and culinary adventure. Tickets are $69 per person, $49 for children under 12. Tours are everyday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., starting at the British Colonial Hilton and ending at Tortuga Rum Cake Company. For more information visit www.trubahamianfoodtours.com.
Call for works
Princess Azamat 'Bo' Guirey invites Bahamian artists and resident artists to submit work to be showcased in Art International 2014, opening March 14 at Guaranty Trust Bank in Lyford Manor, Western Road. For more information and to submit your work, please contact Princess Bo Guirey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The alarm over aragonite is reaching a fever pitch.
A coalition of pastors, union leaders and civil society activists has been making the rounds on talk shows, demanding that the government negotiate higher royalties for aragonite, a unique mineral with a wide range of uses.
At a press conference in Rawson Square last Tuesday, National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas President John Pinder estimated that the government could pocket as much as $300 million per month, or $4.2 billion a year, if it renegotiated the royalties to no less than $350 per metric ton.
The government currently receives $2 per metric ton on aragonite exported from Ocean Cay, just south of Bimini.
The figures quoted by Pinder are significant amounts.
The coalition also says in its fact sheet being circulated that the Bahamian aragonite operation has the potential to be a multi-trillion-dollar industry.
President of Sandy Cay Development Co. Limited Tony Myers, whose company has a 25-year lease from the Bahamas government, said they are selling on average at $12 per metric ton -- far from the $900 figure we keep hearing from the coalition.
At the press conference last week, Pinder was supported by Dwight Smith, chairman of the Police Staff Association; Gregory Archer, president of the Prison Staff Association; members of the Bahamas National Citizens Coalition, and other activists who claim the royalty portion of the agreement between Sandy Cay and the government is up for renewal next month.
We asked Pinder on Friday where the numbers he quoted came from.
While Pinder was the spokesman at the press conference, he told us he did not personally do the research and advised us to speak to Wesley Campbell, who he said is the researcher for the Bahamas National Citizens Coalition.
But a seemingly irritated Campbell refused to speak to National Review yesterday.
He angrily accused us of "deceiving" the coalition's chairman, Rev. Andrew Stewart, by failing to provide him with a copy of the lease between Sandy Cay and the government.
Campbell said the failure of National Review to turn over the lease to the coalition was deceptive because the coalition had previously provided National Review with information as part of its probe into the aragonite issue.
While Campbell refused to speak to us, Stewart did so on Friday night.
We questioned him about the information his group has put into the public domain.
Stewart said the coalition has a research team that has done a lot of work.
We asked him about the coalition's claim in a fact sheet that the lease between Sandy Cay and the government of The Bahamas is "renewable every two years" and was granted by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government.
He insisted this was a fact.
When informed by National Review that the lease was signed under the Ingraham administration and does not speak to renewal every two years, Stewart said this statement by the coalition had been based on an "assumption".
We found this admission simply unbelievable.
Asked whether the coalition leaders have read the lease, Stewart admitted that they had not and asked National Review if he could have a copy.
We then committed to asking our source whether this would be possible.
We believe the coalition was confused by a letter written by Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister David Davis on June 3, 2010 to H. Campbell Cleare III, the attorney for Sandy Cay.
In that letter, Davis advised Sandy Cay that it could recommence its aragonite operation while a new lease was negotiated. Sandy Cay bought the old lease in 2009 from AES Corporation, which operated at Ocean Cay and unsuccessfully sought to get approval from the Bahamas government for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) operation.
The government signed a 25-year lease with Sandy Cay on April 20, 2012.
The lease signed with Sandy Cay provides for "a royalty computed as B$2 per ton for demised mineral exported from The Bahamas encompassing the first five years of the lease, after which the royalty shall be computed as 10 percent of the sales price, with a minimum fee of B$2 per ton up to a maximum fee of B$12 per ton for demised mineral exported from The Bahamas".
The lease was backdated to June 3, 2010 when negotiations began.
After admitting that the coalition is agitating even though it has not read the lease, Stewart said the fact that the lease is not up for renewal adds strength to the coalition's argument.
"It's unthinkable to us that the lease would have been a mere blanket 25-year lease and after over 40 years having been renewed by successive governments periodically, for the government to just give them a 25-year blanket," said Stewart, who also could not prove that the government previously agreed to leases renewable every three years.
The government's former lease for Ocean Cay had no such provision either.
"What our assumption was, not seeing as you have seen the 2012 lease, having only had in our possession the 2010 lease, we assumed that it was renewed somewhere around the anniversary of the 2010 year lease," Stewart explained.
But again, there was no 2010 lease, just a letter written by the government to Sandy Cay allowing the operation to resume while the negotiations for a new lease took place.
Stewart told National Review, "We stand corrected that it is the FNM government and that it is not this government" that negotiated the lease.
He added, "Having discovered that now and having that verified it's a far more horrendous position that the Bahamian people find themselves in than we had ever imagined. Our research department just gave the daily cost on the world market."
Myers, the Sandy Cay president, provided an invoice showing that one of his latest shipments had a cost of $12.50 per metric ton.
Asked whether the coalition has taken into consideration that aragonite has significant add-on value after it is processed by U.S. companies that buy from Ocean Cay, Stewart said, "We recognize that there are layers of costs and pricing, but world market price first cost, our research department has discovered that $900 is a figure."
After further questions from National Review, Stewart also admitted that the coalition never reached out to Sandy Cay to ask questions on what the company is doing or how much it sells aragonite for.
Incredibly, he also admitted that the coalition has not had conversations with the government over a matter it has been making so many demands about.
After it was explained to him that the lease is not up for renewal, Stewart said the government could still act in the interest of the Bahamian people.
"We feel that the government is the influential bargaining agent that can influence or with the stroke of a pen change these arrangements," said Stewart, insisting the coalition has "professional research".
He added, "The Bahamian aragonite is the most sought after aragonite in the world because it is of the highest quality."
Further explaining why the coalition has acted without reading the current lease for aragonite harvesting that exists, Stewart said, "The whole issue with regard to our natural resources has been a private issue in the Office of the Prime Minister.
"Facts are not easy to come by, and for us to have gotten this far, I think we have done a yeoman's job. And in fact, one must remember that we are operating without the Freedom of Information Act.
"Once we have that it wouldn't be like pulling teeth. And so, we have come this far by faith and we trudge on ahead in seeking to inform the Bahamian people."
We agree with Stewart on the need for the long-discussed Freedom of Information Act.
While we see wisdom in discussing the aragonite issue and whether the Bahamian people are getting what they deserve, we abhor discussions fuelled by misinformation, incomplete information and emotions.
This is counter productive to what those leading the cause might be seeking to achieve, and it may create disharmony.
The so-called facts being put in the public domain are fuelling hysteria and a great deal of confusion.
The coalition should be embarrassed that it is making claims in the absence of all the facts.
It is riling the emotions of the public although it has not read the aragonite lease.
It is speaking -- by the admission of its chairman -- based on an "assumption".
This is highly irresponsible.
It has not spoken to the principal of the company harvesting aragonite.
It has not had discussions with the government on this matter.
Union President John Pinder trusted the "research" of the Bahamas National Citizens Coalition.
Pinder said revenue from increased aragonite royalties could be used to pay every Bahamian at least $50,000 within 18 months of adjusting the terms.
He said this could significantly drive down crime and bring prosperity for all Bahamians.
Pinder aligned his good name with what the coalition presented to him, and did so with the backing of both the police and prison staff associations.
We wonder if the coalition knows how easy it is to access the lease it has not seen.
We respectfully urge our fellow citizens to be careful how they accept information without doing their own research.
We have reported the results of our initial research into this matter.
We do not take the side of Sandy Cay, but it is important to give it a voice in this national debate and that is why we contacted its principal, Tony Myers.
It is why we asked him to allow us to see his company's invoices.
Last week, Minister of Environment Kenred Dorsett said successive governments have "not been aggressive" enough when negotiating royalties for aragonite.
He also said the former administration signed off on an aragonite royalty of $2 per metric ton, even though it initially wanted a figure of between $12 and $15.
The minister also suggested the deal is being reviewed.
"We are looking at those issues to make sure the people get what they are entitled to in terms of their fair share of the revenue associated with extracting those natural resources."
Dorsett advised that a Cabinet sub-committee was formed a few months ago to address this matter.
It is clear that the government should play a stronger role in bringing a more temperate approach to this debate.
We make no statement on whether the government is getting fair royalties.
If in fact there is a review taking place, we hope, and we assume that the government is making use of its scientific and technical experts to drive the process.
Clearly, there is also a need for public education on this matter.
The government should make a full and clear statement, as opposed to ambiguous statements not thoroughly considered.
In driving this discussion, all involved should do so responsibly -- the government, the media and civil society.
This matter has reached a point where the spread of misinformation has had a huge impact on many people now demanding the government renegotiate royalties.
In a democracy, agitation is good.
But in the absence of facts, it could be dangerous.
Its outcome can only be positive if it is done responsibly.
Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) executives are seeing a demand for smart phones from their customers and expect the growth in this market to continue
"We have seen quite a lot of our customers purchasing smart phones. It has become quite a phenomenon since there is a such wide variety of smart phones that are available now," according to Alphanique Duncombe, BTC's product manager for wireless.
"We have seen the demand coming from the local market after BTC started to offer a lot more phones because of their design and functionality. Before launching the 4G technology in December, BTC carried of a lot of basic handsets. Now, coupled with advertising and a rise in the U.S. market, we have seen the demand locally.
"People are realizing the importance of mobility and the ability to do several things on your phone. You need to be able to check your emails on the go. Bahamians are really starting to see the need to have a smart phone. You can't live without it."
Duncombe pointed out to Guardian Business that BTC has seen a significant increase in its number of data subscribers as a result of its 4G launch back in December 2012.
"Every month, we see it going up so we expect to see continuous growth. We have LTE coming up, more demand is there because you don't just want to be mobile but you want everything fast," she said.
"You want to be able to have the same experiences you would have sitting in front of the computer. Once we are able to bring that to the customers, there is no need for the computer anymore. Everything is pretty much done on your device."
"Our data subscribers have risen incredibly and it's continuing to rise now."
In fact, Duncombe revealed to Guardian Business that just in the month of December, BTC sold between 15,000 to 20,000 phones, and most of them were smart phones. She believes those figures can give an idea of how great the smart phone "phenomenon" has been for the telecommunications company.
"We'll definitely see an increase in sales because most of our devices, especially the ones that are coming out next quarter, are in fact smart phones. There will be a new range of handsets that are coming out in the next quarter," she added.
"The smart phones are more affordable in comparison to the last year where you would have had to pay $500 plus for a smart phone. Now you're able to get an android device for $99 so customers nowadays are opting to buy smart phones as opposed to a basic phone that can't really do much."
In March, BTC forecasted a 40 percent "uplift" in data traffic this year after registering an 81 percent explosion in the smart phone usage for 2012.
BTC is targeting both the high-end smart phone market and an even more expansive entry-level market.
The result is far more data usage and ultimately higher revenue for BTC.
Donovan Butler, 11, a sixth grade student at Xavier's Lower School was recognized over the weekend as the "best and brightest" student coming out of the primary schools this year. Donovan was chosen over 117 of his peers to walk away with the top prize of a $5,000 scholarship and a computer at the 18th annual Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Awards Program (BPSSYAP).
He was the first student from Xavier's Lower School to claim the prize in the program's 18-year history.
Donovan realized he was being named the "best and brightest" when the winner was described as an individual who had helped his school to win two relays as a member of the track team and when it was announced that the student's principal had written that he was not only a good academic student, but also a well-rounded student.
"I am elated with my performance which caused me to win, and I am going on to SAC (St. Augustine's College) in September where I hope to do well and win more awards," the top primary school student said.
The son of David and Lorrieann Butler has a 3.92 grade point average and has been first in his class for six consecutive years. He has also made the Principal's List for academic excellence annually.
After being declared the program's winner, Donovan, who is also the second place finisher of The Bahamas National Spelling Bee, departed for Washington D.C. and the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He and third place finisher in the Bahamian nationals, Franquel Hagan, from Hugh Campbell Primary School in Grand Bahama, accompanied spelling bee champion Prachi Kondapuram. Donovan placed second in back-to-back nationals.
At Xavier's Lower School, the versatile Donovan, is also a member of the Junior Achievement team, the winning Junior Junkanoo team, recorder ensemble and choir. He has also won his category in the 2013 Commonwealth Writers Poetry Competition.
Donovan also assists with coaching the Grasshoppers team in the T-ball division in the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN) and has been a member of several JBLN national teams.
Lyford Cay International School student Tamsin Nottage was the first runner up in the BPSSYAP. She was awarded a $4,000 scholarship as well as a computer during the ceremony on Saturday at the Golden Gates World Outreach Ministries on Carmichael Road.
Tamsin, who maintains a 4.0 grade point average, has led fundraising drives to assist in the Haiti earthquake relief effort, the Philippine disaster relief as well as Hands for Hunger.
The second through fifth place runners-up were all given $3,000 awards. They were Hope Town Primary School's Bessie Lowe, Sunland Baptist Academy School's Davon Cartwright, Saints Francis and Joseph's Amari Stuart and Man-O-War Cay Primary's Brittany Weatherford. Along with their scholarship awards, Lowe and Cartwright also received computers. Stuart received a tablet phone.
Lowe, who is also a dynamic student, was overwhelmed at finishing in the top three. She plays soccer, swims, sails, does gymnastics and sings in her church's praise band. She placed second in the 2013 Commonwealth Writers Poetry Competition.
Students placing sixth through 15th received $2,000 scholarship awards -- Oakes Field Primary's Jada Culmer, Ulric Ferguson Primary's Iesha Daxon, Amy Roberts Primary's Rayvyn McKinney, Nassau Christian Academy's Sh'ton Pickering, St. Andrew's International School's Reagan Russell, St. Paul's Methodist College's Ciera Sweeting, Uriah McPhee Primary School's Davon Johnson, Kingsway Academy's Kia Basden, Maurice E. Moore Primary School's Justin Bain and Bishop Michael Eldon School's William Moss.
Twelve students were named finalists and awarded $1,500 scholarships -- Simms Primary's Jacob Bailly, Garvin Tynes Primary's Deavon Evans, Lower Deadman's Cay's Isaac Fox, Lucaya International School's Isabella Gouthro, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic's Chavette Harvey, Freeport Primary School's Lakia Johnson, The Meridian School's Reagan MacKenzie, Tarpum Bay Primary's Tiara McKinney, Angels Academy's Ashley Newell, Sandilands Primary's Dylan Russell, St. Frances De Sales Primary's Malia Sweeting and Gerald Cash Primary's Chesternique Thomas.
Thirty-two students were named semi-finalists and awarded $1,000 scholarships -- St. Cecilia's Catholic Primary's Dontae Beneby, Tambearley School's Tanya Bethel, Gateway Christian Academy's Keri Bowleg, Bayview Academy's Leander Braynen, St. Thomas More's Rebecca Bingham, P.A. Gibson Primary's Sierra Farrington, First Step Academy's Jayden Ferguson, Charles W. Saunders' Branee Gardiner, Albury Sayle's Chardonay Garrick, Governor's Harbour Primary's Equola Gibson, Christian Heritage School's Miranda Jack, C.W. Sawyer Primary's Daijah Johnson, Temple Christian School's McKelton Johnson, Walter Parker Primary School's Sellene Johnson, United Estates Primary's Trevon Johnson, Palmdale Primary School's Pooja Krishna, Excelsior Elementary School's Joshia Miller, Queen's College's Riya Miller, St. Anne's Primary's Branae Minnis, Grand Bahama Seventh-day Adventist School's Roganne Moncur, Emma E. Cooper Primary's Kristman Moss, Spanish Wells All Age School's Ariana Pinder, Rock Sound Primary's Johnnecia Pinder, R.N. Gomez All age School's Tonique Richardson, Agape Christian School's Kenedee Romer, Fresh Creek Primary School's D'Ondre Smith, St. Andrew's Anglican School's Kazmyn Smith, Hillcrest Academy's Khearah Storr, Sadie Curtis Primary's Akila Thomas, Orange Creek Primary's Erin Turner, Trinity Christian School's Ryan Wilson Jr. and Bartlett Hill Primary's Lukajane Kellman.
A family island student and a New Providence student, who would have been semi-finalists if the Foundation and Awards Committee had the money to award them with disbursements, were the recipients of computers. They were Centreville Primary School's Khaliyah Miller and Dominion Technical Primary School's Aaron Farrington.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald said the Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation awards ceremony showcases the country's next cadre of shining stars. He believes the awards program is about more than just representing prizes, scholarships and accolades to deserving students - it is about the hope and joy that lies in store for the nation.
"The attributes that qualified you for this award are the same that you will need to earn your diploma with distinction," said Fitzgerald. He told the children that they are already poised to succeed.
Each year a select group of students are nominated to accept one of the most prestigious national recognitions for primary school students in this country. This awards program, which is the premier program for primary school students, is an opportunity to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellent academic achievement, leadership ability, campus and community involvement and good citizenship.
An independent panel of judges reviewed the portfolios of the 118 students nominated to represent their respective schools from throughout the country to determine the winners. Judges selected winners based on the merits of the achievements documented in the students' portfolio, which included transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation and copies of awards.
The awards are a one-time financial scholarship payable to a Bahamian educational institution for secondary school purposes. This year the Bahamas Primary School Foundation awarded over $91,000 in scholarships and prizes.
The competition, established in 1997, was founded to fill a void in recognizing young achievers, because it was felt that major emphasis was being placed on the achievements of high school students.
The program was introduced by Ricardo P. Deveaux, president and chief executive officer of The Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation. Deveaux was impressed with the Florida College Student of the Year Awards Program and felt the need to establish a national awards program in The Bahamas. He was, himself, one of seven finalists in the 1992 Florida College Student of the Year Awards Program; Deveaux had flunked out of a private high school in 1983, and was motivated to provide an opportunity for students who are striving for excellence.
Winner -- Donovan Butler, Xavier's Lower School, New Providence
1st runner-up -- Tamsin Nottage, Lyford Cay International School, New Providence
2nd runner-up -- Bessie Lowe, Hope Town Primary, Abaco
3rd runner-up -- Davon Cartwright, Sunland Baptist Academy, Grand Bahama
4th runner-up -- Amari Stuart, Sts. Francis and Joseph, New Providence
5th runner-up -- Brittany Weatherford, Man-O-War Cay Primary, Abaco
6th runner-up -- Jada Culmer, Oakes Field Primary, New Providence
7th runner-up -- Iesha Daxon, Ulric Ferguson Primary, Crooked Island
8th runner-up -- Rayvyn McKinney, Amy Roberts Primary, Abaco
9th runner-up -- Sh'ton Pickering, Nassau Christian Academy, New Providence
10th runner-up -- Reagan Russell, St. Andrew's International School, New Providence
11th runner-up -- Ciera Sweeting, St. Paul's Methodist College, Grand Bahama
12th runner-up -- Davon Johnson, Uriah McPhee Primary, New Providence
13th runner-up -- Kia Basden, Kingsway Academy
14th runner-up -- Justin Bain, Maurice E. Moore Primary School, Grand Bahama
15th runner-up -- William Moss, Bishop Michael Eldon School, Grand Bahama
Jacob Bailly, Simms Primary, Long Island
Deavon Evans, Garvin Tynes Primary, New Providence
Isaac Fox, Lower Deadman's Cay, Long Island
Isabella Gouthro, Lucaya International School, Grand Bahama
Chavette Harvey, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic, Grand Bahama
Lakia Johson, Freeport Primary School, Grand Bahama
Reagan MacKenzie, The Meridian School, New Providence
Tiara McKinney, Tarpum Bay Primary, Eleuthera
ashley Newell, Angels Academy, Abaco
Dylan Russell, Sandilands Primary, New Providence
Malia Sweeting, St. Frances De Sales Primary Abaco
Chesternique Thomas, Gerald Cash Primary, New Providence
Dontae Beneby, St. Cecilia's Primary, New Providence
Tanya Bethel, Tambearley School, New Providence
Keri Bowleg, Gateway Christian Academy, Bimini
Leander Braynen, Bayview Academy, New Providence
Rebecca Bingham, St. Thomas More Catholic, New Providence
Sierra Farrington, P.A. Gibson Primary, Eleuthera
Jayden Ferguson, First Step Academy, New Providence
Branee Gardiner, Charles W. Saunders, New Providence
Chardonay Garrick, Albury Sayle Primary, New Providence
Equola Gibson, Governor's Harbour Primary, Eleuthera
Miranda Jack, Christian Heritage School, New Providence
Daijah Johnson, C.W. Sawyer Primary, New Providence
McKelton Johnson, Temple Christian School, New Providence
Sellene Johnson, Walter Parker Primary, Grand Bahama
Trevon Johnson, United Estates Primary, San Salvador
Pooja Krishna, Palmdale Primary School, New Providence
Joshia Miller, Excelsior Elementary School, New Providence
Riya Miller, Queen's College, New Providence
Branae Minnis, St. Anne's Primary, New Providence
Roganne Moncur, Grand Bahama SDA School
Kristman Moss, Emma E. Cooper Primary, Eleuthera
Ariana Pinder, Spanish Wells All Age, Eleuthera
Johnnecia Pinder, Rock Sound Primary, Eleuthera
Tonique Richardson, R.N. Gomez All Age, Berry Island
Kenedee Romer, Agape Christian School, Abaco
D'Ondre Smith, Fresh Creek Primary, Andros
Kazmyn Smith, St. Andrew's Anglican School, Exuma
Khearah Storr, Hillcrest Academy, New Providence
Akila Thomas, Sadie Curtis Primary, New Providence
Erin Turner, Orange Creek Primary, Cat Island
Ryan Wilson Jr., Trinity Christian School, New Providence
Lukajane Kellman, Bartlett Primary, Grand Bahama
Khaliyah Miller, Centreville Primary, New Providence
Aaron Farrington, Dominion Technical Primary, Grand Bahama
2013 -- Lauryn Rolle, St. Thomas More Catholic School
2012 -- Nadja Simon, Genesis Academy, New Providence
2011 -- Anna Albury, Hope Town Primary, Abaco
2010 --Jared Fitzgerald, Temple Christian School, New Providence
2009 -- Khes Adderley, Temple Christian School, New Providence
2008 -- James Boyce, Hope Town Primary, Abaco
2007 -- Taran Jay Carey, Tarpum Bay Primary School, Eleuthera
2006 -- George F.D. Zonicle, Bahamas Academy Elementary School, New Providence
2005 -- Shridat Jadoo, Maurice Moore Primary School, Grand Bahama
2004 -- Saul Salonga, Mary Star of The Sea (Catholic) School, Grand Bahama
2003 -- Tenielle Curtis, Sts. Francis and Joseph School, New Providence
2002 -- Zachary Lyons, Queen's College, New Providence
2001 -- Kenny Roberts, Spanish Wells All Age School, Eleuthera
2000 -- Sasha Bain, Walter Parker Primary, Grand Bahama
1999 -- Tiffany Moncur, Carmichael Primary School, New Providence
1998 -- Andrea Moultrie, St. John's College, New Providence
1997 -- Vashti Darling, St. John's College, New Providence
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has taken steps to ensure that the $4.2 million invested in information communication technology (ICT) in public schools throughout the country achieves its objective of equipping students to participate in a globally competitive and technological world. A Tech Round Robin training workshop was held for public and private school teachers recently at the T. G. Glover Primary School on Horseshoe Drive.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald told the 120 teachers that it was critical to have qualified teachers in every school who are able to give the ICT tools purpose as there are still some teachers who were hesitant about using technology in their lessons. He said the Tech Round Robin was necessary to provide exposure and understanding of modern and emerging instructional technology tools.
Another objective of the workshop was to build the confidence and competence of educational leaders and teachers through exposure to technology integration.
"I like using the whiteboard because my teacher can download lessons right on the board and we can participate more," said T.G. Glover sixth grade student Malique Smith.
Some of the benefits the ministry hopes students would derive from the effective integration of technology in schools included them taking greater ownership of their learning; improved academic performance and being more engaged, reenergized and more motivated to learn. It is also anticipated that disruptive behavior, absenteeism, and dropout rates would diminish.
Held under the theme "Understanding How ICT is Transforming Education", the two-day forum was organized by the INSPIRE (Investing in Students and Programmes for the Innovative Reform of Education) Unit of the ministry headed by Dr. Karen St. Cyr and Faye Bascom, the ICT coordinator.
Funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, the project is the largest and most successful technology initiative undertaken to date by the government of The Bahamas.
From August 2012 to December 2013, the INSPIRE project has infused significant technology into 76 primary through secondary public schools and upgraded 100 percent of all junior and high school computer labs along with supporting many specialized areas within the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
James Griffin, principal of Lauderdale Lakes Middle School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, told the educators during the forum to "dream the impossible" if they wanted to advance in the technological world. He spoke to them about his experiences with using ICT to transform schools under his leadership from failing schools to schools where students realized significant improvement in their academics and were motivated to learn.
Griffin said that although he has secured hundreds of thousands of technology equipment for his schools, he learnt that if teachers did not embrace his vision, the investment was futile and prohibitive to change.
He said he overcame the problem by networking with another school that had successfully integrated technology into their curriculum. Through virtual teaching sessions with his institution and the other school, he said the result of the networking was his teachers and students developed a greater appreciation for technology.
Griffin told the Bahamian educators that his initial success with networking with a school in his district led him to explore a similar opportunity with a school in the United Kingdom. And that the arrangement allowed the students in his school in Florida to learn the same lessons the same time as a class in Britain. He said such an arrangement could address The Bahamas' shortage of specialized teachers and even the global limitation of specialist teachers.
"Technology will allow the best pre-calculus teacher, or any other teacher, to teach multiple classes in The Bahamas and around the world. There will be no need for a physical teacher with technology at our disposal," said Griffin.
While the education ministry focused on teacher training, Griffin also recommended that training should include students since they are able to grasp technology faster and without the use of a manual.
The Florida-based principal said it was his desire to be the "modern day Martin Luther King Jr." in education in Florida that drove him to lobby for change in his schools. He was the recipient of the Florida Principal of the Year Award.
Representatives from Promethean, manufacturers of active whiteboards, were also at the workshop to demonstrate the latest ICT tools for schools.
Timothy Pinder, a sales and support representative with the Armoury Company, the local distributor of the active whiteboards, showcased a new ICT learning tool, the Active Table, which was a hit with T. G. Glover students.
Pinder noted that a teacher was able to assign six students to work together at a table and later to access their literacy, science and mathematical skills from the feedback the table provided.
Immediately after the tables were programmed, students were excitedly playing educational games, performing tasks and using tablets and cell phones.
Malique said she preferred learning with technology because it is faster and more interesting.
"Technology makes learning fun," said the sixth grade student. It was a sentiment echoed by her peers Kendra Phillipe, Ian Ingraham and Steven Whymns.
Also presenting at the workshop was Roshekia Rolle, a Bahamian who teaches at Lauderdale Lakes Middle School and Allison Papke, a graduate assistant at University of South Florida.
Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas - Local author, Lewis
Walmsley who is set to publicly launch his science fiction book
on October 2nd at the Ruby Swiss Restaurant, will be donating the
proceeds of the first 100 book sales to the island's PACE Center for student mothers.
"We at the
deeply grateful for Mr. Walmsley's interest in and intended donation
to our school. We are currently building our computer lab and any
assistance in achieving this goal is greatly appreciated," said Mrs. Butler...
NUA Insurance Agents & Brokers is looking to target up to 3,000 clients following the launch of its cyber liability insurance coverage -- a product that offers businesses protection from cyber attacks and other online exposures, such as e-theft.
The company, which is the first to launch this type of coverage, held its launch at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel recently, where a cross section of the business and insurance community got an opportunity to learn more about the product.
The launch is timely given that National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage recently expressed concerns about cybercrime and announced his government's plan to strengthen the appropriate legislation.
NUA Assistant Managing Director Stanford Charlton said his company had been closely monitoring similar hacking and cyber attacks that are happening internationally and felt it was time to introduce the product to the Bahamian market.
Over the Christmas holiday, hackers stole the credit and debit card information of millions of Target's customers. The U.S. retailer is now facing a string of lawsuits over its data breach.
"We said if it can happen in Europe, Asia, the United States and other places, it's at our doorsteps. We need to take this thing seriously and bring it here. We follow closely what happens in the United States. Once the claims start to happen there, people will look at The Bahamas as an easy target, so we realized that we had to bring that insurance product here," said Charlton.
Charlton indicated that if a company's IT system is breached and its clients' personal information is accessed, it may face stiff fines or penalties under the Data Protection Act, in instances where adequate safeguards were not in place to prevent the breach. Cyber liability insurance gives cover for these fines.
NUA Managing Director Warren Rolle said since the launch NUA has gotten "quite a number of inquiries from a number of our competitors".
"So, we're pretty sure that they are going to follow suit at some point," he said.
Charlton explained that NUA's staff underwent extensive training over several weeks to become familiar with the product.
NUA later invited Charles Juarbe, divisional director of global insurance broker, FINEX Global & Willis Limited, to discuss the coverage during the launch.
Rolle indicated that there have been a number of sessions with Willis, including a recent online webinar, to acclimate staff to the new product. He said he is confident that NUA is ready for a successful launch of this product.
Charlton said NUA has gotten positive feedback ever since it announced plans to launch its newest product.
"I have been getting calls non-stop asking about cyber liability insurance and when I explain what it covers and what some of the ramifications of computer hacking are clients want to know more. This was a timely presentation and I hope it sensitizes the public to knowing and understanding that they need to get this insurance," he said.
"We are live with the facility, so, when clients call us we can give quotes within 20-25 minutes once they provide us with information on their turnover, the number of employees and what limits they want, they can get quotations back quickly."
Juarbe said his company decided to partner with NUA because the company has a "strong presence" in The Bahamas.
"They know their clientele, they know what they're looking for in terms of boots on the ground and they're going to know what their clients are looking for. At Willis we're very proud to have partnered with NUA in getting this facility done because people do need the protection . . . and as the minister said, the cyber threats are coming."
Juarbe advised companies who are dealing with their customers' sensitive data to be careful when selecting outside vendors.
"As a company, you have to ask yourself two questions -- one, are you managing the IT system and two, are you outsourcing that IT system. That's the difference. Sometimes you have a company like a restaurant, and you have the owner in the back but he's only just plugging information in, in terms of profits and sales, but who is providing that point of sale system or payment providing system? That's not going to be them, that's an outsourced vendor. Then what you need to do is question that outsource vendor: do you have the firewalls, the antivirus systems to make sure you're providing adequate coverage for me because even though the restaurant is going to get coverage, they also need to make sure that the outsource provider is providing them that same protection as well. People need to know the answer because the risks and the losses are real," he said.
Juarbe also noted that there is a minimum and maximum revenue requirement when it comes to securing cyber liability insurance with NUA.
"So, if your company is making $200 million in gross revenues and more than $30 million in net profit, obviously you'd be too big for the facility. But, that doesn't mean that you can't get coverage. What we could do is go to open market, access other markets to get quotations for you," he said.
"To be excluded from the cyber facility there'd have to be a risk that we'd have to say is beyond the regular small medium enterprise risk. There are some classes of business that will fall out obviously because of the higher risk that they have, such as financial institutions or hospitals or technology companies. But does that mean that we can't get them coverage? Absolutely not. We can get them coverage and we can get them whatever limit that they're looking for."
According to Charlton, the cost of the cover is dependent on the type of business, its annual turnover and the number of employees it has. Coverage ranges from $250,000 up to $2 million.
"Premiums are quite reasonable, $412 for $1 million coverage for certain companies," he said. "It's a quick process. We promise that you will be in and out as long as we have the right information," Charlton said.