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By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
RoyalFidelity Merchant Bank & Trust will launch its next international mutual fund offering this June in a bid to capture the $10 million that will be redeemed when its first such product matures that same month, its president telling Tribune Business the investment bank planned to launch two funds per year.
Reaffirming his belief that RoyalFidelity's TIGRS family of funds was still "the right recipe" for providing Bahamian investors with access to portfolio diversification and potentially higher returns from global capital markets, Michael Anderson said the investment bank was now working to develop a "viable" alternative to a ...
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham last night called for a new era of national volunteerism and announced that the government will make $1 million available immediately to initiate social programs in urban areas in New Providence and Grand Bahama.
"There is no denying the role played by young males in the crime scourge of our nation," said Ingraham, during a national address on crime.
"These males are predominantly from the urban areas of the country, most particularly Nassau and to a lesser degree, Freeport. We cannot bury our heads in the sand about this reality."
Ingraham advised that the programs will be developed and executed in conjunction with social partners such as the church, civic groups and sporting groups.
He said the funds for these new programs are in addition to the resources that are already budgeted for various urban renewal and youth development programs.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Development will spearhead this effort together with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the prime minister said.
He said the expectation is that the programs will be up and running by as early as December.
Ingraham stressed that even with its best efforts, the government alone will not be able to fully address the crime scourge.
"We need as many of you who care about our nation to enlist in this fight," Ingraham said.
He announced that the government will launch a National Volunteers Register on November 1.
"The register will enable you to sign up to be available to volunteer your time for mentoring our young men and women; assisting in community centers with afterschool programs; outreaches to urban neighborhoods to encourage parental and child involvement in school activities; to work with existing youth organizations in their programs, and a host of social activities that can positively impact upon our society," Ingraham said.
Volunteers will be able to register online or at various designated government offices.
"Our aim is to enlist hundreds if not thousands of volunteers," the prime minister said.
"This effort will also be spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Development."
Ingraham said one of the social dimensions to fighting crime is social intervention which can play an essential role in deterring crime, stopping first offenders from re-offending and rehabilitating some criminals.
"Accordingly, my government will continue to work with and strengthen partnerships with civil society generally. We will collaborate with churches, civic groups and the business community to fund and manage targeted social intervention programs to confront anti-social and criminal behavior among various groups," he said.
"In our shared fight against crime, there is an urgent need for more community service and mentoring and greater corporate citizenship and philanthropic efforts inclusive of helping to fund and sustain various youth and young adult programs as well as crime prevention and offender rehabilitation programs."
The government is targeting four principal areas: Community service programs in all public schools with an enhanced service-learning, ethics and character development component; community and youth development programs geared towards providing young people with positive and alternative life experiences and skills while discouraging anti-social behavior; and effective and creative alternative sentencing for juvenile offenders.
"Towards this end, the minister of education has been charged with implementing a new and more comprehensive community service-learning program for all government schools," Ingraham said.
"This is with a view to helping more young people develop a sense of belonging in our community and deeper sense of responsibility for its well-being while better respecting themselves and others."
NATIONAL ADDRESS ON CRIME AT A GLANCE
In his national address on crime last night, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said, "The crisis of culture and community manifested in an unprecedented level of criminality requires us to deal with essentials invisible to the eye like values, attitudes, social trust and mutual respect."
Ingraham also made a number of announcements regarding the government's new approach to addressing the high level of violent crime in the country.
o Customs to increase random searches at ports
o Stronger gun penalties
o Stronger drug penalties
o Two new gun courts
o 30-day period to turn in illegal firearms
o Expansion of CCTV program
o Police to get two mobile command centers
o Specialist consultants to train police
o Three years set as reasonable time to hold suspect
o Magistrates must put in writing reasons for granting bail
o Legislation for non-disclosure of witness identities in some cases
o Death penalty to be retained as punishment for certain murders
o Life to be defined as the remainder of a convict's natural life
o Additional judges
o $1 million for social intervention programs
o National Volunteers Register to be launched Nov. 1, 2011
o Establishment of Outward Bound Program for at-risk youth and first offenders
Rum-producing countries of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) may have to take the U.S. to arbitration at the World Trade Organization (WTO), unless diplomatic efforts settle a looming problem before it concretizes.
At stake is rum production in several CARICOM countries, together with the foreign exchange earnings and employment that it generates.
The problem has not arisen out of direct action by the U.S. government. It has originated in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico, both of which have been long-time rum producers in competition with CARICOM manufacturers. But, now, these two U.S. affiliates are taking advantage of U.S. government refunds to them, of excise taxes on rum, to subsidize vastly increased rum production and marketing in their territories. The huge increase in rum exports to the U.S. mainland, at a subsidized cost, would squeeze-out CARICOM rums; and subsidized marketing would make it virtually impossible to compete.
The U.S. Virgin Islands, adversely affected by the closure of the oil refinery on St. Croix, is desperate to create opportunities for employment and economic growth, and it has hit upon the idea that it could use the refund of the U.S. excise taxes called "the rum cover-over" program to lure large rum producers by offering them huge incentives and subsidies. The USVI government actions, originally caused protests from rum producers in Puerto Rico before that island's government joined in using the proceeds of the "cover-over" program to subsidize its own rum producers.
An already concluded-contract in the USVI with one big company alone will add 20 million proof-gallons of rum production capacity in the region - more than 50 percent of the current U.S. market. Moreover, known and reported subsidies to other producers in the USVI and Puerto Rico are resulting in additional new capacity for existing facilities. The enlarged production from this new capacity will affect not only the U.S. market, but other world markets as well, since the U.S. cannot absorb all the rum that can be produced at these new or expanded subsidized facilities.
Further, the USVI governor has stated publicly that the new contracts will raise the island's "cover-over revenue" from $90 million to $240 million per year. With much of that money dedicated to subsidizing production and marketing of rum, producers from CARICOM countries simply cannot match it.
If the USVI and Puerto Rico are allowed to continue to use the U.S. mainland's refund of the excise taxes to subsidize both the building of greater rum producing capacity and marketing, the U.S., by allowing it, could be in violation of WTO rules in three ways.
These are: Article 3.1(a) of the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement) which prohibits all subsidies that are "contingent, in law or in fact, whether solely or as one of several conditions, upon export performance"; while GATT Article III:8(b) does permit WTO members to provide subsidies exclusively to domestic producers, the WTO Appellate Body has already ruled, in previous cases, that this exception does not justify subsidies that amount to the direct remission of excise taxes to domestic producers.
Thus, the USVI contracts may not be defensible under this provision; and Article 5 of the SCM Agreement prohibits WTO members from using actionable subsidies to cause "adverse effects to the interests of other members." Because all the subsidies in the USVI contracts are specific to the rum industry, they surely meet the test of being "actionable" subsidies.
Additionally, the magnitude of the subsidies is so large - approaching 100 percent of the cost of production in some cases - that the subsidies are certain to cause substantial competitive harm to the rum industries in CARICOM countries.
Rum-producing CARICOM governments would have little option but to file for a dispute settlement with the U.S. at the WTO. The governments could not sit by idly while CARICOM rum producers lose their market share in the U.S. mainland due to unfair subsidies, and probably face collapse with consequential foreign exchange and job losses. But, the WTO process would be a long and costly exercise for all the governments concerned.
This, of course, highlights the inadequacy and unfairness of the WTO remedies for developing countries when its rules are violated by rich nations.
But, that is another issue.
The record of the U.S. at the WTO in relation to the interests of small CARICOM countries - on bananas and Internet gaming - has been harmful.
Additionally, the U.S. has made no major contribution to economic development in CARICOM countries in recent times. If this is official U.S. policy, it is perplexing. If it is an accidental position, it needs correction. For, unless the U.S. has decided to leave Caribbean development - and therefore co-operation and mutual assistance - to others, the Caribbean could become as indifferent to U.S. goals, as the U.S. now appears to be to Caribbean aspirations. This would be a shame given the long and traditional links and values that the U.S. and the region share and which could be strengthened and expanded to their joint benefit.
There is a clear need for renewed and improved relations between the U.S. and CARICOM countries particularly in economic matters that improve the areas and levels of aid and investment.
The current situation over rum offers a special opportunity for all the players to come to the table to discuss how the rum market in the U.S. mainland can be shared in a mutually beneficial way. In particular, CARICOM foreign ministers and trade ministers and the U.S. secretary of state and U.S. trade representative should hold meaningful discussions on how best to avert a WTO case, while addressing the issue of no unfair advantages to producers in the USVI and Puerto Rico.
If they fail to do this, relations between the U.S. and CARICOM will sour with the Caribbean, once again, feeling let down.
o Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on small states in the global community. Send responses to: www.sirronaldsanders.com.
The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) has reached an agreement with The College of The Bahamas (COB) to award a $12,000 scholarship to accounting majors, in an effort to further foster growth of the profession in the country.
BICA's recently signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with COB is an extension of a previously signed agreement, where BICA provided $10,000 in student aid from 2007. President of BICA Julian Rolle told Guardian Business that the decision by COB to further support the accounting education in the country was a key factor that made the deal happen.
"The college is moving in a direction where it can keep abreast with all professional requirements for certification, so the students can take exams in accounting after graduating," Rolle said. "We're very happy about that and the college has been very proactive in working with us to make sure that students are aware of the opportunities in the accounting profession."
The MoU will last over a four-year period and the funds will be granted based on academic merit and financial needs. Full-time students majoring in accounting at COB are eligible for the scholarship.
The award has been named the Anthony Smith scholarship, in honor of a former BICA council member who passed away while serving on the council during the 2011/2012 term. Smith was a key member of BICA and served as a committee member in the Student Education Committee of 2009/2010. He was also the chairperson of the Student Education Committee of 2010/2011 and the CPE (Continuing Professional Education) chairperson during the 2011/2012 term. He was passionate about education and worked closely with the YACHT Club, BICA's student mentoring program at COB.
BICA is the regulatory body of the accounting profession in The Bahamas. The organization is geared towards protecting the public interest by developing high quality standards, promoting strong ethical values and encouraging quality practice.
The institute is also committed to assisting with the provision of training and education for persons engaging in or intending to engage in the accounting profession. BICA is comprised of over 500 members and 280 licensees.
Rolle mentioned that with COB offering a master's degree program in accounting, the opportunities that exist going forward are promising.
"We want to continue our work with the college and we both have the mutual desire to afford Bahamians the opportunity to excel in this field," he said. "Our commitment to the scholarship award will hopefully be the start of many good things to come."
Many Bahamians were offended and outraged by the remarks made by President Michel Martelly of the Republic of Haiti during his recent visit to The Bahamas. During his time here, Martelly paid courtesy calls on the governor general, the prime minister, the leader of the opposition and individuals of Haitian heritage, albeit not in that order.
Martelly's visit came as a shock to the majority of Bahamians who had been unaware of his impending visit to The Bahamas. Our prime minister indicated during a press conference held on February 11, 2012, four days after Martelly's initial arrival that The Bahamas government had not invited Martelly, but rather he had been notified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday February 4, 2012, a non-working day, that Martelly intended to stop in The Bahamas en route to Mexico. It was later confirmed that very day that Martelly would remain a day and a night in The Bahamas. In fact, the president arrived in The Bahamas on the evening of February 7 and departed on February 8, 2012.
It seems fair to say that The Bahamas government erred by not officially informing the Bahamian people that Martelly would make an official visit to The Bahamas. The president had left Haiti to visit Venezuela and Panama where he was expected to remain two days each in both countries from February 3 to February 7. Martelly traveled to Venezuela to attend the 11th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and to Panama to discuss matters pertaining to Haitians living in Panama and the delivery of visas to Haitians by the Panamanian government. It is reported that on short notice, Martelly decided to extend his travels to include the countries of The Bahamas and Curacao.
It is reported that the Haitian government issued a statement through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs informing the Haitian people of Martelly's adjusted itinerary. The question remains that if in fact our government had been aware of Martelly's visit from Saturday February 4, why wasn't the Bahamian public notified? It is apparent that thousands of individuals of Haitian descent in The Bahamas had been duly informed as evidenced by the attendance at the Church of God's auditorium.
During Martelly's recent visit to Curacao, he was greeted at the airport by the prime minister of Curacao, Gerrit Schotte, and other dignitaries. Subsequently the Haitian diplomatic envoy and Curacao dignitaries attended a meeting with persons of Haitian origin on the specific request of Martelly. It is worth noting that nationals of Curacao were also present at the aforementioned gathering. The national anthems of both countries were sung and Martelly made remarks in English when addressing the people of Curacao and in Creole when addressing the people of Haitian descent. The actions of the Curacao government evidence an intention to unify relations between both countries as opposed to divide. In light of the events that unfolded this week, it can be argued that the actions of The Bahamas government speak otherwise. Bahamians would have been equally interested to hear the remarks of Martelly.
The normal course of protocol for an official visit from a head of state would have been to receive a formal written request from the Haitian Embassy in The Bahamas addressed to the chief of protocol suggesting dates for the visit, names of individuals with whom the head of state would like to meet and the purpose of the visit (i.e., the specific topics to be discussed).
The protocol department within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) would have determined availability and arranged the official itinerary of Martelly. As mentioned, the details of President Martelly's visit were confirmed on Saturday, February 4, 2012. Martelly arrived in The Bahamas on Tuesday, February 7, 2012. The Bahamas MOFA had the entire working days of the 6th and 7th to inform the Bahamian people of Martelly's visit and his proposed itinerary, just as the Haitian MOFA did in Haiti. Protocol and diplomacy appear to have escaped The Bahamas government on this matter which appears to have conducted protocol in reverse.
The overwhelming consensus among Bahamians is that our prime minister's response to the matter was unacceptable to say the least. What is clear is that our prime minister appears to be out of touch with the concerns of his people. Moreover, the silence of most members of Parliament on this issue leaves little to be desired in the face of the public discussion that has taken place on this matter.
The recent visit has sparked the age old conversation on illegal immigration in our country, particularly among Haitian nationals. Haiti is a country that has been plagued by socio-economic and political instability. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the United States of America have primarily carried the burden of housing Haitian nationals in search of political asylum or refugee status. There is no doubt that CARICOM members would welcome trade opportunities with Haiti that will be mutually beneficial for our nations. A healthy and prosperous Haiti is in the best interest of all; The Bahamas included.
Nevertheless, the matter of illegal immigration in our country must be addressed by the government. It is wrong for Bahamians and parliamentarians to gloss over this issue of illegal immigration and allege that Bahamians are discriminative, racist and prejudiced in an attempt to silence Bahamians on this matter. Bahamians are generally welcoming people and recognize the contributions that foreigners make to build this country. However, this fact cannot be confused with the importance of enforcing Bahamian laws on illegal immigration. It is worth noting that other countries such as Jamaica and Barbados are also faced with the same challenges.
Many CARICOM countries already find it difficult to meet budget requirements with their limited resources and constrained revenue sources. Many have shared in the burdens of Haiti's socio-economic and political instability through increased illegal immigration. Many have also provided aid and assistance to the government of Haiti over the years.
The Haitian presence
In The Bahamas, there is a gray area that is expanding and will continue to have a vast impact upon our socio-economic position if we do not address the matter with expediency. There are so-called 'shantytowns' existing all over New Providence and throughout the Family Islands that successive governments have failed to clean up. Allegedly illegal immigrants of Haitian descent occupy Bahamian land free of charge, their children attend Bahamian public schools and they also utilize healthcare services. Bahamian taxpayers' funds make it possible for government-run entities to function. In this sense, Bahamians believe they have every right to speak on the matter of illegal immigration and the effects it has upon Bahamian society.
Separate and apart from migrants that came here illegally, there are a group of dispossessed individuals who are aware of the fact that they have a constitutional right and are being overlooked. These individuals were born in The Bahamas and in most cases educated here. We must do our best to regularize such individuals. As long as the constitution provides the means, the constitutional right of this group of individuals should be honored without delay. What The Bahamas government must be careful not to do is to impose upon the Bahamian people the extreme liberal policy that Martelly is suggesting regarding our constitution in light of our very own economic position. To grant individuals born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamians citizenship upon birth will most certainly open the floodgates for increased migration to The Bahamas. Such a policy could negatively impact the preservation of the indigenous Bahamian population, who like the remainder of the Caribbean generally have a lower birth rate than Haitians. For instance, The Bahamas has a population of approximately 350,000; Barbados, 280,000; Jamaica, 2.8 million; Dominica, 72,000 and Curacao, 142,000. All of these countries, who together house a growing population of Haitians descendants, have not jointly accumulated the total population of Haiti, which is estimated to be 9.7 million.
More importantly and as a matter of urgency, The Bahamas government must ascertain the number of undocumented immigrants that exist in the country. The Netherland Antilles launched an immigration amnesty program called the "Brooks Tower Accord" that provided for undocumented aliens in the Netherland Antilles to register themselves, receive temporary permits and therefore legalize their status. The registration lasted for six weeks from November 3 - December 15, 2009. The agreement covered three categories. Immigrants who arrived before December 31, 2001 fell in Category I were able to apply for a permit on their own merit. Immigrants who arrived between January 1, 2002 to January 1 2006, fell in Category II and required their employers to apply on their behalf. Finally, immigrants who arrived after January 1, 2006 were not guaranteed regularization and would more than likely have to leave the country or be repatriated. Whereas there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing the illegal immigration problem, our leaders should explore programs of this nature in formulating a solution and a strategy to the way forward.
Bahamians must continue to discuss this matter in the attempt to move our leaders to make significant progress on illegal immigration. We have elected successive governments to protect our borders, among other things, and they have been found wanting on the issue of illegal immigration. One thing is certain, we must continue to monitor the socio-economic and political position of Haiti to provide assistance where necessary.
oArinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments can be directed at email@example.com.
In the last few weeks a number of labor unions and non-unionized disgruntled workers have been beating the war drums in preparation for planned showdowns with employers in both the public and private sectors. Disquieting sounds are coming from the Bahamas Public Services Union, the newly formed customs and immigration union, Water and Sewerage Corporation workers, air traffic controllers, middle management at Bahamasair, Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, among others. They all have a common objective to improve work conditions and remuneration for the membership.
In some cases, they are merely calling for adherence by employers to pre-agreed contractual conditions. In other cases, they are arguing for new and improved conditions of employment. In all cases there is a veiled threat that if the demands are not met, labor could be withdrawn from the market in the form of some sort of industrial action including a general strike.
One union leader is quoted in the local press making the observation that election periods are perhaps the best times for industrial action since the likelihood of having demands met is higher. He might be right in normal times. But these are not normal times. Indeed, this is a time of extraordinarily high unemployment and underemployment; shrinking government revenue in relation to expanding demands for government services; and rapidly rising national debt which may further restrict the state's ability to fund normal services, much less any increased spending to settle labor disputes.
At this point in our history, there is a desperate need for all stakeholders (the government, the private sector and labor) to co-ordinate their collective effort to stabilize the economy and set it on a path of sustainable growth; a growth that would put more people to work, attract more investments and contribute additional funds to the public purse.
The prospects for adequate economic growth rates in The Bahamas over the next few years are dependent on increased national income to the labor force, higher levels of domestic and foreign direct investment and continued government spending on capital projects and the usual list of recurrent expenditure items. None of those major determinants for GDP growth are automatic; they are influenced by external circumstances in the global economy, internal policies and plans of both the private and public, and perhaps most importantly how we, the public, react to the environment around us. The different parts which contribute to economic growth and the overall well-being of the community are interconnected and must often move in the same direction and at the same time. It is only when that level of coordinated movement is achieved that we experience the optimum performance of the economy.
As The Bahamas and the rest of the world emerge from the global recession, a critical ingredient for economic growth is a general increase in national income which is only likely to happen if the unemployment rate is reduced dramatically. An increase in the number of new jobs would permit more workers to join the labor force and their combined new earnings would purchase higher levels of goods and services which in turn would increase private sector sales as well as government revenue since the demand for more goods would mean additional imports into the country.
The new jobs, however, would require new investments by domestic and/or foreign entities in new or expanded activities in the business sector. The decision to make those investments would in turn depend on, among other things, the confidence the investor has in the future of the country, the availability of funding either from savings or bank loans and the existence of an environment that is favorable to business expansion.
The uncertainty associated with labor unrest in the economy would militate against all of the elements that are necessary to restore sustained economic growth. In the circumstances, therefore, and in the national interest it is imperative that all of the stakeholders (the government, employers and employees) extend the maximum effort to avoid economic disruption as a result of labor unrest; any outstanding issues should be resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties while taking into account the legitimate demands of labor and the bottom line and cost containment concerns of the private sector and the government.
o CFAL is a sister company of The Nassau Guardian under the AF Holdings Ltd. umbrella. CFAL provides investment management, research, brokerage and pension services. For comments, please contact CFAL at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Death sentences for two convicts
NIB staff members walk off the job
Anxiety still high among CLICO policyholders
Man charged with killing love rival
Bahamas students win Caribbean law challenge
Paul Moss resigns from PLP
Baha Mar deal with Chinese partners nears
Grant responds to Hanna-Martin on road safety
Trial of Melvin Maycock Sr. postponed
Relief funds forwarded to Haiti
Police up focus on visitor safety
Pastors Forum donates $3,000 to aid Haiti
A quite amazing event took place in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, on August 29 and 30. Two hundred representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from China and 19 African countries held a China-Africa People's Forum.
The event is remarkable from two standpoints. First, given the fact that, for the most part, China is still a statist country where the communist party retains tight control, it is surprising that there are any non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at all. China's restrictive laws, governing the registration of non-profit organizations, mandate that applicants be affiliated with and sponsored by a governmental unit, and this effectively terminates NGOs that are not affiliated with the government.
But, research reveals that there are some NGOs which operate with the blessing of the Chinese government. In this sense they are regarded as "government-NGOs". It figures, therefore, that the Chinese NGOs, attending the Nairobi People's Forum were ones that enjoy government support.
The second reason that the event is itself remarkable is that China-Africa social and economic relations are a recent development. Yet, the Chinese have shown enough interest in engaging African civil society to mount considerable participation in it. Even if the Chinese contingent enjoy Chinese government endorsement and, therefore, may only act within parameters set by the government, they still interacted with the African NGOs that are not tied to their governments.
What the Chinese NGOs heard from the African NGOs were independent views. And, it is now fairly well-known that people in many African countries have expressed concern about the way that China and Chinese companies have operated in Africa. Some have gone as far as to remark that China behaves no differently than the old colonial masters - an observation that troubles China, given its official posture that China is a developing country that wants to maintain equality and solidarity with other developing countries.
Of much older vintage is the relationship between African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the European Union (EU). That formal relationship by treaty is 37 years old. But, the EU, which has a very vibrant civil society with which it consults regularly, has never organized a People's Forum of EU and ACP countries. In other words, the people-organizations of these two groups of countries have never been given the opportunity to help to define their relationship or to express their views on the structure and substance of the relationship as it has evolved through the Lomé and Cotonou treaties and now, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and many ACP countries.
However tied to the Chinese government the Chinese NGOs might be, at least China has opened its ears to hearing what NGOs in 19 African states have to say about the Africa-Chinese relationship. It may be that the EU Commission - and perhaps some governments of EU member states - are fearful of what their own NGOs would say about the EPAs that the EU has railroaded many ACP states into accepting. It is widely known that many NGOs throughout Europe - as well as several members of the European Parliament - are critical both of the unfairness of the EPAs and the manner in which the EU Commission handled the negotiations.
ACP governments are not blameless in this. They have not insisted on a forum in which civil society organizations from their own countries and the EU can meet to exchange views and comment on the relations between the two areas. In part, this is due to the suspicion that many governments and NGOs of ACP countries harbor toward each other. However, it is a suspicion that both sides should work to overcome, for the governments of developing countries will not be able to stand-up against unfair conditions set by countries and agencies such as the EU Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for economic Co-operation and Development unless civil society organizations share their concerns and are willing to advocate them within their local communities and internationally.
ACP countries should take the initiative to push for an ACP-EU People's Forum. The next meeting of EU-ACP parliamentarians would be a good place to kick-off the idea. The ACP Secretariat could draw on the experience of the 19 African states that participated in the forum with China for assistance in fashioning the forum. Such a forum might well produce a movement by people across the EU and ACP nations to establish a more equitable and just trade and economic relationship.It would also be useful to hold a People's Forum between China and those Caribbean countries with which it has diplomatic relations. There is good reason for it. Rumblings have already developed about the manner in which China is operating in the Caribbean, particularly over its insistence on Chinese labor for projects, including those which it funds by loans and not by grants.
Concern has also been expressed about Chinese companies ignoring labor laws in the countries in which they operate. These grumbles should be addressed before they sour the relations between China and the Caribbean. A People's Forum would help to address these growing problems and establish mutual understanding.
In early September, the 3rd China Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum will be held in Trinidad and Tobago. It will be a limited meeting. Only nine of the 14 independent Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will be represented. Five other CARICOM countries that retain diplomatic ties to Taiwan will not be there. And, while there will be representation by government ministers and business people from China and the nine CARICOM countries, there will be no wider People's Forum of civil society representatives such as was held in Nairobi between China and African countries.
In Nairobi, the People's Forum declared that they "believe that NGOs, as an indispensable force in the world today, have joined the government in providing public services, in community development and harmonizing social relations by providing varieties of volunteer jobs". They said, "The role of NGOs is unique in international affairs, as they make their voices heard on different international platforms". And they concluded, "We realize that meaningful development can only be achieved through meaningful partnership between NGOs and their respective governments, and by various NGOs around the world".
That statement applies equally to the wider African, Caribbean and Pacific Group.
Printed with the permission of caribbeannewsnow.com.
I write this letter with deep consternation after reading this Komen blog (http://blog.komen.org/?p=1339) and the press reports on the Susan G. Komen and Ministry of Health announcement of a $100,000 gift to launch a breast cancer program yesterday, September 12.
It also strikes me as so ironic that, exactly one month away from Christopher Columbus' "Discovery" date we, who are supposedly an "independent" nation, are still looking to a "savior" from outside the country to "discover and rescue us". See what you lookin' at, Bahamas - wake up, and stop perpetuating this nonsense.
The Cancer Society of The Bahamas (CSB) was formed in 1976 by a small but fiercely dedicated group who worked relentlessly to form an organization dedicated to educate the public about cancer so that it may be prevented, diagnosed and treated in its early stages, to be of service to cancer patients and their families, and to raise funds to support these programs; and after close to 40 years of sacrifice, hard work and struggles in the original trenches of the cancer fight, they have built an organization that assists the local population all over The Bahamas with all forms of cancer, breast cancer being one of their primary targets.
I know the story intimately because I helped to write it as a 30-year breast cancer survivor and a past president and board member of the society. Although I have long retired from the society I still keep in contact with all of the many entities that deal with cancer care in this country.
Here is my story: When I was only 31 years old, it was the late Dr. Poad who accurately diagnosed my cancer as soon as he saw it, and referred me to the outstanding Bahamian surgeon, Dr. Earle Farrington who performed my biopsy and mastectomy at Princess Margaret Hospital with the late Dr. Wavell Thompson as the anesthetist, after the specimen was correctly diagnosed as stage one Piaget's Disease by Bahamian lab technicians and pathologists, and I recuperated in PMH with Bahamian nurses, the late Lillian Thompson and Susie Mae Lockhart, taking excellent care of me.
This was 30 years ago when we did not have all of the experts, equipment, nor amazing technology that we have today and I am still alive. So don't you think Bahamians knew what they were doing then and are doing now?
I joined the society when they were in the process of purchasing the first ever mammogram machine for The Bahamas which was donated to Princess Margaret Hospital. We knew then that "early detection was the best protection". That was our motto 30 years ago when Komen was just being formed and we were working closely with the American Cancer Society, who embraced the CSB with open arms, asked us what we needed and then shared their services, expertise and resources freely with us so that we could adapt it in whatever way we thought necessary to appeal to the Bahamian public.
We knew 30 years ago that Bahamian women's breast cancer developed at an earlier age than the U.S. statistics showed and that it was more aggressive. We might not have had the scientific data to show it, but our doctors had the empirical knowledge to advise us it was needed, so the CSB was advocating monthly breast self-examination and mammogram screenings at an earlier age decades ago.
In contrast, the Komen organization is only 30 years old and entered the Bahamian cancer scene a mere four years ago. The correct story is that they were introduced to The Bahamas through the auspices of the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative (BBCI) that was formed by the wife of the then U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas, Stephanie Siegel, herself a breast cancer survivor.
Members from the Sister, Sister Breast Cancer Support Group, the Cancer Society of The Bahamas, me, and a group of extremely qualified Bahamian cancer specialists - Dr. John Lunn, Dr. Theodore Turnquest, Dr. Larry Carroll, Dr. Corrine Sinquee and Dr. Devaughn Curling - were invited by Siegel to work along with the BBCI to advance cancer care in the country. We, the Bahamians, were their respected consultants and were asked for our advice on how to achieve this.
We are the ones who have been in the trenches and on the ground from the outset; we are the ones who know our people and our country; we are the ones who patients turn to for assistance; we are the ones who have the right to set the policies and procedures because we know the story. This is our country and we must demand the respect that we deserve. Visitors to our country should have the decency to ask our permission to participate, not barge in and try to take over. But as in all such cases, if the donkey lets you get on his back, in so doing it gives you the right to ride him.
It was the BBCI who invited the Komen organization to partner with it to assist in the fight against breast cancer here in The Bahamas. It was the BBCI who informed Komen about the genetic study which was developed by most of the same brilliant Bahamian cancer specialists listed above who worked along with their colleague, Dr. Judith Hurley out of the United States, and this study was also assisted financially by the highly successful and locally organized annual cancer fundraiser Ride for Hope. I trust that these persons and organizations will also write in to elaborate on "how the story go" since many of them were not mentioned in the press reports.
I resigned from the BBCI because I was not prepared to bow to Komen's control. I refused to be told by them how and what to do to develop educational programs for women in The Bahamas based on the standards and statistics of a group who "just reach". It appears that too many people are not aware that slavery and colonialism are dead and I, for one, refuse to dance to the beat of someone else's drum especially since I was involved in writing the music "in the first beginning".
In these days and times, no person or organization should be allowed to come into the country purporting to be our "savior" with the presumption that they have the right to impose their standards unequivocally upon us, telling us how and what we must do in order to conform to their guidelines. Allowing persons to dictate their terms of engagement just because they can write a fat check is no better than prostitution and I cry shame on those who perpetuate this pathetic behavior.
I am a Bahamian first and foremost and I believe in the Bahamian people. I have respect for the successes of the Bahamian people who work hard and I have no hesitation in speaking out in their defense - so should we all.
I am therefore outraged that the Ministry of Health would deny and ignore the cancer achievements of our historical past and "diss" our own organizations and professionals by saying they want to partner with a entity from outside the country to do the very things which these organizations have already developed and have been doing for years.
This is ridiculous and a total waste of time and energy. Furthermore, just how many digital mammogram machines do we need in the country anyway, especially if we do not intend to also invest in properly training the personnel to operate and maintain them? We also refuse to enact legislation that will guarantee quality and consistency in standards of diagnosis or even enforce existing legislation that is already on the books that will protect our women from poor quality diagnosis and care.
Before independence in 1973, many of us might have been poor in the material sense, but we were richer in spirit and creativity. We were more self-sufficient and proud because we relied on our own selves and our community to sustain our existence.
Do we wish to continue to be like Oliver Twist? When we are hungry, do we want to continue to cower and plead, "Please, sir, may I have some more?" Or do we want to ask our neighbor to help us plant a seed to grow a tree that we can eventually stand next to and lift up our heads to pick the fruit to feed ourselves for generations to come? Bear in mind that this process takes time and serious nurturing with plenty of hard work and patience, but such is the long and winding road to success.
How in the world are we ever going to regain our self-respect and dignity if we continue to put out our hand in supplication instead of in collaboration? Collaboration embodies mutual respect - supplication perpetuates dependence. Ask yourself: What position and condition would you wish to encourage?
- Pam Burnside
Industry position: President, CFA Society of The Bahamas
Investment manager, Royal Fidelity Merchant Bank & Trust Limited
What attracted you to the sector?
I was introduced to the exciting world of trading and brokerage while gathering information on the Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX) for a research paper for a techniques of research course at The College of The Bahamas. Although the industry was still in its embryonic stage, I believed that this area of the local capital markets could be both challenging and exciting at the same time.
How long have you been involved in financial services?
I have over 16 years of experience in the financial services sector, starting out in commercial banking. I later entered the local capital markets in the area of trading and brokerage. There I specialized in the buying and selling of local stocks and bonds and offering brokerage services to Bahamians. In 2007, I transitioned into the investment management field, offering investment management services to large institutional clients like pension plans, insurance companies, and mutual funds and to high-net-worth individuals.
What keeps you motivated? Why do you think you have been successful?
The innate desire to keep moving forward and progressing motivates me. I have always strived to be the best that I can be and that is what inspires me to keep achieving. I believe that a combination of hard work, a tenacious spirit and the willingness to step outside of my comfort zone has played a pivotal role in my successes to date.
Did mentoring play a part in your success?
Yes. Over the course of my career I can think of a number of persons who have poured into me words of wisdom, career and educational advice or even recommending a good book to read. Mentoring is a powerful tool and I believe that it is an essential part of grooming our future leaders in the financial services arena.
What qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?
In my current job as an investment manager, I must say that the CFA designation has been the most helpful to me. The CFA program requires candidates to cover a broad range of topic areas including economics, portfolio management, derivatives, fixed income and equity analysis, accounting, etc, in order to successfully complete the program. The fundamental knowledge and current skills that one acquires while completing the CFA program are easily transferrable into one's daily work. Additionally, the CFA program places great emphasis on high ethical standards and professional conduct for all investment professionals, which helps to ensure that clients' interests are paramount and always placed first.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career? How did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges that I have encountered in my career is the fear of public speaking. Being an introvert by nature, it was quite daunting to move from one-on-one client meetings to speaking to a room full of executives. I overcame this challenge by being properly prepared in advance for meetings. I would also do "dry runs" of the presentation and visualize myself doing a great job. The more presentations that you do, the more confidence you will have and the butterflies, while never really going away, begin to fly more in formation.
What advice would you give young people just starting out in the industry?
Be prepared to work hard and don't be so impatient to get to the corner office with the ocean view. Seek out mentors who can assist you with career development and educational pursuits. Keep current with advancements in the industry via seminars, books, periodicals, etc. Finally, in any position "be like a sponge" by learning as much as you can because you never know when an opportunity for advancement will knock.