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The head of the Clearing Banks Association said it is "difficult to anticipate" what the reaction of key international bodies and the United States will be to the government's plan to regularize the web shops, noting that a "challenge" in this regard is that there is "much speculation but little definitive information" about the web shops' business activities.
Commenting after banking executives warned in Guardian Business on Tuesday that "regularization" plans proposed by the government may not "fix" the problem they represent as far as banks are concerned, Marie Rodland-Allen told Guardian Business that it appears that the unregulated activity being conducted by web shops extends beyond "potential breaches of the Gaming Act".
While not explicitly clarifying, her comments would seem to be making reference to the fact that some web shops have now started offering financial services, such as loan products - activities which may not be specifically regulated under the Gaming Act proposed by the government.
Pointing to the range of challenges that will arise as the government moves to regulate web shops, Rodland-Allen said: "Regularization of web shop gaming covers the issues of regulating the industry, regulating the participants in the industry and addressing the proceeds of the activity for the period before the activity is regulated."
She added: "In the modern financial environment, dominated by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) member countries, the proposed regularization covers issues that are of key concern to FATF members. Without knowing the specifics of the proposed legislation, it is difficult to anticipate what may be the reaction from the FATF and, in particular, the United States. Greater scrutiny is also being placed on anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) processes of correspondent banking relationships."
FATF is an inter-governmental body directed and controlled by the G-20/G7 focused on developing and promoting policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. In 2000, FATF placed The Bahamas on a damaging "blacklist" of "non-compliant" countries for allegedly having weaknesses in its financial services regulatory regime that could facilitate money laundering.
While not directly stating that CBA member banks would not do business with web shops under the "regularized" regime out of fear of blacklisting, Rodland-Allen stated: "The CBA members will continue to apply their AML/KYC due diligence standards to all customers to ensure they do not assist money laundering or terrorist financing or any other activity that may be harmful to the reputation of this jurisdiction".
Her comments come after Ian Jennings, Commonwealth Bank's president, said that dealing with the problem posed by web shops to the Bahamian economy and financial system is "not as simple" as the government appears to think.
Jennings and another bank executive speaking on condition of anonymity suggested it would remain unlikely once this legislation is passed that retail banks would feel comfortable with doing business with web shops - who are presently unable to find banks willing to transact business with them in The Bahamas due to their dubious legal status - given concerns that they will not meet strict standards of compliance with international norms set out by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Rodland-Allen's comments regarding how they would expect web shops to be able to "regulate participants in the industry" and "the proceeds of the activity for the period before the activity is regulated" further clarifies some of the impediments web shops may face in meeting these strict standards.
Jennings noted the importance of the correspondent banking relationships Bahamas-based banks must maintain with banks in the U.S. and elsewhere as key to local banks' decision as to how to proceed with respect to the web shops.
He said: "Just by regularizing the web shops is not going to get rid of the problem, as far as the banking sector is concerned..."
"All of our transactions and trade is with the U.S. and (the correspondent banks) are coming under increased scrutiny from their regulators to make sure that their Caribbean correspondents are performing to the highest level. That's a relationship that no Bahamian bank can afford to give up, so we have to make sure we maintain our reputational position.
Another banking executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that if the government's "regularization" plan does not allow web shops to put their money in Bahamian bank accounts, this will have further negative effects on the government's ability to collect tax revenue from them.
The local banks' concerns are being echoed by actions recently taken by banks in Trinidad and Tobago.
In May 2014, the Republic Bank announced that it would be closing the bank accounts of the country's so-called "private members' clubs" - casinos which operate largely illegally in the country and which have yet to be regulated to the extent that would allow them to meet evolving international standards on compliance with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.
In a statement to the Trinidad Express, Republic Bank said: "This decision was taken as a result of the significant impact that this type of industry has on the bank's compliance requirements. Republic Bank understands that many banks in the country have adopted a similar approach."
The Bahamian government has proposed to pass a new Gaming Act which will "regularize" the web shops once it is finished debating and passing the 2014/2015 budget.
In the Prime Minister's address on crime, he invited the populace to increase the level of volunteerism, something he felt would reduce the crime level. People from many sectors in The Bahamas have been and continue to be involved in volunteerism.
You name it - Rotary, Kiwanis, fraternities, the church, Yellowbirds, The Cancer Society, etc. Much has been done and continues to be done by volunteers in The Bahamas. There is however a whole body of volunteerism which has not gone unnoticed. We are speaking about the sporting community which strives on volunteers.
At the closing ceremony of this summer's IAAF World Championships numerous volunteers were at center stage on the field. We often forget how many volunteers are needed to pull off a national, regional, or international competition, much less to carry on a continual program of bringing athletes from the introduction to a sport, to them becoming world champions. Today we salute those unsung heroes who have made a difference in sports in The Bahamas.
The School System
It is said that most things are learned in school. Most athletes have been introduced to sports through their schools. From the track and field perspective we single out Andrea Lockhart of Oakes Field Primary who was instrumental in the start of Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie in track and field. About 55 years ago, Dr. John Carey was instrumental in the athletic start of former Member of Parliament and Olympian Leslie Miller at Eastern Junior School.
Numerous world class athletes can trace their humble beginnings to somebody in the school system that recognized their talent and encouraged them to pursue sports further.
Bahamas Association of Certified Officials (BACO)
Andrea Lockhart became a member of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Officials (BACO) of which Deacon Leviticus Adderley was a driving force. This organization is now headed by Ralf McKinney and assists numerous groups in staging road races throughout The Bahamas, in addition to their regular obligation of officiating at all Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations events as well as numerous other organization's events.
The Club System
There are the numerous clubs throughout the country through which athletes are guided and hone their competitive skills. No athletes who won medals for The Bahamas this year, or any previous year, could do it without the guidance of somebody in a school or club.
In the early years of track and field clubs like St. Bernards, The Southerners, St. George's followed by the Pioneers' Sporting Club, The Ambassadors, and The Bain Town Flyers, to name only a few, made a significant impact on the sporting and cultural life of The Bahamas. Some of the coaches like Henry Crawford, Charlie Wright, and D'ynza Burrows were legendary and contributed to the development of numerous national and international level athletes.
Volunteerism was the 'name of the game' with them. Fast forward to today where there are about 20 track and field clubs in The Bahamas which monitor the progress of our upcoming athletes. Many of them hold their own track and field meets which are heavily subscribed by athletes. Each of these clubs have numerous volunteers who give of their time, and occasionally resources, to ensure the success of the athletes.
Parents are a significant factor in the success of numerous athletes and clubs. Sometimes they act as just transportation to practice and sometimes they are a significant part of the clubs, whether they are coaches or part of the organizational structure. There are numerous parents throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas who give yeoman service to the sport.
The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA)
This is the organization given the mandate by the international body, the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), to develop and promote Road Running, Cross Country, Mountain Running, and track and field throughout The Bahamas. The BAAA will celebrate its' 60th anniversary on May 6, 2012. The organization's initial membership included president Alfred Francis Adderley, Cyril Richardson, Joseph Garfunkle, Edward Mitchell, Reginald Farrington, Fred Moultrie, Reginald Robertson, Kendal Isaacs, Cecil V. Bethel, Gerald Cash, Randol Fawkes, and Orville Turnquest.
The presidents who succeeded Adderley were Cyril Richardson, Harold Munnings, Paul Adderley, Levi Gibson, Sir Arlington Butler, Reverend Enoch Backford, Winston Cooper, Dr. Bernard Nottage, Alpheus Finlayson, Foster Dorsett, Desmond Bannister, Mike Sands and Curt Hollingsworth (Interim).
From its inception, the organization has been defined by volunteers who have worked untiringly to make it one of the premier sports federations in the country and in the region. As the BAAA moves into its' 60th anniversary and London Olympics year, it is imperative that more volunteers, in addition to the elected members are needed to fulfill its mandate. The volunteers can be to the local clubs or the BAAA.
We have members of BACO who have officiated in regional and area competitions and look forward to an increase in the number of members of BACO and hope that one day soon, one of its members will soon qualify to officiate in the World Championships and Olympic Games. Funding is a critical area so persons who adept at those skills are in high demand. Then there are those who are adept at organization. They are needed in every organization.
The BAAA has had athletes win Olympic and World Championships gold medals and coaches who coached at the highest levels. We have had two Bahamians, Alpheus Finlayson and Pauline Davis-Thompson, who have been elected to the Council of the IAAF, the world's governing body of track and field. In the process, the organization has been influential in the lives of many young persons, in and outside the inner city, who would have been left by the wayside and may have pursued a life of crime otherwise.
Next year will be a significant year for Bahamian track and field. Volunteers are definitely needed for the organization to do what we all know is possible. If you have some extra time or are looking forward to a rewarding experience, please call the BAAA office at 325 4433 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The countdown is on to 2012 and of course there are fabulous events being held island-wide where you can party away 2011 and ring in the New Year, and The Nassau Guardian has the entire scene covered for you -- from the hottest party in the east to the wildest and most glamorous affairs in the west.
Mario's Bowling and Family Entertainment Palace
It's being billed as two levels and two parties all at one venue, at Mario's Bowling and Family Entertainment Palace in the Summer Winds Plaza on the Tonique Williams-Darling Highway.
With a $5,000 balloon drop, scheduled for 1:12 a.m., (to ensure that people have time to make it out after church to collect their change) Leslia Miller says their Masquerade Party is one not to be missed.
With two levels, two parties, one venue, in the Heineken Platinum green lounge cake and champagne will be circulated all night. Every twelfth person will also receive a New Year's gift bag filled with goodies until the clock strikes midnight. And anyone attired in green will gain admission into the Heineken lounge for half price
The second lounge will be the Countdown VIP Dance Floor, where the balloon drop will take place.
Besides the money, Miller says Mario's will have the hottest deejays, drink specials and fireworks.
Doors open at 10:30 p.m. until 6 a.m.
Compass Point Beach Resort
Anastacia Kemp says the Compass Point Beach Resort New Year's affair will definitely appeal to people who want to relax to bring in 2012.
"You don't have to be over-dressed so you can feel relaxed," says the front desk manager. For $185 per person, you get a four-course served meal and access to an open bar. The event which starts at 8 a.m. and runs through to 12 midnight, will feature a deejay, live band, Junkanoo rushout and fireworks.
Hammerhead's Bar and Grill
Hammerhead's Bar and Grill on East Bay Street invite you to dive into 2012 at their establishment with a party that party kicks of at 9 p.m. with $2 shots and $4 drink specials. With bottle service all night, and music by Nassau's hottest deejay, they say it's the spot to be.
SuperClubs Breezes will host a New Year's Eve Gala at the resort on Cable Beach from 6 p.m. until you say when. In the main dining room you have a raw bar with iced cocktail shrimp and Caribbean claws, a soup station with four soups, a salad bar which allows you to mix it up as you like it, their famous trio station, their taste of the world station, a Caribbean-style ratatouille station, and an unforgettable sumptuous dessert station.
The Marley Resort on Cable Beach hosts a New Year's Eve cocktail party on Saturday, December 31 from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. A live band plays for your enjoyment. The $75 cover charge includes appetizers, party favors and a free glass of champagne at midnight.
Get ready for a night on the dance floor that you will not soon forget. The Rotary Clubs of The Bahamas' first celebratory ball in honor of its 50th anniversary promises to not be a "stuffy" affair. It's going to be the perfect blend of sophistication and fun to kick off ball season.
It will be a spectacular night of music, laughter and good company in the Crown Ballroom at Atlantis tonight from 7 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $150.
"This will be an exciting black tie affair and it is the perfect way to kick off this month of celebration for this important milestone for the Rotary Clubs," said Charles Sealy, assistant district governor of Rotary Clubs of The Bahamas. "There will be so many things going on throughout the night to keep people upbeat and excited. Whether you are a Rotarian or not you will have a great time."
With music by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, and loads of prizes to be given out throughout the night, Sealy says "spectacular" will be the word to associate with the evening.
"There will not be a dull moment all night," he promises. "From the music, the dance to the food and the decor, you will love what you see. It will be a real experience that people will enjoy from start to finish. And with loads of prizes to be given out throughout the night."
To add another dash of spice to the evening the menu is a foodie's delight that will be nothing short of divine from start to finish from the conch and plantain soup, crab encrusted bass to the spinach stuffed chicken breasts, sorbets, salads and signature guava pastries.
You will have a wonderful time while supporting a worthy cause. Rotary is a worldwide network of inspired individuals who translate their passions into relevant social causes to change lives in communities. Business, professional and community leaders volunteer their time and talents to serve communities locally and around the world -- and form strong, lasting friendships in the process.
With loads of prizes to be given out throughout the night. You will be around great people and the funds raised throughout the night will go toward rotary initiatives. So you will be having a good time and supporting a wonderful cause.
Whether you are looking to support the good cause that is Rotary, or just looking to attend a fabulous party, the Rotary Clubs of Nassau's first celebratory ball fits the bill.
Rotary International president Kainan Banerjee will address Bahamian Rotarians. He is expected to highlight the achievements of Rotary as an international organization and share the future goals of the historic 1.2 million global club with attendees. The Rotary Club of Miami, the club who sponsored the first rotary club in The Bahamas will also be in attendance for the ball.
"This occasion is a really significant one for local Rotarians and after so many years doing such good work in our country and supporting worldwide causes I think it is a great time to celebrate," says Sealy. "I believe the Rotary Club has been doing great work in assisting many causes, and it is great for us to have this time to celebrate what we have done and reflect on where we need to go. It is also a wonderful time to mingle with the public and all those who support us and our cause. So it will be a wonderful evening that will really celebrate who we are and the people who have helped us to achieve and continue to give back."
The ball also kicks off a month of events for the 50th anniversary of the Rotary's establishment in The Bahamas. Other events to look forward to throughout the weeks include a bed race, an awards reception, bowling competition and even a golf tournament.
When: Friday, January 6
Where: Crown Ballroom, Atlantis
Time: 7 p.m. - 12 a.m.
Dress code: Black tie
Schedule of Events
Sunday, January 8
8 a.m. - Christ Church Cathedral Service
Wednesday, January 11
8 p.m. - Bowling Tournament
Mario's Bowling and Family Entertainment Palace
Friday, January 13
12:30 p.m. - Golf Tournament
Ocean Club golf course
Saturday, January 14
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. - Rotary photo display and blood drive
Mall at Marathon
Sunday, January 15
5 a.m. - Marathon Bahamas
8 a.m. - Boiled fish brunch at Marathon Bahamas
Tuesday, January 17
Movie Night and After Party
Galleria 6 - John F. Kennedy Drive
Thursday, January 19
7 p.m. - 50th Anniversary Banquet
Hilton Hotel Poolside and Garden
Saturday, January 28
Annual Bed Race for Charity
Mall at Marathon
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- This past weekend a great humanitarian in Grand Bahama was rewarded for his work through the Rotary Clubs in Grand Bahama. Harold "Sonny" Waugh, of Waugh Construction, is the first Rotarian in Grand Bahama to receive the esteemed Sir Durward Knowles Humanitarian Award. This award was presented to Mr. Waugh on Saturday night during the Rotary Club of Freeport's 50th Anniversary.
While the club has been in Grand Bahama for 50 years, it was noted that Waugh had been a Rotarian for 40 years and during that time, his love for the organization and his community was so visible he was nicknamed "Mr. Rotary."
In the anniversary commemorative booklet, Waugh was also congratulated by the Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham in his address to the club, as well as Assistant District Governor K. Peter Turnquest and many fellow Rotarians.
Turnquest stated that Waugh has been a pioneer and a giant in Grand Bahama in both community service and business, lending his time and treasure in the service of mankind locally and internationally. "He has worked tirelessly and admirably to further the cause and principles of Rotary and stands as a shining example of what we all should aspire to be," continued Turnquest. "Sonny proves that by selflessly working to change your own corner of the globe, your influences and impacts can be felt worldwide. Congratulations Sonny on being awarded the Sir Durward Knowles Humanitarian Award, recognition well earned."
Making the presentation on behalf of the four Rotary Clubs in Grand Bahama and Sir Durward Knowles was past Rotary International Director Barry Rassin.
Photo: Guest speaker, past RI Director Barry Rassin, presents Harold 'Sonny' Waugh with the Sir Durward Knowles Humanitarian Award. (Photo: Erik J. Russell / Keen i Media Ltd.)
Click HERE to read more in the Freeport News
Click HERE to view a gallery of photos from the event by Keen i Media Ltd.
AFTER nearly two months of planning and preparation, friends and members of the Rotary Clubs of East Nassau, Bahamas and the Rotary Club of Joplin, Missouri partnered in a Rotary International community service project.
The Rotarians spent a weekend at 'Project Read' where they renovated a staircase and built a new entrance to the building, ultimately making it a safer place.
According to Brian Moodie, chairman of Project Read, "The difficulty some of our tutors and students had climbing the existing spiral staircase was preventing them from accessing the facilities at Project Read."
When Project Read administrator Arthurlue Rahming appealed to local Rotarians for help, they ...
NASSAU, Bahamas -- The season of giving officially kicks off because The Salvation Army's familiar Red Kettles make their seasonal debut on New Providence, starting Saturday, November 24th, you'll find those kettles and the jolly ting-a-ling-ling of handheld bells that accompanies them.
The Red Kettle Campaign supports the mission of the organization and provides support to a number of programs arranging from special meals for needy individuals and families, toy and clothing for disadvantaged children, personal care products for the elderly and institutionalized, and vital funding for year round programs.
Last year, through the Red Kettle Campaign, over $100,000 was donated to support The Salvation Army's programs and services thanks to the generosity of the community and the gift of volunteer time by many social service clubs, businesses and individuals.
This year, Divisional Commander Lester Ferguson is asking the community to give just as much and maybe even a little bit more. "We need all the help we can get," Ferguson said, "because the need is great. We hope that people understand that."
REPRESENTATIVES of the country's Rotaract Clubs presented the Cancer Society of the Bahamas with a donation garnered from the proceeds of their inaugural "Cancer Walk" in March.
The walk was the first project on which all the Rotaract Clubs collaborated. In addition, the community service project was organised in honour of celebrating World Rotaract Week, in solidarity with the other Rotaract Clubs in District 7020.
The event was supported by both Rotarians and partakers from the community, and the refreshments were provided by Aquapure Water.
Participants were asked to wear blue in honour of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and walked from Arawak Cay to Goodman's Bay ...
There has been much good work over many years to expand opportunities for disabled Bahamians. Various individuals and charitable organizations are noteworthy for their contributions in this important work.
Among the aforementioned are organizations such as Abilities Unlimited, the Bahamas National Council for Disability, the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled, the Physically Challenged Children's Committee and others.
Various social outreach groups, service clubs and businesses have likewise provided generous financial and material assistance to persons with disabilities.
A number of intrepid individuals have also lent their considerable time, talents and other resources.
They include persons such as Sheila Culmer, Sir Durward Knowles, Drexel Deal, Harold Longley and Dr. Patrick Whitfield. We recall too the work of others now deceased, including Sir Etienne Dupuch, Shirley Oakes-Butler and Beryl Hanna.
Still, despite past accomplishments and the work of many individuals and organizations, there is considerable work to be done to enhance the integration of and to better utilize the gifts and energies of more individuals with disabilities.
There is work to be done in the areas of public education, elimination of discrimination, better access to economic and training opportunities and other measures.
After years of rhetoric, many disabled persons and their families have grown tired of what they feel are promises without action.
As with any group seeking fuller integration into society, disabled persons are still their own best advocates.
They should continue to agitate for change and opportunity. The aforementioned can be enhanced through better coordination and networking among disability organizations.
The government proposes to introduce long delayed but welcomed legislation, namely, the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Act.
The legislation is geared towards further reducing discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Former president of the Bahamas National Council for Disability Sheila Culmer told The Nassau Guardian recently that discussions surrounding the rights of the disabled have been ongoing for the last 20 years.
She noted that the legislation will "make it unlawful to discriminate against persons with disabilities in connection with education, employment, the provision of goods, facilities and services and the disposal or management of premises, to make provisions in respect of the employment of persons with disabilities, to establish a national disabilities rights commission and for connected purposes."
Culmer also indicated that education, transportation and accessibility to public buildings were key issues she hopes the bill addresses.
They are hoping that 2011 is the year that landmark legislation for the disabled is finally passed after many years of delay by successive governments.
To be effective, such legislation must be accompanied by the provision of resources for its enforcement and enablement.
Such legislation should cause individual Bahamians, including business owners, to consider how their attitudes and practices are supporting or helping to end discrimination towards our disabled citizens.
Bahamian workers would face grave reductions in take-home pay if a payroll tax were implemented instead of a value-added tax (VAT), said three of the leading voices in financial affairs, including that of the prime minister.
"You would need a payroll tax of 20-25 percent to equal what a VAT of 15 percent would generate," said Prime Minister Perry Christie.
The prime minister was addressing a gathering of more than 100 people, ranging from those with farm interests in Abaco to consultants from some of the nation's largest businesses and the financial services industry at a national conclave for Chambers of Commerce at SuperClubs Breezes resort on April 2.
Most of his address dealt with the way forward for The Bahamas, and touched on subjects including the advancement of an international arbitration center and international aircraft registry, and the untapped potential of seabed products. He then turned to the ever-present topic of national conversation - the broad-based tax system the government proposes to implement to raise annual revenue by $200 million, in hopes of avoiding the devaluation of the Bahamian dollar.
Asked if the government had considered alternatives to VAT, the prime minister said absolutely, adding that he was still listening to and talking with persons from a wide range of perspectives. But a payroll tax would penalize the working individual, he said, a conclusion echoed by Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis and independently at a later presentation by Financial Secretary John Rolle.
Both men said government had plugged payroll tax into a model, and the results showed that the impact on the economy, including smaller take-home paychecks, would be far greater than the anticipated 5-6 percent increase on the cost of living, which is expected to accompany the first year of VAT.
According to the government's figures, it would take a 16 percent salary deduction to equal what a 10 percent VAT rate across the board would generate. The deduction would have to be between 20 percent and 25 percent to generate as much as a 15 percent VAT rate would net.
"The net positive impacts (of implementing VAT) outweigh the net negative impacts," said Halkitis, noting that The Bahamas still does not have capital gains tax, estate taxes, corporate or individual income tax.
And, according to Minister for Financial Services Ryan Pinder, The Bahamas remains one of the lowest percentage tax regimes in the region and in the world.
The Bahamas rate of taxation to GDP is 16 percent, he said, while other countries collect far greater percentages of their total product, including the U.S., where taxpayers cough up 32 percent of the gross domestic product in taxes every year.
"The real question," said Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle, "is can we afford not to do it?"
Warning of the increased scrutiny of credit rating agencies, he said, "It only takes one person, one suggestion that The Bahamas is not a good place to invest, not a safe place to put your money, and guess what happens - it not only impacts the government, it impacts everyone. We have only one chance to get it right."