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News Article
'Cultural shift' needed if PPP strategy is to be successful

In the wake of a clarion call on the part of the prime minister to Bahamians to come forth with proposals for public-private partnerships to further develop the country, a Bahamian who attempted to do just that, only to find her proposal passed over in favor of a foreign company, said a serious and challenging "cultural shift" will be required if the government is serious about involving the domestic private sector in building the country.
Ginny McKinney, president of Waste Not, which for six years worked on developing a comprehensive proposal which would have seen a large group of Bahamians become involved with the management of the landfill, said that if politicians and civil servants at all levels of the government are not prepared to engage openly with would-be Bahamian investors, the prime minister's claim that he is committed to seeing their involvement will come to nought.
She made her comments in an interview with Guardian Business on the sidelines of the National Conclave of Chambers of Commerce in The Bahamas, a first-of-its-kind conclave organized by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, which took place at SuperClubs Breezes yesterday.
At the event, Prime Minister Perry Christie spoke extensively on the topic of public-private partnerships (PPPs), telling those gathered that the government now sees a "vital role for PPPs in our nation's development going forward", adding that it "will be of utmost importance that the government and the private sector collaborates".
Telling those gathered that there are "tremendous opportunities" to be had in the area of PPPs, the prime minister said that there are "so many foreign individuals who are looking to involve themselves "in this" and urged Bahamians to "seize the initiative" and come forward to the government with proposals.
"The time has come to encourage business people to look at the opportunities, to look at the manifold opportunities in our islands, but you have to look at it and manage it because foreign persons will do it for you," he said, adding that the government is looking at a PPP to build a hospital in Grand Bahama, as well as a housing project, among other areas.
PPPs are a popular and effective means of more efficiently and in a more affordable way implementing public infrastructure projects and services, in areas such as transportation, water and electricity production and distribution, the construction of roads, schools and bridges, healthcare and more.
Christie explained that they generally involve a private entity putting up the capital up-front for the project, while receiving a return over time for its involvement based on the charging of service fees to users.
In the question-and-answer session, McKinney told the prime minister that she and a group of Bahamians had spent over six years and around $1 million putting together a comprehensive PPP-type proposal to address problems at the landfill but were "rebuffed".
The government recently signed a landfill remediation contract with majority foreign-owned company Renew Bahamas.
"We came with a lot of money, enthusiasm, energy, as Bahamians. We were not asking to own the landfill, it would be a publicly-traded company, with a component for youth funding, it would be a Bahamian entity that would enhance the service provided. That was a public-private initiative and it was well thought out, we cut no corners, and we were rebuffed. We were told we were rebuffed because it was the waste-to-energy aspect, but in reality we were never given the chance to sit down... to be able to talk and look at the other options."
In an interview with Guardian Business subsequent to her comments in the question-and-answer session, McKinney suggested that her group's experience may be illustrative of the challenges the government may experience with implementing an effective PPP strategy for national development.
"We had more time with Mr. Christie than we ever had with anyone in the department. He gave us a meeting and it was longer than what I ever had, for example, with Melonie McKenzie, to talk about our proposal. We are talking about over six years having a problem accessing the experts, who would say 'we don't like that', 'this won't fly', or 'let's try this'.
"We wanted to speak with them about what they wanted, but we were operating in a void. We wanted to dialogue and know what their problems were dealing with it. We wanted to say tell us, speak to us, and help us solve the problems."
"There government has got to respond, but unfortunately I think the civil service is designed not to do that. They've always been designed to be unto themselves, so this is a big cultural shift and if we were to make (the shift to a PPP approach to development), which would be way more intelligent because all of our brains are working together, they'll have to change," said McKinney. "But how do you change huge departments of people? It's a very laudable thing that he says, but at the end of the day how do you do that?"
Christie invited McKinney to come and meet with him following her comments at the conference, suggesting that they might explore whether there are ways in which her group could be involved at the landfill.

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News Article
More work to be done

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.

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News Article
PM, minister, financial secretary agree: Payroll tax not a viable option

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."

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News Article
Ingranomics Part 2

Last week we noted that although the Ingraham administration steered us through a treacherous period in world economic history it has not completely come up smelling like roses.  There have been some unpleasant consequences to the administration's choices and there were, in my view, many missed opportunities.

CULTURE AND INDUSTRY
The FNM's investments in tourism infrastructure (the harbor dredging, the port move and the new airport terminal), are largely making way for anticipated tourism growth in the medium to long-term. That's not necessarily a foolish or irresponsible choice to make.
The problem is such investments won't yield the desired results unless you seriously address some of the reasons The Bahamas is no longer a hot ticket.
We are facing ever diminishing returns in tourism.  Despite the millions who come here on cruise ships, what we really need are stopover visitors and this is where we've been dead in the water.  We have had more cruise ship visitors than stopover visitors since the mid 80s.
We are a far more expensive destination than many competitors south of us and that's not about to change.  But where we are also losing is that we are culturally far less interesting.  Not enough of an investment has been made to actually make The Bahamas a more distinct and attractive destination.  Beaches, casinos and sunshine can be found all over the globe and for a lot less than in Nassau.  Are we going to be offering "1 flies-1 flies free" deals and cruise ship tax rebates for the rest of the decade?
Many of us believe that the answer lies in the marriage of tourism and cultural and artistic expression.  Yet the government of The Bahamas refuses or is unable to act in a manner that encourages wider cultural entrepreneurship - entrepreneurship that can maximize local and tourist markets.  And to be fair, the private sector is even less interested in investing than the government.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, Junkanoo is a Christmas festival not a spring festival like Mardi Gras or Trinidad or Rio Carnival.  The western world is just not going to travel heavily to be in another country on Christmas night or New Year's Day.  So what does that leave here in the capital?
The Fry (Arawak Cay) is the best attraction in Nassau, outside of Atlantis' casino, restaurants, clubs and water attractions.  It features local food, live music and atmosphere (at affordable prices, prices which no hotel can match).
How can we expand or duplicate what's best about the Fry?  What would it cost to do so?
Let's look at the FNM's track record. They rejected Carifesta twice.  They show contempt (like the PLP before them) for the run-down shell of a National Performing Arts Centre (which could be the year round home of the National Dance Company, Children's Choir, Youth Choir, Youth Orchestra, Police and Defence Force bands and a National Theatre Company).
They have made a ghost out of the Junkanoo Museum.  They don't seem to know what to do with Shakespeare in Paradise.  And they generally refuse to facilitate cultural workers in a sustained and comprehensive way in the tourist zones.
As a result, Nassau remains a dull, run-down, expensive place to visit.  We absorb all sorts of tax breaks for resort development.
In this period why couldn't we have been bold and taken some risks in an effort to improve The Bahamas as a cultural destination?  Hotels aren't destinations.  Cities, towns and countries are, but we settle for a country where the only thing people come for is to walk around in Atlantis.  And soon Baha Mar, I suppose.
But outside of the jobs these enclaves create, aren't we losing out on opportunities to truly maximize the tourist dollars spent on the island?
NUMBERS
Ingraham also flirted with legalizing numbers and then backed off, promising a referendum if he is re-elected.  This is leading from behind, which is not his style.
The Bahamian government is broke and the numbers business is a quarter to half a billion dollar enterprise that goes untaxed and unregulated.
The government has a right and a responsibility to tax the daylights out of this business, to bring it into the light of public scrutiny and to use the money it gains to help build the country and strengthen the social fabric.
Ingraham should have used this recession to regulate numbers.
Instead, a magistrate has confiscated nearly $1 million and fined businessman Craig Flowers $10,000.
By now Ingraham could have collected as much in taxes for numbers as he got in the BTC sale.  He should also have taxed alcohol more heavily as well.
 
TAXATION
I said earlier that if you are going to risk being voted out over something unpopular, you better make sure that the change you're introducing is worth it all.
I'm sorry but Ingraham could have left the roads bumpy, focused exclusively on fixing the eastern district water problem, and tackled a real problem instead of going through all this madness with the roads all at once.
What he should have done, again under the cover of the economic crisis, is address our regressive and unethical system of taxation that burdens the poor and middle class and lets the rich and their companies get away with all their cash.
Ingraham should have been the man to introduce income tax.  It's the perfect time to do so.  The pressure from the U.S. is leading us in that direction anyway.  Would he lose this election if he did so?  He may lose it over unfinished roads.
 

What I guarantee you though, is that the PLP would not have repealed it afterward.  The government needs revenue.  We have thousands of people on pension in the civil service who have contributed nothing to it but feel entitled.
The bubble will burst eventually.  NIB is already automatically removing a percentage of my salary before it hits my bank account.
I may never make a claim at NIB but I accept that my contribution helps those who need support more than I do.  Income tax is doable.
And thereby we can reduce these ridiculous customs duties that hamper the growth of Bahamian businesses because you are being taxed before you sell anything.  I reject the argument that the government can't handle income tax.  It can and so can our people.
 
DOWNSIZING?
I could talk about the fact that after downsizing ZNS, it is still operating at the same quality level as before, or about the FNM's refusal to touch Bahamasair despite the fact there are homegrown airlines who can pick up the slack.
But instead I wish to raise the question of right sizing the civil service.  I don't think this has to mean sending hundreds of people home and creating a social and economic crisis.  I mean actually moving people from posts where they are under-performing or are really redundant and re-training them to help plug holes elsewhere in the system.  I'll give just a few examples.
I once interviewed Loretta Butler-Turner, Minister of State for Social Development, and she told me that the nation could use another 150 social workers.  As you might imagine the social worker does crucial work that is essential to public health, public safety, crime prevention and the overall wellbeing of the society.  Why not re-deploy and re-train some of your civil servants to fill this need?
Our schools are overcrowded.  Every classroom could use a teacher's aid.  And what about the problem of truancy?  Or the need for environmental health inspectors to check homes and businesses, particularly given the occurrences of dengue.
There were creative options available to the government that would allow it to shift the public service work force to meet the greatest needs.  We need park wardens and after school mentors for our teenagers; we need these in every community.
The FNM just lacked a holistic, creative social vision and they failed to see how their economic choices and challenges could actually work for them not against them in the effort to build a stronger, better country.
They took the unemployed and had them cleaning the streets.  And sure, that met a need, because New Providence is filthy.  But in the same way, there were other serious needs that could have been met, not just with new hires but by properly utilizing the people you already have employed.
So overall, I'll describe Ingranomics as an orthodox approach, lacking in innovation or experimentation.  Ingraham played it safe, which can be a comfort in these unstable times.  But sometimes you can play it so safe that you get fired by the people anyway, because the times demand more daring.  We'll see what happens.
 

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News Article
Volunteerism in sports

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
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 bahamastrack@hotmail.com.

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News Article
French bridge to Brazil: The Caribbean should not be stranded

The world is about to see Europe linked to South America in a way that has never happened before.  A bridge will link French Guiana, the last European outpost in the Americas, with Brazil, the largest country in South America and now the sixth largest economy in the world.
There are other physical links to Brazil, but none from Europe.  Once the bridge between French Guiana and Brazil is opened, so too will open the opportunity for greater trade and investment between the European Union (E.U.) and Brazil, since for all administrative purposes French Guiana is as much a part of France as Paris.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country is just ahead of Brazil in the rankings of the world's largest economies, will probably announce the opening of the bridge across the Oyapock River, French Guiana's border with Brazil, while he is in French Guiana as part of a campaign whipping up support for his shot at a second term as president.
His interest in the relationship between French Guiana and Brazil will go beyond the physical link between the two neighbors to the economic opportunities it can provide for France and by extension the E.U.  Brazil has a population of about 200 million and its economy grew by 7.5 percent in 2010, and was forecast to grow another 3.5 percent in 2011.  It is rich in natural resources and is open to European investment.
On the other side, Brazil has a vibrant manufacturing sector and, remarkably, it sells more to China than it imports.  For Brazil, the link to French Guiana could lead to a direct land-crossing to the Atlantic Ocean for parts of its huge territory from which overland transportation to its own Atlantic coast is expensive.
This possibility will be additional to a border-crossing established in 2009 between Brazil and Guyana, when a bridge was built over the Takutu River that barely divides the two countries at Brazil's northern point.  However, while the bridge accommodates regular traffic between Brazil's northern area, Roraima, and Guyana, there is not an all-weather road from the bridge to Guyana's coast.  Until the all-weather road is constructed, Brazil still cannot use Guyana effectively for transporting exports from its northern region.
If French Guiana opens the 1,240-ft long bridge for business, it will connect the towns of Saint-Georges-de-l'Oyapock and Oiapoque on the French and Brazilian sides respectively, and the opportunities for commerce not only between the two neighbors, but between France and Brazil, will expand rapidly.
The opening of this bridge need not rival or displace the already-opened link between Guyana and Brazil, an all-weather road, estimated at US$40 million, was built from the Guyana border town, Lethem, to Guyana's Atlantic coast.  Guyana's Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett recently announced that Guyana has completed a feasibility study for the Lethem Road paving project.  She is reported to have said: "We would like to see this project accelerate quickly, but we also have to be very patient."  While she did not say so, the minister's caution could be based on the level of concessional financing that Brazil is willing to give.
Meantime, authoritative reports show that, as a result of the Takutu Bridge, the flow of commodities from Guyana to Brazil has increased.  There is also a flow of Brazilians into Guyana especially into the gold and diamond mining industries, and, increasingly, into the establishment of nightclubs and restaurants in Guyana's capital city.
The completed road would not only give Guyana an opportunity to sell commodities to northern Brazil, it would also earn Guyana revenues from Brazilian exports moving to Guyana's sea port which would have to be converted into a deep water harbor.  Services to Brazilian transport vehicles would also provide new economic opportunities for Guyanese and very likely lead to new townships along the hundreds of miles of road.  If the Brazilians extend their cooperation further to provide concessional financing for a deep water port in Guyana, both countries would benefit.  So too would the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), whose people would find jobs in an expanded Guyana economy, and whose manufacturing industries could access Northern Brazil through Guyana.
The Guyana-Brazil relationship would have to be carefully negotiated to ensure that Guyana is not overwhelmed.  While there is no tension between Guyana and Brazil, some of Brazil's other neighbors in South America - particularly Bolivia and Paraguay - have complained about Brazil flexing its newfound political and economic muscle.
Marcel Biato, Brazil's ambassador to Bolivia, said, about infrastructure financing in Bolivia and elsewhere in South America, "We want Brazil to be surrounded by prosperous, stable countries."
Other Brazilian authorities have argued that their country has access to sources of raw materials other than its immediate neighbors and that it has routes across the continent through which it can send goods to ports on the Pacific.  That may be so, but it is cheaper for Brazil to secure raw materials it needs from their closest point, and the governor of Roraima has made it clear that it would be cheaper for manufacturing industries in his state to be able to ship their goods to the Atlantic through Guyana.
It is very much in Brazil's interest to allay the fears of its neighbors and to monitor carefully the behavior of some of its companies operating in nearby countries, or, over time, it could be tainted with the same image of bullying that Latin American and Caribbean countries applied to the United States.  That would not be good for Brazil or its neighbors.
As the Brazilian economic ship rises in the sea of economic fortunes, it has the chance to pull along the smaller economies around it in a manner that commands respect and support.
The bridges to two of the Guianas - Guyana and French Guiana - as well as the increasing economic links to the third of the Guianas - Suriname - offer great opportunities for Brazil.
As for Guyana, the all-weather road to Brazil will be a catalyst for further economic growth and a gateway to South America for the Caribbean Community countries.  As two developing countries with shared interests in the international arena, Guyana and Brazil should cement a fair, balanced and co-operative agreement to ensure mutual benefits and gains whatever happens with the connection between France and Brazil through the use of French Guiana.
 
Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on small states in the global community.

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News Article
Lion's Club sponsors Peace Poster contest

The Freeport News: The Lions' Club of Freeport is presently
sponsoring a Peace Poster Contest in Grand Bahama as part of their wider
organizations call for world peace.

Lions Clubs International, the world's largest service club
organization, is made up of 1.35 million men and women in 207 countries
and geographical locations throughout the world and this organization
has created the Peace Poster Contest to foster a spirit of peace and
international understanding in young people worldwide...

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News Article
'Project Read' receives much needed facelift

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 ...

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News Article
Civil Aviation Department hails airport security training a success

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Twenty proud security personnel representing 17 airports in 13 Family Islands received Train the Trainer certification at the closing ceremony of the five-day "Excellence in Screening Techniques Course," held January 21-25 at the SuperClubs Breezes Resort.
Course graduates represented Family Island airports in Mangrove Cay, Andros; Georgetown, Exuma; New Bight, Cat Island; Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera; Marsh Harbour, Abaco; Bimini; The Berry Islands; North Eleuthera; Inagua; Rock Sound, Eleuthera; Stella Maris, Long Island; Treasure Cay, Abaco; Fresh Creek, Andros; Freeport, Grand Bahama and San Salvador.
Director of Civil Aviation Captain Patrick L. Rolle explained that this training course met all of its objectives with an emphasis on the customer service side of airport security. He expressed his expectation that this level and quality of training will continue and that Bahamian security specialists would consistently meet and exceed international security standards and service delivery.
"I believe all of our goals were accomplished and met for the week that our staff were here. Excellence in screening is important to us because the customer service side of our business is not recognised or adhered to. What we will see at the end of the day is a group of persons who have developed a passion for service," he said.

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News Article
Charity attracts record yacht numbers

Hundreds will descend on the country's largest resort to participate in a boating event that benefits at-risk youth.
The 25th Annual Showboats International Rendezvous, hosted by the executives of the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County, is designed to raise money for 12,000 at-risk youth. According to event organizers, the annual charity is one of the largest social superyacht gatherings in the world, raising more than $30 million to date.
Brian Quail, the organization's chief executive officer, said he believes that the three-day event will not only raise the much-needed dollars for the children, but also serve as the kick-off to the yachting year.
"Hopefully, we are going to raise a lot of money to meet the needs of at-risk youth that we serve here in Broward County, Florida. We have over 12,000 members that we take care of on an annual basis and most of our kids, 61 percent of them come from single parent homes. Incomes are usually less than $20,000. Fifty-two percent of our membership falls within that category," he said.
"We actually started this event in The Bahamas 25 years ago, so it's really fun for us to be back. We think we have put together a fun-filled weekend for those who will be attending and participating."
The Boys & Girls Club of Broward Country is partnering with Showboats International, the Atlantis resort and the Ministry of Tourism to host the popular boating charity event. Organizers are looking to raise more than $1 million over the course of the weekend.
Mike Busacca, an executive committee member for the event, said he is excited about this year's event, as it is expected to be the biggest one to date. The response from sponsorship and participants has been promising.
"We are bringing quite a bit of yachts. There has been $1 million in donations to assist with the auction. There are owners who donate their boats to charter for a week. People are very excited. Sponsors are paying fees from $5,000 all the way up to $50,000," Case shared.
"We felt that The Bahamas would be the perfect location because a resort like Atlantis is all-inclusive when owners decide to come with their yachts, everything is there for them to have and to see. They don't have to leave that resort at all during their stay. They want to party for a great cause."
Rick Case, the event's founder, pointed out to Guardian Business that Nassau and the Atlantis resort is the perfect location to host the yachting event. It was first launched here 25 years ago.
"They needed to raise money and I came with the idea for this event. We started at Cat Cay in The Bahamas. Every year the event grows. We are going to have more yachts than we've ever had in our existence, as well as guests. We are always limited to 15-20 yachts where now we have room for 2,500 people and we have room for 60 yachts," he added.
"We went from being able to service three clubs with 1,000 kids with a $1 million budget to having 13 clubs, servicing 12,000 kids with more than a $10 million budget. From this annual event, we raised over $30 million."
The three-day event begins this evening with the sponsor welcome reception at the Atlantis marina, to be followed by a yacht hop. On Friday there will be a fishing tournament and a poolside party. On Saturday there will be a beach BBQ, Admirals Club cocktail party and a 'White Gala' to be held in the Imperial Ballroom.

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