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News Article
Lupus 242 continues to raise local awareness during May

NASSAU, Bahamas -- This month, Bahamians will join millions around the world to raise awareness for lupus. Nassau-based support group, Lupus 242, is leading the way with events planned to educate locals about the debilitating disease affecting many living in the country.
An estimated 5.5 million persons globally live with the chronic autoimmune disease brought on by genetics, environment and hormonal imbalances in the body. Common symptoms include debilitating pain, fatigue and unexplained flare-ups impacting random parts of the body especially internal organs. There are no real statistics on the number of persons in the Bahamas with lupus. In addition to raising awareness, Lupus 242 is working to establish a local database of lupus patients.
"May is Lupus Awareness Month and we are appealing to the general public and to corporate Bahamas to support our events and activities," said Shanelle Brennen, Lupus 242 President and a lupus fighter for more than 20 years. "It's amazing the amount of Bahamians who are suffering in silence. We want to provide them with much needed support through events and through our monthly meetings. Lupus is not an easy illness to live with but there is hope."
Since Lupus 242 launched in April 2012, persons throughout the Bahamas have reached out to share their stories on how lupus has impacted their lives. In addition to the events, the group is also releasing a public service announcement entitled "But You Don't Look Sick" and will be selling wristbands and bumper stickers to the general public.

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News Article
The gold rush anniversary

Dear Editor,
Some have opined that the gold rush administration (PLP), led by Perry Christie, has failed the people of The Bahamas. I beg to differ. I confess that I have many problems with the lackadaisical leadership style of the PM but, on balance, the PLP has performed as best as it was able to in the particular circumstances which it met in place in May 2012.
The FNM, then led by Hubert Ingraham, increased the national debt to unmanageable proportions. He and his ill-fated administration spent money like a drunken sailor. In essence, they jacked us right up, big time. The most callous item was the massive overrun on the so-called road improvement scheme to the extent of $100 million.
Millions more were wasted on pie in the sky projects and so-called job creation schemes which really only benefited FNM cronies. Contracts were awarded to the party faithful while Nero (Ingraham) was fiddling.
Schools and public buildings were badly neglected and were allowed to fall into a state of disrepair. Indeed, many of our courts were literally falling apart while Ingraham was seeing ghosts and dead people all over the place. Unions were striking or withdrawing their labor. The uniformed branches were unhappy and crime was soaring. Major foreign and Bahamian investors were put in play while being turned around like literal fools.
The PLP made too many electoral promises. Yes, one is able to understand the necessity of the big hype during electoral campaigns, but the 2012 event was the biggest one yet. Never again should any political party attempt to bamboozle the good people of this country in such a fashion. This, obviously, is the last lap around the arena for many in the gold rush administration. New leadership is just around the corner.
The gold rush administration must and will, I submit, get its footing within the next few months. May I be bold enough to suggest ways and means by which it will do so? Number one, crime is not out of control, despite the alarming incidences and purported statistics. We have the best commissioner of police in place. Ellison Greenslade sometimes comes across as a showboat but that is precisely what we need to lead a modern and savvy police force.
A majority of the alleged homicides are been perpetuated by and upon so-called gang members. Yes, a handful may involve domestic disputes, but by and large, alleged criminals are retaliating on fellow alleged criminals. Eventually, they will kill themselves off and statistics will automatically go down. This might appear to be a cruel assessment but it is a true one. Eventually men and women will understand the necessity of conflict resolution and counseling.
The PLP is not good at public relations, and the party is in urgent need of a press spokesperson. The PM is not doing the party any good by constantly admitting that he knows nothing about numerous issues or that no one told him about them in a timely manner. He is coming to look and sound like a man who lives in another galaxy. Other ministers are just as bad, if not worse.
The minister of housing and the environment is not suited for his portfolio. Garbage collection is horrible on New Providence and the island is looking like the dump that it has become. Not one home has been built since his appointment and the much touted survey on alleged shantytowns is nowhere in sight. The minister of foreign affairs and immigration is now a man unto himself.
Despite these seemingly inept office holders, the PLP will succeed because of a few visionary and hardworking ministers in the administration. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works Philip Brave Davis was instrumental in securing the electoral success of the PLP. Some say that I am a spear carrier for Brave. Others say that I want something from him. No. I want nothing from him except what is good for Bahamians.
Brave has a master plan for the nation and, God willing, it will be implemented with the cooperation and assistance of his colleagues within the gold rush administration in short order. The bogus promise to create 10,000 jobs was just that, a bogus promise. The PLP is able to assist the private sector in generating a minimum of 2,000 jobs per year by immediately reducing the costs of utilities, even if we have to subsidize them. The same economic incentives which are being handed out like candies to foreign investors must be granted to Bahamians.
Let us allow the privatization of Bahamasair. Sell off 60 percent to a consortium of Bahamian and foreign investors and let the government retain 30 percent, the other 10 percent could be sold to the Bahamian public. What is the point of toting this albatross any further?
No additional new infrastructure work should be carried out in New Providence for the next year. The private sector should be encouraged to invest in job generating enterprises by public/private sector projects. For instance, we are badly in need of adequate and affordable medical facilities in the south, west and eastern areas of New Providence.
Invite Doctors Hospital and/or a group of investors to build state-of-the-art medical facilities in those locations and allow them to bring in all equipment and building supplies (where they are not available locally) duty free. While they are at this, a pre-paid medical national plan should be conceptualized and implemented. Allow a private company to offer such a plan say at $25 per month per individual so that when there is need to access medical treatment it would be available at a low cost.
The gold rush administration must also take the bull by the horn and immediately before the summer recess of Parliament bring legislation to regulate and tax the so-called web shops and numbers houses. I have already opined on this issue, but allow me to lay it out again.
This industry generates in excess of $400 million per year. If it were regulated, the gold rush administration could easily tax at a minimum of 40 percent per year. That translates into $160 million per year. Each operator or those who would wish to become operators should be charged $5 million per year for a license. It is commonly agreed that there are at least five major web shops. If so, that translates into an additional $25 million per year for a grand total of $185 million per year.
This money could be used to pay down the national debt and to upgrade The College of The Bahamas to university level and to drastically reduce or even eliminate student fees and charges. The Grand Bahama campus could also then be modernized and expanded. The agriculture and fisheries component of the college could then be introduced over in Andros and Eleuthera right now, eliminating long-winded talk.
The floating power plant proposed by clients of Senator John Bostwick must be carefully looked at and, I submit, approved. Electrical costs are simply too high for the average individual and business firm. If his clients want to put up the money, at little cost to us, let them do so. If it works out, fine. If it fails, what have we lost? Nothing.
Crown land should also be freed up on the major islands and sold to Bahamians at cost, once the infrastructure is in. Where possible the gold rush administration could grant 100-acre tracts to Bahamian developers who would then put in the infrastructure and sell developed lots to Bahamian clients for $30,000 or less with financing by the Bahamas Development Bank.
The gold rush administration must also reverse the traffic flow on Market Street and Baillou Hill Road. Those two streets are the lifeblood arteries of the inner city. Yes, it will take a few million dollars to re-visit this but sell road bonds to institutional and ordinary investors. By the way, are there any audited financial statements for the Road Traffic Department? How much money is collected by that vital government department and where does it go?
The much talked about national training institute is nowhere in sight. Baha Mar and Atlantis are both bemoaning the fact that they are unable to find qualified Bahamians to fill the most mundane positions. Atlantis says that on any given day it has vacancies in the hundreds. Baha Mar says that it will need 3,000 employees to 4,000 employees once it opens next year, God willing. What organization, governmental or otherwise, is now providing training for potential employees? Not a single one. This must come on stream immediately.
The gold rush administration has a golden opportunity to succeed but it must become more proactive and demonstrate visionary traits. It must also revamp and enhance its public relations efforts. The elected and appointed representatives must become more available, if only twice per month. Bahamians like to feel their representatives as opposed to having to run them down.
Lastly, come clean on the issue of the availability of government jobs. There are precious few available and they should only go to the most qualified. Bahamians may act the part of the fool on occasion, but they are able to understand. Stop promising pie in the sky and let us deal with the real issues on the ground.
Yes, as the gold rush administration approaches its first anniversary, it is my contention that it will succeed despite the bad first year, by its own making, in office. Brave and his inner sanctum, with consultative advice from Christie, will make the difference.
To God then, in all things, be the glory.
- Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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News Article
Bell defends Greenslade

Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell yesterday defended Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade in the wake of controversy surrounding the discrepancies between hospital records and police statistics. Bell, who was speaking at a crime forum at The College of The Bahamas' Harry C. Moore Library, said the concerns are unwarranted. Dr. Duane Sands recently released records from Princess Margaret Hospital which indicates that the number of people treated for gunshot injuries and rape related injuries in 2013 is greater than the number of incidents police reported. Bell said he has no reason to question the police's crime statistics, adding that Greenslade's character is being unfairly attacked."Over the last two years there has been a direct attack on the personal character of the commissioner of police which I believe is poor," Bell said."This debate about the police statistics being different than the hospital is another attack on the commissioner of police and I hold the commissioner to be an honest and God fearing man of the highest integrity."Sands previously suggested that the disparity between the hospital records and the crime statistics is a result of political interference. Although he added that he has a great deal of respect for Greenslade. Bell said he was "completely bewildered that a professional would go out there and deliberately deceive the Bahamian people".Greenslade, who was also a panelist in yesterday's forum, said he has a "problem" with people questioning his integrity. He maintains that the crime statistics accurately reflect the level of "serious" crime in the country. Greenslade added that the root of the crime problem won't be fixed by adding more patrol cars, more police men or even by removing him as commissioner."So I'm not going anywhere," he said. "Where do you want me to go?"Bell said the hospital and the police use different methods to collect their data and both entities use their data for different purposes. According to data provided by police, 197 people were shot last year. However, PMH Emergency Room statistics show that 278 people were treated for gunshot related injuries in 2013. Additionally, according to hospital statistics, 147 people were treated after reportedly being raped and the police reported that there were 104 rape reports in 2013. As it relates to the disparity in the number of shootings, Bell said based on the severity of the injury, the police place those incidents in various categories."The reality is when... the hospital calls and indicates that a persons is there suffering from gunshot wounds, the police would respond and the police would send a form called the hospital form which is completed by the hospital physician," Bell said. "Depending on what the physician says is the nature of the injuries would determine how police categorizes the matter in their crime statistics."Bell said the categories range from simple assaults to causing harm, and causing grievous harm to murder.

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News Article
Your Commissioner needs you

By PAUL G TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

pturnquest@tribunemedia.net

POLICE Commissioner Ellison Greenslade yesterday issued a rallying call for citizens to do their bit in making the Bahamas a safer place to live.

After revealing the crime statistics for 2010, the country's top officer promised greater efforts to enhance public safety in 2011.

And in his call for public help, he said: "I call upon all well-meaning citizens to stand with us as we recommit to making our communities safe places to live, work, visit, and play."

Although 94 murders were recorded in 2010, Commissioner Greenslade said there was an overall decrease in crimes against the person of two per cent ...

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News Article
We cannot ignore small businesses

It is an undisputed fact that small businesses are widely considered to be important contributors to economic activity.  In fact, in the United States they account for almost 52 percent of economic output.
So, why are they not adequately supported by public and private institutions in The Bahamas?  We are not aware of any specific studies that have been conducted locally which seek to determine their contribution to economic activity, both actual and potential, and their future especially in light of the current challenging economic environment.
It is readily conceded that the engine of economic growth in most countries is the small business sector.  In The Bahamas, most small businesses find it difficult to operate for any number of reasons, including but not limited to: Government red tape; a lack of adequate funding; lack of proper planning; lack of expertise; poor record keeping; and a simple lack of fiscal discipline.
First, let us consider some of the core issues confronted by the small businessman or entrepreneur.  For this we cite Henderson and Quandt's Microeconomic Theory: A Mathematical Approach: "[A firm's] entrepreneur (owner and manager) decides how much of and how one or more commodities will be produced and gains the profit or bears the loss which results from his decision.  An entrepreneur transforms inputs into outputs, subject to the technical rules specified by his production function.
"The difference between his revenue from the sale of outputs and the cost of his inputs is his profit, if positive, or his loss, if negative.  The entrepreneur's production function gives mathematical expression to the relationship between the quantities of inputs he employs and the quantities of outputs he produces.  An entrepreneur normally will use many different inputs for the production of output.  [The firm's] costs are incurred by the entrepreneur regardless of his short-run maximizing decisions.  The entrepreneur purchases inputs with which he produces commodities."
Unfortunately, most of us have little understanding of the way in which the entrepreneur truly functions, how his economic environment influences his actions, and how various sorts of risk and uncertainty come into play in his decision-making.
In a paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, McMillan and Woodruff write that not only are entrepreneurs worthy of study, but they are central to the transition process.  Writing of China early in its reform process, the authors observe: "These startup firms drove China's reform momentum; they were arguably the single main source of China's growth.  They strengthened the budding market economy by creating jobs, supplying consumer goods, mobilizing savings and ending the state firms' monopoly."
As the authors rightly point out, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other advisers were intently focused on privatizing existing enterprises but nearly completely ignored the other route to the private sector - the creation of new firms.  This is what entrepreneurs do, and did, in the transition process in Europe, China and elsewhere, yet economists nearly always neglect it because the theory upon which they rely is silent on the subject.
Reformers in nearly all transition economies did not foresee the rapid emergence of small enterprises from the ashes of the old Communist system.  While this lack of recognition of the role of entrepreneurs or small businesses is not surprising for those entrenched in the command economies of Europe, it stands as a substantial failure on the part of Western economic advisers, as few of them predicted the important role entrepreneurs would play in the transition.
It would seem that advisors and transition policymakers perhaps should have paid more attention to the Austrian economists such as Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Kirzner, and others.  These scholars correctly argued that the entrepreneur is critical to economic growth - a theory that has been borne out by the experience of the transition economies.
Decades ago, Mises wrote: "The driving force of the market process is provided neither by the consumers nor by the owners of the means of production - land, capital goods, and labor - but by the promoting and speculating entrepreneurs.  Profit-seeking speculation is the driving force of the market as it is the driving force of production."
Kirzner continued this line of thought.  In the Kirznerian view of entrepreneurship, "A market consisting exclusively of economizing, maximizing individuals does not generate the market process we seek to understand.  For the market process to emerge, we require in addition an element which is itself not comprehensible within the narrow conceptual limits of economizing behavior.  This element in the market is best identified as entrepreneurship."
Unfortunately, actual policies in actual economies affecting actual human beings have been crafted by economists who have, for the most part, largely ignored entrepreneurial activity.  That activity is even more important in emerging markets and transition economies such as The Bahamas and building a theory that accommodates that role is an important missing piece in the structure of modern economic theory.  Perhaps the Austrian emphasis on the role of the entrepreneur will be pulled into the mainstream theory now that the transition policy failures are shedding light on this important issue.
We believe that as a nation celebrating its 39th anniversary of independence this year, it is imperative that we move with great urgency to put in place the necessary mechanisms, which will encourage entrepreneurial activities and ensure that the necessary support mechanisms are in place to provide entrepreneurs a basic opportunity to succeed.  We are not talking about handouts, but rather the development of an infrastructure that would allow them the opportunity to achieve success.
How can we accomplish this?  First we need to create a small business authority/economic planning unit which will assist aspiring entrepreneurs with information about potential business opportunities, provide economic statistics for planning purposes, provide avenues for funding, provide education opportunities, access to advisors, etcetera.
Second we need to establish a national venture capital fund that is adequately funded with a minimum of $25 million to be managed by professionals to assist small business with excellent opportunities but which lack the necessary funding.  This should be funded by private investors, financial institutions and the National Insurance Board.  This venture capital fund would also provide consultancy and expertise to small businesses with respect to operations, marketing, distribution, accounting and other technical areas.  This would assist in affording the small business person the opportunity to focus on producing quality service or products.
As we have written before, it is time for us to look within and we submit the time is now.
 
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: column@cfal.com.

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News Article
Bahamas Department of Statistics Releases Gross Domestic Product 2012 Figures

The National Accounts
Section of the Department of Statistics announces the release of the
estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period 2008 to 2012.
The 2012 figures are Preliminary, 2011 are Provisional, 2010 and 2009
are Revised and the 2008 are Final until the next historical revision.

 

The
2012 annual preliminary results are based on early estimates from major
data sources such as the Central Bank, Ministry of Tourism, and the
Foreign Trade Section of the Department of Statistics, etc. They are
also based on indicators which normally mimic movements of particular
industries such as Hotel Room Rates, Megawatt Sales, Building Permits,
Chargeable Telephone Minutes, Consumer Price Index, etc. The 2012 GDP
figures are Preliminary and will be revised as more data become
available...

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News Article
Fair: Asian distribution center in sights of GBPA

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) "needs a couple quick wins" to get it on the fast track to prosperity, according to Ian Fair, the incoming chairman.
And high on the agenda, he said, is the establishment of a Chinese distribution center that would sell mass quantities of goods to corporations throughout North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The high-profile project, rumored to be in the works for months, may receive a much-needed kick-start with the appointment of Fair. As exclusively reported by Guardian Business last month, the top executive has now been officially handed the reigns at the GBPA.
"It's a real challenge in front of us," he told Guardian Business.
"But the major shareholders have come together. We have a board of directors that is very supportive."
Sarah St. George was also appointed as vice chairman.
The appointment of Fair, who is also chairman of the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA), deputy chairman of Butterfield Bank (Bahamas) Limited and chairman of Bahamas First Holdings Limited, could not come at a more
crucial time.
Grand Bahama, despite its close proximity to the U.S. and incentives for foreign businesses, has continued to struggle under the weight of the ongoing financial crisis.
Unemployment on Grand Bahama now stands at more than 21 percent, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Statistics.
Fair brings with him considerable international experience and a diverse professional background.
AsiaMart, a brand that seeks to establish the Chinese distribution center, is a project in the sights of the GBPA.
The new chairman described the concept of a distribution center as "a priority" and "an idea with an awful lot of potential".
Guardian Business understands the GBPA and executives from AsiaMart are meeting today to discuss the project. Furthermore, Fair revealed that he will embark on a trip this month to Hong Kong in regards to a variety of business interests, with the distribution center on the agenda.
"We're in the business of granting licenses. We want what is best for Freeport. The minute I learned about the AsiaMart idea, I thought it had potential. It's an amazing idea. There isn't one in the region. Central America, North America, the Caribbean... they can all come through Freeport."
Fair said the GBPA is in the process of working through proposals, and no former permits or confirmation has been given to any particular party.
He did say, however, that the creation of a distribution center would be a "huge thrust" for employment on the island and the economy at large.
Back in February, Ian Rolle, the president of the GBPA, told Guardian Business that delegates from Yiwu International Trade City, one of the largest wholesale centers in the world, are heading to Grand Bahama to scout possible sites. While the level of investment is presently uncertain, it could easily run into the hundreds of millions, with the majority of distributors setting up shop coming from China or other Asian countries.
Fair went on to mention "there are a lot of things out there that could happen quite soon" to further stimulate the economy in Grand Bahama. Other projects believed to be on the agenda include two waste treatment facilities to further support the island's already robust ship building and maintenance yard.
A dismantling yard is also being planned, Guardian Business understands.
But as the dust settles in regards to Fair's appointment, the new chairman said the primary message, for now, is Grand Bahama is back in business.
"We really want to demonstrate to people we're back in business and no feuding or fighting is going on. (We are) all on the same page and rowing in the same direction," he told Guardian Business. "The Grand Bahama Port Authority is now unified."

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News Article
OAS Expert Mission Presents its Verification Report of the Haiti Vote Tabulation

The

Expert Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) for the

verification of the vote tabulation of the November 28, 2010

Presidential Election delivered its report to the Government of

Haiti on January 13, 2011. Following the January 17 visit of OAS

Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, the report was officially

submitted to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) by President

Préval on January 18. This report contains an assessment and

recommendations on the vote tabulation and other factors that had an

impact on the preliminary results of the first round.

This

Mission, consisting of nine experts in tabulation, statistics, data

analysis, information technology and electoral systems, from...

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News Article
Worker productivity concerns businesses

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

WORKER productivity is a growing concern for employers, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) chairman telling Tribune Business yesterday this was vital to this nation's attraction for foreign direct investment (FDI).

The Department of Statistics in conjunction with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is launching a wage and productivity survey in an effort to match labour demand with labour supply, and Winston Rolle told Tribune Business: "I think one of the things we really need to focus on, and which this survey is going to bring out, and something that continues to be a ...

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News Article
Don't lose the future

Sub-Deck:

With the noise for the Bahamas to do something about its national debt reaching a crescendo, none of the three major political parties set to contest the 2012 general election inspire much confidence that they will be able to address the situation

Wall Street set the ball rolling. It gathered pace with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). And by the time the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) had finished, the momentum pushing the Bahamas to immediately deal with its growing national debt pile had become a runaway train.

None of this is surprising to astute observers. A look at the headline statistics shows reason for their concern: A $4.25 billion national debt that contin ...

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